Sunday, August 29, 2010

Young, Busy, Late

When we are young, we don’t realize the importance of dharma practice;
when we are middle-aged, we think we are too busy to do it;
and when we are old, it’s too late.

~ Kagyu saying

Friday, August 27, 2010

Precious Human Life

The first of the Four Reminders:

Of all the planets in the universe, I am on this one — warm, green, hospitable. Of the billions of creatures on this planet, I am a human being. Of all the times and places I could have been born, I am in this time and place.

Many people live in poverty, lacking adequate food, shelter, and health care. My life is free from war, from oppression, from grinding poverty, from debilitating addiction or crippling mental illness. I enjoy basic health, with my senses and intelligence intact.

I have all the freedoms and conditions necessary for spiritual practice. I am endowed with natural awareness and the ability to respond to imbalance and suffering. I have access to authentic spiritual teachings by qualified and compassionate teachers. I can rely on the support of experienced companions on the path.

This life has great potential for good or harm. The coming together of all these freedoms and conditions is fragile, and may end at any time. I want to understand my life and make the most of it. I don’t want to waste these resources and opportunities.

All human beings should try to learn before they
die what they are running from, and to, and why
~ James Thurber

More on the Four Reminders at

Monday, August 23, 2010

Your Head in a Bowl of Glue

When you have even a single thought of looking for a shortcut in zen you have already stuck your head in a bowl of glue.

~ Ch'an master Dahui Zonggao (大慧宗杲) (1089–1163)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Right to the Core

The ancient buddhas taught the dharma
Not for is own sake but to assist us.
If we really knew ourselves
We would not have to rely on old teachers.
The wise go right to the core
And leap beyond appearances;
The foolish cling to details
And get ensnared by words and letters.
Such people envy the accomplishments of others
And work feverishly to attain the same things.
Cling to truth and it becomes falsehood;
Understand falsehood and it becomes truth.
Truth and falsehood are two sides of a coin;
Neither accept nor reject either one.
Don't waste your precious time fruitlessly
Trying to gauge the depths of life's ups and downs.

~ Ryokan (1758-1831) (translated by John Stevens)