Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wisdom Is Something Which Will Come Out Of Your Mindfulness

Just to see, and to be ready to see things with our whole mind, is zazen practice. If we prepare for thinking, there is no need to make an effort to think. This is called mindfulness. Mindfulness is, at the same time, wisdom. By wisdom we do not mean some particular faculty or philosophy. It is the readiness of the mind that is wisdom. So wisdom could be various philosophies and teachings, and various kinds of research and studies. But we should not be attached to some particular wisdom, such as that which was taught by Buddha. Wisdom is not something to learn. Wisdom is something which will come out of your mindfulness. So the point is to be ready for observing things, and to be ready for thinking. This is called emptiness of your mind. Emptiness is nothing but the practice.

~Shunryu Suzuki, in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

No God

Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation. ~Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

January 8, 1942, Oxford, United Kingdom - March 14, 2018, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Nirvana is said to be the absence of the Three Poisons of greed, hatred, and ignorance.

Nirvana is said to be the absence of opinion over reality.

Thomas Cleary, the translator of the Avatamsaka Sutra, defines Nirvana as a "tranquil, dispassionate state of extinction of afflictions."


How foolish you are,
grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention.


The Inconceivable Plane

If regarding the Buddha and truth,
One understands that they are equal,
Having no thought of duality,
One will walk on the inconceivable plane.

If one sees the Buddha and oneself
Resting in equality,
Without abode, entering nowhere,
One will become one of the Rare.

Form and feeling have no sets:
Nor do conception, action, consciousness;
Any who can know this way
Will become great sages.

Whether mundane or transmundane views,
Having risen beyond them all
While able to know the truth,
One will become a great illuminate.

~The Avatamsaka Sutra

Manjushri Asks a Question

Manjushri "Gentle Glory" the Bodhisattva associated with Insight

Then Manjushri asked Chief in Doctrine, "According to what the Buddha says, if any sentient beings accept and hold the true teaching, they can cut off all afflictions. Why then are there those who accept and hold the true teaching and yet do not cut off afflictions, who go along with anger and resentment, go along with jealousy and stinginess, go along with deception and flattery, compelled by the power of these things, having no will to detach from them? If they are able to accept and hold the true teaching, why then do they still produce afflictions in their mental actions?" Chief in Doctrine answered in verse:

Listen well and clearly
To the true meaning of what you ask.
It is not only by much learning
That one can enter the Buddhas' teaching.

Like a man floating in water
Who dies of thirst, afraid of drowning:
So are those who are learned
Who do not apply the teaching.

Like a person skilled in medicine
Who can't cure his own disease:
So are those who are learned
But do not apply the teaching.

Like someone counting others' treasures
Without half a coin of his own:
So is the one who is learned
Who doesn't practice the teaching.

~The Avatamsaka Sutra

Monday, March 12, 2018

Old Shaker Song

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the 
    gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we 
    ought to be.
And when we find ourselves in the
    place just right
'Twill be in the valley of love and

Freedom of Thought

The freedom of thought allowed by the Buddha is unheard of elsewhere in the history of religions. This freedom is necessary because, according to the Buddha, man's emancipation depends on his own realization of Truth, and not on the benevolent grace of a god or any external power as a reward for his obedient good behaviour.


Mind is only a faculty or organ like the eye or the ear. It can be controlled and developed like any other faculty.

~Walpola Rahula, in What the Buddha Taught

No Distinction

The Noble Eightfold Path, which is the Buddhist way of life, is meant for all, without distinction of any kind.

~Walpola Rahula, in What the Buddha Taught

The Practice

The common belief that to follow the Buddha's teaching one has to retire from life is a misconception. It is really an unconscious defense against practicing it.

~Walpola Rahula, in What the Buddha Taught

Baked Hominy and Tomatoes

3 cups of canned hominy drained
1 tablespoon of butter, melted (I have also used olive oil.)
2 cups of canned chopped tomatoes (I have also used stewed tomatoes.)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of your favorite grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the hominy, the butter, the tomatoes, and the cheese.

Season to taste.

Pour the mixture into a well-buttered or well-oiled baking dish.

Bake about 45 minutes, until bubbling and crusted.


Lucky Charms

Question: But some lucky charms do work, don't they?

Answer: I know a person who makes a good living selling lucky charms. He claims that his charms can give good luck, prosperity and he guarantees that you will be able to predict winning lottery numbers. But if what he says is true then why isn't he himself a millionaire? If his lucky charms really work, then why doesn't he win the lottery week after week? The only luck he has is that there are people silly enough to but his magic charms.

