Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Six Paramitas, Crossing Over to the Other Shore, The Doors of Action

The Sanskrit term "paramita" is usually translated in English as "perfection," but in Chinese Buddhist literature it is always rendered in a character that translates literally as "crossing to the other shore." The Six Paramitas are a very concrete means for us to cross over the sea of suffering to the shore of freedom from craving, anger, envy, despair, and delusion. Through cultivating and perfecting these six ways of being, we can reach the other shore very quickly—it may take only a few seconds for us to cross over the river of suffering and arrive on the shore of well-being. We may have the thought that it would take many years of practice in order to get free of the afflictions, but if we know how to cultivate and manifest these six qualities we can cross over right here and now.

The first paramita, the first door of action, is dana, giving and generosity. The second door of action is shila, the precepts, mindfulness trainings, and guidlines for ethical behavior. The third door is kshanti, all-embracing inclusiveness. The fourth door of action is virya, diligence, energy, effort, and steadfastness in the practice. The fifth is dhyana, meditation, the practice of stopping and calming and looking deeply. And the sixth is prajna, wisdom and understanding.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---

Healthy, Healing Sanghas

A stable loving Community is the nurturing soil that allows us to become spiritually rooted. In that healing soil our roots can grow and expand and take firm hold. And only a health plant will produce beautiful flowers and healing fruit. That is why it is so important to establish and cultivate our Sanghas.  

Perfect Understanding

Perfect Understanding is the highest mantra,
the unequaled mantra, the destroyer of ill-being,
the incorruptible truth.

---The Heart Sutra---

The Viking Kiss

We Do Not Walk Alone

We do not walk the spiritual path alone; we walk in the footsteps of our teachers, friends, fellow practitioners, and all those who have practiced before us, our spiritual ancestors.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---

The Greatest Good

To stop wrongdoing, to stop creating suffering for yourself and others is the greatest good that you can do.

---The Buddha---

Womb of the Earth

There is another bodhisattva mentioned in the Lotus Sutra, Earth Store (Kshitigarbha). Kshitigarbha means "womb or storehouse of the Earth." The Earth is very solid and contains and preserves many kinds of jewels. So this name describes the qualities of this bodhisattva: solid, long lasting, and preserving many virtues. Earth Store Bodhisattva represents a realm of action that is very much needed now. Earth Store has vowed that as long as the hells are not vacant he will not rest. He will not enter nirvana and enjoy being a Buddha. He will not stop working to lead all beings toward Buddhahood. Bodhisattva Earth Store is someone who vows to go to the darkest places of the universe in order to rescue those who are in the most desperate straits, the situations of greatest suffering. He has vowed to go to those places where there is no freedom, no democracy, no compassion or human dignity, where there is oppression, injustice, social inequality, and war. Hell is the place where Earth Store wants to go, because that is where the need for his help is greatest.

---Peaceful Action, Open Heart: Lessons from the Lotus Sutra, by Thich Naht Hanh---

Monday, December 28, 2015


It's only when you no longer have words or imaginings that Reality will be experienced.


The less you analyze, differentiate, and speak to yourself, the closer you come to experiencing Reality.


If you try to destroy a thing, you will be bound to that thing.

Sit With These Words

Do not abide in dualistic views;
Take care not to seek after them.
As soon as there is right and wrong
The mind is scattered and lost.

---The Hsin Hsin Ming---

Sit With These Words

The Supreme Way is not difficult
if only you do not pick and choose.
Neither love nor hate,
And you will clearly understand.
Be off by a hair,
And you are as far from it as heaven from earth.

If you want the Way to appear,
be neither for nor against.
For and against opposing each other —
This is the mind's disease.

---The Hsin Hsin Ming---

Potato Balls (Cuculli)

1 1/2 pounds of potatoes
1/2 cup of pine nuts, smashed
1/4 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 sprig of marjoram, minced
2 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 large eggs, separated
Olive oil for frying
1 cup of bread crumbs
Salt to taste

Peel the potatoes. Cut them into large chunks. Boil them in enough water to cover. When they are soft, drain them.

