Chinese Texts, Japanese Texts, Texts

When One Can Know What is the Truth of the Heart

The most effective religious or philosophical texts are the ones that transcend time and culture and get to the core of the human situation which is timeless, no matter where and when in the world we live. Daikaku Zenji (Chinese name - Lanxi Daolong) was a monk and master who traveled from his birthplace in Western China… Continue reading When One Can Know What is the Truth of the Heart

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

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

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

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

Book Excerpts

Thomas Merton on Zen Koans and Untying the Knot of Individuality

Those of us unfamiliar with the practice of the study of koans might view it as a method of problem solving, of learning how to think out of the box enough to understand the non-sequiturs entrenched in the recorded dialogues of Zen masters and disciples through the ages. In his essay, 'The Zen Koan', Thomas… Continue reading Thomas Merton on Zen Koans and Untying the Knot of Individuality

Book Excerpts

Jumping off the 100-Foot Pole

The koan of the 100-foot pole is frequently invoked to expose our ideas and misconceptions about Zen practice, namely the idea that there is some kind of apex that can be reached and from where a great vista can be seen. According to Shunryu Suzuki in this talk featured in the book 'Not Always So',… Continue reading Jumping off the 100-Foot Pole

Dogen, Japanese Texts, Texts

Dogen – Remember That You Are Alive Only Today In This Moment

In a world where a certain kind of intellectualism is valued over many other human capacities, it's easy to feel inferior to those we perceive to be smarter than ourselves and to imagine that the things that we do not understand with our intellect will somehow hold us back from a more profound experience of… Continue reading Dogen – Remember That You Are Alive Only Today In This Moment

Chinese Poetry, Poetry

Fu Ta-shih’s Poem: Empty Handed, I Hold a Hoe

The legendary inventor of the kyozo, the custom-made building for housing sutras, Fu Ta-shih (also known as Bodhisattva Shan-hui) was a 6th century Chinese poet and lay master. Below are two translations of one of his famous short poems or gathas.    Empty-handed, I hold a hoe. Walking on foot, I ride a buffalo. Passing… Continue reading Fu Ta-shih’s Poem: Empty Handed, I Hold a Hoe