Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Poem by Ryokan

Around the tenth of the tenth month,
I visited the foot of Mount Magi, where Arinori
used to live. Seeing the abandoned plum tree, I
reflected on our friendship.

In the past,
we used to catch falling plum blossoms
in sake cups.
Now they vainly
fall to the ground.

Preparing for the New Year's Day

People make
elaborate offerings to the Buddha.
In my hut
I dedicate
a painted rice cake.


A Poem By Ryokan

I don't know about
other countries,
but in this country
there is a horrendous spirit
called Imo, god of smallpox
who comes around
every seven years and
tortures young children.
This year is
exceptionally disastrous.
If we keep counting
the number of coffins
sent off for cremation,
our thumbs will sprain.
The few who survive
are left with demon faces.
Those who have children are panicked.
recently, a couple sent me an offering
for the funeral I had conducted
for their infant boy.
I was told that their next youngest
had also died
of the same disease
the day before yesterday.
So I sent them this poem:

disappears into
the heavenly sky.
A child's image
is all that remains.




So to the first quality required on the spiritual path, earnestness, the Buddha now adds a second: courage. By cultivating these two qualities all of us can go a long, long way -- but first we must understand what the Buddha means by courage. Here courage means, first of all, endurance, which is just the opposite of what is often depicted as courage in movies and on television. For the Buddha, to be angry or revengeful is not courageous; it shows utter bankruptcy of courage. Today it's almost taken for granted that if you are not angry you are not strong; you are not tough. We have been brainwashed not to see bravery as it really is. It's a topsy-turvy world we live in, one in which we associate mere physical bravado with toughness and courage.

---Essence of the Dhammapada: The Buddha's Call to Nirvana, by Eknath Easwaran---

Finishing the Job

...if we follow the Buddha's way there will be challenges from beginning to end. At no time will we be able to sit back and say, "I am done."

---Essence of the Dhammapada: The Buddha's Call to Nirvana, by Eknath Easwaran---

Inner Peace

Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.

---His Holiness the Dalai Lama---

Economic Justice

I am opposing a social order in which
it is possible for one man who does absolutely
nothing that is useful to amass a fortune
of hundreds of millions of dollars while
millions of men and women who work
all the days of their lives secure barely
enough for a wretched existence.

---Eugene Victor Debs---

The New Year and the Four Divine Abodes

I need to remember Loving Kindness; to treat everyone, everything, the way I want to be treated.

I need to remember Compassion; we are all in this together, what is done to one is done to all, the good and the non-good.

I need to remember Sympathetic Joy; to be happy when someone else experiences great good.

I need to remember Equanimity; to remain centered and not permit life's highs and lows to guide my mind.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Jalapeno Pie

1 (11-ounce) can of jalapenos, drained and chopped
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the chilies in a greased 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle the cheese over the chilies.

Season the eggs with the salt and pepper and pour over the cheese and peppers.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Cut into small slices and serve with fresh fruit.

Late-Night Rye Bread

1 package of party rye bread
1 cup of mayonnaise
3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 onion, grated

Mix the mayonnaise, the cheese, and the onion.

Spread on the bread and broil 2 to 3 minutes.

To Kill

But surely it is good to kill sometimes, to kill disease-spreading insects or someone who is going to kill you?

It might be good for you but what about the insect or the person who is killed? They wish to live just as you do. When you decide to kill a disease-spreading insect, your intention is perhaps a mixture of self-concern (good) and revulsion (bad). The act will benefit yourself (good) but obviously it will not benefit that being (bad). So at times it may be necessary to kill but it is never wholly skillful.

---Good Question, Good Answer, by S. Dhammika---

The Origin of the Universe -- Set In Motion By Natural Causes

What does the Buddha say about the origin of the universe

It is interesting that the Buddha's explanation of the origin of the universe corresponds very closely to the scientific view. In the Aganna Sutta, the Buddha described the universe being destroyed and then re-evolving into its present form over a period of countless millions of years. The first life formed on the surface of the water and again, over countless millions of years, evolved from simple into complex organisms. All these processes were, he said, without beginning or end, and are set in motion by natural causes.

Spicy Black Bean Dip

1 (10 1/4-ounce) can of condensed black bean soup
8 ounces of tomato sauce
1 cup of sour cream
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder

Mix all the ingredients and in a saucepan. Heat, stirring to prevent burning.

