Monday, September 30, 2013

Our Thoughts

All that we are is the result of our thoughts; it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. If you speak or act with a harmful thought, trouble will follow you as the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

All that we are is the result of our thoughts; it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. If you speak or act with a harmonious thought, happiness will follow you as your own shadow, never leaving you.

---The Dhammapada---

The Slide

From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.

---Denis Diderot---


Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.

---David Hume---


If a tree dies, plant another in its place.

---Carl von Linne (Carolus Linnaeus)---

War and Peace

There never was a good war or a bad peace.

---Benjamin Franklin---

The Daily Path

The first step is the hardest.

---Marie de Vichy-Chamrond, Marquise du Deffand---

Civilized Humanity

Love truth, but pardon error.

---Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire---

An Aspect of the Fourth Precept

The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.

---Frrrancois-Marie Arouet Voltaire---


In this world, you must be a bit too kind in order to be kind enough.

---Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux---

Don't Lose Your Queen

Many people seem to think that a universal conception of morality requires that we find moral principles that admit of no exceptions. If, for instance, it is truly wrong to lie, it must always be wrong to lie--and if one can find a single exception, any notion of moral truth must be abandoned. But the existence of moral truth--that is, the connection between how we think and behave and our well-being--does not require that we define morality in terms of unvarying moral precepts. Morality could be a lot like chess: there are surely principles that generally apply, but they might admit of important exceptions. If you want to play good chess, a principle like "Don't lose your Queen" is almost always worth following. But it admits of exceptions: sometimes sacrificing your Queen is a brilliant thing to do; occasionally, it is the only thing you can do. It remains a fact, however, that from any position in a game of chess there will be a range of objectively good moves and objectively bad ones. If there are objective truths to be known about human well-being--if kindness, for instance, is generally more conducive to happiness than cruelty is--then science should one day be able to make very precise claims about which of our behaviors and uses of attention are morally good, which are neutral, and which are worth abandoning.

---The Moral Landscape, by Sam Harris---

Kobayashi Issa and the Sail

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sending Off The Monk Yang

After frost, one learns which stalks are strong--
one can see which man is tall when entering water.
I've prepared you for the windswept road--
immerse yourself in the practice; don't slip into dust.


Raspberry-Glazed Beets

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of mirin
2 tablespoons of raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
4 beets, each 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter, peeled, halved vertically, and thinly sliced

Whisk the mirin and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beets and toss gently to coat with the oil.

Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover, stir, re-cover, and cook for 3 more minutes.

Repeat this until the beets have reached the desired doneness. Depending on the thickness of the beet slices, this may take 15 to 20 minutes.

When the desired doneness has been reached, remove the cover, increase the heat to high, and add the mirin-vinegar mixture.

Stir frequently until the liquid becomes a glossy glaze, perhaps 2 or 3 minutes.


The Ten Bodhisattva Precepts

1...Not to kill or encourage others to kill.

2...Not to steal or encourage others to steal.

3...Not to engage in licentious acts or encourage others to do so.

4...Not to use false words and speech, or encourage others to do so.

5...Not to trade or sell alcoholic beverages or encourage others to do so.

6...Not to broadcast the misdeeds or faults of the Buddhist assembly, nor encourage
others to do so.

7...Not to praise oneself and speak ill of others, or encourage others to do so.

8...Not to be stingy, or encourage others to do so.

9...Not to harbor anger or encourage others to be angry.

10...Not to speak ill of the Buddha, the Dharma or the Sangha or encourage others to do

Every Day and Night

Make your day productive
whether by little or much.
Every day and night that passes,
your life is that much less.

---The Theragatha 451---

Come and See, Not Come and Believe

The teaching of the Buddha is qualified as ehi-passika, inviting you to 'come and see', but not to come and believe.

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

No Higher Being Sits In Judgment Over Humanity

Man's position, according to Buddhism, is supreme. Man is his own master, and there is no higher being or power that sits in judgment over his destiny.

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

Grief and Fear

From craving arises grief, from craving arises fear;
for he who is free from craving there is no grief, much less fear.

---The Buddha---


Anything that we have attachment to or craving for, which changes or is lost, causes suffering.

---The First Discourse of the Buddha, by Dr. Rewata Dhamma---

The Six Realms

These realms are symbolic of states of mind or modes of existence.
The God Realm, the Devas
Born into this real because of predominance of pride.

The gods lead long and enjoyable lives full of pleasure and abundance, but they spend their lives pursuing meaningless distractions and never think to practice the dharma. When death comes to them, they are completely unprepared; without realizing it, they have completely exhausted their good karma (which was the cause for being reborn in the god realm) and they suffer through being reborn in the lower realms.

