Chinese Texts, Koans

Master Ma-tsu and Original Mind

"Strange words and extraordinary actions" were the hallmark of 8th century Ch'an master Ma-tsu (also written as Mazu Daoyi) whose teaching methods involved the kind of unorthodox actions that became associated with certain forms of Zen, especially Rinzai. Ma-tsu was particularly fond of holding up his fly whisk, shouting and hitting his students, in order… Continue reading Master Ma-tsu and Original Mind

Book Excerpts, Chinese Texts

Chuang Tzu: How To Find What You Already Know?

With great power also comes great responsibility, but not always great wisdom. Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu, whose writings form one of the pillars of Taosim, took a dim view of much of human activity and the accumulation of power and knowledge, recommending instead the cultivation of a kind of wisdom in tune with the Tao,… Continue reading Chuang Tzu: How To Find What You Already Know?

Book Excerpts

Les Kaye – In the Midst of Ordinary Life

How can we live well in the modern world? Is it necessary to retreat to a monastery or can we continue our spiritual practice in the midst of our family lives and careers? This is a theme that Les Kaye, the Abbot of Kannon Do Zen Center in California's tech hub Silicon Valley, explores in… Continue reading Les Kaye – In the Midst of Ordinary Life

Book Excerpts

Plum Blossoms Harmonize with Snow – Shundo Aoyama

Shundo Aoyama first entered a Zen temple at the age of 5, and became a priest at 15. She is one of the most well-known Zen masters in Japan and at 86 years old, she is still active in her teaching of the practice. Her book, Zen Seeds, is a collection of short reflections about… Continue reading Plum Blossoms Harmonize with Snow – Shundo Aoyama

Sutra Excerpts, Sutras

The Dhammapada: If One Knew Oneself to be Precious

Buddhist teachings put a lot of emphasis on compassion and caring for others, but we must also remember that that care needs to start with ourselves. This verse from the¬†Dhammapada - one of the most popular and widely read Buddhist scriptures - reminds us that 'oneself is one's own protector. What other protector could there… Continue reading The Dhammapada: If One Knew Oneself to be Precious

Book Excerpts

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj on Being Universal and Family Life in the Modern World

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was one of the leading teachers of Advaita Vedanta - the Indian philosophy of non-dualism - during the 20th century. A humble shopkeeper from Bombay, Maharaj became popular with students and spiritual seekers from around the globe who were drawn to him for his deep sense of humanity and the clarity of… Continue reading Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj on Being Universal and Family Life in the Modern World

Book Excerpts

Norman Fischer’s Poetics Statement: On Meditation and Poetry

Norman Fischer is a Zen teacher and priest (formerly the Abbot of San Francisco Zen Center) as well as a poet and author. His most recent book, Experience: Thinking, Writing, Language, and Religion, is a collection of essays about experimental writing as spiritual practice. This statement on meditation and poetry talks about how the two… Continue reading Norman Fischer’s Poetics Statement: On Meditation and Poetry

Haiku, Poetry

Basho’s Snowy Morning

Basho is one of the most famous Zen poets of Japan who invigorated the 17-syllable haiku form and set in on the road to being such a popular form of expression. A Zen student and perpetual traveller, Basho lived with the same simplicity espoused by the words of his poems.¬†   A Snowy Morning A… Continue reading Basho’s Snowy Morning

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