View from a moving train

By Jakusho Kwong Roshi Whenever I give a talk, the listeners and I may find ourselves in a paradoxical situation: as words and phrases can often become abstractions, I try to explain something that can’t be explained, and the listeners try to hear something that can’t be heard. Since by necessity this is the situation, we can sympathize with each other—me …

Big day for vegetables

There were two Zen temples; each had a child protégé. One child going to obtain vegetables each morning would meet the other on the way. ‘Where are you going?’ asked the one. ‘I am going wherever my feet go.’ the other responded. This reply puzzled the first child who went to his teacher for help. ‘Tomorrow morning,’ the teacher told …

Have a cup of tea

JOSHU asked a monk who appeared for the first time in the hall, “Have I ever seen you here before?” The monk answered, “No sir, you have not.” “Then have a cup of tea,” said Joshu. He turned to another monk. “Have I ever seen you here before?” he said. “Yes sir, of course you have,” said the second monk. …

The attic of your mind

The philosopher Blase Pascal once wrote that “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” On the face of it this seems like it would be so easy to do. It’s similar to Zen meditation, which is often described as “just sitting.” Easiest thing in the world, right? If so, then why do …

The Lantern that Couldn’t

In early times in Japan, people used bamboo-and-paper lanterns with candles inside to see at night. A blind man, visiting a friend one night was offered a lantern to carry home with him. ‘I don’t need a lantern,’ he said. Darkness or light is all the same to me’ ‘I know you don’t need a lantern to find your way,’ …

The Pure Land of the Present Moment

There is a land that exists outside of space and time where you can go on a second’s notice. It puts you at peace and removes and your stress. The flowers and trees are beautiful. It costs nothing. It’s called The Pure Land of the Present Moment. None other than Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh explains how to get there …

Be Like the Wind

You get your inspiration wherever you find it. In my case, it happened on my morning walk. I stopped along the lake to watch a mother duck lead her young ones away from me. I was hypnotized by their movement, by the way they all ducked their heads into the water at the same time, as if a mental signal …

The Tale of the Spider

A Tibetan story tells of a meditation student who, while meditating in his room, believed he saw a spider descending in front of him. Each day the menacing creature returned, growing larger and larger each time. So frightened was the student, that he went to his teacher to report his dilemma. He said he planned to place a knife in …

The peace inside you

There is a place of peace inside you that is unaffected by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. It is not affected by the highs of worldly achievement. It is calm, pure, whole, and unswerving. Nothing anyone says to you or about you can dampen it. No financial ups or downs can move it. No heady falling in love …

The Lion and the Fox

A certain man prayed continually for the awareness to succeed in life. Then one night he dreamed of going into the forest to attain understanding. The next morning he went into the woods and wandered for several hours looking for some sign that would provide answers. When he finally stopped to rest, he saw a fox with no legs lying …