Nov 25, 2009

the Buddha in a cup of tea

Too worldly for a monastery,
I find Buddha in a cup of tea:
Up with the sunrise,
I sit alone in my cabin,
Mind washed by simmering water
Sound, like wind in the pines.
This is my solitary quest,
Buddha under the Bodhi Tree
Meditated for seven days,
Until a beautiful sunrise
Made him give up
The futility of revealing
What was never hidden.
I prefer a simple cup of tea,
Seven minutes to boil water,
Much easier than seven days.
Complete, unexcelled Enlightenment:
Of course, only if
You are paying attention!

The Four Noble Truths
First, suffering exists:
Why else would we drink tea?
A daily taste of paradise in the everyday.
Second truth: suffering caused by tanha--
“Self-centeredness, grasping, and greed;”
Drink tea and be ego-free;
Self dissolves in service to the holy leaf;
Guests arrive and Buddha meets Buddha.
Third truth: suffering can cease
The tea cup is a raft between
Nirvana and Samsara,
Neither shore more holy than the other.
Fourth truth: there is a way to end suffering,
The Noble Eightfold Path:
Right view: the beautiful leaves, the color of the brew.
Right intention: prepare a delicious cup and enjoy.
Right speech: no yesterday or tomorrow in the tearoom.
Right conduct: spontaneous morality needs no rules.
Right livelihood: honest, forthright, a good example.
Right effort: delight in details: gong fu cha!
Right mindfulness: care for another cup?
Right concentration: nothing but tea, yet tea includes all.

All of this called
The Middle Way,
No extremes:
Neither asceticism nor hedonism
Greedy people make insipid tea.
The overly patient brew it
Too dark and bitter.

Elaborating on obvious truths
Tea Buddha also teaches
Anatta—no self,
How can I know I,
Since I’m the one doing the knowing?
I am not I, and tea is not tea!
And anicca, impermanence,
The same guests, like the same moment
Never return—one time, one meeting.
Tea changes: white, green, oolong, red, pu erh.
Today’s Long Jing is different from yesterday’s.
And tathata—suchness, the beingness of Tea:
What is tea? Just this, just this, just this…

Kenneth S. Cohen

to read more please check:

Oct 23, 2009


Objects of mind

Subject of mind
Reflections on the surface of water

Different, not the same

Yet who can separate them?

Gary Palen

Oct 15, 2009

the preciousness of every single moment

There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs, and the tigers are getting closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump pf grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it into her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Tiger above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life, it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of life.

Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape (Shambala Publications, Boston/London, 2001)

Oct 7, 2009

someday, he'll come along

it's Mr. Yorke's birthday today.

thanks for all the beauty, shared with so much generosity over the years.

thank you for being on this planet.

feel all the love and gratitude from so many people you've been inspiring all along.

Happy Continuation!

Sep 27, 2009


No one at home – yet no vacancy!

Soen Nakagawa

Endless Vow – The Zen Path of Soen Nakagawa (Shambala Publications, Boston/London, 1996)

Sep 23, 2009

what am I doing?

Do you think I know what I’m doing?

That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?

As much as a pen knows what it’s writing,
Or the ball can guess where it’s going next.


Open Secret: Versions of Rumi

Sep 16, 2009

Que Será, Será - Plum Village version

When I was just a little girl,
I asked my mother what will I be?
Will I be pretty?
Will I be rich?
This’s what she said to me:

Que Será, Será
Whatever will be, will be?
The future’s not ours to see
Que Sera, Sera,
What’s will be, will be.

When I was just a novice monk
I asked my teacher, what will I be?
Will I be enlighten?
Will I be free?
This’s what Thay said to me:

Que Será, Será,
What ever will be, will be?
The Sangha will let you know,
Within ten years or so.

When I was just a novice nun
I tried my best to be near Thay
But everybody did the same thing,
How could I be near to Thay

Sit next to me my child,
Every Thursday at lunch,
Love your brothers and yours sisters,
You’re always close to me.

I’ve been a nun for 5 years now,
I ask my teacher, where is my (Dharma) Lamp?
I’ve tried my best, done everything.
Will I get it this time?

Sit, stand, talk and walk,
Do everything in mindfulness
And have a pleasant smile
The light will shine from there.

I’ve been a monk for 10 years now
I ask my teacher, what should I do?
Should I go out?
Have a temple of my own,

Que Será, Será,
Whatever will be, will be.
Be a river my child
Don’t be a drop of water.

Photo: Plum Village Novice Brothers and Sisters during Winter Retreat 2008.

