Page one




Leaves on the tree.


All existences are like
the leaves on the tree:
fed by the one root.

Origin and end come
from the same Source, empty.

Origin and end alike
go back to That.


Taisen Deshimaru



Sitting meditation.


Sitting meditation
is a method of great liberation;
all teachings flow forth from this,
myriad practices are mastered this way.


Daikaku (1213-1279)



Instructions for meditation.


Practice regularly and patiently, without having too many expectations.

You should understand that basically meditation is not a "method".
Meditation is clear mind, being aware moment by moment.
Methods can help us to be mindful, but if we attach to them, they can become obsessions and obstacles.

In daily life observe your actions, communication, feelings and thoughts clearly and objectively, without attachment or resistance.
Be aware of both pleasant and unpleasant states of mind.


Tae Hye Sunim



Shoitsu's Zen.


Zen is not conception or perception;
if you establish an idea,
you turn away from the source.

The way is beyond cultivated effects;
if you set up accomplishment,
you lose the essence.


Shoitsu (1202-1280)



Kuei-feng's mind.


The mind: it is vacuous, empty, sublime, and exquisite;
it is clear, brilliant, numinous, and bright.
It neither comes nor goes, for it permeates the three time periods.
It is neither within nor without, for it pervades the ten directions.

As it does not arise or cease,
how could it be harmed by the four mountains?
As it is separate from nature and characteristics,
how could it be blinded by the five sense objects?





The perception of sages.


The slightest entangling thought can cause hellish actions;
a flash of egoistic feeling can chain you indefinitely.

Just end egocentric feelings,
and there is no special perception of sages to seek:

the perception of sages appears
where egocentric feelings end.


Zen Master



Achieve enlightenment.


It is nonsense to insist
that we cannot achieve enlightenment
without learned and pious teachers.

Because wisdom is innate,
we can all enlighten ourselves.


Hui-neng (638-713)



Simple and clear.


Life is short and fragile,

why not cultivating kindness

instead of committing acts which cause harm

to living beings and to yourself?


The art of living.
Buddha Educational Foundation



Ryokan's teaching.


Where there is beauty, there is ugliness.
When something is right, something else is wrong.
Knowledge and ignorance depend on each other.
It has been like this since the beginning.
How could it be otherwise now?

Wanting to chuck out one and hold onto the other
makes for a ridiculous comedy.

You must still deal with everything ever-changing,
even when you say it's wonderful.


Ryokan (1758-1831)



Acting without mind.


People of the way journey through the world
responding to conditions,
carefree and without restraint.

Like clouds finally raining,
like moonlight following the current,
like orchids growing in shade,
like spring arising in everything:

they act without mind,
they respond with certainty.


Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157)



This mind is the Buddha.


This mind is the Buddha means that beyond this mind you'll never find another Buddha.
To search for enlightenment or nirvana beyond this mind is impossible.
The reality of your own self-nature, the absence of cause and effect, is what's meant by "mind". Your mind is nirvana: you might think you can find a Buddha or enlightenment somewhere beyond the mind, but such a place doesn't exist.

Buddha is Sanskrit for what you call aware, miraculously aware.
Responding, perceiving, arching your brows, blinking your eyes, moving your hands and feet, it's all your miraculously aware nature.
And this nature is the mind. And the mind is the Buddha. And the Buddha is the path.
And the path is Ch'an (Son, Zen). But the word Ch'an is one that remains a puzzle to both mortals and sages.

Seeing your nature is Ch'an. Unless you see your nature, it's not Ch'an.


Bodhidharma (440-528)



Cause and effect.


When a fish swims, the water becomes muddied;
when a bird flies, its feathers fall.

Just as an object is reflected in a polished mirror,
nothing can escape the law of cause and effect.


Chia-shan Yuan-wu



It is to be your awareness.


Question: What is beholding the luminosity of the Mind?

Answer: If your mind is very quiet, you will see the very energy which is moving, which allows you to be an animate being.

It is your awareness. It is to actually fold back into your awareness.
It is to be your awareness. It is to be that luminosity.

Beholding the luminosity of your own mind is meditation.
As you go deeper you see more; you spend more time with it and you see more.


Taken from unpublished transcripts
of Traceless Way (1995)



Sitting in meditation.


What is it in this teaching we call "Sitting in meditation?"

In this teaching, "sitting" means without any obstruction anywhere.
Outwardly and under all circumstances, not to activate thoughts.
"Meditation" is internally to see the original nature and not become confused.





The power of Dharma


Although we know that a frozen pond is entirely water,
the sun's heat is necessary to melt it.
Although we awaken to the fact that an ordinary person is Buddha,
the power of Dharma is necessary to make it permeate our cultivation.

When the pond has melted, the water flows freely.
When the wrong notions are extinguished, the mind will be luminous and dynamic
and then its function of penetrating brightness will manifest.





Study the teachings


Study the teachings of the pine tree, the bamboo, and the plum blossom.

The pine is evergreen, firmly rooted, and venerable.
The bamboo is strong, resilient, unbreakable.
The plum blossom is hardy, fragrant and elegant.

