the jade thread enters the golden needle


Shikantaza and Silent Illumination

I have chosen some passages from master Sheng-yen’s lecture, which is in full below. These passages are the ones that are most relevant for me in my practice at present. You will find the entire lecture under these excerpts.


You are very clear about the state of your body and mind.

You reach a point where the mind does not move and yet is very clear. That unmoving mind is “silent,” and that clarity of mind is “illumination.” This is the meaning of “silent illumination.”

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non-thinking – the koan

Shikan Taza



Below is Koan 129 from Dogen’s collection of 300 Koans that goes into “non-thinking” in relation to thinking/not-thinking. First you find “The Main Case” which has, at the end of each line a footnote number. After “The Commentary” and “The Capping Verse” there are “The Footnotes” by John Daido Loori, to which the numbers refer.  Below the footnotes I have included John Daido Loori’s Contemporary Commentary on Dogen’s text. Enjoy! Continue reading

avoid offending anyone you face

The Bright, Boundless Field

The field of boundless emptiness is what exists from the very beginning. You must purify, cure, grind down, or brush away all the tendencies you have fabricated into apparent habits. Then you can reside in the clear circle of brightness. Utter emptiness has no image, upright independence does not rely on anything. Just expand and illuminate the original truth unconcerned by external conditions.

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life begins where thought ends


This statement could be taken as referring to temporal sequence: first this happens and then that happens. However the word “where” gives us the clue: both life and thought are happening simultaneously. However, if we get the sense of our field of perception actually as a field, like a corn or rice field, then we may find one thing happening in one corner of the field and something else happening somewhere else in the same field. That is the case with our field of perception.  Let’s say: thought = the mind pulling up impressions of past events and based on those memories evaluating what is happening now and then creating an image. This image is then the basis for a slightly modified image of some future event as the progression from the present event. The mind is caught in a loop of its own images. Continue reading

delusion and realization


Those who have great realization of delusion are buddhas;

This statement from Genjo Koan says that all we can do is to see what is false and to see where we have been deluded and have deluded ourselves. To begin to fathom the extent to which we have entertained concepts about our existence in place of direct perception of our reality is a key to awakening. Out basic belief about who and what we are is based on a concept which is a thought-form that we have subscribed to. Continue reading

Reincarnation, Karma and Presence

Eckhart TolleEckhart Tolle, Ramana and the Zen Master Dogen

The following statements by these gentlemen on the topics of reincarnation, karma and presence reflect my own views. Many years ago as a young man I had a vision of great magnitude in which I was standing on a wide path, a road, which came spiraling up from below. It was like an endless funnel and this road, this path, was spiraling around and up the inside of this funnel-like landscape. I recognized it as the path of time and of myriad past human generations. As I gazed mesmerized by the sheer magnitude of this scenario, someone on the opposite side of this ‘inverted mountain’ waved to me. In that moment I waved in return and recognized that the one ‘over there’ was me in another life. Continue reading

Krishnamurti and Dogen: The Movement of Discontinuity and The Trap of Neediness

There is a Movement of Discontinuity

This short excerpt on J Krishnamurti’s understanding of the movement of discontinuity reveals to me how much my view is conditioned by that which apparently continues from one moment to the next. I see my wife and the mental/emotional habit is to see her as the one I know and have known for some years now. It is the same with most everything in my life; I take it for granted that most things will be as they were the last time I encountered them. Continue reading

Zen: Right Communication

Right Attitude, Negative and Positive – Shunryu Suzuki

white_stone_on_the_sand_1920x1200“The more you understand our thinking, the more you find it difficult to talk about it. The purpose of my talking is to give you some idea of our way, but actually, it is not something to talk about, but something to practice. The best way is just to practice without saying anything. When we talk about our way, there is apt to be some misunderstanding, because the true way always has at least two sides, the negative and the positive. When we talk about the negative side, the positive side is missing, and when we talk about the positive side, the negative side is missing. Continue reading

Zen Meditation


As the name Zen implies, Zen sitting meditation is the core of Zen practice and is called zazen in Japanese (Chinese tso-chan [Wade-Giles] or zuòchán [Pinyin]). During zazen, practitioners usually assume a sitting position such as the lotus, half-lotus, Burmese, or seiza postures. To regulate the mind, awareness is directed towards counting or watching the breath or put in the energy center below the navel (Chinese dan tian, Japanese tanden or hara). Continue reading

Zen: CO N T R O L

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

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

“To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him.”

To live in the realm of Buddha nature means to die as a small being, moment after moment. When we lose our balance we die, but at the same time we also develop ourselves, we grow. Whatever we see is changing, losing its balance. The reason everything looks beautiful is because it is out of balance, but its background is always in perfect harmony. Continue reading