Brad Warner

‘Here’s my personal opinion. If you’re going to call yourself a “Zen priest” in the Soto tradition, then you had better know some “priest craft.” You’d better know how to do all the different roles in a standard chanting ceremony — like ringing the bells, offering incense, hitting the mokugyo (wooden drum shaped like a fish), chanting, […]

Norman Fischer

‘In the simple format of meditation, just sitting there by yourself with no one to negotiate with and no task to perform, you have the perfect conditions for practicing patience. Take the issue of physical pain, an experience we naturally view as problematic. Here’s a way to go about it: When physical pain arises in […]

Rest and Repose

As I was giving my dharma talk on the solstice, I started by invoking it, and how the darkest time of the year has acted as a time of reflection and renewal across human cultures. I nearly mentioned one of my students, who had told me that week that he had been stressed right through […]

Tatsugami Roshi

‘The Paramita Sutra, or the Heart Sutra, which we chant every morning, says that there is no obstacle for the mind (‘shin mu kei ge’). From where do the obstacles come? You yourself create them.  You fall into a trap set by yourself.  There is no better way to attain freedom from this trap than […]

Crosstown Trail

When I was around ten or eleven, my schoolfriends and I took part, several years running, in an annual charity walk that raised money for the local elderly. It must have been heavily encouraged at school, otherwise I don’t know how we all decided to do it, seeing as it was twenty miles – quite […]

Miaoxin

‘Seventeen monks, traveling in search of enlightenment, came to visit the famous teacher Master Yangshan Huiji. Before climbing the mountain to see him, they stayed night in the temple guesthouse, and that evening they discussed the Sixth Patriarch’s koan: “What moves is not the wind nor the banner, but your mind.” The nun Miaoxin was […]

Giving Thanks For The Rain

The weather was just about perfect for the roam on Sunday, with clear skies and warm sun. There was a sense, sitting on Bernal Heights looking down over the city, that this was the last of the fine weather that has characterised the last couple of months in San Francisco. Out of the sun the […]

Joseph Hall

‘So here’s what I learned about bells.  You always have the option of being a monk, all you need to do is decide that the world is your monastery.  There are bells constantly ringing around you and it’s up to you to decide which ones you are going to align yourself with.  Each bell has […]

A Few Reflections

I realised, after I had posted the other day, that I had left out one element of the two different rides I had been on: riding up the mountain was all about effort, and riding along the water was all about no effort. Among my dharma talk drafts, I have one that centres on that […]

Soko Morinaga

‘To take the unsettles self in hand, under whatever conditions, and return to the mind with which one set out; to pick oneself up again, after the mind changes, weakens, and breaks down, and stiffen the determination; to carry through the oft-reconstructed original vow – isn’t this the true meaning of courage?’ (Novice To Master) […]