Always keep your mind as bright and clear as the vast sky,
the great ocean, and the highest peak, empty of all thoughts.

Always keep your body filled with light and heat.
Fill yourself with the power of wisdom and enlightenment.


Morihei Ueshiba



The realm of Buddhahood


If you want to know the realm of Buddhahood,
you must make your mind as clear as empty space.

Leave false thinking and all grasping far behind,
causing your mind to be unobstructed wherever it may turn.

The realm of Buddhahood is not some external world where there is a formal "Buddha."
It's the realm of the wisdom of a self-awakened sage.


Zen Master Ta-hui (1088-1163)



The flower of Being


Only break through the world of words
so that the flower of Being may bloom.

Just become suddenly still, inside and out,
so that you may pierce through the thin shell of the world,
and fill the entire cosmos.


Ji Aoi Isshi



The pure light.


If you want to be no different from the buddhas and Zen masters,
just don't seek externally.

The pure light in a moment of awareness in your mind
is the Buddha's essence within you.


Lin Chi



To practice the Tao.


To practice the Tao is like defending the forbidden Royal Palace under invasion:
guard it closely with your life, and fight for it with all your might!

Behold, if the freezing cold has not yet penetrated to the core of your bones,
how can it be possible for you to smell the fresh fragrance of the blooming plum blossom?


Huang Po



Wordless question


Nothing is equal to the power of a wordless question... a naked question mark whose primal energy is glowing within.

The living question alone has the power, not to create this objective awareness, but rather to facilitate it by piercing through the wall of thought.

Awaken to an awareness that is always here to be remembered.





The treasure house


My teacher said to me:

"The treasure house within you contains everything, and you are free to use it.
You don't need to seek outside."


Dazhu (487-593)



Two choices, one chance.


The Case:

On being asked if a dog has the Buddha nature,
Trieu Chau (Chao Chou) replies "yes" once and "no" another time.


Two choices, one chance.


When confronted by people, you can say yes or no.
A single word routs Ho's army.
He who boasts all his life of being brilliant
Is only an obscure relative of the true knight.


A monk asked Chao Chou: "Does a dog have the nature of awakening?" "No", said the Master. Another time, another monk asked him the same question. Chao Chou answered: "Yes".

Why two contradictory replies to the same question? Because of the difference of the mentality of the two questioners. The answers "yes" and "no" here are skillful means aimed at producing an effect on the minds of the practitioners. Each reply does not claim to be an objective truth. On the conceptual level, objective truth is on the side of the word "yes", because in Mahayana Buddhist circles it is said that every being has the nature of awakening. But in the world of ultimate reality, the word "yes" is no longer a concept that is opposed to the concept "no". The words "yes" and "no" act here on the practitioners in different ways. That is why their significance can only be received subjectively by each practitioner concerned.

Life is more than concepts, do not understand "no" as nothingness; do not take it to be a concept of "non being" as opposed to "being". We lose our lives if we depart from living reality and dwell only in the world of conceptual phantoms. We will be a ghost, a being without flesh or bones.


Thich Nhat Hanh

(Zen keys, Thorsons)



The practice of non-action


Those who would realize the practice of non action must arrive at the non-perception of the errors of people. This is non-moving nature.

Deluded people simply stop the movement of their bodies, but as soon as they open their mouths they are talking about peoples' rights and wrongs, and contradicting the Way.


Huineng (638-713)



Mindless world


If you want to cut directly through, don't entertain doubts about Buddhas, or doubts about life and death; just always let go and make your heart empty and open.

When things come up, deal with them according to the occasion. Be like the stillness of water, like the clarity of a mirror. Whether good or bad, beautiful or ugly approach, you don't make the slightest move to avoid them.

Then you will truly know that the mindless world of spontaneity is inconceivable.


Ta Hui (1088-1163)



The Buddha-dharma


The Buddha-dharma is present in all your daily activities. It is present during your walking, standing, sitting, and reclining, while drinking tea and eating rice, during conversation and dialogue, in whatever you do and perform.

To stir up your mind and set thoughts in motion is indeed far from being correct.





One thought of purity.


If a person sits in stillness for one instant, it is better than building seven-jeweled stupas as numerous as the sands of the Ganges.

Those jeweled stupas will finally be reduced to dust, but one thought of purity of mind produces right enlightenment.


An ancient text



Stable Faith.


If you want to study this path, you must have stable faith, so that your mind is unaffected whether it encounters favorable or adverse sensory objects.

Then and only then will you go in the right direction. If you're half clear and half unclear, your mind will give rise to confusion and doubt.


Ta-hui Tsung-kao



The Practice of Meditation


Truth is perfect and complete in itself.

It is not something newly discovered; it has always existed.

Truth is not far away.

It is nearer than near.

There is no need to attain it,

Since not one of your steps leads away from it.







Words cannot describe everything.

The heart's message cannot be delivered in words.

If one receives words literally, he will be lost.

If he tries to explain with words,

he will not attain enlightenment in this life.







The term awakening means that the mind-essence is free from thought.

This detachment from thought is characterized as similar to space:

it is universal.


from "The Awakening of Faith"



Optical delusion


"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us "universe", a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."


