Wednesday, June 25, 2008

15th June

I have no parents; I make heaven and earth my parents.
I have no divine power; I make honesty my power.
I have no means; I make submission my means.
I have no magic power; I make inward strength my magic.
I have neither life nor death; I make Eternity
my life and death.
I have no designs; I make opportunity my design.
I have no miracles; I make the Way my miracle.
I have no principles; I make adaptability
to all things my principle.
I have no friends; I make my mind my friend.
I have no enemy; I make incautiousness my enemy.
I have no armour; I make goodwill and righteousness
my armour.
I have no castle; I made immovable Mind my castle.
Samurai’s Zen Creed
No comment needed

14th June

My compassion to all sentient beings
shall be like the limitless sky.
When released, Mind is freed from
clinging to worldly things.
Even though living in this world of illusion,
My meditations shall be like the Lotus flower,
Lovely and unstained, rising up from the mud.
With purified mind I offer my respects
to the Buddha - The Enlightened One.
No comment needed.

13th June

Master Seung Sahn taught his students that to let go of
their small self and discover their true self, they must make
a firm decision to attain enlightenment and help others.
To help them they had been given the Buddhist precepts,
but they should know when to keep them and went to
break them, when they are open and when they are closed.
To be the self is to be immersed in the self, seeing only what the
self projects. The true self is to recognise all outside of oneself is the Self.
The Buddhist precepts are unconditional and can have a different meaning
depending on which self is present.

12th June

Zuigan would greet himself each morning and
request of himself, "Today please try and wake up,"
to which he would answer, "Yes, indeed I will."
This master acknowledges the game we all play with our
minds. That there is something to do - constantly.

11th June

Is some sickness coming tonight?
Is death waiting for us tomorrow?
There is no greater folly than to be alive
but unconscious - not following the Buddha's way.
The Venerable Ching.
Projecting future events based on worry and judgement is to be alive but unconscious to the richness of life in the moment – the Buddha’s way.

10th June

If you don't let go of worldly worries about the future
and make a living, you'll regret it. Follow the way,
or all your days and nights will have been lived for nothing.
This quote shows how we can be so immersed in worries about our future that we fail to live life today, leading to a life of missed opportunity, of experiencing the richness of LIFE.

9th June

Zen is not a pastime,
but the most serious task in life.
D. T. Suzuki.
Zen is life.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Taming The Bull.

The seeker must train his mind to prevent it from forever
wandering off into delusion. At this stage the student
begins Zen practice in earnest. Such disciplines are not an end
in themselves, but a means to harmonise the mind so that it
effortlessly expresses the seeker's deeper nature. The bull,
once tamed, naturally obeys without struggle or imposed
discipline. Kuo-an Shih-yaun writes

With weight and tether
to prevent it wandering off into the wilderness,
the bull will become well-trained
and naturally meek -
obeying without need of restraint.

One thought follows another. When thought emerges from
enlightenment, all thoughts are true - but one deluded
thought makes everything false. It is not the objective world
that oppresses us, but our own deceiving minds. To master the
bull, hold the nose ring tight and do not let your intention

8th June

There is nothing lukewarm in Zen;
if it is lukewarm, it is not Zen.
D. T. Suzuki.
To experience reality as having qualities is not Zen. Zen is the freshness of every moment free of qualities or judgements.

7th June

Twenty monks and one beautiful nun named Eshun
were practising with a master. Several monks fell in love
with Eshun and one wrote her a love letter suggesting
a private meeting. Eshun did not reply, but the next day,
after the master’s talk to the group, she addressed the
author saying, "If you love me so much, come and
embrace me now."
How could a student of Zen write a love letter? Who is in love?

6th June

In spring the daffodils bloom
- but not the same daffodils.
And lovers walk in the park
- but not the same lovers.
Peter Gandy.
Zen is the unfolding of Life in all its simplicity and diversity.

5th June

In this situation now before one, and nowhere else,
will Zen be found, or not found at all.
Christmas Humphreys.
What is around you now, as you read this is Zen. You either know this or you do not.

4th June

A monk asked the master, "I've been your student for a
long time, but you haven't given me any instructions in the
path of Buddhism. Please teach me more."
The master replied, "What do you mean my son?
Every morning you greet me and I greet you back.
You bring me tea which I accept and enjoy drinking.
What more teachings do you want from me?"
Zen is the flow of daily life in all its simplicity.

3rd June

"I can explain. I know.
I am the teacher you are the student."
Anyone who says such things is guilty
of demonic suggestion.
To talk of I, is to be in the illusion of separate self.

2nd June

Imitating me won’t get you anywhere.
My mind isn't the same as yours. When your mind
is the same as mine, you will be here.
The master points out to the student that to imitate
a master of Zen is pointless. The desire to do so comes from a mind that is in comparison, that sees this and that, has identity. Buddha-mind is boundless without qualities.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

1st June

Before he was himself a master, Hakuin went to master
Shoju to demonstrate his knowledge of Zen.
When Shoju asked him what he knew, Hakuin pretended to
vomit and announced, "Anything I can find I will expel from
me." Shoju, however, was unimpressed. He tweaked Hakuin
firmly on the nose and said, “What is this? Have I not found
something after all?”
The master showed Hakuin he still had a concept of I and me. Truly a burden.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

31st May

The truth is to be lived, not just mouthed.
No comment needed.

Friday, May 30, 2008

30th May

The student who felt he had achieved emptiness of mind
boasted to his master, "Now I have no idea."
The master replied, "Why stagger about under the weight
of this concept ' no idea'?"
No comment needed.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

29th May

Master Chu-hung was once writing a book
on the good deeds of Zen monks when a student asked him,
"What is the use of writing such a book when in Zen there
is nothing good or not good?"
The master slapped him on the face.
The furious monk was about to leave when the master
smiled and said, "You are not the real thing yet.
Why don't you wipe the dirt off your own face?"
For the monk to be slapped on the face was not good, in his opinion, hence the indignation. Therefore his attachment was revealed.

28th May

Student. "I am very discouraged.
What should I do?"
Soen Nakagwa "Encourage others."

To be anything is to centre on the small self. Let go
Into the greater Self reflected in those around you.

27th May

Master Seung Sahn taught that
"Zen mind is not Zen mind." He encouraged
his students to abandon narrow ideas
of Zen and hang on only to the question
"What is the best way of helping other people?"
For this master questions as to what Zen is, is merely
Fodder for the mind. To express the nature of Zen is to spontaneously help others without thought.

26th May

My detractors are actually good friends,
because if I am equanimous and accepting
the power of love and humility,
which is born of the Unborn,
grows within me.
Yung-chai Ta-Shin.
The master recognizes that there are no enemies,
Only people who are doorways into the power
Of love and humility which is your essential Self.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

25th May

Look at that rainbow.
It is only when the sky cries
that you see the colors
in the light.
The zen masters always saw nature as the great teacher.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

24th May

We should find perfect existence through
imperfect existence.
Shunryu Suzuki.
All of existence is trying to come into balance. Attention is
created by imbalance, it causes us to notice that which is
out of balance and to focus on it. When balance is achieved
our attention settles into stillness, into peace.
Therefore wellcome those points of conflict in your life for they
will ultimately lead you into perfect existence, eternal stillness,
your essential Self.

