Book Excerpts

Taisen Deshimaru on Becoming Truly Free

Taisen Deshimaru was a student of Kodo Sawaki who traveled to France to teach in the 1960s. In Paris he set up the headquarters of the Association Zen Internationale and roused a large following. In this excerpt from a book of his teachings compiled by his student Philippe Coupey called Zen and Karma. In it,… Continue reading Taisen Deshimaru on Becoming Truly Free

Book Excerpts

Not Their Kind of Prey – Thomas Merton

"Do you approach the study of Zen with the idea that there is something to be gained by it?" is the cautionary question posed by Thomas Merton in an author's note featured at the beginning of his book, Zen and the Birds of Appetite. The passage is a short and succinct warning, directed at readers and… Continue reading Not Their Kind of Prey – Thomas Merton

Chinese Poetry, Poetry, Zen Stories

It Now is Me, I am Not It – Dongshan

Attributed to Master Dongshan, the 9th century founder of the Caodong (Soto) School, this short verse stands in contrast to his longer and more famous teaching verse, The Hokyo Zanmai or The Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi. After spending some time with Master Yunyan, Dongshan was preparing to leave. He asked the master how… Continue reading It Now is Me, I am Not It – Dongshan

Author Q&A

Author Q&A – Ben Connelly

Ben Connelly is a Zen teacher at the Minnesota Zen Center as well as the author of several books including 'Inside Vasubandhu's Yogacara' and 'Inside the Grass Hut'. His latest book, 'Mindfulness and Intimacy' looks at the importance of cultivating intimacy with ourselves and the world within our mindfulness practice. In an exciting new section… Continue reading Author Q&A – Ben Connelly

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