Turning with the Season – Practicing at the Winter Solstice – A Dharma Talk by Tim Kroll

Saturday, December 19th at 10:00am, in the Online Zendo

 As we reach the darkest time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, we are reminded that the conditions of our lives are always shifting and changing.  The weather and temperature changes, the amount of daylight shifts, our own moods, and sensibilities change.  Some of these shifts, especially the shifts of the natural world, are cyclical and maybe thus easier to track and work with.  Practice is always asking us to adapt, to turn toward, and flow with the changes we encounter.  Seasonal changes give us a great opportunity for this.  Ancient Taoist and early Zen practice focused on observing and attuning to the natural world.  Things as they are, the realities of life for a human on this planet, in this very place, are the ground of our practice.  In Chinese Medicine, which sprung out Taoist practice and philosophy, each season has it’s own attributes and common effects on us.  In the seasonal shifting of Yin to Yang and back, Winter is the most Yin time of year.  It’s associated element is Water, flowing or still.  The direction of our energy is more inward-facing, introspective.  And interestingly, the associated emotion of Winter is fear.  What is it that scares us when we look inward?  How can we practice and learn to turn toward this fear, to be with it and still be curious and accepting of our experience, how to not run away, even if that running away is further inward into introspection? There are many forms of fear, from being mildly startled, to intense states of terror and panic, to anxiously awaiting some imagined future.  How can our practice help us navigate all this more gracefully, how can it help us shift and adapt, and perhaps transform the emotional upheaval into insight or wisdom, or even just a sense of okayness?  How can practicing with fear help us find our seat, right here, as we are, amidst the shifting cycles and changes of a human life.  Please join us to investigate this together.  

Tim Kroll began Zen practice in 2000 at the Chapel Hill Zen Center in North Carolina, where he was lay ordained by Josho Pat Phelan. In 2008 he moved to Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery, and spent the next five years in monastic residence, both there and at San Francisco Zen Center City Center. He was one of the founding leaders of the popular Young Urban Zen Community at City Center and was Shuso (Head Monk) under Ryushin Paul Haller in 2015. He is close to completing a doctoral program at AOMA in Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture, and herbal practice). Tim moved to Austin in April, 2018 to become the Director of AZC, and hopes to return to Tassajara to train with his teacher Ryushin Paul Haller this Winter.

Donations toward the expense of a Tassajara Practice Period are much appreciated!