Friday, May 23, 2008

23rd May

All life is changing, all the forms of it, and we flow with
the river or we refuse. If we happily flow we see, as science
sees, that things are really events in time and space, that
events are major and minor whirlpools on the river of time.
If we flow with the river, the ceaseless flow of our karma,
we can digest it, as it were, as we flow, and feel no suffering.
Accept it and we are one with it, resist it and we are hurt.
Christmas Humphreys.
No comment needed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

22nd May

Confused by thoughts,
we experience duality in life. Unencumbered by ideas,
the enlightened see the one Reality.
No comment needed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

21st May

Ikkyu visited a dying student and
asked if he required his help. The man replied,
"I don't need anything. I am just going to the changeless."
"If you think you are a something that can go anywhere,
you still need my teachings," replied Ikkyu.
No comment needed.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

20th May

Here it is - right now.
Start thinking about it and you miss it.
The mind is right here, right now. Start thinking
about it and it becomes conditioned not

Monday, May 19, 2008

19th May

If you want to achieve a certain thing
you have to change into a certain person,
but then you won't care about doing that certain thing.
To be identified with a thing, you have to be identified
as a person who wants to achieve that thing.
For example: If I wanted to win the lottery
I would have to become a person who needed money.
Once I created this identity, it would become irrelevant
if I won the lottery or not. It is the creation of identity
to define who we believe ourselves to be which is
the true attachment.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

18th May

The only way to Buddhahood
is freeing your mind to be itself.
In Buddhist doctrine the mind is the Great Ocean
of consciousness without thought. This is
the definition of mind as itself.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

17th May

Look for Buddha outside your own mind,
and Buddha becomes the devil.
In our reality the devil is the great deceiver.
In the Zen tradition looking for Buddha outside
your own mind is the same.

Friday, May 16, 2008

16th May

There have never been any Buddha's, nor is there any holy
teachings. Bodhidharma never came to the East, nor did he
ever transmit any secret doctrine through the mind.
Not understanding what this means, worldly people look
for the truth outside of themselves. It is ironic that what
they so desperately seek is under their own feet!
This passage indicates our need to look beyond our self
to define the truth of who we are. Whereas the truth of who we are
resides within the Self.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

15th May

The Buddha is not the great goal
of those that follow the Way. Personally,
I see him as a privy hole and regard
the Bodhisattva's as jailers.
Lin –chi.
This master is showing us that the person who was known as the Buddha is not Buddha nature, nor the group of disciples that followed after. Human nature always tries to personify cosmic force but then locks up that force in a fleeting shadow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

14th May

When one person tells a lie, countless others tell it as a truth.
Zen proverb.
No comment needed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

13th May

Student: "The light of the Buddha's wisdom illuminates the whole world."
Master: "You are quoting scriptures aren't you?"
Student: "Yes."
Master: "You are lost. A greedy fish opens his mouth when he sees the hook."
A student, who is greedy for wisdom, will swallow anything.

Monday, May 12, 2008

12th May

If your eyes are even slightly blurred,
all you see is hallucinations.
Zen saying.
To use the eyes as a means of identifying the real is to walk in the world of the unreal.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

11th May

Master Hogen asked a monk, "Look at this big old stone.
Do you think it is inside or outside of your mind?"
The monk replied, "According to Buddhist teachings,
everything is a projection of the mind, so I conclude
that it is inside my mind." Hogen commented, "Don't you get tired carrying around such a heavy stone?"
This passage indicates that the mind and the stone are as heavy as each other.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

10th May

Student: "I have nothing."
Master: "Then throw it away."
To say, "I have nothing," indicates a perception
that there is a you who is without something,
and there is a something seperate from the you
who is percieving.

Friday, May 9, 2008

9th May

When you try to stop doing to achieve being,
this very effort fills you with doing.
Seng - T'san.
See yesterdays quote.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

8th May

Four Zen pupils who were studying meditation had promised to observe a rule of silence for seven days.
On the first day all were silent. Their meditation sessions
had begun well, but when night came and the oil lamps
were burning dimly, one of the pupils could not help himself
exclaiming, " Someone should fix those lamps." The second pupil was shocked to hear him speak and cautioned him, "We are not supposed to say a word." "You idiots," said the third. "Now you've both spoken." "I am the only one who has not talked," proclaimed the fourth.
Please see the quote for tomorrow, to explain this quote today.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

7th May

"Where are you going?" Asked Tung-shan of a student
who was sitting still with eyes shut. The student replied,
"I am entering meditation." Tung-shan said, " Meditation
has no gate. How can you enter into it?"
This quote indicates the misperception that one can do meditation,
that it is something one can drop in and out of.
Meditation is a state of being that exists eternally;
indeed, you are in it now as you read these words.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

6th May

From a well-worn path we step into fog wherin
lies precipices, quagmires, and howling wilderness.
We must learn to walk on, through nonsense to a noble
Non-sense, from the tram lines of a settled mind, through
the trackless desert of no meaning, to the freedom of
"a mind that alights nowhere," and is based forever on
No-thought, No-purpose, and No-difference of any kind.
Christmas Humphreys.
No Comment needed.

5th May

A man asked, "How can one always be with Buddha?"
The master replied, " Keep your mind still. Treat the outside world with serene acceptance. Remain absolutely empty and calm. This is the way to be with Buddha."
No comment needed.

Monday, May 5, 2008

4th May

The person who dallies on the edge of the stream, wondering how best to take the plunge, testing the water with his toes, and thinking about how it will feel when he is in, soon gets into the habit of putting off the issue. The Zen disciple must walk quietly to the edge and slip calmly into the water without further ado, without allowing himself time to conjure up fears and anxious speculations as to what it will be like, or to find elaborate reasons as to why he should not get in at once.
Alan Watts.
No explanation needed.

3rd May

Stop chasing after things. Let mildew form on your mouth. Have no resistance, like perfect silk. Only think of eternity. Be cold and lifeless as ashes from old incense in a deserted shrine.
This reveals the truth that if you put your mind on any subject with an opinion, it calls in the Cosmic Law of Attraction and Repulsion, action and reaction. Although your mind was created to function in this way, holding your focus on the balance between the two polarities will keep you centred in eternity.

2nd May

When you are practising zazen, do not try to stop your thinking. Let it stop by itself. If something comes into your mind, let it come in, and let it go out. It will not stay long. When you try to stop your thinking, it means you are bothered by it. Do not be bothered by anything. It appears as if something comes from outside your mind, but actually it is only the waves of your mind, and if you are not bothered by the waves, gradually they will become calmer and calmer in five or at most ten minutes, your mind will be completely serene and calm.
Shinryu Suzuki.
No explanation needed.

1st May

One inch of meditation, one inch of Buddha;
so inch by inch, make the six-foot form of Buddha.
Zen saying
This indicates that through the constant practice of meditation your Buddha Nature, which is your True Self, will shine through the veils of the mind.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

30th April

Catching The Bull

The seeker must now struggle to catch the bull. At this stage this student realises that what he has found is not enlightenment, but self that is uncontrollable and unruly, like a wild beast that he must master in order to progress further on his journey. He must overcome his own restless mind to sustain the Zen vision. Zen is experienced as a challenge to be faced, and the separate self as an obstacle to be overcome. The bull will not yield easily, however, finding refuge in inaccessible hiding places. In the same way the separate self of the student, when faced with disciplines like meditation, may cleverly find every excuse not practice, or more subtle still, decided to reinvent itself with fantasies of being a special spiritual person.
Kuo-an Shih-yuan writes:

I battled bravely to seize the bull -
struggling with its ferocious will
and inexhaustible strength,
as it charges high into misty mountains
and deep into inaccessible ravines.

The bull that has been lost in the wilderness is found at last, but he is hard to control. He constantly longs for the sweet smelling fields. His wild nature is unruly and does not wish to be tamed. If the oxherd wants the bull to be in complete harmony with himself, he will have to raise his whip.

To realise Mind, begin by looking for the sources of your
thoughts. Whether asleep are working, standing or sitting,
intensely ask yourself, " What is my mind?"
Bassui Tokusho.
No comment needed.

29th April

The treasure house is within you.
It holds all you will ever need.
Hui - Hai.
You are all there is!

28th April

There is nothing real in my teachings.
If you understand that you will be rich enough
to really enjoy yourself!
Lin - Chi.
To accept the teachings of the master is to accept
that something can be given you, which is totally untrue.
The master is there to reflect back to you the unreal.

27th April

Whose mouth could possibly be big enough
to describe things as they are?
Alan Watts.
No comment needed.

26th April

"Nothing but lies come out of my mouth,"
said the master. "There - see! I've just done it again."
No comment needed.

25th April

The heavy intellectuals are still dissecting
Zen in the laboratory and solemnly reporting
that there is nothing in it. How nearly right they are!
Christmas Humphreys.
No comment needed.

24th April

Just as the highest and the lowest notes
are equally inaudible, so, perhaps, is the greatest sense
and the greatest nonsense equally unintelligible.
Alan Watts.
No comment needed.

23rd April

During a funeral a monk knocked on the coffin
and asked, "Is he dead or alive?" His master replied,
"I won't say alive, I won't say dead."
The master was correct in pointing out that he was neither.

22nd April

You asked me how to practise Zen on your sickbed.
I ask you who is it that is sick? Who is practising Zen?
Who you are? Do you know? Your whole being is
Buddha nature. You are the Great Way - beyond all forms.
Is there any sickness in it?
Letter from Bassui Tokusho.
The mind, emotions and body arise like a wave in the
sea of Buddha nature. At death they will sink slowly back
into the sea.

21st April

Become a master of every situation,
and you will always be in the right place.
Lin - Chi.
Being in the wrong place is a manifestation
of the mind in judgment of present circumstances.

20th April

If you have sentiments about Buddhist teaching,
it becomes a worldly thing.
If you have no sentiments about worldly things,
they become Buddhist teaching.
Zen proverb.
No comment needed.

19th April

Just see that Buddhism is not found in the world,
but do not yet conclude that there is nothing
worldly about Buddhism.
The world that we experience arises from Buddha nature
like a mirror image. Without Buddha nature it would not exist.

18th April

To follow the Way, do not push away anything -
even sensual experiences and thoughts.
In fact, to completely accept them is enlightenment.
Seng - T'san.
Everything that arises in the mind must be accepted
and embraced as a manifestation of Buddha nature.
Only then will Buddha nature be revealed.

17th April

Where there is beauty, there is ugliness.
When something is right, something else is wrong.
Knowledge and ignorance depend on each other.
Delusion and enlightenment condition each other.
It has been like this since the beginning.
How could it be otherwise now?
Wanting to chuck out one and hold onto the other
makes for a ridiculous comedy.
You must still deal with everything ever-changing,
even when you say it's all wonderful.
To be in good or bad, happy or sad,
is to be attached to that which arises out of Buddha nature.
One must acknowledge that when you are happy, sad also
exists in the same moment.

16th April

Finding the universal in every particular,
whether coming or going, they remain unmoving.
Finding the silence which contains thoughts,
whatever they do they hear the Truth.
The universal is, yet contains all that we identify with,
constantly arising and sinking, always remaining pure Truth.

15th April

It is wisdom that is seeking for wisdom.
Shunryu Suzuki.
This illustrates the dichotomy of you,
who is the manifestation of wisdom,
seeking yourself.

14th April

Investigate your mind and realise your Buddha nature -
that which never rests nor moves, neither starts nor stops.
You will have wasted your lifetime if you don't.
Buddha nature is not the mind. It is the foundation from which the mind arises, like clouds in the sky, or waves in the sea.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

13th April

It is the sufferings and insecurities of our lives that,
although painful and distressing, teach us not to cling on
to the impermenent things of this world.
Not even the greatest master could teach us so well.
We should honour and respect them,
not shun their company.
T'ao -shan.
This illustrates the basic tenet of Buddhist teaching, that
it is our attachment to things of the world which causes our suffering.
If we were not worried about money, job, car, house, health, holiday, clothes
hair-style, physical looks, partner, family etc there would be nothing to centre
the energy on worry on. It would become redundant.
We create worry because we like to feel it. Take all of these things away,
including the NEED to worry, and what is left is Zen. The perfect acceptance
of nature as it unfolds in you as it's expression.

12th April

Babbling about "Buddha" and "Dharma"
is an offense to both. Why break the quiet by talking
about silence? Why fracture reality by giving it a name?
Shen T'sing.
To live with Zen is to be in the total flow of nature as it unfolds.
The mind will try to understand what is happening and give it
a definition, a purpose. Zen is the recognition that you ARE nature
unfolding without purpose.

11th April

It is not one, ot two, not both, and not neither.
You can't get hold of it. Don't try. For while the part sees
the Whole, there is no Zen, for there are two things, the
part and the Whole. Zen awareness must be an expansion
of consciousness beyond all knowledge of any kind
and beyond all process.
Christmas Humphreys.
No comment needed.

10th April

What is Mind? It is the true nature of all sentient beings.
It existed before your parents were born and so before our
own birth. It exists now, eternally unchanging.
It is called "one's Face before one's parents were born."
It does not come into existence at birth and it does
not dissapear at death. It is not male or female. It is not good
or bad. It can't be compared to anything.
This is why it is called "Buddha-nature."
Bassui Tokusho.
In this text Mind is described as an eternally existing expression
of Life. It is the matrix in which all things exist and do not exist.
It is the medium through which expression happens yet it is
seperate from the happening. It is the eternal cause without
attachment to outcome.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

9th April

Someone who has seen into his self-nature,
sees it whenever questioned about it.
To see into one's own self-nature is to see and experience
the action and re-action of the conscious mind. When questioned
about the mind, the mind responds with projections of itself in
relation to the question thus revealing self-nature.

8th April

An enlightened being is his own light.
He can see in the dark.
He turns on the light only for his guests.
He uses ideas only to illuminate his visitors.
Shen T'sing.
For the Zen master the light and the dark are the same
and he is reliant on neither. He enteres the world of the
ordinary man without attachment to play the game.

Monday, April 7, 2008

7th April

When you can tell which man has an open inner eye,
I will admit that you really have had a personal interview
with the ancient sages.
This indicates that to be in Buddha-consciousness, is to
recognise that consciousness in all other beings is the same
consciousness as that which is in me.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

6th April

Waiting in the cloakroom
of Reality
I am scared -
like a shy adolescent at a party
to knock (maybe)
and go in.
I'd rather look at the coats:
- try and figure out
who's already
Pete Rawlings.
This writer expresses how the conscious mind conditions our reactions to Reality, constanly playing scenarios based on our hopes and fears.

5th April

In some religionsthe Holy Man is a figure of adoration and renown. But many of the greatest Zen masters of the past behaved and looked like tramps, and were regarded as mildly mad. Only the few, with an opened eye of the Buddhi, saw the greatness within the utterly happy but apparently irresponsible life of the sage.
Christmas Humphreys.

For me this text illustrates what we say in workshops; that you could pass the wisest man on the planet, in the street, and you would never know it. The trappings of greatness that we all recognise are worthless and of no consequence to the Zen master.

4th April

Nature is much more concerned with play
than with reaching goals.
Alan Watts.
Nature is as an expression of the joy of Life.
It does not worry about outcomes or how to manifest,
it creates ever more beautiful expressions of itself

Thursday, April 3, 2008

3rd April

Master Tao-sheng believed that everything had
Buddha-nature, which was a heresy at the time and he was
expelled from the Buddhist community. Tao-sheng, however,
was content to preach to the rocks, who it is said nodded in
agreement. Years later, master Ungan remarked that the
rocks had been nodding long before anyone had bothered to
speak to them.
This story shows how wisdom is naturally inherent in nature.

2nd April

There was nothing sentimentalabout the masters
who used to box their disciples ears to bring them to their senses,
and who experienced life "close to nature" not only when she was
warm and pleasant but when she was freezing, wet, and stormy.
The sentimental "lover of Nature" only sees one side of her face;
when it is wet he goes indoors and speaks of the delightful hissing
of the rain on leaves. He does not let it trickle down his neck.
Alan Watts.
This text expresses how the Zen masters embraced all of the
manifestations of nature. It's counterpart in our lives is to embrace
ALL that life offers us including those things we would term 'difficult'
based on our opinions and judgements.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

1st April

Buddhism has no room for special effort.
Just be ordinary and nothing special.
Eat and drink, then move your bowels and pass water,
and when you're tired go to sleep.
Fool's will find me ridiculous,
But the wise will understand.
No comment needed.

31st March

Zen masters are totally identified
with nature.
DT Suzuki.
Zen masters Are a manifestation of nature.

30th March

One day and master was just about to give a sermon
when a bird started to sing. The master said nothing and
everyone listened to the bird. When the song stopped,
the master announced that the sermon had been preached
and went on his way.
This text again confirms that the manifestation of nature around us is the most profound teaching we will ever experience.

29th March

For some with a special gift or a certain sharpness
of mind, a gesture or a word is all that is needed to impart
an immediate perception of Truth.
Chiang Chih-chi.
This text indicates that the simplest word or gesture is often all that is needed for a person who is in conscious awareness to experience the Truth.

28th March

A Samurai warrior approached master Hakuin and asked, " What is hell and heaven?" The master took one look at the Samurai and started insulting him saying,
" You are such a scruffy looking warrior you would never understand anything."
The Samurai became furious and pulled out his sword.
"There!" Said Hakuin. "This is hell. "
The Samurai had a flash of illumination and was overcome
with gratitude, humbly bowing before the master. Hakuin
said, " There! This is heaven."
The Master indicated to the Samurai that self opinion, which generates striving, causes constant dissatisfaction, our own personal hell. To recognize this is to be centered in the Self, in perfect harmony.

27th March

Student: "Show me the way to enlightenment."
Master: "Do you hear that babbling brook?"
Student: "Yes."
Master: "Enter there."
Nature, as it manifests around us is the Self.

26th March

When Zen wants you to taste the sweetness of sugar
it puts the required article in your mouth and
no further words are said.
DT Suzuki.
Life will bring you all that you require without struggle. It will arise as naturally as your next breath.

25th March

I remember when as a boy lying on my back on the grass, gazing into the summer blue above me, and wishing I could melt into it - become a part of it. Now I think that in those days I was really close to a great truth - touching it in fact without the faintest suspicion of its existence. I mean the truth that the wish to become is reasonable in direct ratio to its largeness - or in other words that the more you wish to be, the wiser you are; while the wish to have is apt to be foolish in proportion to its largeness. Cosmic law permits us very few of the countless things that we wish to have, but will help us to become all that we can possibly wish to be.
Lafcadio Hearn.
In this quote is a definition of what is easily attained and that which is not. We are already all that we wish to be, but strive to possess things external to the self based on the illusion that that which exists outside of ourselves is real and can bring happiness and contentment.

24th March

You cannot tread the path
before you have become the path yourself.
Zen saying.
No Comment needed.

23rd March

We see it, yet it is not seen.
We hear it, yet it is not heard.
We talk about it, yet it is not talked about.
We know it and yet it is not known.
Tell me, how does this happen?
This quote defines intuition. Knowing without reference to the facilities of mind.

22nd March

How then do we know? By the intuition.
This intuition is direct and immediate in experience.
By it we know, as immediately as the hand that picks
up a red hot instrument knows pain.
Christmas Humphreys.
Truth is perceived by direct knowing without thought.

21st March

Seeing the Bull.

At this stage the student catches a glimpse of his own true nature. When the world and the self are known to be One, the bull is seen everywhere, beyond description and penetrating all things. He has caught the vision, but it is fleeting. Kuo-an Shih-yuan writes:

Birdsong from within the branches,
warm sun and cool breeze,
green willows by the riverbank.
There is nowhere for the ball to hide.
Who could paint such a huge head
and such penetrating horns?

The oxherd listens hard and finds the way. His senses become harmonious and he sees into the source of things. It is obvious in everything he does. This unity is like salt in water. When he is completely clear, he will discover that even the smallest thing is not apart from the self.
Throughout this journey the bull signifies the mind. The oxherd is pulled along by the mind but gradually realizes that all that passes him by is mind also. The distinction between oxherd, bull, and journey starts to merge into one.

21st March.
Someone may be deluded for lifetimes,
but may attain Buddhahood in a moment.
The true nature of Self is always accompanying us wherever we go. One only has to catch a glimpse of this to be changed forever.

20th March

Zen is a way of being happy.
Happiness for me in this quote is about being free from attachments of the mind. When the mind is still, happiness arises as a natural condition.

19th March

The secret is within your Self.
To find the nature of the Self, your very essence is Zen.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

18th March

Shall I compare this life to a lightening flash
or a drop of dew?
Before I have even spoken these words,
it has passed.

Life as identified by self can dissapear in an instant. The
realisation of Truth can occur spontaneously by observing
either of the above and realising they are you.

17th March

Hakuin boldly calligraphed the character for the word "DEATH", and
then added, "If anyone can see into the depths of this word he is
a true hero."

For me, to be a hero one must undertake an heroic act.
To embrace this word, and find out who is it that will
die, is truly heroic.

16th March

What is the ultimate teaching of Buddhism?
You won't understand it until you have it.

Zen is an inherent realisation of Truth. This cannot be taught
but must be experienced. The texts in this blogger strip away
the illusion of self to reveal what has been there all along.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

15th March

Just get rid of the false and you will
automatically realise the true.

What is displayed here is the world of opposites.
By the release of the false, the truth will be automatically revealed.
For me, however, these are opposite sides of the swinging
pendulum. The still pendulum is the balance between the two,
yet partakes of the nature of both. The pendulum at rest is

Friday, March 14, 2008

14th March

The Buddhas are all his servants. Who is he?
When you see him you will feel as if you have met
your own father at the end of the road.
You won't need to ask anyone else
if you are right or wrong.

For me this describes where perception merges into one.
The realisation that there is only IT. Everyone you meet,
and everything you percieve becomes just part of IT,
including you.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

13th March

A student came to a monastery to seek the truth of
Buddhism. "Why have you come to a monastery?"
asked the master. "Why do you neglect your own
precious treasure at home?" "What is my treasure?"
asked the student. "The one who asks the question
is the treasure," replied the master.

We often feel that if we could change something in
our lives it will make that life better. To do lots of
meditation or visit a holy place will somehow change
our perception of self. The Zen masters taught that
the most profound practice was to live life wherever
you may find it.

12th March

Do you want the truth?
Then abandon words and silence,
and live your own Zen.

The master shows that doing anything, even not doing,
is mind. Abandon this without doing and you are
expressing your Zen.

11th March

Vimalakirti asked Manjusri what was the Buddha's
doctrine of nonduality. Manjusri answered,
"The doctine is realised by one who sees beyond forms
and who knows beyond argument. This is my understanding
- what is yours?" In response to this question,
Vimalakirti closed his lips and was silent.

The Zen masters would often teach by non-doing. Duality is
an expression of mind. By remaining silent the master
shows that non-duality is stillness that cannot be expressed.

10th March

In a certain sense Zen is feeling life
instead of feeling something about life.
Alan Watts.

This quote is reiterating that life is meant to
be lived not thought about. Expressing life
not thinking about expressing it.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

9th March

Spring flowers, autumn moon,
Summer breeze, winter snow -
When the mind is free from
unnecessary thoughts,
Every season is just perfect!

Take the mind away from creating an illusory
reality and all of nature is revealed in it's
simplicity and glory.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

8th March

Let go of your hold.

To hold onto something, by definition, is to be attached to
it in some way. This attachement arises due to opinion and/or
judgement about something, that it is not right in some way,
that it is not acceptable. Zen is the acceptance of everything as it is,
in all it's raw beauty.

Friday, March 7, 2008

7th March

Our lives are based on what is reasonable and common
sense; truth is apt to be neither.
Christmas Humphreys

Truth in this sense is Zen. Our lives are governed by our
perceptions and judgements which fogs the clarity, the
truth of nature as it reveals itself to us in all its raw

6th March

Master Hsiang-yen asked a monk, "Do you understand the
meaning of Wei-shan holding up his stick?"
The monk replied, "The master's idea was to point to
objective reality - to demonstrate the Truth beyond concepts."
"Your theories are alright, but limited," said Hsiang-yen.
"What is your understanding then?" asked the student.
Hsiang-sen held up his teaching stick.

As before, the teaching stick was a call to leave mind behind
and embrace Buddha nature, the perfection of all, ie: there is
no understanding needed.

5th March

A monk asked master Wei-shan why Bodhidharma
had come to China. In answer, the master held up
his teaching stick.

A teaching stick is a long, flat piece of wood, a bit like a small
plank. If the master perceives one of his students has drifted
off or is not in the 'now' moment, he uses the stick to sharply
rap them on the head to bring their attention back.
This was the reason Bodhidharma came to China.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

4th March

Those who are content to be nothing special
are noble people. Don't strive. Be ordinary.

If one strives to be something one draws to oneself all of the
components of suffering.
Lack of something.
Not good enough.
Judgement about right and wrong, good or bad.
To want to be something you perceive you are not
is usually based on how you are perceived by others.
Your world is governed by external forces which are illusory.
To be ordinary is to look inwards and embrace who you are
in that moment without refference to any of the above.

Monday, March 3, 2008

3rd March

A novice asked a master for instruction.
The master replied, "Have you had your breakfast yet?"
"I have," said the student. "Then wash your bowl," said
the master.

The master is showing the student that the search for knowledge is
akin to hunger. Asking the novice if he had eaten, and received the
reply that he had, he instructed the novice to wash his bowl, to
end the meal, to stop searching for knowledge. To stop searching for
knowledge is Zen.

2nd March

The monks asked master Pai-chang to give a sermon.
He replied that he would talk about Zen later, and that they
should get on with their farming. After work had finished
the master was requested to fulfill his promise, whereupon
he opened both his arms as if to embrace the whole

The monks required of the master an explanation of Zen.
The master, knowing full well that Spirit is Life and the constant
unfolding thereof, made a gesture that indicated all that the monks
had done that day, the request for a sermon, working in the fields,
as part of the infinite universe is Zen. This is the sermon that is
presented to each one of us, every day.

Friday, February 29, 2008

1st March

A student was caught stealing and his fellows asked master
Bankei to expel him from the community. The master
ignored the request, but the student stole again.
The others drew up a petition demanding expulsion,
stating that otherwise they would all leave. Bankei called
them together and said, "You are wise, my friends. You know
right from wrong. You can go somewhere else to study,
but this poor fellow - who will teach him if I do not?
I must keep him as my student even if the rest of you leave."
The student who had stolen was overcome with tears and
never stole again.

There are 2 lessons here.
One is that the students had not heard Zen and placed value judgements on their
fellow student judging his actions as bad.
The master had seen that the student who had stolen had also not heard Zen, and
again through value judgement felt the need to steal.
Each occupied opposite sides of the pendulum. The still point between the two was to
unconditionally continue teaching all the students.
This was revealed to the student who stole and through the action of the
master thus caused him to find balance.

29th February

One day master Keichu's assistant presented him with a
calling card from a guest which read, "Kitagaki, Govenor of Kyoto."
"I dont want to see him," yelled the master, so the assistant returned the card
to the distinguished visitor. The visitor realising his error, took a pencil and
scribbled out the words, "Govenor of Kyoto" and asked the assistant to represent his card
to the master who said, "Oh it's Kitagaki - show him in."

The master did not wish to see a person who had embodied an identity created by
mind, by value judgement. On removing this created, illusory label, the man became
just a man once again and as such was acceptable to the master.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

28th February

When master Hui-neng was questioned about his training
sytem he replied, "I would not be straight with you
if I claimed to have a system. I just do what I can to
free my students from their own bondage, by any means
their individual case may require."

The human mind requires that teachings are enclosed within
a recognisable framework we term a system. For me this is
another instance of taking spontaneous action and repeating it
as earlier described, and by doing so one looses the vitality and
freshness of that which has been generated by the
spontaneous manifestation of Life.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

27th February

It is nonsense to insist that we cannot achieve
enlightenment without learned and pious teachers.
because wisdom is innate, we can all enlighten ourselves.

No comment needed

26th February

It is right to spare the lives of all conscious beings,
such as animals, and even insects. But what about killing time?
And wasting wealth? There are many ways of killing.
Preaching without being enlightened for example.
This is killing Buddhism.

Killing, as here described, is defined as shutting down the natural flow,
of shutting down life. To teach without the knowledge of Zen, of
knowing and living in the natural flow of life, would be a denial of
living in that flow.

Monday, February 25, 2008

25th February

Zen abhors repetition or imitation of any kind, for it kills.
D. T. Suzuki.

To repeat or imitate something is to place a value upon it. To judge it as worthy of re-creation because one has pronounced it to be worthy of repeating.
Nature unfolds spontaneously in perfection. Another name for this is Zen. To take a past moment based on a value judgement and repeat it stops this flow. It shuts down Life.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

24th February

I have no secrets to teach you, and if I tried you may well make fun of me. Anyway, how could any understanding that I have become your understanding.

To use the mind to form opinions and judgements about life, and then pass these to others in the guise of teachings is the opposite of Zen.
Life is manifesting all around us in it's purity, without the intervention of mind. To use my mind to interpret this purity is a manifestation of my mind. How could it become your interpretation?
Secterts are a creation of mind. Nature is revealed to us in all its bare glory.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

23rd February

Frequently the Zen masters refered to each other as
"Old rice bags" and with other uncomplimentary terms,
not out of any proffessional jealousy, but because it amused
them to think that they and their wise and venerated brothers
were supposed by ordinary standards to be so
especially holy, whereas they had all realised that everything was holy,
even cooking pots and odd leaves blown by the wind, and that there
was nothing particularly venerable about themselves.

No comment needed!

Friday, February 22, 2008

22nd February

When you boil rice,
know that the water is your own life.
Zen saying.

Your daily existence here is the rice. See how we contantly boil it?

21st February

When asked how he discilined himself in Zen, a master answered, "When I am hungry I eat, when I am tired I sleep." "But that is what everybody does," said his questioner.
"Not at all," replied the master. "When most people eat they do not eat, but think of other things; when they sleep, they do not sleep, but dream all sorts of nonsense. This is the difference."

This is the same as the previous post. We create drama around the simplist of actions which blocks the beauty of nature and the purity of the action.

20th February

You fools? What are you running after so intently?
Why are you trying to put a head on top of your head?
Your head is already exactly where it needs to be.

This indicates to me that we have a perfectly functioning recognition system within our own head, our own minds, but we question it's wisdom and so invent new ideas, new concepts etc to challenge the simplicity of what is already there.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

19th February

"Enlightenment" and "Nirvana"? They are dead trees
to fasten a donkey to. The scriptures? They are bits of paper
to wipe mud from your face. The four merits and ten steps?
They are ghosts in their graves. What can these things have to do with you becoming free?

As before, definitions of enlightenment, nirvana, scripture, lock-up Life.

Monday, February 18, 2008

18th February

Heroes become Buddhas with one thought,
but lazy people are given the three collections of scriptures
to work through.
Zen saying.

To be Buddha is to Be; to have one thought only. All others need scriptures, definitions, opinions, judgements to define who they are.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

17th February

What was your original face
before your parents were born?
Zen Koan.

This koan challenges your definition of self.

16th February

However much you try through logical reasoning and
definition to know your original face before your birth or
your original home, you are doomed to failure.
Even if you search the core of your being, becoming full
of questioning, you won't find anything that you could call a
personal mind or essence. Yet when someone calls your
name, something in you hears and responds.
Find out who it is! Find out now!
Bassui Tokusho.

At the very core of your being there is no personal mind or essence. If someone calls your name and you respond, ask, “Who is it that hears?”

Friday, February 15, 2008

15th February

Our Buddha nature is there from the very beginning.
It is like the sun emerging from behind clouds.
It is like a mirror which reflects perfectly when
it is wiped clean and returned to its original clarity.

No comment needed.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

14th February

This is the Great Mystery.
You do and do not exist.
Shen T’sing.

To exist and to not exist are opposite swings of the pendulum. The still pendulum embodies both but expresses Buddha-nature.

13th February

A special transmission outside the scriptures;
No dependence upon words and letters;
Direct pointing to the heart of man;
Seeing into one's own nature.
The message of Bodhidharma.

All that is required to embrace one’s own self, one’s own Buddha-nature.

12th February

The confused and somewhat angry Emperor Wu demanded,
"If you say all is nothing, then tell me who are you?"
Bodhidharma replied, "I have no idea." The emperor was completely at a loss, and Bodhidharma, seeing that there was no one ready to appreciate his teaching, took himself off and sat in meditation facing a wall for nine years.

The Emperor Wu lived in a world of definition, opinion, and separation. For Bodhidharma ideas regarding his earthly manifestation did not exist. He therefore taught in silence by sitting in front of a wall for 9 years.

11th February

The astonished Emperor Wu asked Bodhidharma, "What is the holy truth of Buddhism?" Bodhidharma replied, "Limitless emptiness - and nothing holy in it."

Here Bodhidharma defines Buddhism as emptiness, the Absolute. To judge something as holy or unholy is to form an opinion. To form an opinion is to lock-up natural order, to lock up Life.

10th February

Finding the Footprints.

Through contemplating the Buddha's teachings of the essential Oneness of all things, the seeker starts to discover that the bull’s footprints are obvious everywhere. He has not yet found the bull, but he has discovered tracks. He has not yet achieved the Zen vision, but he has perceived the path. He has realised that, in the words of the Buddha, "with our thoughts we create the world." At this stage the student starts to feel enthusiastic and optimistic, as if enlightenment is just around the next corner. Kuo-an Shih-yuan writes:

Footprints -
under trees by the riverbank,
amongst the fragrant grasses,
in the remote mountains.
These tracks are as omnipresent as the sky
and as obvious as my own nose.

Through the guidance of the Buddha's wisdom the oxherd has come to understand something - he has found footprints. He has realised that just as many objects are made from one metal, so all things in the objective world are reflections of the self. However, he cannot discriminate between truth and falsehood. He has found the path but not yet entered the gate.

The great Indian sage Bodhidharma was the 28th Buddhist Patriarch. In the sixth century he visited China and became the first Patriarch of Zen. Buddhism was already well-established in China as a religion, but they had never had an enlightened master, so the Buddhist Emperor Wu was very eager to meet Bodhidharma. He invited the sage to his palace and asked him, "I have built many monasteries, performed countless good deeds, and been a generous patron of Buddhism. What merits have I earned?" Bodhidharma replied, "None whatsoever."

9th February

Zen is life; to chase after Zen is like chasing one’s own
shadow, and all the time one is running away from the Sun.
Alan Watts.

No comment needed.

8th February

Birth and death is a grave event;
how transient is life!
Every minute is to be grasped.
Time waits for nobody.
Inscription on a Zen gong.

It is interesting that these statements are inscribed on a gong, which one hits very hard to produce noise.

7th February

It is a rare privilege to the born human, as we happen to be.
If we do not achieve enlightenment in this life.
When do we expect to achieve it?

Enlightenment is who you are now, in this lifetime. It is in your face.
To say, “I have not achieved enlightenment!” is like looking in the mirror and not seeing your reflection.

6th February

The way to the One are as many as the lives of men.
Zen saying.

Everything, from the largest Universe to the smallest atom is Zen, as are you.

5th February

Zen reveals itself in the most uninteresting and uneventful
life of a plain man in the street, recognizing the fact of living
in the midst of life as it is lived.
D.T. Suzuki.

Life as it unfolds it its myriad of forms is Zen. The act of living life is the purest form of Zen. As you read this text, Zen is forever holding you in it’s embrace.

4th February

This glimpse of the Absolute is to be sought here and now,
not only in the mystical sense of here and now, because
there is naught else, but literally in doing what we are doing
now, be it meditation, earning a living, or washing-up.
Christmas Humphreys.

The Absolute is present with us continuously no matter what pastime we are involved in. Everything that we say, do or think takes place in the Absolute.

3rd February

Delusion and the Awakening -
both can come or go slowly or suddenly.

Delusion or Awakening are transient and therefore not real. As such they may disappear in a flash.

2nd February

When an ignorant person understands -
he becomes a saint.
But when a saint understands -
he becomes an ignorant person.

When an ignorant or un-enlightened person understands that everything is Buddha-nature he becomes a Saint.
When a Saint understands he is an ignorant person because there is nothing to understand. Everything is.

1st February

Before enlightenment, Buddhas are no different than
ordinary people. After enlightenment, ordinary people at
once become Buddhas.

This text shows how before enlightenment one could not tell the difference between a Buddha and an ordinary person.After enlightenment, to the Buddha mind, all people are Buddha.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

30th January

Student: “All these natural wonders – the trees, mountains, and earth – where do they come from?”
Master: “Where does your question come from?”

The Master shows the student that all of nature arises and returns to the same source, therefore to ask the question, “Who is asking the question and where does it come from?” leads the student to his own self-nature which is the Buddha-nature of all.

29th January

Student: “Is there anything more miraculous than the wonders of nature?”
Master: “Yes, your appreciation of these wonders.”

No comment needed.

28th January

If you do not get it from yourself,
Where will you go for it?
Zen saying.

This text affirms the previous posts. That there is only your own self-nature, your Buddha-nature that exists.

27th January

I was born alone
I will die alone.
And between these two
I am alone day and night.

To most of us this koan seems difficult. However it reveals to us a truth. That outside reality is just a mirror to our own perception of us. It has been described by Deepak Chopra as Self-referral and object-referral. Object referral is to live one’s life in consequence of outside conditions and forces. Self-referral is to be in-turned and know oneself. If one lives one’s life in Self-referral you are always alone.

