‘You should know that becoming a buddha is not something new or ancient. How could practice-realization be within any boundary? Do not say that from the beginning not a single thing exists. The causes are complete, and the results are fulfilled through time. Great assembly, please tell me, why is it like this? After a […]


‘While sitting, Layman Pang asked his daughter Lingzhao, “A teacher of old said ‘Bright and clear are the one hundred grasses, bright and clear is the meaning of the ancestral teaching.’ How about yourself?” Lingzhao said, “How could someone who is mature and great say such a thing?” Pang said, “How would you say it?” […]

Enkyo O’Hara

‘One of the elements in the ancient Chinese ideogram for Zen is “clearing a space for an altar.” I feel this is exceedingly apt, because so much of Zen is about making space in our heart-minds so that we can live a life that is direct and clear. We burn off the brush and find […]


This is the time when the brochure for next summer’s Tassajara guest season is being put together, so I am being asked for words to describe the retreats I am going to be helping with. For one of the retreats, we are planning on using the Mountains and Rivers Sutra as a study guide, as […]

Settling the self on the self

I selected the previous two posts at different times over the past few weeks, and added them to the stack of quotes that I am maintaining for this blog. Putting them side by side reveals similarities even as they take different angles. Both caution against closing down against the outside world: the self only becomes […]

Uchiyama Roshi

‘When I use the term Self, I am not referring to some fixed entity; the Self is life, and life is functioning. Functioning means activity which works toward the world in which this Self lives. When I talk of a “Self settling upon itself”, do not interpret this to mean a withdrawing and escaping from […]

Chan Master Sheng Yen

‘I emphasize that prajna is wisdom, and wisdom is the attitude of no self. This means not having an attitude that is based on a self-centered perspective. Please do not misunderstand that this attitude of no self means that there is nothing out there. The self of wisdom is there to solve problems; the self […]


I was invited to a shabbat dinner on Friday night – I was not the only gentile among the attendees – and as a part of the ritual we were all asked to say what the high and low points of the week had been. The high point for me was certainly securing some housing […]