Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Buddha

When you're blind to your own nature, the Buddha is an ordinary being.

When you're aware of your own nature, an ordinary being is the Buddha.

---The Platform Sutra---

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Self is not something you can get rid of. Self is not inside; it is not identical to your body or your mind. Rather, self is precisely the object of all of your thoughts and actions. Other than this, there is no self.

---Master Sheng Yen---

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Jijang Bosal and Ela

On a time there was a young girl named Ela who was walking with her parents through the woods on a mountain path. It was the first day of Autumn and the breeze blowing through the trees was fresh and cool. Ela's parents were walking quickly, but the little girl liked to walk slower along the path and collect pretty stones and fallen leaves. Her parents told her to hurry and catch up with them. But Ela wasn't paying much attention to her parents because of all the beautiful and interesting things along the path.

As she walk slowly behind her parents, Ela saw a bush of fat, juicy blackberries growing in a patch of sun a few feet from the path. Ela went to the berries and ate a few. As she was eating she saw another sunny patch of berries a few more feet away. She hurried to these new berries. After eating some of these berries she looked around and could not see the path or her parents.

Ela became frightened and started running towards the direction where she thought her parents might be. But she wasn't watching where she stepped as she ran looking for her parents. Suddenly she stumbled and fell into a deep hole.

It was dark. Ela could barely see her dirty knees and the blackberry stains on her hands. She was sitting on the floor of a very large cave. The only light came from the hole she had just fallen through. The light coming through the hole twinkled on a little river in the cave. The banks of the little river were made up of thousands and thousands of small pebbles. The hole was too high for Ela to reach even when she stood on her tippy toes. Frightened and very sad, Ela sat back down on the ground and began to cry.

"No good crying now, my dear, what's done is done,” said a creaky old voice from deep in the darkness.

Ela looked around with her heart pounding with fear until she spotted a dark figure standing near the wall of the cave.

"I fell down the hole,” Ela sobbed. “I fell down and can't get back out.”

“To get out of this cave you must build a tower and climb your way out,” the creaky old voice said.

Then the figure stepped into the light that came from the hole and Ela gasped. The voice belonged to an ugly old hag with beady yellow eyes and a withered face.

“If you can build your tower before nightfall I'll allow you to leave this cave. But if you can't build a tower before nightfall you'll have to stay in this cave and be my slave.”

The old ugly hag's mouth curled into an evil grin with only three brown-stained teeth. She held a heavy iron club that she tossed from one claw-like hand to the other as she spoke.

The little girl was terrified of the old witch and hid her face in her hands. When she finally found the courage to peek through her fingers, the old hag was gone and she was once more all alone.

Once Ela was sure the witch was gone, she began to gather pebbles from the riverbank and piled them higher and higher so she could reach the hole she had fallen through.

The more pebbles she placed on the top of her growing pile the more they seem to tumble and roll off. But, she was determined and kept placing the stones, one-by-one, on the slowly growing pile. She became very careful in her work and slowly learned the art of building a tower from pebbles.

Hours passed and the light from the hole grew more and more dim.

When the light finally faded completely away it was very dark indeed. Then Ela saw a light coming from deep in the cave. The light came closer and closer. It was the old witch carrying a brightly burning torch. As soon as the hag saw the tower Ela was building she laughed wickedly.

She lifted her large iron club and swung it at the tower of pebbles that Ela had work so hard to create. The witch laughed loudly and horribly as her club smashed the tower and scattered the pebbles in every direction.

That first night the witch made Ela her slave. She forced the little girl to clean and cook for her. When Ela was too tired to scrub and clean anymore the witch made her sing until her voice was raw and hoarse. When morning came the witch disappeared down a dark tunnel.

Ela was again alone. She was frightened and tired. She wanted to get out of the horrible cave and find her father and her mother.

Before she left, the witch made the offer of giving Ela her freedom if she could build a tower to the hole. But if she could not build a tower, Ela would remain a slave to the old nasty witch.

Ela started building a new tower as soon as the witch had left. Because of what she had learned the day before the tower grew fast and fewer pebbles rolled away. She had all day to work and soon the tower was very high. Ela climbed the tower and placed more pebbles on it. Up and down she climbed all day.

When night came she was only a few inches from the hole. But the witch reappeared, and again swinging her iron club, she cruelly knocked down Ela's tower. The witch laughed at the little girl's tears and dragged her off to once more be her slave.

The next morning, after the witch had left, Ela was so tired and so sad. She sat down on the floor of the cave by the river and began to cry. She thought of her poor mother and father who would be very worried about her. She began to believe she would never see her parents again.

Suddenly Ela saw a soft golden glow and a little man. In his right hand the man held a tall staff with metal rings hanging from the top that jingled when he walked. In his other hand he held a beautiful round jewel that glowed with a golden light. The man was dressed as a monk in a long robe with large sleeves that hung to the floor. The man had a kind round face, almost a baby's face. Ela felt no fear when she saw the man.

