Thursday, October 31, 2013


With mindfulness, we are aware of what is going on in our bodies, our feelings, our minds, and the world, and we avoid doing harm to ourselves and others.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---

For Children Killed in a Smallpox Epidemic

When spring arrives
From every tree tip
Flowers will bloom,
But those children
Who fell with last autumn's leaves
Will never return.


Cooked Red Bell Pepper Salad

1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
3 red bell peppers, seeded and finely minced
1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice (do not use bottled juice)
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon of crushed garlic
Salt to taste
Cayenne powder to taste
Minced fresh parsley to garnish

Heat the oil in a large skillet.

Add the minced peppers, the lemon juice, the coriander, the garlic, the salt, and the cayenne powder.

Simmer this mixture until the peppers are tender.

Remove from the heat and cool. Place the mixture in a bowl, cover with a plate or plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Garnish with the parsley just before service.

The Buddha Trained Himself

The Buddha first taught himself to avoid the error of killing any living creature, he wished all people might know the blessedness of a long life.

The Buddha trained himself to avoid the error of stealing, he wished all people might have everything they need.

The Buddha trained himself to avoid ever committing adultery, he wished all people might know the blessedness of a pure spirit and not suffer from insatiable desires.

The Buddha, aiming at his ideal, trained himself to remain free from all deception, he wished all people might know the tranquility of mind that comes from speaking the truth.

He trained himself to avoid double-talk, he wished all people might know the joy of fellowship.

He trained himself to avoid abusing others, and then he wished all might have the serene mind that comes by living in peace with others.

He kept himself free from idle talk, and then wished all might know the blessedness of sympathetic understanding.

The Buddha, aiming at his ideal, trained himself to be free from greed, and by this virtuous deed he wished all people might know the peacefulness that comes with this freedom.

He trained himself to avoid anger, and he wish all people might care for one another.

He trained himself to avoid ignorance, and he wished all people might understand and not disregard the law of causation.

Conform To Their Spirit On Every Occasion

You should respect reach other, follow my teachings, and refrain from disputes; you should not, like water and oil, repel each other, but should, like milk and water, mingle together.

Study together, learn together, practice my teachings together. Do not waste your mind and time in idleness and quarreling. Enjoy the blossoms of Enlightenment in their season and harvest the fruit of the right path.

The teachings which I have given you, I gained by following the path myself. You should follow these teachings and conform to their spirit on every occasion.

---The Buddha---

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---

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baked Onions Stuffed with Feta

4 large red onions
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 cup of pine nuts
4 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup of fresh white bread crumbs
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh cilantro
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lightly grease a shallow ovenproof dish.

Peel the onions and cut a thin slice from the top and bottom of each. Place the onions in a large saucepan of boiling water and cook for 10 minutes.

Remove the onions from the water with a slotted spoon. Place them on a towel or drying rack to drain and slightly cool.

Using a small knife or your fingers, remove the inner sections of the onions, leaving two or three outer rings.

Finely chop the inner onion sections.

Place the outer onion shells in the greased dish.

Heat the oil in a medium-size frying pan and saute the chopped onion for 5 minutes, or until golden.

Add the pine nuts and stir-fry for a few minutes more.

Place the feta in a small bowl and stir in the onion and pine nut mixture.

Stir in the bread crumbs and the cilantro.

Season with a little salt and pepper.

Spoon the mixture into the onion shells. Cover the filled onions loosely with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil during the last 10 minutes to allow the onions to brown slightly.

Serve hot.


Evolution is not about the origin of life; it's about the diversity of life.

Frittata with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

6 sun-dried tomatoes, dry or packet in oil and drained
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
A pinch of fresh thyme leaves
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 eggs
1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place the tomatoes in a small bowl and pour on enough hot water to just cover them. Soak them for 15 minutes. Lift the tomatoes out of the water and slice them into thin strips. reserve the soaking water.

Heat the oil over moderate heat in a large, heavy skillet. Stir in the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the thyme and continue to stir over moderate heat for 3 minutes.

Season to taste with the salt and the pepper.

Break the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the tomato soaking water and the Parmesan cheese.

Raise the heat under the pan. When the pan is very hot, pour in the eggs. Mix them quickly with the other ingredients and stop stirring. (You do not want to make scrambled eggs.)

Lower the heat to moderate and cook for 5 minutes.

Preheat the broiler to high. Place the pan a few inches from the heat and cook until the top is golden and the egg is set.

