Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Great Buddha at Nara

Out from the hollow
....of Great Buddha's nose--
.......comes a swallow.

---Issa (1762-1826)---

Alice and the Cat

A Poem

The baby starts to crawl,
...then stops, and laughs--the shades
......of autumn fall.

---Issa (1762-1826)---

The End of Autumn

Frost! You may fall!
...After chrysanthemums there are flowers at all.

---Oemaru (1722-1805)---

The Lotus Sutra

The Lotus Sutra. Ultimate reality.
So far
you've been bashing me badly.
I'll cudgel you, bastard.
Oh! Ouch!
Take that too.
Oh! Ouch!
Oh! Ouch!

The Lotus Sutra dashed away.
............Fields open wide, once farmers
have gone.

---Ko Un---

Advice From Teacher

Karma is simply action.

See it not as a continuation of personality or self or consciousness 
but as the completion of actions that takes time to unfold.

Once there is no more action to unfold –

The challenge is not to put, or set, any volitional actions into motions.

Difficult, but not impossible.  

Red Beet Eggs

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
2 1/2 cups of leftover sweet and sour beet juice, or pickled beet juice

Place the peeled cooked eggs in a glass container. An empty pickle jar works well. Do not use plastic, it will stain and impart a noticeable flavor to the eggs.

Heat the juice to almost boiling. Cool slightly and pour over the eggs. Close the jar and once it has cooled to the touch, refrigerate, at least, overnight.

To serve, slice the eggs in half lengthwise.

Friday, November 29, 2013


Do not seek perfection in a changing world,
Instead, perfect your mind.

You Might Be...

The Buddha's Silence

The Buddha, who had realized the true nature of things, the true nature of reality, on occasion remained silent when questions were presented to him.

These questions usually had nothing to do with alleviating suffering and pain, dukkha. Most of the time they were philosophical or doctrinal in nature. Sometimes they were simply meant to begin an argument.

An ordinary, unenlightened person may believe they have the answer to the questions the Buddha answered with silence. But all of it would be sheer conjecture based on imagination.

The Buddha's Silence

The scriptures mention in a few places when the Buddha answered questions with silence.

The Buddha remained silent when he knew the questioner was not prepared or yet ready to understand the answer, or if the questions were wrongly put or irrelevant.

Here are ten questions the Buddha answered with silence:

1.........Is the Universe eternal?

2.........Is the Universe not eternal?

3.........Is the Universe finite?

4.........Is the Universe infinite?

5.........Is the soul the same as the body?

6.........Is the soul one thing and the body another?

7.........Does the Tathagata [the Buddha] exist after death?

8.........Does the Tathagata not exist after death?

9.........Does the Buddha (at the same time) exist and not exist after death?

10.......Does the Buddha both (at the same time) neither exist nor not exist?

Cultured and Civilized

The Buddha's Teachings were introduced in order that societies could be cultured and civilized and live in peace and harmony.

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

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Soba with Shiitake Dashi

Shiitake Dashi:
8 dried shiitake mushrooms
3/4 cup of sake
1/2 cup of tamari
1 tablespoon of mirin
2 pinches of salt
1/4 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice

The Condiments:
2 sheets of nori, thinly shredded
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, toasted and ground
2 teaspoons of wasbi powder, mixed with just enough water to form a soft paste
1 2-inch piece of daikon, peeled and grated
1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated

To Prepare the Dashi:
In a small sauce pan, bring 2 3/4 cups of water and the dried mushrooms to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

Transfer the mushrooms to a small bowl with a slotted spoon and reserve for another use.

Strain the broth through a fine sieve of a coffee filter placed in a strainer set over a medium saucepan to remove any dirt.

Add the sake, the tamari, the mirin, and the salt to the mushroom broth and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the alcohol aroma disappears, about 15 minutes.

Remove the dashi from the heat and add the lemon juice. Serve.

While cooking the alcohol from the dashi, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the soba and cook until the desired doneness is achieved, anywhere form 5 to 8 minutes.

Drain the soba, rinse well under cold water, using your hands to gently swish the noodles, and drain again. Repeat.


The Condiments:
Divide the soba among 4 to 6 bowls, swirling each serving into a mound. Sprinkle each mound with some of the shredded nori.

Place 1/2 to 3/4 cup of hot dashi in separate bowls alongside each serving of soba.

Serve the remaining condiments on a small platter or in little bowls at the center of the table so the diners may help themselves.

