The Sound of One Hand: Paintings and Calligraphy by Zen Master Hakuin

Buddha, Confucius, and Lao Tzu © LACMAOn view at LACMA from May 22, 2011–August 14, 2011, Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1768) is widely acknowledged as the most important Zen Buddhist master of the past 500 years. He was also the most influential Zen artist of Edo-period (1615-1868) Japan, but unlike the highly studied monk painters of earlier centuries, he received no formal artistic training beyond the basic skills in handling brush, ink, and paper that were required for everyday writing.

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Body and Mind Are One by Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh


The Precepts aren’t Hard, by Ajahn Chah

Elephant Bell with Miniature Elephant, Thailand (Ban Chiang), ca. 300 B.C.–A.D. 200. © The Metropolitan Museum of ArtThe Buddha taught that looking after the precepts isn’t hard if you look after yourself. If any forms of harm are about to arise by way of your bodily actions or speech, then if mindfulness is in place, you’ll recognize them. You’ll have a sense of right and wrong. This is how you look after your precepts. Your body and speech depend on you. This is the first step.

If you can look after your bodily actions and speech, then they’re beautiful. At ease. Your manners, your comings and goings, your speech, are all beautiful. This kind of beauty is the beauty that comes from having someone shape and mould them — someone who keeps looking after them and contemplating them all the time. It’s like our home, our sala, our huts, and their surrounding areas. If there’s someone to sweep them and look after them, they’re beautiful. They’re not dirty — because there’s someone to look after them. It’s because there’s someone looking after them that they can be beautiful. Continue reading

Many Spikes, by Trevor Leggett

An Indian Yogi Tied to a Palm Tree. Willem Schellinks.Sometimes people complain that there are many things that go wrong for them. There are innumerable little worries about personal relationships, and not being able to afford this or that, or the noise of the traffic and so on and so on. They feel, “If only I were a millionaire, everything would be all right. Of course some people would dislike me but they would keep their mouths shut. And all these other little troubles would disappear if only I was very rich. Continue reading

Ten Verses on Oxherding, Zen master Guoan Shiyuan

From the The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
十牛頌図巻 Ten Verses on Oxherding
1278, Kamakura period, Japan

Riding the Ox, 1278 Japan, Kamakura period (1185–1333) © The Metropolitan Museum of Art,In Zen, a herdboy’s search for his lost oxen has served as a parable for a practitioner’s pursuit of enlightenment since this Buddhist sect’s early history in China. In the eleventh century, the Song-dynasty Zen master Guoan Shiyuan (active ca. 1150) codified the parable into ten verses (gāthā), recorded and illustrated in this handscroll. The parable proceeds from the herdboy losing his ox and following its tracks to recover the animal to, in the next-to-last verse, transcending this world. In a final stage representing the attainment of Buddhist enlightenment, the herdboy becomes one with Budai (Japanese: Hotei), the manifestation of the future Buddha Miroku (Sanskrit: Maitreya). Dated by an inscription to 1278, the present scroll is the earliest known Japanese illustrated copy of the parable and the only extant version with colour illustrations. to view the scroll and verses

Buddhism: What is So-Called Tathāgata Chan

Buddhism coverBuddhist scholars on both sides of the Pacific are paying attention to the relationship between Buddhism and Daoism, the question of indigenous scriptures, the social and ritualistic dimension of Buddhism revealed in artistic creations and the interaction and mutual influences between Chinese and the larger Buddhist world.

Tathāgata Chan and Patriarchal Chan
Fang Litian 方立天

In the history of Chinese Chan, the process from the proposition that Tathāgata Chan is Highest Vehicle Chan (zuishangsheng chan 最上乘禪), up to the rise of Patriarchal Chan, intensely reflects a division and remodeling within Huineng’s branch of Chan, which is tremendously meaningful from a cultural viewpoint. Chinese Chan masters in the earlier periods did not possess a unified definition of Tathāgata Chan and Patriarchal Chan—instead, they wrote with rather ambiguous meanings and loose definitions. Continue reading


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