• Buddhist blog

  • Categories

  • Buddhist Books

    Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening

    A Classic Zen text written in the 8th century by Hui Hai. He was a student of Ma-tsu and from the same line as Hui Neng, Huang Po and Rinzai (Lin-chi).

  • Don't Take Your Life Personally

    Ajahn Sumedho urges us to trust in awareness and find out for ourselves what it is to experience genuine liberation from mental anguish and suffering.

  • Perfect Wisdom: Prajnaparamita Texts

    The Short Prajnaparamita Texts were composed in India between 100 BC and AD 600. They contain some of the most well known Buddhist texts such as The Perfection of Wisdom in 700 Lines, The Heart Sutra, and The Diamond Sutra.

  • Fingers and Moons, by Trevor Leggett

    Trevor Leggett points to the truth beyond words, beyond explanations and methods.

  • Experience Beyond Thinking: Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation. An easy to follow guide to Buddhist meditation and the reflections of an ordinary practitioner. Used as a guide by meditation groups.

    An easy to follow guide to Buddhist meditation.

  • Understanding Karma and Rebirth A Buddhist Perspective

    Meditations and exercises to help us understand karma and rebirth and to live from the unborn moment.

  • The Old Zen Master by Trevor Leggett

    Stories, parables, and examples pointing to the spiritual implications of practical events in daily life.

  • Teachings of a Buddhist Monk

    Modern practical teachings from an American monk living within one of the oldest Buddhist traditions.

Snakes, Ladders, and Utopia, by Diana St Ruth

Fudō uses his sword to cut through ignorance and his lasso to reign in those who would block the path to enlightenment. © The Metropolitan Museum of ArtHave you ever noticed? If everything seems to be going right in your life, if everything seems to be perfect and you start thinking that this is the most perfect time in my life and it’s going to be wonderful from now on, your world suddenly falls apart. It’s a bit like that old board game of snakes and ladders where you throw the dice and climb the ladder to greater and greater heights, then encounter a snake and zoom down you go again, maybe even to a lower position than before.

Some people might say that this is a somewhat pessimistic view of life and that we should be more optimistic, but I have found that this sort of thing does happen quite often. The pinnacle of perfection is reached in terms of health and worldly well-being, our ambitions have been gratified, maybe just sometimes, it’s exciting, and then something awful happens and we plummet downwards into a difficult or even nightmare situation. The depths of despair, on the other hand, can equally as suddenly turn and life goes into the ascendant again. Mostly, we probably just jog along with less dramatic ups and downs — we’re relatively happy; we’re relatively unhappy; we’re relatively happy again. Continue reading

A moment of realisation, by Diana St Ruth

Chinese Lion, Hanabusa Itchō (Japanese, 1652–1724), © The Metropolitan Museum of ArtPart of the Buddhist path may be to come to terms with our own immaturity, having to realise that maybe we’re not always right and we’re not always kind. Sometimes in fact we’re downright foolish and unkind. Maybe we don’t mean to be, but we are. In the past we have justified our actions, perhaps, but through awareness we can notice this justification process going on. And even though it might be rather disturbing we face this reality because we want to know the nature of existence and the nature of ourselves. That wish for truth overrides our petty motives and we’re willing to look.

A moment of realisation about the way we operate in the world can open doors in our mind for the light to come in and bring insight. It may cause us to cringe a bit when we reflect on how we’ve been in the past, a very uncomfortable feeling. On the other hand, if we are resolved in wanting to know the truth of existence, we know we have to face such realities, any realities, whatever they are. Continue reading

Our culture doesn’t encourage too much contemplation on birth and death

Diana St Ruth

Lisa Daix mustang 2011As we get older we inevitably find that more of our friends, family members and acquaintances are dying. It is sad to think we won’t see them again, and we may grieve our loss. A close death, however, can also put our lives into per­spective, bring us back to a place of con­templation. If we contemplate our lives, birth and death — which we tend to do as Buddhists — we realise that the end of this life could come at any time — any week, any day, even before the next breath! This way of thinking could bring on a state of melancholy, fear and panic, or it could lead us into reflecting on the three character­istics of existence — imper­manence, not-self, and suffering or unsatis­factoriness. Continue reading

A Handful of Pain, by Diana St Ruth

Fudo-myoo Photo © @KyotoDailyPhotoAnguishing about what we have or have not got can often be a far greater suffering than physical pain. The anguishing might be related to physical pain ― we don’t want it ― but the dread and despair we suffer are not themselves physical pain. We pile anguish on top of pain by longing for it to go. Desire first, then the impatience and anguishing . . . and then desire again, going round and round ― cause and effect. Continue reading

First steps into Buddhist meditation

Sitting in meditationAwareness is the key. But what does the word mean to you? To most people, perhaps, it denotes an acknowledgement of that which is going on around them in a general sort of way. In the context of meditation, however, it means ‘waking up’, becoming acutely sensitive, knowing, feeling, living the moment in its pristine state, sensing colours and contours, sounds, textures, smells, recognising tendencies within oneself yet resisting the pull to be controlled by them — this is meditation, to begin with at least.

Life is a bit of a game really, isn’t it? We look forward to something and when it comes we criticise it, resent it, worry about it, want to change it, want to make it better.

Why do so many beings have to endure hunger and cold, heat, disease, cruelty, physical and mental abuse and deprivation, torture, injustice, and all the rest of it? Some have to go through a living hell, don’t they? And others suffer because there isn’t any cheese in the fridge. Continue reading

The Grandmotherly Kindness of the Zen Masters, Diana St Ruth

Otagi-ji Photo © @KyotoDailyPhotoTo our western ears, Zen can often sound austere, unkind, even brutal and cruel. We hear about the rejections at the monastery gate, the hardships, humiliations and rough treatment its adherents are sometimes subjected to, and maybe we’re inclined to think it’s all a bit much for grown up people. However, when things are taken out of context—historically, spiritually, and culturally—they can so easily be misjudged and that is what can happen to Zen. This is, after all, a particular system which has survived around the world for centuries. It isn’t the only route for Buddhists, of course, but it is a tried and tested one. Naturally, when the attempt is made to transplant something so subtle from one country to the next, let alone from east to west, there will be difficulties, and it will be subject to abuse or misuse which in many respects it is suffering now in the west where in a broader sense the word ‘Zen’ has come to mean clever, smart, refined, minimalist, aesthetically pleasing, fashionable, tough, etc, and sometimes removing it entirely from its Buddhist context. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: