Absence of Thought, by Shen-Hui

The eleven-headed form of the bodhisattva Kannon. © The Metropolitan Museum of ArtTo see the absence of thought is to have the six sense organs without stain. To see the absence of thought is to possess a knowledge inclined towards the Buddha. To see the absence of thought is to see things as they really are. To see the absence of thought is the Middle Way in its ultimate sense. To see the absence of thought is to see merits as numerous as the sands of the Ganges fully present in the moment. To see the absence of thought is to master all the dharmas. To see the absence of thought is to embrace all the dharmas.


But for Shen-Hui Zen, as we know it today, would probably be quite different. He was one of the main students of the famous sixth patriarch Hui-neng. However, what is not very well known is that after Hui-neng’s death, the Zen patriarchship first pasted to the leader of the ‘gradual’ school of Zen Shen-hsiu. Shen-Hui went to the Chinese court and made the case for Hui-neng and the teaching of sudden awakening, and after many years had Hui-neng recognised as the sixth patriarch.

First published in the June 1989 Buddhism Now

Breakthrough Sermon, by Bodhidharma

Rubbing BodhidharmaIf someone is determined to reach enlightenment, what is the most essential method he can practice?

The most essential method, which includes all other methods, is beholding the mind.

But how can one method include all others?

The mind is the root from which all things grow. If you can understand the mind, everything else is included. It’s like the root of a tree. All a tree’s fruit and flowers, branches and leaves depend on its root. If you nourish its root, a tree multiplies. If you cut its root, it dies. Those who understand the mind reach enlightenment with minimal effort. Those who don’t understand the mind practise in vain. Everything good and bad comes from your own mind. To find something beyond the mind is impossible. Continue reading

Buddhist Photographs of Japan in 1865

Click on any image to see larger photographs.

You can see many more of these wonderful photograph on the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) website.

Law suit against reality, by Ken Jones

The Existential Tragedy

Kujomidzu, Japan. Photo © Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)The typical human condition, cast upon an ocean of impermanence and insubstantiality, is one of profound existential anxiety, of a heartfelt sense of ‘lack’ This is commonly veiled by the degree of success in experiencing whatever imparts a sense of emotional security and a sufficiently strong sense of self-identity, both individual and collective. Especially in modernity, individual achievement and acquisitiveness, as well as the more traditional belongingness, are endeavours for achieving ‘this’. These, however, are precarious never enough and always threatened by ‘that’ – which is to say everything that threatens to undo the well fortified sense of self that may have been achieved. In Hubert Benoit’s metaphor, this is our long and ultimately unwinnable lawsuit with reality, a lawsuit, incidentally, which is now becoming evident on an historical and global scale. . Krishnamurti dramatically expressed it when, in front of an audience, he displayed a gap between the thumb and index finger of one of his hand, proclaiming that all the miseries of the world were to be found in that gap, the gap between the ‘this’ of our existential needy self and the ‘that’ of all the forces that threaten to deprive us of it. Continue reading

All The Keys, by Trevor Leggett

Enko-ji's (圓光寺) 'Four Seasons' (四季草花図 -Shikisokazu) Fusuma (襖) painted by Watanabe Akio. @KyotoDailyPhotoIn the great house of the personality, with it’s attics and lofts and cellars there are some rooms which are habitually used, some which are seldom used, some which are avoided, and some which are locked with no access at all. Yoga training at first includes getting used to some of the less frequented rooms and learning to use what is in them. As it progresses the house owner finds he is able to go somewhere that he has avoided, and he will occasionally find some little treasure there. Continue reading

Buddha’s Word: The Life of Books in Tibet and Beyond

Buddha’s Word: The Life of Books in Tibet and Beyond
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge
Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DZ, England
Wednesday 28 May 2014 – Saturday 17 January 2015

Fragments of rare twelfth-century illuminated Tibetan texts from Keu Lhakang Temple

Scattered fragments of rare twelfth-century illuminated Tibetan texts from Keu Lhakang Temple, Central Tibet – before being digitised, restored and re-ordered.
Photograph by Psang Wangdu, 2002

Buddha’s Word is the first museum exhibition of Tibetan material in Cambridge. It is also the first time in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s history that its Buddhist collections will be showcased in an exhibition. Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 105,207 other followers

%d bloggers like this: