‘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 […]

Norman Fischer

‘Vulnerability is built into our hearts, which can be sliced open at any moment by some sudden shift in the arrangements, some pain, some horror, some hurt. We all know and instinctively fear this, so we protect our hearts by covering them against exposure. But this doesn’t work. Covering the heart binds and suffocates it […]

Pure Precepts

A jukai ceremony, such as we had on Saturday afternoon at City Center, with five people receiving the precepts, usually also counts as a family affair. The ordinands are taking a big step in their practice, and are supported in this ceremony by their friends, family and community. There are a few stages in the […]


I have been to many events at Zen Center over the years which are more family gatherings than anything else, and last night was one of those, under the guise of a reading for Blanche’s new book. It was lovely to see her back in the building again, among friends and students, people who have […]


“What is wholeheartedly engaging in the way?” “In the whole world it is never hidden.” All of the conversation between Dogen and the venerable Chinese tenzo is worth cherishing, but this response always resonates most strongly for me. Why are we looking for it when it is never hidden?