‘When you first seek dharma, you imagine that you are far away from its environs. But dharma is already correctly transmitted – you are immediately your original self’ – Genjo Koan Every line in the Genjo Koan is illuminating. Everything you need is right there.


‘Layman Pang was sitting in his thatched cottage one day, studying the sutras. “Difficult, difficult, difficult,” he suddenly exclaimed, “like trying to store ten bushels of sesame seed in the top of a tree.” “Easy, easy, easy,” his wife, Laywoman Pang, answered. “It’s like touching your feet to the floor when you get out of […]

Uchiyama Roshi

‘Middle Way does not mean halfway. Nor does it mean some sort of watered-down, defeated compromise or shallow eclecticism. Rather, Middle Way means to accept this contradiction of impermanence and cause-and-effect within your own life. To accept this contradiction means to forbear and overcome it without trying to resolve it. At its every essence life […]

Chan Master Sheng Yen

‘Most of the time we have a subjective view of the world. The interesting thing is that most of the time we believe ourselves to be objective. In fact there is no such thing as being absolutely objective. Objectivity really is just several people’s subjectivity. When a group of people agree on something, it becomes […]


‘In the beginning, when I was giving lectures here in New York, when I sat in SILENCE the audience thought the Reverend has forgotten a word and is thinking about it. But it is not that. My meaning was that there are no words to speak about it with. Then some of my audience would […]

Suzuki Roshi

‘This morning when we were bowing in the zendo,  we heard a big noise overhead, because upstairs in the dining room people were pushing chairs across the floor without picking them up. This is not the way to treat chairs, not only because it may disturb the people who are bowing in the zendo underneath, […]

Shohaku Okumura

‘ “Each sense and every field Interact and do not interact; When interacting, they also merge – Otherwise, they remain in their own states.” (Sandokai) Each line in the original Chinese poem consists of five Chinese characters. In these four lines Shitou uses only fifteen different Chinese characters, fifteen words to express the whole of […]


‘There is a simple way to become a buddha: when you refrain from unwholesome actions, are not attached to birth and death, and are compassionate towards all sentient beings, respectful to seniors and kind to juniors, not excluding or desiring anything, with no thoughts or worries, you will be called a buddha. Seek nothing else’ […]

Chan Master Sheng Yen

‘In the agamas, the early Buddhist scriptures, the Buddha said, “This arises, therefore that arises; this perishes, therefore that perishes.” The Buddha meant that when ignorance and vexation arise, we do certain deeds, and then we receive the retribution from those deeds. In receiving retribution our vexation causes us to commit more deeds, prolonging this […]

The Blue Cliff Record

‘Ummon said to his disciples, “Medicine and disease cure each other. The whole world is medicine. Where do you find the self?”‘ I have been asked to speak to a class this week about how buddhists relate to suffering, and as part of my reflections, I thought of this koan. I have struggled to get […]