The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step

Zen

Zengetsu’s advice for his pupils

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Zengetsu, a Chinese master of the T’ang dynasty, wrote the following advice for his pupils:

Living in the world yet not forming attachments to the dust of the world is the way of a true Zen student.

When witnessing the good action of another encourage yourself to follow his example. Hearing of the mistaken action of another, advise yourself not to emulate it.

Even though alone in a dark room, be as if you were facing a noble guest. Express your feelings, but become no more expressive than your true nature.

Poverty is your treasure. Never exchange it for an easy life.

A person may appear a fool and yet not be one. He may only be guarding his wisdom carefully.

Virtues are the fruit of self-discipline and do not drop from heaven of themselves as does rain or snow.

Modesty is the foundation of all virtues. Let your neighbors discover you before you make yourself known to them.

A noble heart never forces itself forward. Its words are as rare gems, seldom displayed and of great value.

To a sincere student, every day is a fortunate day. Time passes but he never lags behind. Neither glory nor shame can move him.

Censure yourself, never another. Do not discuss right and wrong.

Some things, though right, were considered wrong for generations. Since the value of righteousness may be recognized after centuries, there is no need to crave an immediate appreciation.

Live with cause and leave results to the great law of the universe. Pass each day in peaceful contemplation.

Living Zen


There are no others

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“We meet ourselves time and again in a thousand disguises on the path of life.”

— Carl Jung. 


The Tao of Physics

“Five years ago, I had a beautiful experience which set me on a road that has led to the writing of [The Tao of Physics]. I was sitting by the ocean one late summer afternoon, watching the waves rolling in and feeling the rhythm of my breathing, when I suddenly became aware of my whole environment as being engaged in a gigantic cosmic dance.

Being a physicist, I knew that the sand, rocks, water, and air around me were made of vibrating molecules and atoms, and that these consisted of particles which interacted with one another by creating and destroying other particles.

I knew also that the earth’s atmosphere was continually bombarded by showers of “cosmic rays,” particles of high energy undergoing multiple collisions as they penetrated the air.

All this was familiar to me from my research in high-energy physics, but until that moment I had only experienced it through graphs, diagrams, and mathematical theories.

As I sat on that beach my former experiences came to life; I “saw” cascades of energy coming down from outer space, in which particles were created and destroyed in rhythmic pulses; I “saw” the atoms of the elements and those of my body participating in this cosmic dance of energy…

I felt its rhythm and I “heard” its sound, and at that moment I knew that this was the Dance of Shiva, the Lord of Dancers worshiped by the Hindus.

I had gone through a long training in theoretical physics and had done several years of research. At the same time, I had become very interested in Eastern mysticism and had begun to see the parallels to modern physics.

I was particularly attracted to the puzzling aspects of Zen which reminded me of the puzzles in quantum theory. At first, however, relating the two was a purely intellectual exercise. To overcome the gap between rational, analytical thinking and the meditative experience of mystical truth, was, and still is, very difficult for me.

In the beginning, I was helped on my way by “power plants” which showed me how the mind can flow freely; how spiritual insights come on their own, without any effort, emerging from the depth of consciousness. I remember the first such experience.

Coming, as it did, after years of detailed analytical thinking, it was so overwhelming that I burst into tears, at the same time, not unlike Castaneda, pouring out my impressions on to a piece of paper.

Later came the experience of the Dance of Shiva… It was followed by many similar experiences which helped me gradually to realize that a consistent view of the world is beginning to emerge from modern physics which is harmonious with ancient Eastern wisdom.

I took many notes over the years, and I wrote a few articles about the parallels I kept discovering, until I finally summarized my experiences in the present book…”

~Fritjof Capra; December, 1974
Preface to the “Tao of Physics”

Tao & Zen


Heaven and Hell

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A BIG, BURLY SAMURAI comes to a Zen master and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.”

The Zen master looks him in the face and says, “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you? A worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?”

Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword and raises it to cut off the master’s head.

The Zen master says, “That’s hell.”

Instantly, the samurai understands that he has just created his own hell – black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment. He sees that he was so deep in hell that he was ready to kill someone. Tears fill his eyes as he puts his palms together to bow in gratitude for this insight.

The Zen master says, “That’s heaven.”


Just to live

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Zen is not some fancy, special art of living. Our teaching is just to live, always in reality, in its exact sense. To make our effort, moment after moment, is our way.


– Shunryu Suzuki

from the book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”


No trace

The enlightened mind is like a bird in flight that leaves no trace of its path. People will say, “A bird just flew by.” In their mind, there is a trace of the bird’s path. This is attachment. For the enlightened practitioner, that moment is already gone—the bird has left no trace of its flight. Like the bird, from moment to moment the enlightened practitioner’s actions do not leave any trace.

– Sheng Yen

from the book “The Method of No-Method: The Chan Practice of Silent Illumination”

Gems of Wisdom – Zen Tradition

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo – The Nature of Mind (6 min)


No heaven, no earth

The whole universe
Shatters into a hundred pieces.
In the great death
There is no heaven, no earth.

Once body and mind have turned over,
There is only this to say:

Past mind cannot be grasped,
Present mind cannot be grasped,
Future mind cannot be grasped.

– Dogen Zenji

from the book “Enlightenment Unfolds: The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen”


Limited expressions of the world of emptiness

All descriptions of reality are limited expressions of the world of emptiness. Yet we attach to the descriptions and think they are reality. That is a mistake.

– Shunryu Suzuki

quoted in the book “Teachers of Wisdom”

Gems of Wisdom – Zen Tradition

Pic by Images magiques


As Zen students we have a job to do

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As Zen students you have a job to do, a very important job: to bring your life out of dreamland and into the real and immense reality that is. We are, actually, the whole Universe.

~ Charlotte Joko Beck ~