Just Eating

Each of the formal meals at the monastery is conducted in a mere half hour. The time spent chanting before and after, serving the food, and cleaning up leaves little opportunity to eat.

No time to dawdle, no need to talk. Mealtime is about "just eating." But in the same way that "just sitting" involves more, such as correct posture, breathing, and concentration, "just eating" is about more than just eating. It is about gratitude, mindfulness, and bringing one's awareness to the big picture--where the food come from, why we're all here, and what out common purpose is.


Soldiers of Humanity

Once a division of the Japanese army was engaged in military exercises, and some of the officers found it necessary to make their headquarters in Gasan's temple.

Gasan told his cook, "Let these officers have only the same simple fare we eat."

This, of course, made the army officers angry. They were accustomed to deferential treatment.

One came to Gasan and roughly said, "Who do you think we are? We are soldiers, sacrificing our lives for our country. Why don't you treat us accordingly?"

Gasan answered, "Who do you think we are? We are soldiers of humanity, aiming to save all sentient beings."

A Poem by Ryokan

In Otogo Forest beneath Mount Kugami
You'll find the tiny hut where I pass my days.
Still no temples or villas for me!
I'd rather live with the fresh breezes and the bright
Playing with the village children or making poems.
If you ask about me,
you'll probably say,
"What is that foolish monk doing now?"

Caged Birds

Time and again
You, too,
Must long for
Your old nest
Deep in the mountains.


Succinctly Put

Nature loves variety.
---Dr. Milton Diamond, researcher at the University of Hawaii---

A Simple Fact

If you hear someone say that homosexuality is unnatural, you can be pretty sure you are not listening to a scientist.
---Dr. Marc Breedlove, Michigan State University, Rosenberg Professor of Neuroscience---


...most of us are more vigilant about diet and exercise than we are about harmful mental states like anger.

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

The Buddha's Path

This path is meant for people with problems.

Noodle Soup

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium-size carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, diced
6 cups of a very fine vegetable broth
A pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces of egg noodles, or fettuccine broken into thirds or make your own noodles for a truly superb soup
1 tablespoon

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.

Add the onion, the carrots and the celery, cover, and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the stock, the turmeric, the salt to taste, and the pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, perhaps 30 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the vegetables have finished cooking, add the noodles.

When the vegetables and the noodles are tender, stir the parsley into the soup and adjust the seasoning.

Simmer for 5 minutes.


Absolute Truth

Elsewhere the Buddha unequivocally uses the word Truth in the place of Nibbana [Nirvana]: 'I will teach you the Truth and the Path leading to the Truth.' Here Truth definitely means Nirvana.

Now, what is Absolute Truth? According to Buddhism, the Absolute Truth is that there is nothing absolute in the world, that everything is relative, conditioned and impermanent, and that there is no unchanging, everlasting, absolute substance like Self, Soul, or Atman within or without. This is the Absolute Truth.

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

The Essence of Mind

If you want to know the essence of mind, just do not think about any good or bad at all. Then you will spontaneously gain access to the pure substance of mind, calm and always tranquil, with subtle functions beyond number.

---The Sutra of Hui-neng---


Truth has no comparison, because there is no relativity in it.

---The Pure Name Sutra---

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Wise

Just as a solid rock is not shaken by
the storm, even so the wise are not affected
by praise or blame.

One hearing the Teachings, the wise
become perfectly purified, like a lake deep,
clear and still.

---The Dhammapada 81 - 81---


Beset by craving, people run about
like an entrapped hare. Help fast by mental
fetters, they come to suffering again and again
for a long time.

---The Dhammapada 342---

A Protector

One truly is the protector of oneself;
who else could the protector be? With
oneself sully controlled, one gains a
mastery that is hard to gain.

---The Dhammapada 160---

A Teacher

One should first establish oneself in
what is proper; then only should one
instruct others. Thus the wise man
will not be reproached.

One should do what one teaches
others to do; if one would train
others, one should be well
controlled oneself. Difficult, indeed,
is self-control.

---The Dhammapada 158 - 159---

Potato Goulash

1 tablespoon of the oil of your choice
2 medium onions, diced
1 cup of water
3 potatoes, in their jackets uncooked, cut into small cubes
2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon of the paprika of your taste
3/4 teaspoon of dried marjoram
1 teaspoon of salt

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions for a few minutes. Add the water, the potatoes, and the peppers, and cook, covered, until the potatoes are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. The time depends on the size of your potato cubes.

Add the paprika, the marjoram, and the salt. Stir well and serve with a hearty bread and crispy salad.

