Robert Aitken

When I sit with my friends in zazen I vow with all beings to touch and receive and convey the mind of rivers and stars. (from The Dragon Who Never Sleeps) I have enjoyed a couple of Robert Aitken’s gathas before, and it was nice to find a whole book of them. Look out for another […]

The Tenth Grave Precept

I vow not to disparage the Three Treasures. (Zen Center) Experience the intimacy of things. Do not defile the Three Treasures. (Zen Mountain Monastery) To expound the dharma with this body is foremost. The virtue returns to the ocean of reality. It is unfathomable; we just accept it with respect and gratitude. (Dogen’s commentary) — This precept has never […]

Jakusho Kwong

‘In our meditation practice it is very important not to become lost entertaining the thinking mind, because the activity and capacity of the thinking mind is endless. If you give it all your attention, it will take your life.’ (No Beginning, No End)

Buddha Ancestors

After finishing Shinshu’s book, I was moved by some mysterious preference to pick up as my commute read the Denkoroku, Keizan’s assembles stories of the lineage of teachers from Shakyamuni to Koun Ejo, Dogen’s first successor in Japan. I have two versions of it, and this time am reading Francis Cook’s translation. In his introduction he […]

Sylvia Boorstein

‘If I want to build big biceps, I need to use every opportunity to practice lifting weights. If I want to live in a way that is loving and generous and fearless, then I need to practice overcoming any tendency to be angry or greedy or confused. Life is a terrific gym.’ (It’s Easier Than You […]

Koun Franz

‘Life is the total working of all things, and you’re a part of it, and there’s nothing you can do about that. We could substitute “life” in this sentence with anything. Eating lunch is the total functioning of the present; shoveling snow is totally manifested. Because if not, what is it? What is your life but […]


‘Even when we have the eyes [to see mountains as] the appearance of grass and trees, earth and stone, fences and walls, this is nothing to doubt, nothing to be moved by; it is not the complete appearance [of the mountains]… Even when they appear to us as the realm of the practice as the […]

Nanao Sakaki

Why climb a mountain? Look! A mountain there. I don’t climb mountain. Mountain climbs me. Mountain is myself. I climb on myself. There is no mountain nor myself. Something moves up and down in the air. I will be at Tassajara this week, letting the mountains climb on me.

Ruth Fuller Sasaki

‘The Japanese Zen masters of today are trying faithfully to carry on their reaching against tremendous odds. Furthermore, they are bound by a traditional system which, as regards many of its forms, is a relic of the feudal age. All are aware of this, but the great problem facing them is how to adapt to […]