Friday, 31 January 2020


385. Without enlightenment-realization ordinary mind is deluded mind. As the saying goes, 'before enlightenment, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers; with enlightenment, mountains are not mountains and rivers are not rivers; after enlightenment, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers'.

Sunday, 26 January 2020


384. Asked 'What is the Way?' Master Nansen replies very succinctly, 'Ordinary Mind is the Way'. If Joshu was as surprised and puzzled as perhaps many of us are by this answer, he does not show it for he straightaway asks another question about searching for this 'Ordinary Mind'. But unlike the young Joshu we might need to take some time to puzzle over what is meant by 'Ordinary Mind'.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020


383. Case 19 of the Mumonkan tells the story of an encounter between a young Joshu and his master Nansen. Not long after entering the monastery in his late teens Joshu goes to his master with what is surely a most important opening question for someone new to the monastic life and the practice of Zen. And so he asks, 'What is the Way?' It is a very serious question and akin to the question a certain young man put to Jesus, saying, 'What must I do to gain eternal life?' The English expression 'the Way' translates the Chinese Tao, which entered the Zen lexicon from Taoism. The Taoist vocabulary was an important source for the acculturation of Dhyana Buddhism brought to China from India by Bodhidharma early in the sixth century CE. But it has a wider reference. The early believers in Jesus were called 'followers of the Way'. So, what is the Way?

Wednesday, 8 January 2020


382. The second of the FOUR GREAT VOWS goes like this: 'Though delusive passions and thoughts rise endlessly, I vow to turn them around'. Our question is: are all thoughts delusive?

Wednesday, 1 January 2020


381. A thoughtless remark is the demonstration of a lack of something that belongs to what is properly human. The quality of being thoughtful is rightly prized. So what are we to make of directives that would have us cut off the mind road by sweeping away thoughts?