This is a passage from a teaching by Master Han Shan called “The Maxims.” What, ultimately, is the difference between hardship and pleasure? A hardship is an obstacle and an obstacle is a challenge and a challenge is a way to use one’s Dharma strength. What is more pleasurable than that? People are always so afraid of hardship. They go through life trying to avoid the difficult and embrace the easy. For me, it’s just the opposite. I don’t discriminate… Read more

People indignantly condemn thieves to steal material goods. I worry about the kind of thief who steals souls. People act to protect their property. They build walls. They hang every thief they catch. What measures do they take to protect their minds from corruption and loss? -Han Shan Deqing   Han Shan is being a little clever here. He’s making a comparison. The things that distract us from the path are like thieves. There are always things that are ready… Read more

The easy path is always so appealing. So why do I prefer the hard way? On the easy path we take things for granted. We get lazy and bored. This is a formula for trouble and loss. When we go the hard way, we know we can’t let our guard down for a moment. We have to stay alert to meet the challenges. Solving problems makes our mind keener and our character stronger. This is achievement! This is true gain!… Read more

“We all have a tendency to like those who listen to our advice and to dislike those who ignore it. We should guard ourselves against this tendency. If we allow our emotions to influence us, we’re guilty of ignoring the Dharma’s advice. Love and hate can infect consciousness and jeopardize our ability to perceive clearly, to see with unprejudiced eyes. In the darkness we may stumble. When we control our emotions, we preserve the light.” -Han Shan Deqing   Do… Read more

They best way to convert other people to the Dharma Way, is to convert yourself to it first. Be an example for them to follow. One natural act flowing out of good character is more convincing than the most eloquent speech. -Han Shan Deqing If you’re living in the west, there’s a good chance that in a lot of the circles that you move in, you are the only Buddhist. There is a good chance that people sometimes think of… Read more

“People crave sensory stimulation. They enjoy this kind of external excitement. But I consider such craving a form of suffering. Sensory stimulation feeds on itself, grows larger and larger, and develops an ever-increasing appetite. People will destroy themselves and others, too, in trying to satisfy it. Pleasure derived from Dharma wisdom is internal excitement. Happiness grows along with the capacity to enjoy it. When given a choice between enjoyments, enlightened people always choose the Dharma.” -Han Shan Deqing Han Shan… Read more

 A natural disaster, a so-called Act of God, doesn’t discriminate between its victims. It damages everybody – rich and poor, good and bad. Whenever you have power over people, keep natural disasters in mind. Be godlike in your fairness. -Han Shan Deqing We think of natural disaster as having an incredible ability to cause harm, and rightly so. Human beings think we are very powerful and in control a lot of the time. But once in a while a hurricane… Read more

Is Buddhism a religion? Short answer: Yes.   This is a question that gets asked all the time. It’s kind of a silly question because when you get down to it the consequences of the answer are meaningless. It’s the kind of thing that people just like to argue about. In the age of the internet arguing about things that don’t matter is common. Is Buddhism a religion?. People say “it’s not a religion, it’s a philosophy” or “it’s just… Read more

If a man carries too many worldly burdens, his body will soon wear out. If he worries about too many worldly problems, his mind will soon collapse. To be so occupied with material things is a dangerous way to live, a foolish waste of energy. A man ought to simplify his needs and use his strength to attain spiritual goals. Nobody ever ruined his mind or body by exercising self-restraint. -Han Shan Deqing We can simplify our lives. Han Shan… Read more

 In polite society everybody notices if a man’s hands are dirty. He’ll be stared at contemptuously. Why, the fellow will be wretched until he can wash his hands. But isn’t it funny how a man can have character that’s defiled by greed and hate and nobody will pay the slightest attention? He’ll move about in perfect ease. Evidently, a dirty character isn’t worthy of notice as a dirty hand. -Han Shan Deqing   Don’t judge a book by it’s cover?… Read more

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