November 25, 2014

All Dharma Essays and Articles

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Not This! Not This!

by Chuan Zhi

Published Aug 14, 2014

Not This! Not This!

For L.C. Fundamentally, the cause of suffering is because of our attached to, our desire for, people, places, things, thoughts, and opinions.  The Buddha's solution to the problem of suffering was detachment from all these things.  But breaking bonds can be extremely difficult.  The longer an attachment or desire has existed,... Read more

Perspectives on Zen

by Chuan Zhi

Published Jul 01, 2014

Perspectives on Zen

Inevitably, in the course of the life of a Zen Buddhist, someone will ask us “What is Zen”?  The simple answer is, of course, it’s the mystical branch of Chinese/ Japanese/ Korean/ Vietnamese (choose one) Buddhism.  When I’ve explained it this way I usually get blank stares, and for a... Read more

The Celibacy Question

by Chuan Zhi

Published Jan 03, 2014

An Interview with Chuan Zhi from Non Duality Magazine, 12/27/2013 Chuan Zhi: This is a good subject for public discussion – one that’s usually avoided. I wrote on a related subject recently that may address some of the questions/issues people have on the topic of sexual intimacy, and some of the... Read more

FAQ for PG

by Chuan Zhi

Published Dec 01, 2013

FAQ  for  PG

Preface: We have never offered an official Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on this website, as the number and variety of questions we receive are too numerous and broad. Everyone has a different set of questions. The many writings available on this website will, however, answer the vast majority of... Read more

Applying the Hua Tou Method of Chan Practice to Archetypal Projections

by Chuan Zhi

Published Sep 28, 2013

Applying the  Hua Tou Method of Chan Practice to Archetypal Projections

Everyone who comes to Zen develops his or her own unique relationship with it.  That relationship is affected by a myriad of factors, from one’s native culture, to the culture of the Zen sect one embraces, be it Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. It’s also affected by the practices and philosophies... Read more

The Refuge of No-Refuge

by Fa Dong Shakya

Published Sep 12, 2013

The Refuge of No-Refuge

The seeker trudges slowly up the mountain through the mists, not sure which path to take. He takes one path only to find that it dead-ends around a few large trees, forcing him to go back and take a different route. The weather, as he rises higher, becomes colder and... Read more

Destiny

by Chuan Zhi and Fa Jian

Published Jul 28, 2013

Destiny

Rev. Fa Jian (Dale Ryan) recently returned from Belize where he worked for 6 months to help impoverished communities get clean drinking water.  Through this inspiring interview with Dale, we learn about sanitation challenges faced by rural communities in Centeral America and  get a glimpse of Dharma in action.   An... Read more

Yearning to be Met

by Chuan Zhi

Published May 08, 2013

Yearning to be Met

'The human heart yearns for contact - above all it yearns for genuine dialogue. Dialogue is at the heart of being human. Without it, we are not fully formed - there is a yawning abyss inside. With it, we have the possibility of our uniqueness, and our most human qualities... Read more

Sidetracked by Institutionalized Zen

by Chuan Zhi

Published Feb 10, 2013

Sidetracked by Institutionalized Zen

I was approached recently by a man in his middle years who had spent much time sitting with various Zen groups around the country.   He had left one after another after being disillusioned with each.  In one, the head teacher was having an open affair with a student, to... Read more

Contemplating Consciousness

by Chuan Zhi

Published Sep 01, 2012

Contemplating Consciousness

Consciousness. We don't think about it, we don't act upon it. It's just there. We awaken in the morning and go to the bathroom and do those things, make coffee, eat a donut, take the dog out … and so goes our entire day. At the end, we take a... Read more

No Mind? Really?

by Fa Gong Shakya

Published Jul 01, 2012

No Mind? Really?

A couple of weeks ago a friend came to me to discuss problems she was having in her meditation practice. She was quite distraught at what she felt was her hopeless progress, and she despaired she'd ever get the hang of it. When I asked about the problem, she said... Read more

Just Who Am I?

by Yin De Shakya

Published Apr 27, 2012

Just Who Am I?

Each of us has a narrator in our head. An internal voice that we call “me”. And most of us assume that this narrator is real. We assume that it’s our true self. Some believe it’s the thing which inhabits the body and the brain rather than something that arises... Read more

Mara the Abuser

by Fa Gong Shakya

Published Apr 02, 2012

Mara the Abuser

In Buddhist literature we are often exposed to Mara, the sometimes wily, sometimes violent, sometimes beguiling tempter of Gautama on his way to Buddha-hood. Mara can be said to provide, essentially, a personification of that force which counters the evolutionary urge to enlightenment; it represents the energy of enslavement that... Read more

A Woman's Work

by Fa Lian Shakya

Published Mar 14, 2012

A Woman's Work

Seeing things as they are Awareness opened one of the Dharma doors with a new way of seeing things. She started to understand more and more, then realized that all was neti! neti! Starring at all things, she saw through all forms the emptiness that beheld the whole. What is... Read more

Just Being, a poem

by S. Elliot Sozan

Published Jan 01, 2012

Just Being, a poem

The plum trees blossoms In the middle of winter. There is no robe no color. In practice there is no time, no culture, no sex. In pure existence the breath takes what the intellect can never think. There is no attachment or detachment. The pure being, thoughtless with no move, moves the world, and within,... Read more

Reincarnation - a.k.a., New Year's Day

by Yin De Shakya

Published Dec 30, 2011

Reincarnation - a.k.a., New Year's Day

It’s a new year; a time for looking forward, and a time for looking back. Each time we celebrate “New Year’s Day” we are giving ourselves the opportunity to begin anew. It’s a chance for a fresh start. It is, for many of us, an opportunity to release feelings of guilt... Read more

Connecting the Dots

by Fa Lohng (Koro Kaisan)

Published Dec 12, 2011

Connecting the Dots

Students who come to my weekly Dharma talks (or who meet regularly with me in private) are often confronted with my insistence that they view the world more holistically.  This is typically triggered by one or more meetings in which claims are made that a “big picture” perspective is fine... Read more

The Urban Hermit

by Fa Dong Shakya

Published Dec 05, 2011

The Urban Hermit

As anyone versed in Chan’s history knows, the hermitic life is a common one passed through by many of China’s most famous Chan teachers.  In fact, all mystical traditions commonly find their members, at some time in their life, retreating from society.  For the mystic, living a reclusive hermitic life is... Read more

The Urban Hermit

by Fa Dong Shakya

Published Dec 05, 2011

The Urban Hermit

As anyone versed in Chan’s history knows, the hermitic life is a common one passed through by many of China’s most famous Chan teachers.  In fact, all mystical traditions commonly find their members, at some time in their life, retreating from society.  For the mystic, living a reclusive hermitic life is... Read more

The Hua-Tou Practice

by Chuan Zhi

Published Oct 04, 2011

The Hua-Tou Practice

Zen’s hua-tou practice recently seems to be enjoying a renaissance among the small contingent of Zen Buddhists speckling the globe.  In part, this may be due to the growing awareness that this was Hsu Yun’s personal favorite Zen practice that he spent much of his life advocating.  One of the... Read more

Don’t Drink the Kool-aide: How to Avoid the Projection Trap

by Chuan Zhi

Published Sep 22, 2011

Don’t Drink the Kool-aide:  How to Avoid the Projection Trap

Introduction In 1912 the French philosopher Lucien Lévy-Brühl published a collection of works that gave us a new model with which to view the relationship between self and other. He offered new insights into many of the problems that are encountered by people in relationships of all kinds.  Carl Jung further... Read more

Wild Zen

by Fa Zhao Shakya

Published Sep 18, 2011

Wild Zen

The genes that code for proteins in our human species are remarkably similar, often nearly identical, to those of many other species across the animal kingdom. It makes sense, considering that throughout our natural history human beings and other animals have shared the same environments and competed for the same... Read more

The Hua-Tou practice: perspectives and examples of an ancient and potent Chinese Chan practice

by Stuart Lachs

Published Sep 15, 2011

The Hua-Tou practice: perspectives and examples of an ancient and potent Chinese Chan practice

