Zen Filter

Zen Buddhist websites, news, and discussion

Friday, September 30, 2005

Dharma Talk by Zen Master Seung Sahn ~ Great Question

An excerpt from the book I'm currently reading, The Compass of Zen, which I highly recommend:

Practicing with 'What am I?' is called keeping a Great Question. We must practice with the mind of one who desperately needs even one cup of water to keep from dying. All our energy is completely focused on one point and doesn't move at all.

What is Zen

Another What is Zen page, this one from the Su Bong Zen Monastery:

What am I ?

Today this world has many problems and fightings. This is because we
don't understand our true self.

Nowadays many people only keep their opinion. They say 'I am right, you are wrong.' Zen is put down our opinion. Then you can perceive and experience clearly. Working time, just work. Eating time, just eat.

Zen practice is make our everyday mind clear. When you see red light, stop. Green light appear, then go. This is correct situation, correct relationship, and correct function. If everyone of us can keep this mind moment to moment, everything will be in harmony.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hurricane Haiku

Beautiful flowers
Bloom from natures ravishes
Life begins again

Ji Bong Zen Master - Transmission Speech

Nice, if slightly meandering, talk:

I began this talk with the story about Buddha holding up a flower. He didn't hold that flower up just for the crowd at Vulture's Peak; Buddha held up that flower for this assembly, too. If our eyes are open and we can perceive directly that flower, it will never wilt, and it will last for ten thousand kalpas. The only thing that makes Buddha's flower wilt is if we check it, want it, think about it, analyze it. Then we will surely kill it. If we just perceive the flower, then we get everything. Mahakashyapa smiled: how wonderful!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Silence Mind and Disturbance Mind by Venerable Hyunoong Sunim

Interesting Zen talk:

Because when we do Zen we sit quietly, some imagine we are supposed to be silent inside too. For most people, because they begin their Zen practice with this misunderstanding, they find the practice difficult. But for someone who understands the practice correctly, they don't get caught in silence or disturbance; so they just go directly to their awakened nature. This Zen nature is referred to as 'miraculous awareness.'

This awareness exists in each one of us. But because we are attached to ideas of silence and disturbance, our mind goes back and forth between being silent, being complex, being silent, being disturbed.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Zen for Everyday Living by Tu Hoang

Interesting view of Zen from a Zen newbie:

So it is easy for us all to be stressed. We look forward to 'going out', meeting up with friends, shopping, weekends when we can retreat to our homes, spending time with the new baby and all the other little moments that give us pleasure before we re-immerse ourselves into the immense displeasure of the daily drone. Life seems like a cycle of seeking pleasure, in material things, in business success or in personal relationships in order to stem the displeasures of circumstance.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Finger is not the Moon by Zen-Master Zensho

Really look, leave everything just as it is, stop running about like frightened chickens, and see things the way they are! When you leave everything just as it is, you no longer try to make everything fit into the mold of conceptual fixation, the mold of your old accustomed way of viewing things. You no longer distort situations and things with your recollections, with the contents of your memory of a dead past, and you no longer mistake your projections for the things themselves.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Steve’s view from 198cm

Green Way by Mike Garofalo.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hazy Moon Zen Center of Los Angeles - Dharma Talks

Some MP3's of Dharma talks.
Featured Talk:
What is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from the West?

Zen Moon Indoor Water Fountain - $28.99 - The Indoor Water Fountains Company

More Zen and the art of marketing. Here, "Zen" means relaxing. Or perhaps it means UL listed.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Where are you going?

Since Zen Buddhism teaches the pupil to live in the moment, where are you going, despite having many connotations, according to Zen would place you in the moment that is doing only what you are doing. However, can it have other manifestations, such as the road to enlightenment, the journey of life or even going insane? So where are you going and what does it mean to you?

Zen Koans - AshidaKim.com:

"89. Zen Dialogue

Zen teachers train their young pupils to express themselves. Two Zen temples each had a child prot�g�. One child, going to obtain vegetables each morning, would meet the other on the way.

