Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Now

                         There is never anything but the present. 
                         If one cannot live here, one cannot live anywhere.


Chan is a personal experience of reality without the addition and distraction of our opinions and ideas, our hopes and wishes.

Chan is an unfiltered experience.

Chan is the Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit word Dhyana which means 'meditation'.
In Korea Chan is known as Seon.
In Vietnam Chan is known as Thien.
In Japan Chan is known as Zen.

Eating is Chan. Sleeping is Chan. Walking, standing, sitting, chopping firewood and carrying water are all Chan.

A Commentary

This gatha from the "Diamond Sutra"All created things are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow, like a dew, or like lightning. View all things like this—doesn't mean things don't exist or that reality has no substance. These words remind us all things are impermanent. Our dreams end when we awake. Illusion disappear quickly when known. Look at a bubble, it appears and then its gone. Dew evaporates in the warming of the morning sun. Lightning is large and powerful and brilliant, but suddenly gone. So with everything. The sun has a limited existence as does the Milky Way. Nothing lasts, even myself.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Awareness and Mindfulness

There is nothing that does not grow light through habit and familiarity. Putting up with little cares, I'll train myself to bear them. I'll look at how I respond to situations—the words I use, my tone of voice, the look on my face; how I carry myself, all of the little things I do from moment to moment that reflect my emotions and mental state. I'll pay attention to my thoughts, words, and deeds. Whatever I'm doing, I'll maintain awareness and mindfulness.

---Lojong Meditation---

A Reflection

All created things
are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow,
like a dew, or like lightning.
View all things like this.

                                                                                                ---The Diamond Sutra---


In the Hsin Hsin Ming we are advised to not cherish opinions. We are not advised to not have opinions, just not to tightly hold on to them.

The Teaching of Buddhism helps us see that opinions are created by causes and conditions.

As causes change, as conditions change, our opinions most likely will change.

We need to understand opinions are not reality.


Hara Tanzan wrote sixty post cards on the last day of his life.
He gave them to his attendant and asked him to deliver them all.

He then died.

On each card he hard written the following:

I am departing from this world.
This is my last announcement.

                                                                                            July 27, 1892

God Commanded . . .

Before making claims and assertions about a deity, 
one must first demonstrate that deity's existence. 

Your Own Treasure House

Daiju visited the master Baso in China.

Baso asked, "What do you seek?"

"Enlightenment," Daiju replied.

"You have your own treasure house. Why do you search outside?" Baso asked.

"Where is my treasure house?" Daiju asked.

"What you are asking is your treasure house," Baso answered.

Daiju awoke. Ever after he urged his friends with these words, "Open your own treasure house and use those treasures."


What is a thing?

A thing is whatever has the power to exclude another thing.

---Brook A Ziporyn, in Emptiness and Omnipresence---

Modern American Proverb

If you need the threat of hell to be good, you're not good.

A Raft

Buddhist doctrines and practices are a "raft." Even the idea of Nirvana as "elsewhere" or "elsewhen" is just a raft. These doctrines are true not as descriptions about what is so, but only as useful tools to attain something we have decided to try to do.

Buddhist doctrines and ethics are not descriptions of truths, they are not categorical obligations. They are available methods. The question of "truth" enters only in the sense of this sort of question: does the raft work? Will it hold? Will it get us to the other side? And is the other side really any better than over here.

---Adapted from 
Emptiness and Omnipresence, 
by Brook A. Ziporyn---

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Chinese Poem

The Dharma-body of Kwan-yin
Is neither male nor female.
If even the body is not the body,
What attributes can there be?

Let it be known to all Buddhist:
Do not cling to form.
The bodhisattva is you:
Not the picture or the image.

                                       ---Author Unknown---

Starving-Student Herbed Bean Salad

One 14-ounce can of great northern beans, drained and rinsed

A good pinch of several of your favorite fresh summer herbs (e.g., marjoram, parsley, chives, celery leaves), finely chopped

A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

A drizzle of fresh lemon juice (lime is also a great choice)

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the beans in a large mixing bowl.

Gentle stir in the herbs, the oil, the lemon (or lime) juice.

Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

Transfer the beans to a serving bowl.

Serve this salad with a good bread and sliced tomatoes.

Compassionate Action to Save Others

Buddhism, perhaps especially Indian Buddhism, was closely associated with the goal of "supreme awakening," and therefore with a kind of wisdom, especially a kind of wisdom in which doctrines and teachings are most important. Even the term for Buddhism in Chinese and Japanese means "Buddhist teaching."

With the development of Kwan-yin devotion, while wisdom remained important, compassion came to play a larger role in the relative status of Buddhist virtues, especially among illiterate common people. Thus, there was a slight shift in the meaning of the "bodhisattva way." From being primarily a way toward an enlightened mind, it became primarily the way of compassionate action to save others.

