Sunday, 23 June 2019


337. Does one need to be a Buddhist in order to practise Zen? Here a distinction can be made between the religion of Zen Buddhism and Zen spirituality. The spirituality of Zen, while it is based in Buddhism, and uses Buddhist symbols and rituals, is not identified with the Buddhist religion. Rather, it uses symbols and rituals freely to practise a spirituality of radical detachment. The Zen practitioner walks free of all labels. 

Saturday, 15 June 2019


336. A Zen master's lineage is 'a special transmission outside the Scriptures'. For that which is transmitted passes from heart-mind to heart-mind, in the mutual recognition of master and disciple. And what passes from heart-mind to heart-mind is 'not dependent on words and letters'. Rather, it 'points directly to the heart-mind' that is transmitted. In this pointing, one 'sees into one's true nature', a 'nature that is no nature', and thus 'one's Buddhahood is realized'.

Friday, 14 June 2019


335. How accurate is a master's lineage chart? Everything depends on our meaning of accuracy here. Perhaps it is historically accurate for only four or five generations. After that it might be more a matter of which masters in the past the present generation most identifies with. Who would vouch for the historicity of the twenty eight Indian patriarchs?

Wednesday, 12 June 2019


334. Lineage is important in Zen. A Zen master teaches within a line of enlightened masters that is said to go back to the historical Buddha. In the Mumonkan there is a koan that tells how Shakyamuni Buddha started the Zen lineage when he held up a flower before the assembled monks and no one responded except for Kashyapa who gave a delighted smile. There upon the Buddha announced that he was entrusting his Dharma to Kashyapa. This heart-mind to heart-mind transmission of the Buddha's Dharma has passed from master to disciple down through the ages until the present day. Needless to say, this is a myth, but a myth that is the bearer of an important truth that each Zen practitioner must realise for him or herself.


333. Words are used to tell us that 'the Way is beyond language '. It's important then not to dismiss them just because they can be abused. Words used with skill and care can constitute a powerful reality. So while the Zen Buddhist will practise a 'noble silence', he or she will often enter that silence via the passage way of words. 

Sunday, 9 June 2019


332. 'Words! The Way is beyond language.' While realizing the limitations of words we yet use them to point to the Way. The danger, of course, is our stubborn tendency to mistake 'the pointing finger for the moon '.

Sunday, 2 June 2019


331. Traveling:

1. alone with my thoughts --
     nothing special going on
      in this floating world.

2.  alone in the night --
      surrender to the embrace
      of the silent dark.