Posts in the “zen” category

The Zen way of calligraphy ...

“The Zen way of calligraphy is to write in the most straightforward, simple way, as if you were a beginner. Not trying to make something skillful or beautiful, but simply writing with full attention, as if you were discovering what you were writing for the first time; then your full nature will be in your writing. This is the way of practice, moment after moment.”

~ from the book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Some of Shinzen Young’s sayings in the first core lessons of the Brightmind app

As a “note to self,” I like some of Shinzen Young’s sayings/analogies/metaphors in the first core lessons of the Brightmind app. The ones that come to mind are:

  • Try to listen to your mental talk in your head just like it’s a sound in nature, like listening to a bird. In this way, “you” can observe the thoughts in your head as the fly by, without getting attached to them.
  • In regards to your awareness, you can think of it in two different ways: (a) aiming your attention at a spot/area, or (b) hugging a friend.

For more details, check out the Brightmind app.

Zen quotes on non-attachment and duality

I don’t have much time to write today, so very quickly, here are two Zen quotes on non-attachment and duality.

First:

“The Great Way is not difficult for those who don’t make good and bad. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.”

A Zen koan: Leave this room

Some Zen koans are entirely dependent on you being aware of some long-ago foreign culture, like the one about putting sandals on your head (which apparently was an Asian ritual after a funeral ~2,000 years ago). Other ones, like those from Zen Master Seung Sahn, can be dependent on you knowing his style of teaching.

For this one you need to know almost nothing:

Just as a student sits down for his private face-to-face meeting with a Zen Master in the interview room, the Master yells, “Leave this room!”

So the confused student gets up to leave through the door he came in.

“Not through the door,” the Master yells.

How wonderful is enlightenment? (Shinzen Young)

“People tend to overestimate or underestimate how wonderful the experience (enlightenment) is. How wonderful is it? Well, I would say that anyone who has entered into the world of no-self, emptiness, and wisdom mind, who abides in that world, if you gave them a choice to live one day knowing what they know, or live an entire lifetime but not be allowed to know that, I think — I can’t speak for everyone — but I would say most people who live in that world would say, ‘I’d rather have one day knowing what I know than a lifetime of not being able to know this.’ So that’s how wonderful it is.”

~ Shinzen Young, in this video

Over 100 of my favorite “mindfulness” quotes

This page contains a list of my favorite “mindfulness reminder” quotes. In particular these are short, concise quotes that I think work well with my “Just Be” mobile app.

Just Be is currently an app for Android users. If you haven’t seen it before, this is what the reminders/notifications look like when you receive them on an Android phone or tablet:

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Ram Dass on remembering things like Maya, Dukkha, illusion, and consciousness

Maybe because of my Back To Now app, I really like this quote about remembering from Ram Dass:

“I think that remembering is the strategy that most religions are designed to do. It’s remembering there are other planes of consciousness, it’s remembering the illusory nature. It’s remembering Maya, it’s remembering Dukkha. It’s remembering the karma, the sangha, the Buddha, it’s remembering that you’re not caught on one plane of consciousness. It’s reminding you to wake up. The device is to wake you up.”

That quote comes from this ramdass.org page.

Eckhart Tolle on temporary forms and life and death

From this video with Eckhart Tolle and Ram Dass:

Eckhart Tolle:

These are just temporary forms. (Pointing to Ram Dass) This form will be gone soon. (Pointing to himself) This form will be gone soon. (Pointing to the audience) And sooner or later, all these forms will have dissolved. Poof. Like soap bubbles. Poof. And all that remains is The One that expressed itself through The Many.

And if you know yourself as The One, which happens when the stream of thinking stops, and there’s just an aware presence, the spacious, aware, formless presence, that’s who you are beyond the form. (Ram Dass nodding “yes.”) And from there you can enjoy the play of forms.

Gampopa: Liberation is merely the end of error

In a Buddha there has never been
Anything that could be said to be there.
Just as a magician
Does not get caught up in his illusions
And therefore by his knowledge
Is not attached to magic forms,
So also the wise in Perfect Enlightenment
Know the three worlds to be like a magic show.
Liberation is merely the end of error.

~ Gampopa

(I saw this quote in the book Be Love Now by Ram Dass.)

Quotes about work and Zen (practicing Zen at work)

For many years I struggled with how to combine two of my main interests, Zen and work. I have read that the Zen mind is the mind before thinking, so it seems like Zen and work must be totally unrelated; you need your mind to work. And then over time I came to understand phrases like, when working, just work.

This article contains a collection of quotes that have been helpful to me in understanding the relationship between Zen and work. Please note that I don’t wrap each quote in double quotes, and I also try to attribute each quote to the correct author/speaker. If you’re interested in how to combine Zen and work, I hope you’ll find them helpful.

Stake out your inner experience, like a wildlife photographer in an exotic location

I like this description of the proper mindfulness technique:

“Not judging what you see, not considering it good or bad, just seeing what you see, with interest and curiosity. Staking out your inner experience, like a wildlife photographer in an exotic location, waiting for the moment to snap.”

It comes from the “Base” recording under the “Waiting Around” category of the Buddhify app. (Sorry, I don’t know the name of the speaker.)

This Life, Which is Wonderful and Evanescent, by Blanche Hartman

If you think about it, it’s awesomely, amazingly wonderful just to be alive! It’s a wonderful gift, and especially on a beautiful spring day like today.

But it took me several years of meditation practice and a heart attack before I really got it that just to be alive is awesome. As I was walking out of the hospital I thought, “Wow! I could be dead. The rest of my life is just a gift.” And then I thought, “Well, it always has been a gift from the very beginning, and I never noticed it until it was almost gone.”

The Zen teacher Kobun Chino once said in a sesshin talk that when you realize how precious your life is, and that it is completely your responsibility how you manifest it and how you live it, that is such a big responsibility that “such a person sits down for a while.”

~ a few paragraphs from this story by Zen teacher Blanche Hartman, who was impermanently here on Earth from 1926 to 2016.