Sep 4, 2009

a child learns to stand

In spite of the scientific knowledge that is steadily growing, the people of the world are restless and racked with fear and discontent. They are intoxicated with the desire to gain fame, wealth, power and to gratify the senses. To this troubled world still seething with hate, distrust, selfish desire and violence, most timely is the Buddha's Message of love and understanding, the Noble Eightfold Path, leading to the realization of Nibbana. A mere knowledge of the Path, however complete, will not do. In this case, our function is to follow it and keep to it.

The path is indeed difficult, but if we, with constant heedfulness, and complete awareness, walk it watching our steps, we will one day reach our destination. A child learns to stand and walk gradually and with difficulty. So too have all great ones moved from stage to stage through repeated failure to final success. It is a Path leading to the realization of Ultimate Reality, to complete freedom, happiness and peace through moral, spiritual and intellectual perfection.

From this brief account of the Path, one may see that it is a way of life to be followed, practised and developed by each individual. It is self-discipline in body, word and mind, self-development and self-purification. It has nothing to do with belief, prayer, worship or ceremony.

The Path to Supreme Bliss, in Gems of Buddhist Wisdom, The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, 1996

Aug 22, 2009

love is real

e.s.t. - Esbjörn Svensson Trio´s song Believe Beleft Below, lyrics by Josh Haden, with the Schleswig Holstein Chamber Orchestra, Pat Metheny on guitar and sung by Nils Landgren.

I dedicate this tune to Maria Silvia Ferraz de Camargo, the greatest love of my live. Together with Esbjörn Svensson and others R.I.P.

some people don´t die, they stay in the marvels they left passing by (dfuse)

Aug 20, 2009

this inner enemy is easily vanquished

When we investigate carefully, we cannot find something, some powerful enemy, called negative emotion. In reality, there is nothing there. For example, when we experience aversion or attachment, these emotions are not located in the ugly or beautiful object that causes them, nor are they located in our minds, nor are they to be found anywhere else. When we look more closely, we realize that it is through the coming together of causes and conditions that these emotions have such power – they do not have any power of their own. They are simply a nexus of factors that we identify and label. In fact, the emotions are entirely dependent on other things. The harm they do to us is due to illusion. If we really understand this, the negative emotions cannot harm us.
[…] For negative emotions are actually impotent, based as they are on ignorance, which itself has no strength. This inner enemy is easily vanquished with the weapon of discriminating wisdom, which knows the true nature of the emotions.

Commentaries by The Dalai Lama taken from “A Flash of Lightning in the Dark of Night” (Shambala Dragon Editions, 1994)

Aug 11, 2009

the belly of God

Do you want to know what joy is? Do you really want to know? Then listen. It’s nighttime, it’s raining, I’m hungry, I’m outside, I knock on the door of my house, I say it’s me, and they don’t let me in, I spend the night at the door of my house, in the rain, famished. There it is, that’s joy. Let whoever can understand understand. Let whoever wants to hear hear. Joy is never again being home, being always outside, weakened by everything, hungry for everything, being everywhere in the out-of-doors of the world as in the belly of God.

Christian Bobin, The secret of Saint Francis of Assisi (Shambala Publications, 1997)

photography ©Annie Griffiths Belt

Aug 5, 2009

a purpose

Although there is no specific purpose in a man's existence, yet man is free to have some purpose in life.

in Gems of Buddhist Wisdom, The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, 1996

Jul 28, 2009

isn’t it?

[…] “everything in the realms of the lower, middle and upper heavens is engaged in spiritual training. All at some point or other become bodhisattvas, so that the title bodhisattvas is unnecessary. If all are becoming Buddha and bodhisattva, surely there is no reason to make a distinction between ‘Buddha nature’ and all living creatures? At this moment you, us, and the ground we are treading on, all of us are in a process of striving and growth. The very motion of the whole universe is a process of profound spiritual growth. All change, all life and death, loving and hating, all is training and growth. Isn’t it? Isn’t it?”

Ko Un, Little Pilgrim, Parallax Press, Berkley, 2005

Jul 22, 2009

spiritual maturity

For the psychologically mature person, the ills and injustices of life are handled by counter aggression, in which one makes an effort to eliminate the injustice and create justice. Often such efforts are dictatorial, full of anger and self-righteousness.
In spiritual maturity, the opposite of injustice is not justice, but compassion. Not me against you, not me straightening out the present ill, fighting to gain a just result for myself and others, but compassion, a life that goes against nothing and fulfills everything.


