tao art

May 14, 2010

When rain-washed coils of mountain
Appear in the sky
A refreshing wind sweeps away
The fog and clouds.
Where did you acquire the mastery
Of Yongmyon
To paint exquisite beauty
Beyond human art?

– Jaewol Kyunghun (1542-1632)

show me the way

May 9, 2010

Fallen leaves hide the mountain path.
No one around to ask directions.
An old monk sweeps the ground.
A novice rushes up to greet me.

– Jungkwan Ilson (1533-1608)

Gratitude, the simple and profound feeling of being thankful, is the foundation of all generosity.  I am generous when I believe that right now, right here, in this form and this place, I am myself being given what I need.  Generosity requires that we relinquish something, and this is impossible if we are not glad for what we have.  Otherwise the giving hand closes into a fist and won’t let go.

– Sallie Jiko Tisdale, from “As if There is Nothing to Lose”

one life, many faces

April 28, 2010

I learned the three virtues from my teacher
And watch the grass in the wind
To know Buddha nature.
When I brood all alone
In the desolate hermitage,
I realize I have lived many
Lives as a monk.

– Hueng Powoo (d.1565)


April 23, 2010

Spiritual practitioners thrive in unpredictable conditions, testing and refining the inner qualities of heart and mind. Every situation becomes an opportunity to abandon judgment and opinions and to simply give complete attention to what is. Situations of inconvenience are terrific areas to discover, test, or develop your equanimity.

How gracefully can you compromise in a negotiation? Does your mind remain balanced when you have to drive around the block three times to find a parking space? Are you at ease waiting for a flight that is six hours delayed? These inconveniences are opportunities to develop equanimity. Rather than shift the blame onto an institution, system, or person, one can develop the capacity to opt to rest within the experience of inconvenience.

– Shaila Catherine, from “Equanimity in Every Bite”

big box love

April 13, 2010

I try to relate the Dharma to 21st-century human beings.  As Einstein said, we human beings utilize only five to ten percent of our brain’s capacity.  In the same way, we use only five to ten percent of our heart’s capacity to love and feel kindness.

Instead of boxing in our hearts, loving only me, me, me—the smallest box—we must try to slowly expand that box till we’re able to love all humanity, all sentient beings.  When we use our maximum intelligence to access these deeper levels, to go beyond the material, then we become wise.

We realize interdependence and the transitory nature of existence—this is how we free ourselves from suffering.  Then we can bring a lasting peace and happiness to the world.

– Nawang Khechog

the hurdle of conceit

April 8, 2010

The conceit of self (mana in Pali) is said to be the last of the great obstacles to full awakening.  Conceit is an ingenious creature, at times masquerading as humility, empathy, or virtue.  Conceit manifests in the feelings of being better than, worse than, and equal to another.  Within these three dimensions of conceit are held the whole tormented world of comparing, evaluating, and judging that afflicts our hearts.  Jealousy, resentment, fear, and low self-esteem spring from this deeply embedded pattern. Conceit perpetuates the dualities of “self” and “other”—the schisms that are the root of the enormous alienation and suffering in our world.  Our commitment to awakening asks us to honestly explore the ways in which conceit manifests in our lives and to find the way to its end.

– Christina Feldman

the real net

March 30, 2010

The human behavior that we call perception, thought, speech, and action is a consistency of organism and environment of the same kind as eating. What happens when we touch and feel a rock? Speaking very crudely, the rock comes in touch with a multitude of nerve ends in our fingers, and any nerve in the whole pattern of ends which touches the rock “lights up”. Imagine an enormous grid of electric light bulbs connected with a tightly packed grid of push buttons. If I open my hand and with its whole surface push down a group of buttons, the bulbs will light up in a pattern approximately resembling my hand. The shape of the hand is “translated” into the pattern of buttons and bulbs. Similarly, the feeling of the rock is what happens in the “grid” of the nervous system when it translates a contact with the rock. But we have at our disposals “grids” far more complex than this – not only optical and auditory, but also linguistic and mathematical. These, too, are patterns into whose terms the world is translated in the same way the rock is into nerve patterns. Such a grid, for example, is the system of co-ordinates, three of space and one of time, in which we feel that the world is happening even though there are no actual lines of height, width, and depth falling all space, and though Earth does not go tick-tock when it revolves. Such a grid is also the whole system of classes, or verbal pigeonholes, into which we sort the world [our experience] as things or events, still or moving; light or dark; animal, vegetable, or mineral; bird, beast, or flower; past present or future.

– Alan Watts, from “Psychotherapy East and West”

rare earth

March 16, 2010

By blending water and minerals from below with sunlight and CO2 from above, green plants link the earth to the sky.

We tend to believe that plants grow out of the soil, but in fact most of their substance comes from the air. The bulk of the cellulose and the other organic compounds produced through photosynthesis consists of heavy carbon and oxygen atoms, which plants take directly from the air in the form of CO2.

Thus the weight of a wooden log comes almost entirely from the air. When we burn a log in a fireplace, oxygen and carbon combine once more into CO2, and in the light and heat of the fire we recover part of the solar energy that went into making the wood.

– Fritjof Capra

the false idol of time

February 24, 2010

The politics of those whose goal is beyond time are always pacific; it is the idolaters of past and future, of reactionary memory and Utopian dream, who do the persecuting and make the wars.

– Aldous Huxley, from “The Perennial Philosophy”