Tempeh-Herb Sandwich or No-One-Had-To-Die Sandwich

8 ounces of tempeh, cut into 1-inch squares
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of tamari
1 tablespoon of minced onion
1 tablespoon of fresh parley, chopped fine
1/4 cup of red minced bell pepper
1/4 cup of minced celery
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne powder
Sliced wheat bread

Steam the tempeh for 15 minutes. Drain well.

Heat the oil in a skillet of medium-high heat and add the tempeh. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Transfer the tempeh to a bowl and add the mayonnaise, the tamari, the onion, the parsley, the re pepper, the celery, and the cayenne. Mash and combine this well.

Spread the mixture on the bread, add the lettuce and the sprouts.


The Eight Sufferings

When he set the Wheel of the Law in motion at Deer park in Benares, the Buddha explained that birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering, union with the hateful is suffering, separation from the beloved is suffering, failing to obtain the desired is suffering, and all the elements of our physical and psychological environments are suffering. The first four of these are called the four sufferings, and the entire series the eight sufferings.

---Basic Buddhist Concepts, by Kogen Mizuno---

Question, Answer


Generosity is foundational to the the remaining Five Paramitas; Morality, Patience, Energy, Mindfulness, and Wisdom. 

Generosity is foundational to the entire Practice.

In our Western culture, our materialist culture, we equate the word 'generosity' with the sharing of money or things, perhaps time.

But true Generosity has a much deeper meaning.

Patience, Mindfulness, Patience, and Wisdom are all born from Generosity. 

To Mindfully Listen to another is born form Generosity. 

Kindness, Compassion, all begin in Generosity.

To let go of opinion and to not choose sides have Generosity as a strong component in the willingness to allow personal desire to drift off.

A Poem by Ryokan

My arms are chilly
under my white robe.
On an autumn evening,
the moon shines over
the center of the sky.

A Poem by Ryokan

In my hometown, there are two brothers
with contrary characters.
One is clever and eloquent,
the other foolish and silent.
The foolish one
seems to have all the time in the world.
The clever one
is always busy depleting his life.

The Viewer

Nothing in the perceptible world has a true nature independent of its surroundings and the perspective of the viewer.

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Warm Touch of Love

The reason that His Teachings have captivated millions of hearts is because they were spread (not by weapons or political power) but by love and compassion for humanity. Not a drop of blood stains its pure path. Buddhism wins by the warm touch of love, not by the cold claws of fear. Fear of the supernatural and the doctrine of everlasting hell-fire have no place in Buddhism.

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

One Man's Thoughts

His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Helping Others

You Make the Effort

One should not forget the following advice given by the Buddha. 'You yourself make the effort for your salvation, the Buddhas are only teachers who can  show you how to achieve it.' (Dhammapada 276)

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


The Buddha recommended that monks suffering from bodily aches and pains inhale the steam from cannabis leaves boiled in water.

Buddhism and Buddhists

Buddhism is the English name for the religion based on the teachings of the Buddha. The name was first penned in 1801 by an Englishman writing in Sri Lanka, and for some decades afterwards was spelled either Bouddhism or Booddhism. The Buddha always called his philosophy of life The Noble Ones' Teachings (Aryadhamma) or Truth and Training (Dhamma vinaya) and asked his disciples to refer to themselves as Offspring of the Sakyan, i.e. the Buddha (Sakyaputta, Mijjhima Nikaya I,1; Samyutta Nikaya I,192). Someone once asked Ananda what sort of monk he was and he replied: 'I am a Sakyaputta monk.' (Anguttara Nikaya V,196). Sometimes the first Buddhists were known by others simply as Gotama's disciples (Gotama savaka, Dhammapada 296).

Buddhism is the fourth largest religion after Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism and there are about 500 million Buddhist in the world.

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


Tell me the tales that to me were so dear,
Long, long ago, long, long ago.

---Thomas Haynes Bayly---

Happy the People

Happy the people whose annals are blank in history books.

---Thomas Carlyle---

Sauerkraut Soup

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cups of sauerkraut, drained and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of caraway seeds
10 cups of vegetable broth
2 large potatoes, scrubbed and diced
Salt to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. 

Add the sauerkraut, the paprika, the caraway seeds and the broth. Bring to boil and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the potatoes, bring the soup back to the boil, lower the heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are soft (you should be able to easily pierce them with fork), stirring occasionally. 

Season with the salt. 

Serve with rye bread and butter, and a cucumber salad.

Note: Sauerkraut is a fermented food made from cabbage and salt. The adding of vinegar and/or water alters the flavor of the sauerkraut. The best kraut to purchase is in bags, with no added vinegar. Caned and jarred kraut, unfortunately, have added vinegar and/or water.

A Poem by Ryokan

The courtesans are turned out in their best--
How delightfully the speak and laugh
Along the lovely green river.
They call out to gentlemen the day long
And tempt them with songs that charm the hardest
They mince about with flirtatious glances so difficult resist.
Someday, though, even these captivating women will
.......have nothing left,
And they will be left out in the harsh cold.


A toilet (vacakuti) is a place, usually a small room, for passing bodily waste and which contains some means for disposing of that waste. Toilets at the time of the Buddha consisted of a cesspit (vaccakupa) covered by a stone or plaster slab (paribhanda) with a small hole in it. On either side of the hole was a raised footprint-shaped platform (vaccapaduka) on which one stood or squatted. After finishing, one either washed or wiped oneself with grass or a piece of wood. Outside the toilet was a water pot for washing the hands.

The Buddha understood the importance of hygiene and insisted that the toilets in monasteries be regularly washed and swept. In the Vinaya he also spoke of what might be called 'toilet etiquette.' On nearing the toilet one should make a coughing noise to let whoever might be inside know that someone is coming. If someone is inside they should likewise make a coughing noise to indicate that the toilet is already occupied. The robe should be taken off before entering and properly hung up. One should not groan while relieving oneself, clean one's teeth or spit on the floor. Also, after finishing, the water containers should be refilled as a courtesy to the next person (Vinya Pitaka II, 222).

The heart of Buddhist meditation is Right Mindfulness. In the early stages of this practice, the meditator becomes aware of the gentle in and out movement of the breath and then expands it to becoming aware of all aspects of him or herself; the whole body, feelings, the mind and then the contents of the mind. But if one can only be mindful while sitting in a quiet room, one will only be aware of a small part of one's life, a rather uninteresting part. To be really fruitful, mindfulness has to flow into everything one does. The Buddha said: "A monk has full awareness while coming and going, while reaching out his hands or drawing them back, while putting on his robes and carrying his bowl, while eating and drinking, chewing and tasting, even while defecating and urinating. He has full awareness while walking, standing and sitting, while falling to sleep and waking up, while talking and remaining silent.' (Majjhima Nikaya I,57).

When the Buddha said that we should be mindful 'even while defecating and urinating' (uccarapassavakamme), he was saying that all activities no matter how commonplace should become an object of lucidity and presence. When done with mindfulness every action, from the most lofty to the most mundane, becomes sacred.

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

The Meaning of Life

From the biological perspective the purpose of life is to acquire the necessities for continued existence, to reproduce and to survive. But what about the purpose of life from the religious point of view? If life has a single and specific purpose, as certain religions and philosophies claim, then one would expect everybody, sooner or later, to naturally discover this purpose and then strive to achieve it. In actual fact, we see that the various religions posit quite different and sometimes contradictory purposes of life. We also notice that many people manage to get through life alright without ever asking or thinking about whether or not life has a meaning. This suggests very strongly that beyond the biological, life does not have a purpose or meaning.

From the Buddhist point of view, this is a good thing--it means that we have the freedom and the possibility to give life the meaning we want. If we decide to make the accumulation of wealth or power the purpose of our life, then it will become so. If we decide to make the pursuit of pleasure, dedication to our family or the contemplation of the divine the purpose of our life, then it will become so. Whenever one of his disciples attained enlightenment and became an arahat, the Buddha would always say that he or she had 'done what had to be done' (Samyutta Nikaya III,68). From this we can deduce that for the Buddha, the meaning, the purpose and the fulfilment [sic] of life is to attain the joy and freedom of enlightenment.

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

Vegan "Chicken" Flavored Seasoning Powder

Nutritional Yeast Flakes

This recipe yield approximately 1 1/4 cups of seasoning powder.

1 1/2 cups of nutritional yeast flakes (please be aware, do not use bread yeast or brewer's yeast)
1 1/2 tablespoons of salt
1 tablespoon of onion granules
1 tablespoon of ground celery seed (I grind my in a mortar and pestle, the aroma is fresh and spring-like)
2 teaspoons of garlic granules
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper (I often use regular black pepper)

Place all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process into a powder.

Store the powder in an airtight container at room temperature. Shake the container well before using in order to redistribute the ingredients.