Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Buddha Tells Mahamati Of An Encounter With A Materialist Brahman

"Mahamati, I recall once a materialist Brahman came to where I was staying and without waiting asked, 'Gautama, is everything created?'

"I answered, 'Brahman, that everything is created is the most rudimentary kind of materialism.'

"He asked again, 'Is everything not created?'

"I answered, 'That everything is not created is the second kind of materialism.'

"He asked again, 'Is everything permanent? Or is everything impermanent? Does everything arise? Or does everything not arise?'

"I answered, 'That makes six kinds of materialism.'

"Mahamati, he asked again, 'Is everything the same? Or is everything different? Is everything both of these? Or is everything neither of these? Or does everything appear due to multiple causes?'

"I answered, 'That makes eleven kinds of materialism.'

"Mahamati, he asked again, 'Is everything neutral? Or is everything karmic? Is there a self? Or is there no self? Does this world exist? Or does this world not exist? Or is there another world? Or is there no other world? Is there liberation? Or is there no liberation? Is everything momentary? Or is everything not momentary? And are space, cessation, and nirvana created, Gautama? Or are they not created? And is there an intermediate existence? Or is there no intermediate existence?'

"Mahamati, I answered, 'Brahman, all these things of which you speak are materialism. This materialism of yours is not what I teach. I only teach that the cause of the three realms and their various ills is the habit-energy of fabrications and projections without beginning. But because you are unable to see that they are merely projections of your own mind, you give rise to projections and objectify an external existence. According to followers of other paths, awareness arises from the threefold combination of a self, sense organs, and sense objects, but not according to me. Brahman, I do not teach that there are causes, nor do I do teach that there are no causes. I only teach causation as a fabrication of projecting the existence of a subject and an object. This is not something you or others who accept the continuity of a self can understand.'

"Mahamati, nirvana, space, and cessation are not three things. They are only counted as three things.

"Furthermore, Mahamati, this materialist Brahman asked me again, 'Are ignorance, desire, and karma the cause of the three realms? Or are they not the cause?'

"I answered, 'Both of these are also materialism.'

"He asked again, 'Does everything have individual and shared characteristics?'

"I answered, 'This is also materialism. Brahman, any movement of the mind involving projection of an external object is materialism.'

"Again, Mahamati, the Brahman asked, 'Is there any teaching that is not materialistic? I am versed in all the doctrines of other schools and in the different expressions, arguments, metaphors, and embellishments of their teachings.'

"I answered, 'There is, Brahman, but it is not one of yours. It is not a fabrication, and it is not a doctrine, and it is not a teaching. But it is not not a teaching, and its various expressions are not not embellished with arguments and metaphors."

"The Brahman asked, "What is it that is not materialism, not not a doctrine, and not not a teaching?"

"I answered, 'Brahman, there is something that is not materialism, but it is something you followers of other paths cannot understand due to your mistaken attachment to the fabrication and projection of external existence. Projections do not arise when you understand that existence and nonexistence are nothing but projections of your own mind. And projections do not arise when you do not grasp external objects. The permanent cessation of projection, this is what I mean by 'what is not materialism.' This is my teaching and not yours. Briefly, Brahman, if consciousness involves coming or going, birth or death, joy or suffering, disappearance or appearance, contact or grasping, or if it involves attachment to a combination or a continuity or to a desire or a cause, Brahman, if it involves anything like this, it is your materialism and not mine.'

"Mahamati, after this materialist Brahman had asked in this manner, and I had answered in this manner, he was silent. Then he left without saying another word. But he thought about his own understanding and said to himself, 'This Buddhist monk is incomprehensible. He teaches no arising, no form, no cause, and that once someone becomes aware that what they perceive are their own projections, projections do not arise.'

---The Lankavatara Sutra---

Buddhism and Poetry

If it all seems ordinary to you, well, it should. Whoever said poetry or Buddhism was anything unusual?

---Red Pine---

The Threefold Path of Buddhist Practice

Precepts (sila)
The code of conduct that embraces a commitment to harmony, self-restraint, and the freedom from causing harm. It can be described as virtue, right conduct, morality, and moral discipline.

Meditation (samadhi) 
The mind becomes still, one-pointed or concentrated while individual awareness remains present.

Wisdom (prajna) 
Is insight into the true nature of reality.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Bottomless Pit

We follow desire, and then we want more.

We follow desire, and then we want more.

We follow desire, and then we want more.

When will we learn, we cannot feed a bottomless pit?


The duality of all things
Issues from false discriminations.

---The Hsin Hsin Ming---

Warm Slaw

2 tablespoon of butter
1 quart of shredded cabbage
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 cups of water
5 tablespoons of sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon of flour
1/2 cup of milk
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the cabbage. Stir thoroughly; then add the salt and the water.

