Our Practice Group:
The Grass Hut Zen Sangha will begin meeting every Wednesday night in the Duke Medicine Pavilion, 1st Floor Interfaith Chapel (located on the first floor between the Information desk and the Pavilion cafe), from 5:00pm – 6:00pm . All are welcome to attend.
You are invited to attend all or any portion of the activities – whatever works for your schedule and inclination. Our practice includes an orientation for newcomers, a brief chanting service (liturgy books provided), a 25-minute meditation period, and time for discussion/reflection. We typically aim to offer a dharma talk on the first Tuesday of the month led by our practice leader, Zen Buddhist Priest and Dharma Teacher Patrick Codd.
If you are new to Zen:
Feel free to just show up! There will be a brief orientation available at the beginning of the practice period for newcomers. Alternatively, feel free to use the contact page or email us to let us know you are coming or if you have any questions or concerns beforehand. If you arrive late, please just come in anyhow and take a seat and dive in. An introductory book some have found helpful is John Daishin Buksbazen’s, Zen Meditation in Plain English
Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about the practice, our program, or Zen in general. We are happy to help guide you in whatever way we are able. It is best to reach us by email
Who is Welcome?
Everyone. Period. We invite anyone seeking to explore the joyous, difficult, painful, scary, anxious, exciting and everything in-between thing we call being human.
If you are black or brown, white or any other race or color, you are welcome here.
If you’re Asian, Latino, Middle Eastern, Native American, or any other nationality or ethnicity, you are welcome here.
If you’re Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Pagan, Wiccan, Atheist, or other, you are welcome here.
If you’re a citizen or a resident, documented or undocumented, a refugee, you are welcome here.
You are welcome if you’re liberal, conservative, or apolitical.
You’re welcome if you’re gay or straight, bisexual, trans, queer or undefined.
You’re welcome if you’re cis gender or gender non-conforming.
If you’re rich or poor, big or small.
If you’re sixteen, thirty-five, sixty-five or eighty, you are welcome here.
You are welcome if you’re blind or deaf, or have any other disability.
When we see expressions of bigotry, hatred, oppression and ill-will in our own minds and interpersonally—both in our community and in the world—we vow, as individuals and as a sangha, to respond with skillful and loving thoughts, words, and actions, in order to put an end to the suffering caused by them.
May we, together, alleviate the fear, hatred, selfishness and delusion in our world.
–Humbly echoed and affirmed from the Inclusion Statement, Zen Mountain Monastery, 2018
What you should bring and what you should wear:
You needn’t bring anything at all except, ideally, an open mind. If you wish to bring your own meditation cushion or bench, please do so. Some chairs, and cushions will be available. You needn’t wear anything special, though you may wish to choose somewhat loose-fitting clothes.
A video on how to do Zen meditation can be found here. You might find it useful to watch this before your first visit.
About the Practice Leader:
Rev. Patrick Codd, M.D.
Patrick is an ordained Zen Buddhist Priest and Dharma Teacher. He has practiced Zen Buddhism for over 19 years, starting at the Zen Center in Los Angeles and then with the Boundless Way Zen tradition after moving to Boston for medical training. For over a decade he has been a shoken (formal student) of Roshi Josh Bartok of the Greater Boston Zen Center. Under his guidance he has served as a Dharma Teacher in that tradition for 5 years, and was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in October of 2017. His dharma talk from that event can be found here. Patrick is an Associate Member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA). A Duke Health video piece about how his Zen practice unfolds amidst his clinical work can be found here. A piece in the Lion’s Roar about this work can be found here.
Patrick Codd with his teacher, Josh Bartok Roshi
Within the Duke community, Dr. Codd is a staff neurosurgeon in the Department of Neurosurgery and and member of Duke’s Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center. He specializes in the endoscopic and minimally invasive treatment of brain disorders. He likewise is the Director and Principal Investigator of the Brain Tool Laboratory, a robotics and medical device development laboratory within the Duke University Pratt School of Engineering.
What is this Zen tradition?
Our practice, including its origins from the Greater Boston Zen Center, is an emerging western Zen practice community with lineage roots are in the Japanese Soto tradition through Jiyu Kennett, Roshi, the Soto reform Harada-Yasutani koan curriculum through John Tarrant, Roshi, and the Korean Linji tradition through Zen Master George Bomun Bowman.
Teachers in this practice are dedicated to helping every student find a meditation practice that fits their unique personality and deepest intention for awakening, including breath awareness, mindfulness practices, koan introspection, and subtle art of just sitting. We are also committed to the continuing work of integrating Zen practice into everyday life.
Additional information about this Zen tradition can be found here.
Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage
(by Shitou Xiqian, tr. Taigen Leighton, adapted)
I’ve built a grass hut where there’s nothing of value. After eating, I relax and enjoy a nap. When it was completed, fresh weeds appeared. Now it’s been lived in—covered by weeds.
The person in the hut lives here calmly, not stuck to inside, outside, or in between. Places worldly people live, he doesn’t live. Realms worldly people love, she doesn’t love.
Though the hut is small, it includes the entire world. In just this place, an old man illumines forms and their nature. A Mahayana bodhisattva trusts without doubt. The middling or lowly can’t help wondering: Will this hut perish or not?
Perishable or not, the original master is present, not dwelling south or north, east or west. Firmly based on steadiness, it can’t be surpassed. A shining window below the green pines— jade palaces or vermilion towers can’t compare with it.
Just sitting with head covered, all things are at rest. Thus, this mountain monk doesn’t understand at all. Living here she no longer works to get free. Who would proudly arrange seats, trying to entice guests?
Turn around the light to shine within, then just return. The vast inconceivable source can’t be faced or turned away from. Meet the ancestral teachers, be familiar with their instruction, bind grasses to build a hut, and don’t give up.
Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely. Open your hands and walk, innocent. Thousands of words, myriad interpretations are only to free you from obstructions.
If you want to know the undying person in the hut, don’t separate from this skin-bag here and now.
Indra’s Grass Stalk
When the World-Honored One was walking with his assembly, he pointed to the ground with his hand and said, “This place is good for building a temple.” Hearing this, the god Indra took a stalk of grass and stuck it in the ground and said, “The temple has been built.” At this, the World-Honored One smiled.
*Our new Sangha space in the DMP Interfaith Chapel includes a collaborative responsibility with Duke Chaplains to serve Duke patients, families, faculty, students, and staff who wish to gather in our tradition. We are grateful for this opportunity provided by the Spiritual Health Program of the Department of Chaplain Services and Education at DUH