Why do you want this holy water? By Ajahn Chah

The worldly way is to do things for a reason, to get some return, but in Buddhism we do things without the idea of gaining anything…

Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, Claude Monet (French, Paris 1840–1926 Giverny) © The Metropolitan Museum of Art In the beginning we practise with a desire of some kind in mind; we practise on and on, but we don’t attain our desire. But if we continue to practise anyway, we reach a point where we’re practising without ideas of some kind of return; we just practise in order to let go. This is something we must see for ourselves; it’s very deep. Maybe we practise because we want to go to nibbana, but you won’t get to nibbana! It’s natural to want peace, but it’s not really correct. We must practise without wanting anything at all. If we don’t want anything at all, what will we get? We don’t get anything! The point is, whatever you get is a cause for suffering, so we practise ‘not getting anything’. Continue reading “Why do you want this holy water? By Ajahn Chah”

The First Truth, by Ajahn Sumedho

Wheel of the Buddhist Law (Rinpō). Japan, Kamakura period (1185–1333) © Metropolitan Museum of ArtThe significance of the Buddhist teaching lies in the fact that it isn’t doctrinal. It’s not an attempt to tell us how things should be, it’s more a way of bringing our attention to the way things are.

Most of us are educated to think in terms of how things should be, and we often don’t understand why life is the way it is. So it surprises us, shocks us, upsets us. We become overwhelmed, even with good fortune, not to mention bad. The Buddhist teachings are guides that help us to look at the experience of being alive. Continue reading “The First Truth, by Ajahn Sumedho”

Snatching the Whiskers of a Dragon, by Master Kusan

We keep on working. If we can continue in this manner for one to three weeks, suddenly our mind and truth will mesh; we will understand the cause and conditions of the big matter…

元 龍虎圖 軸 Dragon Artist: In the style of Muqi (Chinese, ca. 1210–after 1269)After ascending the dharma seat, and looking to all the four directions, Master Kusan said, ‘Today is the beginning of this three-month retreat. Within the assembly present here now — do each of you brave men intend to go through with this retreat? Those of you endowed with the Dharma Eye, speak! What is an extraordinary person (an awakened mind)?’

The assembly remained silent. After a pause the master gave a shout and said, ‘The oranges of Cheju-do and the apples of Taegu — do you know where they fall? One pill of golden cinnabar (the medicine of the immortals) swallows all the Dharma realms, and exudes many marvellous mani­festations. Everyone is Vairocana. Everything is a store of flowers within which the Sam­bhogakaya of the Buddha dwells. Do you understand this? You must be as audacious as someone trying to grab the eyebrows of a living tiger or to snatch the whiskers of a flying dragon. Then you will know. A poem says: Continue reading “Snatching the Whiskers of a Dragon, by Master Kusan”

Nobody Likes Being Disturbed, by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Inner emptiness means to be normal, to have a mind that is not scattered and confused. Anyone who experiences this really likes it. If it develops to its greatest degree, which is to be empty of egoism, then it is Nibbana.

The Mountain is Empty; A Pinecone Falls, Zekkai Chūshin (Japanese, 1336–1405),© Metropolitan Museum of Art We must first be aware of these two categories, ’empty of I’ and ‘not empty of I’. The former is called ’empty’ and the latter is called ‘disturbed’ and to save time that is how they will be referred to from now on.

Here your common sense may say straight away that nobody likes being disturbed. If I were to ask those people who like being disturbed to raise their hands, if anyone did so it would have to be a joke. Everyone likes to be empty in one way or another. Some people like the lazy emptiness of not having to work. Everyone likes to be empty of annoyance, not having the kids coming to bother you. But that emptiness is an external thing, it is not yet true emptiness.

Inner emptiness means to be normal, to have a mind that is not scattered and confused. Anyone who experiences this really likes it. If it develops to its greatest degree, which is to be empty of egoism, then it is Nibbana. Continue reading “Nobody Likes Being Disturbed, by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu”

Your own spiritual light will shine forth permanently, by Hui Neng

Finial of a Buddhist Monk’s Staff (Shakujō)Bhikkhu Zhi Chang, a native of Gui Xi of Xin Zhou, joined the Order in his childhood, and was very zealous in his efforts to realize the Essence of Mind. One day, he came to pay homage to the Patriarch, and was asked by the latter whence and why he came.

‘I have recently been to the White Cliff Mountain in Hong Zhou,’ replied he, ‘to interview the Master Da Tong, who was good enough to teach me how to realize the Essence of Mind and thereby attain Buddhahood. But as I still have some doubts, I have travelled far to pay you respect. Will you kindly clear them up for me, Sir.’

‘What instruction did he give you?’ asked the Patriarch. Continue reading “Your own spiritual light will shine forth permanently, by Hui Neng”

Without Fear, Happiness is Possible, by Thich Nhat Hanh

Short Buddhist film (about 12 minutes)

Thich Nhat Hanh

Short film about 12 minutes.

More teachings from Thich Nhat Hanh here.