Chiyono’s Bucket

With this and that I tried to keep the bucket together,
and then the bottom fell out.
Where water does not collect,
the moon does not dwell

Virya Paramita: Perseverance

July 7, 2016

“So take advantage of this human boat, Free yourself from sorrow’s mighty stream! This vessel will be later hard to find. The time that you have now, you fool, is not for sleep!  Effort, diligence, zeal, perseverance…virya paramita, this particular oar of practice is translated in these ways.  Our natural tendency is to rely on […]

Vows & Practices: The Way of Council

March 10, 2016

With others, I received the teaching of The Three Tenets: Not Knowing, Bearing Witness, and Healing Action from Roshi Jishu Holmes and Roshi Bernie Gassman during the time I was studying for the ceremony of Jukai, receiving the Zen Peacemaker Bodhisattva Precepts. (See the teachings on Ethical Conduct.) About a year later , with others, I […]

Sila: Ethical Conduct II

March 7, 2016

The Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts Bodhisattva is the Sanskrit word for “enlightenment being”; in Mahayana Buddhism a bodhisattva is one seeking buddhahood through the practice of the perfections or paramitas. This practice is done not only for one’s own awakening but for the awakening of all beings. Through ever-deepening insight into his or her own selflessness, […]

Sila: Ethical Conduct I

March 5, 2016

Sila paramita is the practice of ethics or discipline. It is the paramita of the Zen Bodhisattva Precepts. So often we associate the word discipline with what we should not do. We  often associate it with restriction. There is some reality to that feeling.  We are agreeing to refrain from acting in certain ways, and […]

Dana: Generosity

March 5, 2016

Generosity is the whole of practice. All of the paramitas, all of the precepts are grounded in a generosity that is a great relinquishment. We let go of  the entrenched sense of personal self  which clouds our awareness of our union with all that there is.  There are endless opportunities to give  in our daily […]

The Practice of the Paramitas

March 5, 2016

We  use the word practice for the path we take as we live  more and more deeply into our humanity. We are guided on this path by the teachings of the Buddha and the many masters who followed him. We use the word practice because it is a deliberate path guided also by our desire, […]

Go Straight on a Road of 99 Curves

May 19, 2015

Life after life, birth after birth Never Falter. Do not let die the Wisdom seed of the Buddhas and Ancestors. Truly! I implore you! These are the last dharma words of Maezumi Roshi. This is the Inka poem for Roshi Bernie Glassman. Usually these words are private, only for the recipient, but because they were […]

Unmon’s Golden Wind

November 2, 2014

A monk asked Unmon, “What is it when the tree withers and the leaves fall?” Ummon said, “Body exposed in the golden wind.”   Many Zen communities gather together for a Golden Wind Sesshin at this time of year. The sheer beauty of the koan cannot be resisted just because “everybody does it”.   Trying not […]

Think neither good nor evil

March 12, 2014

In  Obai, the monastery of fifth Chinese ancestor, Daman Hongren, two well-known poems were written on the wall. One was Shenxiu’s, the senior monk. It says: The body is the tree of bodhi, The mind is like the stand of a bright mirror. Moment by moment wipe the mirror carefully, Never let dust collect on […]


January 10, 2014

“…flowers fall amid our longing and weeds spring up amid our antipathy…”