Allow the potatoes to cool enough so they will not cook added raw egg.

Mash the potatoes with the smashed pine nuts, the butter, the marjoram, and the cheese.

Add the egg yolks to the potato mixture and stir energetically with a wooden spoon to obtain a soft and creamy texture that is not too solid.

Heat several inches of oil in a high-sided pan.

Shape the potato mixture into balls a wee bit smaller than a walnut.

Whip the egg whites until frothy.

Dip the balls into the whipped egg whites, then into the breadcrumbs, and then fry them in the oil until they are golden.

Drain them on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.


Sauce for Strengozzi

About 2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 chile, minced (seeded or not, your choice)
12 ounces of Roma tomatoes, peeled and rough chopped (save all their juices)
About 2 tablespoons of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a sauce pan and cook the garlic and the chili for 1 minute. Be extremely careful not to burn the garlic. (Nothing more nasty in flavor than burned garlic.)

Add the tomatoes and their saved juice. As they cook, break them up with a wooden spoon.

When the tomatoes have finished cooking add the parsley and the salt to taste.

Sever over freshly cooked and drained strengozzi.


Happiness is made of one substance—compassion. If you don't have compassion in your heart you cannot be happy. Cultivating compassion for others, you create happiness for yourself and for the world.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---

You Have To Be Realistic

When it had stopped snowing, Wen-i announced he was going to take his leave. Ch'an master Ti-tsang accompanied him to the temple gate, and said, "Your Honor always explains the Three Worlds of past, present, and future are only mind, and the Ten Thousand Things are only perception."

Then he pointed to a rock, and continued, "What do you say? Is this rock inside the mind or outside the mind?"

Wen-i answered, "Inside the mind."

Ti-tsang then asked, "Why would a mendicant need to travel around with a rock inside his head?"

Wen-i was speechless, and had no way to give an answer.

Ti-tang said, "If you want to discuss the Buddhadharma, you have to be realistic."

Hearing this, Wen-i had a great awakening.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015


In Buddhist talk Mind is considered to be the religion itself.

---The Introduction to the Wumenkuan---

The One Essence

There is one essence to Buddhism though there are multiple schools and styles. The one essence is the same for all

The Great Way

The Great Way has no gate, but there are a thousand bypaths and alleys.
If you penetrate this barrier, you can walk alone in the universe.

---The Introduction to the Wumenkuan---

Honest Courage

A chief retainer who sees the wrongdoing of his master and criticizes him is far and away of a better mind than the man who charges out as the first man on the field of battle.

---Tokugawa Ieyasu---

Lun Yu

The Gentleman is cooperative and harmonious with others,
but does not flatter or blindly follow the crowd;
The man of little character flatters and blindly follows the crowd,
but is not cooperative or harmonious with others.

                                           ----Analects of Confucius---

One or Two?

If we say the world is One, we ignore relative reality, and the multitudinous universe of rocks, streams, people, and cormorants. If we say the world is Two, we are ignoring the single underlying nature of all things.

---William Scott Wilson---

Being Burned by the Flames of Desire

Before you begin a sexual relationship with someone, practice mindfulness. Looking deeply into the situation of the other person and yourself. Will the act destroy your lives or create a lot of suffering for the people you love, for your family? Awareness and mindfulness bring understanding and wisdom. And wisdom brings about love and wise conduct, the understanding that helps you refrain from making actions that will lead to suffering. This is how mindfulness of compassion can help you from getting burned by the flame of desire.

---Thich Naht Hanh---

Compassion Comes From Understanding

Compassion needs to be informed by understanding and wisdom. Without understanding or wisdom deep compassion is impossible. That's why the practice of compassion begins with the practice of looking deeply, meditation.

When we practice meditation we learn how to look deeper and develop understanding. If we understand, truly understand, a situation, any situation, love, kindness, and compassion are able to emerge.


If you're helping someone and expecting something in return, you're doing business not kindness.


