‘Fayan asked Elder Jiao, “Did you come by boat or by land?” Jiao said, “By boat.” Fayan said, “Where is the boat?” Jiao said, “The boat is on the river.” After Jiao had withdrawn, Fayan turned around and asked a monk standing by, “You tell me, did that monk just now have eyes or not?” (The […]

On the water

I have had occasion to take the ferry across the bay recently. It is a wonderful way to see the city from a different angle, and to be reminded that the water is an important part of San Francisco’s history and development. Each time I have been on the boat, the weather has been different, […]

Shohaku Okumura

‘Usually, taking a vow is like making a promise: if we don’t keep it, we feel bad, or fear that we might be punished. But vow in Buddhism is not like that. It’s not something we do with our intellect or shallow emotion. We vow toward the Buddha, toward something absolute and infinite. As a […]

Shinshu Roberts

‘The whole world is constantly teaching us. I have noticed that when I am being unskillful, when I need to let go or drop my ideas about what is happening, the world responds with a lesson. Sometimes I don’t like the messenger. Sometimes the message is not delivered skillfully. But it is delivered. We must […]


‘A monk asked Zen master Yunju Daoying, “What is the one Dharma?” Yunju said, “What are the ten thousand dharmas?” The monk said, “I don’t understand how to comprehend this.” Yunju said, “The one Dharma is your own mind. The ten thousand dharmas are your fundamental nature. Are they one thing or two?” The monk […]

What I think about when I am riding

My usual cycling route out of the city takes me to the Panhandle, the first part of Golden Gate Park, and then Arguello north to the Presidio, and on to the bridge. A couple of years ago, I noticed that most early mornings there were two lines of people at different parts of Arguello. The […]

Chan Master Sheng Yen

‘We practice to lessen vexation and gradually illuminate the mind. But the road to that end, where the environment no longer gives rise to vexation, is marked with obstacles. When you scale a mountain, there is rarely a straight path to the top. More likely, you will encounter twists and turns, rises and dips, objects […]


‘A monk asked Caoshan, “How can one be in charge all the time?” Caoshan said, “Like passing through a village with poisoned well – don’t touch even a drop of water.”‘ (quoted in The Book of Serenity) This is an intriguing little exchange, which I don’t remember hearing before. My first thought was, ‘why would you […]

Sharon Salzberg

‘In reality,  love is fluid; it’s a verb, not a noun. Love is a living capacity within us that is always present, even when we don’t sense it. And there are many kinds of love. Sanskrit has different words to describe love for a brother or sister, love for a teacher, love for a partner, […]