'Where are you going?' asked the one.

'I am going wherever my feet go,' the other responded.

This reply puzzled the first child who went to his teacher for help. 'Tomorrow morning,' the teacher told him, 'when you meet that little fellow, ask him the same question. He will give you the same answer, and then you ask him: 'Suppose you have no feet, then where are you going?' That will fix him.'
The children met again the following morning.
'Where are you going?' asked the first child.
'I am going wherever the wind blows,' answered the other.
This again nonplussed the youngster, who took his defeat to the teacher.
Ask him where he is going if there is no wind,' suggested the teacher.
The next day the children met a third time.
'Where are you going?' asked the first child.
'I am going to the market to buy vegetables,' the other replied."

More Zen marketing: Zen Colors - yarn

I guess in this case Zen means "multi-colored".

This is Samsara: An Interview with Tenzin Palm

Another article from this months Mountain Record, this one by Bethany Senkyu Saltman, an interview with one of the first Tibetan Nuns Tenzin Palm. Within the interview the author and Tenzin Palm talk about Karma and rebirth, and past lives, from the point of view of their own traditions.

...from the point of view of the relative world [rather than emptiness], merit is very important. Because merit clears away obstacles. Why do some people, when they want to practice, keep coming against problems and difficulties, and obstacles — inner obstacles and outer obstacles? It’s because of the lack of merit...

Mondo: Samadhi and Zazen

An excellent article by John Daido Loori, Roshi, from the Mountain Record Journal on the relationship between Samadhi and Zazen and on the nature of each.

To really appreciate the true nature of practice, you need to see the non-duality of process and goal. Process — practice — and enlightenment — goal — are non-dual. Practice is enlightenment.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Mind is Buddha, A Talk by William Nyogen Yeo, Roshi

Interesting talk:
please remember that realization is not enough; we must actualize our realization and make it the reality of our day-to-day experience. If we don't, it will simply turn into fantasy and conceptual understanding. A conceptual understanding of the Dharma is worthless; unfortunately, this is where most people settle. How sad it is to miss this rare opportunity to practice and actualize true Dharma.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Zen Readings

Concentration and insight go hand in hand, Cocentration allows a person to have insight.

September 2005 Journal - Zen Readings: "
On The Way

The Cooperation of Concentration and Insight

Yung-ming (905-976)

In Zen and the Teachings there are two methods, most honored of the myriad practices of ten perfections. At first they are called stopping and seeing, to help new learners; later they become concentration and wisdom, roots of enlightenment...Link"

Monday, September 19, 2005

Zen and Basic Buddhism

As a follow up to the post below, I'm adding this one, which tries to harmonize some Zen ideas regarding the 4 Noble Truths with more traditional ideas. More food for thought (or meditation):

Many Mahayana sutras regard these Four Noble Truths as merely provincial truths taught to monks whose spiritual development was not mature enough to comprehend the truths later associated with Mahayana Buddhism. This, however, seem to be a very unproductive sectarian approach to the matter. Instead, a more positive approach is to see how these truths can be harmonized with Mahayana teachings, which for our purpose means Zen.

Zen teaches that as human beings we suffer and suffer profoundly. In Zen what makes us human is our dual consciousness, which is to say we have a mind split between subject and object consciousness. We can know ourselves as objects, but never as subjects. Thus we are inherently existential self-alienated and suffering beings. In this regard, Zen is in agreement with the First Noble Truth. Zen, however, does not see the origin of our suffering as due to our desires so much as it does to our failure to be aware of our already present, though unmanifested, Buddhahood which in Zen this means no separate or independent soul or self (anatman).

The Four Noble Truths

Another Zen Buddhism primer; this one uses the old monkey trap analogy to explain attachment:

How can attachment bring us suffering?
We just have to think of chocolate and there is the temptation of eating more than is good for us.
Or as example, my favourite story: the way people used to catch monkeys in South India.

