Three Approaches of Zen

The Three Divisions of Ch’an Buddhism by Zen Master Zongmi (Tsung-mi)
There are various schools of Ch’an mutually conflicting with each other. The doctrines preached by these established sects are contradictory and obstructive to each other.
Some of them

  • Regard Emptiness (sunyata) as the foundation
  • Some regard Wisdom (prajna) as the source.
  • Some say that only Silence is true;
  • Some that [all actions such as] walking and sitting are right.
  • Some claim that from morning to evening all actions arising from the view (drsti) of discrimination (vikalpa) are false
  • Some say all discriminate doings are real.
  • Some preserve all the myriad practices;
  • Some suppress even Buddhas.
  • Some give free course to their will;
  • Some restrain their mind.
  • Some respect the sutras and the vinayas as authorities to rely on;
  • Others regard both of them as obstacles to the Tao…

Essentially speaking, when these doctrines are viewed in a limited perspective, each of them is wrong; while looking at them from a comprehensive perspective, all of them are right
One has to use the words of Buddha, to show the meaning and the advantages of each school, and thus to classify these teachings into three divisions corresponding with the three teachings [of Buddhism]. Unless this is done, how can one become a skilful teacher of the age and make all the schools important and wonderful entrances to the law (Dharma)?
The Sect Which Taught the Cessation of Falsity and the Cultivation of Mind
Firstly, the sect which taught the stopping of falsity and the cultivation of mind.
Although it is said that all sentient beings innately possess the Buddha-nature (buddhata), yet the Nature cannot be seen as it is covered up by the beginningless ignorance (avidya), and they are, therefore, dragged within the wheel of birth and death (samsara).
When Buddhas have eliminated false thought, they see their Nature in its fullest extension; they are freed from the bondage of birth and death and acquire super-natural powers and independence.
One should be aware of the different functions of common men and saints, and this difference exists both in their treatment of external objects and in their mind within.
It is, therefore, necessary for [disciples to]

  • rely on the spoken teaching of a master,
  • to detach themselves from outward objects and
  • contemplate their mind,
  • thus to extinguish false thoughts.

When thoughts are completely extinguished, one immediately attains Enlightenment (bodhi), which is omniscient.
It is like a mirror obscured by dust; one has to cleanse it diligently; only when the dust is wiped out completely, does the mirror become bright and able to reflect all things.
One should also have a clear understanding about skillful means to enter into the realm of Dhyana: to keep oneself far away from confusion and noise, to stay in a quiet place, to harmonize one’s body and breath, and sit cross-legged in silence, putting the tongue upward against the palate and concentrating the mind on one point.
Zongmi explains that the Buddha has seen that the Six Ways of sentient beings (the six conditions of transmigration) in the Three Worlds (of Desire, of Matter and Immaterial) are all Characters of the True Nature itself. They originate from the sentient beings being deluded about the True Nature substance in itself; and do not have any substance of their own; therefore their nature is said to be Dependent (paratantra).
For those whose faculties are dull, it is impossible to be awakened (from the delusion). So the Buddha discourses on the Law according to the Characters which they see, in order to ferry them over gradually. Therefore it is called discourse on Characters. As Ultimate Truth is not expressly revealed in this teaching it is called esoteric (mi-i – having a hidden meaning)
Scholar Jan Yün-Hua mentions that, “This sect destroys the attachment to external objects by the theory of Consciousness-only. When people understand that external objects are merely projections of subjective consciousness, they will not attach themselves to phenomena. They will then devote themselves to the cultivation of consciousness. This is what he calls cessation of falsity and cultivation of Mind.
The Sect of Emptiness
Secondly, the sect which taught absolute annihilation (cessation), this is to say that everything, both profane and sacred is dreamlike illusion and entirely non-existent. Original non-existence does not begin from the present. Even the knowledge which leads one to attain to nothingness is unobtainable.
In the Dharmadhtu which is all identity (samata) there are no Buddhas nor sentient beings; the Dharmadhatu itself is merely a borrowed name.
If the mind is non-existent, who will talk about Dharnadhatu?
As the cultivation itself is non-existent, one should not cultivate; and as Buddhas are non-existent, so their worship is unnecessary.
If one claims that there is a Dharma which is better than Nirvana, I would still say that it is a dreamlike illusion.
There is no Law to follow, nor a Buddhahood for one to attain.
Whatever the effort, all is deluding and false. To avoid going against truth, the only way is thus to understand thoroughly that originally nothing exists, and that one should not attach his mind to any thing.
Only after this is one called liberated. From Shih-t’ou and Ox-head down to Ching-shan, all preached this doctrine.
They consequently asked their disciples to practice mentally in accordance with this doctrine, and not to let their feelings be hindered by any single Dharma.
In course of time the defiled habits would be eliminated by themselves, and one would be without any obstacles from hate or affection, sorrow or happiness.
Because of this doctrine, there were a kind of Taoist priests, Confucian scholars and idle Buddhist monks who had some vague knowledge of Ch’an and liked to speak such words and regard them as the highest.
These people are, however, not aware of the fact that this sect does not regard only these words as being its law.
The disciples of Ho-tse, Chiang-hsi and T’ien-t’ai are also preaching this teaching, though they did not regard it as their principal doctrine.
Zongmi clarifies this as follows:
According to the ultimate meaning of Truth, the false tenets are originally empty, so there is nothing to negate. All pure Dharmas are originally the True Nature, and have forever their wonderful functions in accordance with circumstances. Therefore, they are also not to be negated. However, there is a kind of sentient beings who are unable to awake, as their vision is obstructed by attachment to empty Characters. So the Buddha negates all Characters without distinction of good and evil or pure and impure. He considers both the True (Buddha) Nature and its wonderful functions as not non-existent; but he cannot discuss it explicity and he says they are non-existent. That is what is called esoteric teaching. It also means that the intention of the teaching is to reveal the True Nature, but its linguistic expression only negates Characters. Since the intention is not explicitly expressed, that is why it is called esoteric (secret).
(This is also the teaching of inference. Where the nature isn’t directly pointed to but can be stumbled upon. This is characterized by the Zen stories featuring Masters lifting fingers, raising eyebrows, shouting, hitting, Joshu’s MU)
The Sect of the Direct Discovery of Mind-Nature
Thirdly, the sect which taught direct revelation of the Mind-nature: this is to say that all Dharmas, whether existent or empty, are nothing but the absolute Nature (Buddha Nature).
The absolute Nature is characterless and nonactive, and its substance differs from all phenomena; it is neither profane nor sacred, neither cause nor effect, neither good nor evil.
Nevertheless, the functioning of the substance is able to create all kinds of manifestations, meaning that it is capable of manifesting itself as profane or sacred, as material forms or other characters.
Here, one may point out two kinds of manifestations of Mind-Nature.
First, things such as language and action, desire and hatred, compassion and patience, good and evil deeds, suffering and enjoyment, all these are the Buddha-nature in yourselves; they are the original Buddha [in you] apart from which there is no other Buddha.
When one understands that this natural reality is spontaneous (svayambhu), the longing for cultivation of the Tao does not arise in one’s mind. The Tao is the Mind itself; one cannot use the Mind to cultivate the Mind.
Evil also is the Mind itself; one cannot cut off the Mind with the Mind itself. Non-cutting and noncultivating, following one’s self-nature freely, may be called liberation (vimoksa).
The (Mind-) Nature resembles emptiness; nothing can be added to it nor taken away from it.
What necessity is there for completing it?
The only thing one has to do is to stop one’s own Karma and to nourish one’s own spiritual power, at all times and places where one lives, thus to strengthen the womb of holiness and to manifest the wonder of spontaneity.
This is the true awakening. the true cultivation and the true realization.
Second, they say, all Dharmas are dreamlike illusions, and this has been taught by all saints.
Originally, therefore, false thought is calm, worldly phenomena are empty, and the empty and calm Mind is self-knowing and never obscured.
This empty and calm knowledge is your own real Nature; whether deluded or enlightened, the Mind is always self-knowing.
It does not depend on other conditions for birth, nor does it arise from external objects.
The one word (awareness) is the gate to all wonders.
Being deluded by the beginningless ignorance, one wrongly grasps his physical body (rupa) and mental elements (nama) as the Self, from which thoughts of desire, hatred and so forth arise.
If one has a good and learned friend to open and indicate the empty and calm knowledge of Sudden Enlightenment, and [to indicate] that the knowledge itself is thoughtless and formless, then who will make a distinction between self and others ?
When one realizes that all characters are empty, thoughts will naturally not remain in his mind.
When a thought arises, one is immediately aware of it; and with this awareness, thought becomes nothing.
The wonderful gate of religious cultivation is here and not elsewhere.
Although a myriad ways of cultivation are available, yet the Absence of Thought is the principal.
Only when one becomes aware of the Absence of Thought, do love (raga) and hatred (dvesa) naturally become calm; compassion (karuna) and wisdom (prajna) naturally become brighter; evil karmic effects are naturally cut off, and meritorious actions naturally advance.
After one thoroughly understands that all characters are no characters, one naturally cultivates without cultivation.
When passions are ended, one is freed from the bondage of birth and death.
When birth and death are annihilated, one is confronted with Nirvana-illumination, whose responses to the needs are inexhaustible; and this is called Buddha-hood.
[Despite their differences] these two views are both aimed at the unity of all characters and the return to (Buddha-) Nature. They are, therefore, to be considered as having the same principle.
The third type of Buddhist thought is termed by Tsung-mi as “the exoteric teaching revealing that the True Mind itself is the (Buddha) Nature”.
He comments this formula as follows,

“This teaching directly points to the Mind as being the True (Buddha) Nature. The revelation of Truth is limited neither by phenomenal nor by mental Characters, so it is said that Mind itself is the (Buddha) Nature. As this teaching is not through the skillful means of esotericism, it is called exoteric revelation.”