“Who are you?” Ela asked.

“My name is Kshitigarbha,” the man answered, “but you may call be by my other name, Jijang.”

“Can you help me get out of here?” Ela asked. “There's a nasty evil witch who keeps knocking down my tower and makes me be her slave every night.”

“Yes, I know that old woman. Her name is Datsueba. I know her well. Don't fear her anymore, little one. You build your tower and I'll stay her and keep watch.”

These words from Jijang made Ela very happy. She began her work again while Jijang sat on a little rock nearby and chanted softly. Because he was near Ela felt her heart lighten. She smiled and was no longer afraid. Because of what she had learned building her first two towers, the pebbles did not roll off and fall back to the ground.

As the day neared its ending, Ela knew the old hag, Datsueba, would be returning. She worked faster.

When they heard old Datsueba coming near, Jijang told Ela to hide in the sleeves of his robe. When the old witch saw Jijang she became very unhappy. She lifted high her iron club to swing it at the tower but Jijang stood in her way.

The jewel in Jijang hand flamed bright and the old hag could not see the tower. The beautiful light hurt her nasty eyes.

Datsueba could not destroy the tower. Jijang stood between the hag and the tower and his jewel glowed brightly.

Finally old Datsueba stomped away down the same tunnel from where she had just come.

With Jijang's protection, Ela finally finished her tower of pebbles and climbed to the top. She looked back to the floor of the cave at Jijang and asked him to come with her.

But the monk slowly shook his head.

“No, child,” he said. “There are many more hidden places among these caves and many more Beings that need my help. I made a vow long ago to not leave until they all are saved.”

So, with a joyful heart full of gratitude, Ela put her hands together, bowed to Jijang and climbed out of the hole to safety.

---Kathryn Doran-Fisher---  
In Sanskrit Jijang is known as Kshitigarbha.
In Chinese Jijang is known as Dizang.
In Japanese Jijang is known as Jizo or Ojizo-sama 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bees Drink From The Flowers By The Pond

Stealing does not begin at the moment one takes something,
but as soon as one differentiates oneself and others.

---Soko Morinaga---

Wealth and Poverty

The Way and the Roundabout Path

A bodhisattva refuses nothing and shows no preferences. Without pondering or judging whether Way or roundabout path, he acts in accordance with what the situation demands because he knows that the Way and the roundabout path are one.

---Soko Morinaga---

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Walking the Walk

Explaining many profound dharmas is easy;
living them yourself is hard.

---Adept Godrakpa---

The Gatha of Atonment

For all evil karma ever committed by me since of old, on account of my beginningless greed, anger, and delusion, born of my body, mouth, and thoughts, now I atone for them all.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Zucchini Pudding

1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup of yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup of white onion, finely chopped
3/4 of a pound of medium-sized zucchini, trimmed and cut into a small dice
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup of shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a square 8-inch baking dish.

In a small bowl mix the flour, the cornmeal, and the baking soda. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook the onion until they are soften. Perhaps 3 or 4 minutes.

Add the zucchini, the thyme, the salt, and the crushed pepper. Cook, stirring, until the zucchini is tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Reserve in the pan off the heat.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Beat in the milk, the sour cream, and 1/4 cup of the cheese. Add the dry ingredients. Mix well. Add the zucchini mixture. Mix well.

Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.

Bake until the pudding is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

Cut into squares and serve hot.

Non-Alcoholic Cocktail - Roy Rogers

4 ounces of ginger ale
2 ounces of lemon-lime soda
1 teaspoon of grenadine
1 maraschino cherry
1 orange slice

Pour the ginger ale, the lemon-lime soda, and the grenadine into a highball glass almost filled with ice cubes.

Stir well.

Garnish with the cherry and the orange slice.

Washing the Dishes

If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not "washing the dishes to wash the dishes." What's more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can't wash the dishes, the chances are we won't be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future—and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---

Sunday, September 20, 2015

No Losing, No Gaining

Delusions and faults do not have to be eradicated. They cease to be the moment they are realized. And enlightenment is not gaining something that from that moment onward becomes one's possession but is rather the shedding of all delusions, errors, and notions. As that, it is the voiding of everything that obscures truth and prevents it from revealing itself.

---Soko Morinaga---

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Gift

Don't let people pull you into their storm. Pull them into your peace.

---Jim Hampton---

The Wonder of An Ordinary Life

Artwork by Marla Frazee

Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.

---William Martin---

Friday, September 18, 2015

Your Practice, Your Experience

Your own practice can show you the truth.

Your own experience is all that counts.

