Radical Dharma

‘The most important thing to unpack is what would draw people into this ever-deepening path? What could be both the motivation and the destination? It seems to me that for people to develop any of the qualities that were important for nurturing people’s inner life – their sense of commitment beyond instant gratification, the long-term […]

Road to Heaven

‘One of the nuns at Lungwang Temple told us that Yuan-chao was living in an adobe hut on a small plateau that had been leveled off for Kuan-yin Temple’s future shrine hall. We followed the nun up the slope to Yuan-chao’s hut. She was sitting cross-legged on her k’ang, an adobe bed with a built-in […]

Wedding and Water

These are the days of fragile sunshine in San Francisco, so I was glad to be able to get out of the city over the weekend. I had two engagements: the first was to officiate a wedding up in the east bay, and then I headed up to Wilbur Hot Springs to offer meditation sessions […]


‘When you move mountains, rivers and earth, as well as the sun, the moon, and stars to practice, they in return move you to practice. This is not the open eye of just one time, but the vital eye of all times. Because it is all the open eye, the vital eye of all times, […]


On a peak standing still Only clouds coming and going A thousand misty mountains below me. In the open sitting straight Nothing false nothing real Shapes of light and dark before me. Quoted in Road to Heaven


‘Most of us live in a state where our being has long ago been exiled to the shadow realm of our silent anguish. At times being will break through the fabric of our unconscious to remind us that we are not living the life we could be living, the life that truly matters. At other times being will recede into the […]

Think of not thinking

This is what I was referring to in yesterday’s post: A few years ago I met a woman at Zen Center who announced to me, and the small group we were in, that she had banished negative emotions from her life. I can’t say I believed her. When I looked at her I saw someone […]

Sekkei Harada Roshi

‘I think there are many of you who think, “I must not think,” so you suppress thought. This is the worst thing to do. You are suppressing the natural flow of the Dharma itself. Don’t think of trying to suppress thought. By thinking, “Don’t think, don’t think,” your essential nature is lost. Without any freedom […]

Radical Dharma

‘As an activist academic, I often cringe at such touch-feely sentiment. There is no time for feelings. The endless crunch of priorities punishes me for stopping long enough to notice my rage wreaking havoc on my body. It is not an accident. In the rush of the endless ways we find ourselves lost, late, behind, […]

Birth – Death – Nirvana

On Sunday, Zen Center hosted Blanche’s funeral service. It was not surprising to see a great crowd assembled for the event, mostly people who have lived at Zen Center over the years (including Michael Wenger and Barbara Kohn who co-led the first practice period I attended in 2000, and someone I talked to who had […]