Wednesday, June 8, 2016


... People are not selfless by virtue of ignorance and inaction. Even knowledge and action do not compromise their selflessness. They're like fire, ceaselessly in motion, never having a self...

~ from Wenshi's Classic on Reality (trans. by Thomas Clearly, The Way of the World, p.109)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A lamp, a cataract, a star in space...

As a lamp, a cataract, a star in space,
an illusion, a dewdrop, a bubble,
a dream, a cloud, a flash of lightning –
view all created things like this . . . 

~ The Diamond Sutra

A lamp shines brightly but can be extinguished by something as insubstantial as the wind.
A cataract presents images of flowers and other objects that turn out to be defects of vision.
A star in the sky appears at dusk only to disappear at dawn.
An illusion is nothing but a conjurer’s trick.
A dewdrop seems such a perfect jewel but vanishes as soon as the sun appears.
A bubble turns out to contain nothing.
A dream enthralls us in its scenes, until we wake up and wonder where it came from and where it went.
A cloud forms out of thin air, never stops changing shape, and vanishes into nothing.
A flash of lightning stuns us with its brilliant light but reminds us of the brevity of what appears to be real.

~ commentary by Red Pine


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Manifesto by Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Compassion is not a virtue


“Compassion is not a virtue -- it is a commitment. 
It's not something we have or don't have -- 
it's something we choose to practice.” 

~ Brené Brown

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Serving society


"Those who sincerely practice Buddha Dharma must also serve society... We cannot discriminate between spirituality and our life in society... Without a concern for [others'] welfare, our practice has little meaning."

~ Dalai Lama, in his foreward to Joseph Goldstein's Transforming the Mind

Thursday, February 4, 2016

What's left?

Take ignoring, grasping, and rejecting away . . . What's left ?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Heart of the Pine, Joints of Bamboo

. . . Acquiring the bitter along with the sweet, able to lead and able to follow, accepting both life and death, always responsive yet always tranquil, not moved by things, firm of heart and strong in discipline, one can thereby handle ease, one can thereby rest, one can thereby change adaptively without hindrance, unfixed to any given pattern, uninhibited in any way . . .

Liu I-ming, Awakening to the Tao

Monday, January 18, 2016

What are you doing for others?

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 
What are you doing for others?” 

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


If prayer does not change our destiny, it changes our feelings -- which is no less useful.

~ Joseph Joubert


Hiding from responsibility...

"I’m thinking about the subtle moments that some of us experienced, when there’s a dissonance between what I hear and what I see, and I withdraw and remain silent rather than ask uncomfortable questions. This goes both ways. I’ve watched teachers hide behind authority, and I’ve also seen students let go of responsibility. I’ve watched many practitioners, including me, seek in a like-minded group a refuge from living responsibly in the world, learning how to deal with money and each other, and accepting the consequences of our decisions and our actions. A place where we won’t have to grow up. Who has lived or practiced for years in a dharma center without witnessing some of these patterns?"

~ from It Takes a Village by Roshi Eve Myonen Marko


Monday, January 11, 2016

benefits of gratitude

Some of the benefits of gratitude:

Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure...

More joy and pleasure, more optimism and happiness...

More forgiving and outgoing outlooks, less lonely and isolated feelings...


infinite life, infinite light

Although my eyes, blinded by passions, 
Do not see the brilliant light which embraces me, 
The Great Compassion never tires, 
Always casting its light upon me. 

~ Shinran Shonin


Monday, December 28, 2015

By suffering's presence

"It is by suffering’s presence that we know there is something we need to address.”

~ Jane Hirschfield
Ten Windows

Monday, December 7, 2015

No Matter Where You Stay by Chatral Rinpoche

Thomas Merton and Chatral Rinpoche in Darjeeling, 1968

"No matter where you stay -- be it a busy place or a solitary retreat --
The only things that you need to conquer are mind’s five poisons*
And your own true enemies, the eight wordly concerns**, nothing else,
Whether it is by avoiding, transforming,
taking them as the path or looking into their very essence,
Whichever method is best suited to your own capacity."

~ Chatral Rinpoche

* Ignorance, greed, hatred, jealousy, and pride.
** Loss and gain, pleasure and pain, praise and blame, disrepute and fame.

How to Be a Poet by Wendell Berry

[This is also excellent advice for how to pray ~ George]

How To Be a Poet

by Wendell Berry

(to remind myself)


Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.


Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.


Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

True and False Suffering

"...When our old images break we suffer terribly, but then, when all goes well, new light and heat bring companionship and a humble knowledge of the real...
[T]here is true and false suffering. The breaking of the images abolishes our false pain and makes way for the true to appear. False suffering is a defense against the vigor and tumult of experience. Our true suffering is the shared lot of humanity..."

