Sutras

The Bhaddekaratta Sutta: The Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Live Alone

The Bhaddekaratta Sutta is one of the many teachings the Buddha gave over the course of his 19 three-month practice periods at the Jetavana Monastery. It conveys the essence of a self-sufficient practice and way of existing - not clinging to the past or living for the future but diligently dwelling in current stability and… Continue reading The Bhaddekaratta Sutta: The Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Live Alone

Indian Texts

Centreing – The 112 Ways to Open the Invisible Door of Consciousness (Part 3: 29-42)

This conversation between Shiva and his partner Devi is a teaching about self-knowledge that could be up to 5,000 years old. It features in a number of ancient Indian texts and has been rewritten countless times up until today. This version, taken from the collection, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, is a more recent English translation… Continue reading Centreing – The 112 Ways to Open the Invisible Door of Consciousness (Part 3: 29-42)

Book Excerpts

Pico Iyer – Coming Back Home

Pico Iyer is a writer concerned with travel and the expansion of spiritual horizons. His book, 'The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere', is an exploration of stillness and movement, and an account of his relationships with his friends Leonard Cohen and the Dalai Lama. In this excerpt, he starts to talk about the… Continue reading Pico Iyer – Coming Back Home

Sutra Excerpts

A State Where There is Neither Earth, nor Water, nor Heat, nor Air

This excerpt from one of Buddha's teachings, taken from the Nibbana Sutta, echoes the line in the Heart Sutra about form and emptiness, and the nature of reality, given that emptiness. There is a base, or state, where phenomena are not as we perceive them on a day to day basis, where the dichotomies of… Continue reading A State Where There is Neither Earth, nor Water, nor Heat, nor Air

Indian Poetry, Sufi Poetry

Kabir – The Moon Shines in my Body

Kabir was a 15th century Indian mystic and poet who was also a weaver by trade. His vision combined the philosophies of Hinduism and Sufism, and he is considered both a Sufi and Brahmin saint. His poetry is rooted in nature and the experience of the ordinary, through which he seeks the 'unstruck drum of… Continue reading Kabir – The Moon Shines in my Body

Book Excerpts

Playing With the Veil: Of Salmon and Zen Masters – Genine Lentine

In an extraordinary essay that features in Rebecca Solnit's 'Infinite City - A San Francisco Atlas' - Genine Lentine brings together the lives of salmon in the Bay Area and the patterns of the burgeoning Zen community that co-exists, sometimes in very close proximity, to the fish. Of the many things the two species have… Continue reading Playing With the Veil: Of Salmon and Zen Masters – Genine Lentine

Chinese Texts, Koans

Master Ma-tsu and Original Mind

"Strange words and extraordinary actions" were the hallmark of 8th century Ch'an master Ma-tsu (also written as Mazu Daoyi) whose teaching methods involved the kind of unorthodox actions that became associated with certain forms of Zen, especially Rinzai. Ma-tsu was particularly fond of holding up his fly whisk, shouting and hitting his students, in order… Continue reading Master Ma-tsu and Original Mind

Indian Texts

Centreing – The 112 Ways to Open the Invisible Door of Consciousness (Part 2: 15-28)

This conversation between Shiva and his partner Devi is a teaching about self-knowledge that could be up to 5,000 years old. It features in a number of ancient Indian texts and has been rewritten countless times up until today. This version, taken from the collection, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, is a more recent English translation… Continue reading Centreing – The 112 Ways to Open the Invisible Door of Consciousness (Part 2: 15-28)

American Poetry, Poetry

Chen Chen’s I’m Not a Religious Person But

Chen Chen is a startling young American poet whose life as seen through his work is imbued with poignancy and wit. This poem from his debut collection 'When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities' is steeped in an excruciating sense of the limits of religion and belief.    I'm… Continue reading Chen Chen’s I’m Not a Religious Person But

Japanese Poetry, Poetry

Dogen’s Waka on Impermanence

Waka is a Japanese word for poem that surfaced more than a millenium ago to differentiate the Chinese kanshi poems from the work of local scribes. A waka can have a long or short form, and the short ones can often read like haikus, a poetic embodiment of transience. This short one was written by… Continue reading Dogen’s Waka on Impermanence

Book Excerpts

The Asbestos-Clad Stove of Burning Coals – Tim Parks on Why Meditation Can Be Painful

Anyone who has embarked on a prolonged meditation retreat will know that the experience is often a far cry from the blissed out enlightenment we thought we'd signed up for. In his book, Teach Us To Sit Still, Tim Parks gives a candid, humorous and humane account of his own trajectory from disbelief and pain… Continue reading The Asbestos-Clad Stove of Burning Coals – Tim Parks on Why Meditation Can Be Painful