Saturday, September 30, 2017

Buddhist Life

The whole of the Buddhist life is a training to purify and free the Mind.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Three Marks

Standing, walking, sitting or lying, we know all mental states as impermanent, unsatisfactory and not self.

~ Ajahn Chah

We Are Enlightened

Intrinsically, we are perfect in being as we are. We are enlightened. But until we really understand this, we will do deluded things.

~ Charlotte Joko Beck

Monday, September 25, 2017

Question Everything

The Buddha did not promise heavenly bliss or reward to those who called themselves his followers. Nor did he promise salvation to those who had faith in him. To the Buddha, religion is not a bargain but a noble way of life, a noble way of life to gain Enlightenment and freedom for oneself and others.

The Buddha did not want followers who believed him blindly; he wanted his students to think and understand for themselves.

The Buddha urged people to learn all they're able about the Teaching and the Practice he shared and not simply believe in it.

The Buddha advised choosing a proper religion by considering and investigating it in various ways, without accepting anything through emotion or blind faith. This is why Buddhism is sometimes called the religion of analysis. In it is the scientific logical analysis of Mind and matter which modern thinkers understand and can appreciate.

Buddhist are encouraged to have an attitude of healthy skepticism about all religions, even Buddhism. Question everything.

Perfecting Ourselves

When Siddhartha was meditating under the tree, no god or angel came to him to reveal any hidden secrets of spiritual power. No one one gave him any religious laws or doctrines to teach.

After his Awakening, the Buddha said, "I never had any teacher, human or divine, teach me or tell me how to gain Enlightenment. I achieved Supreme Wisdom by my own effort, energy, knowledge, and purity."

As the Buddha, we too can attain the highest goal through perseverance in perfecting ourselves.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

This, Now This

The river
where you set
your foot just now
is gone—
those waters
giving way to this,
now this.


The Heart Sutra

The Heart Sutra is recited daily in Zen temples and monasteries around the world. It's recited daily in many other Mahayana temples and monasteries. The text is seen as a teaching on nondualism. It's looked upon as the ultimate teaching of Prajna Paramita. There are no opposites. When this is experienced, Nirvana is experienced. 

Monday, September 18, 2017


Your thoughts and your beliefs are stories you've been telling yourself for a lifetime.

Storyteller, who are you?

Without the stories, what are you?


A student asked his teacher, “Master, what is the way to Enlightenment?”

The Teacher answered, “There is no way to Enlightenment, for Enlightenment is not other than here and now.”

Please, Master, tell me the essence of Enlightenment.”

There is no essence of Enlightenment, for Enlightenment is all and nothing.”

Please, Master, tell me the secret that I might know that Enlightenment is all.”

Dear student,” the Master said, “there is no way, there is no essence, there is no secret. The truth you seek is not hidden from you. You are hiding form it.”

Creamed Celery

1 pound of celery
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of milk
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup of grated Emmental cheese
4 tablespoons of bread crumbs browned in 1 teaspoon of butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the celery into 1-inch pieces.

Cover the celery pieces with water and cook until tender, but not soft.

Drain the celery and save the cooking water.

Melt the butter, mix in the flour and gradually blend in the milk to make a smooth white sauce.

Use some of the reserved celery cooking liquid to thin the sauce if it is too thick. Save any remaining water for your next pot of soup.

Mix the cooked celery pieces with the white sauce and pour it all into a well butter casserole.

Sprinkle the cheese over top.

Sprinkled the browned bread crumbs over the cheese.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese melts and the mixture is heated through.

Tempeh Sandwich Spread

8 ounces of tempeh
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
2 teaspoon of prepared mustard
2 green onions, chopped
1 or 2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 tablespoon of sweet pickle relish

Steam the tempeh for 20 minutes.

Allow the steamed tempeh to cool, then grate it and mix it with the remaining ingredients.

Cover and refrigerate the spread until welled chilled.

Serve it on a bed of lettuce or use it as a sandwich filling.

Lousy at Math

Once a group of thieves stole a rare diamond
Larger than a goose egg.

Its value could have easily bought
One thousand horses

And two thousand acres
Of the most fertile land in Shiraz.

The thieves got drunk that night
To celebrate their great haul,

But during the course of the evening
The effects of the liquor
And their mistrust of each other grew to such
An extent

They decided to divide the stone into pieces.
Of course then the Priceless became lost.

Most everyone is lousy at math
And does that to God—

Dissects the Invisible One,

By thinking, saying,
"This is my Beloved, he looks like this
And acts like that,

How could that moron over there



No one is an adult
except the one who is free from desire.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Taking a Step

Man Looking Out to Sea, by L. S. Lowry

You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.

