Hakuun Yasutani

‘Five-precent sincerity is enough to begin with [to sit zazen]. If you were completely sincere, you would be enlightened at this moment.’ (from Taking the Zen Path)

Norman Fischer

‘I have always appreciated the fact that when you give a Zen talk, you make three prostrations to the Buddha before and after the talk. These bows are meant to indicate that it isn’t exactly you giving the talk. The Buddha is giving the talk using your body and voice. Bowing is praying to Buddha […]

Joyful Effort

Last weekend I spent time at both temples: on Saturday I offered the zazen instruction at City Center, and had a much larger crowd than I thought would be the case for a holiday weekend. The Buddha Hall also filled for the talk, which was given by Norman, and I recognised a few of his […]

Martin Buber

‘Because we cannot circle above all existence—sleepless, unbroken, boundless, glowing—we content ourselves with being submerged and awakening.’ I confess I have not read “I and Thou”, or any of his other works, but I am always encouraged when I read something from a different tradition that points to the essential human quality of searching – […]

Sekito Kisen

‘You can’t attain it this way. You can’t attain it not this way. Trying to attain it this way or not this way, it can’t be attained. So what will you do?’ (Zen’s Chinese Heritage) Sekito was saying this to get his student Yakusan to let go of clinging. Yakusan went to Master Ma, who set […]


‘When Mazu heard that Damei lived on the mountain, he sent a monk to call upon him and ask the question, “When you saw Master Mazu, what did he say that caused you to come and live on this mountain?” Damei said, “Master Mazu said to me, ‘Mind is Buddha.’ Then I came here to […]

Shohaku Okumura

‘Usually we start to study or practice because of some problem or question. When we are lucky we find some answers, some way we think we can solve our problem. Then we think this is Dharma, this is the Buddha Way – and we cling to it. Even if the teaching is not mistaken, our […]

Revisiting Winter

I am fond of saying that I arrived to live in San Francisco during a heatwave, right in the middle of May (nineteen years ago now), and was firmly told not to get used to it. This May has been far from hot and sunny: in the last week we have had several storm systems […]

Rev. angel Kyodo williams

‘Everything I see, everything I say about liberation comes from this very dharma, the same dharma that you hold dear, these fundamental truths that give us the path to see ourselves. The only way I can sit here and not be absolutely furious, livid with every man, every white body, every straight body, is because […]