Hua-tou is a Chinese term that can be translated as “critical phrase”. In Korean, hua-tou is pronounced hwadu and in Japanese as wato. I mention this in case some one has read or heard the term in a Korean or a Japanese context to know we are discussing the same... Read more

The Lion's Roar

by Fa Gong Shakya

Published Aug 03, 2011

The Lion's Roar

I have only a poor understanding of economics, though I have always had an interest in the political and philosophical values and assumptions that underpin the various processes involved. I remember being struck, when first introduced to the basic principles of Buddhism, how utterly and diametrically opposed they were to the capitalist values and... Read more

Prison Dharma

by Fa Xing Shakya

Published Jul 19, 2011

Prison Dharma

Introduction  by Chuan Zhi As Zen grows in popularity in the United States and other occidental countries, there are growing demands for its representatives to provide for the needs of those Zen enthusiasts incarcerated in prisons.  Only a couple of decades ago it was virtually unheard of for Zen clergy to... Read more

Suffering: the Gateway to Transformation

by Chuan Zhi

Published Jun 25, 2011

Suffering:  the Gateway to Transformation

My past essays have talked mostly about the wonders and beauties that we can behold through the practice of Zen, and how we can go about finding them for ourselves, but I have spent little time on its “flip side” – it’s “dark” side – suffering. We cannot find Zen without... Read more

Empty Zendo

by Fa Guang

Published Jun 12, 2011

Empty Zendo

How many times have you heard, "living in the moment?" The expression is fashionable now. I hear it everywhere, and see it within or on the back of at least sixty percent of the self-help and psychology books in every book store I visit. It's a "truism" I suppose, but... Read more

An Interview with M. K.

by M. K.

Published Jun 03, 2011

1) What brought you to Zen? Suffering and its natural consequence: looking for solace.  Six years ago I had been experiencing a serious mental crisis. When it happened I was 55 years old and I already knew by that time that normal pain-killers – like food, drink, drug, sex, shopping, traveling, idling,... Read more

The Intrinsic Nature of Meditation

by Fa Dao Shakya

Published Jun 01, 2011

The Intrinsic Nature of Meditation

Meditation is a key factor in Chan / Zen and Buddhism in general -- and yet we have no monopoly on the concept of meditation as a spiritual pursuit. Every religion has a tradition approaching meditation although most in the Western World do not focus on that aspect as... Read more

Cracking the Fortress of Delusion

by Chuan Zhi

Published May 10, 2011

Cracking the Fortress of Delusion

"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one." - Charles MacKay (Author of- Extraordinary Popular Delusions &The Madness of Crowds) Once upon a time a young turtle happened upon an old... Read more

Zen Ritual

by Fa Dong Shakya, OHY

Published Mar 18, 2011

Zen Ritual

In her bestselling spiritual memoir "Eat, Pray, Love", Elizabeth Gilbert tells a delightful story of a great Hindu teacher who led his followers in daily meditation in his ashram. The only problem was that the teacher "had a . . . cat", an annoying creature, who used to walk through... Read more

To Suppose A Post-Modern Buddhism

by Fa Gong Shakya, OHY

Published Mar 18, 2011

To Suppose A Post-Modern Buddhism

In Buddhism's adaptation to the concerns and climates of the post-modern West, much of what has been taken for granted as necessarily intrinsic to it has inevitably been questioned. Ancient Indian and exotic Oriental flavours react unpredictably on a Western palate, and for some, the taste does not appeal. An article... Read more

Zen Without Buddhism: Getting to the Heart

by Fa Che Shakya, OHY

Published Mar 18, 2011

Zen Without Buddhism: Getting to the Heart

As a Dharma teacher in the West, in a small, rural town of 2500 people, Zen is virtually unknown. Perhaps there's a class or two at the university about 25 miles away. But outside of college elective courses, people out here break down into two categories: Catholic or Lutheran. When... Read more

Zen Ritual

by Fa Dong Shakya, OHY

Published Mar 18, 2011

Zen Ritual

An article in our essay series: Making Connections: Discourses on the relationship between Zen, Buddhism, and culture In her bestselling spiritual memoir "Eat, Pray, Love", Elizabeth Gilbert tells a delightful story of a great Hindu teacher who led his followers in daily meditation in his ashram. The only... Read more

Spotlight on Stuart Lachs

by Chuan Zhi

Published Mar 15, 2011

Spotlight on Stuart Lachs

Without doubt the most perceptive critical voice on modern western Zen/Chan, Stuart Lachs has again given us another in-depth look at an important characteristic of contemporary Zen Buddhism: hagiography. His voice comes out of decades of immersion in Zen Buddhism, giving him an inside view that few, if any, other... Read more

The Prayer of a Zen Buddhist Atheist

by Yin De Shakya

Published Feb 19, 2011

The Prayer of a Zen Buddhist Atheist

I gave a talk recently at the request of a church group that was interested in my perspective on prayer and worship as a Zen Buddhist and an Atheist. I told them that even though I am a Zen Buddhist and an Atheist (in the conventional sense of the... Read more

Commentary on Rev. Chuan Zhi's "Bring on the Sun!"

by Fa Lian of Greece

Published Dec 23, 2010

Commentary on Rev. Chuan Zhi's "Bring on the Sun!"

The need to believe, as the Buddha said, is the primordial condition to walk the Path. Spiritual transition stages are very explicitly analyzed by Abbot Chuan Zhi in his essay Forward Motion: Bring on the Sun! It gives a clear outlook and conceptual understanding of the several differences and difficulties each one... Read more

Non-cultic Buddhism

by Fa Gong Shakya

Published Dec 03, 2010

Non-cultic Buddhism

A personal perspective Buddhism is an ancient path of practice; to some a religion, to others a philosophy, and to many simply a practice of sane living. From the outside looking in, it can seem an evolutionary, and revolutionary, spiritual technology that seems to stand unique amongst religions in that it... Read more

Zen's Travel Visas - A Sober view of Spiritual Tourism

by Fa Zhao Shakya

Published Dec 03, 2010

Zen's Travel Visas - A Sober view of Spiritual Tourism

When you are deluded and full of doubt, even a thousand books of scripture are not enough. When you have realized understanding, even one word is too much. -- Fen-Yang Those of us who arrive at Zen have often had quite a path of discovery along the way. This is certainly true... Read more

Encountering a Zenner can be a strange experience indeed . . .

by Chuan Zhi

Published Dec 02, 2010

Encountering a Zenner can be a strange experience indeed . . .

Zen people are strange. I've been told this many times, usually before I announce that I am a Zen person. My usual rhetorical thought has always been a humorous, well of course we are! My vocal response is, most often, silence. Having this come up in casual conversation today,... Read more

So Simple, A Child Could Do It . . .

by Fa Xing (Hadashi Sharishi)

Published Sep 13, 2010

So Simple, A Child Could Do It . . .

