Going Beyond

‘A monk said to Tozan,”Cold and heat descend upon us. How can we avoid them?” Tozan said, “Why don’t you go where there is no cold or heat?” The monk said, “Where is the place where there is no cold or heat?” Tozan said, “When cold, let the cold kill you; when hot, let the […]

Walking Like Lions

From time to time, Zen Center hosts venerable dignitaries from the Japanese zen establishment, and if the timing works out, they will be invited to give a talk. Usually they are quite formal and straightforward, expounding on the forms and merits of zazen, so when I saw that a rinzai teacher was scheduled to speak […]

Jane Hirshfield

A Cedary Fragrance Even now, decades after, I wash my face with cold water – Not for discipline, nor memory, nor the icy, awakening slap, but to practice choosing to make the unwanted wanted. — The first time I heard this poem, at Tassajara which was the inspiration for it, I thought of all the […]


‘Whose strength can we depend on to rub pieces of ice together and make a fire? We risk our lives in the effort to enter the gates of death. Dropping our bodies while crossing over, we can return to life. Within a scene of shame, play with spirit. This is what we attain from our […]


‘”All people’s realisations and understandings are self and personality. And where the characteristics of self and personality do not reach, keeping possession of objects of understanding is called the characteristic of a sentient being. And what is the characteristic of a sentient being? And what is the characteristic of a life? It means that when […]

Chan Master Shen Yeng

‘When was the Buddha born? The Buddha is born when people like ourselves are open to him and can receive his help, his compassion, and his wisdom. The most important thing for us, after we receive a little of the Buddha’s wisdom, is that we do something positive with the Buddha’s teaching and allow the […]