~Rabindranath Tagore

True Wisdom

True wisdom is always and everywhere clear because it is conditioned neither by past or present, nor by ordinary men or accomplished ones, nor by men or women, nor by delusion or enlightenment. In no way is it limited.

~Kusan Sunim, in The Way of Korean Zen


The liberation of all the Buddhas must be sought within the workings of each sentient being's mind. It should not be sought elsewhere.

~Master Zongjing

Great Questioning

Seon teaches us great questioning leads to great awakening. 

Here is a hwadu: At this moment, who is reading these words?


What would we have to
hold in compassion
to be at peace right now?

What would we have to
let go of
to be at peace right now?

~Jack Kornfield


What we are looking for is what is looking.

~St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, September 11, 2017

Everything is an Illusion

When Buddhists say all things are illusions, they do not mean things do not exist. Things are illusions because we invest them with self-existence and remove and separate them from the indivisible fabric of reality. Everything exists dependent upon other things. Nothing exists independently. Nothing exists free of causes and conditions.

The Teaching

Pai Chu-yi, the T'ang Dynasty poet-official, once asked a Buddhist monk what was the most profound teaching of Buddhism.

The monk answered with a paraphrase from the Dhammapada, "Commit no wrongs, perform good deeds, and let your thoughts be pure, thus do all buddhas teach."

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Realized Person

The realized person uses their mind like a mirror, neither anticipating nor welcoming anything, responding to everything and retraining nothing. Such a person is thus able to succeed in all things and remain unharmed.

~ Chuang-tzu

Right Mindfulness

With the practice of mindfulness awareness is applied at a special pitch. The mind is deliberately kept at the level of bare attention, a detached observation of what is happening within us and around us in the present moment. In the practice of right mindfulness the mind is trained to remain in the present, open, quiet, and alert, contemplating the present event. All judgments and interpretations have to be suspended, or if they occur, just registered and dropped. The task is simply to note whatever comes up just as it is occurring, riding the changes of events in the way a surfer rides the waves on the sea. The whole process is a way of coming back into the present, of standing in the here and now without slipping away, without getting swept away by the tides of distracting thoughts.

Bhikkhu Bodhi, in The Noble Eightfold Path

Natural Selection

Natural Selection didn't design your mind to see the world clearly; it designed your mind to have perceptions and beliefs that would help take care of your genes.

~Robert Wright, in Why Buddhism Is True


To approach or to avoid is the most elemental behavioral decision there is, and feelings seem to be the tool natural selection used to get organisms to make what, by natural selection's lights, was the right decision.

As the biologist George Romanes put it in 1884, twenty-five years after Darwin's The Origin of Species appeared, "Pleasures and pains must have been evolved as the subjective accompaniment of processes which are respectively beneficial or injurious to the organism, and so evolved for the purpose or to the end that the organism should seek the one and shun the other."

~Robert Wright, in Why Buddhism Is True


Nobody can live for us or die for us. And nobody can realize enlightenment for us. We have to drink the water if we want to know what it tastes like.

~Red Pine, in his commentary on The Platform Sutra

Friday, September 8, 2017


For a follower of the Mahayana path, nothing is more important than enlightenment. Unless we realize the nature of reality, we remain imprisoned by our delusions and unable to help others do the same. But the nature of reality is simply our own nature.

~Red Pine, in his commentary on The Platform Sutra

The Seven Factors of Enlightenment

1 . . . Mindfulness
2 . . . Investigation of Phenomena
3 . . . Energy
4 . . . Rapture
5 . . . Tranquility
6 . . . Concentration
7 . . . Equanimity

The way to enlightenment starts with mindfulness. Mindfulness clears the ground for insight into the nature of things by bringing to light phenomena in the now, the present moment, stripped of all subjective commentary, interpretations, and projections. Then, when mindfulness has brought the bare phenomena into focus, the factor of investigation steps in to search out their characteristics, conditions, and consequences. Whereas mindfulness is basically receptive, investigation is an active factor which unflinchingly probes, analyzes, and dissects phenomena to uncover their fundamental structures.

The work of investigation requires energy, the third factor of enlightenment, which mounts in three stages. The first, inceptive energy, shakes of lethargy and arouses initial enthusiasm. As the work of contemplation advances, energy gathers momentum and enters the second stage, perseverance, wherein it propels the practice without slackening. Finally, at the peak, energy reaches the third stage, invincibility, where it drives contemplation forward leaving the hindrances powerless to stop it.