A Zen Buddhist's perspective on the five precepts.   I don't remember much about the fifth grade.  Oh, I remember a few faces, what the school looked like, and other such inane details, but I don't remember specifically what I learned that year.  All of my elementary school years kind of blend... Read more

Kalyana Mitra…On Spiritual Friendship

by Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao

Published Aug 25, 2010

On Spiritual Friendship Kalyanamitra is the Sanskrit word for spiritual friendship. This friendship is something much more than someone to hang out with, but rather connotes a person or even a thing that becomes our guide, a teacher, and serves to inspire us along our path to awakening. There is a common... Read more

Cappuccino Chan

by Fa Zhao Shakya

Published Jun 08, 2010

As we sat across the table from each other, at our usual coffee shop overlooking the beautiful Australian east coast, I noticed the look of distraction on his face, a face I have known for over 10 years. He seemed perplexed and I could see he was looking for answers.... Read more

Poetic Images

by Fa Lian Shakya

Published Apr 20, 2010

Poetic Images

Attachment to things means suffering. Beings are so tied up they can’t move so end up being part of those things they make. The ego always finds reasons to hang onto someone or something. Things are tough and sharp in this world and hurt the purity of one's soul endlessly... Read more

The Phantom Self

by Chuan Zhi

Published Mar 04, 2010

The Phantom Self

Anyone who has spent much time reading about Zen has encountered the term "Self" many times over. Some may even conclude that Zen is all about Self. They would not be wrong. While some people think that Zen is about sitting in lotus position, contemplating the space between the end... Read more

The Circle of Life and Death

by Chuan Zhi

Published Feb 19, 2010

The Circle of Life and Death

My first encounter with a Zen teacher happened when I was in my late twenties. Zen had been an interest of mine for nearly a decade before this chance encounter with a person of Zen. I had never thought seriously about actually DOING Zen, but I liked reading the philosophies... Read more

Penetrating Emptiness: Ta panta rei

by Fa Lian Shakya

Published Feb 03, 2010

Penetrating Emptiness: Ta panta rei

Plato wrote that when we're able to negate both being and non-being, we discover absolute nothingness, and that within that absolute nothingness we discover the absolute present - which is itself the Ultimate Reality. No such understanding can come without a mystic's eye. Shunyata, Emptiness, Void, Oneness, Suchness, Buddha Mind, Nirvana,... Read more

Zen Pest Control

by Fa Zhao Shakya

Published Jan 17, 2010

Zen Pest Control

I just love all creatures great and small. From Gorillas to Bengal Tigers and from Lungfish to bizarre Stick Insects, they all play a tremendous role in the various cycles of our planet. These wonderful creatures are also some of our greatest signposts in our observance of inter-connection and inter-relatedness.... Read more

Form and Emptiness: A Buddhist Defines "God"

by Yin De Shakya

Published Jan 07, 2010

"Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." A. Einstein Some Unitarian Universalists claim a belief in "God" in one form or another. Some consider themselves Agnostic and others happily call themselves Atheists. Some Unitarian Universalists are Buddhists, and... Read more

Love Forever

by Fa Lian Shakya

Published Jan 04, 2010

Love Forever

The seeds of love glow everywhere and in all things. Love is the eternal movement that from darkness brings all beings to the light, to the Supreme, to Sublimation. Love mysteriously penetrates and expands its immensity in harmony everywhere in the universe from atoms to stars and hoist up our... Read more

The Comedy of the Ego

by Fa Zhao Shakya

Published Nov 03, 2009

The Comedy of the Ego

Among the great questions.... Who are we? Why are we here? and What purpose do we serve? Perhaps we should also ask, Why do we suffer? and, What can we do? Why do we Suffer? Listening to late night radio back in my twenties, I heard an English Buddhist monk tell a... Read more

Finding a Teacher, Practicing in a Group

by Fa Zhang Shakya

Published Sep 01, 2009

Finding a Teacher, Practicing in a Group

It is fortunate that many people who gain some acquaintance with Buddhism decide to engage in its practice. Yearning for enlightenment, they set about establishing a practice, and this normally leads them to read as much as possible about the topic, and, very often, to chose a teacher. Many find... Read more

Silent Partners: Asceticism in Chan Buddhism

by Chuan Zhi

Published Aug 27, 2009

Silent Partners: Asceticism in Chan Buddhism

Asceticism has come to be characterized in contemporary culture as an extreme form of religious practice; in particular, as a retreat from society, and as an even more extreme form of self-denial. We may conjure up an image of a monk sitting on a dirt floor, ribs protruding, eyes sunken,... Read more

The Tradition of Mountain Ascetic Zen

by Fa Lohng (Koro Kaisan)

Published Aug 27, 2009

The Tradition of Mountain Ascetic Zen

Among the most admired of Zen masters are those who have eschewed the temple life and opted instead for the life of a Mountain Ascetic. Asceticism is a cross-cultural, cross-religious and multidisciplinary practice. Like nearly all forms of spiritual practice, asceticism covers a wide spectrum of beliefs and practices and... Read more

Spectrum Zen

by Fa Zhao Shakya

Published Aug 14, 2009

Spectrum Zen

With so many labeled human conditions in our world these days like Autism, ADHD, Bi Polar, Cerebral Palsy etc, one would wonder if Zen is only available to the so called ‘normals' or does it encompass our ‘disabled' friends and family as well? The faults of others are easily seen, but... Read more

The Stages of Spiritual Growth

by M. Scott Peck, M.D.

Published Jun 29, 2009

The Stages of Spiritual Growth

Just as there are discernible stages in human physical and psychological growth, so there are stages in human spiritual development. The most widely read scholar of the subject today is James Fowler of Emory University, the writer of Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning.... Read more

The Nisargadatta Song of Beyond I Am

by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Published Jun 29, 2009

...you are not this, there is nothing of yours in this, except the little point of 'I am' ... . 'I am this, I am that' is dream, while pure 'I am' has the stamp of reality on it. You have tasted so many things -- all came to naught.... Read more

The Nisargadatta Song of I Am

by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Published Jun 29, 2009

 My teacher told me to hold on to the sense 'I am' tenaciously and not to swerve from it even for a moment. I did my best to follow his advice and in a comparatively short time I realized within myself the truth of his teaching. All I did was... Read more

Buddhism and Forgiveness

by Father Joseph S. O'Leary

Published Jun 19, 2009

Christianity is based on the idea, or rather the event, of divine forgiveness: “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also [must forgive]” (Col. 3:13). Why was this reality so little actualized in Northern Ireland? Even now, when a measure of rational political coexistence has been achieved, there... Read more

Fullness of Being: How We Know

by The Rev. Graeme Chapman

Published Jun 19, 2009

It can be argued, as a consequence of exploring the extensive dimensions of the knower, that our capacity for discernment will depend upon the degree to which we are in touch with various levels of human experience. It can be further contended that there are, at least, four different ways... Read more

The Compass and the Ego

by Fa Chao Shakya

Published Jun 15, 2009

The Compass and the Ego

A compass is a navigational instrument with a magnetized pointer that aligns itself with the earth's magnetic field, always pointing north. We have used the compass for millennia to find our way. It's been used by seafarers, explorers, and travellers alike to help get from one place to another. When... Read more

All for One

by Chuan Zhi

Published Jun 04, 2009

All for One

I. There are people whose hearts are dead. They puzzle at the world, wondering why things are as they are. They don't understand. They fail to see that the world is made of heart because only heart can see heart. The mind, alone, is senseless to the sensibilities of the heart.... Read more

On Death and Dying - A (very personal) Zen perspective

by Fa Zhang Shakya

Published May 21, 2009

On Death and Dying - A (very personal) Zen perspective

D eath is the Great Teacher, the Great Equalizer. Death claims the rich as well as the poor, it fells the powerful just as swiftly as the powerless. Death teaches us how precious life is, and brings into painful focus the precariousness of our sense of self. Death is also the... Read more

Passing Through the Gateless Barrier

by Fa Lohng

Published May 11, 2009

Passing Through the Gateless Barrier

The Great Way is gateless, approached by a thousand paths. Pass trough this barrier, you walk freely in the universe. One of the principal Zen texts from thirteenth century China is a collection of koans entitled Wu-wen kuan (Mumonkan). This translates into English as The Gateless Gate,... Read more

Master Hsu Yun's Teachings (5)

by Fa Lian Shakya

Published May 05, 2009

Master Hsu Yun's Teachings (5)

The Teachings of Hsu Yun (5) Read more

Master Hsu Yun's Teachings (4)

by Fa Lian Shakya

Published Apr 28, 2009

Master Hsu Yun's Teachings (4)

The concepts of Master Hsu Yun, with illustrations by Rev. Fa Lian Shakya The Teachings of Hsu Yun (4)   Read more

Master Hsu Yun's Teachings (3)

by Fa Lian Shakya

Published Mar 04, 2009

Master Hsu Yun's Teachings (3)

The words of Master Hsu Yun, with illustrations by Rev. Fa Lian Shakya Hsu Yun's Teachings (3): The Hua Tou Read more

Master Hsu Yun's Teachings (2)

by Fa Lian Shakya

Published Feb 03, 2009

Master Hsu Yun's Teachings (2)

