Sunday, March 31, 2013

Reading the "Words of Eihei Dogen"

On a somber spring evening around midnight,
snow sludge sprinkled the bamboo garden.
I wanted so desperately to ease my loneliness.
My hand reached behind me for the Words of Eithei
beneath the open window at my desk.
I offered incense, lit a lamp, and quietly read.
Body and mind dropping away is simply the upright
In one thousand postures, ten thousand appearances,
...a dragon toys with the pearl.
Beyond ordinary thinking the precious tiger is
Thus, Dogen's writings reflect the Buddha's teaching.

I remember the old days when I lived at the Entsu
and my late teacher lectured on the True Dharma Eye.
It was then that I had a breakthrough.
I was granted permission to read it and studied it
Until then I had depended solely on my own limited
Soon after, I left my teacher and became a wandered.

What is my relationship to Dogen?
Everywhere I went, I devotedly practiced the true
...dharma eye.
How many years have passed since then?
Forgetting myself, I returned home and now live in

I take this book and examine it quietly.
Its tone is not in line with the teachings of others.
No one has asked whether it is jade or a pebble.
For five hundred years, it's been covered with dust
simply because no one has an eye for dharma.
For whom was all of his eloquence expounded?
Longing for ancient times and grieving for the
...present, my heart is exhausted.

As I was sitting by the lamp one evening, my tears
...wouldn't stop.
They soaked into the book of the ancient buddha
In the morning an old man living nearby came to thatch hut.
He asked me why the book was damp.
I wanted to speak but didn't, as I was embarrassed.
Deeply distressed, I could not explain.
I dropped my head for a while before finding my
"Last night's rain drenched my basket of books."


Contemplation on No-Coming, No-Going

This body is not me.
I am not limited by this body.
I am life without boundaries.
I have never been born,
and I have never died.

Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars,
manifestations from my wondrous true mind.

Since before time, I have been free.
Birth and death are only doors through which we pass,
sacred thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are a game of hide-and-seek.

So laugh with me,
hold my hand,
let us say good-bye,
say good-bye, to meet again soon.

We meet today.
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.

---From The Ceremony for the Deceased: Seventh and Forth-Nine Days -- Plum Village Chanting and Recitation Book---

Ryokan by Ron Moss

Sentences 15 and 16 from The Hsin-Hsin Ming

The more you talk about it,
the further you wander from the truth.

So cease attachment to talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

When We Sit And Observe

Sitting meditation won't help you to be something different or someone better--though it may help you to see what you are doing to add on to, or fuel, your problems. When we hold still and just observe over time, we see the contrast, the hidden impulsive movements that tie emotions into knots.

---Sokuzan Bob Brown, SokukoJi Buddhist Community, Battle Creek, Michigan---

Who Was Saved?

On a time a wise and holy monk was walking a forest path. Suddenly a deer ran past the old man. The animal sped down the trail in front of the monk.

Moments later a hunter, with a bow and arrow in his hand, appeared running down the path from the same direction the deer had come.

The hunter stopped. “Ascetic, have you seen a deer run down this path?”

“Yes, my young son. I have seen a deer run down this path. It came from the same direction you have come.”

“Thank you, Holy One. Which way did the animal flee?”

The monk pointed into the deep forest to the hunter’s right.

“Seeing you must have frightened the animal,” the hunter said. “He turned and fled into the trees. Thank you once again, Old Monk.”

With that, the hunter left the path and disappeared into the trees.

The monk turned back to the path and continued his journey.

The monk lied. The monk lied to save a Being. For which Being did the monk lie? Who did he save?

The Perfect Toad

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

Fast asleep
On 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---

Bryce Canyon, Lonely Pine

If You Don't Know Where You're Going, Any Road Will Get You There

Closed Ears

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 littel bit,
you will lose your way.
What is similar to you but wrong, you regard right.
What is different from you but right, you regard wrong.
You begin with 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.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Path to Purification

"All conditioned things are impermanent"
--when one sees this with wisdom, one
turns away from Suffering. This is the
path to purification.

"All conditioned things are unsatisfactory"
--when one sees this with wisdom, one turns
away from suffering. This is the path to

"All conditioned things are not-self"
--when one sees this with wisdom,
one turns away from suffering.
This is the path to purification.

---The Dhammapada 277 - 279---

Inside the Brushwood Gate

I don't regard my life
as insufficient.
Inside the brushwood gate
there is a moon;
there are flowers.




The present moment is changing so fast that we often do not notice its existence. Every moment of mind is like a series of pictures passing through a projector. Some of the pictures come from sense impressions. Others come from memories of past experiences or from fantasies of the future. Mindfulness helps us freeze the frame so that we can become aware of our sensations and experiences as they are, without the distorting coloration of socially conditioned responses or habitual reactions.

---Bhante Henepola Gunaratana---

Pro-Life Is Pro-Life Without Any Qualifications

Life is Life.

One cannot claim to protect life during one stage and then ignore it at another. Many who are anti-choice are also anti-insurance; anti-insurance for those unable to insure themselves.

