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


April 4, 2010

Understanding is like water flowing in a stream. Wisdom and knowledge are solid and can block our understanding.

In Buddhism, knowledge is regarded as an obstacle for understanding. If we take something to be the truth, we may cling to it so much that even if the truth comes and knocks at our door, we won’t want to let it in.

We have to be able to transcend our previous knowledge the way we climb up a ladder. If we are on the fifth rung and think that we are very high, there is no hope for us to step up to the sixth. We must learn to transcend our own views. Understanding, like water, can flow, can penetrate. Views, knowledge, and even wisdom are solid, and can block the way of understanding.

– Thich Nhat Hanh, from “The Heart Sutra”

wishful thinking

April 3, 2010

Not knowing its strength,
The mosquito sucked too much blood to fly.
Don’t covet what others value.
You’ll pay for it someday.

– Naong Haegun (1320-1376)

just do it

March 28, 2010

Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.

– Alan Watts

happy solitude

March 26, 2010

Being alone means you are established firmly in the here and the now and you become aware of what is happening in the present moment.

You use your mindfulness to become aware of every feeling, every perception you have. You’re aware of what’s happening around you in the sangha, but you’re always with yourself, you don’t lose yourself.

That’s the Buddha’s definition of the ideal practice of solitude: not to be caught in the past or carried away by the future, but always to be here, body and mind united, aware of what is happening in the present moment.

That is real solitude.

– Thich Nhat Hanh from “The Heart of The Matter” (Winter 2009)