‘Dongshan asked Yunyan, “When I want to see it face to face, what should I do?” Yunyan said, “Ask someone who’s done it.” Dongshan said, “That’s what I’m doing.” Yunyan said, “What can I say to you?”‘ (Zen’s Chinese Heritage) I don’t remember ever seeing this dialogue before, though I have been reading about Dongshan recently, […]

Shodo Harada

‘We sit and become clear, free of obstructive thoughts and fear. This is the very important essence of Zen, but it does not mean that we should become like a rock or a tree. We must not make this mistake. “Never abiding in any place, yet manifesting continually.” When the sixth patriarch heard these words […]

Shohaku Okumura

‘If we did something good yesterday, we should forget it and face what confronts us today. What we did yesterday is no longer real. We cannot be proud of what we did in the past or think we are a great person because we did such and such. Nor should we be caught up in […]

A New Shuso Crop

I have written about shuso ceremonies at Zen Center before, and we are in the spring season for them right now. I intend to make the journeys to Tassajara and Green Gulch in the next couple of weeks; on Saturday, having gone to the center in the morning to offer the zazen instruction, I returned in the […]

Ta Hui

‘By keeping mindful of the matter of birth and death, your mental technique is already correct. Once the mental technique is correct, then you won’t need to use effort to clear your mind as you respond to circumstances in your daily activities. When you don’t actively try to clear out your mind, then you won’t […]


‘We all have the clear, wondrously bright field from the beginning. Many lifetimes of misunderstanding come only from distrust, hindrance, and screens of confusion that we create in a scenario of isolation. With boundless wisdom journey beyond this, forgetting accomplishments. Straightforwardly abandon stratagems and take on responsibility. Having turned yourself around, accepting your situation, if […]

Suzuki Roshi

‘To practice is not to collect things and put them in your basket, but rather to find something in your sleeve. It’s just that before you study hard, you don’t know what you have in your sleeve.’ (Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness)

Blanche Hartman

‘You can use whatever metaphor comes up for you that will help you spot an unskillful thought and drop it. I had an image once of myself moving a piano and putting it down on my foot. Well, if you don’t want the piano on your foot, don’t put it there. Find whatever kind of […]

Clouds and Water

Redbuds always make me think of Tassajara, where I first came across them: one by the stone cabins, one by the lower garden, the two ends of the main drag. Last year, when I came to Wilbur in the spring with the friend who had first introduced me to the place, I was astounded at how […]