Scholar Jan Yün-Hua mentions that,

“These passages show that Tsung-mi considers all the doctrines and practices of Ch’an Buddhism as devices only. In other words, while he recognizes that the fundamental problems of the phenomenal world are basically the same, yet the spiritual needs may be different from man to man. Therefore, there is no dispute about the painful aspect of worldly life, but there do exist differences about the means or the ways helpful to each individual.

The three divisions mentioned above are further divided by their attitudes towards traditional “teaching”: either looking up to it or looking down on it, either following its characters or destroying them. Their methods for the refutation of external challenge, their skillful means towards the lay community, their modes and manners of teaching disciples, are varied and different. All these differences, however, are modes of action beneficial to and adapted to circumstances. There is no loss therein. The principle which they respect is non-dual. This is why they should be understood comprehensively in accordance with the words spoken by Buddha.

Each of these devices are useful and helpful only to certain groups of people to which the device is suitable and adopted. As far as these people are concerned, it is correct and productive; however, if one proclaims the device to be the only absolute or ultimate way to salvation, and imposes it upon other people, then the device becomes an obstacle rather than a help. After all, there is no single medical formula that is capable of curing all kinds of diseases.

This recognition of the individual need is one of the most distinct contributions of Ch’an Buddhism. Ch’an Buddhists pointed out that if any religious man chose an unsuitable device for spiritual cultivation, it would be impossible for him to attain the expected fruit. In that case, religious practice may become a source of suffering, rather than of liberation from suffering. Ch’an therefore laid stress on the freedom of choice as to the means adopted to reach the religious goal.”



The Human Route

The Human Route
Coming empty-handed, going empty-handed—that is human.
When you are born, where do you come from?
When you die, where do you go?
Life is like a floating cloud, which appears.
Death is like a floating cloud, which disappears.
The floating cloud itself originally does not exist.
Life and death, coming and going, are also like this.
However, there is one thing, which always remains clear.
It is pure and clear, not depending on life and death.
Question: What is that one pure and clear thing?


Where Do I Start?

