Saturday, February 28, 2015

Human Rights



Thich Nhat Hanh's Gatha on Following the Breath

Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.

Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.
As the in-breath goes deep,
the out-breath grows slow.

Breathing in makes me calm.
Breathing out brings me ease.

With the in-breath, I smile.
With the out-breath, I release.

Breathing in, there is only the present moment.
Breathing out, it is a wonderful moment.

In, Out
Deep, Slow
Calm, Ease
Smile, Release
Present moment, Wonderful moment


Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will elude you.
But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.

---Henry David Thoreau---

Why Buddhism?

Bowing Gatha

The one who bows and the one who is bowed to
are both, by nature, empty.

Therefore the communication between them
is inexpressibly perfect.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Five Remembrances

[The Five Remembrances can be recited with others or alone. They are an aid to help us identify and look deeply at the seeds of our fear.]

I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill-health.
There is no way to escape having ill-health.

I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.

I inherit the results of my actions in body, speech, and mind.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.


When riding on a boat, if one watches the shore one may assume that the shore is moving.

But watching the boat directly, one knows that it is the boat that moves.

---Master Eihei Dogen---

The Original Mistake

There is but one Dharma, not many.
Distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
Using mind to stir up the mind is the original mistake.

---Hsin-Hsin Ming---


What is most damaging to people walking the Dharma Path is our own opinion.


Joan and I loosely translated nirvana as “profound serenity” in our translation of the Heart Sutra. But there are many other ways of understanding of the Sanskrit word nirvana. Some Buddhists may say it is a complete state of calmness only buddhas can experience. Others may say that it is a state of annihilating the chain of birth and rebirth. Zen master Dogen seems to indicate that it is a nondual experience. Thus, for him nirvana is an experience of shunyata – zeroness or boundlessness.

---Kazuaki Tanahashi, in his guide The Heart Sutra---

Sectarian Buddhism

Indian Buddhism was not sectarian. It was only when Buddhism left India that it became sectarian.

Ten-Line Life-Affirming Sutra of Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara, perceiver of the cries of the world,
takes refuge in Buddha,
will be a buddha,
helps all to be buddhas,
is not separate from buddha, dharma, sangha-
being eternal, intimate, pure, and joyful.
In the morning, be one with Avalokiteshvara,
In the evening, be one with Avalokiteshvara,
whose heart, moment by moment, arises,
whose heart, moment by moment, remains!

The Six Modes of Change







Thursday, February 26, 2015

Love and Affection







An Emerging, Socially Engaged Global Buddhism

From 1989 to 1990, while my wife, Linda, was doing research in India, we lived on the subcontinent for a year with our two young children. In addition to painting and writing, I translated Nhat Hanh's books The Heart of Understanding and Being Peace into Japanese. Living in India, translating into Japanese the books addressed to a US audience by a Vietnamese master who lived in France – this reflected for me the cross-cultural nature of an emerging, socially engaged global Buddhism.

---Kazuaki Tanahashi---

The Sutra on the Heart of Realizing Wisdom Beyond Wisdom [The Heart Sutra]

Avalokiteshvara, who helps all to awaken,
moves in the deep course of
realizing wisdom beyond wisdom,
sees that all five streams of
body, heart, and mind are without boundary,
and frees all from anguish.
O Shariputra [who listens to the teachings of the Buddha],
form is not separate from boundlessness;
boundlessness is not separate from form.
Form is boundlessness; boundlessness is form.
Feelings, perceptions, inclinations, and discernment are also like this.
O Shariputra,
boundlessness is the nature of all things.
It neither arises nor perishes,
neither stains nor purifies,
neither increases nor decreases.
Boundlessness is not limited by form,
nor by feelings, perceptions, inclinations, or discernment.
It is free of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind;
free of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and any object of mind;
free of sensory realms, including the realm of the mind.
It is free of ignorance and the end of ignorance.
Boundlessness is free of old age and death,
and free of the end of old age and death.
It is free of suffering, arising, cessation, and path,
and free of wisdom and attainment.

Being free of attainment, those who help all to awaken
abide in the realization of wisdom beyond wisdom
and live with an unhindered mind.
Without hindrance, the mind has no fear.
Free from confusion, those who lead all to liberation
embody profound serenity.
All those in the past, present, and future,
who realize wisdom beyond wisdom,
manifest unsurpassable and thorough awakening.

Knowing that realizing wisdom beyond wisdom
is no other than this wondrous mantra,
luminous, unequaled, and supreme.
It relieves all suffering.
It is genuine, not illusory.

So set forth this mantra of realizing wisdom beyond wisdom.
Set forth this mantra that says:

Gone, Gone, Gone Beyond, Gone beyond the beyond, Awake, Well Said.
Gone, Gone, Gone Beyond, Gone beyond the beyond, Awake, Well Said.
Gone, Gone, Gone Beyond, Gone beyond the beyond, Awake, Well Said.

---translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi and Joan Halifax---

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Nothing But This

First days of spring – blue sky, bright sun.
Everything is gradually becoming fresh and green.
Carrying my bowl, I walk slowly to the village.
The children, surprised to see me,
Joyfully crowd about, bringing
My begging trip to an end at the temple gate.
I place my bowl on top of a white rock and
Hang my sack from the branch of a tree.
Here we play with the wild grasses and throw a ball.
For a time, I play catch while the children sing;
Then it is my turn.
Playing like this, here and there, I have forgotten the time.
Passers-by point and laugh at me, asking,
What is the reason for such foolishness?”
No answer I give, only a deep bow;
Even if I replied, they would not understand.
Look around! There is nothing but this.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015


The Buddha teaches that all energies make up who we are. We have a choice of what we do or do not cultivate, nourish, and act upon. We become free when we know what action, word, or thought will bear bitter fruit and we don't carry it out. This also means that we can cultivate the energies that enable human beings to become bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas are not metal or wooden statues to be worshiped. They are living qualities that we all aspire to embody fully.

---Jan Chozen Bays---

To Know Oneself

How Old Are the Minerals and the Emotions That Make Up Our Bodies?

The Dharma, the law underlying the workings of the universe, is quite scientific, mathematically and physically precise. Our bodies and minds are like clay on a potter's wheel. Our bodies are formed from oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and trace metals. These elements coalesce for a while into a body that moves and makes noise at both ends. Then it collapses, "dies," and falls apart. What then? The elements are recycled to form new existences. How old is the oxygen in us? The sodium? Where did the calcium in our bones come from? [sic] We say, oh, from the milk I drink. Before that? From the grass the cow ate. Before that? From the soil? Before that? Trace and small portion of us back and it has been part of countless other lives.

Our minds form the same way, from bits and pieces of thought energy, created by electrical and chemical signals in neurons. Certain patterns of electrical signals-thought-emotion are imprinted by heredity. Then the environment adds its shaping and we become more or less polite, feel more or less shame, anger, and joy.

But all these thoughts and emotions are just energy, coalesced for awhile, moving, and making noise. When we collapse and die, they also disperse. Like the carbon and calcium elements, the thought and emotional elements are still operating in the chain of cause and effect after we die. Thus we can ask the same questions we asked about the body elements. How old is the anger in us? How old is the jealousy, the joy? How many countless lives has it been a part of? [sic]

---Jan Chozen Bays---

Enlightenment is Reality is Enlightenment

Enlightenment is knowing things in accordance with Reality. In this seeing of Reality there are no misconceptions or mental projections about the appearance of a thing or a course of events. Seeing and understanding are entirely clear and in accordance with Reality.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Healing the Rupture

What does it matter who is at fault? What matters is the tragic estrangement that is taking place, and what is important is that the rupture should be healed.

---Eknath Easwaran---


For the Buddha, to be angry or revengeful is not courageous; it shows utter bankruptcy of courage. Today it's almost taken for granted that if you are not angry you are not strong; you are not tough. We have been brainwashed not to see bravery as it really is. It's a topsy-turvy world we live in, one in which we associate mere physical bravado with toughness and courage.

---Eknath Easwaran---


Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying near Savatthi in the Jeta Wood at Anathapindika's monastery. On that occasion on a very dark night the Lord was sitting in the open air and oil-lamps were burning. Now at that time many flying insects were coming to misfortune and destruction by falling into those oil-lamps. The Lord saw those flying insects coming to misfortune and destruction by falling into those oil-lamps.

Then, on realizing its significance, the Lord uttered on that occasion this inspired utterance:

Rushing headlong and missing the essence,
They bring about renewed bondage.
Like insects falling into the flame
Some are intent only on what is seen and heard.

---The Udana 6.9---

The Flight of the Garuda

In the unthinkable, inscrutable, ordinary nature of reality there is no difference between freedom and bondage. No matter what arises, when you perceive your original nature, the joy arises automatically – and what joy!


Intention, Karma, and Freedom

When non-action is realized, it is the true nature.
There is no other buddha outside of that.

---Jamgon Kongtruil---


The Last Refuge

Question Everything

Spiritual Practice

It is crucial to know when it is appropriate to withdraw our attention from things that disturb our mind. However, if the only way we know how to deal with certain objects is to avoid them, there will be a severe limit as to how far our spiritual practice can take us.

---Lama Thubten Yeshe---

Peaceful Extremists

Challenge Belief

This is Love?



Prayer and chronic gambling have something in common; you never talk about your losses.

The Monster in the Closet

Help Make the World a Better Place

Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden

Some Challenging Questions

Religious Barbarism

In the Christian Bible, in Proverbs 13:24 it is stated, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” 

The biblical concept of "spare the rod and spoil the child" has encouraged and condoned hundreds of millions of cases of child abuse throughout history. 

Blind devotion to such monstrous nonsense continues to taint Christianity with brutality to this very day, and is still killing kids.

Practice, Not Belief

Truth is Freedom