‘Students cannot gain enlightenment simply because they retain their preconceptions. Without knowing who taught them these things, they consider the mind to be thought and perceptions, and do not believe it when they are told that the mind is plants and trees. They think of the Buddha as having marvelous distinguishing marks, with radiance shining […]

The Language of Ritual

Now that I am no longer at Zen Center, I start to miss some of the ceremonies I have participated in over the years. I think it is natural for human beings to crave and respond to rituals marking particular stages of life – and death – and there was always something comforting for me […]

The Practice of Patience

Some weeks ago, my best friend from my radio days in London put me in touch with a colleague of his who was coming over to San Francisco to do some filming. Initially she was just after location advice and local knowledge, but then she asked if I knew anyone who had a van and could […]

Suzuki Roshi

‘To exist in big mind is an act of faith, which is different from the usual faith of believing in a particular idea or being. It is to believe that something is supporting us and supporting all our activities including thinking mind and emotional feelings. All these things are supported by something big that has […]

Enkyo O’Hara

‘Each moment of your life holds the richest treasure, and at that instant, you can decide your response. You can make the decision clearly because you’ve trained yourself with the intimate practice of moment-to-moment awareness.’ (Most Intimate)


‘Seventeen monks, traveling in search of enlightenment, came to visit the famous teacher Master Yangshan Huiji. Before climbing the mountain to see him, they stayed night in the temple guesthouse, and that evening they discussed the Sixth Patriarch’s koan: “What moves is not the wind nor the banner, but your mind.” The nun Miaoxin was […]


‘I went to the Temple of the Nature of Reality in Kuang Province. There I found the doctrinal master Yin-tsung lecturing on the Nirvana Sutra. At the time there was a wind blowing and the pennants were flapping. One monk said, “The wind is moving.” Another said, “The pennants are moving.” They argued on and on, […]

Transmitting the Light

‘The eighteenth patriarch was the Venerable Gayashata. He served the Venerable Sanghanandi. One time, he heard the sound of the wind blowing the bronze bells in the temple. Sanghanandi asked Gayashata, “Are the bells ringing or is the wind ringing?” Gayashata replied, “It is neither the bells nor the wind; it is my Mind that […]

Katagiri Roshi

‘The past has already gone, so it does not exist. The future has not yet come, so it also does not exist. So the past and the future are nothing, no-time. Then is the present all that exists? No, even though there is a present moment, strictly speaking the present is nothing., because in a […]


‘All buddha-tathagatas together have been simply transmitting wondrous dharma and actualizing anuttara samyak sambodhi for which there is an unsurpassable, unfabricated, wondrous method. This wondrous dharma, which has been transmitted only from buddha to buddha without deviation, has as its criterion jijuyu zanmai. For disporting oneself freely in this samadhi, practicing zazen in an upright posture is […]