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

Sometimes I think about old Ikkyu. A lifetime spent as a Zen renegade. A teacher certified his Enlightenment, but he thought certificates were dumb so he burned it. The consensus at the time was that teachers should be living in temples spending their days talking about how great the sutras are and spending extraordinary amounts of time on retreat. Ikkyu didn’t do that. He was in the world. He walked the Bodhisattva path rather than the monk path. He taught where… Read more

“The scent of a virtuous person goes against the wind, spreading in all directions.” -the Buddha   The wind in this analogy is the world. It’s everything that we see and hear that constantly tells us “Life is all about me.” It’s that thing that encourages us to pull away from others, to build walls, to make enemies out of everything. That’s the wind. It can cause us all sorts of trouble sometimes, that wind. It’s about the things that… Read more

We can lose anything. We’re losing things all the time, really. We often ruminate over things we’ve lost in the past. We sometimes obsess over the things we’re losing in the present. We worry about what we’re going to lose in the future. When we expect loss we sometimes get the idea that we can’t handle it. The truth is that we can. We think things should be permanent. The nature of things is to change and we can be… Read more

Emptiness is a concept in Buddhism that people seem to struggle with a lot. People think it means that nothing exists or that nothing matters. I think it means there’s nothing to hold on to. This also means there’s unlimited potential. Emptiness and impermanence are ideas that seem scary at first glance, but that’s where potential comes in. We can improve things. We can transform our lives. We just have to put down the things that don’t serve us. If… Read more

Generosity is one of the six perfections, the actions that define the Bodhisattva path. This is our outward manifestation of compassion. This is the kind of generosity where we are giving without expecting anything in return, like feeding a stray animal, or donating your time in volunteer work. It has another level too. It also refers to a kind of not holding back. We’re generous when we’re completely open and genuine with others. The deepest form of generosity is sharing… Read more

We give a lot of power to some of the thoughts and emotions that harm our well being. In a very real way our thoughts and emotions shape how we see the world and how we see ourselves. But we can change how we think. We can change the way we experience ourselves and the world. We can strengthen and experience our sense of well being, which is beyond whatever circumstances we are facing. That’s really what the path is… Read more

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