September 21, 2018

Hongzhi (1091-1157) was a well known Zen Master in the Tsaotung lineage. It was in his lifetime that the lineage which had fallen on hard times, really took shape and underwent a revival. It became distinct in it’s emphasis on seated meditation and realization of our innate Buddha Nature through cultivating an open heart and mind. Hongzhi was a proponent (and maybe the first teacher) of Silent Illumination practice. He described this in poetic writings as a process where we… Read more

September 13, 2018

I don’t have my own temple or center or anything. There are several Buddhist centers here in Kansas City but I’m not a teacher at any of them. I do lead meditations in  public places. It’s my effort to meet people where they are. I suppose that’s as close as I come to building a community here.  I’m trying to make a space for people that don’t really want to go to Buddhist temples. When I lead a meditation outdoors I think… Read more

August 9, 2018

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

July 26, 2018

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

July 12, 2018

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

June 28, 2018

“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

June 14, 2018

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

May 31, 2018

“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

May 17, 2018

 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

May 10, 2018

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

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