April 3, 2018

“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

March 29, 2018

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

March 27, 2018

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

March 22, 2018

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

March 20, 2018

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

March 15, 2018

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

March 13, 2018

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

March 5, 2018

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

March 1, 2018

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

February 26, 2018

“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

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