Where Do I Start? Transcribed

Okay, so we’re doing live Dharma talks.
So is there any insights, revelations, challenges, frustrations since the last time I’ve seen you guys?
Come on – I know all of the above?
Yeah go ahead? Let’s do it.
Student: I just want to know where to start?
Zen Master E: You already did – you already started.
Student: Okay.
Zen Master E: But – clarify. What do you mean? Why do you feel like you haven’t started? And What is it starting mean to you? Yeah.
Student: I guess – what does starting mean? I think I have a thing in my mind of what it looks like and I’m not like doing that.
I’m like not good.
Zen Master E: You’re a terrible person. You’re a terrible practitioner. A terrible human being.
Well, you gotta let that shit go. You carried that all the way here. You okay?
Student: Yeah
Students husband: We drove
Zen Master E: You drove? Of course – that was heavy (to carry that burden) the car must have been leaning.
What does it look like for you?
Student tries to answer: Ummmm…
No! From your heart. Not from your head.
What does practice mean for you? Right? You need to clarify that because I mean, like, you feel like you want to sit more?
Student: Yeah.
Zen Master E: Okay. So do it. But what does that look like then? Right. Is it a morning sit? An afternoon sit? An evening sit?
You’re busy lady.
Student: Yeah, I’m like bogged down by all of that. Yeah. And then I just don’t do it.
Zen Master E: Oh, that’s, that’s terrible. You’re a terrible person.
But this is our story. All of our story, right?
Yeah. Raise your hands if this is your story. (All the people there emphatically raised their hands)
Right? And I’m not hard enough. Not long enough. Not frequent enough. Everything. Right?
So we have to see. And that’s why for us in our tradition, we use multiple…
Okay, so couple things. Okay.
You know, that fundamental presence that you guys experienced in meditation right there?
Students: Yeah
Zen Master E: That’s your fundamental natural state – available to you at all times.
Doesn’t matter.
You’re running, sleeping, having sex, everything.
It’s always there, permeates and penetrates everything.
No matter what you do – sinner or saint.
It doesn’t matter.
It’s always there. Right?
We believe that it’s not.
These practices do not generate awakening, enlightenment, whatever you want to call it. actualize Buddha. No. They remove all the obscurations, so that you can see what’s naturally present.
So that natural presence is your natural state,
Always available to you.
Right now it’s listening to me. It’s seeing me, You don’t have to do – sinner or saint it doesn’t matter.
It’s always there.
We believe that it’s not.
These practices DO NOT generate awakening, enlightenment, whatever you want to call it – actualized Buddha.
They remove all the obscurations so you can see what’s naturally present.
So that natural presence is your natural state.
Always available to us.
Now it’s listening to me. It’s seeing me.
You don’t have to do anything right now for all of this to arise for you.
In moments throughout the day – we call it snap back right?
Notice it aright?
And it’s good, when you’re having an emotional charge, the moment that you notice that you’re off your throne, getting whipped around by karma, by emotions, whatever it is, that noticing, who is it that’s noticing?
Who’s that?
So cool, just snap back into that presence, into that spaciousness.
The energy and the patterns and whatever is still going to be rolling through the body – but boom there it is.
(Zen Master E gives other upaya for those who are having trouble with the Resting in the Radiance)
Even the single breath, the breath is the medicine. Right? The breath is with you everywhere. Right?
This body, Right?
Come back to the breath.
We have to let go of our fixed concepts of what practice is.
In the Zen tradition we say there’s multiple gates.
Are you a meditation gate?
Chanting gate?
Bowing gate?
What’s your gate?
Maybe in one day, you’ve gone in and out of 62 different gates.
Who cares?
For us – so a lot of things right – so we have a lot of (upaya) skillful means at our disposal. Right? And we are all lay practitioners. All very busy. Right?
So we need – we have different medicines for different environments, Right? Yeah.
When I’m in the car, I play the mantras. I play Mantra practice all the time, Right?
Sometimes I give myself a target, Right? I want to do X for – say we’re doing a teaching – when we’re in a series, right?
Because we’re going to do OM MANI PADME HUM.
So for us – to bring that power and blessings I did 100,000 of those for us. Right. So that when you guys get the empowerment for OM Mani Padme Hum, you get the power.
I did that for you guys. Right?
Boom, they get a kickstart, you know to get you going. Right. Yeah. Again, right.
You have to get clear, right?
Clear motivation (Bodhicitta) right.
Your practice right now is just for you.
This is part of the problem, too. Right?
When it’s just for us, then it’s easy for us to call in sick.
Right? Yeah, You know, this as a mom.
I never realized how much power this body has until I hadn’t slept for four days and the kid cried in the middle of the night and next thing I know, I’m up – I’m not fully awake, but I’m there.
Talks in sweet voice – “Hey there – it’s OK. You want the bottle? (Knocks the bottle to the floor) You don’t want the bottle. OK – I’ll pick that up later.”
It’s amazing, right?
As parents, we need to see that too. Right?
You already have it innate within you. Right?
When “the practice” is just for us then – no.
When my practice switched to like, “Yeah – why can’t we all be free?” and “I’m going to, I’m going to do it! I’m going to awaken and then I’m going to awaken all of us.”
My life, in that moment, was no longer my own.
I made a promise right then and there, I’d taken the Bodhisattva Vow a couple times by that time – didn’t matter – that’s when I really took the Bodhisattva Vow – it was four or five in the morning in the middle of a grocery store I was working nights. Right? No more of this (a life of pleasure and selfishness) As I was getting clearer and clearer and clearer on the true purpose of my life. And it hit me – at that time was delirious, exhausted. I was listening to a Dharma podcast at that time period.
I had already been steering my life that way. Steering I knew it – or getting back on track to that.
Because at a certain point, I started to believe in the “should’s”
Terrible. That guy’s terrible. This guy’s way better.
So – my practice was already pretty good. Right? Because I’m, I’m a meditator. Right? But then it just like, (makes explosion sound).
Then it’s no longer my practice.
Why do I do this?
For you.
He’s hurting… (points to one of the students) And – of course I need to do this now.
There’s no question.
So when we move it out of us, for the benefit of all beings.
Why do I do that? Why do I wake up at five in the morning to do this?
Go upstairs, start the coffee and go over and you guys saw my the altar right?
I start, I start every day I offer incense to the Buddha, to my personal teacher on the physical realm (Zen Master Hwasun Yangil) Padmasambhava on the Sambhogakaya, the energy realm let’s say, then the Dharmakaya, well, and the lineage – you see that little blue book that’s the lineage book. So my name’s in there and I’m part of that lineage and I thank all of those people for all that they’ve done for us, because they’ve done tons. Sacrificed way more than I can ever imagine. To make sure the Dharma got to us here. I thank those people. I thank the fundamental nature of mind, Right?
I pray for you guys.
I do prostrations.
I ask for things, right. Blessings, wisdom, compassion, whatever the thing is for that day, usually it’s a certain things, I thank and I accept.
By that time coffee’s done.
Then I go fill up the coffee’s for me and Andy. And then by that time period she’s usually finishing the shower. And I know I have a little coffee cup for her. I bring the coffee cup downstairs for her. That’s how she likes it. There you go. And then I get in the shower.
I don’t have time to sit in the morning.
And I don’t beat myself up for that. I’ve adapted my practice. Right?
Then I hop in the car and mantras come on. I do the mantras, whatever the mantra is for that time period or whatever I’m working on or teaching that we’re going to come to right?
Oh, then I get to work.
At work I got a mobile practice.
What’s my mobile practice? ATHA – I chew on the Koan – Alllllll day long.
When I’m not engaged as Ian manager guy, people need me, I need to do stuff, I’m chewing on the Koan.
There’s that.
Then again, my job is my temple too, you need to start to look at this too. I was telling the kids this this weekend. I was like guys, we need to – the house is the temple.
When you’re at the temple – because they’ve been coming to temple with me more and more now because they’re older. Thursdays I go and I train with my teacher. But then every so often I go for the big ceremonies when my teacher wants me there. So “hey guys”, when they’re with me, I bring them with me.
And so yeah, so when we’re at Temple it’s so easy, right? When you guys go to clean this (points to the tea set), you don’t even think about it you just do it. Right? But when you go to clean the dishes at home, “Oh my god – the dishes – why doesn’t anybody ever help me with the dishes?” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah dishes story. Story. Whoa is me, Right?
Notice. Listen to that. You just created suffering world for yourself.
(Make poof sound like a magician creating something)
It just arose.
Shut up.
Do the dishes.Because the dishes are the practice then right? And then Okay, no problem. So then I got a stereo in the kitchen now and I played the mantras and I got the whole family into the mantras now.
But if it’s just me I just feel and see the soap and the bubbles and everything. There’s no “Ian” doing the dishes there’s dishes getting done. There’s no “Ian” “doing” “the” “dishes”. There’s just the dishes getting done. I’m just watching it all happen. Look at this.
You walked from the car into the place – how many steps did you take?
How many steps go up and down your house?
Right. It’s interesting, right?
Do you remember putting on your shoes this morning?
Interesting, Right?
Our whole life is the practice – if we drop what we believe the practice is.
Everything is the practice.
Everything that you’re doing is the practice. Every conversation that you have is the practice, right?
I like it within the Christian tradition where Jesus is like, “Hey, yeah, yeah yeah you love me? That’s great. But now see everybody like me.”
Can you do that? Can you see the Buddha in everybody?
They showing up – they’re being a jerk to you, that’s the Buddha, “Oh yeah you said earlier that you want to be more compassionate and patient eh?”
Baka Baka Baka Baka (person being annoying)
Thank you Buddha.
That’s the Buddha just showing up there. You think it’s Henry or whoever but no – the Buddha went into that person and made that guy a puppet for you to show you.
So drop what you think it is – drop this pressure that you have on yourself.
Yeah, man.
Even to just distill it simply that’s why I love Maitreya’s practice. Maitreya, the coming Buddha, they say that he did one practice to awaken – loving kindness.
He was just loving and kind to everybody, everything and himself.
Maybe that’s your practice.
Because it looks like you need some love and kindness for yourself.
Too hard for yourself. Okay?
(student starts to cry)
Good. It’s good.
Feel that hurt.
That’s the thing, right? We’re messy practitioners. Okay. Life is messy. And we love the shit out of it. That’s what we do. We just love. And we see and we know, “Oh god why are you holding this? Stop holding it. Give me it. Put it here, I can carry it. Okay?
That’s why in the Buddhist tradition, we remember refuge, right?
I can’t hold it – I give it to Buddha.
I give it to my teachers I give it to the lineage, I can’t hold – this little tiny (holds heart), trying to hold all the sorrow of the world in this little heart.
I can’t do that. I need to increase my capacity and the only way I can do that is to surrender myself. Completely.
That’s The beautiful thing about the Christian tradition – give it up.
The hell man.
Why are you holding all this stuff?
Just let it go.
Just release it. Right?
Because if not, look at all those hell worlds that you created for yourself.
That’s why in the Zen tradition they just point right back at your mind. Right?
Just look, you’re creating all these different realms.
The human realm is the best. It’s the sweet spot. Because it’s the Goldilocks. You’re not like a god. Right? But we see even see it right? People with money and money and money.
They can just build a giant moats right around themselves and they never even need to know that the world exists. Right.
But that can only last so long.
‘Till the money runs out. Fortune favor and then next thing you know, one moment it’s here, one moment it’s gone.
The practice is important.
