Little by Little, by Maezumi Roshi

Bodhidharma scroll. Photo: © Hazel WaghornWe can see in both Soto practice and Rinzai practice sudden and gradual aspects. We can say it is a continuous process — first practise, then sudden realization, then further practise   and   further  realization continuing endlessly. From the experiential point of view, the gradual and sudden aspects together are a gradual  process.

In Soto Zen we also emphasize the intrinsic point of view. In other words, from the beginning, practice and realization are one. Practice is this life, and realization is this life, and this life is revealed right here and now as each of us. Realization is nothing other than seeing this plain fact. Whether we realize it or not, it is the fact. Whether we practise five years or ten years or not at all, it is the plain fact. In each moment the Buddha Dharma is completely revealed as this life. Every instant appears and disappears as the absolute truth. What could be more sudden than this? Continue reading

Forest and the Way Out, by Ananda Maitreya

May treeThere is a vast forest abounding in huge trees with thick foliage overshadowing and darkening everything underneath. Its inhabitants, being quite accustomed to its darkness, do not feel the real nature of the forest. The fruits of the trees which serve them as food bring on them a long slumber, in which they dream curious dreams, while worm-like reptiles emerge from the soil, waiting for opportunities to suck out their blood. When these unfortunate beings awake, they feel exhausted, thirsty, and hungry owing to the loss of blood. Then they eat the delicious but poisonous fruits, sip the juice thereof, and fall asleep, thus becoming a prey again to the blood-sucking reptiles. Very few see even faintly the frightful nature of this forest and even they are very forgetful of its dangers. One may rightly call this forest ‘an enchanted land’. Continue reading

The Heart Sutra, Harada Sekkei Roshi

Kwan Yin (Kanzeon) with thanks to Maurice AshThe Heart of Wisdom Sutra (the Heart Sutra) is the sutra we are most familiar with. It is a sutra in which Avalokiteshvara (Jap. Kanjizai) Bodhisattva, in place of Shakyamuni Buddha, clearly expounds Emptiness to his disciple Shariputra. In terms of compassion, Kanzeon is the Japanese name for this Bodhisattva and in terms of wisdom, Kanjizai is the Japanese name. In either case, this Bodhisattva is actually we ourselves.

The name Kanjizai (Seeing Freely) is derived from the sense function of sight and by being able to use this sense function freely and completely, it represents the freedom to use the other five func­tions in the same way. Shariputra was the leader of a group of more than one hundred people, and after Shakyamuni Buddha realised the Way, all of them took ref­uge in the Buddha. Shariputra was one of the ten main disciples of the Buddha and because he was reputed to have the deepest wisdom was known as Shariputra Sonja. Continue reading

Something in the training, by Trevor Leggett

Hurricane Katrina 2005A teacher once pointed out that there is an instruction in Buddhist training about going on one straight line, about keeping to one thing, and yet at the same time: ‘You’ve got to accept things; you’ve got to be flexible.’ The example he gave was of a spinning top or gyroscope. If you have ever played with a gyroscope as a child or seen one spinning, you will know that its balance is so good that when it is revolving, it can travel down a string on the little notch at its base whilst keeping a bal­ance on that string. It couldn’t do that unless it was spinning. But because it is revolving about its centre, it can keep a perfect balance. And if you blow the gyroscope it will bow, but come back to its balance again; it will give way to passing things, but will come back very strongly to its point of bal­ance and settle itself. Continue reading


Buddha head. Photo © Lisa DaixAnicca Pali, Anitya Sanskrit:
Lit. not-eternal, impermanent. One of the first insights of the Buddha ‘all that arises ceases’, are not reality, not nirvana, not liberation.

Anicca is one of the deepest Buddhist teachings, to understand ‘all that arises ceases’. Seeing this is liberation.

That all things are brought about by a cause is conventional truth. That they neither arise or cease is ultimate reality.

Perfect Wisdom


Life is short, yet the moment transcends eternity.

Zen Graffiti

One of the three characteristics of existence anicca, dukkha, and anatta?

More from the Encyclopedia

Five Protections Against Sorrow

The Five Protections Against Sorrow

In Buddhism it is taught that everything that happens to us, good or bad, is the result of our previous actions — it is our karma. Refraining from five kinds of unskilful action will result in peace of mind and true happiness. In order to be protected against sorrow, therefore, one should:

• refrain from harming anything;
• refrain from taking that which is not freely given;
• refrain from all forms of immorality or any action which is subject to blame;
• refrain from speaking falsely, harshly, or unkindly;
• refrain from indulging in anything which causes the mind to lose its natural clarity, such as drugs or alcohol.

By refraining from these unskilful actions, one will experience the peace and happiness of one’s true nature, one’s Buddha-nature.

The Great Way starts beneath one’s feet


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