A clearing in forest, a batch of light bathing the bare patch of grass. You find places like that, scattered here and there in the woods, existing without any good reason to. They’re just there, open spaces. Fields, groves, and meadows. They’re decent impromptu pastures for rabbits and deer, since they’re usually overflowing with tall, […]
One thing at a time. That’s the path to a simple life and a straightforward mind (not-two). Instead of multitasking, instead of our minds jumping rapidly from this to that, or trying to balance this, that, and the other thing simultaneously—we’re living one step at a time. Even when we’re not multitasking, we’re usually still […]
If silent illumination is like waiting for the water to clear and then diving in, and hua tou is like breaking ice and diving in, Buddha recitation is like focusing on the pearl itself until we suddenly see that it wasn’t at the bottom of the lake at all—it was our own reflection in the water.
Yaoshan once asked his student, Daowu, “Where have you been?”
“Walking on the mountain,” Daowu replied.
“Answer without leaving this room!”
When we get lost in thought, lost in our own stories, that’s taking thought out of its natural habitat and putting it in a zoo. That’s why we often feel trapped in our lives or stuck in our heads.
Zen involves not carrying things around—no-dwelling. That said, Zen carries a lot with it. Dhyana, Chan, Zen, Seon, Thien, these are more than the same word translated into different languages. They’re places. Zen carries the heaviest thing of all with it: the land. There’s a simple explanation for this that every writer can understand. Where […]
The Sutras often ask us to have a maternal attitude toward things, including meditation. Approaching meditation with a stern, analytical, or goal-oriented mindset is as counterproductive as nodding off or daydreaming—maybe even more so. Goal-oriented meditating can fool us into thinking we get it when we really don’t. Really, that thought, “I get it!” is […]
Tanchui once asked Master Farong, “I feel trapped in my life, trapped by these cyclic afflictions. Please, help me break free.” Farong replied, “Who is binding you?” After a pause, “No one is binding me.” “Where are your chains? Where is the cell?” “There aren’t any shackles, and there isn’t a cell.” “Then how can […]
Here’s a (deceptively) simple meditation exercise based on Part One of the Hsin Hsin Ming. Find a quiet place to sit and get comfy. But not too comfy. Neither slouching nor sitting up too straight. Once you’ve settled in, feel free to relax for a few minutes using whatever relaxation exercise works for you. Now, we’re turning […]
“I will let go with both hands for then I shall surely find the Buddha in my mind.” – Huangbo I’ve been around, and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. No matter how far I sail, the wind always pushes me back to the spot I started from. I’ve studied everything I can, and that’s only […]