The words of Master Hsu Yun, with illustrations by Rev. Fa Lian Shakya Master Hsu Yun's Teachings (2)   Read more

Buddhism and Psychotherapy: A Perspective

by Fa Gong

Published Jan 22, 2009

Buddhism and Psychotherapy: A Perspective

What we typically label as simply "mind" is, in Pali, substantially more precise. Our broad concept might of mind could be translated in Pali as vijnana, or consciousness. Nowhere does it suggest in Buddhist teaching that we can or should "still our consciousness," but the idea Westerners typically struggle with... Read more

Master Hsu Yun's Teachings (1)

by Fa Lian Shakya

Published Jan 04, 2009

Master Hsu Yun's Teachings (1)

The words of Master Hsu Yun, with illustrations by Rev. Fa Lian Shakya Hsu Yun's Chan Teachings (1) Read more

Remembering Jonestown: a Homage to the Dead, a Prayer for the Living

by Chuan Zhi

Published Nov 25, 2008

Remembering Jonestown: a Homage to the Dead, a Prayer for the Living

What is it about us humans that we seek, with such ferocity, to belong to a group, to the extent that some of us will believe whatever we are told to believe for the sake of the group? We put our own identity aside in favor of the group's identity.... Read more

Forward Motion: Bring on the Sun!

by Chuan Zhi with special thanks to Drew Dixon

Published Nov 18, 2008

Forward Motion: Bring on the Sun!

How do we keep our spiritual life alive? How do we keep moving forward? Embrace life in all its beauty and ugliness: treat all things with equanimity, seeing what is real and not what is superimposed by our beliefs and opinions. Seek the unknown: approach fears with fierce resolve to... Read more

The Problem With Precepts

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Nov 01, 2008

The Problem With Precepts

A fundamental recognition of a maturing life is that rarely is it what we do that defines us, but rather why we do it. The history of jurisprudence reflects the same increasing sophistication; the accused should be judged on the intent of an action, rather than on outcome. Certainly, the... Read more

"Labors of Peace"

by Fa Liang, OHY

Published Aug 30, 2008

"Labors of Peace"

This week, right in my own "backyard," a terrible thing happened. A man, fueled by hate, walked into a Unitarian Universalist (UU) church during a children's play and began shooting. Two people are dead and four more are physically injured. Many more are left to bear emotional scars. The alleged... Read more

The Wu! Gate

by Fa Liang, OHY

Published Jul 15, 2008

The Wu! Gate

We can, each of us, experience Wu! -- that emptiness, that relief -- every time we give up our attachment. When we have a job to do, we simply do it - without grumbling, without daydreaming about all the other things we could be doing instead, without any sort of... Read more

A Dharma Chat: Right Speech

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Jul 01, 2008

A Dharma Chat: Right Speech

Right Speech is not just about morality, or even limited to wisdom teachings. It is also about Right Mindfulness and contemplative discipline, about identifying, labeling, and being mindful of thoughts -- all of the ego's chit-chat. We can, in fact use Right Speech as the bedrock and cornerstone of our... Read more

A Dharma Chat: "The Opiate Of The Masses"

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Jul 01, 2008

It has wisely been said "no-one attains enlightenment." This is precisely true. There is no ego that attains nirvana. When nirvana IS attained, there is no personal ego to experience it. This is the crux of the matter. The promises of new spiritual technologies to deliver enlightenment seek to seduce... Read more

Holier Than Thou

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Jul 01, 2008

Holier Than Thou

How is it that the "spiritual" person, for whom we might assume humility to be an essential characteristic, so often presents as aloof and arrogant? It is bad enough that the "holier than thou" attitude which often flaws the religious character is common to monastics, priests, gurus, teachers and devotees... Read more

The Ambitious Violet

by Khalil Gibran

Published Jun 19, 2008

The Ambitious Violet

A Lebanese-American essayist, novelist, poet, and artist, Khalil Gibran has become, post-humorously, one of the greatest Lebanese-American mystics of modern times. Born in 1883 in the mountains of Lebanon, he immigrated to the United States in 1895 where he became involved in the fine arts and in literature. He has... Read more

The Story of the Wave

by Fa Liang, OHY

Published Jun 15, 2008

The Story of the Wave

Once upon a time, there was a little wave. The wave loved being a wave going up and down and playing all day and night. The wave was surrounded by lots of other waves and it had fun watching them, too. Then one day, the little wave noticed... Read more

The Buddhism of Zen

by Chuan Zhi and Fa Gong

Published Jun 10, 2008

The Buddhism of Zen

As westerners brought up in different religious traditions and cultures, we won't ever have the same Buddhism as the Chinese, the Japanese, the Koreans, or the Vietnamese. Nor should we. Our psyches are shaped by western cultures, not eastern ones. A religion will invariably speak uniquely to each culture that... Read more

A Dangerous Game

by Fa Guang, OHY

Published May 01, 2008

A Dangerous Game

A Warning for Forum Aficionados! The Internet has a peculiar way of grabbing us and taking us off course, often without us even being aware it's happening. Recently as I was searching the Internet for a particular book I came across a list of forum posts relating to... Read more

Tibet and the Beijing Olympics

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Apr 11, 2008

Tibet and the Beijing Olympics

As "online Buddhists" we do well to understand that this very medium creates new opportunities for the ego to express itself, and it quickly finds new ways to dominate. When I first learned to drive I used to be amazed at how much more aggressive and anti-social people seemed to... Read more

Musings on the Corpse & the Skandhas

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Apr 10, 2008

Musings on the Corpse & the Skandhas

One of the challenges of Chan is that many students are often fatally handicapped by needing to have at least some degree of intellectual satisfaction before they will consider letting the intellect drop. Perhaps this is one of the occasions that Buddha referred to as requiring "skilful means" in teaching.... Read more

Science & Zen: A Closer Look

by Chuan Zhi

Published Feb 08, 2008

Science & Zen: A Closer Look

Are science and Zen incompatible? Not at all. Each simply leads the investigator to a different area of understanding. Is awareness simply the result of our neurons firing away? Sure, but that's not the point. The mystic will say that the perception of awareness is of a universal nature, not... Read more

Buddhism and Forgiveness

by Father Joseph S. O'Leary

Published Jan 28, 2008

Christianity is based on the idea, or rather the event, of divine forgiveness: "As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also [must forgive]" (Col. 3:13). Why was this reality so little actualized in Northern Ireland? Even now, when a measure of rational political coexistence has been achieved, there is... Read more

Bodhi day: the day of enlightenment

by Fa Dao, OHY

Published Dec 07, 2007

It was the 8th day of the 12th lunar month, the story goes, that Siddhartha Gautama, also known as Shakyamuni, awoke from a week of meditation to view of the morning star - Venus - and exclaimed, "That's it! That's it! That's me! That's me that's shining so brilliantly!" In... Read more

Road Construction Ahead!

by Fa Liang, OHY

Published Nov 07, 2007

Road Construction Ahead!

Forgiveness is a three-dimensional road with its foundation built solidly in the bedrock of our spiritual nature. I wrote previously about forgiving ourselves - recognizing and accepting our own mistakes instead of hiding in their shadows, defending our mistakes as if they weren't mistakes at all. Honesty, integrity, humility and... Read more

Forgiveness

by Fa Liang, OHY

Published Oct 01, 2007

Forgiveness

We are all human. If we are honest with ourselves we'll recognize that we all say and do things that cause pain to others as well as to ourselves. It's the feelings within that reflexively lead us to act and speak in hurtful ways. The fear, negativity, and blame... Read more

Who Drags This Corpse? The Vajra-Sword of Hsu Yun

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Aug 03, 2007

For the beginner new to Chan's tactics, attacking a hua tou may seem too abstruse, too hard, and too alien to know how to approach it. As easy as it might be to sit and count our breaths, be mindful of our thoughts, or concentrate on a mantra for a... Read more

Synchronicity and the Nature of Reality

by Paul Cochrane

Published Jul 17, 2007

Synchronicity and the Nature of Reality

The concept of miraculous coincidences is not at all new. The phenomenon has been recognized by many cultures, and in the distant past, was attributed to the acts of the Gods. In Greek mythology, the God Hermes, was represented as a playful "trickster" who was manifested in unexpected and humorous... Read more

Experience Chan!

by Chuan Zhi

Published Jul 09, 2007

Experience Chan!