Serve with tortilla chips or corn chips.

Tomato-Sour Cream Sauce

8 ounces of tomato sauce
1 cup of sour cream
2 teaspoons of grated onion
1 teaspoon of grated horseradish

Combine all the ingredients.


Serve with toast, chips, crackers, or fresh vegetables.

Gods and the Universe

But if there are no gods how did the universe get here?

All religions have myths and stories which attempt to answer this question. In ancient times such myths were adequate but in the 21st century, in the age of physics, astronomy and geology, such myths have been superseded by scientific fact. Science has explained the origin of the universe without recourse to the god-idea.

---Good Question, Good Answer, by S. Dhammika---

Fully Passed Away

Some popular inaccurately phrased expressions like 'The Buddha entered into Nirvana or Parinirvana after his death' have given rise to many imaginary speculations about Nirvana. The moment you hear the phrase that 'the Buddha entered into Nirvana or Parinirvana', you take Nirvana to be a state, or a realm, or a position in which there is some sort of existence, and try to imagine it in terms of the senses of the word 'existence' as it is known to you. This popular expression 'entered into Nirvana' has no equivalent in the original texts. There is a word parinibbuto used to denote the death of the Buddha or an Arahant who has realized Nirvana, but it does not mean 'entering into Nirvana'. Parinibbuto simply means 'fully passed away', 'fully blown out' or 'fully extinct', because the Buddha or an Arahant has no re-existence after his death.

---What the Buddha Taught, by Walpola Rahula---

Becoming Beautiful

Every country has a bright side and every culture has a bright side. Yes, there is a dark side as well, but we can bear in mind that when the dark side is removed the bright side remains.

This is not a sentimental attitude that insists that every little town is ideal, every community is ideal, everybody is perfect. Sometimes I hear the expression, "Everybody is beautiful." The Buddha would say, "Everybody can become beautiful."

---Essence of the Dhammapada: The Buddha's Call to Nirvana, by Eknath Easwaran---

The Cause of Rebirth

What is the cause of rebirth? The Buddha taught that ignorance produces desires. Unsatisfied desire is the cause of desire. When all unsatisfied desire is extinguished, then rebirth ceases. To stop rebirth is to extinguish all desires. To extinguish desire, it is necessary to destroy ignorance.

---What Buddhists Believe, by K. Sri Dhammananda---


What we ordinarily mean by death is the cessation of the body's vital functions. When the physical body loses its vitality it can no longer support the current of consciousness, the mental side of the process. But as long as there is a clinging to life, a desire to go on existing, the current of consciousness does not come to a stop with the body's loss of life. Rather, when death takes place, when the body dies away, the mental current, driven by the thirst for more existence, will spring up again with the support of a new physical body, one which has just come into being through the meeting of sperm and egg. Thus, rebirth takes place immediately after death. The stream of memory may be interrupted and the sense of identity transferred to the new situation, but the entire accumulation of experience and deposition has been transmitted to the newborn being, and the cycle of becoming begins to revolve for still another term.

---What Buddhists Believe, by K. Sri Dhammananda---


The Buddhist doctrine of rebirth should be differentiated from the teachings of transmigration and reincarnation of other religions. Buddhism denies the existence of a permanent, god-created soul or an unchanging entity that transmigrates from one life to another.

---What Buddhists Believe, by K. Sri Dhammananda---

Friday, December 27, 2013

American Buddhist Blessing Cake

2 tablespoons of butter, softened
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
3/4 cup of milk
2 eggs
2 cups of flour
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of allspice
1/2 cup of currants
1/4 cup of a mixture of candied orange and lemon rid

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease and flour an 8 x 8 x 2-inch pan.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the milk, the eggs, the flour, the baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. Beat slowly for 30 seconds; scrape the bowl frequently. Beat again, more vigorously.

Fold in the currants and the candied rinds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; perhaps 30 to 40 minute.

Serve with hot tea, coffee or mulled cider.


Man is what he eats.

---Ludwig Feuerbach---


Buddhists do not proclaim that they are the only blessed people who can go to heaven after their death. Whatever the religion he professes, a man's kammic [karmic] thought alone determines his own destiny both in this life and in the next.

---What Buddhists Believe, by K. Sri Dhammananda---

Buddha's Path

This is the Way he traveled to flee the world;
This is the Way he traveled to return to the world.
I, too, come and go along this Sacred Path
That bridges life and death
And traverses illusion.