26th January

T’ao-ch’ien asked a fellow monk to accompany him on a long journey to help him in his study of Zen. His friend said, “I’ll certainly try to help you in any way I can, but there are some things you must do yourself.”
“What do you mean?” asked T’ao-ch’ien. His friend replied, “Well, my eating and drinking will not fill your stomach. When you want to urinate, there is nothing I can do about it. And only you can make your body walk along the road.” This answer opened T’ao-Ch’iens mind and he made the journey alone.

This student had the perception that Zen has to be imparted through verbal teachings and doctrines. His fellow monk pointed out that living the journey, being a human being doing journey in all its aspects is Zen.

25th January

There is in Zen nothing to explain, nothing to teach, that will add to your knowledge. Unless it grows out of yourself no knowledge is really yours, it is only a borrowed plumage.
D.T. Suzuki.

To search for knowledge in books is flawed. They will only reflect to you your own perception that you are lacking in knowledge. Knowledge arises within. It is the gradual realisation of your own nature. No book can teach you this.

24th January

Don’t you realise that if you simply have no concepts and no anxiety, you’ll see the Buddha standing before you.
Huang – po

Our attachments to concepts and judgements about right and wrong raises anxiety within each one of us. To release these is to see the perfect natural order all around us. This is seeing the Buddha.

23rd January

When master Mu-nan made Shoju his successor he gave him an old book saying, “This book of wisdom has been written by generations of masters. I myself have added my own comments and understanding. Now it is yours.” Shoju was disinterested. “I learned Zen from you without words,” he said. “I have no use for this book – you keep it.” “It belongs to you,” said Mu-nan, “as a symbol of the teachings you have received – here.” Shoju took the book and immediately threw it into the fire they were both warming themselves around. Mu-nan, who never got angry, yelled, “What are you doing?” Shoju responded calmly, “What are you saying?”

To put any kind of value on written words is not Zen. Zen stands alone as the intrinsic nature of things and reality. It cannot be condensed into words, it has to be lived. The Master shouted because he had identified Zen with the book and the words it contained.

22nd January

Master Hui-hai was asked, "Are Taoism and, Confucianism, and Buddhism three different doctrines or the same?" He replied, "To those with great understanding they are the same. To those of average understanding they are different. The all come from the one Truth, but an analytical approach makes them see three. However, whether someone achieves enlightenment or remains deluded depends on the seeker, not on differences in doctrine."

Here the Master affirms that all teachings come from the one Truth. However using the mind to search for differences and justifications as to right and wrong make these doctrines seem different. The teachings remain unchangeable but will seem different depending on the person viewing them.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

21st January

A renowned professor once visited master Nan-in to learn
about Zen. The master politely poured him some tea, but
didn't stop pouring and the cup overflowed all over his
guest. The professor shouted in distress for him to stop.
The master replied, "The cup is full of tea and can contain
no more unless I first empty it. In the same way your mind
is full of ideas and there is no room for my teaching,
unless you empty it."

This very famous koan illustrates how our minds are full of thoughts, ideas, doubts and fears. Just as the cup needs to be emptied so it can receive again, so must we empty our minds so we can receive the teaching of Zen.

20th January

Student: "How can I find my Buddha-nature?"
Master: "You have no Buddha-nature."
Student: "What about animals?"
Master: "They do have Buddha-nature."
Student: "Then why do I not have Buddha-nature?"
Master: "Because you have to ask."

The Master correctly points out to the student that animals are always in Buddha nature. This is why Jesus said that the birds and animals never think of where the next meal is coming from. They know that when they get hungry food will appear. They are in tune with the flow of the Universe, of creation. Humans have opinions and judgements and fear which blocks the natural flow. The student felt that he was lacking Buddha nature, he did not have it, whereas the opposite is true. His doubt is the seperation.

19th January

Sorry. Connection problems again.

"All this Zen stuff is nonsense," said the sceptic.
"You are perfectly correct," responded the master,
"but this is a teaching I normally reserved for only
my most advanced students."

For me this text illustrates very clearly the path that we are all walking. One sets out on the path thinking there is something to achieve and something to learn. This is the path that we are walking together in this blogger. As we get further through this teaching we will find that everything that has been said up to that moment was a lie, indeed this last sentence is also a lie. This is the highest teaching of Zen.

Friday, January 18, 2008

18th January

The master rose to give his sermon, but simply stretched
out his arms and remained silent. He was about to leave the
hall when a student asked why he had said nothing.
The master replied, "The scriptures are expounded by the
scripture teachers and the commentaries by the commentators.
Why do you wonder at me? Am I not a Zen Master?"

This text again shows very clearly the consciousness of Zen. This master indicates that people who teach scripture are doing just that. Commentators are doing the same. They are afirming by their very words that there is something to do, something to change or achieve. A Zen master remains silent because there is nothing to say or do.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

17th January

Do not search for truth.
Just stop having opinions.

As we have said Buddha nature is around us all a time in the perfection of this reality. The thing that separates us from this perfection is our own opinions and judgements concerning the space in which we find ourselves at any one time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

16th January

Student: "Who preaches the wisdom of the Buddha?"
Nanyang: "Walls and stones."
Student: "How can they teach anything - they are insentient?"
Nanyang: "They are always eloquently teaching the truth."
Student: "I can't hear it."
Nanyang: "But that doesn't mean everyone can't."
Student: "Who hears it then?"
Nanyang: "All the sages do."

This follows the same line as the text from yesterday. It affirms again that the entire material world holds and is built on divine patterning. Remembering that Buddhahood is accepting reality as it is, one can see how everything in reality is an expression of Buddha nature. The wise man knows this and walks through a world where nature is reflecting the divine back to him constantly.

15th January

(Sorry about yesterday. Connection problems. Egypt!)

Master Ikkyu advised that before intellectual study of
Buddhist texts, and endless chanting of the sutras, a student
of Zen should learn how to read the love letters sent by the
snow, the wind, and the rain.

The philosophy of Zen, as in other mystical systems, recognizes that all of nature carries as a pattern divine principle. By observing nature as it manifests around us we can become attuned to the rhythm of creation. The nature of the patterns which create nature as we understand it, are the very patterns on which consciousness, and our consciousness is built. To merge with nature is to merge with our Self.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

14th January

While staying at a shrine, master Tan-hsia was feeling cold,
so he took a wooden statue of the Buddha off the altar and
threw it into the fire. The keeper of the shrine was
dismayed and angry. In response, the master began looking
among the ashes. "What are you doing?" Enquired the
keeper of the Shrine. "Looking for holy relics in the ashes,"
replied that the master. "You won't find them in the ashes of
wooden statue," said the keeper. "If that is so," the master
concluded, "can I have another couple of Buddha's for the
fire to keep me warm?"

Just like the text for yesterday, this also illustrates how the human conscious mind will project words and images onto 3-D representations of a concept, and then regard those words and images as representing that which they choose to define. This is of course flawed. The statues in the text were nothing more than pieces of wood, carved in the image of the Buddha. The keeper of the shrine regarded these mere pieces of wood as the Buddha, and felt indignation at their destruction. The Zen master saw them for what they were, which was just pieces of wood.

13th January

Zen claims to be Buddhism, but all the Buddhist teachings
as propounded in the sutras and sastras are treated by Zen as
mere wastepaper whose utility consists in wiping off the
dirt of intellect and nothing more.
D.T. Suzuki.

This text again affirms that all of the words written about Buddhism are regarded by Zen masters as nothing more than wastepaper. This is because Zen is unquantifiable and unrecognizable by the conscious mind. The words written describing Buddhism cannot by definition define Zen because they have been contaminated by human conscious thought
How does one know Zen if we cannot contact it? To know it is there and it is who we are is enough!