Deep inside each of us lurks a presence that is our full human potential, but it remains hidden from us - an aspect of the unconscious. It hides because of our fear of it. Its aspect is wisdom, understanding  . . . compassion, yet it remains hidden. The question we... Read more

Measuring Reality

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Apr 23, 2007

Measuring Reality

Consider our first multi-day meditation retreat. After a couple of days of discomfort, both physical and psychological, the rebellious ego begins to question the authority of the "strange Oriental monk" with his odd and inscrutable methods. We begin to search our mental archives and apply some unique application of a... Read more

Part VI - Conclusion

by Chuan Zhi

Published Mar 30, 2007

Part VI -  Conclusion

Buddhism is a complex religion, without a single voice, with many faces, and many representatives holding many different views. It's tremendously easy for a newcomer to get lost in the quagmire of beliefs, ambiguous language, customs, teachings, superstitions and myths that have produced a Matta-like painting of this unusual and... Read more

Part V - The Context of Zen

by Chuan Zhi

Published Mar 12, 2007

Part V - The Context of Zen

The context in which we view a thing has a great influence on our perception of it. It is a great influence on our perception of Zen.When we first learn about something it's with our senses and we know all too well that they can mislead, tricking us to believe... Read more

Non-Attachment, a Zen Imperative

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Feb 22, 2007

As our Zen practice deepens, we can observe ourselves as we shift in and out between our "small" and conditioned self, and that unconditioned SELF that cannot be described. And in this shifting we can see, if we look closely, the arising and the "evaporation" of attachment. And in this... Read more

Part IV - The Gong An (Koan) and Hua Tou

by Chuan Zhi

Published Feb 15, 2007

Part IV -  The Gong An (Koan) and Hua Tou

Many people equate Zen training with gong-an (koan) study due to the fairly frequent use of this teaching technique in Zen monasteries. Koans are one of many different techniques that teachers have used over the centuries to help students break through the rigid mental framework that obscures the higher domain... Read more

Do you believe in reincarnation?

by Fa Jian, OHY

Published Jan 21, 2007

The mystery of what, if anything, happens to us after we die continues to be a subject of debate among people of all religions as well as philosophers and religious scholars. With so much interest in the subject, it's no wonder that we have so many theories about what happens... Read more

Part III - Dharma Transmission and Lineage

by Chuan Zhi

Published Dec 12, 2006

Part III - Dharma Transmission and Lineage

While most of the world's great religions rely on the sanctity of words to convey the Truth of their religious doctrines, moral codes, etc., Zen Buddhism makes no such claim as it has no such written document or collection of documents. Instead, Zen Buddhism relies on the concept of Dharma... Read more

In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts

by Fa Dao, OHY

Published Dec 05, 2006

In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts

Like the Buddha's Disciple Moggallana in search of his mother, I have entered the Preta Realm with a mission. oggallana entered this realm in an effort to save his mother. She had been reborn in this hell-realm as the result of greed. A spirit ever-hungry as the result of the... Read more

Zen's Spiritual Guide

by Fa Dao, OHY

Published Nov 29, 2006

What does it mean to be a spiritual guide? A Zen Roshi or Sifu? It means we strive to balance heart and mind;to live our Spirit. It means we have lived and learned and are still living and learning.That we are one in an ancient succession of teachers, offering to... Read more

Part II - The Zen Master

by Chuan Zhi

Published Nov 29, 2006

Part II - The Zen Master

A master serves several functions in a sangha: as a teacher and resource for practicing students, as a guide or "coach", as a leader or co-leader of ceremonies, as a disciplinarian, and often as an administrator. In addition, a master is usually responsible for the financial health of the temple,... Read more

Western Zen: Transition And Turmoil -- Part 1

by Chuan Zhi

Published Nov 15, 2006

Western Zen: Transition And Turmoil -- Part 1

Whenever a religion enters a new region dominated by an ethnic culture differing from that of its originating source, a certain amalgamation of ideologies, ethicalities, as well as prevailing myths and superstitions of the newly introduced religion and the antecedent religions takes place. Buddhism is an especially interesting case, as... Read more

Do no Harm: The Sexuality of Spirituality

by Chuan Zhi

Published Oct 11, 2006

Do no Harm: The Sexuality of Spirituality

Anyone who cares to investigate advanced spiritual practices of the Buddhist traditions (and many others), or has delved into them directly, quickly comes to realize that the exalted spiritual states referred to, most often obliquely, actually entail considerable sexual experience. The difference being that this experience is an internal experience... Read more

The "Dreaded" Third Precept The challenge of sexual conduct, a student's perspective

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Apr 06, 2006

What is a "precept"? We Buddhists are all very aware of the five precepts (ore more or less depending on what school we associate with) we have taken when we chose to become Buddhists. But it seems there is remarkably little shared appreciation of what the precepts actually involve. Are... Read more

Reinventing Ourselves

by Chuan Zhi

Published Apr 01, 2006

Reinventing Ourselves

How do we overcome fear and the terrible influence it has over us? We must have great courage - we must be prepared to make mistakes, to show failure, and to show our human vulnerabilities. We must be willing to be outcast by our social groups, friends and family. We... Read more

Who Am I? Reflections on Chan's Path

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Mar 20, 2006

Religion's ubiquitous "ism's" often leave me wondering about their relation to spiritual growth. I'm reminded of a famous Chan hua-toa, "If you don't really exist, why am I trying to save you?". Why, for example, if Buddhism and Taoism are merely ways of living in harmony with nature, and nature... Read more

Hope and Faith

by Yin De, OHY

Published Nov 02, 2005

Hope and Faith

A friend asked me to elaborate on how, as Buddhists, we should deal with concepts, words, and emotions that seem to go against what we're taught but still seem to be as "real" as they were before we came to Buddhism. He asked, specifically, about the concepts of hope and... Read more

Undeniable Self, Deniable self

by Chuan Zhi

Published Oct 04, 2005

Undeniable Self, Deniable self

What is the nature of Self? In Chan, the answer is a spiritual one, dependent on self-reflection, and one that cannot come fully until we achieve a degree of spiritual awareness. In the secular domain, we can investigate Self in terms of what it is not - it is not... Read more

The Monk, The Man and the Fish

by Fa Dao, OHY

Published May 03, 2005

A solitary monk was carrying a large fish to his home to prepare it for his meal. As he walked along the path, a man approached from the other direction. As he reached hailing distance, the man called out “Hey monk! I see you coming! What is that you're carrying?”Not... Read more

A Loose Garment

by Fa Dao, OHY

Published Apr 04, 2005

Speaking with a friend on the phone recently and asked about her practice. Just the general sort of conversational "how's it going" type of question.She answered "I'm wearing my practice like a loose garment." Not concentrating or striving or actively "Being Buddhist," she said. Sitting fairly often, but otherwise not... Read more

Our Marvelous Error

by Joan Sutherland, Roshi

Published Feb 21, 2005

Our Marvelous Error

From a three-part series of Dharma talks. Permission to reprint these articles granted by Joan Sutherland, Feb. 2005. Forward by Rev. Chuan Zhi Shakya We are delighted to offer Joan Sutherland's talks given in 2002 and 2003 on "House Style" Zen. Ms. Sutherland, Roshi, is a contemporary leader in Zen,... Read more

Chan's Trailhead: The Triple Refuge and the Precepts

by Chuan Zhi

Published Jan 25, 2005

Chan's Trailhead: The Triple Refuge and the Precepts

How do we begin with Zen? We don't start climbing Mt. Everest from the third base station. We start at the very bottom, climb a bit, set up camp, wait for a few days to let ourselves adjust to the altitude, then move on up again, slowly, step by step.... Read more

Making It Real: On Creating a Real Chan Practice From a Virtual Temple

by Chuan Zhi

Published Jan 10, 2005

Making It Real: On Creating a Real Chan Practice From a Virtual Temple

Chan is often discussed, considered, and pondered, but when it comes to figuring out how to live the life of a Chan Buddhist many people come to the conclusion that attending services, entering a monastery -- going somewhere -- is the only efficacious solution. Whenever a request for liturgy pops into... Read more

Denial of Beauty by Austerity?

by Fa Dao, OHY

Published Dec 22, 2004

Denial of Beauty by Austerity?

