Nagarjuna is one of my heroes in Buddhist history. He was a scholar and adventurer, a mystic and wanderer. And a prolific writer whose work is still with us today. He’s sometimes called the Second Buddha. He’s the only figure given such a high distinction. He lived in the second century and he’s considered a […]

Zen Master Dogen

I think it could be argued that the history of Zen is really a history of spiritual iconoclasts and revolutionaries, spiritual adventurers who saw the way things were and sought to innovate instead of merely accepting the status quo. Dogen is  looked upon by Soto Zen Buddhists as an ideal to live up to; he […]

Xu Yun: Empty Cloud

  “Set the time of sitting! Make it just as long as it takes one fragrant incense stick to burn down. In that time we can thread the basic principles of Buddhism into a lovely string of pearls.” ~ Xu Yun Ch’an Master Xu Yun lived to be 120. He lived from the mid 1800s […]

Han Shan and the Zen Hermits

Camping makes me think of Zen hermits. I sometimes go and live in a tent for a while. If people are around, they come talk to me. If no one is around, then I spend time with the trees and the grass. There’s a tradition, especially in China, of Buddhist teachers disappearing into the wilderness. These […]

Great Compassion is a Prerequisite

Great compassion is the fundamental prerequisite for successful Ch’an meditation. Compassion is the best possible motivation. It inspires us like nothing else can. Because we have great compassion, we are striving to become enlightened for the sake of all beings. This is what it means to try to live the way of the Bodhisattva. Because […]

Is Compassion Important In Zen?

At first glance, it might seem like compassion isn’t important in Zen. There’s a whole lot of emphasis on insight and concentration practices. It’s true that in the Zen tradition there is a lot of focus on the mystical experience, cultivating insight to try to attain Enlightenment. Texts like the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra do […]

When Buddhist Practice Becomes Routine

Historically, there have been two forms of Buddhism. Actually, there are a lot more than two, but I’m just going to talk about two here. For simplicity I’m going to refer to them as Temple Buddhism and the Other Buddhism. Temple Buddhism exists in temples—often simply among monks and laypeople that visit them. Temple Buddhism […]

Why I Love the Diamond Sutra

I’m going to tell you about the Diamond Sutra. The full title is: Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra A lot of Sutras are about teaching us a lesson or telling us a story, but the Diamond Sutra is different. It’s the story of the Buddha answering the questions of one of his students. And it is important […]

Three aspects of Huineng’s path.

There are three aspects of Huineng’s path. They are: thoughtlessness, immateriality and nonabiding. Thoughtlessness as it’s doctrine, Immateriality as it’s substance, and Nonabiding as it’s fundamental. Thoughtlessness means not being carried away by any specific thought in the use of our minds. Immateriality means not being absorbed by attachment to objects while in the midst […]