Take the pan out of the oven and put a large serving place over it.

Turn the plate over and remove the pan.

Slice the frittata into wedges and serve with a green salad.

The True Buddha

But the true Buddha is not a human body: -- it is Enlightenment. A human body must die, but the Wisdom of Enlightenment will exist forever in the truth of the Dharma, and in the practice of the Dharma.

---The Teaching of Buddha---

Your Mind

The point of the teachings is to control your own mind. Keep your mind from greed, and you will keep your behaviour [sic] right, your mind pure and your words faithful. By always thinking about the transiency of your life, you will be able to resist greed and anger, and will be able to avoid all evils.

---The Teaching of Buddha---

Some Thoughts on Karma

The word Karma means action; action perform by one's word's, body, or mind.

Karma is not a moral judgment.

Karma is not a bearded old man sitting on a cloud with a ledger recording your positive and negative deeds.

You perform an action; you say something, do something, think something - an action, karma.

You put something (karma) into play and it will play itself out.

Both wholesome and unwholesome karma play out. One does not cancel out another.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Gatha of Surrender

I will let my inner experiences arise.
I will rest without making efforts.
I will leave my mind as a brilliant radiance
Like the sun free from clouds.
I will let my mind's vivid cognition be free of clinging.
I will be like a young child looking inside a temple.
I will let my mind rest in serene, vast calmness,
Like an ocean free of waves.
I will let thoughts vanish without a trace,
Like a bird's flight that leaves no trace in the sky.
An experience of bliss will arise,
I will not have any attachment
Toward whichever experience arises--
Bliss, clarity, or no-thought.
I will simply allow it to remain in its vividness.
If I preserve the natural state of my mind in this way,
At the moment of death I will be liberated.
I will not forget this advice, but will keep it in the core of my heart.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Don’t misdirect your attention. The sutras only say to take refuge in the buddha of yourselves. They don’t say to take refuge in some other buddha. If you don’t take refuge in your own nature, there’s no other place of refuge.

---The Platform Sutra---

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Proper Concentration

One-pointedness of mind towards the wholesome.

Proper Mindfulness

Constant awareness of body, feelings, mind, and ideas.

Proper Effort

Avoiding and reject ignoble qualities. Fostering noble qualities.

Proper Livelihood

To make your living by a means that does not cause harm or injustice to other living beings.

Proper Action

Following the Five Precepts in both their negative and positive form.

1...To respect and protect life.
2...To respect and protect the property of others.
3...To honor sexuality.
4...To honor speech in all its applications.
5...To honor and respect oneself.

Proper Speech

Refraining from lying, harsh talk, gossip or truth that is meant only to hurt. To honor truth and goodness. To understand that words cut as deeply and as deadly as any knife.

Proper Thought

Our minds should be pure and free from ill-will, cruelty, and the like.

Proper Understanding

To begin walking the Path, the Buddhist Path, the Way of the Buddha-Dharma, we must see life, and face life as it truly is in accord with its three characteristics of impermanence, dukkha, and no-self.

Here and Now

Truth or Opinion

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

---Hsin-Hsin Ming---

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oneness Itself Cannot Exist

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---

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Precepts

"Use the precepts as a mirror," Thich Nhat Hanh says.

Allow the precepts to be your ally, not your master.

Our Failures

I believe that it is through our failures that the muscles of truth, compassion, and courage strengthen.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---

The Middle Path the Fourth Noble Truth the Buddha gives us not a philosophy but a method to bring an end to our suffering: the Noble Eightfold Path. He is not asking us to lead a life of self-abnegation, as an end to selfish desire might imply. He gives us what he called the Middle Path. neither self-indulgence nor self-denial.


Buddhists use this word [delusions] in reference to four mistaken beliefs: the belief that something that is impermanent is permanent, the belief that something that is impure is pure, the belief that something that is painful is pleasurable, and the belief that something that has no independent existence has independent existence. All of our delusions can be subsumed under one of these four mistaken beliefs.

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

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Owl

Midday owl
eyes squinting
I can't see a thing.
Just wait.
Your night's sure to come.

---Ko Un---

Lettuce Soup

1 cup of chopped onions
1 garlic of clove, chopped
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup of potato, peeled and diced small
8 cups of coarsely chopped lettuce leaves including the ribs (about 3/4 pound)
3 cups of a fine vegetable broth

In a soup pot or Dutch oven, cook the onion and the garlic in 2 tablespoons butter over moderately low heat, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir often.

