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

Angulimala is a bit of a strange figure in early Buddhist history. I think we can learn a lot from his story even if we might have to think hard to figure out how it relates to our lives. Angulimala was a serial killer. He was a relentless and fearsome madman who made his life’s mission to kill 100 people….and to collect their fingers and wearing them on a necklace. Angulimala is actually a nickname that means finger necklace. Eww. I… Read more

“If one knew oneself were precious, one would guard oneself with care.” -the Buddha So, often on the spiritual path we are told to hold everyone with compassion, to always be generous. This is all very good advice. But a problem can arise when we start to feel that giving is everything. I’ve had the experience of giving away too much of my energy. I’m sure many of you have too. There’s something we can very easily forget. Our compassion… Read more

This is a hard concept for us to understand. Anatta….no self. I’d like to explain it this way. Everything you think about yourself is a story you’re telling. There is no you, not in the way you think. All the concepts, feelings, and beliefs that we have about ourselves are self-created. We weave things together from our environment and fashion a self out of it. It’s not so much that there’s nothing as it is that there’s nothing to hold… Read more

We practice Enlightenment when we sit on the cushion. Every time we sit and do what the Buddha did, we are engaging with the goal. That’s why Dogen said, “Practice itself is Enlightenment”. When we understand that and really engage the present moment, we can’t be pulled around by the myriad things that distract us so easily. We can be a little more stable, standing on solid ground. This is called illumination. If we can really open our hearts and… Read more

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