Saturday, 31 January 2009

Dusk on the River

There's a Zen story in which a man is enjoying himself on a river at dusk. He sees another boat coming down the river toward him. At first it seems so nice to him that someone else is also enjoying the river on a nice summer evening. Then he realizes that the boat is coming right toward him, faster and faster. He begins to get upset and starts to yell, "Hey, hey watch out! For Pete's sake, turn aside!" But the boat just comes faster and faster, right toward him. By this time he's standing up in his boat, screaming and shaking his fist, and then the boat smashes right into him. He sees that it's an empty boat.

This is the classic story of our whole life situation.

Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are

Everyday Mind
, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

Received as
Daily Dharma from on the 29th of January 2009

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Ten Diseases of Meditation Practice

1. Entertaining thoughts of "is" or "is not."

2. Thinking Zhaozhou said "no" because in reality there is just nothing.

3. Resorting to principles or theories.

4. Trying to resolve the hwadu (koan) as an object of intellectual inquiry.

5. When the master raises his eyebrows or blinks his eyes taking such things as indicators regarding the meaning of dharma.

6. Regarding the skilful use of words as a means to express the truth.

7. Regarding a state of vacuity and ease for realization of truth.

8. Taking the place where you become aware of sense objects to be the mind.

9. Relying upon words quoted from the teachings.

10. Remaining in a deluded state waiting for enlightenment to happen.

Edited from: Larkin, Geri. First You Shave Your Head. Berkeley, Celestial Arts, 2001, pp. 67.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Clear and Transparent

Like the little stream
Making its way

Through the mossy crevices

I, too, quietly

Turn clear and transparent

- Ryokan

What we talk about when we talk about meditation.

If you do decide to start meditating, there's no need to tell other people about it, or talk about why you are doing it or what it's doing for you. In fact, there is no better way to waste your nascent energy and enthusiasm for practice and thwart your efforts so they will be unable to gather momentum. Best to meditate without advertising it.

Every time you get a strong impulse to talk about meditation and how wonderful it is, or how hard it is, or what it's doing for you these days, or what it's not, or you want to convince someone else how wonderful it would be for them, just look at it as more thinking and go meditate some more. The impulse will pass and everybody will be better off - especially you.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are

Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

Received as
Daily Dharma from on the 16th of January 2009

Friday, 9 January 2009

A flower / A weed

A flower falls even though we love it,

And a weed grows even though we do not love it.

- Dogen Zenji

Saturday, 3 January 2009


When we stop ignoring the futility of samsara, we enter the path of liberation. Without self-reflection, we can't take this step. Habitual tendencies cause us to ignore impermanence, karma, and the suffering of samsara. We ignore the preciousness of our human birth and our potential to work with our mind. We ignore our vulnerability, which is the cause of so much suffering. When we remain in denial, even if we take refuge thousands of times, nothing will change. Denial is the first thing we must really give up.

Seeing the futility of samsara brings a sense of discenchantment, or brokenheartedness. This is the realization that everything we've ever taken refuge in, from time immemorial, has been unreliable. From this realization, feelings of tenderness and sadness* arise toward our world - along with a deep sense of renunciation. Longing to move closer to the truth, we realize there is no more genuine refuge than the Three Jewels.

This is not just Dharma "propaganda." When you take refuge, it's for your own sake. Nobody benefits but you, and nobody suffers but you when you take refuge in samsara. It is your choice: You can take refuge in samsara, or you can take refuge in waking up. But at some point, you do have to drop your doubts and make up your mind.

*Tib. skyo chad. This feeling of disenchantment or brokenheartedness is cherished by all the great masters as the root of developing genuine renunciation.

Kongtrul, Dzigar. It's Up to You: The Practice of Self-reflection on the Buddhist Path. Boston, Shambala, 2005, pp. 41-42.

Link to Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche's oganisation Mangala Shri Bhuti.