The simplest of foods or the meanest of meals is a banquet if we appreciate it for what it is -- sustenance, a gift from the earth and the fruit of the labors of men and women. A simple noodle is fit for a king when we appreciate its texture... Read more

The Joy of Awakening

by Chuan Zhi

Published Nov 30, 2004

The Joy of Awakening

Buddhism is about the discovery of our own potential: it's about beauty, and about love. Buddhism embraces mankind's quest for knowledge in all its many manifestations: spiritual knowledge, scientific knowledge, knowledge of art and music, but most of all, knowledge of Self: knowledge of who we are as opposed to... Read more

Chan and the Eightfold Path

by Chuan Zhi

Published Nov 20, 2004

Chan and the Eightfold Path

In order to prepare ourselves for meditation, we must first begin to put our lives in order and act in accordance with what is right and good, both for us and for others. It is no simple task, for it requires that we act caringly instead of selfishly. It's not... Read more

Non-Discrimination and the Chan Mind

by Chuan Kong, OHY

Published Nov 17, 2004

Discriminating is a fundamental aspect of being human. Everything we do is a choice based on discrimination between one thing or another, or between one thing and a thousand others. The collection of choices we each make is unique to each of us. Sometimes our choices are based on our... Read more

When Righteousness Goes Wrong

by Fa Dao, OHY

Published Nov 11, 2004

When Righteousness Goes Wrong

Chan Buddhists, just like followers of other religions, want to do what's right. We strive to be righteous and to avoid self-aggrandizing actions and activities. It's imperative that we consider what it means to "do right" since we often fall into the trap of "doing wrong." We must identify and... Read more

The Buddhism of Zen (in 10 minutes or less)

by Fa Dao, OHY

Published Oct 26, 2004

The Buddhism of Zen (in 10 minutes or less)

Dependent upon whom one asks, Zen is either a school of Buddhism or a school of thought and ethical philosophy adjunct to Buddhism. While zen often teaches the folly of differentiation, hard definition and non-malleable mental categorization, it also teaches that all things should be understood by their very nature.... Read more

Homeostasis and Zen

by Chuan Zhi

Published Oct 12, 2004

Homeostasis and Zen

When we allow ourselves to move far away from the center, we experience the pain and bitterness that the Buddha described in his First Noble Truth. The cause of that distress, he said, is attachment. A Zen practitioner can feel anger, sorrow, or physical pain just as he can experience... Read more

How "Zen" is That?

by Yin De, OHY

Published Sep 16, 2004

A friend of mine has a habit of asking me; "How Zen is that?" whenever I seem to react with any degree of emotion, particularly when I am angry about something. A year or so ago, when one of my neighbors learned that my shaved head wasn't a fashion-statement and... Read more

Using the Sutras

by Fa Dao, OHY

Published Sep 02, 2004

Using the Sutras

We study the Sutras as a guide as we embark on our own spiritual adventures. They provide us strength in times of difficulties, give us solace in times of despair, and motivate us in times of apathy. Eventually, as we travel on our own unique journey, we learn to navigate... Read more

The Lottery Ticket

by Yao Feng, OHY

Published Sep 01, 2004

The Lottery Ticket

Once a week, usually on Tuesday, I drive down to Loutraki to buy supplies. It is the nearest small city in the area, about 16 kilometers from where I live. It's not a big town, but it's pretty there by the sea. It has curative waters, casino, shops and a... Read more

First Autumn Rain

by Yao Feng, OHY

Published Aug 29, 2004

First Autumn Rain

"Mitsos," my car, has that rare gift of making familiar things seem new. No matter how many times he's taken the same road home, he negotiates the dirt and gravel with a kind of joy. Like a horse headed back to his barn, he doesn't need anyone to steer him.... Read more

A True Story

by Fa Dao, OHY

Published Aug 22, 2004

A True Story

Once upon a time there was a lone wolf. All of his life he had been free, independent and secure in the knowledge that he was a wolf (and a fine one at that) despite the opinion of certain other wolves. One day, in about his 30th year of "wolfness" and... Read more

Family Members - By Birth and By Choice

by Chuan Zhi

Published Aug 18, 2004

Family Members - By Birth and By Choice

A true Buddhist isn't necessarily a person who attends Buddhist services and who observes Buddhist traditions... no more than these public acts define a true Christian or Muslim. Living out the life of the spirit, freeing ourselves from anger, lust, and ignorance are the private goals we need to set... Read more

Science and Spiritual Inquiry: Striking a Balance

by Chuan Zhi

Published Jun 15, 2004

Science and Spiritual Inquiry: Striking a Balance

The universe, governed by power and the law power obeys, conforms to a dualistic principal of yin and yang, eros and logos, shakti and Shiva. We cannot separate them. Only through spiritual labor can we succeed at reconciling and integrating the noumenal with the phenomenal, the mathematical formula with that... Read more

The Seven Sermons To The Dead, Written By Basilides in Alexandria, the City where the East Toucheth the West

by Carl Gustav Jung

Published Jun 07, 2004

The Seven Sermons To The Dead, Written By Basilides in Alexandria, the City where the East Toucheth the West

  Forward by Chuan Zhi Shakya Carl Jung was, and continues to be, a tremendous influence on matters of spiritual consciousness in the western hemisphere. He was deeply interested in the psychological and spiritual underpinnings of Zen Buddhism and other eastern religions and for many years collaborated with Zen scholars... Read more

True Atonement

by Chuan Zhi

Published Dec 08, 2003

True Atonement

When we achieve true restorative balance within ourselves we are happy and content, and can live without regret, remorse or guilt. We are at peace. The enlightened approach is to always be vigilant, to guard against committing sins - those violations of our Buddhist Precepts. But when we slip and... Read more

Chan Quan and Meditation

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Jun 26, 2003

"Sifu, I hear you teach meditation in your classes. What's so special about practicing meditation? Meditation is important no matter what we are getting ready to do, what we may be in the midst of doing, or what we may have just finished doing. It's the same attitude that we maintain... Read more

The Fire of Desire: The Buddha's Second Noble Truth

by Yin De, OHY

Published May 07, 2003

The Fire of Desire: The Buddha's Second Noble Truth

Today, I'd like to talk about the Second Noble Truth of Buddhism - desire and craving, the cause of suffering. It's human nature to want more of what we like and to have better than what we have - not only for ourselves, but for our children and the people... Read more

Jack Dudney - Dharma Drummer

by Fa Dao, OHY

Published Mar 13, 2003

Jack Dudney wasn't a zen teacher. Well- he was, but I don't think he knew it.Jack Dudney was my drum teacher when I was a kid. A professional musician, Jack played Big Band with Ed Gerlach's Orchestra in Houston and he taught music lessons on the side. I took lessons... Read more

Chan Quan - Part 4

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Jan 23, 2003

The fourth and last part of the program is the mental and spiritual training. The practitioner learns how to properly focus his mind and to bring his thoughts and emotions under control. He learns how to cultivate and visualize his spiritual energy called Chi (Qi, Ki). Chi is the vital... Read more

Sharing The Journey: The Wasted Moment

by Fa Dao, OHY

Published Jan 08, 2003

Sitting and not thinking -- quietly watching the snow on the lawn, doing nothing including nothing itself. A wee curl of smoke from the incense stick twists and twirls and takes shape - a face almost human. Oh no!!! Not him!!!! It's the Prince of Pragmatism! The... Read more

