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.’ […]


‘Baizhang said: “I want someone to go and tell something to Xitang.” Wufeng said: “I’ll go.” Baizhang said: “How will you speak to him?” Wufeng said: “I’ll wait until I see Xitang, then I’ll speak.” Baizhang said: “What will you say?” Wufeng said: When I come back, I’ll tell you.”‘ (Zen’s Chinese Heritage)  


‘Changqing asked Baofu Congzhan, “Seeing form is no other than seeing mind. Do you see a boat?” Baofu said, “Yes I do.” Changqing said, “Putting the boat aside, what is mind?” Baofu pointed at the boat.’ (Shinji Shobogenzo) He might as well have been looking at a cypress tree…


‘One day Master Isan Reiyu was asked by a monk, “What is the truth?” Master Isan said, “Not to have an intentional idea is the truth.” The monk said, “I cannot understand your words.” Master Isan said, “It is good to know there is something that cannot be understood.” The monk said, “In what state […]

Tetsugen Bernie Glassman

I was sad to read that Tetsugen Bernie Glassman had died. His role in the expansion of American zen, especially into the realms of social action, was of great importance, and will outlive him. I was reminded of that recently when I re-read Instructions to the Cook, with its mix of the practical and the traditional. He […]


‘Shoushan said to the assembly, “If you attain at the first phrase, you will be teacher of buddhas and patriarchs. If you attain at the second phrase, you will be teacher of humans and gods. If you attain at the third phrase, you cannot even save yourself.” A monk asked, “At which phrase did you […]