Robert Aitken

‘There are some people who fall into the pit of emptiness and keep repeating, “It doesn’t matter,” or “It’s all one.” During the drug revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s, I met many young men and women who were caught in this trap. Sometimes a religious experience will lead you into such a […]

Charlotte Joko Beck

‘A Zen student called me recently to complain about my emphasis on the difficulty of practice. She said, “I think you  make a mistake in urging your students to take their practice so seriously. Life should be about enjoying ourselves and having a good time.” I asked her, “Has that approach ever worked for you?” […]

Joan Halifax

‘On reaching the mountain’s summit, we can ask, What has been attained? The top of the mountain? Big view? But the mountain has already disappeared. Going down the mountain, we can ask, What has been attained? Going down the mountain? The closer we are to the mountain, the more the mountain disappears. The closer we […]

Koun Franz

‘When you sit, just sit, but sit with all of your energy. Imagine trying to touch your toes—if you bend over to touch your toes and maybe they’re a little bit out of reach, there’s a great clarity in what you’re doing. You’re just trying to touch your toes. It’s not complicated. It doesn’t mean […]

Mokufu Sonin

‘Master Keizan Jokin asked the nun Mokufu Sonin, “The winter is coming to an end and the springtime is arriving. There is an order to this. What is your understanding?” Sonin replied, “In the branches of a tree without shade, how could there be any seasons?” Keizan asked her, “What about right now?” Sonin bowed.’ […]

Li Bai

From whose house are the flute notes floating? They blend into the spring breeze all over Luoyang. In the tune I heard expectant hands break willow twigs. Who wouldn’t think of home at such a moment?   (Listening to the Flute in Luoyang City on a Spring Night)

No Complaints

I know a few priests who have trained in Japan, and every now and again you could hear them say, “Thank you very much. I have no complaints whatsoever.” My instinctive response to that is to say, well I do. My back hurts – I didn’t get enough sleep – it’s raining too much – […]