The Demi-God Realm, the Asuras

Born into this realm because of a predominance of jealousy.

The demi-gods have pleasure and abundance almost as much as the gods, but they spend their time fighting among themselves or making war on the gods. When they make war on the gods, they always lose, since the gods are much more powerful. The demi-gods suffer from constant fighting and jealousy, and from being killed and wounded in their wars with each other and with the gods.

The Human Realm, the Humans

Born into this realm because of a predominance of lust.

Humans suffer from hunger, thirst, heat, cold, separation from friends, being attacked by enemies, not getting what they want, and getting what they don't want. They also suffer from the general sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death. Yet the human realm is considered to be the most suitable realm for practicing the dharma, because humans are not completely distracted by pleasure (like the gods or demi-gods) or by pain and suffering (like the beings in the lower realms).


The Animal Realm, the Animals

Born into this realm because of a predominance of ignorance.

Animals suffer from being attacked and eaten by other animals; they generally lead lives of constant fear. Domestic animals suffer from being exploited by humans, they are slaughtered for food, overworked, and abused. Some wild animals are captured and forced to perform in circuses.

The Hungry Ghost Realm, the Pretas

Born into this realm because of a predominance of greed.

The hungry ghosts suffer from extreme hunger and thirst. They wander constantly in search of food and drink, only to be miserably frustrated any time they come close to actually getting what they want. For example, they see a stream of pure, clear water in the distance, but by the time they get there the stream has dried up. Hungry ghosts have huge bellies, long thin necks, and tiny mouths. On the rare occasions that they do manage to find something to eat or drink, the food or water burns their neck as it goes down to their belly, causing them intense agony.

The Hell Realm, Hell Beings or Hell Denizens

Born into this realm because of a predominance of hatred. (Not because of any supposed sin.)

The hell beings endure unimaginable suffering for eons of time. There are actually eighteen different types of hells, each inflicting a different kind of torment. In the hot hells, beings suffer from unbearable heat and continual torments of various kinds. In the cold hells, beings suffer from unbearable cold and other torments.

The Five Moral Precepts

Summer Breeze by Jolita at Red Ant Art

To respect life. To defend life. To refrain from harming life.

To respect the property of others. To defend the property of others. To refrain from taking what is not freely given.

To respect personal boundaries. To defend personal boundaries. To refrain from sexual misconduct.

To respect the use of language and words. To defend the truth. To refrain from false, harmful, and harsh speech.

To respect my mind and body. To protect my mind and body. To refrain from taking anything that would cause intoxication and heedlessness.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Disastrous Practice of Corporal Punishment

...all the research indicates that corporal punishment is a disastrous practice, leading to more violence and social pathology--and, perversely, to greater support for corporal punishment.

---The Moral Landscape, by Sam Harris---

Human Well-Being

...human well-being entirely depends on events in the world and on states of the human brain. Consequently, there must be scientific truths to be known about it.

---The Moral Landscape, by Sam Harris---

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fortune-Telling and Charms

Hard work is the luckiest star.

Although Buddhism does not refute belief in deities, spirits, astrology and fortune-telling, the Buddha's advice was that people should not be slaves to any of those forces. A good Buddhist can overcome all his difficulties if he knows how to make use of his intelligence and will-power. The above mentioned beliefs have no spiritual significance or value. Man must overcome all his problems and difficulties by his own efforts and not through the medium of deities, spirits astrology or fortune-telling.

In one of the Buddhist Jataka stories, the Bodhisattva said:

'The fool may watch for lucky days,
Yet luck he shall always miss,
The luck itself is luck's own star,
What can mere stars achieve?'

He believed that hard work was the luckiest star and one should not waste time by consulting stars and luck days in order to achieve success.  To do your best to help yourself is better than to rely solely on the stars or external sources.

Although some Buddhists practice fortune-telling and dispense some forms of charms or amulets under the guise of religion, the Buddha at no time encourage anyone to practice such things. Like fortune-telling, charms come under the category of superstition, and have no religious value. Yet there are many people today who, because of sickness and misfortunes attribute the cause of their illness and ill-luck to the power of charms. When the cause of certain sicknesses and misfortunes cannot be ascertained or traced, many people tend to believe that their problems are due to charms or some other external causes. They have forgotten that they are now living in the twentieth century. This is the modern age of scientific development and achievement. Our leading scientists have thrown aside many superstitious beliefs and they have even placed men on the moon.