The best answer to injustice is not justice, but compassion, or love. You ask, “But what am I to do in this difficult situation? I must do something!” Yes, but what? Always our practice must be the basis for our actions. And appropriate and compassionate response does not come from a fight for justice, but from that radical dimension of practice that “passeth all understanding”. […] Let us not adopt some facile, narrowly psychological view of our lives. The radical dimension I speak of demands everything we are and have. Joy, not happiness, is its fruit.

Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special – Living Zen (HarperCollins, 1993)

Jul 18, 2009


The grape leaves outside my window are curiously beautiful. "Curiously" because it comes upon me as strange, after the long darkness of self-absorption and fear and shame in which I have been living, that things are beautiful, that independent to our catastrophes they continue to mantain their casual precision, the effortless abundance of inventive "effect", which is the hallmark and specialty of Nature. Nature: this morning it seems to me very clear that Nature be defined as that which exists without guilt. Our bodies are in Nature; our shoes, their laces, the little plastic tips of the laces -- everything around us and about us is Nature, and yet something holds us away from it, like the upward push of water which keeps us from touching the sandy bottom, ribbed and glimmering with crescental fragments of oyster shell, so clear to our eyes.


The grape leaves where they are not in each other's shadows are golden. Flat leaves, they take the sun flatly, and turn the absolute light, sum of the spectrum and source of all life, into the crayon yellow with which children render it. Here and there, wilt transmutes this lent radiance into a glowing orange, and the green of the still tender leaves -- for green persists long into autumn, if we look -- strains from the sunlight a fine-veined chartreuse. The shadows these leaves cast upon each other, though vagrant and nervous in the wind that sends friendly scavenging rattles scurrying across the roof, are yet quite various and definite, containing innumerable barbaric suggestions of scimitars, flanged spears, prongs, and menacing helmets. The net effect, however, is innocent of menace. On the contrary, its intricate simultaneous suggestion of shelter and openness, warmth and breeze, invites me outward; my eyes venture into the leaves beyond. I am surrounded by leaves. The oak's are tenacious claws of purplish rust; the elm's, scant feathers of a feminine yellow; the sumac's, a savage, toothed blush. I am upheld in a serene and burning universe of leaves. Yet something plucks me back, returns me to that inner darkness where guilt is the sun.

excerpt from Leaves, short story by John Updike in The Music School, First Vintage Books Edition, 1980

Photo ©Richard Small

Jul 9, 2009

2 words

The secret of Soto Zen is just two words:

not always so.

Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

found this pearl of instant enlightenment on, where there was also the link to this picture of the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, where my mind pictures my beloved friend and brother Arnold, his toes being kissed by the fish in the Tassajara river; to see more please refer to:

Jul 3, 2009

that mass of dots

quotes from the movie Latter Days (2003):

Do you ever read the Sunday comics?

Well, when I was a little kid, I use to put my nose right up to them. And I was just amazed because it looked like this mass of dots, and none of it made sense until I pulled back.

Life looks like that mass of dots to me sometimes.

None of it makes any sense, but I like to think that, from God's perspective, life, everything - even this - make sense. It's not just dots.

Instead we're all connected, and it's beautiful and funny and good. This close we can't expect it to make sense, not right now.

Sometimes it all still feels like a mass of dots. But more and more these days, I feel like we're all connected. And it's beautiful... and funny... and good.

Photography by Claire L. Evans

Jun 24, 2009

to be enlightened by all things

To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. To be enlightened by all things is to cast off the body and mind of the self as well as those of others. Even the traces of enlightenment are wiped out, and life with traceless enlightenment goes on forever and ever.

Eihei Dōgen, Genjōkōan (現成公案)

Jun 21, 2009

to guard their practice

Those who wish to guard their practice
Should very attentively guard their minds,
For those who do not guard their minds
Will be unable to guard their practice.


A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, Translated by Stephen Batchelor, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala, 1979

Jun 15, 2009

the later returned

When a drop quit home and later returned

It found a shell and became a pearl.


excerpt from Rumi's Divan of Shems of Tabriz - Selected Odes, a new interpretation by James Cowan, Element Boooks, 1997

Jun 10, 2009

what happens if I sit with that?

Only a self-centered self, a self that is attached to mind and body, can be hurt. That self is really a concept formed of thoughts we believe in. […] Suppose I feel I have no friends, and I’m very lonely. What happens if I sit with that? I begin to see that my feeling of loneliness are really just thoughts. As a matter of fact, I’m simply sitting here. Maybe I’m sitting alone in my room, without a date. Nobody has called me, and I fell lonely. In fact, however, I’m simply sitting. The loneliness and the misery are simply my thoughts, my judgments that things should be other than they are. I haven’t seen through them; I haven’t recognized that my misery is manufactured by me. The truth of the matter is, I’m simply sitting in my room. It takes time before we can see that just to sit is okay, just fine. I cling to the thought that if I don’t have pleasant and supportive company, I am miserable.

