Chime Rinpoche reminisces on his coming to Britain with Trungpa Rinpoche

Chime RinpocheChime Rinpoche reminisces on his coming to Britain with Trungpa Rinpoche.

Short film, about 10 minutes.

Attentive, Awake and Aware, by Ajahn Sumedho

Standing Bodhisattva, probably Avalokiteshvara, Anuradhapura period, ca. 8th century, Sri Lanka. © Metropolitan Museum of ArtAt ease and relaxed but attentive, awake and aware with the attitude of the knower, the observer, just witness the feelings, emotions, thoughts, memories and sensations that come and go; just observe the breathing, the experience of the body sitting, and maybe the ‘sound of silence’ (the background to the sounds of the traffic). This attitude of being here and now in the present is what we call ‘cultivation’ (bhavana), which is reminding oneself that there is only the present. The body is present now ― it is ‘like this’; the breathing is now ― it is ‘like this’; the ‘sound of silence’ is ‘like this’. Be aware of your mental state, your mood ― right now. Is it happy, sad, confused, peaceful, anxious or worried? The quality of your mental state is not the issue here because you are not being the judge or owner of what is present but only the witness. Many experiences don’t really have a clear-cut quality to them, do they? You might feel confused, uncertain, anxious, a lack of clarity and a general feeling of unease, sadness or loneliness, but reflecting that ‘it is like this’ or ‘this is the way it is’ is using the thinking process not to define or judge but to point to ― ‘My mood at this moment is like this.’ By just thinking these words, you become aware of your mental state, while at the same time being aware of the body and the breath. So this is discerning rather than discriminating. It isn’t a judgemental process but an observing, a witnessing without judging anything as right, wrong, good or bad. Continue reading

A Taste of Zen: Mazu Daoyi

Mazu Daoyi, “Daji”

Chan Master Riding a Mule © The Metropolitan Museum of ArtMazu Daoyi (709–88) was a student of Nanyue Huairang. After Huineng, Mazu is the most famous of the ancient Chinese Zen masters. Two of the traditionally acknowledged major schools of Zen trace their lineage through this renowned Zen ancient. From his home in Sichuan Province, Mazu made his way to Zhongqing, where he initially studied under a second-generation teacher of Daman Hongren (the Fifth Ancestor). There he received ordination as a Buddhist monk. Later, he settled on Mt. Heng, where he met Nanyue Huairang. After ten years of study with Nanyue, he received Dharma transmission, then proceeded to travel as a yunshui the length and breadth of China, perfecting his understanding of the Buddha way. Eventually he settled at Zhongling (now Nanchang City), where students from every quarter came to study with him.

Mazu’s Zen lineage is remembered as the Hongzhou Zen school. Located in what is now Jiangxi Province, it was the dominant Zen school of the later Tang dynasty (late ninth and early tenth centuries). Mazu was the first Zen teacher acknowledged to use the staff to jolt his students into awakening. The strident style of his Hongzhou school foreshadowed the uncompromising training methods of his famous Zen descendant, Linji Yixuan. Continue reading

Zen Sickness, by Zen Master Hakuin

Hakuin Zenji (1689-1769)  describes the “Zen sickness” he contracted in his latter twenties and the methods he learned from the recluse Hakuyu in the mountains outside Kyoto that enabled him to cure the ailment.

Virtue, by Hakuin Ekaku. www.metmuseum.orgOn the day I first committed myself to a life of Zen practice, I pledged to summon all the faith and courage at my command and dedicate myself with steadfast resolve to the pursuit of the Buddha Way. I embarked on a regimen of rigorous austerities, which I continued for several years, pushing myself relentlessly.

Then one night, everything suddenly fell away, and I crossed the threshold into enlightenment. All the doubts and uncertaint­ies that had burdened me all those years suddenly vanished, roots and all—just like melted ice. Deep-rooted karma that had bound me for endless kalpas to the cycle of birth-and-death vanished like foam on the water. Continue reading

Shakyamuni and Attendant Bodhisattvas

元 佚名 釋迦三尊圖 軸

Sakyamuni and Attendant Bodhisattvas © The Metropolitan Museum of ArtThis painting stands midway between the hieratic icons employed in formal temple ceremonies and the informal images that served Chan (or Zen) monks as personal devotional images for use in meditation. The intimate scale, informality of the figures’ poses, and landscape setting link the painting to Chan-style depictions of Shakyamuni — the human origin of the Buddha — as an ascetic descending from the mountains just prior to achieving Buddhahood. In this scene, the Buddhist equivalent of Christ’s Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Shakyamuni offers a parallel to the Chan practitioner’s search for individual enlightenment.

Landscape elements in the painting follow the meticulously descriptive style of the Southern Song Painting Academy. The angular contours of the figures’ fluttering drapery lines are flat and conventionalized, however, and suggest an early fourteenth-century date for the piece.

Unidentified Artist Chinese. Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), late 13th – early 14th century.

With thanks to © Metropolitan Museum of Art

Illusion and truth are not two different things, by Shen Hui

Truth and untruth as taught in the Southern school.

One verse for each of the five watches of the night.

In the first watch we start.
Looking at the moon. Artwork © Marcelle hanselaar

Illusion and truth are not two different things.

Misunderstood, truth is illusion; rightly understood, illusion is truth.

When the images have vanished, nothing is found behind the images; when the original state shows, it is found to be selfsame and devoid of content.

Acting, seeking, we cannot attain salvation; not acting, not seeking, we accomplish our work.

Continue reading


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