All sicknesses owe their origin to either mental or physical causes. In Shakespeare, Macbeth asked a doctor if there was any medicine that could cure his wife and the doctor replied: 'More needs she the divine than the physician.' What he meant was that some diseases could only be cured if the mind was purified. Some severe mental disorders manifest themselves in a physical manner--ulcers, stomach aches, and so on.


Buddhist are strongly advised against falling into the miserable pit of superstitious beliefs and allowing the mind to be troubled by unnecessary and unfounded fears. Cultivate a strong willpower by refusing to believe in the influence of charms.

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


Rejoice at the glad tidings! The Buddha, our Lord, has found the root of all evil; he has shown us the way of salvation.

The Buddha dispels the illusions of our mind and redeems us from the terror of death.

The Buddha, our Lord, brings comfort to the weary and sorrow-laden; he restores peace to those who are broken down under the burden of life. He gives courage to the weak when they would fain give up self-reliance and hope.

Ye that suffer from the tribulations of life, ye that have to struggle and endure, ye that yearn for a life of truth, rejoice at the glad tidings!

There is balm for the wounded, and there is bread for the hungry. There is water for the thirsty, and there is hope for the despairing. There is light for those in darkness, and there is inexhaustible blessing for the upright.

Heal your wounds, ye wounded, and eat your fill, ye hungry. Rest, ye weary, and ye who are thirsty quench your thirst. Look up to the light, ye that sit in darkness; be full of good cheer, ye that are forlorn.

Trust in truth, ye that love the truth, for the kingdom of righteousness is founded upon earth. The darkness of error is dispelled by the light of truth. We can see our way and take firm and certain steps.

The Buddha, our Lord, has revealed the truth.

The truth cures our diseases and redeems us from perdition; the truth strengthens us in life and in death; the truth alone can conquer the evils of error.

Rejoice at the glad tidings!

---The Gospel of the Buddha 1:1-10, by Paul Carus---

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Hopes of Its Children

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who are hungry and not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone it’s spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

---Dwight D. Eisenhower---

The World and the Mind

The world is apprehended by way of the mind
The world is acted upon by way of the mind
And all good things and bad
Exist is the world by way of the mind.

---Samyutta Nikaya---


Whatever you are doing at any time, you are physically modifying your brain to become better at it.

So if you are practicing anger, you are modifying your brain to be better at it.

If you are practicing kindness, you are modifying your brain to become better at it.

And on and on and on.

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---

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Medicine single teaching is inherently better than other teachings, just as no medicine is a panacea. Each medicine has to suit the disease and the patient for whom it is intended. Still, some people are better physicians than others, and some people are better teachers. But sooner or later, we all need a dose of this direct teaching, whether it's administered by Hui-neng or someone else, simply because it deals with the root of all diseases, our refusal to face ourselves.

---Red Pine, in his commentary on the Platform Sutra.---

Pure Land

As long as you resolve to cultivate purity within yourselves, that is the Western Paradise.

---The Platform Sutra---


Hasten to do good; refrain from evil. If you
neglect the good, evil will enter your mind.

If you do what is evil, do not repeat it or take
pleasure in making in a habit. An evil habit will cause
nothing but suffering.

If you do what is good, keep repeating it and take
pleasure in making it a habit. A good habit will
cause nothing but joy.

---The Dhammapada 116 - 118---

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Freedom From Fear

If guilt is looking at the brick wall of our past and seeing only the two bad bricks we've laid, then fear is staring at the brick wall of our future and seeing only what might go wrong. When we are blinded by fear, we just can't see the rest of the wall that's made up of what might go perfectly well. Fear, then, is overcome by seeing the whole of the wall...

---Ajahn Brahm---

Corn Pie

Pastry for a 2-crust pie
3 cup of fresh corn
1 1/2 cups of raw potatoes, peeled and diced
2 or 3 hard boiled eggs, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of flour

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a casserole or a deep pie dish with the bottom pastry.

Combine the corn, the potatoes, and the eggs and pour into the pastry-lined dish. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the flour. Add enough milk to cover the vegetables.

Cover the pie with the top pastry. Pinch the edges together to seal the pie. Make a small slit in the top crust to vent the steam.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is browned and the milk is bubbly throughout.

An Ancient Chinese Proverb

Grant yourself a moment of peace,
and you will understand
how foolishly you have scurried about.
Learn to be silent,
and you notice that
you have talked too much.
Be kind,
and you will realize that
your judgment of others was too severe.

The Life of the Buddha in Vignettes

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Babel and Babble

In origin, Babel and babble have nothing to do with each other. Babble first appeared in English around 1250 and is probably an example of onomatopoeia. That is, the sound of the word babble mimics the "ba-ba" sounds repeated by children learning to speak--and perhaps also the sounds made by the flapping lips of talkative adults.