I’m not recommending a life in which we cut ourselves off in order to be free of attachment. Attachment concerns not what we have, but our opinions about what we have.

Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special – Living Zen (HarperCollins, 1993)

above, Morning Sun by Edward Hopper,1952; Oil on canvas, 28 1/8 x 40 1/8 inches; Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio -- to see more please refer to:

Jun 7, 2009

an art

If we learn to enjoy waiting,

we don't have to wait to enjoy.

Kazuaki Tanahashi

photo from Chronicles of a NYC Bench

Jun 4, 2009

nothing is real

nothing is real, by effusion

May 27, 2009

this is not an improvement plan

When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are.


This is not an improvement plan; it is not a situation in which you try to be better than you are now. If you have a bad temper and you feel that you harm yourself and others, you might think that sitting for a week or a month will make your bad temper go away – you will be that sweet person that you always wanted to be. Never again will a harsh word leave your lily-white lips. The problem is that the desire to change is fundamentally a form of aggression toward yourself. The other problem is that our hang-ups, unfortunately or fortunately, contain our wealth. Our neurosis and our wisdom are made out of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom. Someone who is very angry also has a lot of energy; that energy is what’s so juicy about him or her. That’s the reason people love that person. The idea isn’t to try to get rid of your anger, but to make friends with it, to see it clearly with precision and honesty, and also to see it with gentleness. That means not judging yourself as a bad person, but also not bolstering yourself by saying, “It’s good that I’m angry at them all the time”. The gentleness involves not repressing the anger but also not acting it out. It is something much softer and more openhearted than any of that. It involves learning how, once you have fully acknowledged the feeling of anger and the knowledge of who you are and what you do, to let it go. You can let go of the usual pitiful little story line that accompanies anger and begin to see clearly how you keep the whole thing going. So whether it’s anger or craving or jealousy or fear or depression – whatever it might be – the notion is not to try to get rid of it, but to make friends with it. that means getting to know it completely, with some kind of softness, and learning how, once you’ve experienced it fully, to let go.

Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape (Shambala Publications, Boston/London, 2001)

Illustration from the site Beauty Analysis, on the article Faces Variations by Sex; to see and read more on this -- and find how perfect you already are, no matter what -- please refer to:

May 20, 2009

that was all

One day, a Zen student came to his master and asked him a very important question about the ultimate reality. He had been there for three years, but he believed that his master had not taught him the best things concerning meditation. So he presented himself that morning to the master, hoping that he would teach him very important things. The master pointed to a cypress tree in the front yard and asked the student whether he had seen it or not. That was all. The master refused to say another word. I think perhaps the student had gone by that tree many times a day for many years but he had not had a chance to really look at the tree. Therefore, his master wanted him to go back to the tree and look at it. And that was his deepest teaching. I don't know whether the student got the message, but when I read the story, I got the message. If we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, it will be impossible for us to meet anything, including a flower or a tree.

[...] To go back to yourself, to be yourself again, in order to be in the present moment, in order for the encounter with the flower to be possible; that flower and [...] that cypress tree, they are life, they represent life. And if we cannot meet them, we cannot encounter them in a direct way, we miss life.

Thich Nhat Hanh, from the Dharma Talk Truly Seeing (available on cd, Parallax Press)

May 16, 2009

a pebble for your pocket

A meditation with Pháp Huu, in the tradition of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, shot by David Nelson at Plum Village during the Winter Retreat 2008/2009.

Enjoy it!

May 13, 2009

the mirror smiles

If we’re a free person, we aren’t conditioned by things around us. We just smile to them and we make our path. Our surroundings are like a mirror. If we smile, the mirror smiles. If we cry, the mirror cries. If we’re angry then the situation becomes angry. But even if the situation looks angry, if we’re able to smile, then the surroundings smile with us. So the surroundings are coming from our mind.

Thich Nhat Hanh
, Nothing to do, Nowhere to go - Waking up to who you are, Parallax Press, 2007

photo: " uomo libero, amerai sempre il mare; è il tuo specchio "©Enzo Rubino; if you'd like to see more from this photographer please refer to:

May 9, 2009

the road is covered with diamonds

The path of life seems to be mostly difficulties, things that give trouble. Yet the longer we practice, the more we begin to understand that those sharp rocks on the road are in fact like precious jewels; they help us to prepare the proper conditions for our lives. […] There are sharp rocks everywhere. What changes from years of practice is coming to know something you didn’t know before: that there are no sharp rocks – the road is covered with diamonds.

