A reader asked me a question and I thought I’d answer it here. Reader says: “I have trouble recognizing it when I am causing my own suffering with my thoughts. How can I realize that sooner?” This is a great question. Sometimes in life we don’t realize when the things we’re doing are harmful to us. We have this tendency to realize later that we were making a mistake, or lots of mistakes, and making things worse for ourselves. Or,… Read more

I went to volunteer at Harvester’s with a Buddhist group that goes there every month. Harvesters is a local charity here in the Kansas City area that distributes food to needy people throughout the area. It’s a big charity that does a lot of good here. Anyway, there’s a Buddhist group from the Rime Center that goes there every month to volunteer. It’s a good way to serve our community, to represent Buddhism, and to just do work that needs to… Read more

39. When studying Sutras, if you don’t reflect on your true nature at the same time, it will do no good. This isn’t about just learning the words. It’s about putting the Dharma into practice. 40. The Buddha said, “Everything is on fire, burning with the fire of impermanence.” And at another time, “We are all burning in the flames of suffering.” Anyone who studies the Dharma should listen to these words. We are on fire, so we must practice… Read more

29. If you know that thoughts are illusions then you’re already free. What need is there for practice? Free of delusion, you’re already Enlightened. We have innate wakefulness, we are said to be Enlightened already. Our discursive thoughts are sometimes described as flowers in the sky, in other words, imaginary. So Sahn is telling us that we become Enlightened by realizing we are Enlightened already. 30. Beings can dwell in complete stillness, with nothing moving, no coming and no going…. Read more

17. Meditation practice is like tuning strings. It shouldn’t be too light or too loose. Overexerting ourselves can cause problems. Lazy practice keeps us ignorant. Practice with a calm and clear mind, attentive and serene. This makes me think of working out. It’s not a good idea to spend hours and hours at the gym every day. But, if we just go when we feel like it, without a routine or plan in place, we probably aren’t going to see… Read more

The words of the Buddha are like a bow, the words of the masters are like a string. The Buddha taught a Dharma of the one taste of suchness. When the one taste of suchness disappears, the teachings of the masters appear. It’s said that “The  tree in the garden” can’t be found, even in the greatest sutras. “Like a bow” means stretchy, able to adapt to different circumstances. “Like a string” means straightforward, direct and easy to understand. The… Read more

There is only one thing from the beginning, bright and mysterious. Unborn, undying, indescribable. Many texts start with the easy stuff and get us into the deeper teachings slowly. Not this one. So Sahn is setting the tone for “Mirror of Zen” by throwing us straight into the deep end. He just walks up to us and says, “You know what? All things are one. And, man, this stuff is hard to understand.” This is an expression of oneness. We… Read more

So, this is obviously not the kind of thing I normally write about. In the midst of a series of Buddhist teachings, here I am writing about a historical legal drama. But, I was given the opportunity to screen his film before the release date (Friday 10/13), so here we are. I first saw Chadwick Boseman when he played the Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War (by the way, my son’s favorite hero in that film.) In that film… Read more

The Mirror of Zen is a text that was written by a teacher named So Sahn. He is one of the most revered Zen Masters in the history of Seon Buddhism. He was a Korean teacher and he tried to distill Zen teachings from over 50 sutras into a container that could easily be understood. So Sahn lived in the 1500s. He became a monk at the age of 21 and dedicated himself to lifelong study. He lived in a… Read more

I’m writing about a formless meditation practice. This is a practice that doesn’t involve reciting a mantra or visualization. It doesn’t involve focusing on anything. This is the practice of just sitting, just being here now. It’s founded in the belief that Enlightenment is our true nature and we can get there just by being here now. Dogen said, “Sitting is Enlightenment.” This practice we’re talking about is the practice of actualizing our Enlightenment. Dogen famously called it the gateway… Read more

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