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    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.

The Power of Patriarchs: Qisong and Lineage in Chinese Buddhism

The Power of PatriarchsThe Chan monk Qisong (1007-1072), an important figure in Northern Song religious and intellectual history, has garnered relatively little scholarly attention. This book provides a detailed biography with a focus on the influential historical writings he composed to defend Chan claims of a “mind-to-mind transmission” tracing back to the historical Buddha. It places his defence of lineage in the context not only of attacks by the rival Tiantai school but also of the larger backdrop of the development of lineage and patriarchs as sources of authority in Chinese Buddhism. It advances new arguments about these Chinese Buddhist innovations, challenges common assumptions about Chan masters, and offers insights into the interactions of Buddhists, Confucians, and the imperial court during the Song. Continue reading

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

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

A Taste of Zen: Mazu Daoyi

Mazu Daoyi, “Daji”

© 2011 Andrew Ferguson, Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings.
Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications

Chan Master Riding a Mule © The Metropolitan Museum of ArtMazu Daoyi (709–88) was a student of Nanyue Huairang. After Huineng, Mazu is the most famous of the ancient Chinese Zen masters. Two of the traditionally acknowledged major schools of Zen trace their lineage through this renowned Zen ancient. From his home in Sichuan Province, Mazu made his way to Zhongqing, where he initially studied under a second-generation teacher of Daman Hongren (the Fifth Ancestor). There he received ordination as a Buddhist monk. Later, he settled on Mt. Heng, where he met Nanyue Huairang. After ten years of study with Nanyue, he received Dharma transmission, then proceeded to travel as a yunshui the length and breadth of China, perfecting his understanding of the Buddha way. Eventually he settled at Zhongling (now Nanchang City), where students from every quarter came to study with him.

Mazu’s Zen lineage is remembered as the Hongzhou Zen school. Located in what is now Jiangxi Province, it was the dominant Zen school of the later Tang dynasty (late ninth and early tenth centuries). Mazu was the first Zen teacher acknowledged to use the staff to jolt his students into awakening. The strident style of his Hongzhou school foreshadowed the uncompromising training methods of his famous Zen descendant, Linji Yixuan. Continue reading

Illusion and truth are not two different things, by Shen Hui

Truth and untruth as taught in the Southern school.

One verse for each of the five watches of the night.

In the first watch we start.
Looking at the moon. Artwork © Marcelle hanselaar

Illusion and truth are not two different things.

Misunderstood, truth is illusion; rightly understood, illusion is truth.

When the images have vanished, nothing is found behind the images; when the original state shows, it is found to be selfsame and devoid of content.

Acting, seeking, we cannot attain salvation; not acting, not seeking, we accomplish our work.

Continue reading

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