But we have to lose what we believe “the practice” is.
You’ll see different different people “No this is the practice. This is the practice. And this is the practice.”
Here, how many practices have given us already tons, right? Even just in this talk right here. There’s tons, you just ride one of those to the end. Right. And that’s the thing, right? We pick this up and you pick this up.
You resonate with something, some sort of practice – just pour yourself into it.
The best practice, is to Rest in the Radiance. That’s the best. But sometimes it’s hard. Because it’s so simple. That can’t it – Come on Ian. That can’t be it.
Okay, All right, then do some mantras and do that thing. Alright alright – I’m tricking you, you know,
Resting in that presence in the radiance – that’s the practice because that’s the great remembering.
When we’re in that space, like the word I used, familiar, used to it, such that when life comes crashing at you, “Oh look at that! It’s like watching a picture show.”
Sometimes even still, the body will have reactions, “Wow – look at that – that’s interesting.”
Just to be staying on the throne, Right?
So this – when we’re in this posture, whatever the comfy, stable posture is, what we’re doing isn’t meditation.
It’s actualizing your Buddha nature. Period.
So until we get familiar completely, then yeah, we do these other things, too.
But we have to see we are so busy, right? We have to remember we’re lay practitioners, Right? We we have jobs, kids, bills, commitments, all this stuff.
So we need an adaptive and fluid practice. Right?
The fundamental is the great remembering.
Always there ever present.
Nothing you can do can make it any better, or any worse. Yeah.
Sometimes we got to work the energy through.
Prostrations are great for that. Anybody done prostrations work? You’ve done it some? Little bit.
Prostrations right where you do bowing.
Yeah. And full right out. Oh, you haven’t done the full one. Yeah.
It’s really good. Right?
Like, if you feel like you have a lot of kinetic or a lot of emotion, or a lot of things trapped in here that you’re working through?
Do some full on bows, man, you’re going work that stuff out. Yeah, give it over. Right?
If it’s not the Buddha, then give it to wisdom, to compassion, to the universe, whatever the word is, put whatever you want in there, I don’t care.
Give it up, give it away. It’s too much for you to hold on to.
It’s obvious. It’s too much – our limited capacity.
Just adapt, adapt, tweak, tweak your practice. And if it’s no longer, You know, it’s no longer the mantra work, then it’s no longer the mantra then.
Thank you mantra.
We just move on.
Yeah. Well, that’s a good thing about our tradition is that we’re not fixed.
Right? It’s not a fixed form. We have a messy form.
Why though?
Because we trust the innate Buddha Nature in each and every one of us.
This is the trick.
I trust the innate wisdom within you. Right?
When you show up here, that’s all I keep magnetizing out of you. That’s it.
You come – bring problems, whatever I don’t care about those.
Yeah, you think – problems are infinite. Just when you think one finishes another, and another and then another, another another.
OK. So the problem is not the problem. Right?
The problem is, you can’t see your own potential.
I can see it.
That’s why I cry for you guys.
I pray for you guys.
I beseech all the Buddha’s, my teachers, the lineage and the fundamental nature of mind itself.
“Please watch over them, care for them, guide them. Help them swiftly and easily awaken.
This is a big thing lately: Give up the hard lessons.
Stop asking for it to be hard.
Just smooth. Easy.
“Please bring me the support, the guidance and the wisdom that I need. The grace and the understanding the patience. Thank you.”
It’s one thing to ask. But we have to thank, Right? You need to own that stuff. Right? You’re gonna suck at it. Yeah, come on.
Come on, you’re not that good. Come on, right.
Just be real man. This is the this is the other thing with our practice, Right? Like people, some people that are caught in, like, what the practice looks like, are going to have trouble with our group and our style and everything like this. Right?
We fundamentally believe in the fundamental good in each and every one of us.
Sometimes it’s really hard to see. Right?
But we, we see it in them. Which means guess what? We see it in ourselves.
So we keep trusting it, seeing it.
When we come here we get more and more familiar.
Confident is good word in it, Right?
Doubt is the mind killer, is the heart killer really, as the awakening killer, Right?
And the teacher, the teachers, biggest job is to give you confidence again, in yourself and the fundamental goodness of each person.
Right? We were talking about this last week, where where did the Buddha come from?
What is the fundamental ground of Buddha’s?
Sentient beings.
Where do they come from?
Everyone you’re looking at is Buddha’s.
That’s why in one of the pieces that I wrote down as “It’s so funny to see Buddha’s looking for Buddha’s.”
This is crazy.
This is nuts.
And when we’re resting in the radiance, when we’re deep within that practice, when we continue to soften, letting go right in that state – come on – are you gonna do anything, anything bad? You gonna hurt anybody? You gonna say any crazy shit that’s gonna wound somebody deeply? No!
So that’s why we just get familiar here.
At the seat of Buddhahood, which is your Buddha hood, Right?
The fundamental nature is the same for each and every one of us. Right?
When we go on a retreat, I’m probably going to try to do an experiment where when we’re in the meditate, we’re gonna describe the meditation.
And you’ll see, we’ll write it down somewhere and I’ll be like, “You just described Buddha.”
You think you’re not. It’s crazy.
But when Buddha gets off this chair to go out into the world – Protibha Buddha, Sally Buddha, Mary Buddha, Christina Buddha, Greg Buddha.
So then the practice is to be authentically and fully you. To allow the Buddha juice to flow through you. As you. Is you.
I don’t have your life.
So just live your life for me.
Fully, freely. Right? And that’s what the teacher wants for you to be open and free and to laugh and to love again to dance as well.
To dance again.
Mary posted a videos and she was dancing in the middle of the house.
Just to be free to be freely ourselves. Oh my god. What is that like?
Right? That’s the thing with my kids, man. I just keep telling them, “This is your dad guys. I’m gonna pretend to be somebody else.”
A dad.
Like they screwed up the other day somethin bad amd I was like, “Hey! Okay. I don’t want to be that guy. So this is practice time. And I said, in the world, people are going to lose their minds if you did this to them. Right? Because they didn’t come home.So I had to go out and find them. Right. I said you had one job – you made a promise to me. This is practice, Okay. This is Practice. There was no remorse? None nothing. I said why are you guys beings asshole right now. Come on, lead with your heart. You feelin bad? Yea we’re feeling bad. Then why didn’t you just lead with that? I said, this is practice for the “real world”. Because you come up showing up like that and the “real world” is going to hack you down. Because the real world is suffering. They’re gonna want to get vengeance on you because you’ve spurned them and you’ve done them wrong, whatever the story is, right? And they got to dominate you with power. So I was like this is practice you guys. Okay. Alright? So we just lead with our heart next time okay? You screwed up. We’re all gonna screw up. I was like Daddy screws up all the time. Let’s just be authentic. Natural.”
What does that look like?
We think we need to be something else.
Drop it. Just put it down.
So much better.
Student: So much better.
Put it down.
Because once you do that, then you’re free.
You can see again, hear again, feel again.
Everything just flowing free.
And this is the practice too right?
Because everything is locked. In certain traditions they say like the biggest thing that happens is there’s like this giant heart knot and we just keep unraveling it.
Unraveling it.
And then again, there’s like a big BOOM but then there’s still – just when you think it’s over.
Holy jeez.
Because you don’t even know how much you’ve stuffed down deep in there. This life, let alone whatever else you brought into this life.
So just give up the ghost man. You know?
Put it all down.
What you think the practice is supposed to be. What you think awakening is supposed to be. Right? What you think all of it is supposed to be.
What you think being a mom, being a dad is supposed to be like, Just keep showing up and be naturally you.
That’s the practice.
That’s the practice.
That’s why I gave you that name (taps one of the students whose Dharma name starts with Sahaja which means natural)
Because once that clicks – oh my god!
(Makes the sound of being in awe)
It’s the whole universe. Right there.
Everything makes so much sense.
It’s just easy then.
Because it’s always been.
But we believe we’re a sentient being.
And we bear down on it.
To open it up. To keep keep unfolding it. And just when you think – there’s more and more and more.
People don’t even understand
It’s crazy.
It’s nuts.
And honestly it just gets easier.
We mess it up man.
It’s so crazy, right?
We mess it up.
But like the fundamental practice is just look at yourself.
Just look.
Look at what you’re creating for yourself.
You’re getting angry, you’re creating anger world.
Sad, sad, world.
Frustrated, frustration world.
When rest in the radiance then you create Buddha world all around you.
At first it’s just tiny and small. Just keep it right here (close to your chest).
Keep it safe.
Create Buddha world for yourself.
I remember one time I was carrying something, I was being stupid and carrying something in my heart, oh my god, it was crazy. I called the Buddha, right? Just call – whatever – you guys maybe resonate with Jesus, maybe more than than Buddha – call Jesus, man. Who cares? So he comes down (the Buddha) and (now Ian demonstrates – the Buddha looked lovingly at Ian – tapped him on the chest and said, “Give this to me.” and the Buddha just went off into the sun and then Ian just describes being free of it and crying with release)
It was amazing.
Why am I holding this?
I don’t know what to do with this.
Why do I keep thinking I know what to do with this.
No. You don’t. You don’t.
That’s why we go for refuge. Right? You guys took the precepts.
You don’t understand the power of refuge.
Give it up. Just give it up.
Go to the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha.
Remember we give our squishy and tender hearts over.
Give it to the teacher.
that’s it. Give it up.
You don’t know how to take care of it.
Not yet.
So give it to somebody that knows.
Because when you get it back, you’re gonna be like, “That’s how it works???”
It’s all spit shined and tuned up.
You don’t even know.
So what was the question?
But it started practice something.
So out of all of that, blah blah blah – whatever stuck for you. Okay.
But maybe it’s loving kindness.
Maybe that’s the practice.
Just to be loving and kind.
You don’t need to be formal about it. May I be loving and kind to myself. May be loving and kind to this moment, to this person, the situation.
What does that even look like?
Imagine the world just doing that (loving-kindness) not even a full blown awakening.
But supposedly that’s what Maitreya did, he just poured himself into that practice.
Poof! Awwwwww (like a choir of angels)
Just took it all the way to the end.
Just find the Dharma gate that you go through and then it opens up, right?
I didn’t know I’d be so devotional like we talked about until like, until I met my teacher and had my breakthroughs.
Now I’m just a fuckinig gusher like Oh, my God. Life is so! Thank you soooooo much!!!
Mary’s a Bhakti type (devotional).
Reverence and love and all “Come on, guys. We can do this!”
They just keep loving the shit outta everybody.
But the difference is with wisdom and compassion and understanding and insight.
That’s the difference, right?
The hippies they had a pretty good, right.
Like, Almost there.
What needs to be they need to mesh together – wisdom and compassion – on the bedrock of stability,
But we’ve already seen the fundamental nature of your mind is immovable
Everything rises in it.
See the mirror like – you can see it right now right?
It’s almost like a mirror like. There’s a mirror. Right?
The mirror is unaffected by what arises within it.
That’s The pointing out instructions.
That fundamental nature is always there and always been there.
You can go run around the block – you look, it’s still the same thing. When you walk down the stairs is still the same thing.
Always there, you’re never separate from it. Okay.
As you become more and more familiar in that space, boundaries start to dissolve, and then you tell me what happens after that you’ve come to tell me. Okay?
Oh, looks like it worked.
What should we call this Dharma talk?
Student: Where dp I start?
Oh, yeah.
Where do I start?



