just be ordinary… Zen Master Linji

“Be sovereign wherever you are

and use that place as your seat of awakening”.

Master Linji

Zen: Be sovereign...: ::

“As I see it, there isn’t much to do. Just be ordinary – put on your robes, eat your food, and pass the time doing nothing.”

Master Linji, Teaching 18


Nothing To Do, Nowhere To Go

“Many of us have spent our whole lives learning, questioning, and searching.

” But even on the path of enlightenment, if all we do is study, we’re wasting our time and that of our teacher. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t study; study and practice help each other. But what’s important is not the goal we’re seeking—even if that goal is enlightenment—but living each moment of our daily life truly and fully. Continue reading

how to zen

Living zen. this list kindof reminds me of myself. besides the cooking and cleaning part. i am so zen! (Check out www.zenbedrooms.com for the complete Zen experience.):

Useful reminder.

Another favorite of mine is the Japanese term: “ichigyo zammai“. This translates as “one practice samadhi”, meaning everything you do is performed with a sense of your complete body-mind. In this way fragmentation of consciousness, one of the main reasons for suffering, is reduced or eliminated. The present moment then opens up and you begin to taste the depth of this NOW. Lately I hear these words: “ichigyo zammai” first thing after waking. A good way to start the day!

Continue reading

freedom and concentration – zen

breathing and freedom

breathing and freedom

“If you are concentrated on your breathing you will forget yourself, and if you forget yourself you will be concentrated on your breathing. I do not know which is first.”


Shunryu Suzuki


Our respiratory system is part of the involuntary nervous system and also of the voluntary nervous system. Therefore by breathing consciously with awareness we also affect our complete nervous system in a beneficial way. If our awareness is on our breathing there is no place for anything else and thus we experience relief from the hamster cage of our monkey mind. Continue reading

Let’s have a cup of tea! – Zen

Chinese drinking tea
This post contains a bit over two pages from the book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” – the Chapter “Single Minded Way”  by Shunryu Suzuki.
At the bottom of this post please find the YouTube video of this chapter read by Peter Coyote.


SINGLE-MINDED WAY:“Even if the sun were to rise from the west, the Bodhisattva has only one way.”

The purpose of my talk is not to give you some intellectual understanding, but just to express my appreciation of our Zen practice. To be able to sit with you in zazen is very, very unusual. Of course, whatever we do is unusual, because our life itself is so unusual. Buddha said, “To appreciate your human life is as rare as soil on your fingernail.” You know, dirt hardly ever sticks on your nail. Our human life is rare and wonderful; when I sit I want to remain sitting forever, but I encourage myself to have another practice, for instance to recite the sutra, or to bow. And when I bow, I think, “This is wonderful.” But I have to change my practice again to recite the sutra. So the purpose of my talk is to express my appreciation, that is all. Our way is not to sit to acquire something; it is to express our true nature. That is our practice. Continue reading

Zen: good and bad, man and woman, doing and not-doing

This post contains three pages from the book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki. These three pages, if brought into your life, will bring you depth and equanimity.

BREATHING “What we call I is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale.”

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Shunryu Suzuki:

Cover of "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind"

Cover of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

“When we practice zazen our mind always follows our breathing. When we inhale, the air comes into the inner world. When we exhale, the air goes out to the outer world. The inner world is limitless, and the outer world is also limitless. We say “inner world” or “outer world,” but actually there is just one whole world. In this limitless world, our throat is like a swinging door. The air comes in and goes out like someone passing through a swinging door. If you think, “I breathe,” the “I” is extra. There is no you to say “I.” What we call “I” is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. It just moves; that is all. When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no “I,” no world, no mind nobody; just a swinging door.
Continue reading

Form is form and you are you – Zen

This post contains a little over two pages from the book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”, the chapter NON-DUALISM, by Shunryu Suzuki.

At the bottom you will find the YouTube video of Peter Coyote reading this audio book.

(bold highlights are mine):


“To stop jour mind does not mean to stop the activities of mind. It means your mind pervades jour whole body. With your full mind you form the mudra in jour hands.”

We say our practice should be without gaining ideas, without any expectations, even of enlightenment. This does not mean, however, just to sit without any purpose. This practice free from gaining ideas is based on the Prajna Paramita Sutra.

However, if you are not careful the sutra itself will give you a gaining idea. It says, “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form.” But if you attach to that statement, you are liable to be involved in dualistic ideas: here is you, form, and here is emptiness, which you are trying to realize through your form.

Shunryu Suzuki 1

So “form is emptiness, and emptiness is form” is still dualistic. But fortunately, our teaching goes on to say, “Form is form and emptiness is emptiness.” Here there is no dualism. When you find it difficult to stop your mind while you are sitting and when you are still trying to stop your mind, this is the stage of “form is emptiness and emptiness is form.”

But while you are practicing in this dualistic way, more and more you will have oneness with your goal. And when your practice becomes effortless, you can stop your mind. This is the stage of “form is form and emptiness is emptiness.”