[…] the longer we practice, the very difficulties that life presents more and more can be seen as jewels. Increasingly, problems do not rule out practice, but support it. Instead of finding that practice is too difficult, that we have too many problems, we see that the problems themselves are the jewels, and we devote ourselves to being with them in a way we never dreamt of before. In my interviews with students, I constantly hear about such shifts: “Three years ago, I couldn’t possibly have handled this situation, but now..” That’s the turning over, preparing the ground. That’s what is necessary for the body and mind truly to transform. It’s not that problems disappear or that life “improves”, but that life slowly transforms – and the sharp rocks that we hated become welcome jewels. We may not delight to see them when they appear, but we appreciate the opportunity that they give, and so we embrace them rather than running away from them. This is the end of complaints about our life. Even that difficult person, the one who criticizes you, the one who doesn’t respect your opinion, or whatever – everybody has somebody or something, some sharp rock. Such a rock is precious; it is an opportunity, a jewel to embrace.

Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special – Living Zen (HarperCollins, 1993)

Photo © daily inspiration

May 5, 2009

mankind is no island

I dedicate this post to my dear friends and Brothers from the other Great South Land, (in order of appearence in my Plum Village life) Steven, Mark, Garry, Nathan, Richard, Ian and Shane.
Thank you for being there.

May 1, 2009

the scattered one, the collected one

There are Martha and Mary, the two sisters encountered by the Passing Christ. Martha was concerned about order and food, awhirl in her kitchen, lost in the sound of dishes and boiling water. Mary, her apron rolled up under a bench – Mary sitting on the ground, her legs folded under her like the wings of a bird in a moment of repose, face open, hands empty – Mary was concerned about the love without which all is sad, all food dull. Martha and Mary. The scattered one and the collected one. The unresting one and the pacified one.

Christian Bobin, The secret of Saint Francis of Assisi (Shambala Publications, 1997)

image above: Johannes Vermeer, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, 1654-55 (?),Oil on canvas, 160 x 142 cm, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh; to see more works by this Dutch painter please refer to:

Apr 24, 2009

rain pouring on the universe

In today’s sky
the charm of rain
pouring on the universe
imbues the heart
of each and everyone

Jien (Jichin-daikasho, 1155-1225), A Hundred Poems on the Essential Texts of the Lotus Sutra, as translated into English by Jean-Noel Robert

photo above: land art by Andy Goldsworthy, Rain shadow (St. Abbs, Scotland, June 1984); to see more from this artist please refer to:

Apr 18, 2009

somebody has to do it

To be thoroughly lazy is a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Industrious people build industry. Lazy people build civilization.

Kazuaki Tanahashi, Brush Mind, Parallax Press, 1990

to see and read more from Kazuaki Tanahashi, please refer to:

Apr 12, 2009

resurrection is a practice, not a ceremony

Nearly all of us are carrying our corpse as we walk around. We’re not truly alive, we’re not truly awake.

It’s very easy if we want to wake up and be a living person. In Christianity, they have the concept of resurrection. In Buddhism, resurrection is a practice, not a ceremony. When we hear the bell we can be resurrected. A single breath or step can resurrect us.

As we look around us, we can see if we’re among the living or among the dead. We may be right next to someone, but they don’t notice us, they are carried away by their memories, their anger, or sadness. Each moment can be a moment of resurrection, but they aren’t there to experience it.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Nothing to do, Nowhere to go - Waking up to who you are, Parallax Press, 2007

if you want to Wake Up...

Apr 8, 2009


time won't wait for you!
you can dream your life
but you'd better live your dreams

Thank you for reminding me, dear Pháp Thê...
With love and gratitude, I shall cultivate tomatoes, tomatoes and love being the same.

Apr 2, 2009

heaven and hell

There is another story that you may have read that has to do with what we call heaven and hell, life and death, good and bad. It’s a story about how those things don’t really exist except as a creation of our own minds. It goes like this: A big burly samurai comes to the wise man and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.” And the roshi looks him in the face and says: “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you?” The samurai starts to get purple in the face, his hair starts to stand up, but the roshi won’t stop, he keeps saying, “A miserable worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?” Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword, and he’s just about to cut off the head of the roshi. Then the roshi says, “That’s hell”. The samurai, who is in fact a sensitive person, instantly gets it, that he just created his own hell; he was deep in hell. It was black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment, so much so that he was going to kill this man. Tears fill his eyes and he starts to cry and he puts his palms together and the roshi says, “That’s heaven”.

Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape (Shambala Publications, Boston/London, 2001)

illustration: Yoshitoshi Taiso (1839-1892), Mount Ji Ming moon (Keimeizan no tsuki), ukiyo-e print series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon; to see more of these wonderful prints please visit:

Mar 28, 2009

see you in the dark

Today, Saturday, March 28, lights out from 8:30 to 9:30pm., and we'll be together again.

The light of our mindfulness will shine, and it shall be not Plum Village, but "Plum World"...

To learn more please refer to:

Mar 25, 2009

both sides, now

this post is dedicated to my dear friends Matthias Hammerl, my best dj, and Arnold Novak, dear Dharma brother -- this song has never been as beautiful as when in Plum Village Arnold sang it and Ed played it on the guitar, never so simple and sweet -- the version to be heard here is by Joni Mitchell herself, recorded a few years ago.
Thank you for the love, joy and support -- Happy Continuation!

to watch the video of this version, please go to:

photo: ocean moon ©lakewentworth; to see more:

Mar 22, 2009

may I be a bed for all who wish to rest

May I be a protector for those without one,
A guide for all travelers on the way;
May I be a bridge, a boat and a ship
For all who wish to cross (the water).

May I be an island for those who seek one,
And a lamp for those desiring light,
May I be a bed for all who wish to rest
And a slave for all who want a slave.

May I be a wishing jewel, a magic vase,
Powerful mantras and great medicine,
May I become a wish-fulfilling tree
And a cow of plenty for the world.

Just like space
And the great elements such as earth,
May I always support the lives
Of all the boundless creatures.

And until they pass away from pain,
May I also be the source of life
For all the realms of varied beings
That reach unto the ends of space.


excerpt from Chapter III – Full Acceptance of the Awakening of the Mind, in A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, translated by Stephen Batchelor, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala, 1979/2007

Mar 18, 2009


If we have been trying for years to attach our hose to this or that faucet, and each time have discovered that it wasn’t enough, there will come a moment of profound discouragement. We begin to sense that the problem is not our failure to connect with something out there, but that nothing external can ever satisfy the thirst. This is when we are more likely to begin a serious practice. This can be an awful moment – to realize that nothing is ever going to satisfy. Perhaps we have a good job, a good relationship or family, yet we’re still thirsty – and it dawns on us that nothing really can fulfill our demands. We may even realize that changing our life – rearranging the furniture – isn’t going to work, either. That moment of despair is in fact a blessing, the real beginning.


Christians call this realization the “dark night of the soul”. We’ve worn out everything we can do, and we don’t see what to do next. And so we suffer. Though it feels miserable at the time, that suffering is the turning point. Practice brings us to such fruitful suffering, and helps us stay with it. When we do, at some point the suffering begins to transform itself, an the water begins to flow. In order for that to happen, however, all of our pretty dreams about life and practice have to go, including the belief that good practice – or indeed, anything at all – should make us happy. The promise that is never kept is based on belief systems, personally centered thoughts that keep us stuck and thirsty. We have thousands of them. It’s impossible to eliminate them all; we don’t live long enough for that. Practice does not require that we get rid of them, but simply that we see through them and recognize them as empty, as invalid.


It’s useful to review our belief systems in this way, because there’s always one that we don’t see. In each belief system we hide a promise. As for Zen practice: the only promise we count upon is that when we make up to our lives, we’ll be freer persons. If we wake up to the way we see life and deal with it, we will slowly be freer – not necessarily happier or better, but freer.

Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special – Living Zen (HarperCollins, 1993)

Mar 14, 2009

our fellow-servant

This transient flower,
if we bring all our heart
in contemplating it
is our fellow-servant
in Buddha’s abode

Jien (Jichin-daikasho, 1155-1225), A Hundred Poems on the Essential Texts of the Lotus Sutra, as translated into English by Jean-Noel Robert

photo ©Chikache; to see more from this wonderful set of photos please refer to:

Mar 11, 2009

the key is to wake up

It is as if we had looked around to find out what would be the greatest wealth that we could possibly possess in order to lead a decent, good, completely fulfilling, energetic, inspired life, and found it all right here.

Being satisfied with what we already have is a magical golden key to being alive in a full, unrestricted, and inspired way. One of the major obstacles to what is traditionally called enlightenment is resentment, feeling cheated, holding a grudge about who you are, where you are, what you are. This is why we talk so much about making friends with ourselves, because, for some reason or other, we don’t feel that kind of satisfaction in a full and complete way. Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. Our wisdom is all mixed up with what we call our neurosis. Our brilliance, our juiciness, our spiciness, is all mixed up with our craziness and our confusion, and therefore it doesn’t do any good to try to get rid of our basic wonderfulness. We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we’re doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we’re doing. The key is to wake up, to become more alert, more inquisitive and curious about ourselves.

Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape (Shambala Publications, Boston/London, 2001)

Illustration: Wake up! ©Ed Boxall, to see more from this artist please refer to:

Mar 7, 2009

do not pretend

Master Linji, Teaching 7

The master came into the Dharma Hall and said, “Someone is standing on a towering peak alone. There is no path from the peak. Someone else is standing at the crossroads but cannot advance. Of these two, who will come first and who after? Do not pretend to be Vimalakirti or play the role of the great master Fu. Farewell.”

Commentary on this teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh:

We’ve all been in this situation. It’s very dangerous when there’s no place to advance or retreat. We might feel as if we’re going to die. There is no way out and we’re frozen. How do we survive? The Master warns us not to be like Master Fu or Vimalakirti, two very eloquent lay Buddhist practitioners. He warns us no to try and talk or think our way out of our predicament.

So how do we escape? We can’t. all we can do in the situation is surrender and be in the moment completely without trying to pretend we know the way out. In this contradiction, we find the truth. Once we surrender to the situation, we see the path. Where before we were caught, now we are liberated.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Nothing to do, Nowhere to go - Waking up to who you are, Parallax Press, 2007

Illustration: painting by Caspar David Friedrich - Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1817-18, Oil on canvas, 94,8 x 74,8 cm,
Kunsthalle, Hamburg; to see more paintings by Caspar David Friedrich please check:

Mar 5, 2009

the more he loves

He is with his love the way a child is with his ball in front of a wall. He throws his utterance, the ball of radiant utterance, the I-love-you rolled up on itself; he throws it against a wall that is separated from him by the distance of all the days he has left to live. Then he waits for the ball to bounce back. He throws thousands of balls. None of them ever comes back. He continues, always smiling: the game is its own reward, love is its own answer.

Well, yes, he does say a bit more. He says: I love you and I am sorry to love you so little, to love you so badly, to not know how to love you. The closer he gets to the light, the more he discovers himself full of shadows. The more he loves, the more he recognizes himself as unworthy of loving. The fact is, there is no progress in love, no perfection that one might someday attain. No love is adult, mature, and reasonable. In relation to love there are only children – there is only a spirit of childhood that is abandon, carefreeness, a spirit of letting go of spirit. Age adds up. Experience accumulates. Reason constructs. The spirit of childhood is always new, always starts afresh at the beginning of the world, with the first steps of love. The man of reason is an accumulated man, a heaped-up man, a constructed man. The man of childhood is the contrary of a man added on to himself: a man subtracted from himself, continually reborn in every birth of everything. He is an imbecile playing ball. Or a saint talking to his God. Or both at the same time.

Christian Bobin
, The secret of Saint Francis of Assisi (Shambala Publications, 1997)

Feb 17, 2009

it is love

It is love that makes hearts rotate. If there weren't any love, the Earth would just freeze.


Feb 13, 2009

happiness is what

A sign-board at the parting of roads, for instance, indicates directions, and it is left the wayfarer to tread along the way watching his steps. The board certainly will not tek him to his desired destination.

A doctor diagnoses the ailment and prescribes; it is left to the patient to test the prescription. The attitude of the Buddha towards his followers is like that of an understanding and compassionate teacher or a physician.

The highest worship is paid to the best of men, those great and daring spiritd who have, with their wide and penetrating frasp of reality, wiped out ignorance, and rooted out defilements. The men who saw Truth are true helpers, but Buddhists do not pray to them. They only pay reverence to the revealers of Truth for having pointed out the path to true happiness and deliverance. Happiness is what one must achieve of oneself; nobody else can make one better or worse. "Purity and impurity depend on oneself. One can neither purify nor defile another".

[...] Though we can call the teaching of the Buddha 'Buddhism', thus including it among the 'isms' and 'ologies', it does not really matter what we label it. Call it religion, philosophy, Buddhism or by any other name you like. These labels are of little significance to one who goes in search of truth and deliverance.

The timeless message, by Ven Piyadassi Thera, in Gems of Buddhist Wisdom, The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, 1996

Feb 8, 2009


Once you know that the purpose of life is simply to walk forward and continually to use your life to wake you up rather than to put you to sleep, then there's that sense of wholeheartedness about inconvenience. (...) Comfort orientation murders the spirit. Opting for coziness, having that as a prime reason for existing, becomes a continued obstacle to taking a leap and doing something new, doing something unusual, like going as a stranger into a strange land. (...) But in wholeheartedly practicing and following that path, this incovenience is not an obstacle. It's simply a certain texture of life, a certain energy of life. (...) It's like someone laughing in your ear, challenging you to figure out what to do when you don't know what to do. It humbles you. It opens your heart.

