This is a passage from a teaching by Master Han Shan called “The Maxims.” What are the two most common goals for people who live in the world? Wealth and fame. To gain these goals people are willing to lose everything, including the health of their body, mind and spirit. Not a very good exchange, is it? Worldly wealth and fame fade so quickly that we wonder which will last longer, the money, the fame or the man. But consider… Read more

I had a very vivid dream recently. In the dream I was leading a retreat. I was in a place that I had never been before. There were a lot of people in attendance, some I knew and some that I didn’t. It all seemed to be going very well. Obviously if you’re leading a retreat you want it to be well attended. When no one comes to a retreat it feels like a disappointment. If just one person comes it can… Read more

This is a passage from a teaching by Master Han Shan called “The Maxims.” People are always looking for the easy way. The hard way – the way learned by difficult experience and painful realizations – doesn’t interest them. They want a short-cut. True Dharma seekers are afraid of short-cuts. They know better. They know that without effort, there’s no sense of accomplishment. It’s that sense that keeps them going. People who don’t appreciate the struggles of climbing lack understanding… Read more

This is a passage from a teaching by Master Han Shan called “The Maxims.” It is easier to do the right thing when we know what the right thing to do is. We can’t rely on instinct to find the Way. We need guidance. But once we’re shown the path and begin to climb it, we find that with each step up we grow in wisdom and fortitude. Looking down we see how many of our old desires have fallen… Read more

This is a passage from a teaching by Master Han Shan called “The Maxims.” Why are certain material objects so treasured? A gem is virtually useless and a gilded scabbard is no better than a plain one. Man decides that gold is valuable because it is rare and enduring and brilliant. He then thinks that if he possesses gold he, himself, will become rare or unique, that his individual worth will endure, and that he also will be considered a… Read more

This is a passage from a teaching by Master Han Shan called “The Maxims.” The heart’s weather should always be clear, always sunny and calm. The only time the weather could turn bad is when clouds of lust and attachment form. These always bring storms of worry and confusion. This comes from the concept of Buddha Nature. The core of our being is wakefulness. Our natural state is full of love, kindness, and wisdom. We have an original goodness that… Read more

“Put a fish on land and he will remember the ocean until he dies. Put a bird in a cage, yet he will not forget the sky. Each remains homesick for his true home, the place where his nature has decreed that he should be. Man is born in the state of innocence. His original nature is love and grace and purity. Yet he emigrates so casually without even a thought of his old home. Is this not sadder than… Read more

There are times when we act with unshakable faith in the Dharma even though we don’t understand the situation we’re in. There are other times when we understand our situation but are afraid to be completely faithful. In one instance, we have heart; and in the other we have mind. We must put these two together! Understanding AND faith! -Han Shan Deqing A note on the word faith. I think we might be better served by words like “confidence” or… Read more

This is a passage from a teaching by Master Han Shan called “The Maxims.” Our mind and body are by nature pure; but we sully them with sinful thoughts and deeds. In order to restore ourselves to our original purity, we need only to clean away the accumulated dirt. But how do we proceed with the cleansing process? Do we put a barrier between us and the occasions of our bad habits? Do we remove ourselves from the places of… Read more

This is a passage from a teaching by Master Han Shan called “The Maxims.” In the ego’s world of illusion, all things are in flux. But continuous change is constant chaos. When the ego sees itself as the center of so much swirling activity, it cannot experience cosmic harmony. For example, what the ego considers to be a devastating hurricane is, as far as the universe is concerned, a perfectly natural event, a link in the endless chain of cause… Read more

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