Add the coriander, the salt, and the pepper and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Stir in the potato, the lettuce, and the water. Bring it all to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the potato is very tender, about 10 minutes or so.

Purée the soup.

Return the pureed soup to a simmer. Whisk in remaining tablespoon of butter and adjust the seasoning.


Note: You can use scallions or shallots instead of the onion. Leeks also work well.

Add some crushed pepper for fun.

A variety of greens including beet greens, bok choy, and kale may be used instead of the lettuce.

Play around with this, it’s a great basic recipe.

Sanatana Dharma

He [the Buddha] argues with no one, denies no faith, convinces only with truth and love. He brought not so much a new religion as sanatana dharma, "the eternal dharma," the name India has always given to religion itself.

---Eknath Easwaran, in his introduction to his translation of the Dhammapada---

Practicing Charity

In practicing charity, or any of the perfections, the Buddha warns against attachment to three things: the practitioner (in this case, the person who gives); the beneficiary (the recipient); and the practice (the giving of the gift). In his "Outline of Practice," Bodhidharma says, "Since what is real includes nothing worth begrudging, we give our bodies, our lives, and our property in charity, without regret, without vanity of giver, gift, or recipient, and without bias or attachment. To get rid of obstructions, we teach others, but without becoming attached to appearances. Thus, while we ourselves practice, we are able to help others as well as to glorify the Path of Enlightenment. And as with charity, so do we also practice the other five paramitas. But while practicing the six paramitas to eliminate delusion, we practice nothing at all. This is what is meant by practicing the Dharma." (The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma, p.7)

---Red Pine in his commentary on the Diamond Sutra---

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Taking Refuge in Yourself

Beginning today, call the Buddha your teacher. Never again take refuge in the mistaken teachings of other paths. And may you experience the compassion of your own Three Treasures. Good friends, I urge you all to take refuge in the Three Treasures of your own nature, wherein 'Buddha' means enlightenment, 'Dharma' means truth, and 'Sangha' means purity.

Take refuge in the enlightenment of your own minds. Those whose delusions do not arise, who have few desires and who know contentment, who are free from wealth and sex, they are called the 'best of two-legged creatures'.

Take refuge in the truth of your own minds. When your thoughts are free from delusions, you are therefore free from attachment. And freedom from attachment is called the 'best of what transcends desire'.

Take refuge in the purity of your own minds. No matter how many afflictions and delusions are present in your nature, because your nature remains uncorrupted, this is called the 'best of congregations'.

Ordinary people don't understand this. Day after day, they recite the Precepts of the Triple Refuge. But when they say they take refuge in the Buddha, where is the Buddha? If they don't see the Buddha, they aren't taking refuge in anything. And if they aren't taking refuge in anything, their words are false.

Good friends, each of you should examine this for yourselves. Don't misdirect your attention. The sutras only say to take refuge in the buddha of yourselves. They don't say to take refuge in some other buddha. If you don't take refuge in your own nature, there's no other place of refuge.

---The Platform Sutra---

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Cause of Our Illness

The cause of our illness is not desire; it is selfish desire that the Buddha calls thirst.

---The Essence of the Dhammapada, by Eknath Easwaran---

The Buddha's Ear Lobes

The ear lobe (kannapatta) is the soft nodule that hangs below the pinna of the outer ear. On both ancient and modern Buddha statues in all cultures the earlobes are depicted as elongated and usually with a hole in them. Most Buddha statues are meant to be symbols of the enlightened state as much as they are portraits of the Buddha himself. However, the elongated ear lobes on statues are the survival of a distant memory of what the Buddha actually looked like. In ancient India men and women commonly wore ear plugs. Children's ear lobes were pierced and a small clay cylinder was put in the holes. As the child grew, increasingly large cylinders were put in the lobes until they had stretched enough to accommodate plugs with diameters of up to 6 centimeters. Hundreds of these objects have been found by archaeologists and are displayed in some museums in India. Prince Siddhattha would have worn such plugs when he was a lay man and would have taken then off when he renounced the world, leaving his ear lobes elongated.

---A Guide to Buddhism A to Z, by S. Dhammika---

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What Is Nirvana?

When all that we are not has been eliminated, what remains is nirvana. Nirvana cannot be described; the experience of not-self cannot be described. Sometimes peculiar statements are made about what these mean when writers and philosophers try to describe a condition which is beyond subject and object, knower and known. This is where the Buddha adopted a practical outlook: if you want to know nirvana there is only one way, and that is for you to find out for yourself. There is no other way.