~ John Tarrant, The Light Inside the Dark, p.45

Sunday, November 15, 2015

EcoSattva Vows

One Earth Sangha

EcoSattva Vows

Based on my love of the world and understanding of deep interdependence of all things, I vow:

To live in Earth more lightly and less violently in the food, products and energy I consume.

To commit myself daily to the healing of the world and the welfare of all beings; to discern and replace human systems of oppression and harm.

To invite personal discomfort as an opportunity to share in the challenge of our collective liberation.

To draw strength and guidance from the living Earth, from our ancestors and the future generations, and from our brothers and sisters of all species.

To help others in their work for the world and to ask for help when I feel the need.

To pursue a daily spiritual practice that clarifies my mind, strengthens my heart and supports me in observing these vows .

~ from One Earth Sangha website

Friday, November 13, 2015

May I Take Joy

As for suffering I do not wish even the slightest;
As for happiness I am never satisfied.
In this there is no difference between others and me.
May I take joy in others' happiness.

~ 1st Panchen Lama

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What the Day Gives by Jeanne Lohmann

What the Day Gives

by Jeanne Lohmann

Suddenly, sun. Over my shoulder
in the middle of gray November
what I hoped to do comes back,

Across the street the fiery trees
hold onto their leaves,
red and gold in the final months
of this unfinished year,
they offer blazing riddles..

In the frozen fields of my life
there are no shortcuts to spring,
but stories of great birds in migration
carrying small ones on their backs,
predators flying next to warblers
they would, in a different season, eat.

Stunned by the astonishing mix in this uneasy world
that plunges in a single day from despair
to hope and back again, I commend my life
to Ruskin's difficult duty of delight,
and to that most beautiful form of courage,
to be happy.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Crippled becomes whole

Tao te ching verse 22:

Crippled becomes whole,
Crooked becomes straight,
Hollow becomes full,
Worn becomes new,
Little becomes more,
Much becomes delusion.

Therefore Sages cling to the One
   And take care of this world;
Do not display themselves
   And therefore shine;
Do not assert themselves
   And therefore stand out;
Do not praise themselves
   And therefore succeed;
Are not complacent
   And therefore endure;
Do not contend
   And therefore no one under heaven
      Can contend with them.

The old saying
Crippled becomes whole
Is not empty words.

It becomes whole and returns.

~ from the superb English translation by Addiss and Lombardo

Friday, October 30, 2015

Leaving It To You

Leaving It to You 

by Wu Pen (Chia Tao) (779-843)

Self evident, truth mistakes no thing.
But my heart's a long way from there
and nothing's very clear.
Yellow gold is almost burned up
by my desire.
White hair grows beside the fire.
Bitter indecision: choose This, or maybe That.
Even the spirit speaks in riddles
and makes it hard to harvest
the essence of a single day.
Catch the wind while you tether shadows.
Faith, or a man who'll stand by his word, is
all there is. There is no disputing.

English translation by J.P. Seaton
from The Poetry of Zen
edited by Sam Hamill and J.P. Seaton

Out of These Branches the Path

"Conveyed from mouth to ear, there is no tradition, There are no textbooks. There is only direct meeting, direct experience. There is no practice without a teacher. There is no teacher without a community. There are souls destined to meet -- and free will and commitment, and loving-kindness and fellowship. And out of these branches the path."

~ Perle Besserman

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Anyone can be a teacher

"Just as an acorn can only become an oak tree when it receives nourishment from the soil, water and sun, we need to be open to 'nourishment' from our teachers in order to receive the Buddhist insights. Anyone can be a teacher to us; the person I hate, the homeless person...everyone and everything everywhere nurtures me."

~ Taitetsu Unno

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lost in the Woods

If I'm wandering lost in the woods, but don't know I'm lost, that's ignorance.

If I've seen or been told that I'm lost, but won't admit the possibility, that's denial.

If I know I'm lost, that's clarity.

If I accept the fact that I'm a human capable of getting lost, that's humility.

If I'm willing to experience my confusion and fear, that's courage.

If I know and accept being lost and fearful, and am willing to do something in response, that's clarity and responsibility -- and freedom.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Value ignorance as much as knowledge

Offer yourself to the world—your energies, your gifts, your visions, your heart—with open-hearted generosity. But understand that when you live that way you will soon learn how little you know and how easy it is to fail. To grow in love and service, you, I, all of us, must value ignorance as much as knowledge and failure as much as success. I know this is ironic advice..., but clinging to what you already know and do well is the path to an unlived life. So, cultivate beginner’s mind, walk straight into your not knowing, and take the risk of failing and falling again and again, then getting up again and again to learn. That’s the path to a life lived large in service of love, truth, and justice.

~ Parker J. Palmer, commencement address at Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado, May 10, 2015,