Literature, Short Stories

The Death of the Moth and the Pure Bead of Life

This evocative essay by Virginia Woolf chronicles the short life and quick death of a moth that was fluttering by her window one day as she worked. Initially mesmerized by the movements of the creature, Woolf confesses to feelings of pity for his 'zest in enjoying his meagre opportunities to the full.' But she also… Continue reading The Death of the Moth and the Pure Bead of Life

Chinese Poetry

Do Not Pass Your Days and Nights in Vain – Shitou’s Sandokai

The Sandokai, sometimes translated as The Harmony of Difference and Equality, was written by master Shitou – known as Sekito Kisen in Japanese – an 8th century Chinese monk, and a student of Huineng and Huineng’s successor, Qingyuan Xingsi (Seigen Gyoshi). The Sandokai was written at a time when there were two opposing factions within… Continue reading Do Not Pass Your Days and Nights in Vain – Shitou’s Sandokai

American Poetry, Poetry

Between Walls – William Carlos Williams

A pediatric doctor by training, Puerto Rican-American poet William Carlos Williams advanced his poetry by scribbling lines and ideas onto the notebooks of his medical profession. What grew out of this practice was a way of writing that was strikingly humane and attuned to the American vernacular. Between Walls is a simple poem that almost… Continue reading Between Walls – William Carlos Williams

Book Excerpts, Tibetan Texts

Spiritual Care Is The Essential Right of Every Human Being

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is one of the most widely read books about Buddhism, having sold more than three million copies since its publication in 1992. Since then, the reputation of the book's author Sogyal Rinpoche, has fallen into ill repute through various allegations of sexual and physical abuse. However, the wisdom… Continue reading Spiritual Care Is The Essential Right of Every Human Being

Book Excerpts

Suffering, Crying, Happy Buddha

The kind of happiness Buddhism proposes to us is not of the sunny, skipping-through-a-field-of-daisies variety, but rather a readiness and a sense of composure in facing whatever feeling might come up, be it pleasant or unpleasant. In this chapter from his book, Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness - which is based on a series… Continue reading Suffering, Crying, Happy Buddha

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