Kodo Sawaki

‘”No place to fall” is the life of a home-leaver.’ (The Zen Teachings of Homeless Kodo) Leafing through this book again, I was struck by how many of his remarks are about our attachments to money and status – especially as these play out in Japanese society. Many of them are quite harsh, but I think […]

Koun Yamada

‘Put your questions on the shelf and practice zazen; you’ll get your own answers.’ (Zen: The Authentic Gate) At Tassajara recently, I browsed in the library as I usually do when I am down there. I pulled this book from the shelves, and found that no-one else had signed it out since I had, two summers ago. Then […]

Nyogen Senzaki

‘I appreciate your enthusiasm in copying my lectures and keeping them, but remember that I speak them with shame and tears. I do such a dirty job (this talking on Zen) because nobody else has done it here before me. Please do not show my lectures to any outsiders and say they are part of […]

Suzuki Roshi

‘Just to feel good we study, and just to feel better we practice zazen. No one knows, you know, what will happen to us after sitting, you know, one, two, or ten years. No one knows. No one knows is right. Just to feel good we sit zazen, actually. Eventually that kind of practice, you […]

Sylvia Boorstein

‘Mind states come and go. Even quiet mind states.’ (It’s Easier Than You Think) A good reminder that we are not aiming for some blissed-out realm of quietude (I searched to see if I had a post from one of the old Chinese guys dissing ‘silent illumination’, but drew a blank). What are we aiming for? […]

Kosho Uchiyama

‘When we actually do zazen, we shouldn’t be sleeping nor should we be caught up in our own thoughts. Rather, we should be wide-awake and aim at the correct posture with our flesh and bones. But can we ever attain this? Is there such a thing as succeeding or hitting the mark? Here is why […]

Sunday Poem

I loathe the twin seas Of being and not being And long for the mountain Of bliss untouched by The changing tides.   (Anonymous, Manyoshu, from One Hundred More Poems From The Japanese, tr. Kenneth Rexroth

Activating Resilience

Among the conversations I have been having over recent weeks, at Tassajara, as well as at the conference, there has been a thread around what my current teaching style is, and what I want it to look like. Obviously I spend very little time wearing formal robes and doing ceremonies these days, and more time […]

Buddha Work

In the Tassajara shop, there was (and probably still is) a sign hanging behind the main counter and the altar, made from a fine piece of wood, with Dogen’s line from the Tenzo Kyokun beautifully written on it: ‘The way-seeking mind is actualised by rolling up your sleeves.’ I tend to associate this with Greg, who […]