---Gene Reeves, in The Stories of the Lotus Sutra---

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Do not seek for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.

                                  ---The Hsin Hsin Ming---


For the Realized mind at one with the Way
all self-centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish
and the Truth is confirmed in you.
With a single stroke you are freed from bondage;
nothing clings to you and you hold to nothing.

                                                        ---The Hsin Hsin Ming---

The Great Way: All Things Are As They Are

The Great Way is embracing and spacious—
to live in it is neither easy nor difficult.
Those who rely on limited views are fearful and irresolute:
the faster they hurry, the slower they go.
To have a narrow mind,
and to be attached to getting enlightenment
is to lose one's center and go astray.
When one is free from attachment,
all things are as they are,
and there is neither coming nor going.

                                                     ---The Hsin Hsin Ming---


Mindfulness helps us to not be angry at our loved ones, because when we are mindful, we understand that our loved ones are suffering as well.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---

The Heart Sutra

The Heart Sutra is a distillation of the Buddha's Teaching. It's Buddhism in a nutshell. It's the essence of the Buddha-Dharma.

The Heart Sutra is the teaching of Great Wisdom. It's taught by Compassion.

Manjushri is the Bodhisattva that represents Wisdom. Avalokiteshvara is the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Manjushri didn't teach the Heart Sutra. Avalokiteshvara taught the Heart Sutra.

That Compassion teaches Wisdom is a great teaching in and of itself.

In India, in Sanskrit, Avalokiteshvara means "Regarder of the Cries of the World."
In China Avalokiteshvara became known as Kuan Shih Yin or Quan Yin, "She Who Observes the Cries of the World."

Avalokiteshvara is male.
Kuan Shih Yin is female.

Compassion is without gender.

One understands compassion by listening, by observing.

The Mahaprajnaparamita Hrydya Sutra (The Heart Sutra)

The thousand arms represent the uncounted ways Compassion may be expressed.

The Regarder of the Cries of the World Bodhisattva
from the deep practice of the Perfection of Wisdom
perceived the emptiness of all Five Skandhas*
and transcended all ill-being.

Listen, Shariputra,
form is no other than emptiness,
emptiness no other than form,
form is emptiness,
emptiness form.

The same is true of feeling, thought, memory, and consciousness.

Listen, Shariputra,
all dharmas are empty.
They are not born or annihilated.
They are not defiled or immaculate.
They do not increase or decrease.

So in emptiness,
no feeling, no thought, no memory, no consciousness.
No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind;
no form, sound, smell, taste, touch, or objects of mind,
no realm of sight, no realm of consciousness.

No ignorance, or extinction of ignorance,
no old age and death, nor extinction of them.

No ill-being, no cause of ill-being, no end of ill-being,
no path to lead out of ill-being,
no knowledge, no attainment, no realization,
no non-attainment, for there is nothing to attain.

The Bodhisattva holds on to nothing but the
Perfection of Wisdom,
and finds no obstacles in the mind.

Without obstacles, there is no fear,
away from illusion, one realizes
perfect Nirvana.

All Buddhas of past, present, and future,
through faith in the Perfection of Wisdom,
attain to the Highest Perfect Awakening.

You should know then the
Great Mantra of the Perfection of Wisdom
is the highest perfect mantra,
the unequaled mantra,
the destroyer of ill-being, the incorruptible truth.

The mantra of the Perfection of Wisdom should
therefore be proclaimed.

Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone beyond the beyond. Awake. So it is.
Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone beyond the beyond. Awake. So it is.
Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone beyond the beyond. Awake. So it is.

---Translation by Hung Su---

*The Five Skandhas 
Form (Our environment)
Feelings (Sensations)
Perception (Awareness)
Response (Mental constructs)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Food and Love

No food is tastier than that given by a loving friend. Even the sweetest confection made with care is not as tasty as the plainest gruel given with love.

---The Buddha---

A Coincidence?

A Lot, Not Alot

A lot = many, much Allot = give, grant Joe is allotted $1 for coffee. It’s not a lot.

Dhaniya Sutta (Dhaniya the Cattleman)

Dhaniya the cattleman:
"The rice is cooked,
my milking done.
I live with my people
along the banks of the Mahi;
my hut is roofed, my fire lit:
so if you want, rain-god,
go ahead and rain."

The Buddha:
"Free from anger,
my stubbornness gone,
I live for one night
along the banks of the Mahi;
my hut's roof is open, my fire out:
so if you want, rain-god,
go ahead and rain."

