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

February 22, 2018

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

February 19, 2018

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

February 15, 2018

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

February 12, 2018

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

February 9, 2018

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

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