~S. Dhammika, in Good Question Good Answer

Vietnamese Proverb

Greed is bottomless.

Sunday, March 11, 2018


War, class oppression, racism, and environmental pollution are affronts to the Buddha. They are affronts to the Buddha precisely because they assault and insult the buddha-nature in people and give rise to totally unnecessary suffering.

~~Gene Reeves, in The Stories of the Lotus Sutra


Paying attention to your own mistakes will keep you in step with the Way. 



Enlightenment is already pure, the thought of it is a delusion. 



Words and thoughts are not clung to as ultimate arbiters of reality.

~Thomas Cleary, in Entry Into the Inconceivable

The Universe

The universe is beyond views, without emotions, profusely evolving myriad of forms.

~Thomas Cleary, in Entry Into the Inconceivable

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Expressing Reality

Words and thoughts are not clung to as ultimate arbiters of reality.

~Thomas Cleary, in Entry Into the Inconceivable


No true origin of anything can be found.

~Thomas Cleary, in Entry Into the Inconceivable


Those who come to realize thusness* do not see birth-and-death and do not see nirvana. Birth-and-death and nirvana are equal and without distinction.

~The Avatamsaka Sutra

* Thusness in the East Asian Mahayana tradition is seen as representing the base reality and can be used to terminate the use of words. Thusness is of itself endowed with sublime attributes. It manifests the highest wisdom which shines throughout the world, it has true knowledge and a mind resting simply in its own being. It is eternal, blissful, its own self-being and the purest simplicity; it is invigorating, immutable, free. Because it possesses all these attributes and is deprived of nothing.

Our Nature

When the land of your mind is free of error, this is the morality of your nature. When the land of your mind is free of confusion, this is the meditation of your own nature. When the land of your mind is free of ignorance, this is the wisdom of your own nature.

Once people realize their own nature, they don't differentiate between morality, meditation and wisdom.

~Hui-neng, Sixth Chan Patriarch

The Four Bodhisattva Vows

All beings, one body, I vow to liberate.
Endless blind passions, I vow to uproot.
Dharma gates without number, I vow to penetrate.
The great way of the Buddha, I vow to attain.


The Chan School of Buddhism points us back to our own minds rather to the labyrinth of concepts.

Be a Buddha

When our nature is false, it gives rise to eighteen kinds of falsehood. When our nature is true, it gives rise to eighteen kinds of truth. Who uses them for evil is an ordinary being. Who uses them for good is a buddha. And where does such usage come from? From our nature.



To practice as a buddha is to be a buddha.


Hui-neng and Chih-ch'eng

40. Master Shen-hsiu often heard people say that Hui-neng's teaching was fast and pointed straight to the path. So Shen-hsiu told his disciple Chih-ch'eng, "You're intelligent and perceptive. Go to Hui-neng's place on Tsaohsi Mountain for me and pay your respects, but just listen. Don't say I sent you. When you hear something important, make a note of it and come back and tell me.We'll see whose understanding is fast or slow, mine or Hui-neng's. And come back right away. Don't leave me hanging."

Chih-ch'eng gladly accepted the mission and left, and within half a month he reached Tsaohsi Mountain and met Master Hui-neng. After he paid his respects, he just listened and didn't say where he was from. But as soon as Chih-ch'eng heard the Master teach, he understood, and he grasped his original mind. He stood up and bowed and said, "Master, your disciple has come from Yuchuan Temple. At Shen-hsiu's place, I didn't experience any realization. But as soon as I heard the Master speak, I grasped my original mind. I hope the Master will be compassionate enough to instruct me."

Master Hui-neng said, "If that's where you're from, you must be a spy."

Chih-ch'eng said, "I'm not a spy."

The Sixth Patriarch said, "And why not?"

Chih-ch'eng said, "Before I spoke, I was. But now that I've spoken, I'm not."

The Sixth Patriarch said, "It's the same with 'affliction is enlightenment.'"

41. The Master told Chih-ch'eng, "I've heard that when your Chan master teaches people, he only gives instruction in morality, meditation, and wisdom. Tell me, what does your master teach people about morality, meditation, and wisdom?"

Chih-ch'eng said, "Concerning morality, meditation, and wisdom, Master Shen-hsiu says not committing evil is morality, doing good is wisdom, and purifying one's thoughts is meditation. This is what he means by 'morality, meditation, and wisdom.' This is his explanation. What is the Master's view?"

Hui-neng replied, "This explanation is wonderful, but my view is different."

