Curiosity and Concentration

I have taught concentration and the instructions to focus your mind for many, many years.  I have taught this to myself and others.  These instructions of course were coming from my point of view.  In self-reflection and in hindsight, I see that I have taught concentration and changing habits with a lot of will-power or … Continue reading Curiosity and Concentration

A “Health Sesshin”

When I most appreciate my practice is when I’m facing a personal difficulty, particularly when it concerns my health. It seems like ill-health brings up my worst fears and anxiety. Especially it brings up that inevitably fact that human beings die. My ego and thought patterns particularly don’t like that. My ordinary mind thinks of … Continue reading A “Health Sesshin”

Beyond thought.#2

During rohatsu sesshin, I worked with the gate gate mantra. I got this explanation from Dan Brown who is a Tibetan teacher and i have really enjoyed contemplating it:   Let’s work with “beyond thought”. this is part of the three bases under samadhi. Learning to concentrate is one of the essential tasks. Can we … Continue reading Beyond thought.#2

The Two Absorptions

I was in the airport today, looking around at people’s faces. What I saw were faces of minds filled with stories. Each person’s mind filled up with their activity and spinning with their happiness and difficulties. I looked at my own mind. I thought to myself, could I wait for the plane and have a … Continue reading The Two Absorptions

Exhaling and dissolving.

Here are some quotes from Suzuki Roshi in “Not Always So” (chapter: Calmness of Mind) that emphasize working with the exhale while meditating: “Calmness of mind is beyond the end of your exhalation. If you exhale smoothly, without even trying to exhale, you are entering into the complete perfect calmness of your mind. You do … Continue reading Exhaling and dissolving.

Master of our Minds

Who is this person who can be master in any place and meet the source in everything?  Book of Serenity, pointer Case 4. Though I generally don’t like to use the word “master,” in contemplating this pointer I have liked the idea that I “own” or “master” my own mind through the practice of concentration. … Continue reading Master of our Minds

Shikantaza and Jijuyu Zanmai

Shikantaza (just sitting) and Jijuyu Zanmai (self-fulfillment Samadhi) In order to understand jijuyu zanmai, (self-receiving oneness Samadhi) one has to understand the underlying principle of shikantaza. as presented by Dogen Zenji.   Jijuyu Zanmai may be translated ji-as self or in oneself, ju-to receive or accept, and Yu-to use, work or function in concentrated union.  … Continue reading Shikantaza and Jijuyu Zanmai

Right Effort and Letting Go

In practice, we are always dealing with the tone and depth of our awareness. First, of course, is the question: are we aware of what’s going on at all? In the beginning, this requires quite a bit of effort to bring the mind to the present. We need to have reminders everywhere and different types … Continue reading Right Effort and Letting Go

Watering the good seeds

Spiritual practice is a little easier when things are going well, right? It’s easier to be loving, centered and peaceful when the world is favorable. But when the world is on the wrong side of the 8 worldly winds: Pleasure and pain Gain and loss Success and failure Praise and blame When we are on … Continue reading Watering the good seeds


As we practice, we begin to change our basis of operation in our minds. We practice interrupting our self-centered desire system that produces our decisions and actions and open up to a mind-ground that has quite a different perspective. As our understanding of the truth of reality opens, our minds can be connected to the … Continue reading Mind-ground

Awakened Awareness

It seems that we get sidetracked in practice in many ways. Buddha said that he was the “awakened one.” Thich Nhat Hanh calls it mindfulness in every moment. Katagiri Roshi explains that enlightenment is subject and object merged in every moment that arises. It is a very rare and concentrated person who is able to … Continue reading Awakened Awareness

The Two Truths

The two truths, the absolute and relative truths, which we speak of in Buddhist pedagogy, are a linguistic skilfull means to help teach, actually, the opposite. We want to be able to express “oneness” and “twoness” as a complete dynamic happening in the present moment. However we try to speak of this, we end up … Continue reading The Two Truths

Dragon Stability

“Dragon stability is a technical term for stabilization so profound that it is not destabilized by activity in the world. The image comes from the idea that a dragon is physically an animal yet mentally dwells in an elevated state. Thus it is used to represent the Mahayana Buddhist ideal of transcending the world while … Continue reading Dragon Stability