On Bodhisattva-Questions

Those who submit questions to the “Ask Me Anything” section of this blog should read the post of February 3: “On Submitting Questions to this Blog”. By submitting a question, you are agreeing to the conditions stated therein for public reply (minus personal identifying information). Anyone with any doubts about how this all works are welcome to consult the book, Only Don’t Know: The Teaching Letters of Zen Master Seung Sahn (Boston: Shambhala, 1999). In fact, anyone with any interest whatsoever in the teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn (Dae Soen Sa Nim) or my teaching lineage would be well helped by the priceless teachings contained therein. (Full disclosure: I receive no financial compensation for that text, but you can be a Jeff Bezos of the Dharma Realms as result of it.)

Crouching Tiger

For some reason, this has always been one of my favorite photos of Dae Soen Sa Nim. It might be because, unlike photos taken during public talks and appearances, this really captures in raw form the energy you encountered when you entered the room for a private kong-an interview. (Or when you’d been called to his room to present a personal issue in private, or receive guidance.) A terse, laser-like focus, a crouching ferocity, holding back until some weakness appears (i.e., unclear thinking) on the part of his unsuspecting prey; the eyes baleful like a hungry tiger, but not in

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We Are the Robots

The classic… Я твой слугаЯ твой работник We’re charging our batteryAnd now we’re full of energyWe are the robotsWe are the robotsWe are the robotsWe are the robots We’re functioning automaticAnd we are dancing mechanicWe are the robotsWe are the robotsWe are the robotsWe are the robots Я твой слугаЯ твой работникЯ твой слугаЯ твой работник We are programmed just to doAnything you want us toWe are the robotsWe are the robotsWe are the robotsWe are the robots We’re functioning automaticAnd we are dancing mechanicWe are the robotsWe are the robotsWe are the robotsWe are the robots Я твой слугаЯ

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Rumi’s “Why Stand at the Edge of the River? Enter the Boundless Sea!”

One of our Zen Center Regensburg members in Munich, Frau L., sent me yesterday by WhatsApp this photo of a glorious poem by Rumi which speaks perfectly – – as everything Rumi speaks — to the basic work of Zen, or “waking up”: Here is my WhatsApp reply: Thank you so, so much for sending this! What a powerful teaching this is! “Free yourself from the bondage of six dimensions“ — The six dimensions are: the seeing-dimension, the hearing-dimension, the smelling-dimension, the tasting-dimension, the bodily-sensation dimension, and the dimension of the thinking-mind. In Rumi, as in Buddhism, there are these

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How Does Matter Give Rise to Consciousness?

I saw this explanation by Sam Harris when it came out less than one year ago, and thought it an excellent tool for presenting the matter to people who wonder why there are those who feel so strongly about the need for meditation. It was so incredibly gratifying to see such a clear and accessible way for people to begin to grasp the fundamental issue of mind. He basically restates the essential teaching of the Avatamsakka Sutra: “If you wish to understand the nature of the whole universe, you must perceive that everything is created by mind alone.” But what

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Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday. As someone who was raised Catholic, and even began the preliminary steps to take ordination in the Catholic Church, this is a profoundly meaningful and essential day. But the uses to which this day is put by the cult of belief that grew up around the teachings of Jesus, and the uses to which it might be put by Buddhist teaching and practice, could not be farther apart. Ash Wednesday in the Christian calendar is this remembrance of death: we come from dust and we return to dust. “Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust” is intoned

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Two Relationships

Whenever someone really couldn’t seem to get a certain teaching, no matter how much he repeated its importance to them — and if they persisted in their mistake that was already bringing suffering to themselves and others — Dae Soen Sa Nim would often mutter, “Well, for that person, more suffering is necessary.”

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