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

True Dharma seekers who live in the world use their daily activity as a polishing tool. Outwardly they may appear to be very busy, like flint striking steel, making sparks everywhere. But inwardly they silently grow. For although they may be working very hard, they are working for the sake of the work and not for the profits it will bring them. Unattached to the results of their labor, they transcend the frenetic to reach the Way’s essential tranquillity. Doesn’t… Read more

What is the best way to sever our attachment to material things? First, we need a good sharp sword, a sword of discrimination, one that cuts through appearance to expose the real. We begin by making a point of noticing how quickly we became dissatisfied with material things and how soon our sensory pleasures also fade into discontent. With persistent awareness we sharpen and hone this sword. Before long, we find that we seldom have to use it. We’ve cut… Read more

These are passages from a teaching by Master Han Shan (Silly Mountain) called “The Maxims.” When we preach the Dharma to those who see only the ego’s illusory world, we preach in vain. We might as well preach to the dead.   As I walk the Bodhisattva path, I feel a sort of responsibility to share the teachings with anyone that wants them. I know I’ve had the experience where people express an interest but I think they’re not really… Read more

Han Shan Deqing (1546-1623)  is an important figure from the history of Ch’an Buddhism who isn’t well known. They called him Silly Mountain(not to be confused with the other monk named Han Shan, who they called Cold Mountain). He lived in China and is regarded as a great reformer. He spent a lot of time just wandering from monastery to monastery giving teachings and helping spread the dharma. He was renowned as a great lecturer and commentator and he advocated… Read more

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