As energy increases, the fourth factor of enlightenment is quickened. This is rapture, a pleasurable interest in the object. Rapture gradually builds up, ascending to ecstatic heights: waves of bliss run through the body, the mind glows with joy, fervor and confidence intensify. But these experiences, as encouraging as they are, still contain a flaw: they create an excitation verging on restlessness. With further practice, however, rapture subsides and a tone of quietness sets in signalling the rise of the fifth factor, tranquility. Rapture remains present, but it is now subdued, and the work of contemplation proceeds with self-possessed serenity.

Tranquility brings to ripeness concentration, the sixth factor, one-pointed unification of mind. Then, with the deepening of concentration, the last enlightenment factor comes into dominance. This is equanimity, inward poise and balance free from the two defects of excitement and inertia. When inertia prevails, energy must be aroused; when excitement prevails, it is necessary to exercise restraint. But when both defects have been vanquished the practice can unfold evenly without need for concern. The mind of equanimity is compared to the driver of a chariot when the horses are moving at a steady pace: he neither has to urge them forward nor to hold them back, but can just sit comfortably and watch the scenery go by.  Equanimity has the same "on-looking" quality. When the other factors are balanced the mind remains poised watching the play of phenomena.

Bhikkhu Bodhi, in The Noble Eightfold Path

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Everyday Life

Chop wood, carry water, and don't ask questions, unless you're ready to answer them yourself.

~Red Pine, in in commentary on The Platform Sutra

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Clarity of Vision

Buddhist practice and philosophy offer powerful hope. Buddhism isn't alone in this promise. There are other spiritual traditions that address the human predicament with insight and wisdom. But Buddhist meditation, along with its underlying philosophy, addresses that predicament in a strikingly direct and comprehensive way. Buddhism offers an explicit diagnosis of the problem and a cure. And the cure, when it works, brings not just happiness but clarity of vision: the actual truth about things, or at least something way, way closer to that than our everyday view of them.

~Robert Wright, in What Buddhism is True

Thai-Inspired Cucumber Relish

1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
2 tablespoons of sugar  (plus 1/4 cup if you are using white vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 English cucumber
1/2 of a small red onion (about 1/2 cup sliced)
4 small red chilies
1 tablespoon of roughly chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon of finely chopped peanuts

In a small saucepan, stir together the vinegar, the sugar, and the salt over medium heat until combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Partially peel the cucumber, making long stripes of alternating green and white flesh.

Slice the cucumber paper-thin.

Mince the onion.

When the vinegar sauce is cool, add the cucumbers and the onion and stir.

Slice the chilies into rings (remove the seeds if desired).

Add the chili rings and the chopped cilantro to the cucumbers and stir.

Transfer to a nice serving bowl and garnish with the chopped peanuts.

Getting There

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.


Monday, September 4, 2017

The Buddhist conception of karma is quite different from the Western notion of fate. Fate does not give us a choice. It is inexorable. Karma presents us with a set of possibilities from which we are free to choose. Thus, the river of our karma is always changing as we alter its course through our thoughts, words, and deeds.

~Red Pine,
in his commentary on
The Platform Sutra

The Diamond Sutra

Formlessness is its ancestry, non-attachment is its substance, inexplicable existence is its function. Bodhidharma came from the West to transmit the message of this sutra so that people could realize the truth and see their natures. . . . On hearing this sutra, those who have planted good roots in previous lives will understand at once. While those who have no such karmic wisdom might recite it repeatedly and still not realize the Buddha's meaning.

~Hui-Neng in the preface to his commentary on the Heart Sutra

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Practice

Simply allow your thoughts and experiences to come and go, without ever grasping at them.

~Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Absolute Perfect Enlightenment

When I attained Absolute Perfect Enlightenment, I attained absolutely nothing. That is why it is called Absolute Perfect Enlightenment.

~The Diamond Sutra

Our Largest Fear

Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive—the risk to be alive and express what we really are.

~Don Miguel Ruiz


One who thinks he knows, does not know; one who knows he does not know, knows.

~The Upanishads

Saturday, September 2, 2017


Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, a meditation teacher in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, has said, "Ultimately, happiness comes down to choosing between the discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions and the discomfort of being ruled by them." What he meant is that if you want to liberate yourself from the parts of the mind that keep you from realizing true happiness, you have to first become aware of them, which can be unpleasant.

~Robert Wright, in Why Buddhism is True

Natural Selection

Natural selection is not a conscious designer, it is simply a blind process.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Tool Box

Don't try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a better Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are.

~His Holiness the Dalai Lama

A Radical Promise

At the heart of Buddhism is a simple claim: The reason we suffer—and the reason we make other people suffer—is that we don't see the world clearly. At the heart of Buddhist meditative practice is a radical promise: we can learn to see the world, including ourselves, more clearly, and so gain a deep and morally valid happiness.

~Inside flap of the dust jacket of Why Buddhism is True, by Robert Wright