On a cool crisp spring morning, while the sun was rising silently over the horizon, the birds woke from their slumber and started singing their sweet songs – an ancient master while sipping tea whispered this wisdom to no one in particular, “Great is the matter of birth and death; Life is quickly slipping by. Wake up! Wake up! Don’t waste another moment. Don’t waste this precious life!”
This is the start of the Bodhisattva Path.
In the Zen tradition and other branches of Mahayana Buddhism this is where we start. We look into the great matter of life and death. We slow down our busyness and take a moment to ask the great questions…

What am I?
What does it mean to be alive?
What is this life for?
What am I supposed to do with my life?
Why am I here?

It’s from this place of courageous wonder that awakening is realized.
As we mature in our practice, our selfishness begins to dissolve. What initially brought us to the dharma – our pain, our stress, our existential crisis begins to fade from memory. We start to see and know that our lives are not our own and there is a reason why we’re here.

Why You’re Here

Your life is not about you
It’s about all the people around you
All the people you can touch
All the people you can help

It’s so apparent when we stop to think about it for a moment.

We are life itself
We are infinitely connected to everything and everyone.
There is no separation.

But we’re not shown this.
We’re not given the time and patience to see it for ourselves.

But once you do – once you can see it then within the very fibre of your being you know that the only real purpose for your life is to give it away

To dedicate it to a greater purpose
To a greater goal

That you were born with a mission
A reason for being alive

And that reason is all around you

You are here to help
To heal
To love
To connect

And to reach out and use whatever gifts and talents that you have to make other people’s lives better

To help free them from the suffering
To help them find true authentic happiness
To help them awaken
And to inspire them to do the same for others

Your life is not about you
It’s about all the people around you

All the people you can touch
All the people you can help

Your life isn’t yours

It’s theirs

May you start to use this precious human life for the benefit of all.

This heart opening is tied together with the heart-felt-wish and vow to the great work of attaining awakening – not only for ourselves but really for the benefit of others.
We see how we’re suffering, we see how all the world is caught up in greed, hatred and delusion and we know that it doesn’t have to be that way.
We start to feel that another path is possible. That a different kind of world is possible and a great confidence begins to arise in us. A confidence in our own capacity – in the inherent potential within us (Buddha Nature) – and in actualizing the potential that we can now feel for ourselves.
This is the birth of a Bodhisattva.

Bodhisattva (“enlightenment being”): The spiritual ideal of the Mahayana, a selfless being with universal compassion who has generated the profound aspiration to achieve enlightenment in order to benefit sentient beings. In the course of their spiritual careers, bodhisattvas engage in the practice of the six perfections and pass through stages of increasingly higher levels of spiritual accomplishment.

The Bodhisattva path is a path of contradictions. You can’t be rigid and fixed about anything really.
Each element of the Bodhisattva path is a conundrum.

  • Bodhicitta is the wish for awakening for the benefit of all and awakening itself
  • The Paramitas as the teachings to help us awaken and the natural expression of awakening
  • OM Mani Padme Hum as a skillful means to actualize the potential of awakening and help us let go of what we’re learning
  • Avalokitesvara as spiritual ideal or embodiment of that awakening, but an ideal that we can actually feel within us
  • Bodhisattvas – the everyday embodiment of and expression of awakening in the most mundane of circumstance and through the most normal of people – it’s not about living on the mountaintop it’s about going deep into the marketplace
  • The Path itself – which we walk and the more we travel along it, the more it unfolds, is the more we realize there is no path, no awakening, no person that experiences awakening and no sentient beings to save and nothing to save them from

This is the Bodhisattva way – to be able to be at ease in uncertainty. To be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. To have one foot in form and another in formlessness.
My teacher Zen Master Hwasun Yangil Sunim said this one day to me, “If anyone asks you what kind of person you are you tell that that you have one foot in wisdom and one foot in helping all beings.”
Whatever realization and awakening we have it cannot be called awakening unless it’s directed toward bringing benefit to all beings.
And the Bodhisattva path is a process of doing just that.
Bodhicitta – This Wish to Attain Enlightenment for the Benefit of All Beings
There may have been a couple times in our lives where we’ve actually tasted freedom – even for just the most fleeting of moments.
Some kind of rare and magnificent moment of peace, ecstasy, insight, oneness, love and compassion. A beautiful moment that we may have just stumbled upon. Where something drops away and we open up into a fresh and boundless state of awareness. Simple, sweet lucidity. One usually filled with fullness, oneness, awareness, clarity, stillness, and love. This new dimension completely changes the way that we see things – for maybe just the briefest of moments.
These instances come in many forms: being in nature (seeing a sunset), listening to music, looking at a beautiful painting, gazing at someone they love, in the ecstasy of orgasm, reading something that makes the world stop, and from meditation (just to name a few).
We experience freedom from our habitual patterns, freedom from our likes and dislikes, freedom from our selfish little self.
And maybe there, in that freedom, in that release, in that vast spacious radiance – when our heart cracks open and we feel this sense of ease, clarity, contentment and joy – where oneness is a real experience – in that moment we may have had a thought, a faint glimmer of an idea – a soft whisper of, “Wow! Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could experience this, if we all could see this. If we all could feel this way. I wish we all could be free and happy like I am right now. I feel so alive, so at ease, so full of contentment. I know that it’s possible for all of us to experience this. I want to help others to see this, to feel this, to experience this for themselves”
This is a teeny tiny taste of Bodhicitta.

Bodhicitta can be translated as awakened mind or the heart essence of awakened mind. Sometimes it’s presented as the wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.

In various traditions they talk about relative bodhicitta and ultimate bodhicitta.
Relative Bodhicitta can be the desire to achieve awakening not only for ourselves but for all sentient beings and ultimate Bodhicitta is the direct realization and embodiment of awakening.
The Journey of Relative Bodhicitta

It usually starts with some sort of pain, stress, hardship or some experience of hollowness in our lives.

We know that…

We want to feel happy again.
We want to feel at ease again.
We want to feel safe.
We want to feel well.

Or there’s this nagging feeling that there’s gotta be something more to life – more to you – more to what it means to be a human being.

And then you start off on your journey.

You start reading spiritual books, take some workshops, try some yoga.

We all know some aspect of this.

And things get better – more mysterious and magical in many ways – but still something is missing.

Then you maybe find a group or teacher you resonate with. They inspire you to practice. To take what you’re doing a little more seriously.

And you do – well at least you try a little bit harder.

Then you have that first feeling – where you’ve broken through the armour of the selfish self, where you see that everyone is hurting in some way, that you’re hurting in some way, that this pain has made you do crazy things, it’s making us all do crazy things and you really start to develop a deep longing to be free from that pain, that isolation, those harmful mindstates and unskillful behaviours.

You start to see that you DO have some power over your life. Some power over yourself. That you can change your thoughts, words and deeds such that they minimize the burden you’re placing on others and yourself and now you’re trying to be more of a blessing in the world.

You start to practice a little more. You catch yourself a little sooner when you’re being carried away by unskillful states of mind. Your thoughts, words and deeds become a little more noble.

Then we start to feel a little bit happier, more at ease, a little safer and we start to experience a strange sense of well-being.

Then a little further on we start to want those same things for others.

That they feel happy.
That they feel at ease.
That they feel safe.
That they feel well.

We start to feel love.
A deep love that only sees oneness.

Then from this this newfound realization of love and oneness we start to feel again.

Something opens in us.

And maybe we start to notice a new-found inner silence. A stillness. That the petty tyrant of our small “me-me-me” mind has become quieter. That there seems to be a little more time between thoughts.

That you find yourself more and more in a grounded state of presence.

Now illusionary barriers of separation have begin to really dissolve.

We begin to know beyond reason that other’s joy is our joy. Their ease is our ease. Their pain is our pain.

We know this because it’s getting harder and harder to see and feel these hard lines that seperate us.

We’re opening up even more.

In those moments where we experience this freedom of presence – a heart-felt wish springs up – that you wish that we all can experience this potential for themselves.

We wish that all people become free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
We start wishing that we all experience happiness and the causes of happiness.

It’s a heartfelt wish.

And maybe we feel that more and more when we come here. We see the teacher, we see our fellow sangha members, when we sip tea, we hear the teachings and meditate.

That wish starts to grow.

It then may grow into the heartfelt wish to attain enlightenment, not only for ourselves but for others as well – for all sentient beings.

But we need more than a wish.

