Zen Filter

Zen Buddhist websites, news, and discussion

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Blogmandu: Blogisattva Award Nominations

Well I'll be blogged! Zen Filter has been nominated for "Best Niche Blog, Unusual-Function Blog or Blog Service" by Blogmandu. I'd like to thank my mother, my father, and my original face before my parents were born. Or something like that. Anyway, click the link because Blogmandu nominates and links to lots of great Zen and Buddhist websites.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Our Life as a Wave

This article by Nomon Tim Burnett is a touch wordy, but there's much food for thought:

What if we could really feel the ocean. What if we developed the courage to allow our attention to drop below the surface of our wave into the depths. What if we were to breathe down to the bottom of our wave and see what that boundary between our wave and the rest of the ocean was like. What if we found that in fact there is no boundary there at all. If we could actually appreciate that and even relax and enjoy that dynamic edge where you can’t really tell where the ocean ends and our wave begins? Maybe it would help us relax about this fear we hold. This fear of dissolution. Because what’s really changing when our wave’s water returns to the bottom of the ocean?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Sekiso’s Step Off the Top of the Pole

Discussion of this well known koan:

"Sekiso says, “How do you step from the top of a hundred-foot pole?” This is an interesting foil to what we might assume to be the the traditional understanding of Zen: this moment, this place, no other step, no place to go. This koan asks us to turn it further. The “hundred-foot pole” is in one sense the position of awakening to oneness, of awakening to that view in which there is nothing excluded, nothing outside. It’s the position of no thing, of nothing special. Remember the impact of seeing the first photographs taken of Earth from outer space? Suddenly, our globe didn’t divide into distinct countries and individuals in quite the same way. Geography was transformed, made magic: the world was one bright jewel."

Friday, February 24, 2006

Zen Quotes

Why the text on this page is all centered, I cannot say. But there are some good quotes there:

"I cannot tell if what the world considers 'happiness' is happiness or not. All I know is that when I consider the way they go about attaining it, I see them carried away headlong, grim and obsessed, in the general onrush of the human herd, unable to stop themselves or to change their direction. All the while they claim to be just on the point of attaining happiness....Chuang-tzu."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Meditation found to increase brain size

. . . but then, you already knew that, didn't you:

"Researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found the first evidence that meditation can alter the physical structure of our brains. Brain scans they conducted reveal that experienced meditators boasted increased thickness in parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensory input."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Calmness of Mind by Suzuki Roshi

For those who haven't read "Not Always So," here is an excerpt. For those who have, here is a reminder:

"Even though your practice is not good enough, you can do it. Your breathing will gradually vanish. You will gradually vanish, fading into emptiness. Inhaling without effort you naturally come back to yourself with some color or form. Exhaling, you gradually fade into emptiness -- empty, white paper. That is shikantaza. The important point is your exhalation. Instead of trying to feel yourself as you inhale, fade into emptiness as you exhale.

When you practice this in your last moment, you will have nothing to be afraid of. You are actually aiming at emptiness. You become one with everything after you completely exhale with this feeling. If you are still alive, naturally you will inhale again. 'Oh, I'm still alive! Fortunately or unfortunately!' Then you start to exhale and fade into emptiness. Maybe you don't know what kind of feeling it is. But some of you know it. By some chance you must have felt this kind of feeling."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Maxims of Master Han Shan

"What is the best way to sever our attachment to material things?

First, we need a good sharp sword, a sword of discrimination, one that cuts through appearance to expose the real. We begin by making a point of noticing how quickly we became dissatisfied with material things and how soon our sensory pleasures also fade into discontent. With persistent awareness we sharpen and hone this sword. Before long, we find that we seldom have to use it. We’ve cut down all old desires and new ones don’t dare to bother us."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Chan and Emptiness

Interesting thoughts from Master Sheng-yen:

"Today one hears many American students say that, as practitioners of Zen or Chan, they don't need to learn or think about the Buddhist sutras and their teachings. Just sitting in zazen is the real practice; reading and studying written words is for soulless pedants and academics. In China, Korea, and Japan, where knowledge of the Buddhist teachings was widespread, such a rejection of the written word makes poignant sense. But this is a very dangerous attitude in a culture that has no native traditions of Buddhist learning to speak of. For silence, in and of itself, is anything but innocent or neutral, much less free of ignorance. How the more problematic it becomes when it is blissful!"

Notes on the Heart Sutra

Good, if very brief, discussion of emptiness:

"Thoughts, feelings, likes, dislikes and all other mental phenomena are likewise the result of many external conditions which are quite beyond our control or even our knowledge. The knowledge of emptiness liberates us from guilt and sorrow. We must understand , however, that emptiness does not absolve us from responsibility for our actions."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Yet more Zen marketing: Arthri-Zen

"Arthri-Zen Relief for Joint and Muscle Discomfort"

One robe, one bowl: This floating world

Interesting post, here's a slice:

