Book Excerpts

There Is No ‘I’ In Self

As it says at the beginning of this text, the teaching of no-self is a tough one to come to terms with. It's one of the most anti-intuitive notions Zen students eventually come across, and it takes some investigation and experimentation to begin to pick apart. Zen priest and prolific Zen author Brad Warner walks… Continue reading There Is No ‘I’ In Self

American Poetry, English Poetry, Poetry

Following the Thread, Finer Than a Cobweb – Denise Levertov

Can we detect a guiding filament in our lives, like Ariadne's thread that led Theseus out of the labyrinth? Is there a constant that runs through this perpetually-changing existence that pulls us this way and that? What is the nature of that thread and where did it come from? Denise Levertov wonders at its origins in… Continue reading Following the Thread, Finer Than a Cobweb – Denise Levertov

Book Excerpts, Zen Stories

Searching for a Master – Zen Master Raven and the Brown Bear

Zen teacher and author Robert Aitken released 'Zen Master Raven' a couple of years ago as a collection of Zen stories and koans told through the heart-warming interactions of a group of animals that include Mallard and Mole, Jackrabbit Roshi, Brown Bear Roshi and Zen Master Raven himself, a curious and earnest seeker of the… Continue reading Searching for a Master – Zen Master Raven and the Brown Bear

Book Excerpts

“Don’t Tell Me Who I Am Yet. It Is Still Being Spelled Out”

'For all its obligations and demands, its idealism and elaborations, monastic life is a way of entering into the cosmic dance,' Trappist monk Paul Quenon writes in his memoir, In Praise of the Useless Life. The monk's life being counterintuitively 'useless' in this way - something his mentor Thomas Merton taught him - is Quenon's… Continue reading “Don’t Tell Me Who I Am Yet. It Is Still Being Spelled Out”

Chinese Poetry, Poetry

Dongshan’s Hokyo Zanmai – Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi

Within a tradition already rich with sublime poetry, the Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi stands out as one of the most profound and beautiful verses to come out of 9th century China. The poem is attributed to master Dongshan Liangjie (known as Tozan Ryokai in Japan), who was the founder of the Caodong tradition… Continue reading Dongshan’s Hokyo Zanmai – Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi

Book Excerpts

Altered States and Changed Perceptions

What is it like to be an octopus? This question is at the heart of Sy Montgomery's 'The Soul of an Octopus', a remarkable book that chronicles the author's study of the intimate lives of a group of cephalopods. Their emotional states and social interactions are brought to light as is a wider consideration of the… Continue reading Altered States and Changed Perceptions

Chinese Texts, Texts, Zen Stories

Bodhidharma, Hui-k’o and Hui-k’o’s Arm

One of the most popular chapters in Zen lore, this scene between Bodhidharma, the first Zen ancestor in China, and the student who eventually became his successor, Hui-k'o, is a demonstration of the potential intensity and determination of a bonafide teacher-student relationship. Hui-k'o famously tracked Bodhidharma down to the Shao-lin Temple where he was residing… Continue reading Bodhidharma, Hui-k’o and Hui-k’o’s Arm