May 28, 2021

Today I’m going to talk about the second arrow. It’s this old teaching about how we relate to our experience. The second arrow is how we tend to magnify our own suffering. The first arrow – this is a metaphor, obviously – is a bad thing that happens, and the second arrow is our way of making it worse. My two personal examples for this are: This one time my son threw up, and that in itself is bad. That’s… Read more

April 21, 2021

Today I want to address the question, “What if I’m too busy to meditate?” This is one of a few things that people often say in a casual way when they find out that I meditate. I want to be very clear, this is something that comes up in a general conversation, not usually a teaching context. People find out I’m a meditator, people find out I teach meditation, and they say either some version of, “That’s so cool, I… Read more

April 18, 2021

I wanted to write about grief and death today. Some asked me to talk about this, so I’m going to. It’s going to get a little personal too. This is about grief and death. Ultimately an aspect of this is going to be very personal because of my own experience, and I’m going to relate that to you, but I’m going to start by sharing a quote. This is from a book called Awake in the World, by Michael Stone…. Read more

March 2, 2021

“Originally there is not a single dharma; Why discuss inspiration and training?” -Song of Mind What does it mean if there’s not a single dharma? Are Buddhist teachings empty and meaningless? What are we even doing? There’s a story from the life of the Buddha that this reminds me of. Some monks were arguing about which of the Buddha’s teachings were the most important. (Yes this even happened when the Buddha was alive) The Buddha approached them and said, “With… Read more

February 23, 2021

“The Nature of Mind is non-arising, What need is there for knowledge and views?” -Niutou Farong, Song of Mind   The text “Song of Mind” starts right away with a heavy teaching. Some other texts start with easier teachings and build up from that. This is like getting thrown into the deep end of the pool. We’ve been attaching to our minds and our thoughts as real, important, solid things.. But are they? Thoughts are fleeting. I have this thought,… Read more

February 16, 2021

“No Words Can Explain Enlightenment” – Niutou Farong Niutou Farong lived in the 7th century in China. He was a student of the fourth patriarch, which makes him a dharma brother of Hongren, the teacher of Huineng. Farong’s lineage essentially died out. All of modern Zen comes from Huineng. It’s said that he lived in a mountain forest and spent a lot of time hanging out with animals. It’s said that over 300 followers would eventually show up to study… Read more

February 9, 2021

An Invitation for the Patriarch. This is Case 3 from the Book of Equanimity. The ruler of a country invited the 27th ancestor Hannyatara for a meal. The ruler asked, “Why don’t you read sutras?” The ancestor replied, “This poor follower of the way , when breathing in does not dwell in the realm of the skandhas, and when breathing out is not caught up in many externals. I always turn countless rolls of sutras.” Hannyatara was Bodhidharma’s teacher. He’s… Read more

February 2, 2021

Bodhidharma’s Vast Emptiness This is Case 2 from the Book of Equanimity Emperor Wu asked Bodhidharma, “What is the ultimate meaning of the holy truth of Buddhism?” Bodhidharma replied, “Vast Emptiness. No holiness.” The Emperor asked, “Who stands before me?” Bodhidharma replied, “I don’t know.” The Emperor was baffled. Bodhidharma crossed a river, arrived at Shorin, and faced the wall for nine years. Emperor Wu heard of this renowned Buddhist teacher and invited him to his royal court to give… Read more

January 25, 2021

This is case 1 from the Koan collection called “the Book of Equanimity” Case 1. The Buddha Ascends the Platform. The Buddha Ascended the Platform and took his seat. Manjushri struck the sounding post and said, “When you realize the Dharma King’s Dharma, the Dharma is just as it is.” At that, the Buddha descended the platform. When the Buddha goes up, it means he’s about to give a teaching. Manjushri gives a weird announcement for the Buddha’s talk, and… Read more

January 11, 2021

I have this friend who said, “I really want to come to your event, but I’m terrible at meditating.” I want to talk about how hard it is to meditate, because it is very hard. I don’t do it because I’m good at it, I do it because I want to be better at it. So let’s talk about some common obstacles. There’s a list of traditional obstacles to meditation, and they are laziness, agitation, and ill-will. Laziness Laziness is… Read more

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