Shodo Harada

‘When the ego is affixed to something, we only see a very narrow view; when that something is let go of, a greater wisdom, a greater awareness, a greater ability to function is able to live through us and be present at each and every moment. It takes time to learn how to let go […]


‘Traveling the world, meeting conditions, the self joyfully enters samadhi in all delusions and accepts its function, which is to empty out the self so as not to be full of itself.’ (Cultivating the Empty Field) The footnote to this sentence points to Hongzhi’s expression pre-figuring Dogen’s exposition of jijuyu zanmai, and observes that ‘the Chinese compound that means […]

Kobun Chino

‘Speaking and listening have the same quality as many of the sounds around us (a duck is quacking outside). That voice you can understand, even if it is not a human word. That sound of kitchen (chopping, ringing of pans) you can understand, even if it is not formal human language. Even when there are […]

Christmas with Coyotes

It would be an exaggeration to say that I was woken up on Christmas morning by coyotes howling on the hillsides around Wilbur at first light; I had already been awake for a couple of hours and had my breakfast. Still, the noise was not one I had ever heard before, nor one I associated […]


‘Master Kasan quoted, “To study is mon [the character meaning ‘hear’]. To cut off study is rin [the character meaning ‘near’]. Above these two there is shin [the character meaning ‘true’].” A monk asked, “What is shin like?” Kasan answered, “To be able to beat the drum.” The same monk asked again, “The essence of shin, […]

The Monastic Life

I don’t remember how exactly I came across this passage, but it was probably a couple of weeks ago while I was sifting through my computer archives for pictures that I could print out and send as Christmas cards. In any case, it comes from a letter that I wrote to a loved one in […]


In the stillness by the empty window I sit in formal meditation wearing my monk’s surplice, Navel and nose in alignment, Ears parallel with the shoulders. Moonlight floods the room; The rain stops but the eaves drip and drip. Perfect this moment – In the vast emptiness, my understanding deepens.

Sekkei Harada

‘We know that Master Dogen did not lie down to rest for three years, yet he tells us not to stand out or go to extremes. How can he say this? He can say this because he made the great effort of not lying down to sleep. Because of his own great effort he was […]

Robert White

‘Feelings are, among other things, your brain’s way of labeling the importance of thoughts, and importance (in natural selection’s somewhat crude sense of the term) determines which thoughts enter consciousness… After all, feelings are the original motivators. Good and bad feelings are what natural selection used to goad animals into, respectively, approaching things or avoiding […]