Friday, December 25, 2015


In every case, the key to our salvation is mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the key that allows us to discern and act wisely, to respond appropriately, to know what to do and what not to do in order to bring about the best result.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---


The Light Has Returned - Happy Solstice

The Eyes of Understanding

Sometimes we may believe we are acting from love, but if our action is not based in deep understanding, it will bring suffering. You may want to make someone happy, and you believe very strongly that you are doing something out of love. But your action may make the other person suffer very much. So even though you believe you are acting from love, you cause your son or daughter, your partner or spouse, your friend or coworker to suffer deeply because you do not have enough understanding of that person. That is why you need the eye of understanding, of wisdom, to be an effective instrument of compassion.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---

The Eyes of Understanding

Deep understanding is the substance of which true love is made. The hands of the bodhisattva symbolize action, but our actions must be guided well by the eyes of understanding.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---

The Arms of Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara has so many arms because loved needs to express itself in many different forms.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---

This World

What shall I liken this world to?
It is like all traces of the white-topped waves
left by the boats
and now quiet gone.


I Recall Friends

On quiet nights
I recall friends
          while looking at the moon
          through the window.

I listen to
the distant cries of monkeys
and tears wet my sleeves.

---Hojoki, by Kamo-no-Chomei---

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Practice

You can practice acting kind right now. A habit is something you have done so many times you don't have to think about doing it. You simply do it. Being selfish or angry or unjust is a habit. Being kind and generous and fair can also become a habit.

If you keep practicing (Buddhism is a Practice,) one day you will have perfect kindness.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

All Things Pass

A house and its master
are like the dew that gathers
on the morning glory.

Which will be the first to pass?

Sometimes the dew falls away
while the flowers stay.

But they will surely
wilt in the morning sun.

Sometimes the flower shrivels
while the dew holds on.

But it will not
outlive the day.

---Hojoki, by Kamo-no Chomei---

Ultimate Dimension - Being/Nonbeing

People live in fear of death; they are afraid of losing their selfhood, their identity, of disappearing and becoming nonexistence. So when you offer the kind of teaching, practice, and insight that helps someone touch their ultimate dimension and get free of the fear of being and nonbeing, that is the greatest gift you can offer them.

---Thich Naht Hanh---

Farmer's Glorified Rice

2 cups of cooked rice
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of pineapple juice, drained
1 cup of whipping cream

Combine the rice, the sugar, and the pineapple chunks. Refrigerate the mixture for at least one hour.

Just before serving, whip the cream and fold it into the rice mixture.

Rivvel Soup

2 tablespoons of butter
2 quarts of milk or broth

Brown the butter in a soup pot.

Add the milk or broth and bring to the boiling point.

Crumble the rivvels in slowly, stirring constantly until the soup returns to the boil.



3/4 cup of flour
1 egg

Put the flour in a bowl.

Break in the egg and mix with a fork until dry and crumbly.

Personal Note: I love rivvels. I grew up with them. My mother and both grandmothers added them often to many different soups to extend it for our large family.

The rivvels take on the flavor of the broth. They are in effect a cross between a noodle and a tiny dumpling.

I make a cabbage and onion soup and always include rivvels.

Good stuff. But not for someone watching their weight.

So It Is

The flowing river never stops and yet the water never stays the same.
Foam floats upon the pool, scattering, re-forming, never lingering long.
So it is with man and all his dwelling places here on earth.

---Hojoki, by Kamo-no-Chomei---

Responding to Anger

We cannot respond effectively to anger with anger. Violence should not be used to counter violence; we must practice looking deeply to see the situation clearly and act with wisdom and compassion.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---


The hermit crab prefers a tiny shell
aware of its needs.

---Hojoki, by Kamo-no-Chomei---

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Taoist Wisdom

That which is long is long;
that which is short is short.


Reality depends
upon your mind alone.

---Hojoki, by Kamo-no-Chomei---


The bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, while in the course of looking deeply, perceived that everything is empty of a separate existence.
Upon that realization he became free of all affliction.

---The Heart Sutra---

The Way

Once you hold on to something, you'll be unaware. If you truly want to encounter the Way, don't hold on to anything. All practices, all actions, are impermanent.


The Way

With people and things, neither grasp nor throw away;
with places or circumstances, be neither removed nor intimate.