We need to take action. We need to put some effort into it. Some sort of determination and resolve.

And now we take our practice more seriously. We dedicate more time for meditation. We go to dharma takes more regularly. We actively investigate our unconscious tendencies. We start to redirect our energies from harmful to helpful activities. We start to really be mindful of our thoughts, words and deeds and now make a dedicated effort to becoming a blessing to the world.

And now – a dogged and compassionate resolve to do something about the world emerges.

We have seen personally how the dharma and the practice has benefited us and we want the same for others.

We start to have a certainty – that it doesn’t matter what gets in the way or how long it takes you’re committed to awakening, you’re committed to dealing with your own garbage, you’re committed to showing up to your life – to every aspect of it.

You become compassionately committed to do what you can to help all beings awaken.

Now at this point the Bodhisattva Vow starts to make sense and speaks to us in new ways.

Bodhisattva Vow

Beings and creations are numberless,
I vow to free them.
Delusions are inexhaustible,
I vow to transform them.
Reality is boundless,
I vow to perceive it.
The enlightened way is unsurpassable,
I vow to embody it.

We let forth our lions roar.

As long as space remains
As long as sentient beings remain
I too shall remain
To free us all

And now energy of awakening begins to flow through us more easily

And the words of Master Santideva spring forth from our hearts


Thus by the virtue collected
Through all that I have done,
May the pain of every living creature
Be completely cleared away!

May I be the doctor and the medicine
And may I be the nurse
For the sick beings in the world
Until everyone is healed!

May a rain of food and drink descend
To clear away the pain of thirst and hunger,
And during the eon of famine
May I myself change into food and drink!

May I become an inexhaustible treasure
For those who are poor and destitute;
May I turn into all things they need
And may these be placed close beside them!

Whether those who encounter me
Conceive a faithful or an angry thought,
May that always become the source
For fulfilling all their wishes!

May all who say bad things to me
Or cause me any other harm,
And those who mock and insult me
Have the fortune to awaken fully!

May I be a protector of those without one,
A guide for all travelers on the way;

May I be a bridge, a boat, and a ship
For all who wish to cross the water!

May I be an island for those who seek one,
And a lamp for those desiring light!
May I be a bed for all who wish to rest.

May I be a wishing jewel, a magic vase,
Powerful mantras, and great medicine,
May I be a wish-fulfilling tree,
And a cow of plenty for the world!

Just like space
And the great elements such as earth,
May I always support the life
Of all the countless creatures!

And until they’re free from suffering,
May I also be the source of life
For all the realms of varied beings
That reach unto the ends of space!

Just as the previous Sugatas
Conceived the Spirit of Enlightenment,
And just as they successively lived
In the Bodhisattva practices

Likewise for the sake of all that lives
Do I conceive the Spirit of
And likewise shall I too
Successively follow the practices.

So what are these Bodhisattva practices?
Bodhisattva Practices
Just as athletes train so do those of us that want to actualize our awakened potential need to train as well.
In the Samdhinirmocana Sutra the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara asks the Buddha, “How many bases for training are there for those seeking enlightenment?”
The Buddha replied, “There are six: generosity, morality, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom.”
“Blessed One, why are these bases of training known as a six fold classification?”
“Avalokiteśvara, there are two reasons. It is because they benefit sentient beings, and because they are antidotes to the afflictions. Know that three [perfections] benefit sentient beings, while three are antidotes to the afflictions.
Bodhisattvas benefit sentient beings by giving them material goods, they benefit them through generosity.
Because they benefit beings by not impoverishing them, not harming them, nor scorning them, they benefit them through ethics.
Because they benefit beings by not even considering [their own] impoverishment, harm, or scorn, they benefit them through patience.
Thus they benefit sentient beings through these three [perfections].
Through effort they apply themselves to a virtuous course that overcomes and completely conquers the afflictions. Thus, the afflictions are unable to sway them from implementing a virtuous course.
Through concentration, they suppress the afflictions.
Through wisdom, they completely destroy the pre-dispositions [toward afflictions].
These three [perfections] are antidotes to the afflictions.
The six perfections serve as bases for progressively higher achievements.
Bodhisattvas who do not focus on their bodies and physical resources attain ethics.
Those who guard their moral practice become patient.
Those who have patience initiate effort.
Those who initiate effort achieve concentration.
Those who achieve concentration attain wisdom that transcends the world.”
The Paramitas have a two-fold purpose: 1) they help us bring benefit to others 2) they help us to stop being such a burden to the world – to free us from the mental afflictions of greed hatred and delusion that are making us do so many unskillful things.
So when we talk of the Paramitas, right now for us they’re abstract concepts, distant from us, not really that inspiring. So we need to have an example of how to unfold our own awakened potential in life and the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara gives us the highest most stunningly radiant view of that potential.
This Bodhisattva shows us the embodiment of Complete Enlightenment.
We even can see this embodiment of Complete Enlightenment being expressed in the dialogue from above between the Bodhisattva of Compassion Avalokitesvara and the Buddha.
Avalokitesvara knows everything there is to know about the Paramitas. There’s nothing that the Buddha can teach on the subject that Avalokitesvara doesn’t already know and embody in every fibre of his being. His being alone is made of the Paramitas and OM Mani Padme Hum is his very essence. He himself aspired for awakening and achieved that goal.
So why then is Avalokitesvara asking all these questions about the Paramitas?
He’s asking them for you. He asking for all of us. He vowed to free all beings from suffering and he knows what sentient beings need to heal, grow and awaken to their own potential. And he knows because we’re so caught up in our own garbage that we’ll miss the chance to ask the Buddha for help. So he does it for us. He does it on our behalf.
So this series is about unfolding and exploring your own potential. It’s about taking aim at awakening and letting our arrows fly toward that target. It’s about discovering and taking on an impossible mission and then rising up to meet the challenges of that goal along the way. It’s about actualizing our very own potential right now. Not when we’re ready, not when all our ducks are in a row and the stars have aligned. It’s about starting right where you are and starting now with the belief that there’s a huge untapped potential inside of you (Buddha Nature) – and it’s time to discover it for ourselves and help others do the same.


My Altar


Nothing to Do

Nothing to Do by Gendun Rinpoche
Happiness cannot be found
through great effort and willpower,
but is already present, in open relaxation and letting go.
Don’t strain yourself,
there is nothing to do or undo.
Whatever momentarily arises in the body-mind
has no real importance at all,
has little reality whatsoever.
Why identify with, and become attached to it,
passing judgment upon it and ourselves?
Far better to simply
let the entire game happen on its own,
springing up and falling back like waves-
without changing or manipulating anything-
and notice how everything vanishes and
reappears, magically, again and again,
time without end.
Only our searching for happiness
prevents us from seeing it.
It’s like a vivid rainbow which you pursue without ever catching, or a dog chasing its own tail.
Although peace and happiness do not exist
as an actual thing or place,
it is always available
and accompanies you every instant.
Don’t believe in the reality
of good and bad experiences;
they are like today’ s ephemeral weather,
like rainbows iri the sky.
Wanting to grasp the ungraspable,
you exhaust yourself in vain.
As soon as you open and relax this tight fist of grasping,
infinite space is there-open, inviting and comfortable.
Make use of this spaciousness, this freedom and natural ease. Don’t search any further.
Don’t go into the tangled jungle
looking for the great awakened elephant,
who is already resting quietly at home
in front of your own hearth.
Nothing to do or undo,
nothing to force,
nothing to want,
and nothing missing-
Emaho! Marvelous!
Everything happens by itself.