Bring to the boil, lower the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

In a bowl mix the sugar, the beaten egg, the flour, and the milk. Stir this mixture into the cabbage.

Simmer for another minute.

Stir in the vinegar and serve.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Buddha Nature

To think that there are sentient beings without buddha-nature, or insentient things with buddha-nature—these are false views.


Having Eaten, Wash Out Your Bowl

An old Ch'an saying.

The meaning: Having received a nourishing, illuminating teaching, do not cling to it, or make it an object of attachment.

The Wild Grasses Have Never Been Hoed

An old Ch'an saying.

The meaning: You speak of the scriptures, but your understanding of them os overgrown with your own subjective interpretations.

You Can't Drive Nails Into Empty Space

An old Ch'an saying.

The meaning: You cannot capture the reality of the Path in fixed formulas, procedures, and concepts.

One Mind

The buddhas and all sentient beings are just one mind, there is nothing else.


Old-style Cucumber and Onion Salad

2 medium cucumbers
2 medium onions
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper.

Peel the cucumbers and slice them thin.

Layer the sliced cucumbers in a shallow dish, sprinkling salt between each layer on top of the final layer.

Refrigerate the salted cucumbers overnight.

In the morning, drain and rinse the cucumber. Allow them to dry on paper towels.

Slice the onions thin. Gently mix the onions and the cucumbers.

Beat together the mayonnaise, the sugar, and the vinegar until the mixture is creamy.

Fold the dressing into the cucumbers and the onions.

Sprinkle with a few grinds of black pepper.


Don't Become Distracted By Expectations

In meditation, don't expect anything. Just sit back and see what happens. Treat the whole thing as an experiment. Take an active interest in the test itself, but don't get distracted by your expectations about the results. For that matter, don't be anxious for any result whatsoever.

---Bhante Henepola Gunaratana---

Sole Responsiblity

We are not compelled to meditate by some outside agent, by other people, or by God. Rather, just as we are responsible for our own suffering, so are we solely responsible for our own cure. We have created the situation in which we find ourselves, and it is up to us to create the circumstances for our release.

---Lama Thubten Yeshe---


If we can reach the understanding of what we actually are, there is no better remedy for eliminating all suffering. This is the heart of all spiritual practices.

---Kalu Rinpoche---


Attach to it and you lose the measure;
The mind will enter a deviant path.

---The Hsin Hsin Ming---

Meditation is Called a "Practice" For a Reason

Madison Square Park, New York

There's an old Chinese proverb: You can't eat a cake in one bite.

It's better for your digestion if you chew the food very well before swallowing. The same with your meditation practice. Don't try to swallow it all in one big gulp.

Be patient.

Be careful.

Be meticulous.




It is called Practice for a reason.

Creating A Barrier

The more you want benefits from Ch'an, the further you will be from obtaining them. In fact, you will only increase your vexations. You may be a highly intelligent person who works very hard and has good karmic roots. But if you are anxious to get enlightened, you have created a barrier between yourself and enlightenment.

---Master Sheng Yen---

Note: Ch'an is the Chinese term the Japanese translate as Zen.

Meditation and Impatience

The sooner you want results from your meditation, the longer it will take you to get anywhere.

Observe and Discover

Our difficulties are creations of our minds.

The Practice

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Practice of the Buddha-Dharma

The Great Way is broad,
Neither easy nor difficult.

---The Hsin Hsin Ming---

The Practice of Meditation

Comparing good and bad is just deluded thinking. As long as you are immersed in these wandering thoughts, you will not enter the proper conditions for practice. Do not concern yourself with anything going on around you. Nor should you be concerned with anything going on inside yourself. Focus on the method and do not make external or internal comparisons. If you can do that, your practice will be effective.

---Master Sheng Yen---

Friday, March 27, 2015

You Do the Work

All efforts must be made by you; Buddhas only show the way. Follow this path and practice mediation; go beyond the power of Mara.

---The Dhammapada, verse 276---

Note: Mara is Ego, Greed, Anger, Desire.


Not by rituals and resolutions, nor by much learning, nor by celibacy, nor even by meditation can you find the supreme, immortal joy of nirvana until you have extinguished your self-will.

---The Dhammapada, verses 271 and 272---

To Practice

Conquer anger through gentleness, unkindness through kindness, greed through generosity, and falsehood by truth.

---The Dhammapada, verse 223---

The Teaching of the Buddhas

Do not find fault with others, do not injure others, but live in accordance with the dharma. Be moderate in eating and sleeping, and meditate on the highest. This sums up the teaching of the Buddhas.

---The Dhammapada, verse 185---

What Is Buddhism?

Avoid all evil, cultivate the good, purify your mind: this sums up the teaching of the Buddhas.