Friday, January 11, 2008

12th January

Wishing to entice the blind,
the Buddha playfully let words escape
from his golden mouth;
Heaven and earth are filled, ever since,
with entangling briars.
Dai-o Kokushi.

When the Buddha achieved enlightenment it could be said that he dropped into reality and left his conscious mind behind. Because Buddha mind is conscious awareness of reality as it truly is, there is nothing to do, say or explain. However, the person we knew as the Buddha wished to entice the rest of humanity in to the Buddha space. He therefore gave instruction as to what Zen was not. The human mind and its reliance on words and ideas assumed these instructions were directions on how to achieve Buddhahood, instead they are like entangling briars one has to work through to see beyond.

11th January

The aim of Zen is to focus the attention on reality itself,
instead of on our intellectual and emotional reactions to reality -
reality being the ever-changing, ever-growing,
indefinable something known as "life," which will never stop
for a moment for us to fit it satisfactorily into any rigid system of
pigeon holes and ideas.
Alan Watts.

This text perfectly describes the aim of Zen, which is to contemplate reality itself. Although we believe we do this every day in actual fact this is erroneous. What we focus on is our actions and re-actions of how we perceive this reality. Reality exists as it is. It is not changed by our thoughts concerning it yet we believe those very thoughts are its definition. No matter how hard we try to fit reality into a system of beliefs or ideas we will always fail. This is because reality is unquantifiable, unpredictable, and unknowable by our conscious mind.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

10th January

While striving to catch the butterfly of Zen in the net of
reason we must know that the task is hopeless.
Christmas Humphreys.

Christmas Humphreys was a Westerner who did more than any other to bring the wisdom of Buddhism to the west. The difficult concept of Zen is here explained. One cannot use reason to understand Zen, it is beyond the conceptual mind. It is everything that is not the mind. Take away the mind and what you have left is Zen.
Zen is perpetual stillness without the chatter of the conscious mind. It is the ground from which the conscious mind arises, and ultimately will return. All that I have just written regarding the nature of Zen is not true, for even trying to describe Zen one instantly becomes separate from it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

9th January

A Buddhist philosopher named Tao-kwang asked a Zen master, " When attempting to educate oneself in the nature of Truth, what frame of mind should be adopted?"
The master replied, " There is no mind to be framed, nor is there any Truth to be educated in." The philosopher responded, "If what you say is true, why do monks gather around you to be educated in Truth?" The master answered, "I have no space - how could monks gather around me?
I have no tongue- so how could I teach others?"
The philosopher explained, "That is a shameless lie!"
"I have already told you I have no tongue?"
responded the master, "so it is impossible for me to lie."
Despairingly the philosopher said, "I simply do not understand your logic."
"I don't understand myself," concluded the master.

The Zen masters accepted that there was one, boundless, infinite reality which embraced everything. To say "I am this" or "I am that" is to come out of this recognition, to become separate from the infinite source of all that is. They saw that any idea of self or presentation of self to the world was a separation and a denial of being part of the infinite oneness.

Monday, January 7, 2008

8th January

Tsing-ping asked master T'sui-wei, " What is the fundamental principle of Buddhism?" "I will tell you later when there is no one else around," said the master. Later, when they were alone, Tsing-ping again asked his question. The master led his student out into the bamboo grove, but he still said nothing. Tsing-ping pressed him for an answer. T'sui-wei whispered, " Look how high these bamboos are ! And how short those over there!"

Here is an illustration of a concept that will be repeated over and over again in these teachings. The master here was showing the student that the essence off Buddha nature is that everything is as it is. Everything is perfect just as it is. It is our conscious mind which is constantly trying to evaluate and re-evaluate what is before us according to our judgements and attachments which causes us to drop out of our own Buddha nature. To recognize that we are walking through a world of perfection is to achieve Buddha-hood.

7th January

The student asked the master, " What is the deepest meaning of Buddhism?" The master bowed deeply to his pupil.

It may be inferred from this passage that the master is bowing to the student. However, the meaning of this text for me is that the master is bowing in humility before everything around him including the student because everything in the world is Buddha. Remember Buddha is a realisation not a person or being. The deepest meaning of Buddhism for me therefore is to be humble in the world.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

6th January

If you meet a wise man and you do not say anything to him
nor keep silence, how would you question him?

This is a Zen koan. These texts are designed to challenge the mind and place it in a position of submission to concepts and judgements. The student would be given the quandary and asked to meditate on it until an answer arose. Thus we ask you to do the same.
Clue: Why would you need to question a wise man?
There are in Zen no sacred books of dogmatic tenets.
If I am asked, therefore, what Zen teaches, I would answer
Zen teaches nothing. Whatever teachings there are in Zen,
they came out of one's own mind. We teach ourselves;
Zen merely points the way.
D. T. Suzuki

The Enigma of Zen is here illustrated. Zen cannot be quantified, described or explained. It is non doing. It is everything that is not. All the books and teachings describing Zen are not Zen. They are a path to a state of non -consciousness where the books, teachings and reader disappears.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

4th January

Student: " What is the path to liberation?"
Seng-t'san: " Who binds you?"
Student: " No one binds me?"
Seng-t'san: " Why then do you want to be liberated?"

This text illustrates perfectly how we have a perception that we should be more than we already are. It is a nagging doubt that there is something missing in our lives, that we can be more than we are in this moment. Asked what that thing is we have no answer, we have no definition of that which we seek the most. So therefore the illusion is laid bare. It is the perception that we are missing something, that we are lacking something which causes most of our suffering.

3rd January

Wise listeners, the wisdom of enlightenment
is inherent in each of us. We failed to recognize
it because of the illusion of mind, and so to know
our own essence of Mind we see the teachings
of the enlightened.

The dichotomy illustrated here is that enlightenment is an integral part of who we are. Because of the delusion of mind (read here personality consciousness), we feel there is something lacking in our lives. We do not recognize that spirit is part of who we are and so we seek out books to try to find enlightenment, to try to find the spirit that we already are. We are spirit lost trying to find ourselves once again.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2nd January

2nd January.

We are like someone immersed in water,
who complains of nothing to drink.

In this text it can easily be seen how the master is showing us that we are surrounded by everything that we need now. All that we have ever desired is part of who we are and where we are in any one moment. The thought and feeling that we do not have what we desire most is the illusion.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Searching for the Bull

The journey begins as an exhausting search for an elusive quarry. The seeker is pictured in search of himself, but all he can find is rustling leaves and singing cicadas, and he does not yet realise that these are the very clues he seeks. During this stage the student is often confused and discouraged. He doesn't really even know what it is he is looking for. Zen sounds strange and obscure yet something in it inexplicably attracts him, nevertheless. Kuo-an Shih-yuan writes

In search of the Bull,
I fight my way through forests,
following the course of unamed rivers,
lost on meandering mountain paths.
Exhausted and despairing,
I can find nothing but rustling leaves,
and the singing of cicadas at nightfall.

Why search for a bull that has never been lost? The bull only appears lost because the ox herd is lost in the experience of separateness. His home becomes ever more distant. He reaches many crossroads in life, but does not know which road to follow. Desire and fear burning him like a fire, and ideas of right and wrong imprisoned him.

1st January.

Student: " What is Zen?"
Nan-ch'uan: " Ordinary mind is very Zen."
Student: " Should we try to get it?"
Nan-ch'uan: " As soon as you try you miss it."

The master is trying to indicate to the student that the mind that we use in everyday life is as enlightened as it is ever going to get. In its natural nature it is totally free from striving to become something more than it already is. We believe that to be enlightened is a state that we have to find, to strive for. As soon as we start to strive for enlightenment and chase it we come out of the enlightened state which is our natural state.