---Bhante Henepola Gunaratana---

A Letter I Received

Critical thinking and self-reflection are ingrained in my analytical mind. So, I struggle to make sense or to find agreement with following a set of commandments and convictions that hold any conceptual being before all others. It is too exact and goes against logic. With the risk of sounding cliché, Buddhism “fits” with who I am, and who I hope to become.

I have always been led by a set of ethics that have been driven mostly by empathy and compassion. Because of this, I have struggled to align myself with any doctrine that places a dogma or deity before humanity. Many atrocities perpetrated throughout history have some connection to religion, and putting faith ahead of man. A strictly dogmatic approach can be harmful. Buddhism offers no justification for causing harm to another, and that is the only reasoning I can side with.

With my experiences through life, I have proven to be not without flaws. I have allowed my ego to often cloud my thoughts. I hope to achieve peace from the dukkha that occasionally cripples me. Through training my mind to let go of my ego and snap judgments, and to be more aware, I hope to become more thoughtful and kind. I have a long way to go, but I have to start somewhere.  

Dukkha = Stress, anxiety, discomfort, irritation.


Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Perfect Wisdom

There is no reason to become fixated upon or to extol the Perfection of Wisdom as some isolated form of greatness or perfectness, because the Perfection of Wisdom recognizes every single being, event and perception as precisely the same limitless, immeasurable, infinite perfection. This recognition is what constitutes the greatness of Perfect Wisdom.

---The Prajnaparamita Sutra in 8,000 Lines---

Ten Bodhisattva Practices

1  Gladdening Practice:

Material generosity, giving to benefit beings, with no idea of self, receiver, or gift; also, observing all living beings perish, bodhisattvas explain to them the equal, imperishable true essence of things, which is none other than emptiness of independent existence.

2  Beneficial Practice:

Maintaining pure morality, abiding in equanimity and impartiality, looking upon all beings as equals.

3  Practice of Nonopposition:

Comprehending the emptiness of the body, selflessness, and nonexistence of possession, realizing pain and pleasure, suffering and happiness, have no absolute existence; inducing other people toward nirvana, the extinction of affliction.

4  Practice of Indefatigability:

Cultivating perseverance in effort in order to cause beings in all worlds to attain ultimate nirvana.

5  Practice of Freedom from Ignorance and Confusion:

Perfecting right mindfulness, purifying the mind and freeing it from confusion, developing and enlarging concentration.

6  Practice of Skillful Revelation:

Knowing thoughts, words, and deeds have no absolute existence, using skillful techniques to demonstrate nonorigination—emptiness of ultimate reality—in order to mature, pacify, and edify people.

7  Practice of Nonattachment:

Purifying and adorning innumerable worlds, serving the Buddhas, entering the realm of reality, dwelling in the abode of Buddhas, cultivating enlightening practices forever, entering the realm of truth with no attachment, practicing enlightening actions throughout the universe.

8  Practice of That Which is Difficult to Attain:

Development of virtuous qualities which are difficult to attain, invincible, supreme, indestructible, unsurpassable, inconceivable, immensely powerful, inexhaustable, and of the same nature as the Buddhas. This involves penetrating the realm of sentient beings in its underlying nonduality with the realm of reality, realizing there is no increase or decrease, as all things and the realm of realities are nondual; it also entails teaching sentient beings without in effect saying a single thing, since there is no absolute thing in the realm of reality, all being as ungraspable as space.

9  Practice of Goodness:

Attaining comprehensive mnemonic power, dealing with all beings with unbreakable compassion, appearing in the form of a Buddha to perform the works of a Buddha.

10  Practice of Real Truth:

Penetrating ever deeper into the Buddhas' teachings and arriving as the fountainhead of truth.



You arrive at the truth by painstakingly eliminating untruth.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


This was said by the Lord, said by the Arahant, so I heard:

Bhikkhus, one who has directly known and fully understood greed, hate, delusion, anger, contempt, and who has detached their mind from them and abandoned them, is capable of destroying suffering.

---The Itivuttaka---

Dancing Man Dip

1 pint of sour cream
1 avocado, mashed
1/4 pound of blue cheese, cubed
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

Fold the sour cream into the mashed avocado.

Add the cheese cubes and the Worcestershire sauce and blend well.

Serve with chips, crackers, or raw vegetables.

Non-Alcoholic Cocktail - Dancing Man

1 very ripe banana
1/4 cup of blueberries
1/4 cup of raspberries
2 ounces of chilled whole milk
4 ounces of chilled orange juice

Place all of the ingredients into a blender.

Blend well.

Pour the drink into a collins glass.

Please Call Me By My True Names

I have a poem for you. This poem is about three of us. The first is a twelve-year-old girl, one of the boat people crossing the Gulf of Siam. She was raped by a sea pirate, and after that she threw herself into the sea. The second person is the sea pirate, who was born in a remote village in Thailand. And the third person is me. I was very angry, of course. But I could not take sides against the sea pirate. If I could have, it would have been easier, but I couldn’t. I realized that if I had been born in his village and had lived a similar life - economic, educational, and so on - it is likely that I would now be that sea pirate. So it is not easy to take sides. Out of suffering, I wrote this poem. It is called “Please Call Me by My True Names,” because I have many names, and when you call me by any of them, I have to say, “Yes.”

