Marian Mountain

‘It is natural for my mother to doubt the value of this kind of life. From the ordinary point of view, our zen life leaves no trace of anything worthwhile. We have nothing to show for it, nothing to give from it, and nothing to say about it. Whatever we show, give, or say about […]

Returning Empty-Handed

I had been thinking of this title for the post even before realising that the Dogen quote was scheduled for yesterday. Sometimes, inevitably, I just feel flat about my life. The last few weeks have been painful in some aspects, and I notice how the way my body responds to those events bleeds over into […]


‘This mountain monk [Dogen] has not passed through many monasteries. Somehow I just met my late teacher Tiantong [Rujing]. However I was not deceived by Tiantong. But Tiantong was deceived by this mountain monk. Recently, I returned to my homeland with empty hands. And so this mountain monk has no Buddha Dharma. Trusting fate, I […]

Keizan Jokin

‘Don’t you see? Making the eyebrows rise and the eye blink is alright and not alright. That realm is beyond doubt. Everyone is already endowed with it. When you try to understand that place, it has no features such as ears and eyes. You cannot discern it through seeing and hearing; nothing at all is […]


Avoid seeking somewhere else Or you will be far from the self. These days I am solitary and independent, But I meet this everywhere. This is now me, But I am not this. Understanding it like this, You will directly meet suchness.

Taiyuan Fu

‘One day the monk Baofu Congzhan was cutting a melon when Taiyuan Fu came up to him. Baofu said, “If you say the right thing I’ll give you a piece of melon to eat.” Taiyuan said, “Give me one.” Baofu gave him a piece of melon. Taiyuan took it and went away.’ (Zen’s Chinese Heritage) This […]

Shodo Harada

‘True emptiness does not arise from a preconceived notion of nothing at all. It is what comes forth when the mind holds on to nothing, when in each moment and in each situation we can function freely.’ (The Path to Bodhidharma)


‘Baizhang said: “I want someone to go and tell something to Xitang.” Wufeng said: “I’ll go.” Baizhang said: “How will you speak to him?” Wufeng said: “I’ll wait until I see Xitang, then I’ll speak.” Baizhang said: “What will you say?” Wufeng said: When I come back, I’ll tell you.”‘ (Zen’s Chinese Heritage)  

The Nature Of Wind

Zachary leaned over at the end of Monday’s sitting on the Embarcadero and name-checked Master Baoche. The nature of wind has been permanent recently, and there is no place it has not reached. Overall, the weather has felt pretty exhausting this past couple of weeks. There have been days of solid rain, and days where […]

Shohaku Okumura

‘The Lotus Sutra says that all buddhas appear in this world for only one reason: to show us the true reality of all beings and allow us to live in accordance with that reality. This means we don’t know the true reality of all beings; we only know the forms (namarupa) seen by human eyes. […]