Albert Einstein



As thought follows thought


Above all don't wish to become a future Buddha;

your only concern should be,

as thought follows thought,

to avoid clinging to any of them.





Let go


Do not try to seek the Truth,

just don't cling to opinion

and you won't linger in dualism.

Let go, leave things as they are,

obey the true nature of things

and you're in harmony with the Way.


T'sen T'sang



Where do we seek?


Buddha is concealed within the sentient beings.

If for one instant of thought we become impartial,

then sentient beings are themselves Buddha.

In our mind itself a Buddha exists,

our own Buddha is the true Buddha.

If we do not have in ourselves the Buddha mind,

then where are we to seek Buddha?


Hui Neng



Beginner's mind (Shoshin)


This is the real secret of the arts: always be a beginner.

Then we can really learn something.

In the beginner's mind there is no thought, "I have attained something."

If you keep your original mind, the precepts will keep themselves.


Shunryu Suzuki.



What is this true meditation?


What is this true meditation? It is to make everything: coughing, swallowing, waving the arms, motion, stillness, words, actions, the evil and the good, prosperity and shame, gain and loss, right and wrong, into one single koan. Then rising or staying, moving or still, "at all times test to see whether you have lost the true meditation or have not lost it." This is the true practice of the sages of the past and of today.

You must become aware that meditation is the thing that points out your own innate appearance. To carry on the real practice of seeing into your own nature by transcending the great matter of birth and death is by no means an easy thing to do.

Placing the essential between the two states, the active and the passive, and being in a position to be able to move in any direction, with the true principle of pure, undiluted undistracted meditation before your eyes, attain a state of mind in which, even though surrounded by crowds of people, it is as if you were alone in a field extending tens of thousands of miles





We miss nothing


We all are endowed with wisdom and ability of Buddhas.

We miss nothing.

We all are gifted with this precious jewel which is the Buddha Nature.

Through eternity radiating the purest brightness.





Hell and Paradise


When one realizes the truth, there are no delusions concerning personal desires

or self-limited ideas. One then knows there is no ego entity

existing within and sees clearly the voidness of all forms

as merely shadow in relation to both subjective and objective elements.

If you live in this Zen, you can leave hell in your dreams of yesterday,

and make your own paradise wherever you stand.


Yoka Daishi (- 713)



Vital Question


Can we learn to look and question in such a way that thought negates itself

within the depths of the vital unknown?

To do so, thought must come to pose a living question unanswerable

in words; in that questioning lies the reversal of the energy of the mind.

Is there a way to ask such a question deeply with no reliance on words at all?

This kind of vital questioning is somehow empowered to evoke an entirely new state,

a creative state in which the habitual tendencies of the mind are curbed.


G. BlueStone



The three jewels of Bodhidharma


Question: What is Buddha-Mind?

Answer: Your mind is it. When you see the self-same essence of it,

you can call it suchness.

When you see the changeless nature of it, you can call it Dharmakaya.

It does not belong to anything; therefore, it is called Emancipation.

It works easily and freely, being never disturbed by others; therefore,

it is called the True Path. It was not born, and, therefore, it is not going to perish,

so it is called Nirvana.


Question: What is Tathagata?

Answer: One who knows that he comes from nowhere and goes nowhere.


Question: What is Buddha?

Answer: One who realizes the truth, and holds nothing that is to be realized.


Question: What is Dharma?

Answer: It was never produced, and will never be reduced;

therefore, it is called Dharma, the norm of the Universe.


Question: What is Sangha?

Answer: It is so named because of the beauty of its harmony.





The practice of the Bodhisattva


The mind is the key factor in the practice of the Bodhisattva. Realizing the "True Nature" or "True Mind" moment by moment is the Bodhisattva practice.

The authentic spirit and the fundamental feature of the Bodhisattva action is to act with compassion without damaging any sentient being and helping them to develop and keep a clear mind of understanding.

To criticize other people and celebrate themselves is a common behaviour for the most.
Even if people don't exalt themselves, you anyway hear criticisms to others. Rare is to hear someone talking about his own defects and about other's merits.

Should people turn their mindfulness light inwards and stop criticizing outwards with a fragmented mind, it would be possible to create, starting from ourselves, a peace and harmony dimension, radiating towards families, society and countries.

This practice is very important for the Bodhisattva who always should recognize its own defects, avoiding in this way, the possibility they grow so much, to be, then, unamendable, till they become an obstacle in helping other people to get free from theirs.

One should never denigrate any aspect of the Dharma, i.e. despising as inadequate other school teachings.


Tae Hye Sunim





No Effort


Suchness is the ultimate reality.

How can birth and death touch you?

Awaken early to the pink dawn.

Peace comes without effort.


Thich Nhat Hanh





Meditate means to be totally in the present moment, the mind undisturbed

by the past or the future.

Being totally in the present requires the complete acceptance of ourselves

the way we are, including our whole past, together with all the events

the result of which, is what we are now.

This means to be in the center of our mind,

in other words: completely opened.

Then we say: we are at home, we have arrived.


Karl Riedl





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