Pema Chödrön

in The Wisdom of No Escape, Shambala Publications, Boston-London 2001

Feb 2, 2009

in the midst of winter

In the midst of winter
I find in myself at last
Invencible summer

Soen Nakagawa

in Endless Vow - The Zen Path of Soen Nakagawa, Shambala Publications, 1996

To see more photos from thıs set please refer to:

Jan 28, 2009

the Buddha eye

This is the story of Plum Village: how to transmit the Buddha eye, not build a big institution and become famous

Thich Nhat Hanh

in Twenty Years of Plum Village Life, Parallax Press (May 2003)

Jan 21, 2009

around the mind


less mind
ness mind
full mind
single mind
empty mind
beyond mind
no mind
never mind


Kazuaki Tanahashi, Brush Mind, Parallax Press, 1990

above, one-brush paint by Kazuaki Tanahashi; to see more from this artist please refer to:

Jan 17, 2009

the mirror

How grateful he was, after all, to his visitor's! -- for each of them left him something to clarify his situation. He was choosing, yes, and treading back through the woods, welcomed by the calls of unseen birds and the gestures of unnamed plants, he sought for some further choice, some addtional dismissal with which he could atone for the night's parasitic ecstasy. He smashed the mirror. He held it squarely above the hearthstone, so the last thing it reflected was a slice of blue zenith, and let it drop. The fragments he swept up and buried in a place far from the house, covering the earth with leaves so he could not find the spot again. But from that sector of woods, for a while, he felt watched, by buried eyes. The sensation passed in daylight but persisted at night, when it gave his sleep depth, as had the knowledge when he was a child that an unknown hour his mother, though still downstairs, on her way to bed would come into his room and touch his forehead and tuck the kicked covers around him.

excerpt from The Hermit, short story by John Updike in The Music School, First Vintage Books Editions, 1980

Jan 12, 2009

a clod of earth

Upon Love's face gaze, that you may be considered a man.
Don't sit with cold people; their breath will chill you.

Seek from Love's face something other than beauty;
It's time you associated with a genuine friend.

A clod of earth, you'll not rise in the air
Unless you break and become mere dust.

If you don't break, he who made you will;
When death does, will you remain separate?

A fresh root makes green again a leaf that yellows;
So don't blame Love at your increasing paleness.

O friend,if you attain perfection among us,
This throne will be yours, your every desire gained.

But if you remain too long on this earth,
You will be as dice, passing from place to place.

If Shems of Tabriz, O Wild One! draws you to his side,
On your escape from gaol, you'll re-enter his orbit.


in Rumi's Dıvan of Shems of Tabriz, a new ınterpretation by James Cowan

Jan 8, 2009

highest goal

[Buddhism] teaches us to serve others, to sacrifice our own comfort for the sake of suffering humanity, and to observe religious precepts or disciplines voluntarily, but not as commandments imposed by some unseen power. By observing such good principles according to our own conviction not only do we ge the chance to be perfect but we also help others to live in peace.

This perfection is the highest goal which a person must attain in order to gain his salvation. It cannot be obtained through the influence of any god or mediator.


That is why the Buddha always welcomes people to come and see His teachings but not to come and believe at once. He also advised people to choose a proper religion by considering, and investigating in various ways without accepting anything through emotion or blind faith. This is why Buddhism is called a doctrine of analysis.

Why Buddhism, by Ven. Dr. Sri Dhammananda, in Gems of Buddhist Wisdom

Jan 4, 2009


The winter tempest
Hid itself in the bamboos
And grew still


Jan 1, 2009

seek unity

In my mind’s eye I still have the image of my first night flight in Argentina. It was a dark night, with only occasional scattered lights glittering like stars on the plain.

Each one, in that ocean of shadows, was a sign of the miracle of consciousness. In one home people were reading, or thinking, or sharing confidences. In another, perhaps, they were searching through space, wearying themselves with the mathematics of the Andromeda nebula. In another they were making love. These small flames shone far apart in the landscape, demanding their fuel. Even the most unassuming of them, the flame of the poet, the teacher or the carpenter. But among these living stars, how many closed windows, how many extinct stars, how many sleeping men...

We must surely seek unity. We must seek to communicate with some of these fires burning far apart in the landscape.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand and Stars (Terre des Hommes, 1939), Penguin Classics