"No mosquitoes or gadflies
are to be found.
The cows range in the marshy meadow
where the grasses flourish.
They could stand the rain if it came:
so if you want, rain-god,
go ahead and rain."

The Buddha:
"A raft, well-made,
has been lashed together.
Having crossed over,
gone to the far shore,
I've subdued the flood.
No need for a raft
is to be found:
so if you want, rain-god,
go ahead and rain."

"My wife is compliant, not careless,
is charming, has lived with me long.
I hear no evil about her at all:
so if you want, rain-god,
go ahead and rain."

The Buddha:
"My mind is compliant, released,
has long been nurtured, well tamed.
No evil is to be found in me:
so if you want, rain-god,
go ahead and rain."

"I support myself on my earnings.
My sons live in harmony,
free from disease.
I hear no evil about them at all:
so if you want, rain-god,
go ahead and rain."

The Buddha:
"I'm in no one's employ,
I wander the whole world
on the reward [of my Awakening].
No need for earnings
is to be found:
so if you want, rain-god,
go ahead and rain."

"There are cows, young bulls,
cows in calf, and breeding cows,
and a great bull, the leader of the herd:
so if you want, rain-god,
go ahead and rain."

The Buddha:
"There are no cows, no young bulls,
no cows in calf or breeding cows,
no great bull, the leader of the herd:
so if you want, rain-god,
go ahead and rain."

"The stakes are dug-in, immovable.
The new muñja-grass halters, well-woven,
not even young bulls could break:
so if you want, rain-god,
go ahead and rain."

The Buddha:
"Having broken my bonds
like a great bull,
like a great elephant
tearing a rotting vine,
I never again
will lie in the womb:
so if you want, rain-god,
go ahead and rain."
The great cloud rained down
filling the lowlands and high.
Hearing the rain-god pour down,"

Dhaniya said:
"How great our gain
that we've gazed
on the Blessed One!
We go to him,
the One with vision,
for refuge.
May you be our teacher, Great Sage.
My wife and I are compliant.
Let's follow the holy life
under the One Well-gone.
Gone to the far shore
of aging and death,
let's put an end
to suffering and stress."

"Those with children
because of their children.
Those with cattle
because of their cows.
A person's delight
comes from acquisitions,
since a person with no acquisitions
doesn't delight."

The Buddha:
"Those with children
because of their children.
Those with cattle
because of their cows.
A person's grief
comes from acquisitions,
since a person with no acquisitions
doesn't grieve."

---Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu---

Four Steps To Understanding the Atheistic Point of View

1...Pick any deity other than your own.
2...Make a list of the reasons you don't believe in that deity.
3...Apply those reasons to your deity.


I'm a perfect housemate—when I live alone. When I share my living space with a relative, a friend, or a lover I discover me.

I know when you replace a roll of toilet paper you place it so it hangs down the front not the back. I know you leave butter in a covered dish on the table so when I spread my toast I don't tear it.

We only discover our ability to be true practitioners of the Buddha Dharma when we live in community with other people, other living beings.  

The Toad

It's said a toad in your garden brings great and long-lasting luck.

I've never seen a scientific experiment confirming or contradicting this belief.

I do know, a toad in your garden is an indication you have a healthy garden. Toads don't survive with pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, or any of the other noxious stuff hurried and thoughtless people dump on their gardens and lawns.

A Traveler In Egypt

In a land for antiquities greatly renowned
A traveler had dug wide and deep under ground,
A temple, for ages entombed, to disclose,—
When, lo! he disturbed, in its secret repose,
A toad, from whose journal it plainly appears
It had lodged in that mansion some thousands of years.

                                                                  ---Jane Taylor, The Toad's Journal---

The Wise Toad

Compared with his rival, the frog, the toad reacts more promptly and learns more readily. Toads can figure out a maze far more quickly than frogs can. They discover after eight or nine trials that a glass barrier cannot be passed, whereas frogs keep bumping their noses against it. When set on a high table, toads will peer cautiously over the edge, appearing to estimate the drop, and then refuse to jump. Frogs will fling themselves off anything . . . another indication of the toad's mental capacities is that he is easily tamed. Toads in captivity learn to come out of hiding when called and to feed from the hand. They seem to enjoy being petted and stroked.


The Perfect Toad

                                                              The sun caught the pond
                                                              In a second of sky
                                                              With its boreas down
                                                              And its cumuli dry

                                                              Fast asleep
                                                              One the edge of the pond
                                                              A Toad felt the touch
                                                              Of a second of sun

                                                              He opened his eyes
                                                              And raised his head
                                                              At this precise moment
                                                              I'm perfect he said

                                                              He closed his eyes
                                                              And destroyed the view
                                                              I'm perfect he thought
                                                              At this moment too

                                                                             ---Scott Bates---