Zen Filter

Zen Buddhist websites, news, and discussion

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Zen Poetry

Summer grasses:
all that remains of great soldiers’
imperial dreams

Friday, April 29, 2005

Buddhist talks online

Real Media and MP3 format. Talks include Mental Suffering and Loving Kindness (Metta)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Nature of the Zen Path

A good short discussion of what Zen is and how it started.

Taking refuge within oneself is a manifestation of taking refuge in the three jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. We are all Buddhas, but we have not yet realized this. This realization is the goal of our practice. A first step is to realize that we all have a Buddha nature. This is the Buddha within us, our true identity, our Self. Thus, to take refuge in the Buddha is to take refuge in our Selves. This we learn from the practice of Ch'an. Our primary means of attaining this goal is our Ch'an meditation.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Zen Koans: Transcending Duality

Some koans to start your day right.
Unmon said: "I do not ask you about fifteen days ago. But what about fifteen days hence? Come, say a word about this!" Since none of the monks answered, he answered for them: "Every day is a good day."

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Zen Talk - Silence Mind and Disturbance Mind

Good article.

'Silence mind' is not Zen. If we abide in silence mind, it soon breaks. Trying to stay in this mind of silence can be a source of confusion or disturbance. When we do Zen, the appearance is that we are supposed to be silent. Zen is the mind where both silence and disturbance is cut off. So from the outside it might look like silence but on the inside of someone doing Zen, it’s not silence either. We have to know this in order to practice correctly.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Second Paramita - Robert Aitken on the Precepts (springhillzen.org)

A good short article by Robert Aitken

This formation that is me, flowing along, eating and adapting and adopting, is the same formation that is you, with very small variations in our combination of genes and experience that give us our uniqueness. This uniqueness is our own personal potential, and we depend upon each other for sustenance to fulfill it.

There are many other good articles at this site, although they have a thing for right justifying the text.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Faozan soothes with 'Zen' filmmaking - The Jakarta Post

A Zen influenced filmmaker's new film.

The film's director, 32-year-old Faozan Rizal, defines his first full-length feature film as 'a meditation of a relationship'. There is no script, no preconceived structure.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Zen Philosophy

A good "intro to Zen" type of article.

Zen says that if we entertain no personal version of what we think existence is, in other words, if we hold no subjective interpretation of what existence is, at the moment we are free of any notion at all, we will experience existence instantaneously, spontaneously.

Do you see this point? Zen says that we don’t really experience existence, because we are too busy experiencing our own subjective, version of existence.

How then can we experience existence itself? If we don’t create existence, then existence simply IS. The problem is, that we are usually trying to create our own model of the world. Whatever existence we create, it will be an extremely limited view, and that isn’t existence itself.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Semantics and Zen

My advice is, if you want to read this, cut and paste it into your word processor. The green background and centering of all text will drive you bonkers. Here's a little bit, minus the green and center tags.
Semantics tells us that to define is to lim it. It is thus easy to see that the Zen (not being limited by concepts) experience cannot be comprehended by the limitation involved in definition. The experience of Zen is beyond words and so is also beyond intellectual understanding or verbal communication. If one is to comprehend Zen, a "new" non-verbal world will be unveiled. Using words to explain Zen is a sublte process. In the words of Zen interpreter Alan Watts (1957, p. 14), "A proper exposition of Zen should tease us out of thought and leave the mind like an open window instead of stained glass."

It is not surprising to find that the goals of both Semantics and Zen are very similar. Both are vitally concernted with development of full human potentialities. What is the basic aim of Zen?

Welcome to Zen Baby (?!?)

Yes, the endless marketing of products with the name "Zen" tossed on knows no end, or beginning. Now even babies are getting the Zen marketing treatment. At least this time there is some (slight) relationship between Zen and the product. My fear though is that this will lead to a line of Zen Diapers. ;)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Zen Humor

A quick article on humor and Zen.

'Laughter,' wrote one author, 'is breaking through the intellectual barrier; at the moment of laughing something is understood.'
Zen humor does exactly that. Whether it be a Zen koan, one of those questions which the rational mind cannot solve, or, a captivating Zen story, when we laugh at these, we go from a chuckle 'ha-ha' to comprehension 'ah-ha!'

Then there's The Tragic Comedy of Zen, a sort of web poem.
And, inevitably, there's Zen and the Art of Stand-Up Comedy

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

John Tarrant: The Koan Mu (Mumonkan Case #1)

A nice discussion of the famouse Mu koan.
If we are asking about the purpose of life, the answer will be interesting only insofar as it is useful and will be useful only when it throws us onto our own resources, and into an awareness of our own participation in the fate of living creatures.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Taking the Path of Zen by Robert Aitken

I just finished this book, and it's excellent. Aitken definitely has a gift for explaining things in a clear manner. I agreed with this Amazon review:
This is a Zen book for the beginning Zen practitioner, by which I mean someone who has already decided to try zazen meditation practice and may have been practicing for a few weeks or months. . . . [A]s one who had finally tired of reading cookbooks and hungered for the meal, this book pointed me in the right direction (or, at least, ONE right direction) and helps me actually "cook," so to speak.
I also found this quote from the section on Zen and Ethics very interesting:
Perfection of character comes with the realization of a pure mind, but as Hui-neng said, with an ordinary thought you are (again) an ordinary person. Practice in daily life is the same as practice on your cushions: check your ordinary thoughts of greed, hatred, and ignorance and return to your original, pure mind. Like Zen study generally, character change is a lifetime work. And to return to Yamada Roshi's words, Zen study is character change.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Books to Read

Yes, another Zen book list.
Some are good for beginners, some are more subtle. All have opened Dharma gates for me in my Zen practice.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Zen Comics by Ioanna Salajan

I just finished reading this fun book of Zen comics, then I read it to my 6 year old and she loved it as much as I did. This review at Amazon puts it well:
This is a great little collection of zen comics.

Most of the stories involve the old monk and his #1 disciple learning about what zen means. The stories last only a few panels, are often humerous, and almost always end with some enlightening piece of advice for the moment.

Salajan's art is very simple and reminiscent of japanese calligraphy. The style complements the subject very well.
Check it out. It's probably the most accessible Zen book I've ever read.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Zen Homeschooling, Peace Education, Reading Literacy, Multicultural Education, Homeschool Curriculum

Zen Home School offers secular education tools for Parents, Teachers, and Children of all ages and cultures.


Friday, April 15, 2005

101 Zen Stories

Here's a good one:
The Dead Man's Answer

When Mamiya, who later became a well-known preacher, went to a teacher for personal guidance, he was asked to explain the sound of one hand.

Mamiya concentrated upon what the sound of one hand might be. "You are not working hard enough," his teacher told him. "You are too attached to food, wealth, things, and that sound. It would be better if you died. That would solve the problem."

The next time Mamiya appeared before his teacher he was again asked what he had to show regarding the sound of one hand. Mamiya at once fell over as if he were dead.

"You are dead all right," observed the teacher. "But how about that sound?"

"I haven't solved that yet," replied Mamiya, looking up.

"Dead men do not speak," said the teacher. "Get out!"

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Diamond Sangha Reading List (scroll down after clicking)

This reading list caught my eye since the first book on it is Robert Aitken's "Taking the Path of Zen" which I'm currently reading and enjoying. They say:

Keep this book close to hand and refer to it often. It is a many-layered and detailed overview of Zen training. Even after years you will find new treasures each time you re-read it.

I have to agree.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Empty Bowl: random free-verse haiku sketches of an uneventful life

A new one each day. Here's a nice one.

Cuddling up at the base of a warm battery recharger, two cockroaches

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Finding the peace within us

Psychologists are using meditation for their patients and themselves.

Once just a ritual of the monastery, today meditation is mainstream, and some psychologists are embracing the practice on several levels. Not only do more psychologists study it, use it in interventions and recommend it to patients, some practice it themselves as a self-care technique.

For many more links on the same topic, see As Zen Replaces the Id.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Metafilter post: Teachings of the Dalai Lama: some are available online alongside texts by other Buddhist monks.

A rare Buddhism post at Metafilter. Lots of links.

Excerpt from The Tao of Physics

Discusses Zen and how Taoism combined with Buddhism
More than any other school of Eastern mysticism, Zen is convinced that words can never express the ultimate truth. it must have inherited this conviction from Taoism, which showed the same uncompromising attitude. "If one asks about the Tao and another answers him," said Chuang Tzu, "neither of them knows it."'

Yet the Zen experience can be passed on from teacher to pupil, and it has, in fact, been transmitted for many centuries by special methods proper to Zen. In a classic summary of four lines, Zen is described as:

A special transmission outside the scriptures,
Not founded upon words and letters,
Pointing directly to the human mind,
Seeing into one's nature and attaining Buddhahood.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Zen Path through Depression

I haven't read this book, but there are some excerpts on the linked page for those who are interested.
In dealing with the pain of depression -- or of being alive -- it is necessary first to accept the pain and to stop trying to run from it. Its orgins, causes, and solutions are not as important as our acceptance of it and our intimacy with it.

Meditation gives us a great opportunity to do this. In making a commitment to a meditation practice, we also commit ourselves to try not to run from the pain, but instead to explore and investigate it.

When we investigate, we begin to see how we judge our pain, and how we react to it.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Psychology Today: Happy Hour

Interesting article about how the older you get the more focused you are on the moment, and therefore the happier you are.

Carstensen and her team are now studying Buddhist meditators, to see how their practice alters their perception of time. Her theory is that meditation may cultivate a mind-set similar to an old person's, since it shuts out thoughts of the past and the future in favor of the present. 'The religion is centered around the fact that we could die at any moment,' she says.

Zen and Science

The empirical core of Zen is zazen, or sitting meditation. The primary article of faith in Zen is that by regularly performing zazen one will eventually experience the same direct understanding and awakening the Buddha experienced when he became enlightened. This is not to say that people who do not practice zazen can get nothing out of Zen, or that other practices cannot have similar effects.

The Buddha emphasized the direct experimental approach, encouraging people to see things for themselves rather than just taking his word for things.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Dharma of Star Wars

A new book for you Star Wars fans. I haven't read it, but it sounds interesting.
Bortolin, an ordained member of Thich Nhat Hanh's Buddhist community, may be the ideal person to write about the Buddhist themes in Star Wars: he camped out for tickets to all of the movies—even the less than stellar ones—and possesses his very own set of Jedi robes. In short, consistent chapters, Bortolin explores themes such as suffering, mindfulness, karma and transcending the dark side
Along the same lines is Jedi-Shinshu: The Buddhist Heart of Star Wars

Zen and the art of body maintenance

I came into Zen by accident. I had been meditating for some years - using meditation to help me manage chronic pain - pain that effects my life deeply. I came to know that I needed a Sangha to meditate with - though of course I did not know the name Sangha then. A lovely neighbour, Bruno, invited me to the Monday night sit at the Maitai Zendo and I happily accepted and went along. I thought it pretty strange; all that chanting, bell ringing, bowing, and prostrations - very weird. I have never been religious, indeed I am quite contemptuous of people who have found religion. I did not want anyone telling me the answers, I wanted my own reality, my own discoveries.

However I stuck to it, I was not managing my pain well at the time and I guess I was open to new things. I surprised myself a little by continuing to go, and now find myself a regular.

Read the rest here

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Zen Physics - The Science of Death, the Logic of Reincarnation: introduction

Interesting article. Put on your thinking cap.

Two main conclusions will be presented, both of which are remarkable and both of which, were it not for the force of evidence supporting them, might seem entirely beyond belief. The first is that a form of reincarnation is logically inescapable. There must be life after death. And there must, moreover, be a continuity of consciousness, so that no sooner have you died in this life than you begin again in some other. The second and even more significant conclusion is that far from giving rise to consciousness, the brain actually restricts it. Mind, it will become clear, is a fundamental and all-pervasive property of the universe.

All Things Zen

Almost everybody that reads a little about Zen starts thinking that NOTHING exists because everything is inherently empty, so what we perceive as reality must be delusion. But emptiness is the absence of independent existence. What that means is SOMETHING must exist and one of the qualifications of that existence is emptiness...the absence of independent existence is only possible because there is SOMETHING that exists...otherwise there would be no 'need' for the absence of independent existence, and if there was no absence of independent existence, then everything would not be empty.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Zen Nature of Fractal Art

I was thinking about Zen and fractals lately and came across this:
My theory is that enlightenment can be obtained through the introspective exploration of fractals. What can be truer than the fundamentals of mathematics? We know that we can add and multiply, subtract and divide for infinity and aren’t these the basic fundamental laws that hold reality as we know it together at the seams? We can see the principles of polarity at work in fractal mathematics, positives and negatives work together, not in opposition or conflict, but a united whole. Through studying fractals, we can better understand our state of existence in a physical world in which infinity can be explained and explored, yet exist just within the realms of our mental grasp.
Also of interest is this page of Buddhist Fractal Art.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Instant Zen: Waking Up in the Present

I've been reading Instant Zen, which is worth a read. Here is a little quote:
Have you not read how Touzi asked Cuiwei, "Can I hear the secret message of Zen?" Cuiwei stood and looked around. Touzi said, "I don't understand the hidden statement; please give me another indication." Cuiwei said, "You want to get soused with a second ladle of foul water?" Touzi was thereupon enlightened.
You people have not attained the experience, so you miss quite a few good things in the course of a day. That is why I say the original Zen masters are real true friends. The path of the original Zen masters is like the bright sun in the blue sky -- why are there people losing the way?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Zen and the Art of Pest Control

