Yu Daopo

There is a true person of no rank, who has six arms and three heads
When she uses her full strength to cut, Mount Hua is split in two
Her strength is like the ever-flowing water,
Not caring about the coming of spring.


‘What I previously saw of words and phrases is one, two, three, four, five. Today what I see of phrases is also six, seven, eight, nine, ten. My junior fellow-practitioners, completely see this in that, completely see that in this. Making such an effort you can totally grasp one-flavor Zen through words and phrases.’ (Tenzokyokun)

I have had this open for a few days as I contemplate using another passage in a teaching. I could explain exactly what he is talking about, but if you really want to know, I suggest you listen to one of my classes on the subject.

Diane Eshin Rizzetto

‘The practice of virtuous or wise actions begins with our deciding what we will return to matter what life brings to our way – joy, happiness, sadness, sorrow , or sickness. Buddhist teachings call this “taking refuge.” A place of refuge is a place of security and sanctuary, but more than just a haven of safety, it is also where we find the strength and energy to support us in living a happy life.’ (Deep Hope)

Shodo Harada

‘The central most important quality of practice is that we do it bravely, without wavering. We cannot do it with a weak heart, full of hesitation; nor can we do it while being concerned with what is to the left or what is to the right, or with what others are doing or thinking, with our physical problems or with how we feel about things, or how insecure we might feel – if we pay attention to each and every thing that comes along, there is no way we can possibly encounter that true essence of mind, cut that root of life and death, or clarify the essence of what it really is to exist. Our training is not a scholarly study. We are not sitting toabsorb philosophical information. If we wanted to do that, we could go to college. We are not doing this for information, but to separate from that dualistically oriented mind. We have to completely throw all of that away or we cannot encounter directly that true root of our life energy.’ (The Path to Bodhidharma)

I should note that this passage comes in a chapter on sesshin; I don’t think it is necessary to be sitting sesshin to cultivate this kind of attitude, but it is definitely a helpful container for doing that. One thing I ponder, as I am sure many other teachers do, is how to stimulate this attitude out in the world.

Back In The Dharma Seat

Today I will be joining the Hebden Bridge sangha for a sit, well-being ceremony, dharma talk and discussion – the same as we were doing for a few months last year. I imagine it will be a time of reflecting back over the past year, and sharing how we all feel now. For want of a theme, on the basis of teaching from what is most alive for you (which was standard advice at Zen Center) I thought of the line from Kodo Sawaki that I posted a few days ago.

You can join if the time works for you – zazen is at 12:30 PST (or whatever it is called in summertime, since the clocks have gone forward here, but not there – and typing that out reminded me that I would have logged on an hour early if I hadn’t thought about it), and the talk will be around 1:10. Zoom link is here.

The current iteration of the dharma seat

Ta Hui

‘Buddhas are those who have comprehended and completed things in the realm of sentient beings; sentient beings are those who have not comprehended and completed things in the realm of buddhas. If you want to attain Oneness, just give up both buddhas and sentient beings at once: then there is no “comprehended and completed”or “not comprehended and completed.”‘ (Swampland Flowers)

When I read Dogen, I hear distinct echoes of this earlier work.

Lama Rod Owens

‘When silence is intentionally used to understand ourselves, then it will reveal many secrets to us. I see silence in this respect as being compassionate, because it does tell me the truth and it calls me to do the work of holding space for that truth, which is the work of spiritual transformation.’ (Love andRage)

I often ask, in my meditation sessions, what arises in the silence? The first step is to pay attention to it, to allow it room; the second step is to respond to what it tells us.

Barbara O’Brien

‘Once you start paying attention to it, you notice that at least 80 percent of your waking life amounts to being jerked around by karma. Once you learn to recognize what it is, it’s very useful to work with that.’ (from the Rethinking Religion blog)

I came across this blog while I was trying to find the exchange I used in this post, and found some good thoughts in there.

Corey Ichigen Hess

‘First, at first we think that being present is exhausting. We have this limited amount of focus. We can do it for a while, and then we have to take a break. Take some breaths, or return to our stream of thoughts. Or, we have to have quiet or a controlled environment to connect with and feel this full and tautness we get from class and our practice.

I would like to challenge the idea that being present is exhausting. A big shift for many of us comes when we discover that being present fills us up with energy. As if the present moment blows us up like a balloon. We find that focusing on it fills us up. We find this present moment fills up our bodies, creates this internal momentum we have discovered in the standing/sitting.

So, instead of the present moment being something we go to at times and then go back to normal, instead of ki being something we get sometimes, it is the base of our experience. It is where we return to. This momentum is not something we cultivate but something always there, always our basic experience.’ (from Zen Embodiment)

Another nice observation from Corey.