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

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

Chinese Texts, Texts

Host and Guest

The theme of host and guest is popular within Chinese Zen, broadly used to illustrate the interplay between relative and absolute. One of Zen's major tenets is that our personalities and beliefs are not absolute, but rather 'guests' within an impenetrable 'host'. This relationship then becomes more complex when we talk about guests within hosts… Continue reading Host and Guest

Chinese Poetry, Poetry

Swift Clouds and the Jewel Hare

This short poem by an 11th century Chinese poet called Gen of Kohoin is written as an uncomplaining, almost joyful anticipation of death. The Jewel Hare he refers to in the last line is a classic image for the moon, after the myth of the rabbit on the moon's face.   At ninety-nine, snowy side-locks,… Continue reading Swift Clouds and the Jewel Hare

Hiuneng
Chinese Texts, Sutra Excerpts, Sutras

From Huineng’s Platform Sutra: What Does Maha Mean?

Huineng was an illiterate woodcutter who became a Zen master and the sixth patriarch of Ch'an in China. His defining work is the Platform Sutra which emphasizes the importance of direct experience over intellect and learning in the study of Zen. In this extract from the second chapter of the sutra, entitled 'Prajna', he talks… Continue reading From Huineng’s Platform Sutra: What Does Maha Mean?

Book Excerpts

No Attachment to Dust

101 Zen Stories is a compilation of stories about Zen teachers through the ages compiled by Nyogen Senzaki, a Rinzai monk who was one of the leading proponents of Rinzai Zen in the US in the 20th century. This particular story, number 77, charts the advice of Master Zengetsu to his students. Zengetsu, a Chinese… Continue reading No Attachment to Dust

Book Excerpts

Jack Kerouac and the Rucksack Revolution

Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums, which was published in 1958, crystallizes a moment in West Coast history that came at the beginning of a spiritual awakening that preceded the hippie movement and occurred just as Buddhist philosophy was beginning to take root in the United States. The character Japhy Ryder is Kerouac's friend, poet and Gary… Continue reading Jack Kerouac and the Rucksack Revolution

Chinese Poetry, Poetry

Look Beyond the Town Gate at the Mounds Below the Pines

Cold Mountain (Han Shan) was a Chinese poet and hermit who wrote his poetry 1,200 years ago on the rocks, trees and temple walls of the Tientai Mountains where he lived. He was a Taoist and a Buddhist and though he was never critically acclaimed as a great poet, he's become a much loved persona… Continue reading Look Beyond the Town Gate at the Mounds Below the Pines