One takes a coconut and makes a hole in it, just large enough that a monkey can squeeze its hand in. Next, tie the coconut down, and put a sweet inside. What happens next is pure attachment. The monkey smells the sweet, puts his hand into the coconut, grabs the sweet and ... the hole is too small to let a fist out of the coconut. The last thing a monkey would consider is to let go of the sweet, so it is literally tied down by its own attachment. Often they only let go when they fall asleep or become unconscious because of exhaustion.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Zen Master Su Bong - What have we got to hold onto in this life?

Interesting discussion:

Q: Recently a lot of us have been learning about the medical consequences of a nuclear war. My question is, if you have a friend who is drowning or if you're aware that a nuclear bomb can wipe out all your friends, what is the correct thing to do?

ZMSB: You must practice very hard.

Q: But if you are sitting on the shore, practicing very hard, then your friend will drown.

ZMSB: If you are practicing very hard, then you will be able to jump into the ocean and save your friend - no problem. This life is very funny. What do we want? We say we want to attain our true self. We say we want to attain freedom from life and death, to save all sentient beings. That's what we say we want as Zen students. Not only Zen students, but other people say this. But if you want to do that, then you must really do that.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Zen of No Enlightenment

Click through for some poems, such as:
There is no-one who's enlightened.
Thinking is a rotten tree.
Truth is thinnest of thin air.
Poetry is Look-at-me !

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Flickr: Photos tagged with zen

Some Zen related pictures from Flickr.com. Here are a few thumbnails:

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Chickens Suffer - from Savage Chickens by Doug Savage

Zen Philosophy

Interesting intro to Zen:

Zen means waking up to the present moment. That is, perceiving this moment exactly as it is, rather than through the filter of our ideas, opinions, etc. One way to practice this is to ask yourself a Big Question, such as 'What am I?' If you ask such a question strongly and sincerely, what appears is 'Don't Know.' This don't-know is before thinking. If you keep it moment to moment, then everything is clear. Then, each moment, whatever you're doing, just do it. When you're sitting, just sit; when you're eating, just eat; and so on. According to Zen, existence is found in the silence of the mind (no-mind), beyond the chatter of our internal dialog. Existence, from the Zen perspective is something that is only happening spontaneously, and it is not just our thoughts. All of life that we perceive is constantly in a state of change. Every atom in the universe is somewhere different every millionth of a second.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Fukanzazengi : A zen commentary by Mike Cross

The beating of the heart is the truth, the singing of birds is the truth. The universal force of gravity is the truth, and the natural response to gravity of a human organism on planet earth is also the truth. In us and all around us, these truths are always being realized. We need not try to get anything.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Raihai Tokuzui: Bowing and Aquiring the Essence

Another of Dogen zenji's texts, this one on finding a teacher and sincerity and faith.

Sakyamuni Buddha said:
“When you meet a teacher who presents complete Awakening, do not be concerned with family or nation, appearance, faults, or behaviours. Rather, if you value her wisdom, you should provide offerings every day of a million coins of gold. Offer food fit for the shining beings. Three times daily you should honour him, and never cause him to be troubled by you. If you do this then the Way of Awakening will be maintained. Since I first gave rise to the mind which seeks the Way [3] up until now, this is how I have practiced, and thus I have realized unexcelled Awakening.”

Learning Ancient Languages - Imagining Contemporary Koans - by Jill Bukkai Washburn

Discussion of Koan study over the years:

I didn't really understand much of this a dozen years ago, but over time I have learned what it is to stand firmly amidst, not against, a changeable reality, using points of reference first discovered in zazen and sanzen. I have an unshakeable confidence in the value of seeking experience beyond known limits. The koan is becoming not only imagined but occasionally workable.

