Friday, November 19, 2010


Well it is a rare thing on the 800 Days...but I enjoyed putting together yesterdays post so much, that I decided to extend our little journey an extra day. So a little more Zen for your heads today kids.

Free your mind and nothing else follows.


How to Write a Chinese Poem

A well-known Japanese poet was asked how to compose a Chinese poem.
"The usual Chinese poem is four lines," he explains. "The first line contains the initial phase; the second line, the continuation of that phase; the third line turns from this subject and begins a new one; and the fourth line brings the first three lines together.

A popular Japanese song illustrates this:

Two daughters of a silk merchant live in Kyoto.
The elder is twenty, the younger, eighteen.
A soldier may kill with his sword.
But these girls slay men with their eyes.


No Loving - Kindness

There was an old woman in China who had supported a monk for over twenty years.
She had built a little hut for him and fed him while he was meditating.
Finally she wondered just what progress he had made in all this time.
To find out, she obtained the help of a girl rich in desire.
"Go and embrace him," she told her, "and then ask him suddenly: 'What now?'"
The girl called upon the monk and without much ado caressed him,
 asking him what he was going to do about it.
"An old tree grows on a cold rock in winter," replied the monk somewhat poetically.
 "Nowhere is there any warmth."
The girl returned and related what he had said.
"To think I fed that fellow for twenty years!" exclaimed the old woman in anger. "He showed no consideration for your need, no disposition to explain your condition. He need not have responded to passion, but at least he could have evidenced some compassion;"
She at once went to the hut of the monk and burned it down.


Nothing Exists

Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another.
He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.
Desiring to show his attainment, he said: "The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist.
 The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity.
There is no giving and nothing to be received."
Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.
"If nothing exists," inquired Dokuon, "where did this anger come from?"


No Attachment to Dust

Zengetsu, a Chinese master of the T'ang dynasty, wrote the following advice for his pupils:
Living in the world yet not forming attachments to the dust of the world is the way of a true Zen student.
When witnessing the good action of another encourage yourself to follow his example.
Hearing of the mistaken action of another, advise yourself not to emulate it.
Even though alone in a dark room, be as if you were facing a noble guest.
Express your feelings, but become no more expressive than your true nature.
Poverty is your treasure. Never exchange it for an easy life.
A person may appear a fool and yet not be one. He may only be guarding his wisdom carefully.
Virtues are the fruit of self-discipline and do not drop from heaven of themselves as does rain or snow.
Modesty is the foundation of all virtues.
Let your neighbors discover you before you make yourself known to them.
A noble heart never forces itself forward. Its words are as rare gems, seldom displayed and of great value.
To a sincere student, every day is a fortunate day.
Time passes but he never lags behind. Neither glory nor shame can move him.
Censure yourself, never another. Do not discuss right and wrong.
Some things, though right, were considered wrong for generations. Since the value of righteousness may be recognized after centuries, there is no need to crave immediate appreciation.
Live with cause and leave results to the great law of the universe.
Pass each day in peaceful contemplation.


Your Light May Go Out

A student of Tendai, a philosophical school of Buddhism, came to the Zen abode of Gasan as a pupil.
When he was departing a few years later, Gasan warned him: "Studying the truth speculatively is useful as a way of collecting preaching material. But remember that unless you meditate constantly
your light of truth may go out."


The Giver Should Be Thankful

While Seietsu was the master of Engaku in Kamakura he required larger quarters, since those in which he was teaching were overcrowded. Umeza Seibei a merchant of Edo, decided to donate five hundred pieces of gold called ryo toward the construction of a more commodious school.
This money he brought to the teacher.
Seisetsu said: "All right. I will take it."
Umezu gave Seisetsu the sack of gold, but he was dissatisfied with the attitude of the teacher.
One might live a whole year on three ryo, and the merchant had not even been thanked for five hundred.
"In that sack are five hundred ryo," hinted Umeza.
"You told me that before," replied Seisetsu.
"Even if I am a wealthy merchant, five hundred ryo is a lot of money," said Umezu.
"Do you want me to thank you for it?" asked Seisetsi.
"You ought to," replied Umeza.
"Why should I?" inquired Seisetsu. "The giver should be thankful."


A Buddha

In Tokyo in the Meiji era there lived two prominent teachers of opposite characteristics.
One, Unsho, an instructor in Shingon, kept Buddha's precepts scrupulously. He never drank intoxicants, nor did he eat after eleven o'clock in the morning. The other teacher, Tanzan, a professor of philosophy at the Imperial University, never observed the precepts.
When he felt like eating, he ate, and when he felt like sleeping in the daytime, he slept.
One day Unsho visited Tanzan, who was drinking wine at the time,
not even a drop of which is supposed to touch the tongue of a Buddhist.
"Hello, brother," Tanzan greeted him. "Won't you have a drink?"
"I never drink!" exclaimed Unsho solemnly.
"One who does not drink is not even human," said Tanzan.
"Do you mean to call me inhuman just because I do not indulge in intoxicating liquids!"
 exclaimed Unsho in anger. "Then if I am not human, what am I?"

"A Buddha," answered Tanzan.



A Zen student came to Bankei and complained:
"Master, I have an ungovernable temper. How can I cure it?"
"You have something very strange," replied Bankei. "Let me see what you have."
"Just now I cannot show it to you," replied the other.
"When can you show it to me?" asked Bankei.
"It arises unexpectedly," replied the student.
"Then," concluded Bankei, "it must not be your own true nature. If it were, you could show it to me at any time. When you were born you did not have it, and your parents did not give it to you. Think that over."


The True Path

Just before Ninakawa passed away the Zen master Ikkyu visited him.
"Shall I lead you on?" Ikkyu asked.
Ninakawa replied: "I came here alone and I go alone. What help could you be to me?"
Ikkyu answered: "If you think you really come and go, that is your delusion.
Let me show you the path on which there is no coming and going."
With his words, Ikkyu had revealed the path so clearly that Ninakawa smiled and passed away.


My Heart Burns Like Fire

Soyen Shaku, the first Zen teacher to come to America, said: "My heart burns like fire but my eyes are as cold as dead ashes." He made the following rules which he practiced every day of his life.

In the morning before dressing, light incense and meditate.

Retire at a regular hour. Partake of food at regular intervals. Eat with moderation and never to the point of satisfaction.

Receive a guest with the same attitude you have when alone. When alone, maintain the same attitude you have in receiving guests.

Watch what you say, and whatever you say, practice it.

When an opportunity comes do not let it pass you by, yet always think twice before acting.

Do not regret the past. Look to the future.

Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child.

Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep. Upon awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a pair of old shoes.


Buddha's Zen

Buddha said:
"I consider the positions of kings and rulers as that of dust motes. 
I observe treasures of gold and gems as so many bricks and pebbles. 
I look upon the finest silken robes as tattered rags. I see myriad worlds of the universe as small seeds of fruit, and the greatest lake in India as a drop of oil on my foot. I perceive the teachings of the world to be the illusion of magicians. I discern the highest conception of emancipation as a golden brocade in a dream, and view the holy path of the illuminated ones as flowers appearing in one's eyes. I see meditation as a pillar of a mountain, Nirvana as a nightmare of daytime. I look upon the judgment of right and wrong as the serpentine dance of a dragon, and the rise and fall of beliefs as but traces left by the four seasons."

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