Quotes and Reflections

Page Four




A Simple Flower

What did Mahakashyapa really see
when the Buddha held up the flower?

When we are ready,
the entire universe will unfold before us and we will know it intimately.
If we are not ready, we see a flower.
In either case, what is there is always there.

How do we prepare ourselves?
We practice mindfulness meditation (Zazen).

So Daiho Roshi



The foolish reject what they see,
Not what they think;

The wise reject what they think,
Not what they see.

Observe things as they are
And don’t pay attention to other people.

Master Huang-po (9th cent)



The practice of Zen
has no secret.

Except standing on the verge
of life and death.

Master Takeda Shingen (1521-1573)



The King Milinda once asked the Buddhist sage Nagasena:
"When someone is reborn, is he the same as the one who just died,
or is he different?"

Nagasena replied: "He is neither the same nor different . . .
Tell me, if a man were to light a lamp,
could it provide light the whole night long?"


"Is the flame then which burns in the first watch of the night the same
as the one that burns in the second . . . or the last?"


"Does that mean there is one lamp in the first watch of the night,
another in the second, and another in the third?"

"No, it's because of that one lamp that the light shines all night."

"Rebirth is much the same:
one phenomenon arises and another stops, simultaneously.
So the first act of consciousness in the new existence
is neither the same as the last act of consciousness in the previous existence,
nor is it different."

Sogyal Rinpoche



What does it mean to love?

To love is to look at each other,
and to look together in the same direction.

Dhyana Master Thich Nhat Hanh



The sounds of streams are Buddha’s speech.
The coloured mountains are Buddha’s pure body.

Night brings eighty-four thousand poems of Buddha.
Listen, and someday you may awaken.

Master Su Shih (1031-1101)



Bodhidharma said, "I don't know."
"I don't know" is the first principle. Do you understand?

The first principle cannot be known in terms of good or bad,
right or wrong, because it is both right and wrong.

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi



If Only

If only I could throw away the urge
to trace my patterns in your heart,
I could really see you.

David Brandon
(Zen in the Art of Helping)



Give up all questions except one: “Who am I?”
After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are.

The “I am” is certain.
The “I am this” is not.

Struggle to find out what you are in reality.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj



Your self-partiality is at
The root of all your illusions.

There aren’t any illusions
When you don’t have this preference for yourself.

Master Bankei (1622-1693)



When the Buddha set out to teach and to help people,
the first thing he asked people was to look directly into their suffering.

Suffering is not an abstract thing;
suffering is there, very real.

Suffering is one of the basic truths called holy truths, the Noble Truths.
Suffering is a holy truth.

Dhyana Master Thich Nhat Hanh



In the landscape of Spring,
there is neither high nor low.

The flowering branches grow naturally,
some long, some short.

Zen saying



The clouds emerge from the Mountain of Chung
And then return to the Mountain of Chung.
I would like to ask the dweller in this mountain,
“Where are the clouds now?”

Clouds emerge from No mind
And then return to No mind.
No mind is nowhere to be found.
We need not seek the home of No mind.

Master Wang An-shih (1068-1076)



The true person is
Not anyone in particular.

But like the deep blue colour
Of the limitless sky,
It is everyone,
Everywhere in the world.

Master Dogen (1200-1253)



Not twice this day
Inch time foot gem.

This day will not come again,
Each minute is worth a priceless gem

Master Takuan



Contentment brings one a borderless heart
With the courage to give and the joy to share.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



A smile

Shakyamuni held up a lotus
so Kashyapa smiled.

Not at all.

The lotus smiled
so Kashyapa smiled.

Nowhere was Shakyamuni!

Master Ko Un



Good deeds are our responsibilities

We should not calculate the number of our good deeds,
and their returns.

Otherwise, it only brings us disappointment in addition to vexation.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry,
the philosophy which does not laugh,
and the greatness which does not bow before children.

Kahlil Gibran



Before enlightenment,
I chopped wood and carried water.

After enlightenment,
I chop wood and carry water.

Zen saying



Nirvana is seeing one thing through to the end.

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi



The fact is that the fundamental nature of each
and every person contains a great spiritual awareness.

It is fundamentally without birth and death.
It extends through ancient and modern,
spiritually alive and illuminating,
undefiled, wondrous, sovereign, in peace and bliss.

