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

Book Excerpts, Christian Texts

Blinded by the Sun – St Teresa of Avila

Saint Teresa of Avila was a 16th century Spanish mystic who experienced visions and raptures throughout her life and who emphasized the importance of continuing contemplative, intimate prayer. In this excerpt from her autobiography, she contrasts  material wealth with spiritual riches and uses the metaphor of the shining sun as the source that illuminates that… Continue reading Blinded by the Sun – St Teresa of Avila

American Poetry, Poetry

Something There is That Doesn’t Love a Wall

Robert Frost's 'Mending Wall' is at once a humorous take on rural living as well as a more pointed meditation on isolation and the barriers we choose to build, or are obliged to put up. The walls, he seems to say, have a tendency to come down by themselves, but we will come and repair… Continue reading Something There is That Doesn’t Love a Wall

Book Excerpts

We Only Have One Story – John Steinbeck on Virtue and Vice

East of Eden was John Steinbeck's epic novel written later on in his life that was based on the history of his family in the Salinas Valley in California. With frequent references to the Book of Genesis, the story addresses questions about the fundamentals of human nature, most notably the perpetual struggle within ourselves between… Continue reading We Only Have One Story – John Steinbeck on Virtue and Vice

Book Excerpts

The Most Penetrating Preachers: Herman Hesse’s Ode to Trees

This wonderful fragment of Hermann Hesse's writing comes from a book that's actually out of print and one of the hardest of the author's books to come by - Wandering: Notes and Sketches. The book itself follows the author's contemplations through nature and the insights that transpired. Here he talks about his reverence for trees,… Continue reading The Most Penetrating Preachers: Herman Hesse’s Ode to Trees

Chinese Poetry, Poetry, Zen Stories

It Now is Me, I am Not It – Dongshan

Attributed to Master Dongshan, the 9th century founder of the Caodong (Soto) School, this short verse stands in contrast to his longer and more famous teaching verse, The Hokyo Zanmai or The Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi. After spending some time with Master Yunyan, Dongshan was preparing to leave. He asked the master how… Continue reading It Now is Me, I am Not It – Dongshan

Book Excerpts, Koans

Nansen Kills the Cat – Koun Yamada

This famous koan from the Mumonkan or The Gateless Gate, tells the story of Nansen killing a cat that a group of monks were arguing over in a monastery, an action that elicited a bizarre response from another monk, Joshu. This particular translation of the koan comes from Koun Yamada's book of teachings on the… Continue reading Nansen Kills the Cat – Koun Yamada

Book Excerpts

Mary Oliver – Teach the Children

This short and stirring paragraph comes right at the end of Upstream, Mary Oliver’s first essay in a collection of shorts that express her life’s trajectory towards nurturing and developing her creative spirit, always in intimate conversation with herself and with nature. It expresses the imperative need to nurture our own relationships with nature and to teach… Continue reading Mary Oliver – Teach the Children

Book Excerpts

Counting Cats in Zanzibar: Why We Should Travel

Lao Tzu said, 'The further one travels, the less one knows,' a sentiment echoed by Stephen Dunn in his poem Tangier: that there is no salvation in elsewhere but rather in the immediacy of our very own doorsteps. However, could the depletion of knowledge also be a kind of positive opening to the world in which… Continue reading Counting Cats in Zanzibar: Why We Should Travel

Author Q&A

Author Q&A – Ben Connelly

Ben Connelly is a Zen teacher at the Minnesota Zen Center as well as the author of several books including 'Inside Vasubandhu's Yogacara' and 'Inside the Grass Hut'. His latest book, 'Mindfulness and Intimacy' looks at the importance of cultivating intimacy with ourselves and the world within our mindfulness practice. In an exciting new section… Continue reading Author Q&A – Ben Connelly

Book Excerpts

What Love Looks Like in Public: Ben Connelly on Cultivating Intimacy

Intimacy is an indispensable partner to mindfulness, says author and Zen teacher Ben Connelly whose book, 'Mindfulness and Intimacy', argues that mindfulness practice requires the parallel cultivation of intimacy in order to enrich our empathetic engagement with the world around us and with ourselves. In this extract, Connelly addresses the need for deeper relationships within… Continue reading What Love Looks Like in Public: Ben Connelly on Cultivating Intimacy