---The Dhammapada, verse 183---

The Choice

By oneself is evil done; by oneself one is injured. Do not do evil, and suffering will not come. Everyone has the choice to be pure or impure. No one can purify another.

---The Dhammapada, verse 165---

Who Is Your Master?

Your own self is your master; who else could be? With yourself well controlled, you gain a master very hard to find.

---The Dhammapada, verse 160---

Do Not Kill or Cause to Kill

Everyone fears punishment; everyone fears death, just as you do. Therefore do not kill or cause to kill.

Everyone fears punishment; everyone loves life, as you do. Therefore do not kill or cause to kill.

---The Dhammapada, verses 129 and 130---

Little by Little

Let no one think lightly of evil and say to himself, “Sorrow will not come to me.” Little by little a person becomes evil, as a pot is filled by drops of water.

Let no one think lightly of good and say to himself, “Joy will not come to me.” Little by little a person becomes good, as a pot is filled by drops of water.

---The Dhammapada, verses 121 and 122---

Greatest Hindrance

More than those who hate you, more than all your enemies, an undisciplined mind does greater harm.

---The Dhammapada, verse 42---

Our Creation

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: we are formed and molded by our thoughts.

---The Dhammapada, verse 1---

Ryokan on Art

Ryokan's most frequently quaoted saying on art is, "I hate calligraphers' calligraphy and poets poems." He detested themed poetic competitions. He seem to have believed that artificiality and professionalism got in the way of genuinely heartfelt expression.

---Kazuaki Tanahashi---

In Memory of His Father

In an old temple
deep in Mount Koya,
Kii Provence,
I listen to raindrops
falling from a cedar tree.


A Poem by Ryokan

See and realize
that this world
is not permanent.
Neither late nor early flowers
will remain.

A Poem by Ryokan

If someone asks
about the mind of this monk,
say it is no more than
a passage of wind
in the vast sky.


No need to seek the real;
Just extinguish your views.
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---


To make a comparison one has to make a judgement. This is not an issue of Practice if comparing colleges or toothpaste or heads of lettuce or what play to attend, but it is an issue when comparing people.

Comparing people involves judging people.

After Enlightenment Everything Exists, But Not The Self

During the Sung Dynasty, China was invaded by the Mongols. When a band of warriors descended on a certain town, everyone fled, including the soldiers and the monks in the temples. When the Mongols entered the gates, they found that one Ch'an master had remained. Thinking that he stayed behind as part of a plot, the brought him before their general. When asked why he did not flee, he said, "Everyone has to die sometime. I could die here. I could die there. Why should I flee?" The general asked, "You are not afraid of death?" The monk replied, "I would not say that I am hoping to die. But if my time has come, then that's that." The general said, "I'm going to kill you." The monk replied, "All right. But I want to tell you something first. Don't think that you are killing me. Is your sword capable of killing wind or water? If you slice into water, you just separate it for an instant and then it comes together again. If you cut off my head, you just separate it from my body, but your killing me is your own business. It has nothing to do with me, because I neither desire nor fear death."

---Master Sheng Yen---

Note: Ch'an is the Chinese term the Japanese translate into Zen.

Michigan Farm Onion Patties

Onion Flower

3/4 cup of flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of cornmeal
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of milk
2 1/2 cups of finely chopped onions

Combine the dry ingredients.

Stir in the milk. This will make a fairly thick batter.

Add the onions and mix thoroughly.

Drop the batter by spoonfuls into a hot caste iron skillet that has about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch of oil.

If the spoonful do not flatten into patties, lightly press on them with your spatula.

Cook each side until done. These cook quickly.

Great with horseradish dip.

The Unnecessary

Toss to the winds your concerns for this life,
and impress on your mind the unknown time of your death.
Remembering the pain of samsara,
why long for the unnecessary?


The Practice in the Modern World

Instead of simply collecting bits of information we should be making an effort to experience what we have just learned. Then we can decide if the information is valid or unneeded.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


We cannot hope to attain our goal of universal and complete happiness by systematically making ourselves more and more miserable. This is contrary to the way things actually work. It is only by cultivating small experiences of calm and satisfaction now that we will be able to achieve our ultimate goal of peace and tranquility in the future.

---Lama Thubten Yeshe---

The Journey

The journey takes place within your mind.


The Rain Falls On All The Plants

Those who have not yet been saved will be saved; those who have not been set free will be set free; those who have had no rest will have rest; those who have not yet attained nirvana will attain nirvana.

---The Buddha, in the Lotus Sutra---

Don't Be Surprised

If you don't read sutras when you're young
you won't know what they mean when you're older
you won't know a million doorways
are all inside the square inch of your mind
indulging all day in desire and hate
how often do you think about life and death
one day illness or old age will surprise you
remorse then will be too late


Stop and Think

people fill their time with idle talk and chatter
how often do they stop and think