Is this not the Buddha of Infinite Life?

Master T’aego



If you understand the first word of Zen
You will know the last word.

The last word or the first word,
Is not a word.

Master Wu-men



Till now, you seriously considered yourself
to be the body, and to have a form.

That is the primal ignorance
which is the root cause of all troubles.

Ramana Maharshi (1879 -1950)



Moment to moment

Once a person experiences Dharma for the moment,
that Dharma can't be kept or possessed.

One continues to learn and to practice
and so experience more of Dharma
from moment to moment.

Dharma Teacher Desmond Chiong



All achievements start from trivial matters,
And attentive work accumulating through time.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



The sage looks at the unity
Which belongs to all things,

And does not perceive where
They have suffered loss.

Chuang Tzu



We get no letters from the world of emptiness,
but when you see the plant flower,

when you hear the sound of bamboo hit by the small stone,
that is a letter from the world of emptiness.

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi



Because things don't actually go as you expect,
there is suffering.

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi



Most people do self-reflection in learning Buddhism,
but totally lose it in their daily life.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



Human beings spend all their lives
preparing, preparing, preparing. . . .

Only to meet the next life unprepared.

Drakpa Gyaltsen



Truth’s naked radiance,
Cut off from the sense and the world,
Shines by itself.

No words for it.

Pai-chang (720-814)



Without improving body and mind consumption
Is no other than wasting.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



Everything changes

Because everything changes from moment to moment,
we can only treasure everything in this moment.

Because everything changes from moment to moment,
we should not be attached to anything in this moment.

Dharma Teacher



Knowing that impermanence is swift,
and birth and death is an important matter,
you have come specially to ask about the Path.

This is indeed the conduct of a real person.
Still, who is the one who recognizes impermanence
and birth and death like this?
And who is the one who has come specially to ask about the Path?

If you can discern truly here, then, as we say,

“The visage is unique and wondrous: the light shines on the ten directions.
We have just made an offering. Now we return to our kin.”

Master T’aego



Those who do nothing everyday,
are consumers of life.

Those who contribute actively,
are developers of life.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



With which mind will you drink?

Past mind can't be grasped,
Present mind can't be grasped,
Future mind can't be grasped.

With which mind will you drink this tea?

Innkeeper lady to Venerable Te Shan



When you do something,
you should burn yourself completely.

Like a good bonfire,
leave no trace of yourself.

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi



Before you can enter one of the gates of Zen,
You must strip yourself of egoistic ideas.

If you think you can reason out
The final truth with your brain,
Why do you not do it?

Once you begin your work in Zen,
Do not turn to the left or to the right
But keep going straight ahead.

Master Nyogen Senzake




In the world there are many types
of material and spiritual contamination.

Since Buddha said that minds create everything,
they can pollute and therefore purify the world.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



Prayer for depression

Just as the soft rains fill the streams,
pour into the rivers and join together in the oceans,

so may the power of every moment of your goodness
flow forth to awaken and heal all beings.

Dharma Teacher



If you haven't wept deeply,
you haven't begun to meditate.

Master Ajhan Chah



Every being has value and privileges for its existence.
This is the beauty of life in the universe.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices,

I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent.

Master Hakuin (1686 - 1768)



There are many sufferings in life.

Those who are always grateful,
Have great wisdom.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



Birth and death don’t affect you;
You are free to go or stay.

You needn’t seek wonders,
For wonders come of themselves.

Master Linji



A person cannot directly choose his circumstances,
but he can choose his thoughts,
and so indirectly, yet surely,
shape his circumstances.

Dharma Teacher



If you put down one thought,
That will be one instance of Buddha mind.

If you put down all thoughts,
Then you will have continuous Buddha mind.

Dharma Teacher



Blessings and wisdom cannot be beseeched,
but gained by taking real personal actions.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



Worldly people who do not understand me
Call me by my worldly name of Old Zhou.

You invite me to a seven-day religious feast,
But the feast of meditation knows no end.

Master Huixu (431 - 499)



Excessive thinking
Weakens the will.

The more you know,
The more your mind
Is confused.

A confused mind gives
Rise to vexation.

The weakened will
Obstructs the Way.

Shih Wang Ming (6th century)



Calming the mind

Too much knowledge
Leads to overactivity;
Better to calm the mind.

The more you consider,
The greater the loss;
Better to unify the mind.

Shih Wang Ming (6th century)



Those who are not looking for happiness
are the most likely to find it.

That because those who are seeking
forget that the surest way to be happy
is to seek happiness for others.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Who do you think YOU are?
You are the other person.

Dhyana Master Thich Nhat Hanh



If you are a Christian, you feel that Jesus Christ is your home.
It's very comfortable to think of Jesus as your home.

If you are a Buddhist, then it's very nice to think of the Buddha as your home.
Your home is available in the here and the now.

Christ is there, the Buddha is there.
The practice is how to touch them, how to touch your home.
You call Christ "the Living Christ,"
so you cannot believe that Christ is only someone who lived in the past,
and is no longer there.
He is ever-present. Your practice is how to touch him; he is your home.

If you are a Buddhist, you practice very much in the same way.
You invoke the name of the Buddha as one of the ways to touch the Buddha,
because you know that he is your home.

The living Christ, the living Buddha is your home.
But the living Christ is not only a notion, or an idea.
He must be a reality.
This is true for the living Buddha, too.

How can you recognize the presence of the living Christ or the living Buddha?
This is your practice.

Dhyana Master Thich Nhat Hanh



Give back my father, give back my mother;
Give grandpa back, grandma back;
Give me my sons and daughters back.

Give me back myself.
Give back the human race.
As long as this life lasts, this life,

Give back peace
That will never end.

Toge Sankichi

There is not a Way to Peace,
Peace is the Way.

Dhyana Master Thich Nhat Hanh



What Is true in this moment?

Honesty can be cultivated
by transforming your inner language.

For example, you might think:
"I am no good" or "They are not good."

Is this true?
For some strange reason,
people want to wallow in the idea of being
either the best or the worst.

What is true in this moment?
How close can we get to the reality of our experiences?

Martine Batchelor, "Meditation For Life"



How does one observe delusion?

Q: I can observe anger and work with greed,
but how does one observe delusion?

A: You're riding a horse and asking,
"Where's the horse?" Pay attention.

Master Ajahn Chah



When suddenly awakened,
although you are the same as Buddha,
the energy of many lifetimes of habits is deep seated.

Though the wind stops,
the waves still billow;
though noumenon is manifest,
thoughts still invade.

How can we neglect subsequent cultivation
because of a single awakening?

Master Chinul (1158-1210)



All my life I taught Zen to the people
Nine and seventy years.

Who he sees not things as they are
Will never know Zen.

Enni Ben'en (1201-1280)



Never believe that daily work is not spiritual cultivation.

To work with an easy mind is to gain wisdom,
Which is the achievement of spiritual cultivation.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



The most precious gift you can give
the one you love is your true presence.

What must we do to really be there?

Those who have practiced Buddhist meditation
know that meditating is above all being present:
to yourself, to those you love, to life.

Master Thich Nhat Hanh



Plain water

The water a cow laps turns into milk.
The water a snake licks changes into poison.

What are you turning what you touch into?

Zen saying



The vagaries of life
Though painful,
Teach us
Not to cling
To this fleeting world.

Ikkyu (1394-1481)



The Human Route

Coming empty-handed, going empty-handed -- that is human.
When you are born, where do you come from?
When you die, where do you go?

Life is like a floating cloud which appears.
Death is like a floating cloud which disappears.
The floating cloud itself originally does not exist.
Life and death, coming and going, are also like that.

But there is one thing which always remains clear.
It is pure and clear, not depending on life and death.

Then what is the one pure and clear thing?

Master Seung Sahn Sunim



When we say, "I take refuge in the Buddha,"
we should also understand that "The Buddha takes refuge in me,"
because without the second part the first part is not complete.

The Buddha needs us for awakening, understanding,
and love to be real things and not just concepts.

They must be real things that have real effects on life.
Whenever I say, "I take refuge in the Buddha,"
I hear, "The Buddha takes refuge in me."

Dhyana Master Thich Nhat Hanh, "Being Peace"



Something has existed
Before heaven and earth;

Shapeless and silent
In its origin,
Yet the master of
Every image and form.

It can never wither
With the passing of time.