---The Essence of the Dhammapada, by Eknath Easwaran---

Divination, Magic, Luck and Fate

Divination is the supposed ability to tell the future, magic is a power that is supposed to be able to change the course of natural events by other than normal means. Luck is a quality which, if a person has it, is able to confer on him or her success or happiness, while fate is the supposed pre-determined course of all events. The Buddha dubbed all these things 'base arts' and expressly forbade his monks and nuns to practice them (Digha Nikaya I, 9). He said that a good monk 'will not chant magic charms, interperate [sic] dreams or signs or practice astrology'.... The Tipitake lists some of the people who may be reborn in purgatory; among them are executioners, butchers, slanders, corrupt judges and fortune tellers. (Samyutta Nikaya II, 255-261).

The Buddha was probably opposed to all these superstitions for several reasons. Firstly, the belief in luck and fate contradicts the teaching of karma. The practice of divination and magic is inevitably related to a concern with wealth and thus reinforces ignorance and greed. Fortune tellers and the hawking of magic charms and amulets usually involve fraud, dishonesty and cheating. Paradoxically, all these superstitions are widely accepted as true in most Buddhist countries today and are often practiced by monks.

---A Guide to Buddhism A to Z, by S. Dhammika---

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Religious Freedom

In Buddhism, the individual is free to believe or not according to his or her inclinations and understanding.

---A Guide to Buddhism A to Z, by S. Dhammika---


Bodhidharma is remembered for having introduced Ch'an Buddhism into China. Hui-K'o is regarded as his successor. Four generations later, with the teachings of its sixth Chinese patriarch, Hui-neng, Ch'an emerged out of relative obscurity to become one of the most influential Buddhist movements in East Asia.

---Stephen Batchelor---


Ten Un-virtuous Action
1......Harming any Sentient Being.
3......Sexual Misconduct.
6......Abusive Speech.
9......Thoughts of wanting to harm another.
10......Wrong view--unwholesome doubt and skepticism.
Ten Wholesome Actions
1......Saving and protecting life.
3......Honoring relationships in sexual activity.
4......Telling the truth.
5......Speaking to create harmony.
6......Help others to form good intentions.
7......Rejoicing in the happiness of others.
8......Thinking kind and helpful thoughts.
9......Learning the Right View of how things are.
10......Create benefit for others.
Today, Teacher shared these two different approaches. He asked us to look at both and then throw out the Ten In-virtuous Actions and practice the Ten Wholesome Actions.

Opinion versus Opinion

Opinion A speaks to Opinion B. Opinion A explains itself. Opinion B explains itself. Opinion A disagrees and explains why. Opinion B disagrees and explains why.

Opinion A says, “You don’t understand what I’m saying. If you did you’d change and agree with me.”

Opinion B says, “No, I understand I simply disagree. You don’t understand what I’m saying. If you did you’d change and agree with me.”

They go on in this manner for sometime. Each believes the other fails to understand their particular point. If the ‘other’ simply understood they’d change and agree.

In the attempt to help the ‘other’ understand, voices are raised. Faces redden.

Hands slap tables.

Fists hit tables.

Words, curses, oaths are thrown.

Slaps are given.

Fists are swung.

Bullets are shot.

Bombs are dropped.

Children are killed.

All because of two differing opinions.

The anger that comes from this not agreeing is the dangerous, tragic, and deadly symptom of the greater problem: “My opinion is correct and your opinion is wrong.”

The Third Ch’an (Zen) Patriarch, Seng-Ts’an, wrote:

“If you wish to know the truth,
then hold to no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.”

How do we do this?


It’s called a practice for a reason.

Live a life guided by wisdom and compassion. Allow each moment to unfold. And address that unfolding spontaneously. Address each moment for what it is; not for what you think, hope, or want it to be.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Holy Truth, Icon, Obstacle

The Buddha's "holy truths" of understanding anguish, letting go of craving, realizing cessation and cultivating a path are not things in which to believe so much as injunctions on which to act. As soon as they as elevated to the status of icons, they can be as much an obstacle as anything else.

---Stephen Batchelor---


Buddhas say emptiness
Is relinquishing opinions.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Empathetic Ethics

When I act for the sake of others,
No amazement or conceit arises.
Just like feeding myself,
I hope for nothing in return.

---The Way of the Bodhisattva 8:116---