How one man learned to concentrate

A warlord once stopped at a monastery on his way home from a successful military campaign to visit the abbot who was an old teacher of his. As the abbot and the warlord sat in the courtyard pleasantly chatting and drinking tea, they were distracted by an argument between a novice and a senior monk. The novice was complaining that …

Enlightened Virtue

Mingjiao said: Nothing is more honorable than enlightenment, nothing is more beautiful than virtue. Those who have enlightened virtue have it even though they be ordinary people, while those who lack enlightened virtue lack it even though they be kings. There were some people who starved to death in ancient times but have been admired ever since for their virtue; …

How to practice zazen

Science shows that people who practice zazen, or Zen meditation, gain many proven benefits. These include increased attention span, self-confidence, and self-discipline; better management of fear and anger; and a greater ability to feel genuine joy, compassion, and gratitude. “But mostly,” says Karen Maezen Miller, a Zen Buddhist priest, “zazen is entirely personal. Only you can experience this transformation for yourself.” Maezen …

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 …