Chih-ch'eng asked, "How is it different?"

Hui-neng replied, "Understanding can be fast or slow."

Chih-ch'eng then asked the Master to explain his view of morality, meditation, and wisdom.

The Master said, "Listen to my explanation, and you'll see how I view them. When the land of your mind is free of error, this is the morality of your nature. When the land of your mind is free of confusion, this is the meditation of your own nature. When the land of your mind is free of ignorance, this is the wisdom of your own nature."

The Master continued, "The morality, meditation, and wisdom of your master are intended for small-minded people. My morality, meditation, and wisdom are intended for people of bigger minds. Once people realize their own nature, they don't differentiate between morality, meditation and wisdom."

Chih-ch'eng said, "Could the Master please explain why they aren't differentiated?"

The Master said, "Our nature is free of error, free of confusion, and free of ignorance. Prajna shines in every thought and is forever free of attributes. What is there to differentiate? Our nature is something we cultivate directly. It doesn't have any intervening stages, so we don't differentiate any."

Chih-ch'eng bowed and did not leave Tsaohsi Mountain. He became a disciple and was never far from the Master's side.

~The Platform Sutra of Hui-neng

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Observe that all things are born from causes and conditions, and so have no individual reality, and hence are ultimately empty. Ultimate emptiness is called transcendent wisdom.


The Quality of Being

We say, "In calmness there should be activity; in activity there should be calmness." Actually, they are the same thing; to say "calmness" or to say "activity" is just to express two different interpretations of one fact. There is harmony in our activity, and where there is harmony there is calmness. This harmony is the quality of being. But the quality of being is also nothing but its speedy activity.

~Shunryu Suzuki, in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


True joy happens when the ego is not involved.

~Steve Thayer

Monday, March 5, 2018

Cause and Effect

One of my students said he wished that Buddhism could be more scientific, because he needed more facts to deepen his faith. I suggested he look at Newton's Third Law of Motion, which states: "To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction." This is an elegant statement of cause and effect. What could be more scientific than that?

~Dharma Master YongHua

Cream of Corn Soup

This recipe is from a very old cookbook once owned by my maternal grandmother. For me it's a comfort food. Memories of long ago.

This recipe will serve 4 or 6 depending on the appetites.

1/2 tablespoon of minced onion
1 tablespoon of chopped celery leaves
3 tablespoons of melted butter
3 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of milk, scalded
1 cup of boiling water
1 cup of fresh corn kernels
Salt and Pepper to taste

Brown the onion and the celery leaves in the melted butter.

Add the flour and mix until it is smooth.

Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly.

Cook over boiling water until it is thick and smooth.

Add the corn.

Season to taste.

Celery salt may be substituted for the chopped celery leaves. If you do this don't add salt until you have tasted the soup.

Serve hot.

Cause and Effect

To resolve the problem of dukkha*, we first must understand the teaching of cause and effect.

Throughout the universe, nothing changes haphazardly. Everything follows a common rule. That rule is cause and effect, often mistakenly referred to as karma. However, the word karma simply means action, physical, verbal, or mental. 

It is intention that forms our karma, our action.

The result of karma is referred to as vipaka.

Karma is the action and vipaka is the result, the fruit.

Buddhism teaches every action will cause an effect. And everything effect we experience now was caused by an earlier action.

The correlation between cause and effect is a universal law, not random happenstance.

The law of cause and effect requires neither giver, nor creator, but 'directs" quietly and impartially. 

If we wish to resolve the problem of dukkha and realize liberation, we must understand cause and effect.

Stress, anxiety, discomfort, dissatisfaction, dis-ease, worry, unpleasantness, sorrow, distress, and suffering.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Old Man

Know that you don't know.

~Lao Tzu

Our World

Our idea of the world is generated from conceptions based on perceptions based on sensations.


When Buddhist teaching says that things are empty or do not exist as such, what is often meant by "things" or "phenomena" in such statements is things as they are conceived of—the point is then that a name or definition does not encompass or capture a thing, either in its essence or in the totality of possibilities of its conditional existence.

To pursue the matter more deeply, when we consider the idea of the world as conceptions based on perceptions based on sensations, we can see that we have no further direct evidence for anything phenomenal beyond sense. If we seek corroboration of sense by sense, we find that we cannot reach beyond sense, so to speak, except by inference. We cannot therefore directly "apprehend" the objective world; we can only reflect impressions. This "emptiness of ungraspability" is among the major avenues of contemplation leading to authentic appreciation of emptiness.