"Prior to taking precepts, I really believed that I could change the world through political and social action. What I never paid attention to was how I was engaging the world. I'd say, actually, that despite my well-meant intentions, I was living 'without the world' before I took precepts. Buddhism didn't prompt me to take a step back and examine how I was living in the world. I'd realized I needed to do so before I stepped foot in my first temple. What practice did give me was support and clarity for 'shifting my paradigm of being.' And I didn't shift right away, either. It's not something that happens in a season, or even a single lifetime. It is something that we can observe, however; and I look back and see a difference.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

More Zen marketing: Channoine Zen Beauty - Eyezone Duo

"The cutting-edge formula is based on advances in Japanese and western high-tech cosmetic research, and ingredients include formidable bio extracts, cell stimulators and bio-engineered ingredients"

Wow, sounds so high tech and Zenny!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Daily Zen -- Ordinary Mind

Long but interesting article by Katsuki Sekida:

"So long as our mind operates subjectively, however, there must be a subject that functions as the ego. As there is normally no cessation of subjective activity, there can normally be no state in which we are devoid of an ego. However, the nature of this ego can change. Every time we succeed in banishing a mean or restricted ego — a petty ego — another ego with a broader outlook appears in its place, and eventually what we may call an 'egoless ego' makes its appearance."

Monday, February 13, 2006

Heart to Heart by Ama SAMY S.J. Roshi

From "Zen and religion: the roots and the shape":

"Zen originally comes from the religion of Mahayana Buddhism. But the spirit and practise of Zen go beyond institutional religion. The heart of Zen, is indeed religious, and the heart of religion is Zen. What relationship is there between Buddhism and Zen, between Christ ianity and Zen, and between religion and Zen ?"

Sunday, February 12, 2006

More Zen marketing: Zen Harmony Women's Balancing Formula Tab X 60

If Zen doesn't solve all your problems, apparently these pills (?) will:

"For relief of the symptoms of menopause and premenstrual tension, such as: * hot flushes * irritability * sleeplessness * fluid retention * mild anxiety * joint aches * headache * menstrual cramps *"

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Practice of Compassion

Ji Aoi Isshi says:

"The pure act of compassion provides us with a powerful, twofold means of practice. It is both a means of turning emptiness into form by giving (dana) toward all sentient beings while realizing at the same time the Buddhist principle that there is no set rigid identity; and it is also a means of turning form into emptiness by overcoming the 'form' of the ego (ours!), when we ourselves forget that very same principle (anatta)!"

Thursday, February 09, 2006

BeginnerZen - Publications

I don't normally link to PDFs, but here are some articles in PDF format that might be of interest. The first on the linked page is about Ice Zen:

"Every winter for the last several years, I’ve practiced ice Zen. This is no austerity. Like cross-country and downhill skiing, it’s a pleasure. "

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Zen Master Wu Kwang | Every Day and Every Moment

Discussion of the following poem:

"Flowers in Springtime, Moon in Autumn, Cool Wind in Summer, Snow in Winter. If you don't make anything in your mind, for you it is a good season."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

lens culture: buddha project

Some nice pictures:

"Images of Buddha can remind us to take a breath, to look around, to feel calm and compassionate, to be here now. You can notice Buddha almost anywhere — laundromats, store windows, barbershops, farmers' markets, souvenir stands, tucked away on someone's night table.

The Buddha Project encourages people worldwide to participate by submitting photos of found Buddha, sacred Buddha, ancient Buddha, kitschy Buddha, handmade Buddha.

An archive of hundreds of Buddha images may well generate good karma for everyone involved, viewers and contributors, alike."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Nothing at all has unchanging self

Here's your Zen thought for the day:

"When you ride in a boat and watch the shore, you might assume that the shore is moving. But when you keep your eyes closely on the boat, you can see that the boat moves. Similarly, if you examine myriad things with a confused body and mind you might suppose that your mind and nature are permanent. When you practice intimately and return to where you are, it will be clear that nothing at all has unchanging self.

— Dogen - Moon In A Dewdrop, Pg. 70"

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Back to Basics: Chan and the Eightfold Path, by Rev. Chuan Zhi Shakya

Good basic article on the eightfold path:

Right Understanding means that we work to understand things from other people's perspectives. We don't quickly judge or form an opinion until we've looked at things from as many perspectives as we can. This inquiring process, we quickly discover, leaves us with the realization that there are often so many ways to look at things that we can't possibly know them all -- and that any opinion we may form might easily be wrong because we have overlooked something.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Lecture on Beginner's Mind

From Abbess Zenkei Blanche Hartman:

Suzuki Roshi once said, 'The essence of Zen is 'Not Always So'.' 'Not always so.' It's a good little phrase to carry around when you're sure. It gives you an opportunity to look again more carefully and see what other possibilities there might be in the situation.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Zen Stories

You've probably read most of these, but they're always worth reading again:

"When Tired"

A student once asked his teacher,

'Master, what is enlightenment?'

The master replied,

'When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep.'

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Zen Master Seung Sahn - Chew, Chew, Chew

Another gift from Seung Sahn:

'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?' Don't understand. Don't know. 'Life is like a floating cloud which appears; death is like a floating cloud which disappears. The floating cloud originally does not exist. Coming, going, death and life are also like that. But there is one thing which always remains clear and pure, not dependent on life and death. What is the one pure and clear thing?''"

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