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow –
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply:
every second I am arriving to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.

The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond.

And I am the grass-snake that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as Bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to my people dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring,
so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


As he was sitting there, Venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One, "This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie."

"Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life.

---Samyutta Nikaya 45. 2---


The word Bodhicitta is a combination of the Sanskrit words bodhi and citta.

Bodhi means "awakened."

Citta comes from the Sanskrit root cit, and means "that which is conscious." This can be understood as your mind or your consciousness.

Bodhicitta may be translated as "awakened mind" or even "awakening mind."

Lama Surya Das says Bodhicitta may be seen as the mind that strives toward awakening and compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings.


Some people try to become good, and some people try to call what they do "good." And therein lies all the difference.

---Dan Hagen---

Monday, September 14, 2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Many Schools (Expressions) of the Buddha-Dharma

The teachings of Buddhism may vary according to culture, ability, or temperament, but the essential truth is one and the diverse teachings and practices are all part of the total effort.


When ignorance is totally exhausted, obstructing actions have no essence—nirvana naturally appears.

---Thomas Cleary---

The Buddha's First Power of Knowledge

Buddha cultivated enlightening practices,
Comprehending all things,
Clarifying the true and the false;
This is the Buddha's first power of knowledge.

---The Avatamsaka Sutra---


Enlightenment is not about becoming a better or happier person. Enlightenment is the removal of untruth, the eradication of non-Reality. It's about seeing through the fantasy. It's the complete erasure of everything we think, hope, or image to be true. Enlightenment is coming face-to-face with Reality.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How We Experience

We don't experience the world. We experience constructs in our minds made up of information gathered by our senses and filtered through our memory.

Freedom From Suffering

Buddhism sees suffering as undesirable and freedom from suffering as something to be preferred, irrespective of whether it is an animal or a human that suffers.


Replace This With That - A Practice

Overcome anger with non-anger.

Overcome non-good with good.

Overcome avarice with generosity.

Overcome lying with truth.

The Bodhisattva

Bodhisattvas cultivate the Four Immeasurable Minds, the Four Pure Abodes.

These are immeasurable kindness, immeasurable compassion, immeasurable joy, and immeasurable equanimity.

The word "immeasurable" means these attitudes are extended to embrace all beings, overcoming emotional biases or discriminations between friends and enemies, relatives and strangers.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Subhuti Speaks to Shariputra

Dear brother, the diamond being has no interest whatsoever in attaining any state, no matter how exalted, for no conscious state ever comes into being. The bodhisattva is not in search of mystic union or reunion with any level of reality, for no such level ever comes into being. A personal structure which has never come into being cannot attain a spiritual goal which never comes into being—whether with effort or without effort, gradually or instantly.

---The Prajnaparamita Sutra in 8,000 Lines---

The Bodhisattva

Art by Mayumi Oda

One who is completely committed to the eventual enlightenment of all beings.

The Bodhisattva

Art by Mayumi Oda

One who upholds the radical understanding of universal enlightenment as present reality.

No Game

There are some who will not understand.

But, I'm in competition with no one.

I have no desire to play the game better than anyone else.

I'm simply trying to be a wiser, more compassionate person than I was yesterday.

---Ven. Hung Su, Abbot Grand Rapids Buddhist Temple and Zen Center---


Wisdom has three stages. The first is knowledge acquired by hearing or reading. We reach the second stage when we make this knowledge our own by taking its guidelines to heart and trying to actualize them through thought, speech, and action. As we do this more and more, our thoughts, words, and deeds are purified, and the third and highest stage of wisdom arises.

---Ayya Khema---

Tomato and Parsnip Soup

2 tablespoons of butter
2 onions, chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 3/4 cups of chopped scrubbed parsnips
3 tablespoons of flour
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
4 cups of vegetable broth
2/3 cup of whole milk
1 bay leaf
14 ounces (400 grams) of canned chopped tomatoes, with their juices
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Snipped fresh chives as garnish

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onions and the garlic and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.

Add the parsnips and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes more.

Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and the thyme, season lightly with the salt and the pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Gradually stir in the broth, a little at a time. When all the broth has been added, stir in the milk and add the bay leaf and the tomatoes and their juice.

Return the pan to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.

Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, until the parsnips are very tender.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the contents to cool slightly.

Remove and discard the bay leaf.

Transfer the soup to a blender or a food processor, in batches if necessary, and process to a puree.

Return the soup to the rinsed-out pan and gently reheat it, stirring occasionally.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, garnish with the snipped chives, and serve immediately.