Whether you say "ACK-you-min" or "a-CUE-min," it is no reflection on your linguistic acumen. Both pronunciations are acceptable--although nowadays "ACK-you-min" is heard much more than "a-ACU-min."


You yourself are the nature of suchness. View all dharmas with wisdom. Neither grasp or reject them. This is the way to see your nature and become a buddha.

---The Platform Sutra---


Good friends, what does repentance mean? Repentance means to be aware of past misdeeds and not to commit them again for the rest of your life.

---The Platform Sutra---

Taking Refuge

Those of you who take refuge in yourselves, if you get rid of bad thoughts and bad practices, this is called taking refuge.

---The Platform Sutra---

Our Nature Is Constantly Transforming Itself

Malice turns us into beasts. Compassion turns us into bodhisattvas. Wisdom transports us to the higher realms, and ignorance sends us into the lower depths. Our nature is constantly transforming itself. But deluded people are unaware of this.

---The Platform Sutra---

Monday, September 9, 2013

Buddha Nature

Good friends, buddha nature isn't different for the ignorant and the wise. It's just that people are deluded or awake. When people are deluded, they're ignorant. When they wake up, they become wise.



All entities are seen as dependent in time or space on other entities and because of this are empty of any nature of their own.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Barrier of Words

Before we understand, we depend on instruction. After we understand, instruction is irrelevant. The dharmas taught by the Tathagata sometimes teach existence and sometimes teach non-existence. They are all medicines suited to the illness. There is no single teaching. But in understanding such flexible teachings, if we should become attached to existence or to non-existence, we will be stricken by the illness of dharma-attachment. Teachings are only teachings. None of them is real. The Buddha tells us that there is no teaching and that we should break through the barrier of words.

---Chi-fo (aka, Feng-seng)---

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Gatha For Master Chinul

Before, the fan was in my old master’s hand,
Now it is in your disciple’s.
If you meet with burning haste and mad action,
There is nothing wrong with cooling it with a fresh breeze.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

No Need To Go Searching Outside Yourself

In the beginning you must rely on a teacher to instruct and advise you. When you understand, then practice. When the teacher has instructed you to follow the instructions. If you understand the practice it's no longer necessary for the teacher to teach you; just do the work yourselves.

You may wish to travel, to visit other teachers and try other systems. This is a natural desire. You will find that a thousand questions asked and knowledge of many systems will not bring you to the truth. Eventually you will get bored. You will see that only by stopping and examining your own mind can you find out what the Buddha talked about. No need to go searching outside yourself. Eventually you must return to face your own true nature. Here is where you can understand the Dharma.

If you have any questions, you're welcome to come and ask them at any time But we don't need daily interviews here. If I answer your every little question, you will never understand the process of doubt in your own mind...

Even if the teacher speaks the truth, don't just believe it, because you don't yet know the truth of it for yourself.

---Luang Por Ajahn Chah---

Monday, September 2, 2013


1915 to the present.

Meng-ts'an is a Chinese monk who studied under Tz'u-chou, Hsu-yun, and Hung-yi and who also spent ten years in Tibet studying with the Panchen Lama and other Tantric masters.

Suspected of anti-revolutionary activities, he was arrested in 1950 and sentenced to thirty-three years in prison, eighteen of which he spent doing hard labor.

He was released in 1982 and is one of the most respect monks in mainland China.

His commentary of the Diamond Sutra was delivered in Los Angeles in 1989.

Intelligence Differentiates, Wisdom Does Not

The Buddha is telling Subhuti, "If you want to still and control your mind, this is what you must do. You must vow to free all beings without becoming attached to the perception of a being. This is how you should vow to free all beings." To do this, you need to make use of wisdom, not intelligence. Intelligence differentiates, wisdom does not.

---Meng-ts'an commenting on the Diamond Sutra---

Peach Bisque

This recipe may be adapted for many different fruits.

1 pound of peaches, fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw and drain)
6 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 cup of sour cream
1 cup of milk
1 pint of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons of brandy (do not use a brandy you wouldn't drink)
Whipped cream for garish
Fresh peach slices for garnish

In a blender or food processor puree the peaches with the sugar.

Add the sour cream, the milk, the cream, and half of the spices.

Refrigerate for several hours to blend the flavors.

Just before serving, stir in the brandy.

Serve in chilled bowls.

Sprinkle the top of each serving with some of the remaining spices, two slices of fresh peach and a dollop of whipped cream.