The Buddha and Philosophy

In interpreting the Buddha's teachings, we must always remember that he never showed any interest in describing the world in a philosophical way. He was not an Indian Plato or Aristotle; in his view, the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake was a waste of precious time. His only concern was to help us escape from this world of suffering in which we are trapped.

---The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights, by Norm Phelps---


...emptiness does not deny that things exist; it simply denies that they exist as we perceive them.

---The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights, by Norm Phelps---


What does it matter who is at fault? What matters is the tragic estrangement that is taking place, and what is important is that the rupture should be healed.

---Essence of the Dhammapada: The Buddha's Call to Nirvana, by Eknath Easwaran---


The buddha-nature is the innate capacity enabling all who seek the ideal way to attain wisdom and nirvana.

---Kogen Mizuno---

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Water and Wine

Wine is a noble, generous liquor, and so we should be humbly thankful for it;
but as I remember, water was made before it!

---John Eliot---

Persian Pickles

1 cup of bite-sized cauliflower flowerettes, blanched
1 cup of carrot sticks, blanched
1 cup of sliced celery
1 1/2 cups of cider vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 1/2 teaspoons of kosher or pickling salt
A wee pinch of finely minced fresh ginger

Sock the vegetables in water overnight in the refrigerator. Drain when ready to proceed with the recipe.

Mix the vinegar, the garlic, the salt, and the ginger in a small bowl.

Put the drained vegetables in a proper sized jar, pour in the vinegar mixture, and put the lid on the jar.

Marinate the vegetables in the refrigerator for 3 days. Carefully tip the jar upside down and right side up several times a day to help keep things well mixed.



All who would win joy must share in it;
happiness was born a twin.

---Madam Seutchine---

Our Travels


A dining room table with children's eager, hungry faces around it ceases to be a mere dining room table and becomes an altar.

---Simeon Strrunsky---


Life is not so short, but that there is always time for courtesy.

---Ralph Waldo Emerson---


The beauty seen is partly in him who sees it.

---Christian Bovee---

Great Works

Genius begins great works; labor alone finishes them.

---Joseph Joubert---

A World

Each particle of matter is an immensity; each leaf, a world.

---Johann Kaspar Lavater---


Real holiness has love for its essence, humility for its clothing,
and the good of others as its employment.

---Nathaniel Emmons---


To have ideas is to gather flowers;
to think is to weave them into garlands.

---Madam Seutchine---

Why I Don't Spend My Money At Wal-Mart --- Reason Number 69

No Description Applies

When movement stops, there is no movement--
and when no movement, there is no stopping.
When such dualities cease to exist
Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate state
no law or description applies.

---Hsin-Hsin Ming---

Monday, December 23, 2013

A String of Precious Jewels

I'll tell you briefly the fine qualities
Of those on the path of compassion:
Giving, and ethics, patience, and effort,
Concentration, wisdom, compassion
...and such.

Giving is giving away what you have,
And ethics is doing good to others.
Patience is giving up feelings of anger,
And effort is joy that increases all good.

Concentration's one-pointed, free of bad
And wisdom decides what truth really is.
Compassion's a kind of high intelligence
Mixed deep with a love for all living kind.

Giving brings wealth, a good world comes
...from ethics;
Patience brings beauty, eminence comes
...from effort.
Concentration brings peace, and from
...wisdom comes freedom;
Compassion achieves everything we all
...wish for.

A person who takes all seven of these
And perfects them together will reach
That place of inconceivable knowledge
No less than the world's protector.


A Poem by Ryokan

In town
there are sounds
of flutes and drums.
But in this deep mountain
only a pine rustles.

A Poem by Ryokan

How could we discuss
this and that
without knowing
the whole world is
reflected in a single pearl?

A Poem by Ryokan

Before listening to the way, do not fail to wash
....your ears.
Otherwise it will be impossible to listen clearly.
What is washing your ears?
Do not hold on to your view.
If you cling to it even a little bit,
you will lose your way.
What is similar to you but wrong, you regard
...as right.
What is different from you but right, you regard
...as wrong.
You begin with the ideas of right and wrong.
But the way is not so.
Seeking answers with closed ears is
like trying to touch the ocean bottom with a pole.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


When we see clearly, we can change.

---Ayya Khema---