Posts in the “zen” category

Prolong not the past, invite not the future

Prolong not the past.
Invite not the future.
Alter not your innate wakefulness.
Fear not appearances.
There is nothing more than that.

(Sounds like something Yoda might say, but according to a Ram Dass book, it’s a stanza from the Tibetan school of Buddhism.)

Albert Einstein, Zen Master?

Knowing of my interest in Zen, a friend of mine sent me this photo of a letter from Albert Einstein to a parent grieving after the loss of a child:

Albert Einstein, Zen Master

If you know something about Zen, you know that Einstein is writing about the “oneness” of the universe. Zen tries to teach us about this through techniques like Zen Meditation (zazen), and the concept of all things being interdependent.

A ringtone I never heard before

I wasn’t feeling well this afternoon, so I decided to lay down for a while and just focus on my breathing.

A little later in the day I was standing in my kitchen, cutting some vegetables and humming Tina Turner’s “Peace Mantra” song, when my phone started playing a ringtone. I liked the ringtone, but it was a song I had never heard before.

I set my cutting knife down and started wiping off my hands so I could answer the phone when I thought, “Wait, I laid down to take a nap, and I don’t remember waking up from that. This is a dream, isn’t it?”

~ October 28, 2016

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.

Treat every moment as your last

I used to meditate in what I now call a “lazy” way, more of a savasana “withdraw from the senses” style. These days my meditation is more active and alert, and I like this quote by Shunryu Suzuki: “Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.” (Last spring (2014), when I thought I might die as I laid in a bed in a hotel room, my meditation was extremely intense, just like this quote requests of us.)

I don’t know the original source of this image, but this quote is from the book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Longmire: I don’t look at peace as the absence of conflict

Zachary: I ran into one of my brother’s work buddies, he introduced me to Tai Chi. It saved me.

Longmire: How so?

Zachary: I like to put it like this ... I went to church a lot as a kid, and we were always taught to love our enemies. Tai Chi taught me something new — to love the enemy inside me, as well. So I don’t look at peace as the absence of conflict any more. I see it as the acceptance of conflict.

(From the tv series Longmire)

Wake up! Life is transient.

Wake up! Life is transient. That’s a good message right there.

The image shown is of the Tassajara Zen Center in California. I couldn’t find the source of this image when I first posted it here — I found it on Pinterest without any attribution — but it looks like this might be the original source.

Buddha Board

The Buddha Board is a nice gift idea for the Zen person in your life. You paint on it with water, the painting appears, and then disappears as it dries, helping to demonstrate the Zen/Buddhist concept of impermanence, among other things.

Steve Jobs: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool”

In terms of being a nice person, Steve Jobs may have been the worst Buddhist in the history of the world, but he captures the Zen/Buddhist essence in this quote:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Photo from, words from Steve Jobs.

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.)

Zen Garden

My sister-in-law’s family gave me a Zen Garden for Christmas back in 2014. I’ve been trying to take care of it, but it looks like it needs a little work. :)

Shinzen Young: Equanimity definition, and equanimity vs indifference or apathy

The following is a definition of equanimity, and how equanimity differs from indifference or apathy. The entire quote comes from Shinzen Young:

“Many people get confused about what equanimity is and what it isn’t. Here are some examples that may help clarify.

Equanimity can be deepened by relaxing tension around pain, such as the pain of a broken leg. But equanimity does not mean that you don’t care about getting proper medical attention, such as getting a cast.

Equanimity means opening up to angry sensations that may arise during an argument. But equanimity does not mean that you should stay in a bad relationship.

The Taoist story of the old farmer

November 9, 2016: When a candidate I can’t stand wins an election, I feel like Al Gore in 2000: I want to sit on the couch, drink beer, eat pizza, grow my beard, and wonder what the hell happened.

While it feels horrible now, Al Gore turned his lemon into lemonade. He works with Apple and Google, is pursuing his passion in environmental activism, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

All of which makes me think of this old Taoist story.

Do not try to experience satori

“Do not try to experience satori. Do not try to drive away illusion. Do not hate the thoughts that arise, and do not love them, either. Above all, do not entertain them. Just practice the great sitting, here and now. If you do not continue a thought, it will not come back of its own accord.”

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.