Koans | MetaFilter

There's a discussion of favorite Koans on Metafilter, with a sprinkling of good links.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Second Paramita - by Robert Aitken, Roshi

Text of a talk by Robert Aitken, the author of Taking the Path of Zen among other good Zen books:

Each centre in our multi-centred universe is dependent in this way. Nothing abides and we find that everything is fundamentally insubstantial -- shunyata, emptiness. It is not a vacuum that we perceive, but the absence of a fixed self in ourselves and in the multitudinous things of the universe. With this perception, or with an understanding that such an experience is possible, we glimpse the Dharma: the peace of the fathomless void and the harmony of the many centres as they flow about and through each other - out there and as this 'me'.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Manual of Zen

Buddhanet ebooks' present Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki's Zen Manual.

A wonderful text that was written to inform lay persons about the literary materials relating to monastic life. The text contains Gathas and Prayers and a set of the Sutras most read in Zen, those being:
Shingyo (Pranjnaparamitahridaya)
Kwanongyo (Samantamukha-parivata)
Kongokyo (Vajracchedika)
Ryoga (Lankavatara)

The manual also contains literature from Chinese and Japanese Zen Masters. The Manual concludes with a description of the Statues and images of Buddha typically found in a Zen temple.

Zen women’s temple welcomes all worshippers

Odd story about Women's temple

Upon hearing about the Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple, some people’s first thought might be of a group of man-hating women delving into their spirituality away from the “corrupting” influence of men.

Why would some people think that? Oh well, still of interest.

Bukkyo: The Buddha's Sutras

The White Wind Zen Community present an excellent English Translation of Dogen Zenji's text Bukkyo, in which he berates those who speak of a Mind-to-Mind transmission as exsiting outside the sutras. It's a complex but enlightening text.

Their “One Mind” is other than the One Mind and so they say that there is One Mind outside of the Buddha Dharma; and their “sutras of the Buddha” are outside of the sutras of the Buddha. Such people pass on and receive this error of “a special Transmission outside the sutras” since they do not know the meaning of “outside” or “inside” and so become incoherent...

...The Supreme Path of One Mind is not other than the Three Paths and Twelve Divisions of the sutras, and is the treasuries of the Hinayana and Mahayana.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Clouds in Water Zen Center - Dewdrop Digest

This interesting re-ordering of the 4 noble truths is actually somewhat consistent with some things I'm reading in The Compass of Zen by Seung Sahn, which is very good:


Third Truth: Our natural state of being is peaceful and joyful, with a flow of compassion within ourselves and between all beings.

First Truth: Sometimes peace is interrupted. We experience pain or dissatisfaction. This happens to all beings, all the time!

Second Truth: Looking within, deeply, lovingly, and gently, we can touch our pain with compassion. We begin to see that the roots of our pain are within us, not outside us. Taking responsibility for our pain, we have the opportunity to heal it and return to peace.

Fourth Truth: The Eightfold Path of Peace and Joy is the way of the peacemaker. The three main components are: Awareness, Wholesome Behavior, and Wisdom (realizing boundless openness, our non-separate, compassionately connected reality).

Daily Zen Meditation

Being in the Moment From Daily Zen Meditation

Daily Zen Meditation:
"In the still night by the vacant window,
Wrapped in monk’s robe I sit in meditation,
Navel and nostrils lined up straight,
Ears paired to the slope of shoulders.
Window whitens--the moon comes up;
Rain’s stopped, but drops go on dripping.
Wonderful—the mood of this moment-
Distant, vast..." - Ryokan (1758-1831)"

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Zen Energy

More Zen marketing; this time for an herbal supplement:

The information presented here is for educational purposes only. The FDA has not evaluated these statements. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Spirit of Things: Two former masters

I found this today, from back in 2001 a transcript of an interview with two former monastics:

He was an Englishman who became a Tibetan Buddhist monk, she was a French girl who became a Zen nun. They met in a Korean Zen monastery, and together headed back West, taking their training with them to form the basis of a Western Buddhism. Husband and wife speak to Rachael Kohn about their odyssey through Buddhism.