~Thomas Cleary, in Entry Into the Inconceivable

The Power of Trump Comes When Thought and Reason Are Discarded


Habitual liars do not realize that they fool themselves first, in order to minimize their own internal conflict. Many are so absorbed in convincing themselves that their own lies are true, that they fail to recognize the signals that others do not believe their lies at all.

~Dharma Master YongHua

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Pure Land

If a man's mind becomes pure, his surroundings will also become pure.

~Venerable Master Chin Kung

Friday, March 2, 2018

Skillful Means

All the Buddhas in the worlds of the ten directions know that the inclinations of sentient beings are not the same, and so they teach and train them according to their needs and capacities.

~ The Avatamsaka Sutra
Book Seven
Names of the Buddhas

By His Own Assertion the Buddha Said He is Not a God

Once, the Buddha was walking down a country lane. A man saw him and noticed there was something about him that was different than other people.

The man approached him and asked, "Are you a god?"

"No," the Buddha replied, "I am not a god."

"Are you an angel?" the man asked.

"No, I'm not an angel."

"Are you a saint?"

"No, I'm not a saint."

The man stepped back and asked with a shaking voice, "Are you a spirit?"

"No, I'm not a spirit."

"What are you."

"I'm awake."

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Hua Yen School of Buddhism

The interdependence of phenomena means that ultimately one depends on all and all depend on one, whether immediately or remotely; therefore, the existence of all is considered an intrinsic part of the existence of one, and the existence of one is considered an intrinsic part of the existence of all.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Hua Yen School of Buddhism

Avatamsaka – Sanskrit

Hua Yen (Hua Yan) – Chinese

Flower Garland (Flower Ornament) – English

The name Flower Garland is meant to suggest the crowning glory of a Buddha's profound understanding of ultimate reality.

Known in Korea as Hwaeom.

Known in Japan as Kegon.

An overview of Hua Yen doctrine: “All in one, one in all.”

The Hua Yen School emphasizes the interdependence and interbeing of all things, the emptiness of all phenomena, the inherent Buddha nature in all Beings, and the Bodhisattva Ideal.

Scriptures of the Hua Yen School: The primary scripture is The Avatamsaka Sutra. Two other important scriptures are the Lotus Sutra, and the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana.

The Hua Yen School focuses on explaining the ultimate nature of the world, the universe, all things from the point of view of a Fully Awakened Being, a Buddha

The Hua Yen is often said to be the philosophical articulation of Chan (Zen) meditation.

The Hua Yen School was influenced by the Yogacara and Madhyamaka Schools of Buddhism as well as by the Taoist teachings.

Hua Yen teaches any phenomenon exists only as part of the total nexus of reality, its existence depends on the total network of all other things, which are all equally connected to each other and contained in each other.

The Hua Yen Patriarchs used various metaphors to explain the teaching. Two popular metaphors were Indra's Net and a hall of mirrors.

The third Hua Yen Patriarch, Fa-tsang, illustrated the teaching to the great Chinese Empress Wu by surrounding a candle on all sides with mirrors. When the candle was lit it was reflected in each mirror and each of the reflections was reflected in every other mirror. A continuous non-ending reflection on reflection.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Lion's Roar

The ultimate realm of truth is inconceivable.

~The Avatamsaka Sutra

Monday, February 26, 2018

Entry Into the Realm of Reality

I hope you are not vicious,
Do not steal,
Are not promiscuous,
And do not lie.

I hope you do not cause discord,
Do not slander others,
Do not covet others' goods,
And are not hostile toward anyone.

May you not stand on the wasteland of views;
May your intelligence not be taken away by habits;
May you not exert bad influence on people
By guile or deceit.

Do you love and respect your parents,
Relatives, friends, and elders?
Does your heart reach out
To give to the poor to help them?

Are you well disposed toward spiritual benefactors
Who tell you about religion at the appropriate time?
Are you truly healthy and capable
In body and mind?

Do you respect the buddhas
And love the enlightening beings?
Do you know the supreme Teaching
From which the enlightening beings are born?

Can you abide by the supreme religion
And not do any wrong?
Do you have higher love and respect
For the infinite ocean of virtues?

Are you kind
To the helpless and lost?
Are you really compassionate
Toward evildoers?

Are you most happy
To see the success of others?
Are you indifferent, by the power of wisdom,
To those who annoy you for no reason?

Seeing people in the slumber of ignorance,
Do you firmly seek supreme enlightenment?
Would you not weary of endless ages
Of spiritual practice?

~The Avatamsaka Sutra