Chinese Poetry, Poetry

Shitou’s Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage

Shitou - known as Sekito Kisen in Japanese - was an 8th century Chinese monk, a student of Huineng and Huineng's successor, Qingyuan Xingsi (Seigen Gyoshi). He is credited with writing two of the most famous Zen poems in China - the Sandokai and this, the Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage. The beauty of… Continue reading Shitou’s Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage

Koans

Gutei’s Finger

'Gutei's Finger' is the 3rd case or koan in the Mumonkan, The Gateless Barrier, a collection of koans compiled in the 13th century by Rinzai master Wumen Huikai (known as Mumon Ekai in Japan). The 48 koans in the collection are all sourced from well-known scenes and moments through the history of Zen that Master… Continue reading Gutei’s Finger

American Poetry, Poetry

Jane Hirshfield’s “A Carbon-Based Life Form”

New York-born poet Jane Hirshfield studied Zen at the San Francisco Zen Center and at the monastery in Tassajara for a total of eight years before going on to garner a host of accolades for her poetry writing and editorial work.   "A Carbon-Based Life Form" A person tired from happiness grows sober. Another, worn… Continue reading Jane Hirshfield’s “A Carbon-Based Life Form”

Book Excerpts

Krishnamurti and Real Silence

Jiddu Krishnamurti was an Indian philosopher and visionary who spent his life writing, speaking and transmitting his ideas for a revolution in the human psyche. Not affiliated to any religion or institution, Krishnamurti's fiercely independent insights continue to inspire spiritual seekers from every walk of life. In this excerpt, like in so many of his… Continue reading Krishnamurti and Real Silence

Book Excerpts, Texts

Nagarjuna’s Verses from the Center: When Buddhas Don’t Appear and Their Followers Are Gone

Nagarjuna was a 2nd century master often credited with establishing the Mahayana tradition. His landmark collection of 448 Verses from the Center are the first known Buddhist texts to be written in the author's voice and not as a repetition of Buddha's teaching. As presented by Stephen Batchelor in his book on Nagarjuna, this verse… Continue reading Nagarjuna’s Verses from the Center: When Buddhas Don’t Appear and Their Followers Are Gone

Book Excerpts

Bhadda Kapilani and Mahakassapa: Going Forth Together

This story about Buddha's dharma heir Mahakassapa and his consort Bhadda Kapilani is taken from the book, The Hidden Lamp, a compendium of stories of awakened women through the centuries. It tells of how two people navigated their practice and love for one another at the same time, and how in cooling their passions they… Continue reading Bhadda Kapilani and Mahakassapa: Going Forth Together

Sutras

Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra

The Maka Hannya Haramita Shingyo - often referred to as the Heart Sutra - is the most ubiquitous sutra of the Mahayana canon. It forms part of a much longer work called the Prajnaparamita Sutra - the Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom - which was composed between 100 BCE and 500 CE. The Heart… Continue reading Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra

American Poetry, Poetry

Gary Snyder – For Nothing

Zen student, poet and environmental activist Gary Snyder's Turtle Island, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1975. For Nothing is one of the poems in this book that present a vision of rediscovery of the north American continent whereby its inhabitants cease to behave as colonizers but rather as natives.    Earth a… Continue reading Gary Snyder – For Nothing

Japanese Poetry, Poetry

Muso’s Green Mountains

Muso Soseki was a Japanese monk born in the 13th century who achieved satori at the age of 30 while staying in a hermitage in the countryside. One night he was walking about in the dark and reached out for a wall he thought was there. When he realized it wasn't, he gave a great… Continue reading Muso’s Green Mountains

Book Excerpts

Natalie Goldberg: Be Submissive to Everything

Long Quiet Highway is writer Natalie Goldberg's account of her life's spiritual journey under the guidance of various teachers including Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Allen Ginsberg, and most significantly, Dainin Katagiri Roshi. Throughout the book, Goldberg draws numerous parallels between Zen and writing practice, and emphasizes the importance of a good teacher. In his list of… Continue reading Natalie Goldberg: Be Submissive to Everything