With the warming weather comes my old friends, the ants. I could almost ignore them if they weren't so determined to get into my cereal. That is sacred ground. So I've been hunting about the Internet for a Zen like way to send them packing. I thought the information I found might be helpful to others. So far the best links are Any ideas for natural bug control? and All-Natural Ant Repellent. In particular, I found this interesting:
Connect with the deva of the ants and ask what their gift is to you. Our nature friends always show up to give us gifts; we just think they are pests instead of guests! Ant represents diligence, focus on the task in front of you, teamwork. Admirable qualities, all, and perhaps part of their gift to you.

While you are talking with them, explain that you appreciate them, and that it's not OK for them to be in your home. If there is a place on your land where it's OK for them to be, let them know that and give them permission to go there. Treat them as you would an honored and respected guest. Most likely, they were on the land where you reside before you were, so there is some question about who is invading whose territory!

When I've worked with "pests" in this way, they have always respected my request if I was truly coming from my heart. All of life appreciates appreciation, and simply wants to be heard. Lend them an ear, and make a clear request of them. Chances are, they will do as you ask.

If you have any other ideas or comments, let me know.

Food for Thought - Zen Friends Vol.16-1

Short article about Zen and food.

To keep ourselves alive, we sacrifice other lives of animals and plants. Keeping this in mind should make the worst gourmands respect the things they eat. This is a very serious matter.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Notes in Samsara: Prominent American Buddhists: The strange case of Dr. Lenz...

As mentioned in the comments to my Big Mind post a while back, this article digs deeper into "The strange case of Dr. Lenz"

While he's been dead for a few years, the story Frederick Lenz is another cautionary tale for those that would consider taking up a study of the Dharma.

Lenz was, as I read it, a narcissist and exploited those around him. And his espousal of Buddhism seemed to have done little to affect his own day to day behavior.

This is just one of many interesting articles at Notes in Samsara.

The Zen of Desktop Management

Is Zen anti-multitasking? According to this article, yes:

The findings are interesting, but not exactly new news. A first-century Chinese Zen master put it like this: When walking, just walk. When sitting, just sit. Above all, don't wobble.

In fact, the essence of Zen Buddhism might be concisely if inelegantly stated as no more multitasking. Practitioners say that having a Zen-like attitude at work requires 'being in the moment,' focusing on one task without thinking about all the others that also require your attention.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Zen Master Back Home

Another article about Thich Nhat Hanh's visit to Vietnam

In a country that has gone through many decades of war, there must be a lot of suspicion and fear and hate and violence in their way of thinking. The purpose of my visit is to decrease that level of fear and suspicion. ... The seeds that you plant will sprout in the future

Saved From Freezing - Tricycle

The world and the self really do appear to us as frozen. Our personal problems, our self-definitions, what we hear from those around us—all these convincing and compelling experiences invite us to clutch at concepts, positions, worries. We naturally build vast structures of ice to hold in place the world and the self, chilly and confined. But the experience of art can shake us free of all that. Art can save us from freezing.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Novelist takes Zen trip to time-warped soul of America

Zen writer talks about life, Zen, and writing.

'When I came here, I was 40, I had no job, I hadn't finished a single book, I had no visible prospects, and I was living somewhat of a bohemian life,' says Murphy, who met his British wife, Tania Casselle, in Taos. 'Ironically, it was my Zen teachers who really encouraged my writing. I was hiding out on the fringes of society, digging in my heels, and they pushed me out of the nest.'

Small-Firm Life: The Zen of Photocopying

Not really about Zen. Or is it?

As a waiter while in college, I once worked for an amazing chef named Starr Boggs whose favorite expression was 'everything is everything.' If a dishwasher fell behind, he would start scrubbing pots. Both aspiring and experienced chefs lined up to work for Starr. Why? Because he gave the same joy and attention to scrubbing pots that he did to spending a morning at a farm vegetable stand getting inspired by the sweet scent of fresh peas.

Suffering, Evil and Zen

Zen does not try to explain suffering or evil or the ultimate realities of life. How then does zen respond? By appropriate and compassionate action. Why is there suffering? So that you may respond to it. Why do I suffer? So that I may bear it. You are called, and you respond to the call. You come to be yourself only in this call and response.
Interesting article

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