To stop your mind does not mean to stop the activities of mind. It means your mind pervades your whole body. Your mind follows your breathing. With your full mind you form the mudra in your hands. With your whole mind you sit with painful legs without being disturbed by them. This is to sit without any gaining idea. At first you feel some restriction in your posture, but when you are not disturbed by the restriction, you have found the meaning of “emptiness is emptiness and form is form.” So to find your own way under some restriction is the way of practice.

Practice does not mean that whatever you do, even lying down, is zazen. When the restrictions you have do not limit you, this is what we mean by practice. When you say, “Whatever I do is Buddha nature, so it doesn’t matter what I do, and there is no need to practice zazen,” that is already a dualistic understanding of our everyday life. If it really does not matter, there is no need for you even to say so. As long as you are concerned about what you do, that is dualistic. If you are not concerned about what you do, you will not say so. When you sit, you will sit. When you eat, you will eat. That is all. If you say, “It doesn’t matter,” it means that you are making some excuse to do something in your own way with your small mind. It means you are attached to some particular thing or way. That is not what we mean when we say, “Just to sit is enough,” or “Whatever you do is zazen.” Of course whatever we do is zazen, but if so, there is no need to say it.

When you sit, you should just sit without being disturbed by your painful legs or sleepiness. That is zazen. But at first it is very difficult to accept things as they are. You will be annoyed by the feeling you have in your practice. When you can do everything, whether it is good or bad, without disturbance or without being annoyed by the feeling, that is actually what we mean by “form is form and emptiness is emptiness.”

When you suffer from an illness like cancer, and you realize you cannot live more than two or three years, then seeking something upon which to rely, you may start practice. One person may rely on the help of God. Someone else may start the practice of zazen. His practice will be concentrated on obtaining emptiness of mind. That means he is trying to be free from the suffering of duality. This is the practice of “form is emptiness and emptiness is form.” Because of the truth of emptiness, he wants to have the actual realization of it in his life. If he practices in this way, believing and making an effort, it will help him, of course, but it is not perfect practice.

Knowing that your life is short, to enjoy it day after day, moment after moment, is the life of “form is form, and emptiness emptiness.” When Buddha comes, you will welcome him; when the devil comes, you will welcome him. The famous Chinese Zen master Ummon, said, “Sun-faced Buddha and moon-faced Buddha.” When he was ill, someone asked him, “How are you?” And he answered, “Sun-faced Buddha and moon-faced Buddha.” That is the life of “form is form and emptiness is emptiness.” There is no problem. One year of life is good. One hundred years of life are good. If you continue our practice, you will attain this stage.

At first you will have various problems, and it is necessary for you to make some effort to continue our practice. For the beginner, practice without effort is not true practice.

For the beginner, the practice needs great effort. Especially for young people, it is necessary to try very hard to achieve something. You must stretch out your arms and legs as wide as they will go. Form is form. You must be true to your own way until at last you actually come to the point where you see it is necessary to forget all about yourself. Until you come to this point, it is completely mistaken to think that whatever you do is Zen or that it does not matter whether you practice or not. But if you make your best effort just to continue your practice with your whole mind and body, without gaining ideas, then whatever you do will be true practice.

Just to continue should be your purpose. When you do something, just to do it should be your purpose. Form is form and you are you, and true emptiness will be realized in your practice.





Wonderful Moment: Thich Nhat Hanh

This is one short but very valuable passage from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Be Free Where You Are. I have been practicing this way for quite a while and I can confirm that it is one of the most effective, as well as simple meditations which can be done continually throughout the day. I very often do it when in bed for the night to calm the energy of the day and open me up to a restful night’s sleep. Enjoy! Continue reading

The Energy of Liberation


Be Free Where You Are, Thich Nhat Hanh:


For Warmth

Dear Friends, I wrote the following poem during the war in Vietnam after the town of Ben Tre was bombed by the United States Air Force. Ben Tre is the hometown of my colleague, Sister Chân Không. The U.S. forces destroyed the entire town because there were five or six guerrillas there. Later on, one officer declared that he had to bomb and destroy Ben Tre to save it from Communism.

This poem is about anger. Continue reading

Fear of Silence

“While we can connect to others more readily than ever before, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh worries that we’re losing our connection to body and mind. He offers a nourishing conscious breathing practice as a remedy.”

(source – original post: http://www.tricycle.com/blog/fear-silence)

Thich Nhat Hanh:

I have the impression that many of us are afraid of silence. We’re always taking in something—text, music, radio, television, or thoughts—to occupy the space. If quiet and space are so important for our happiness, why don’t we make more room for them in our lives? Continue reading

Being the Boss

Here are some of the key statements from Shunryu Suzuki’s talk on “Being the Boss”:

“…what Buddha meant was that mountains, trees, flowing water, flowers and plants—everything as it is—is the way Buddha is.”

“…the way each thing exists is not to be understood by itself in its own realm of consciousness.

“…when we just are—each just existing in his own way —we are expressing Buddha himself.” Continue reading