Master Bankei (1622-1693)



As long as any living being draws breath,
Wherever he shall be,
There, in compassion,
Will the Buddha appear,

Master Ngon Tok Gyen



Don’t worry.
The Light of Eternity
Is like green mountains
And flowing water.

Master Seung Sahn Sunim’s last words
November 30th 2004



People say that human beings are microcosms
and this outer universe a macrocosm,

but for us the outer is a tiny wholeness
and the inner life the vast reality.




With my words

Experimenting the non-ego
Means to find out, not what I shall be or have been,
But what I actually am, since ever.

Sandro – Meditation teacher



Vibrating within
The ear are many voices.

But their origin
Has a source which may be called
The sound of no sound.

Master Takuan (1573-1645)



To be truly free from attachment
is to reach a stage of swallowing insults
as no insults.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



No one doubts that he exists,
though he may doubt the existence of God.

If you find out the truth about yourself
and discover your own source,
that is all that is required.

Ramana Maharshi



Just to be there
in the corner of the garden
is enough.

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi



Those who see worldly life as an obstacle to Dharma,
see no Dharma in everyday actions.

They have not yet discovered
that there are no everyday actions outside of Dharma.

Master Dogen



What is the normal mind?

Master Tung-shan was asked.

"The normal mind is the way;
what is the normal mind?"

He replied,

"Not picking things up along the road."

From “Teachings of Zen”



All Buddhas and all ordinary beings
are nothing but the one mind.

This mind is beginningless and endless,
unborn and indestructible.

It has no color or shape,
neither exists nor doesn't exist,
isn't old or new, long or short, large or small,
since it transcends all measures,
limits, names, and comparisons.

It is what you see in front of you.

Master Huang-po Hsi-yun (?-849)



Where there is commitment,
there is strength.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



The successive existences in a series of rebirths
are not like the pearls in a pearl necklace,
held together by a string, the Soul,
which passes through all the pearls;
rather they are like dice piled one on top of the other.

Each die is separate, but it supports the one above it,
with which it is functionally connected.
Between the dice there is no identity, but conditionality.

H. W. Schumann



Forgive and be free.

Forget that you have forgiven
and be freer.

Lord Buddha



I am an orphan alone;
nevertheless I am found everywhere.
I am one, but opposed to myself.
I am youth and old man at one and the same time.

I have known neither father nor mother,
because I have had to be fetched out of the deep like a fish,
or fell like a white stone from heaven.

In woods and mountains I roam,
but I am hidden in the
innermost soul of man.

I am mortal for everyone,
yet I am not touched by the cycle of aeons.

Carl G. Jung



Anger will never disappear
so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind.

Anger will disappear
just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.

The Lord Buddha



Your Life

With unfailing kindness,
your life always presents
what you need to learn.

Charlotte Joko Beck



With little desire and much compassion,
life can be joyful and worry-free.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



Collective Karma

The world of today is no longer the world of yesterday,
when each country, each group of people,
could live separately.

Our karma now has come together, has become collective karma.
Now the action of one group affects the other group.
We must choose to suffer together
or be happy together,
be alive together or be destroyed together.

Excerpt from The Raft Is Not the Shore
by Master Thich Nhat Hanh and Daniel Berrigan



Whatever joy there is in this world,
All comes from desiring others to be happy,

And whatever suffering there is in this world,
All comes from desiring myself to be happy.




From Where Did This Come Forth?

A monk asked,
"The mountains, the rivers, and the great earth,
from where did all of these things come forth?"

Tiantai said,
"From where did this question come forth?"

Ch’an Master



To do all of the good is teaching.
To do none of the bad is precepts.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen



Your daily life
is your temple
and your religion.

Kahlil Gibran



Karma is only one of the causes
of what is happening around us.

It would be unwise to blame
on our past karma for everything.

Dharma Teacher



The outer work will never be puny
if the inner work is great.

Meister Eckhart



The ways of proclaiming
The Mind all vary,

But the same heavenly truth
Can be seen
In each and every one.

Ikkyu (1394-1481)



There are no idle thoughts.
All thoughts have an energetic consequence.

Dr. Kurt Ebert



If you haven’t attained clear, true vision,
This causes you to lapse into extremes,
So that you lose contact with reality.

Yuan wu (1063-1135)



What I call perfection of seeing
Is not seeing others,
But oneself.

Chuang-tzu (3rd cent BC)





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