The Qingzhou Discoveries

In 1996 around 400 Chinese stone sculptures of the Buddha were discovered in Qingzhou, China.

Images © The State Administration of Cultural Heritage, People’s Republic of China, and © Royal Academy of Arts, London.

Field of Boundless Emptiness, by Zen Master Hongzhi

Buddha, Probably Amitabha (Amituofo), early 7th century, China. © The Metropolitan Museum of ArtThe field of boundless emptiness is what exists from the very beginning. You must purify, cure, grind down, or brush away all the tendencies you have fabricated into apparent habits. Then you can reside in the clear circle of brightness.

Utter emptiness has no image, upright independence does not rely on anything. Just expand and illuminate the original truth un­con­cerned by external conditions. Accordingly we are told to realize that not a single thing exists. In this field birth and death do not appear. Continue reading

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

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