I’m not speaking about lazy people who want to drink or party and are not concerned with their health. I’m speaking of innocent Americans who are unable to make any decision. I’m speaking of Africans babies forgotten in the political mud-slinging in Washington, Moscow, London, Beijing, and at the United Nations.

I’m speaking of Tribal Peoples in the United States who most Americans don‘t even know exist.

I’m speaking of all the forgotten, the unknown, and the ‘who-cares-about-them’.

There are some religious groups who will even allow people to go hungry unless those staving people convert to whatever brand of belief the missionaries are hawking.

Pro-Life is pro-life without any qualifications.

Misguided Humane Standards

Attempts to establish "humane standards" for farming that will permit people to eat animal products with a clear conscience are misguided. They are misguided in a moral sense because they fail to address the ultimate ethical issue: killing for food that we do not need to live--to put it more bluntly, killing for the pleasures of consumption.

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

Just A Philosophy?

So Buddhism is just a philosophy?

The word philosophy comes from two words philo, which means 'love', and sophia which means 'wisdom'. So philosophy is the love of wisdom, or love and wisdom. Both meanings describe Buddhism perfectly. Buddhism teaches that we should try to develop our intellectual ability to the fullest so that we can understand clearly. It also teaches us to develop love and kindness so that we can be like a true friend to all beings. So Buddhism is a philosophy, but not just a philosophy. It is the supreme philosophy.

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

Practice the Continuous Practice

Do not run around after fame and gain in the realm of sound and form. Not running around is the continuous practice transmitted from person to person by buddha ancestors. Mature hermits, beginning hermits, one person, half a person. I ask you to throw away myriad matters and conditions and continuously practice the continuous practice of buddha ancestors.

---Eihei Dogen---

Written In Memory of His Father

In an old temple
deep in Mount Koya,
Kii Province,
I listen to raindrops
falling from a cedar tree.


The Butterfly

The butterfly is perfuming
It's wings in the scent
Of the orchid.


A Monk Sips Morning Tea

A monk sips morning tea,
it's quiet,
the chrysanthemum's flowering.

---Basho, translated by Robert Hass---      


There was no Basho before Basho.
There will be no Basho after Basho.
Ah, Basho, Basho!
Thousands of years later still adored.


Baby Goats

The Moral Vacuum That Ignores The Suffering Of Animals

A trend in contemporary Western Buddhism that is just as pernicious is the growing tendency to treat the Buddha as just another self-help guru, like Wayne Dyer or Dr. Phil, whose lecture series might show up on public television during the pledge drive. According to this school of thought, the purpose of spiritual practice is to reduce stress, lower anxiety, and generally make us better adjusted and less neurotic. Advocates of Buddhism as self-help do not so much deny the importance of compassion as reduce it to a set of mental exercises that fill us with warm fuzzies while having little or no effect on the world around us. The Buddha taught that we cannot achieve our own happiness until we are prepared to sacrifice it for the happiness of others. Buddhist self-help coaches teach that we can not make others happy until we first make ourselves happy. It is, as the saying goes, a question of priorities.

Most of the discussion about whether Buddhists should eat meat takes place in this kind of moral vacuum. That is to say, it deals exclusively with the mental state of the practitioner and ignores the suffering of the animals. As long as this trend continues, the role of veganism in Buddhist practice will never be properly understood.

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

The Reality of Our Experience

Art by Joshua Sierk

Honesty can be cultivated by transforming your inner language. For example, you might think: "I am no good" or "They are not good." Is this true? For some strange reason, people want to wallow in the idea of being either the best or the worst. What is true in this moment? How close can we get to the reality of our experience?

---Martine Batchelor---


When you try to stop activity to achieve quietude,
your very effort fills you with activity.

---Sentence Eleven of the Hsin-Hsin Ming---

Buddhist Moving Company

Friday, March 29, 2013

Breathing In, Breathing Out

Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.
We know that when we are meditating, body and mind are one, so we only need to calm our body to calm our mind.
---Transformation and Healing, by Thich Nhat Hanh---

Self-Guarded and Mindful

You yourself must watch yourself,
you yourself must examine yourself,
and so self-guarded and mindful,
O monk, you will live in happiness.

---The Buddha---

It's Never Too Late

Try to be reasonable in the way you grow, and don't ever think it is too late. It is never too late. Even if you are going to die tomorrow, keep yourself straight and clear and be a happy human being today. If you keep your situation happy day by day, you will eventually reach the greatest happiness of enlightenment.

---Lama Thubten Yeshe---

Vegetarian Pozole

2 ancho chilies, stems, seeds, and veins removed and discarded
1 cup of boiling water
1 cup of chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
30 ounces of vegetable broth
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) of hominy, drained and rinsed
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) of tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup of fresh or frozen whole kernel corn
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Lime wedges
1/3 cup each of thinly sliced lettuce, cabbage, green onion, radish, and shredded carrot as garnish

Cover the chilies with boiling water in a small bowl. Let the chilies stand in the water for 10 minutes. Process the chilies and the water in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Lightly oil a large saucepan. Heat the pan over medium heat until hot.

Saute the onion and the garlic until they're tender. Add the broth and heat to boiling.

Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Add the hominy, the tomatoes, the corn, the oregano, and the thyme. Cook, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls, squeeze the juice from one wedge of lime into each bowl.

Pass the fresh vegetables garnishes.

The Tenth Sentence of the Hsin-Hsin Ming

Be serene and at one with things
and erroneous views will disappear by themselves.

Absolute Joy

When we put an end to our suffering, we feel relative joy. But when all of our concepts of suffering and not suffering cease, we taste absolute joy.

---The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, by Thich Nhat Hanh---

Remaining Poor Suits Seekers Well

Since residing in the Entsu Monastery,
how many winters and springs have passed?
In the neighboring town of one thousand houses,
did I know a single person?
When my robe got filthy, I washed it with my hands.
When food was gone, I went to the city to beg.
What I learned from biographies of accomplished monks:
remaining poor suits us seekers well.


Grasping and Rejecting

Indeed, it is due to our grasping and rejecting
that we do not know the true nature of things.

---Sentence 8 of the Hsin-Hsin Ming---

Right View

Right View is not an ideology, a system, or even a path. It is the insight we have into the reality of life, a living insight that fills us with understanding, peace, and love.

---The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, by Thich Nhat Hanh---

The Internationalism of Zen

The internationalism of Zen was ensured through person-to-person contacts and exchanges, and wide circulation of important writings. If we read famous Zen texts from the 1200's from China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan, the deep unity of intent and vision stands out above the local differences of idiom and emphasis. Chan in China, Son in Korea, Thien in Vietnam, Zen in Japan--the local language varied, but not the message. There was a common stock of Zen lore which Zen teachers in all these countries knew.

---A Buddha From Korea: The Zen Teachings of T'aego, Translated with commentary by J. C. Cleary---

Thursday, March 28, 2013

There Is No Moon, No Finger

You see the moon by pointing your finger.
You recognize the finger by the moon.
The moon and the finger
are not different, not the same.
In order to guide a beginner,
this analogy is temporarily used.
When you have realized this,
there is no moon, no finger.


The Finger and the Moon

Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon's location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger.

The Finger Pointing at the Moon

The nun Wu Jincang asked the Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng, "I have studied the Mahaparinirvana sutra for many years, yet there are many areas I do not quite understand. Please enlighten me."

The patriarch responded, "I am illiterate. Please read out the characters to me and perhaps I will be able to explain the meaning."

"You cannot even recognize the characters. How are you able then to understand the meaning?" the nun responded.

"Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon’s location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?"

As It Really Is

All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no need to exert the mind.
Here, thinking, feeling, understanding, and imagination
are of no value.
In this world “as it really is”
there is neither self nor other-than-self.

---Hsin-Hsin Ming---

One of Ryokan's Death Poems

Showing its back
and showing its front,
a falling maple leaf.


I Purify Myself

I don't tell the murky world
to turn pure.
I purify myself
and check my reflection
in the water of the valley brook.


Harm No Sentient Being

...the Buddha's teaching leads us to the realization that we must always strive to harm no sentient being, human or nonhuman, whether or not it is in our selfish interest to do so.

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


Withdrawing from practicing communities, Ryokan walked alone through mountains and villages, ringing a belled staff and chanting a verse of a sutra at each house. He treated everyone with respect and loving-kindness. Whether people offered him food, ignored him, or harshly drove him away, he was determined to remain true to his path as a monk.

will I taint
my renounced life
for the Buddha,
for the dharma.

Motivation and Intent

Buddhist ethics are not a legalistic system that allows us to justify behavior on the basis of loopholes, technicalities, or a strict construction of the text. Buddhist ethics are based on motivation and intent. An ethical act is one that is driven by love and compassion and guided by the desire to do the least harm possible to any living being in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. An unethical act is one that is driven by craving, fear, or anger and guided by the desire to benefit ourselves by harming another living being. Thinking like a lawyer or an academic and claiming that it is acceptable to harm another sentient being for our own selfish benefit based on hair-splitting distinctions and nimble logic is contrary to the teaching of the Buddha.

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

What Is Buddhism?

What is Buddhism?

The name Buddhism comes from the word budhi which means 'to wake up' and thus Buddhism can be said to be the philosophy of awakening. This philosophy has its origins in the experience of the man Siddhattha Gotama, known as the Buddha, who was himself awakened at the age of 35. Buddhism is now more than 2,500 years old and has about 380 million followers worldwide. Until a hundred years ago Buddhism was mainly as Asian philosophy but increasingly it is gaining adherents in Europe, Australia and the Americas.

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

Days of My Youth

What I remember of my youth:
reading books in an empty room,
pouring oil into the lamp,
savoring a long winter night.


Chili Sweet Soy

1/2 cup of tamari
3/4 of a cup of brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons of finely minced onion
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
2 tablespoons of finely minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon of sambal olek, Tobasco, or your favorite red chili sauce (more or less according to your own taste)

Combine the tamari and the sugar in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture thickens.

Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool.

Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Serve as a dipping sauce.

Our Ideas

We are imprisoned by our ideas of good and evil.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---