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

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

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

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