Suzuki Roshi

‘I don’t necessarily want to give a lecture. I just want to live with you: moving stones, having a nice hot spring bath, and eating something good. Zen is right there.’ (Not Always So) Of course that kind of thing is a little easier when you are living at Tassajara.

Gesshin Greenwood

‘The first thing we learned about at Nisodo was water. In the sleep-dazed morning rush, when people were scolding us about not covering our mouths when we brushed our teeth, there was also a teaching about water. We learned just how much water to pour into the washing basin to wash our face, and we […]

Suzuki Roshi

‘You think that you can only establish true practice after you attain enlightenment, but it is not so. True practice is established in delusion, in frustration. If you make some mistake, that is where to establish your practice. There is no other place for you to establish your practice.’ (Not Always So) As in other realms, […]

Zenkei Blanche Hartman

‘The first time I heard Suzuki Roshi speak, he said, “You are perfect just as you are.” I thought, “He doesn’t know me. I’m new here.” But again and again he would keep pointing in that direction, saying, “You have everything you need,” “You are already complete,” “Just to be alive is enough.” I finally […]

Suzuki Roshi

‘Before we open our mouths, we are already expressing the big existence, including ourselves.’ (Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind) I have posted this before (with a snarky comment attached), but it is another phrase that we can hear again and again without exhausting. What is it that stops us from really believing it, right now?

Chan Master Sheng Yen

I like to delve into the library at Tassajara while I am there to see what catches my eye. While I was looking over the shelves, I pulled one book out, and saw a tiny little booklet that had been hiding next to it; a short pamphlet with the title ‘The Advantages One May Derive […]

Becoming Butterflies

When I am co-leading retreats at Tassajara, I feel that most of my job is to be the Tassajara translator – not just of the forms and guidelines, but also about the experience of living here, especially as summer guests are often curious about monastic life in the winter. I am rather embarrassed to realise […]