The Gateless Gate

‘A monk asked Tozan, “What is Buddha?” Tozan replied, “Three pounds of flax.” From Nyogen Senzaki’s commentary: ‘I am reminded of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, who was one of the world’s greatest educators of the eighteenth century. When he was a young school teacher, he was talking to his class about a window, so he drew […]

What I think about when I am riding

After four months at my new address, I am still overestimating the times that my commutes take. I think the distance may be a tad longer, but in terms of my spatial sense of the city, the two locations both seem further away, so I allow more time. Getting to the jail it is not […]

Pema Chödrön

‘The hermit of Lotus Flower Peak held out his staff and said to his disciples, “When in olden times, an adept reached the state of enlightenment, why did they not remain there?” No-one could answer , and he replied for them, “Because it is of no use in the course of life.”‘ (Blue Cliff Record, case 25) […]

The Dharma of the Insentient

‘Earth, grasses and trees, fences and walls, tiles and pebbles, all things in the dharma realm in the ten directions, carry out buddha work.’ (Dogen, Bendowa) My English upbringing has left me quite susceptible to the vagaries of the weather, and although there is still rain in the forecast, we have been having a little heatwave […]

Good Disciple of Buddha

On Saturday I went over to Zen Center again, this time not riding a bike nor needing to ask a question, but to witness Kim’s tokudo – it may be the last time for a while that I put on my white kimono and bessu, which are reserved for formal occasions. Kim is one of the people at Zen Center who obviously […]


‘Reading literature while ignoring the way of practice is like a person reading a prescription but forgetting to take the medicine; what is the benefit? Continuously uttering sounds like frogs in a spring rice paddy croaking day and night is also ultimately worthless. Furthermore, people deeply blinded by fame and profit have difficulty abandoning these […]

The Gateless Gate

‘Chu Kokushi, teacher of the emperor, called Oshin, his attendant. Oshin answered, “Yes.” To test him, the master called again, “Oshin.” Oshin replied, “Yes.” Once again Chu Kokushi called “Oshin.” And once again, Oshin replied, “Yes.” Chu Kokushi then said, “I guess I ought to apologize to you, but really you should apologize to me.”‘(Mumonkan […]