Be Brave

On the 10th day of the month of the Iron Sheep, in the year of the Wood Monkey, in the morning I met the Lotos Born Guru.
A rain of white flowers fell down from the sky.
In my mind – the limitless river of Dharmakaya –
Padmasambhava gave me instructions of how to behave in the moment of suffering.
Here is the secret teaching for the sons and daughters of my heart, that brings instant achievement:
Suffering is like dry branches
thrown into the fire,
burning in the cold night
for those, who listen to the teachings from the heart of Padmasambhava.
Suffering is a powerful blessing,
have confidence in the Lotos Born Guru.
By looking for the antidote
in form of the joyful yogas, that come from the wordly gods
or by engaging yourself in shamanistic practices,
the distance between your and your exit from the suffering of samsara
increases by hundreds of incarnations.
Let the suffering burn
Keep the awareness `I am´ in your mind,
even if the whole world and your own body is in fire,
Padma will grant you with immortality.
If you are practicing the teachings of the Lotus Born Guru wholeheartedly,
if you make them
the true treasure of your heart,
let go your attachments, do not care about your bodies
free yourselves from the thinking of the past
focus your awareness on `that moment´
abandon the curiosity of the future
do not engage in shamanistic rituals and dharmas
looking at the appearances leave them untouched,
do not try to correct them or to value anything,
let appearances liberate themselves in the natural state,
to become the manifestation of Dharmakaya,
the mandala of your mind,
all the gods and demons that appear in your minds are karmic vision,
have neither fear nor hope,
lovers and relatives,
those close to you and strangers,
friends and enemies
are karmic visions,
that cause you constant rebirths in samsara,
abandon attachment to beloved and feeling of dislike to strangers,
for all beings of the three realms have loving kindness,
the path is simple and quick,
not paying attention to the deceiving appearances, having abandoned both fear and hope,
the vision of mandala will melt in the perfection of the natural state.
In the undistracted natural state
The answer to all questions,
the aim of all searches
The fruit of the Dharma,
the Wish Fulfilling Jewel
Cintamani appears
Written by Chhimed Tsering


Catching the Zen Bird

Catching the Zen Bird
So many people hear of the Zen Mind or Buddha Mind or Truth or Suchness or Enlightenment or the Great Way or the Absolute or the Unborn or the Fundamental Nature – there’s a million different names for it – and they know they want it for themselves.
It’s like hearing of a magical mythical royal bird – like a phoenix.
And theres a story that whoever may catch it will be given great power and riches and the knowledge of the universe.
So we go off searching for it.
Hunting for it
Scheming for it
And maybe we catch sight of it flying high in a certain place
So we go there again and again
And we lay traps for it
Hoping to snatch it for ourselves
And in those traps
We catch all kinds of different birds
Brown birds blue birds red birds
Even a chicken
And we shew them all away
And we wait and wait and wait
Dreaming of the day we catch the phoenix. We fantasize about it. It consumes us.
Then one day we check on the trap and we discover a hurt little baby bird
Our heart breaks open a little bit and we are moved by it’s innocence it’s helplessness and a great remorse comes over us as we watch it struggle to breakfree of the pain that we ourselves have caused it from our own selfishness
And something in us moves us to help it
Then the momma bird comes and attacks us
And we take those attacks
We endure her piercing beak because we know she is only trying to protect her baby and maybe she’s feeling bad too that she couldn’t keep it safe
So we care for that baby bird
We nurture it
We help it
We feed it
We gently love it
We strengthen it
We watch it grow
This whole time we’re still thinking of the royal magical bird
But less and less
We just see the matter at hand and do our best
We start to really see and know that it was because of our own greed hatred and delusion that this little innocent bird has been hurt
We vow to change
To be different
To be better
The baby bird finally gets strong enough to walk and fly on it’s own and we rejoice we celebrate it we clap and dance
In this moment we forgot about ourselves
And finally we bring it back to it’s mother strong and alive
We apologize to the mother and say we will change or ways – we have changed already and promise to do even better
We bow to her and we wish them the best bird life possible
And we realize in that moment that we have forgotten about the royal bird
We’ve forgotten about our goal our dreams our wants
And when we look to the place where we used to lay our trap – right there fast asleep is what we have sought so long ago
The royal bird – the radiant phoenix in all it’s spledour and glory is just sleeping peacefully there
We experience great awe reverence and we stop right there in our tracks our breath caught in our chest
And we sit there in the grass not moving a few feet from the phoenix
Not wanting to disturb this moment and the beauty of it
And we watch with an open heart
And something has changed in us because we don’t chase after it we don’t grasp it at – if this is the closest we get to it then that’s fine – more than fine – it’s the most magical thing we’ve ever experienced
And every day we do this
We tiptoe quietly to the spot hoping not to disturb the royal bird and scare it away with our own blunderings and some days we do and some days we don’t
But we keep going back
And now something else changes
We hear the forest
We feel the breeze
We look around us and somehow start to see the magic of life again
We praise the tree
We dance with the wind
We feed the birds
And care for the land
And easeful joyous heart begins to arise in us
The simplest things become marvellous
How could you have never seen this before
Heard this before
Tasted this before
Smelt this before
Touched this before
You even see the beauty in the “dark” things
In the decay
In the struggle
In the pain of the process
And even in death
You begin to bear witness to it all
The miracle of it
You have a reverence for it
You see that you have a great privilege and rare chance here and you do everything you can to help it
And everything is smooth
Everything is easy
Mountains are no longer mountains
Streams no longer streams
Everything is the great way
Then one day you realize that you haven’t thought of the royal bird in a long time
And you go check in on it’s normal place and it’s not there
And you’re fine
And you sit
And the you that’s sitting disappears
Words cannot get to it
To say you are oneness is not correct
To say anything really is not correct
But everything is correct
All words are silence
All actions are non-actiom
All thoughts are non-thought
All and all
Everything is perfect just as it is
How foolish you were before
Now you’re the greatest of fools
Just this
And that’s saying too much
The crickets chirping
The sun setting
The wind blowing
The water softly cresting on the shore
How can you truly describe the great way – to say anything is to miss the mark but to not say anything is to break your hearts vow to help all beings
And right then looking down there’s the discovery
Of the royal bird – the blazingly radiant phoenix sleeping in your lap and you’re not shocked or elated or anything really
It’s just this and nothing else
And though nothing’s been said you hear it’s wisdom nonetheless
And somehow you know that the royal bird, the great beautiful phoenix had been there the whole time
Guiding you
Loving you
Calling you
To awaken
It’s all the great phoenix
And you laugh and laugh
And the royal bird smiles
The crickets chirp
The sun sets
The wind blows
And the water softly crests on the shore
A rumble in your tummy
You getup and cook the rice
Clean the dishes
And sleep when you’re tired
You and the forest are not two – not one either

Mountains are mountains

Streams are streams

The great blazing phoenix soars through the vast open sky unhindered and completely free.
Zen Master e
Please read:
Artwork by Louis Dyer –
The amazingly beautiful and transcendent artwork of the Golden Phoenix is by the gifted artist Louis Dyer.
Please checkout his work and support him in his visionary art.


Find Your Mind Treasure

Transcript: Finding the Treasure in Your Mind is a True Practitioner
Finding the Treasure in Your Mind is a True Practitioner
We think that we should learn and accept while meditating on a daily basis.
But more important than that is you must save yourself.
The enlightenment of a Buddha’s true nature is in your own mind.
We should live Buddha’s life with that Buddha Nature.
Knowing this and putting it into practice.
This is the real practice.
That’s why we are here and practicing because sentient beings are foolish.
Mind and behavior are different.
We have to come to this distant place because we have to retreat according to the shape of the karma.
You better cut off everything – such as desire, anger, ignorance, delusion, worldly matters and family matters.
If I only talked about liberating – do not be attached to it or accept (as a fixed view) with any boundaries
(Pointing Out Your Intrinsic Buddha Nature)
(Look and see for yourself)
It should be a calm mind forever and eternally like the empty sky everywhere.
Therefore in the end it is necessary to take off from all troubles naturally with clear and pure minds (all your troubles disappear in the Buddha Mind)
Isn’t it right?
Seeking vain honors and speaking truth with that mouth do not let your mind be like monkeys.
The difference between words and action is that you deceive yourself if you fall into hellish hell.
Do not pursue vain honors and pleasure living in the world without knowing yourself (first).
Without knowing yourself you will suffer disease for all eternity.
Be diligent (Chris one of Master’s senior students) hardwork and make effort.
You are saving yourself.
The Buddha and I cannot save you – the enlightenment too.
You are just guidance (these are just guides)
We just lead you to be meditators to get into the meditation world.
If the Buddha could save the sentient beings, which are more than the dust of the world, he would have finished saving all sentient beings already
But why are we not leaving samsara and the circle of reincarnation and being Buddha until now?
Therefore sentient beings should save oneself.
Not the Buddha saving.
So you understand that clearly – diligence and effort are meditate yourself and you should not rely on the power of another Buddha from outside.
(Rely on the Buddha within)
What would I like to attach?
We usually see ourselves or those around us living – it’s called “sentient beings”.
The Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng said, “Seeing and looking at the surface, right and wrong and distinguishing minds are called sentient beings. It is not sentient beings that is revealed in all kind of images of the world as the state of life.”
Jealous mind
Anger mind
Dispute mind
and deceived mind
This is called “sentient beings”.
When we live with a mind that we comprehend (small mind/thinking mind).
If you call this kind of mind – sentient beings
If there isn’t that kind of mind – if that mind disappears – then all sentient beings are saved and attain enlightenment at that moment.
When sentient beings disappear then the Buddha’s world will appear.
Thank you
Finding treasuring in your mind is a true practitioner
So Phuon she already found it – Kwan Seum Bosal (Quan Yin/Avalokitesvara)
I asked Elaine to make that frame and I think Phuon gave her some kind of information.
Actually that frame and this picture is Phuons.
Phuon – alway in her mind is Kwan Seum Bosal.
So I would like to give you all of this picture. One each.
What is your treasure?
What is in your mind? What is in there? (Master points to his heart)
You better find out.
So – Phuon – she already found – maybe about two years ago.
She always says, “I’m Kwan Seum Bosal.”
Always she’s thinking Kwan Seum Bosal.
Everybody have one of these.
And also – another one is this one. (Master holds up a picture of a statue that’s shaped like a meditator clothed in a black robe and at their heart is the Buddha and their face/mind is golden)
I took this picture from Korea.
With Kelly and Rebecca.
I took this picture in Seol Korea. Then when I come back I asked Elaine to make it like this.
Meditators here – inside – Buddha is inside.
You can try to find out what is in your mind.
Maybe that is a Buddha or Dharma or Kwan Seum Bosal.
Kwan Seum Bosal is mercy and compassion Bodhisattva.
From now – everybody try and find out what you got in your mind.
Thank you.


