Sunday, December 31, 2017


What Is A Sentient Being?

The New Oxford American Dictionary (2001): able to perceive or feel things.

Is a cow sentient?

Can a cow feel a human hand petting it?

Are protozoa sentient?

Can protozoa perceive light or cold?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Words of a Scientist

Our metaphysics must follow our physics.

~Dr. Sean Carroll

The Practice of Buddhism

Reading about Buddhism is important. But to be aware of my actions, my words, and my thoughts are also very important. To understand my actions (words, thoughts, deeds) have results is important.

A good beginning in the practice of Buddhism to the measure of the Five Precepts: Respect for Life, Respect for the Property of Others, Respect for Sexual Boundaries, Respect for the Use of Language in Regard to Others, and the Respect for My Body and My Mind.

The Practice of Buddhism is not an intellectual exercise. The Practice of Buddhism is a course of Action. The Noble Eightfold Path is Buddhism. It is the Expression of the Teaching and the Experience of Freedom from stress and anxiety.

If you want to know Buddhism, know the Eightfold Path.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Finger Pointing at the Moon

A finger pointing at the moon:
Such are the Teachings, they say.
The Writings themselves are not the Truth;
They merely point the way.

Direct experience leads us to
The gateway of the inspired.
Yet trying to describe the ineffable with words
Leaves much to be desired.

Journeying through life we encounter distractions,
Which in their clever fashion
Can obfuscate the clarity
Of the heart of true compassion

Or lead us down a confusing path
Where knowledge and wisdom are blurred,
And the hopes of our transcending the mundane
Are stifled by a word.

Seeking the Truth is a noble goal;
Awareness comes never too soon.
Just be careful not to mistake
The finger for the moon.

~Bob B

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


True joy happens when the ego is not involved.

~Steve Thayer

Monday, December 18, 2017

An Alternative to Materialism

Americans seem to assume that the alternative to materialism is poverty. I find that ironic because it’s clear to me that the necessary result of materialism is emotional and mental impoverishment.

So the alternative to materialism isn’t poverty. The alternative to materialism is an indifference to wealth that provides a relative immunity to greed.

~Dan Hagen

The Simplicity of Buddhism

There is stress and anxiety in life.

There is a cause for this stress and anxiety.

There is freedom from this stress and anxiety.

There is a path of practice for the experience of this freedom.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Everything is Change

Everything falls under the law of change, like a dream, a phantom, a bubble, a shadow, like dew or a flash of lightening; you should contemplate everything like this.

~The Diamond Sutra

Friday, December 15, 2017


The whole path of mindfulness is this: whatever you are doing, be aware of it.

~Dipa Ma

Friday, December 8, 2017


The Grand Rapids Buddhist Temple uses a variety of teachings and practices to help each member of the Sangha first develop a calmer, more integrated and compassionate personality, and then to 'wake-up' from the restricting delusions that cause attachment which leads to stress and anxiety.


At the Grand Rapids Buddhist Temple we know morality is often defined as 'other-regarding': focused on the effect of our actions on other people. This is a reasonable view, but it is incomplete from the Buddhist perspective. Buddhist morality is concerned with people, with other species, and with the planet itself.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

We Try Our Best

At the Grand Rapids Buddhist temple we strive to share light, hope, relief, and liberation, and the means to these where there is darkness, suffering, oppression, and despair. Our Sangha is determined not to forget about or to abandon those is desperate situations. We try our best to establish contact with those who cannot find their way out of suffering, those who cries for help, justice, equality, and human rights are not being heard. The temple understands and teaches hell can be found in many places on Earth. We teach and do our best not to create more hells on Earth. We try to transform those hells that already exist. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Grand Rapids Buddhist Temple

I'm Abbot Emeritus of the Grand Rapids Buddhist Temple in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

This summer I stepped aside as Abbot in order to allow new and fresh thinking young minds to begin guiding the temple.

So often, in the West, a dedicated person will establish a temple, Dharma Hall, or meditation community and then makes no provisions for what happens if they become incapacitated or die.

Our Sangha did not want that to happen to our temple or community.

With this blog I want to share some of the things I have learned about the Western evolution of the Practice and the hopes and ideals of the Grand Rapids Sangha.

Our temple is an American Buddhist Temple whose roots are in the Hua Yen School. The Hua Yen School is the foundation of the Ch'an and Zen Schools. The Avatamsaka Sutra is our foundational teaching. We emphasize the interdependence and interbeing of all things, the emptiness of all phenomena, the inherent Buddha Nature of all beings, and the bodhisattva aspiration.

Additionally the Grand Rapids Buddhist Temple stresses inclusiveness and a living experience of the Buddha Dharma. We strive to bring the Buddha Dharma to the everyday lives of the Sangha. Our Sangha is made up of folks who have full-time jobs and families, so we emphasize practical applications of the Buddha's teaching.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Buddhist Practice

Paese in Toscana by Antonietta Varallo

Buddhist practice is simply a system directed to the one end of lessening the suffering of life.

~Ananda Metteyya

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Noble Art of Living

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.

~Lin Yutang

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Hua Yen

If you forget yourself, you become the universe.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017


We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. 

