clear perception

February 25, 2010

When a monk looks at the green mountain
Even a mote of dust must not obstruct his sight.
Clear vision penetrates the bones naturally.
So why are you still striving for nirvana?

– Jinkag Haesim (1178-1234)

Now I teach you to be like someone who has died the great death. If you truly can be like someone who has died the great death, then why should you spend time on intense effort, or on studying Ch’an and the Way, or on bowing and burning incense? It is a lot of wasted effort. I have been the abbot at five different monasteries, and what I have taught my followers at all of them does not go beyond this: be like someone who has died the great death.

– Ch’an-t’i Wei-chao (1084-1128)

no gaining idea

February 6, 2010

Practice without an idea of gaining is called Buddha’s practice. If we become attached to enlightenment or to the profundity of the teaching, we will lose the point. When we just practice zazen as a human being without any idea of gaining we have the universality of the teaching, and also its individuality and validity. If we attach to some idea of perfection, we will lose the validity of the teaching, although we may have its universality. But this is no longer religion: it is philosophy or science.

So the point is to practice our pure way as human beings with sincerity and without an idea of gaining. That is pure practice. It is not important whether it is the first stage or the second stage or the third one, that is not the point. Just to practice with a pure-way seeking mind, that is true Zen and true Buddhism.

– Shunryū Suzuki, from an early afternoon lecture in November, 1965

mirror mind

February 3, 2010

We assume that our mind automatically grasps reality but don’t know how artfully the mind works and, therefore, we live in delusion and suffering. The mind must be developed. The Buddhist teachings show how to liberate the mind from ignorance and obtain wisdom or insight. Wisdom implies a mind with equanimity, free of mental defilements, not influenced by worldly pleasures or suffering, a mind detached from the past and the future, a calm and collected mind that experiences that the reality of all phenomena is in its impermanence and selflessness.

– Lieu Phap, from “Land of Ten Thousand Lakes”

good times

January 20, 2010

When we get sick, our suffering can put us in touch with the pain of others.  When things go well, however, our mind easily accepts this.  Like oil absorbing into our skin, attachment to favorable circumstances blends smoothly and invisibly into our thoughts and feelings.  Without realizing what’s happening, we can become infatuated with our achievements, fame, and wealth.  It’s difficult to extricate ourselves from positive obstacles.  If we could have everything we wish for —wealth, a comfortable house, nice clothing — we should view this good fortune as illusory, like a beautiful dream, and not let it seduce us into complacency.

– Pema Chödrön, from “Cutting Ties: The Fruits of Solitude”