She Let Go

By Ernest Holmes
She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go. She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around in her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within herself. She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go. She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go. She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go. She let go of all of the memories that held her back. She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right. She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope, She just let go. She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go. No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go. There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that. In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.”


Plunging Into the Nowness

“Plunge into the nowness of everfresh completely spontaneous everpresence. Pure pristine awareness.” Master e
All phenomena are completely new and fresh, absolutely unique and entirely free from all concepts of past, present, and future. They are experienced in timelessness.
The continual stream of new discovery, revelation, and inspiration which arises at every moment is the manifestation of our clarity. We should learn to see everyday life as mandala – the luminous fringes of experience which radiate spontaneously from the empty nature of our being. The aspects of our mandala are the day-to-day objects of our life experience moving in the dance or play of the universe. By this symbolism, the inner teacher reveals the profound and ultimate significance of being.
Therefore we should be natural and spontaneous, accepting and learning from everything. This enables us to see the ironic and amusing side of events that usually irritate us.
In meditation we can see through the illusion of past, present, and future – our experience becomes the continuity of nowness. The past is only an unreliable memory held in the present. The future is only a projection of our present conceptions. The present itself vanishes as soon as we try to grasp it. So why bother with attempting to establish an illusion of solid ground?
We should free ourselves from our past memories and preconceptions of meditation. Each moment of meditation is completely unique and full of potentiality. In such moments, we will be incapable of judging our meditation in terms of past experience, dry theory or hollow rhetoric.
Simply plunging directly into meditation in the moment now, with our whole being, free from hesitation, boredom or excitement, is enlightenment.
– Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Dzogchen Practice in Daily Life


The Prayer of Kuntuzangpo

The Prayer of Kuntuzangpo, The Primordial Buddha Samantabhadra
Everything – appearance and existence, samsara and nirvana, has a single ground, yet two paths and two fruitions, and magically displays as awareness or unawareness.
Through Kuntuzangpo’s prayer, may all beings become Buddhas, completely perfected in the abode of the dharmadhatu.
The ground of all is uncompounded, and the self-arising great expanse, beyond expression, has neither the name samsara nor nirvana.
Realizing just this you are a Buddha;
not realizing this you are a being wandering in samsara.
I pray that all you beings of the three realms may realize the true meaning of the inexpressible ground.
I, Kuntuzangpo, have realized the truth of this ground, free from cause and condition, which is just this self-arising awareness. It is unstained by outer expression and inner thought, affirmation or denial and is not defiled by the darkness of unmindfulness. Thus this self-manifesting display is free from defects.
I, Kuntuzangpo, abide as intrinsic awareness. Even though the three realms were to be destroyed, there is no fear. There is no attachment to the five desirable qualities of sense objects. In self-arising consciousness,
free of thoughts, there is neither solid form nor the five poisons.
In the unceasing clarity of awareness, singular in essence, there yet
arises the display of the five wisdoms. From the ripening of these five wisdoms, the five original Buddha families emerge, and through the expanse of their wisdom, the 42 peaceful Buddhas appear. Through the arising power of the five wisdoms, the 60 wrathful Herukas manifest. Thus the ground awareness is never mistaken or wrong.
I, Kuntuzangpo, am the original Buddha of all, and through this prayer
of mine, may all you beings who wander in the three realms of samsara realize this self-arising awareness, and may your great wisdom spontaneously increase.
My emanations will continuously manifest in billions of unimaginable
ways, appearing in forms to help you beings who can be trained. From the beginning you beings are deluded because you do not recognize the awareness of the ground.
Being thus unmindful of what occurs is delusion – the very state of unawareness and the cause of going astray. From this delusive state comes a sudden fainting away and then a subtle consciousness of wavering fear.
From that wavering there arises a separation of self and the perception of others as enemies. Gradually the tendency of separation strengthens, and from this the circle of samsara begins.
Then the emotions of the five poisons develop – the actions of these
emotions are endless. You beings lack awareness because you are unmindful, and this is the basis of your going astray.
Through my prayer, may all you beings recognize your intrinsic
awareness! Innate unawareness means unmindfulness and distraction. Imputing unawareness means dualistic thoughts towards self and others. Both kinds of unawareness are the basis for the delusion of all beings.
Through Kuntuzangpo’s prayer, may all you beings wandering in samsara clear away the dark fog of unmindfulness, clear away the clinging thoughts of duality!
May you recognize your own intrinsic awareness! Dualistic thoughts create doubt, from subtle attachment to this dualistic turn of mind
dualistic tendencies become stronger and thicker. Food, wealth, clothes, home and friends, the five objects of the senses and your beloved family – all these things cause torment by creating longing and desire. These are all worldly delusions; the activities of grasping and clinging are endless. When the fruition of attachment ripens, you are born as a hungry ghost, tormented by coveting and desiring, miserable, starving and thirsty.
Through Kuntuzangpo’s prayer, may all you desirous and lustful beings who have attachments, neither reject longing desire, nor accept attachment to desires. Let your consciousness relax in its own natural state, then your awareness will be able to hold its own. May you achieve the wisdom of perfect discernment! When external objects appear, the subtle consciousness of fear will arise. From this fear, the habit of anger becomes stronger and stronger. Finally, hostility comes, causing violence and murder. When the fruition of this anger ripens, you will suffer in hell by boiling and
Through Kuntuzangpo’s prayer, you beings of the six realms, when strong anger arises for you, neither reject nor accept it. Instead relax in the
natural state and achieve the wisdom of clarity!
When your mind becomes full of pride there will arise thoughts of competition and humiliation. As this pride becomes stronger and stronger, you will experience the suffering of quarrels and abuse. When the fruition of this karma ripens, you will be reborn in the god realms and experience the suffering of change and falling to the lower rebirths.
Through Kuntuzangpo’s prayer, may you beings who developed pride let your consciousness relax in the natural state. Then your awareness will be able to hold its own. May you achieve the wisdom of equanimity! By increasing the habit of duality, by praising yourself and denigrating
others, your competitive mind will lead you to jealousy and fighting, and you will be reborn in the jealous god realm, where there is much killing and injury. From the result of that killing, you will fall into the hell realm.
Through Kuntuzangpo’s prayer, when jealousy and competitive thoughts arise, do not grasp them as enemies. Just relax in ease, then consciousness can hold its natural state. May you achieve the wisdom of unobstructed
action! By being distracted, careless and unmindful, you beings will become dull, foggy and forgetful.
By being unconscious and lazy, you will increase your ignorance and the fruition of this ignorance will be to wander helplessly in the animal realm. Through Kuntuzangpo’s prayer, may you beings who have fallen into the dark pit of ignorance shine the light of mindfulness and thereby achieve wisdom free from thought.
All you beings of the three realms are actually identical to Buddhas,
the ground of all. But your misunderstanding of the ground causes you to go astray, so you act without aim. The six karmic actions are delusion like a dream. I am the primordial Buddha here to train the six kinds of beings through all my manifestations.
Through Kuntuzangpo’s prayer may all you beings without exception attain enlightenment in the state of dharmadhatu.
Ah Ho! Hereafter whenever a very powerful yogin with his or her awareness radiant and free from delusion recites this very powerful prayer, then all who hear it will achieve enlightenment within three lifetimes.
During a solar or lunar eclipse, during an earthquake or when the earth rumbles, at the solstices or the New Year you should visualize Kuntuzangpo. And if you pray loudly so all can hear, then beings of the three realms will
be gradually liberated from suffering, through the prayer of the yogin and will finally achieve enlightenment.