Shohaku Okumura

‘Our zazen practice is to awaken to the reality prior to separation. Ordinarily we see things from one perspective or the other. When we sit, we let go of thoughts and all particular perspectives. We don’t grasp anything. That doesn’t mean that we have to extinguish thought. Thought is always there as we experience our […]

Blanche Hartman

‘The spirit of our practice is to practice without trying to acquire anything, because we already have everything we need. Without trying to be anything other than just this one, because just this one is a buddha from the beginning. We practice to express and realize and settle on the suchness of this one, so […]

The First Paramita

In recent weeks I have been stockpiling posts – there are currently forty-five lined up through to the end of May. This is mostly so that I can spend a month in England and not worry about updating the blog (maybe I will try to write on the road this time, as I did not manage […]


‘A visiting monk: Is there any merit in doing zazen? Bankei: You shouldn’t have a dislike for doing zazen, just as you shouldn’t avoid chanting sutras, bowing, or anything else of that kind. Tokusan wielded a staff. Rinzai shouted Khat! Gutei held up one finger. Bodhidharma sat facing a wall. Each was different, and yet […]

Suzuki Roshi

‘In Zen sometimes we say that each one of us is steep like a cliff. No one can scale us. We are completely independent. But when you hear me say so, you should understand the other side too – that we are endlessly interrelated. If you only understand one side of the truth, you can’t […]


‘When you forget about merit your position is fulfilled. Do not fall for occupying honorable stations, but enter the current of the world and join with the delusion.’ (Cultivating the Empty Field)

Ho Chih-Chang

Long ago, I left my native town; most recently, my work has been of small account. Now, out my door – only the water of Mirror Lake; and the spring breeze rippling its surface, as before. Mirror Lake in Yosemite


‘Once when I was in Song China, practicing on a long siting platform, I observed the monks around me. At the beginning of zazen in the morning, they would hold up their kashayas, place them on their heads, and chant a verse quietly with palms together: Great is the robe of liberation the robe beyond […]

Like Spring Arising In Everything

The last time I went to Wilbur, I took some Hongzhi with me – as you will notice from the future posts quoting from the book. Many of the phrases – I was going to say his phrases, but of course they are translated – were wonderfully resonant as poetry, and the title of this […]


‘A monk asked,”What is the great way?” Changsha said, “It doesn’t exclude you.” The monk asked, “Who is the teacher of all buddhas?” Changsha said, “For the incalculable eon, who has ever concealed this?”‘ (Zen’s Chinese Heritage) So right now, is it hidden?