How to walk on water

Three monks sat by a lake, deep in meditation. One stood up and said, “I’ve forgotten my mat.” Stepping on to the waters before him, he walked across to the other side, where their small hut stood. When he returned, the second monk said, “I just remembered I haven’t dried my washed clothes.” He too, strode calmly across the water to …

Feeling enlightened

One day the Master announced that a young monk had reached an advanced state of enlightenment. The news caused some stir. Some of the monks went to see the young monk. “We heard you are enlightened. Is that true?” they asked. “It is,” he replied. “And how do you feel?” “As miserable as ever,” said the monk

Cycle of birth and death

People normally think of death as the end of everything. But according to Buddhism, our life does not begin only at the moment of birth; and death too, does not imply the end of everything. If life was as simple as this, then this would encourage us to fritter away our time with no purpose. Actually, we existed before we …

Find your sanctuary within

A sanctuary is a place that restores us, nourishes us and give us a sense of peace. It’s a place where, no matter how bad our day has become, we can go, can be ourself, can be safe from the forces outside–where we can feel grounded, unhurried, and renewed. But how many of us can stop in the middle of …

The way of the birds

A monk said to Tozan, “You always tell learners to take the way of the birds. What is this way of the birds?” Tozan answered, “The bird flying across the sky leaves no footprints. This is called The Way of the Birds — simply disappearing into the nothingness of sky, without leaving a trace behind. Zen wants you to be …

Thich Nhat Hanh has 91st birthday

Today (Oct. 12, 2017) is Thich Nhat Hanh’s 91st birthday. “Thay,” as he is called by his fellow monks, suffered a severe stroke 4 years ago and cannot express himself fully anymore. But he has already expressed himself just fine, having written about 100 books and given thousands of lectures around the country. Here’s hoping his next 91 years are …

Finding God in an artificial world

When we were young we were told there was a God (capital G) who made all things and who knew everything we did and thought. It was a scary prospect but we were told if we didn’t believe it some pretty somber things were going happen to us, so not believing wasn’t an option. As got into our teens we …

A life of single-tasking

Zen teaches us to never multitask, always focus on just one thing at a time. We now have scientific evidence that multitasking doesn’t even exist. The brain cannot focus on more than one thing, so rather than multitasking we are actually “switch-tasking,” swapping the contents of our minds in and out at a rapid pace. This defeats our concentration and …

The discovery of Zen

The ancients found that thoughts are powerful things. They learned that good thoughts and bad are equally potent. Some of them were persistently curious enough to learn that when they re-positioned their thoughts, they could eliminate physical, as well as mental, intrusion. This took practice. They began to devote themselves to a system of meditation that cleared their thinking of …

The virtue of being useless

A certain carpenter was traveling with his helper when they came to a town where a giant oak tree filled the square. It was huge, with many limbs spreading out, and its shade covered the entire square. The helper was amazed at the potential lumber contained in this one tree but the carpenter passed it by with a mere glance. …