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)

big mind

May 7, 2010

Deaf, he hears his own nature.
Blind, he sees his Original Mind.
The empty, clear moon
In the water rises
Where heart and mind are forgotten.

– Jungkwan Ilson (1533-1608)

rain or sun
cool or warm
the rhythm of the ocean
and the smell of the pines
make leaving this place a solemn event.

east meets west
material rises to the spiritual
ultimately falling short.

one is recollected in time
and reality is contained in the now.
make your home your resort and
repose is wherever you are.

– dsk

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”


April 23, 2010

There is an old Zen saying that you can try to explain to someone how an orange tastes, but how can you describe it, really?  Until you’ve tasted an orange, you have no way of truly knowing.  And once you’ve tasted one, what is there to say?

– unknown

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

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

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”