open to anything new

December 7, 2010

Zen Master Dogen said that “not knowing is the most intimate thing.” Not knowing means to be open to all eventualities, to not prejudge a person or situation. If your mind is full of preconceived notions, there is no room for an unbiased view. It is like when your hands are full of objects, you cannot pick up anything new. A closed mind causes separation and suspicion. Like an umbrella, a mind is only useful when it is open. The first step toward maintaining an open mind is to understand the nature of mind or self.

-Gerry Shishin Wick

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)

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”

sit on top

April 18, 2010

In the sutras it says that a bodhisattva is like an immaculate lotus that floats on muddy water.  The lotus is a metaphor for the bodhisattva, who engages the world of confusion in order to serve beings.  But how is it that the bodhisattva stays afloat without sinking into the muddy water of confusion?  It is due to the wisdom of knowing the mind—how it can serve us or how, if left unchecked, it can spin in the direction determined by confusion.  This kind of clarity may seem a long way off for us, but it all begins with rising to the occasion of our lives and facing our minds.

– Dzigar Kongtrul, from “Old Relationships, New Possibilities”

all that is

April 17, 2010

Pine trees murmur in the wind.
Spring water bubbles in stone.
The moon sets at dawn.
An owl hoots in the mountains.

– Jinkag Haesim (1178-1234)

mountain home

April 15, 2010

My zen hut leans at the summit
Clouds sail back and forth
A waterfall hangs in front
A mountain ridge crests in back
On a rock wall I sketched three buddhas
For incense there’s a plum branch in a jar
The fields below might be level
But can’t match a mountain home free of dust.
– Stonehouse

right speech

April 7, 2010

If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.

– Buddha

every day magic

April 5, 2010

So this, should I be so bold as to use the word “discipline,” of meditation or Za-zen lies behind the extraordinary capacity of Zen people to develop such great arts as the gardens, the tea ceremony, the calligraphy, and the grand painting of the Sum Dynasty, and of the Japanese Sumi tradition.  And it was because, especially in tea ceremony — which means literally “cha-no-yu” in Japanese, or “hot water of tea” —  they found in the very center of things in everyday life, magic.

In the words of the poet Hokoji, “marvelous power and supernatural activity, drawing water, carrying wood.”

– Alan Watts