Nagarjuna

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 […]

How Do You Afford Your Buddhist Lifestyle?

“Now tickets to concerts and drinking at clubs Sometimes for music that you haven’t even heard of. And how much did you pay for your rock’n’roll t shirt That proves you were there That you heard of them first? How do you afford your rock’n’roll lifestyle?” I heard this song on the radio. “Rock ‘n’ […]

Why Zen?

I’m not interested in worshipping the Buddha or Bodhisattvas. I’m not even really all that interested in revering them. When the Buddha attained awakening under the Bodhi tree he said, “I and all beings have attained Enlightenment.” I want to actualize that statement. Zen isn’t about bowing to statues, it’s about bowing to our true […]

Emptiness

The story is that the Buddha gave the first turning of the Wheel of the Dharma, the first set of teachings, just after his Enlightenment. This teaching consisted of the Four Noble Truths. And later there was a second turning. In the second turning the Buddha taught the Perfection of Wisdom teachings. This was a […]

The Flower and the Smile

It’s said that the lineage that we call Zen started in a place called Vulture Peak. It’s said that it started when the Buddha was silent, in the space between words—it was the teaching of no-teaching. His students asked for a teaching, as they did many times. Instead of speaking, as they expected, he just […]

Bodhidharma’s 2 Entries

Bodhidharma said there are two ways to enter the path. Entry through conduct and entry through principle. He outlined this in a teaching called the Two Entries and the Four Practices. In this teaching he outlines in a clear way what we must do to attain enlightenment. Entry through conduct is associated with practices that […]

The Three Essentials

There are three essentials of Zen practice.  These are considered some of the greatest and most important virtues. They are great faith, great doubt, and great determination. Great faith means having faith in our mind’s ability to recognize our Buddha Nature. This is clearly very different from what other religions usually mean when they suggest that […]

Bai Zhang’s 12 Meditation Steps

“Do not give rise to good and bad thoughts. When a thought arises-–-be aware of it-–-awareness dissolves the thought. When this method is applied over a long period of time—all thoughts are forgotten and oneness is attained.” -Bai Zhang Zuo Ch’an Yi, The Seated Meditation Regulation text, may have been one of the first lists […]

Ikkyu and the Bones of the Buddha Statue

Once, Ikkyu was staying in a temple. The night was cold and there were three wooden Buddhas in the temple, so he burned one Buddha to warm himself. The priest in charge of the temple woke up and noticed something was going on, so he looked to see what Ikkyu was doing. The Buddha statue […]

Zen And The Hindrances

Zen is said to be a method for overcoming the five hindrances: Sensation desire, hatred, sloth, anxiety, and doubt. These are described as the mental factors that hinder our progress, not only in the spiritual path but in daily life as well. Sensation desire refers to the type of wanting that tries to get our […]