‘You need only let go of your body and relinquish your life therein only once. When the time comes, it happens suddenly, and you only know this experience. This is called letting go of your grip over a sheer cliff, then after perishing, coming back to life. Suddenly, in an instant, you recognize the root […]

The Lingering Colours Of Fire

On the way up to Wilbur last Friday, I could see the first autumnal shades on the hillside – maybe it was just the poison oak in Cache Canyon, but the reds were starting to show. While I was there, the temperatures were a notch lower than the previous two visits, in the nineties during […]


(Zen Speaks) This is one of the best-known stories in Chinese Zen, and this version was one of my favourite renderings in the books, especially the opening panel. It is also another wonderful tale of an arrogant monk being bested by an unassuming woman.


‘The words of the teachings all have three successive phases – the beginning, middle, and final good. At first one should just be taught to produce a good mind; in the middle the good mind is dissolved; only the final good is really good. Thus, ‘A bodhisattva is not a bodhisattva; this is called a […]

Kakuan Shion

REACHING THE SOURCE (Number 9 of 10) Too many steps have been taken returning to the root and the source. Better to have been blind and deaf from the beginning! Dwelling in one’s true abode, unconcerned with that without – The river flows tranquilly on and the flowers are red. — You’ve returned to the […]


‘Dropping off body and mind is good practice. Make a vigorous effort to pierce your nostrils. Karmic consciousness is endless, with nothing fundamental to rely on, including not others, not self, not sentient beings, and not causes and conditions. Although this is so, eating breakfast comes first.’ (Extensive Record, 306) Another gem I am happy to […]


‘A monk asked, “An ancient said, ‘Conceal the body in the Big Dipper.’ What does this mean?” Xuedou said, “Hearing it a thousand times is not as good as seeing it once.”‘  (Zen’s Chinese Heritage)

Zazen Instruction

I had my own brush with impermanence recently, a salutary reminder that there are many things in our lives we can’t control and don’t happen the way we want them to or think they will. My practice right now is to watch how this play out in my body and my mind, trying to take […]


‘Buddhas are those who have comprehended and completed things in the realm of sentient beings; sentient beings are those who have not yet comprehended and completed things in the realm of buddhas. If you want to attain Oneness, just give up both buddhas and sentient beings at once: then there is no “comprehended and completed” […]