Merry Whatever

by Yin Yao, OHY

Published Dec 16, 2002

Christmas is a strange season for the American Buddhist. No matter how long you've been on the Path, Christmas still feels like Christmas. And everybody actslike it's Christmas. And some part of you wants it to be Christmas-precepts or no precepts. Jesus was, by anyone's reckoning, a great Bodhisattva. And... Read more

Why I Am Not a Zen Master

by Yin Yao, OHY

Published Nov 30, 2002

Recently my congregation assembled to ask me how an ordinary Zen guy gets to be a Zen Master. "So, Rev," she said, "What's up with the whole 'Zen Master' deal, anyway" Patiently ignoring the single quotes in her voice, I explained that only a Zen Master knows how to become... Read more

Chan Quan - Part 3

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Nov 12, 2002

The third part is the physical and spiritual training. This is where the practitioner learns how to humble himself before his practice and to perform his movements in a meditative manner. He also learns a sitting meditation practice. Where there is a clear, relaxed, healthy and strong body there is... Read more

Dubious Transactions

by Yin Yao, OHY

Published Nov 09, 2002

Most people don't know it, but Zen guys love Zen knick-knacks. It's not enough to have a simple altar with a Buddha statue, some flowers, incense burner, altar cloth and a nice cushion to sit on. Eventually, we just have to have that geniune brass gong (made in Mexico) which... Read more

Vested Interests

by Yin Yao, OHY

Published Oct 23, 2002

If you've watched the old Kung Fu series on television, you might have the impression that becoming a Zen priest requires passing some kind of test-and you'd be correct. The real test, though, is nothing so exotic as walking on rice paper, hefting a tureen full of red-hot scorpions, or... Read more

Whatever Your Name: on religious tolerance and acts of terrorism

by Chuan Zhi

Published Sep 16, 2002

Whatever Your Name: on religious tolerance and acts of terrorism

Written in response to to the terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center on September 11, 2002. All world religions offer this spiritual solution to the problems that confront all humanity, this Path to salvation. Those who choose other hateful solutions have left their religion's Path. Yet, as we lament their... Read more

Uncle's Last Trip

by Yao Feng, OHY

Published Jul 10, 2002

Uncle's Last Trip

An icy January morning, 6 a.m. It is not my habit to be awake at this hour, in this season, but I have an appointment to keep. Kilometers away from here lies the village where I will bid farewell to my mother's brother. Ninety-one years old, and he still has... Read more

A Taste of Tendai

by The Reverend Jion Prosser

Published Jun 17, 2002

Tendai Lotus Teachings: www.tendai-lotus.org Forward by Rev. Chuan Zhi Shakya, OHY We are pleased to present the following article by the Reverend Jion Prosser of Tendai Lotus Teachings, a Minneapolis based sangha of the Tendai school. It may be of interest to our sangha members that our Grandmaster Hsu Yun studied... Read more

Chan Quan - Part 2

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Jun 13, 2002

Martial arts are very much like this: “Water is dependent on the environment with which it flows to dictate its movements.” This saying is not limited to just the martial arts, but to life in general as well. The first part of the first stage involves physical training. This training consists... Read more

Among Other Things

by Yin Yao, OHY

Published Jun 12, 2002

Among other things, 9/11 turned me into a news junkie. It's all my fault. From September to May, every day started with a quick look at the Associated Press web site, followed by visits to CNN, the Washington Post, the BBC, and that black sheep of journalism, the Drudge Report.... Read more

Chan Quan, Part 1

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published May 07, 2002

"Sifu, could you explain what Chan Quan is exactly? What are the elements that separate it from all other martial arts?" Answering these questions will take a bit more explaining than I have previously given. At the outset it's important to understand that Chan Quan - "True Chan Quan" - cannot... Read more

A Fork in the Road

by Chuan Kong, OHY

Published May 06, 2002

Isn't it strange how often we're met with the problems of choice? Time and time again we find it necessary to unify our divided mind, to make a definitive decision, a right decision - and woe betide us if we get it wrong!When a choice can result in consequences we... Read more

We're All Buddhists

by Yao Feng, OHY

Published Feb 12, 2002

We're All Buddhists

Dark, mad clouds had met over Geraneia Mountain as if there was no other mountain to solve their disputes. Perhaps they wanted to show off for the goddess, Hera, or maybe choose her as a referee. The storm was spectacular, offering fantastic light and sound effects, abrupt and sudden just... Read more

That Sinking Feeling

by Yin Yao, OHY

Published Jan 31, 2002

Zen teaches us swamp-dwellers to value simplicity, austerity. That must be why karma dictated that I should now live in a hut. My home was built in 1948, at the height of Washington D.C.'s post-WWII housing boom. It's tiny and white, with a little crooked chimney and a little plugged... Read more

The Vertical Ascent

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Dec 27, 2001

"Sifu, I know many fellow students who are extremely advanced technically, but our Sifu doesn't seem to consider them "master" material. How long does it take to become a Sifu?"IChing: Hexagram #46: Sheng or Pushing Upward (K'un over Sun) - The receptive over the gentle: Earth over wind and wood.Wood grows as... Read more

Chan Quan and Wu Shu Styles

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Dec 24, 2001

"Sifu could you give us a comparison between the Chan Quan and Wu Shu styles?” First I'd like to clarify that the Wu Shu (Chinese Martial Arts/sport) of Shaolin is considered by the monks of Shao Lin Ji (Shao Lin Monastery) to be Chan Quan. The Wu Shu the public learns... Read more

Common Misconceptions

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Dec 24, 2001

"A Black belt who has studied martial arts for six to ten years is by far a better martial artist than a person who has studied only half that time."Anyone who understands the essence of the martial arts must disagree with this statement. Many factors need to be considered. For example,... Read more

Fist of Chan

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Nov 24, 2001

"Sifu, what is there about the Chan Quan style that makes it unique?""When the sun comes up, I get up. When night falls and I get sleepy, I get ready for bed. ""huh?"Chan Quan is a combination of Chan Buddhism and Quan, the 'fist' of the martial arts. Most other... Read more

Of Tigers and Men

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Oct 10, 2001

"Sifu, what about taking a person's life? Is it ever justifiable, if so, when?"It is in our nature to do what we need to do in order to survive.Consider the situation: Someone, without provocation or perhaps merely as an over-reaction to what he regards as an insult or threat, approaches... Read more

Turning Point

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Jul 25, 2001

"Sifu, today at work a guy asked me how my martial arts awareness skills were. I told him that they were pretty good. So he swung at me. But I immediately knew that at his distance he would not be able to hit me. I didn't do anything but lean... Read more

Ancient Wisdom: The Blue Lotus

by Chuan Zhi

Published Jul 17, 2001

Ancient Wisdom: The Blue Lotus

 Zen requires that we maintain our sense of awe and wonder, that pure curiosity about the things we see and experience, that search for meaning and significance that is so apparent in the works of ancient man. We cannot allow technology to dull our awe and jade our curiosity about... Read more

The Old Fox

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Jun 03, 2001

"Sifu, I’ve heard about a few incidents lately in which young adults were beaten to death by a gang of people. Do you think that any amount of martial arts instruction would have been sufficient to save the victims' lives?"“That is quite a question! I’d have to say that no... Read more

Lhasa Apsos

by Yin Yao, OHY

Published May 01, 2001

I had a Zen moment this morning. Walking to the train station, I saw a little dog get clipped by a car. There wasn't much to hit: the dog weighed less than a pigeon and looked like it hadn't seen the inside of a house or a feeding bowl in... Read more

Zen and the Dharmakaya Cadillac

by Yin Yao, OHY

Published Apr 02, 2001

Every Buddhist biker knows that "when the student is ready, the master appears." Last week I was the student, and Sensei manifested himself in the form of a 1981 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, white, with Maryland tags and an appetite for Lesser Vehicles.The lesson began about five minutes before I was... Read more

Limitations

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Mar 30, 2001

"Sifu, why do all martial arts teachers tell their students that they shouldn't fight? Isn't fighting what the martial arts is all about?" I Ching : #60 Chieh: Limitation ( K'an - The abysmal, over Tui - The Joyous. Water over Lake. A lake is a body of water that has... Read more