~The Buddha


Actually lending a hand
Volunteering to help anyone do anything
Donating to a charity
Running for office
Picking up litter
Not littering
Almost anything, really

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Little Duck

Now we are ready to look
at something pretty special.
It is a duck riding the ocean
a hundred feet beyond the surf,
as he cuddles in the swells.
There is a big heaving in the Atlantic,
and he is part of it.
He can rest while the Atlantic heaves,
because he rests in the Atlantic.
Probably he doesn't know
how large the ocean is.
And neither do you.
But he realizes it.
And what does he do, I ask you?
He sits down in it.
He reposes in the immediate
as if it were infinity—which it is.
That is religion, and the duck has it.
How about you?

~Donald C. Babcock

So Damn Easy, So Damn Difficult

Spiritual liberation, spiritual freedom, indeed spiritual growth is not found in Tibet or Nepal or St. Peter's in Rome or the Mormon Tabernacle or the newest book on Amazon or the pastor from Oklahoma.
Spirituality, freedom, truth, whatever word you use is right here, right now, in whatever you are doing.
That's why it's so difficult to find. We look everywhere except where we are.
Driving, eating, farting, walking, making love, making dinner, every single thing we do is our spiritual life.
Every single thing we do, think, or say is our spiritual life.
How we respond and interact with everything is religion. So damn easy. So damn difficult.

Clearly Seeing

To see clearly is poetry, philosophy, and religion, all in one.

~John Ruskin


There's an old story of a Cherokee woman sharing wisdom with her grandson. "Everything in life comes to you as a teacher," the grandmother said. "Pay attention. Learn quickly."

Make The Best Use Of What Is In Your Power

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us. Our opinions are up to us, and our impulses, desires, aversions — in short, whatever is our own doing. Our bodies are not up to us, nor are our possessions, our reputations, or our public offices, or, that is, whatever is not our own doing.


Saturday, November 18, 2017


After the leaves fall
in the village at the foot
of Ogura Peak,
one can see through the 
     tree branches
the moon shining
     in the clear.


A Great Pilgrimage

I felt in need of a great pilgrimage, so I sat still for three days.


Extremely Simple Tofu Teriyaki

1 pound of firm tofu, blotted and cut into 3/4-inch dice
1 cup of vegetable stock (homemade or canned)
2 tablespoons of dry white wine or dry vermouth
2 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to the simmer, cover, and cook gently for 10 minutes.

Divide the tofu and the liquid among 4 shallow bowls.

Garnish each serving with some of the sliced green onion.


Be Done With Them

Here and now you know your unwholesome actions.

Drop them and be done with them.


Gently notice when your mind drifts into the elsewhere and the elsewhen.

When you are not here and now, you are likely lost in imagination, worry, wish, or rehashing.

Simply and gently notice this.

Be Here

"Where shall I look for Enlightenment?"


"When will it happen?"

"It is happening right now."

"Then why don't I experience it?"

"Because you do not look."

"What should I look for?"

"Nothing. Just Look."

"At what?"

"Anything your eyes alight upon."

"Must I look in a special kind of way?"

"No. The ordinary way will do."

"But don't I always look the ordinary way?"


"Why ever not?"

"Because to look you must be here. You're mostly somewhere else."

~Anthony De Mello

Master and Student

A student asked his teacher, "How does one get emancipated?"

"Who has placed you in bondage?" his Master asked.

"What is the Pure Land?' the student asked.

"Who has defiled you?" his Master asked.

"What is Nirvana?" the student asked.

"Who has subjected you to birth-and-death?" the Master asked.

~Shi Tou

At Your Table

Man at the Table by Gabriele Munter

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

~Franz Kafka

I Am It

If I chase it, I separate into the chaser and the chased.
If I am it, I am it and nothing else.

~John Lilly

The Endless Now

Eternally and always there is only now, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end.

~Erwin Schrodinger

Nothing to Say

Birth, old age,
Sickness, and death:
From the beginning,
This is the way
Things have always been.
Any thought
Of release from this life
Will wrap you only more tightly
In its snares.
The sleeping person
Looks for a Buddha,
The troubled person
Turns towards meditation,
But the one who knows
That there's nothing to seek
 Knows too that there's nothing to say.
She keeps her mouth closed.

~Ly Ngoc Kieu , in Women in the Praise of the Sacred

Toe-Nail Polish

 A Buddhist teacher in England received a telephone call from a seven-year-old girl.

"Do Buddhas wear toe-nail polish?" the young girl asked.

"Are you wearing toe-nail polish?" the teacher asked.

"Yes!" the little girl shouted, and hung up.

Thursday, November 16, 2017



He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.

~Lao Tzu,

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. 


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Buddha Said:

The past should not be followed after and the future not desired; what is past is dead and gone and the future is yet to come.

~The Buddha

Greed; Endless, Unsatisfied Greed

Were there a mountain all made of gold, doubled that would not be enough to satisfy a single man: know this and live accordingly.

~The Buddha

Monday, November 13, 2017


Studying Zen is not the same as practicing Zen, just as studying aesthetics should not be confused with being an artist.
~T.P. Kasulis

The Practice

Don't become distracted from the Practice by either pleasure or non-pleasure.


CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES: Football players kneeling = outrage Saying "happy holidays" = outrage Red cups at Starbucks = outrage Marriage equality, women's equality, racial equality = outrage, outrage, outrage Roy Moore sexually assaulting a 14 year old girl = omg no big deal

There Are No Secrets In Buddhism

According to the Buddha, the Truth is an open thing for all to discover for themselves. When we study the life and the teachings of the Buddha, we can see that everything is open to everyone. While there are certain practice techniques and teaching tools that require the specific guidance of experienced teachers, there are no secrets in Buddhism.