Gardens for Stress Relief

Article on mellowing out in your garden, contains some Zen themes:

Plant life knows how to let go of the past. A plant dies in the winter and regenerates in the spring with no past consciousness—just a fresh new life growing towards the sun. If we learn to let go of resentment, anger and negativity, we make room for abundance in our lives. Like a tree, we grow towards the light.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Buddhist Peace Fellowship Statement on Hurricane Katrina and its Aftermath

Here is part of BPF's statement:

BPF encourages all of our chapters and dharma centers across the world to contribute to emergency relief efforts as soon as possible. Two organizations that we highly recommend are the American Red Cross and America’s Second Harvest (see information below). And we bow deeply in recognition of all the people who are working tirelessly in these efforts: military personnel, nonprofit organziations, and civilians. They are true bodhisattvas.

Comment to thread at AlterNet: Did God Send the Hurricane?

This is a comment to a discussion about Hurricane Katrina that might be of interest:

It is interesting in times like this that we humans fall back on superstition; especially superstition that puts our own importance at center: 'it must be God's big punishment for our big sins,' or 'it is the world striking back for our greed and big mistakes.' Well. . .the fact is, we're not so big. Oh, yes, we, with our vast numbers and our 'too-clever-for-our-own-good' machinations can make things here on Earth very unpleasant for ourselves and other living things – in the geologic short-term. But, after we're gone, the Earth will repair itself, some other life-form (hopefully wiser) will ascend, and our puny attempts to transform the planet to our immature wants will be forgotten. Keep in mind that the dinosaurs, the most successful large life-form in history, ruled the Earth for 250 MILLION years – and they're gone. We've only been here for less than 4 million years – only about 20 thousand as organized societies – and already we've fouled our nest.

No, our foolishness may have exacerbated the conditions that caused Hurricane Katrina, but in terms of the planet, that storm was just a small eddy in the flow of atmosphere. It only seemed so large to us, because we are actually so small.

I hope that someday we all (I include myself) can take more of a Zen perspective on our place in life, and put our egos where they will do less harm.

Zen Master Seung Sahn - Same Day, Same Time Together Become Buddha

In the wake of the Katrina disaster, this seemed relevant:

Our job is to practice hard and perceive this world. Humans do more bad actions on this planet than any other living thing. How can we help? Our consciousness and suffering people's consciousness must connect. Then we can help.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

5 Skandhas

I may have posted this before, in which case, here it is again:

it's true that you don't exist in a meaningful, permanent, separate way. It is like a wave. When a wave travels across the ocean, it appears to be a separate, moving object. Actually it is just energy making water bump the water next to it. Most of the water in a wave traves only a few feet. So you could say that a wave doesn't really exist, but there is merely an energy transfer happening. On the other hand, this information won't help if you are surfing and get dumped. You will truly believe in the wave when you wipe out. So what Buddhism is saying is, you exist, you are just not as separate or consistent as you thought.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Teachings of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj : A selection of Quotes

Interesting quotes:

Why not investigate the very idea of body? Does the mind appear in the body or the body in the mind? Surely there must be a mind to conceive the 'I-am-the-body' idea. A body without a mind cannot be 'my body'. 'My body' is invariably absent when the mind is in abeyance. It is also absent when the mind is deeply engaged in thoughts and feelings.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Dharma Talk by Zen Master Pohwa Sunim

Odd, short Dharma talk:

We all hope to gain peace through oneness. But this attachment to oneness, like the delusion of an imaginary oasis in the desert, can also lead to other attachments

Thursday, September 01, 2005

66. Children of His Majesty - Zen Koans - AshidaKim.com

Here's a nice Koan, I'd like to hear your thoughts on it:

66. Children of His Majesty

Yamaoka Tesshu was a tutor of the emperor. He was also a master of fencing and a profound student of Zen.

His home was the abode of vagabonds. He had but one suit of clothes, for they kept him always poor.

The emperor, observing how worn his garments were, gave Yamaoka some money to buy new ones. The next time Yamaoka appeared he wore the same old outfit.

'What became of the new clothes, Yamaoka?' asked the emperor.

'I provided clothes for the children of Your Majesty,' explained Yamaoka.

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