Youthful Folly

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Mar 01, 2001

"Sifu, since Halloween last October, a few guys, a couple grades ahead of me in school, have been confronting me, wanting me to fight them. I'm thinking about quitting my martial arts training because of it.""Why? What happened?""For Halloween we had a dance at school, dressed up as a Ninja.... Read more

King of the Road: On Loneliness and Solitude

by Chuan Zhi

Published Feb 15, 2001

King of the Road: On Loneliness and Solitude

When we stop to analyze our daily lives, we discover how many of our activities are constructed to assuage a fear of being alone. We wait in lines at restaurants and take several hours to eat a meal that we could quickly have prepared at home. We go out to... Read more

The Power of the Great

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Feb 01, 2001

"Sifu, anyone can perform the motions of combat, but what is needed to execute techniques in accordance with Zen Principles?" I Ching: Hexagram #34: Ta Chuang, The Power of the Great (Chen over Ch’ien) – The Arousing over the Creative: Thunder over Heaven, we may be able to shed some light... Read more

Innocence

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Jan 31, 2001

"Sifu, I don’t like to spar with the bigger students in class. How can I ever expect to win?”I Ching: Hexagram #25: Wu Wang: Innocence (The Unexpected)We see here The Creative, Heaven over The Arousing, Thunder. Ch'ien over Chen. According to The Judgment: Innocence. Supreme success. Perseverance furthers. If someone is... Read more

Husband and Wife

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Nov 05, 2000

"Sifu, is it possible to learn the martial arts as a philosophy and meditation exercise and not as a fighting system?"I Ching: Hexagram #54: Chen over Tui - The arousing, thunder over the joyous, lake According to Hexagram #54, Kuei Mei / The Marrying Maiden, "The man leads and the... Read more

Union of Mind and Body

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Nov 05, 2000

"Sifu, why is it so important to practice meditation and breathing exercises?"I Ching: Hexagram #8: K'an over K'un - Water over Earth. According to The Judgment of Hexagram #8, Pi / Holding Together [Union]:"...possess sublimity, constancy, and perseverance; then there is no blame. Those who are uncertain gradually join. Whoever comes... Read more

Preponderance of the Great

by Chuan Yin, OHY

Published Oct 26, 2000

"Sifu, I have a problem practicing the forms I learn in class when I am at home. The forms require more space than I have available, but even when I push furniture around to practice them I make more noise than my family will tolerate. What would you suggest?"Hexagram #28... Read more

Zen and the Boxer Rebellion

by Yin Yao, OHY

Published Oct 12, 2000

In China at the close of the 19th century, a secret society called the Fists of Righteous Harmony started a movement to expel all foreigners from their homeland. History knows these rebels as the Boxers.But never mind them. This is about underwear. Big underwear. Zen underwear.A while ago, a kind... Read more

The Eighty-Fourth Problem

by Yin Yao, OHY

Published Sep 05, 2000

The Eighty-Fourth Problem

This essay is about problems - the kind we all share. Big ones and little ones, problems that we cause ourselves and problems that the world inflicts upon us.A man once came to see the Buddha because he heard that the Buddha knew how to solve problems. The man had... Read more

Suffering: Zen and the Four Noble Truths

by Chuan Zhi

Published Aug 10, 2000

Suffering: Zen and the Four Noble Truths

Suffering is integral to the Zen path. It is, in fact, a prerequisite. Zen is not an easy path and we must be highly motivated in order to travel it. In physics as in Zen, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. No human being wants to suffer. All... Read more

Get Lost!

by Chuan Kong, OHY

Published Mar 13, 2000

“Get lost!” You can’t seem to get through life without hearing that at least once. The command usually means that you should exit, either literally or metaphorically, and the quicker the better. It’s especially hurtful when the person who says it thinks he means well.“Get lost!” The expression conveys pain,... Read more

Archetypal Integration

by Chuan Zhi

Published Nov 16, 1999

Archetypal Integration

In physics we talk about forces. Without forces, there would be no physics because nothing would happen. In fact, there would be nothing at all because it is forces that create things. A rock is held together by the strong and weak nuclear forces. It slides down the side of... Read more

Upon Awakening in the Morning

by Chuan Kong, OHY

Published Jul 08, 1999

Have you ever wondered how it is that you always wake up in the morning as yourself and not someone else? As you awaken all the incidentals come crowding in: all the things you have to do today; all the places you have to be; what you are expected to... Read more

Reincarnation

by Chuan Zhi

Published May 04, 1999

Reincarnation

When we recognize that the ego doesn't exist in any real sense but only as an artifice of the mind, there's nothing that needs explaining anymore and the notion of reincarnation is seen as nothing more than an intellectual game. The person, like the raindrop, merges into the sea of... Read more

Eating the Menu

by Chuan Zhi

Published Mar 04, 1999

Eating the Menu

Zen requires that we bring mindfulness into our lives. If we are experiencing fear, we delve into the nature and content of that fear, working to understand it, tearing it apart piece by piece until there is no more fear. Our Buddhist faith needs to be invoked. If we're feeling... Read more

A Conversation on Zen and God

by Chuan Zhi

Published Jan 05, 1999

A Conversation on Zen and God

Some Buddhists may say they believe in God, others may say otherwise, but the reality of God is independent of anything anyone may believe or disbelieve. Religions the world over testify to the universal urge for our mind to realize that which is greater than itself. How do we describe... Read more

Dangerous Zeal

by Chuan Zhi

Published Dec 08, 1998

Dangerous Zeal

In meditation we enter the realm of selflessness (or egolessness). When we meditate there is no urge or desire for meditation, there is only beautiful meditation. Problems occur only when we stop meditating to return to the ego’s realm of desires and opinions about what is and what is not... Read more

Snapping and Zeno's Paradox

by Chuan Zhi

Published Oct 15, 1998

Snapping and Zeno's Paradox

Religion always presents us with extraordinary paradoxes. Is the person's experience going to diverge and take him into infinity's stratosphere or is it going to converge to that nice, desirable finish line? Luck has a lot to do with limits: that sane boundary. Consider a fraction. We know that the... Read more

Cultivating Buddhi: The Dharma of Right Action

by Chuan Zhi

Published Sep 24, 1998

Cultivating Buddhi:  The Dharma of Right Action

Anyone who spends time around Zen people will hear references to "practicing."  Whenever we're asked to explain what it is we're practicing, we make either vague comments about Buddhic Nature or, as if we were mystical attorneys, we say simply that we're "practicing the Law of Dharma." There is a difference... Read more

Delving Into Dharma

by Chuan Zhi

Published Jul 13, 1998

Delving Into Dharma

If there is one word with which we can summarize the beauty of Buddhist thought, that word is Dharma. We cannot read a book about Buddhism without encountering this term, yet its definition is as slippery as its appearance is ubiquitous. In which sense is Master Han Shan using it... Read more

First Practice: The Healing Breath

by Chuan Zhi

Published Feb 02, 1998

First Practice: The Healing Breath

Everyone who enters Zen's Gateless Gate, has a story to tell. Mine begins one summer evening when I received a call from a friend who had recently moved to another state. "I found a Buddhist Priest who teaches Zen." He told me. "Last night she gave me a pranayama exercise... Read more

Dreams and Visions: Part II

by Chuan Zhi

Published Dec 10, 1997

Dreams and Visions: Part II

As barnacles to pilings, we often grasp at our notions of things with a fear that letting go of them could only end in annihilation. What if the ideas we take as ultimate truths are flawed, or only partially true, or even altogether false? What if the anchor of security... Read more

Dreams and Visions: Part I

by Chuan Zhi

Published Oct 16, 1997

Dreams and Visions: Part I

Dreams and visions have a special significance in Zen Buddhism, for it's through them that we often see the fruits of our spiritual labor. While consciousness speaks in recognizable words and images, the unconscious communicates with mysterious "symbols" of creatures and objects quite unknown to us:  oceans, snakes, thunder, wind,... Read more