From the friends and members of ZBOHY

Welcome to Exploring  Chán.  We offer information on the study and practice of Chán (Zen), Chinese Buddhism's long evolving mystical tradition. Chán can be practiced by anyone, Buddhist or non-Buddhist, religious or non-religious, alike.  The practice of Chán offers different things to different people. Some describe Chán as helping to deepen our understanding of the nature of existence and the essence of being. Others consider it a means of salvation: a practice which brings us out of a state of suffering by showing us our Essential Self.

We hope you find something useful, if not inspiring, in the writings, poetry, and visual arts we present in these pages, offered by the friends and members of the Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun (ZBOHY).  In the spirit of Chán, we take no money, give no advertisements, and offer nothing more than the thoughts and arts from our readers and travelers. 

If you would like to become involved in our community, feel free to register.  You will have access to additional pages, our discussion board, and be able to share your own writings, poetry, or art.

      -- Chuan Zhi, December 2014

 

Latest Posts

 

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The Three Jewels

The Three Jewels

by Chuan Zhi

April 08, 2015

Long hard road, Zen

Long hard road, Zen

by Upasaka Fa Jin

March 29, 2015

Selected Poetry of Fa Xing

Selected Poetry of Fa Xing

by Fa Xing

January 30, 2015

From Temples to Tea

From Temples to Tea

by Fa Xing

January 29, 2015

The Chán Priest

The Chán Priest

by Chuan Zhi

January 25, 2015

Be true Be one Self

Be true Be one Self

by Fa Tian

January 01, 2015

Awakening the Idiōtēs

Awakening the Idiōtēs

by Fa Jian

December 02, 2014

The Art and Poetry of John Stubbs

The Art and Poetry of John Stubbs

by John Stubbs

November 14, 2014

Trapped

Trapped

by Chuan Zhi

November 03, 2014

Introductory Topics

Contemporary perspectives on the ancient mystical tradition of Chán.
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Exploring Chán

Exploring Chán

by Chuan Zhi

Chán offers an exploration into the nature of being. For those of us treading its path, it involves discarding our opinions and feelings about things, it involves detachment, introspection, and contemplation. Getting to the place where we are able to slow down the churning, chaotic, mind enough to explore the...

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Delving Into Dharma

Delving Into Dharma

by Chuan Zhi

If there is one word with which we can summarize the beauty of Buddhist thought, that word is Dharma. We cannot read a book about Buddhism without encountering this term, yet its definition is as slippery as its appearance is ubiquitous. In which sense is Master Han Shan using it...

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And Still the Buddha Smiles

And Still the Buddha Smiles

by Fa Che Shakya

THE FLOWER SERMON: Toward the end of his life, the Buddha took his disciples to a quiet pond for instruction. As they had done so many times before, the Buddha's followers sat in a small circle around him, and waited for the teaching. But this time the Buddha had no words. He...

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No Mind? Really?

No Mind? Really?

by Fa Gong Shakya

A couple of weeks ago a friend came to me to discuss problems she was having in her meditation practice. She was quite distraught at what she felt was her hopeless progress, and she despaired she'd ever get the hang of it. When I asked...

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Awakening the Idiōtēs

Awakening the Idiōtēs

by Fa Jian

Chán has much to do with unlearning. It teaches us how to let go of concepts we have acquired over our life. It helps us become simpler and more direct in our approach to experiencing reality and to exist in the here and now.   Our mind dwells rarely in the present...

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Perspectives on Zen

Perspectives on Zen

by Chuan Zhi

Inevitably, in the course of the life of a Zen Buddhist, someone will ask us “What is Zen”?  The simple answer is, of course, it’s the mystical branch of Chinese/ Japanese/ Korean/ Vietnamese (choose one) Buddhism.  When I’ve explained it this way I usually get blank stares, and for a...

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Suffering: the Gateway to Transformation

Suffering:  the Gateway to Transformation

by Chuan Zhi

We cannot discover Chan without the precondition of suffering.  Some people think that this is a pessimistic view, or a perverted view, of a practice (meditation) that can be done by anyone, and that suffering is in no way a precondition.   To them, I say that sitting quietly using the...

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Masters of Maya

Masters of Maya

by Fa Shen

The tools with which we are born and with which we come to know the world are our five sense organs - our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin. We often say that our eyes look out upon the world. But what intrigues me is that it isn't so much...

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Autobiography and Maxims of Master Han Shan

Autobiography and Maxims of Master Han Shan

by Master Han Shan

Translated by Upasaka Richard Cheung A publication made possible for this Website by Chuan Yi Shakya and by Chuan Yin Shakya   The Autobiography and Maxims of Han Shan423.79 KB26/01/2012, 12:43        

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Experience Chan!

Experience Chan!

by Chuan Zhi

Within each of us resides an essence that remains hidden - an aspect of ourselves that hides in the unconscious. It hides because of our ego's fear of it. Its aspect is wisdom, understanding, compassion. Do we remain closed within our shells, living in the ego-world where our actions are...

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Freedom from Ego's Entanglements

by Yin Cheng, OHY

When we meditate we cannot have a self-serving purpose, True meditation in its many forms will not suffer the ego's presence. There can be no "I will" or "I can" or "I shall." There can be no cleverly concealed aim, a transference from "I" to "it." The material world -...

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Forgiveness

Forgiveness

by Fa Liang, OHY

We are all human. If we are honest with ourselves we'll recognize that we all say and do things that cause pain to others as well as to ourselves. It's the feelings within that reflexively lead us to act and speak in hurtful ways. The fear, negativity, and blame we...

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Upon Awakening in the Morning

by Chuan Kong, OHY

Have you ever wondered how it is that you always wake up in the morning as yourself and not someone else? As you awaken all the incidentals come crowding in: all the things you have to do today; all the places you have to be; what you are expected to...

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"Why is Zen so pessimistic?"

"Why is Zen so pessimistic?"

by Chuan Zhi

Buddhism is about the discovery of our own potential: it's about beauty, and about love. Buddhism embraces mankind's quest for knowledge in all its many manifestations: spiritual knowledge, scientific knowledge, knowledge of art and music, but most of all, knowledge of Self: knowledge of who we are as opposed to...

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The Refuge of No-Refuge

The Refuge of No-Refuge

by Fa Dong Shakya

The seeker trudges slowly up the mountain through the mists, not sure which path to take. He takes one path only to find that it dead-ends around a few large trees, forcing him to go back and take a different route. The weather, as he rises higher, becomes colder and...

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On Death and Dying - A (very personal) Zen perspective

On Death and Dying - A (very personal) Zen perspective

by Fa Zhang Shakya

D eath is the Great Teacher, the Great Equalizer. Death claims the rich as well as the poor, it fells the powerful just as swiftly as the powerless. Death teaches us how precious life is, and brings into painful focus the precariousness of our sense of self. Death is also the...

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Home is where one starts from

Home is where one starts from

by Fa Che

Home is where one starts from. -- T.S Elliot We all long to be home, to be safe and secure. Our lives however, feel anything but protected. We instead face the constant vulnerability of change and a sometimes quiet, but always persistent, thirst that is never quenched. Trying to...

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Just Who Am I?

Just Who Am I?

by Yin De Shakya

Each of us has a narrator in our head. An internal voice that we call “me”. And most of us assume that this narrator is real. We assume that it’s our true self. Some believe it’s the thing which inhabits the body and the brain rather than something that arises...

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The Lion's Roar

The Lion's Roar

by Fa Gong Shakya

I have only a poor understanding of economics, though I have always had an interest in the political and philosophical values and assumptions that underpin the various processes involved. I remember being struck, when first introduced to the basic principles of Buddhism, how utterly and diametrically opposed they were to the capitalist values and...

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Suffering: Zen and the Four Noble Truths

Suffering: Zen and the Four Noble Truths

by Chuan Zhi

Suffering is integral to the Zen path. It is, in fact, a prerequisite. Zen is not an easy path and we must be highly motivated in order to travel it. In physics as in Zen, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. No human being wants to suffer. All...

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Undeniable Self, Deniable self

Undeniable Self, Deniable self

by Chuan Zhi

What is the nature of Self? In Chan, the answer is a spiritual one, dependent on self-reflection, and one that cannot come fully until we achieve a degree of spiritual awareness. In the secular domain, we can investigate Self in terms of what it is not - it is not...

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The Compass and the Ego

The Compass and the Ego

by Fa Chao Shakya

A compass is a navigational instrument with a magnetized pointer that aligns itself with the earth's magnetic field, always pointing north. We have used the compass for millennia to find our way. It's been used by seafarers, explorers, and travellers alike to help get from one place to another. When...

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Non-Discrimination and the Chan Mind

by Chuan Kong, OHY

Discriminating is a fundamental aspect of being human. Everything we do is a choice based on discrimination between one thing or another, or between one thing and a thousand others. The collection of choices we each make is unique to each of us. Sometimes our choices are based on our...

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FAQ for FJ and CR

FAQ for FJ and CR

by Chuan Zhi

  FJ: Buddhists seek refuge in the Buddha. Do people of other religions seek refuge?   What does it mean to “seek refuge”?  A refuge is a place where we can go for comfort, where we know we won’t be harmed.  Where we can rest and recuperate from the hardships of life.  It’s...

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FAQ for PG

FAQ  for  PG

by Chuan Zhi

Preface: We have never offered an official Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on this website, as the number and variety of questions we receive are too numerous and broad. Everyone has a different set of questions. The many writings available on this website will, however, answer the vast majority of...

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The Monk, The Man and the Fish

by Fa Dao, OHY

A solitary monk was carrying a large fish to his home to prepare it for his meal. As he walked along the path, a man approached from the other direction. As he reached hailing distance, the man called out “Hey monk! I see you coming! What...

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Cracking the Fortress of Delusion

Cracking the Fortress of Delusion

by Chuan Zhi

"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one." - Charles MacKay (Author of- Extraordinary Popular Delusions &The Madness of Crowds) Once upon a time a young turtle happened upon an...

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The Circle of Life and Death

The Circle of Life and Death

by Chuan Zhi

My first encounter with a Zen teacher happened when I was in my late twenties. Zen had been an interest of mine for nearly a decade before this chance encounter with a person of Zen. I had never thought seriously about actually DOING Zen, but I liked reading the philosophies...

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Trapped

Trapped

by Chuan Zhi

Some years ago I met a woman in her early sixties who told me she had been doing Zen for over forty years.  She told me the number of hours she had meditated throughout those years, a number somewhere in the thousands, and seemed proud for having attained such...

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Empty Zendo

Empty Zendo

by Fa Guang

How many times have you heard, "living in the moment?" The expression is fashionable now. I hear it everywhere, and see it within or on the back of at least sixty percent of the self-help and psychology books in every book store I visit. It's a "truism" I suppose, but...

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The Fast Way to Chan

The Fast Way to Chan

by Chuan Zhi

Many spiritual seekers get frustrated as they become lost in the myriad approaches to enlightenment presented in Buddhist literature and by various spiritual teachers: take this path … or that path; study this sutra, then that sutra; do these things … don't do those things. There is also much discussion...

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Chán Practice

Resources for Chán practitioners.
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A Loose Garment

by Fa Dao, OHY

Speaking with a friend on the phone recently and asked about her practice. Just the general sort of conversational "how's it going" type of question. She answered "I'm wearing my practice like a loose garment." Not concentrating or striving or actively "Being Buddhist," she said. Sitting fairly often, but otherwise not...

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A Fork in the Road

by Chuan Kong, OHY

Isn't it strange how often we're met with the problems of choice? Time and time again we find it necessary to unify our divided mind, to make a definitive decision, a right decision - and woe betide us if we get it wrong! When a choice can result in consequences we...

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The Intrinsic Nature of Meditation

The Intrinsic Nature of Meditation

by Fa Dao Shakya

Meditation is a key factor in Chan / Zen and Buddhism in general -- and yet we have no monopoly on the concept of meditation as a spiritual pursuit. Every religion has a tradition approaching meditation although most in the Western World do not focus on that aspect as...

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The Urban Hermit

The Urban Hermit

by Fa Dong Shakya

As anyone versed in Chan’s history knows, the hermitic life is a common one passed through by many of China’s most famous Chan teachers.  In fact, all mystical traditions commonly find their members, at some time in their life, retreating from society.  For the mystic, living a reclusive hermitic life is...

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The Eye of Practice

The Eye of Practice

by Fa Che, OHY

Buddhism brings many of us to understand that individualism does not exist and is a delusion: that there is no birth, no death, no self, no "I" that exists as an independent reality. We come to recognize that all things are connected through interdependent co-arising. Why is it that we lose...

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Suffering: the Gateway to Transformation

Suffering:  the Gateway to Transformation

by Chuan Zhi

We cannot discover Chan without the precondition of suffering.  Some people think that this is a pessimistic view, or a perverted view, of a practice (meditation) that can be done by anyone, and that suffering is in no way a precondition.   To them, I say that sitting quietly using the...

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The Comedy of the Ego

The Comedy of the Ego

by Fa Zhao Shakya

Among the great questions.... Who are we? Why are we here? and What purpose do we serve? Perhaps we should also ask, Why do we suffer? and, What can we do? Why do we Suffer? Listening to late night radio back in my twenties, I heard an English Buddhist monk...

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Zen's Spiritual Guide

by Fa Dao, OHY

What does it mean to be a spiritual guide? A Zen Roshi or Sifu? It means we strive to balance heart and mind;to live our Spirit. It means we have lived and learned and are still living and learning.That we are one in an ancient succession of teachers, offering to...

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Cappuccino Chan

by Fa Zhao Shakya

As we sat across the table from each other, at our usual coffee shop overlooking the beautiful Australian east coast, I noticed the look of distraction on his face, a face I have known for over 10 years. He seemed perplexed and I could see he was looking for answers...

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The Ten Oxherding Pictures: Series 2

The Ten Oxherding Pictures: Series 2

by Kaku-an & Kuo An Zhe

English translations from poems by Kaku-an Chinese poems by Kuo An Zhe   I. Searching for the Ox Alone in the wilderness, lost in the jungle, the boy is searching, searching! The swelling waters, the far-away mountains, and the unending path; Exhausted and in despair, he knows not where to go, He only hears the evening cicadas...

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Connecting the Dots

Connecting the Dots

by Fa Lohng (Koro Kaisan)

Students who come to my weekly Dharma talks (or who meet regularly with me in private) are often confronted with my insistence that they view the world more holistically.  This is typically triggered by one or more meetings in which claims are made that a “big picture” perspective is fine...

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Denial of Beauty by Austerity?

Denial of Beauty by Austerity?

by Fa Dao, OHY

The simplest of foods or the meanest of meals is a banquet if we appreciate it for what it is -- sustenance, a gift from the earth and the fruit of the labors of men and women. A simple noodle is fit for a king when we appreciate its texture...

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Musings on the Corpse & the Skandhas

Musings on the Corpse & the Skandhas

by Fa Gong, OHY

One of the challenges of Chan is that many students are often fatally handicapped by needing to have at least some degree of intellectual satisfaction before they will consider letting the intellect drop. Perhaps this is one of the occasions that Buddha referred to as requiring "skilful means" in teaching...

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The Monk, The Man and the Fish

by Fa Dao, OHY

A solitary monk was carrying a large fish to his home to prepare it for his meal. As he walked along the path, a man approached from the other direction. As he reached hailing distance, the man called out “Hey monk! I see you coming! What...

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The Ten Oxherding Pictures: Series 1

The Ten Oxherding Pictures: Series 1

by Unknown

The Ten Oxherding Pictures of Zen: Series 1 I. Undisciplined With his horns fiercely projected in the air the beast snorts, Madly running over the mountain paths, farther and farther he goes astray! A dark cloud is spread across the entrance of the valley, And who knows how much of the fine fresh herb is...

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A True Story

A True Story

by Fa Dao, OHY

Once upon a time there was a lone wolf. All of his life he had been free, independent and secure in the knowledge that he was a wolf (and a fine one at that) despite the opinion of certain other wolves. One day, in about his 30th year of "wolfness" and...

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Hua-t’ou: A Method of Zen Meditation

Hua-t’ou: A Method of Zen Meditation

by Stuart Lachs

  There are two different ways of understanding and actually practicing Zen. These two different ways are termed in Chinese pen chueh and shih-chueh respectively. The term pen chueh refers to the belief that one’s mind is from the beginning of time fully enlightened, while shih-chueh refers to the belief that...

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Wild Zen

Wild Zen

by Fa Zhao Shakya

The genes that code for proteins in our human species are remarkably similar, often nearly identical, to those of many other species across the animal kingdom. It makes sense, considering that throughout our natural history human beings and other animals have shared the same environments and competed for the same...

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Learning to Meditate

Learning to Meditate

by Chuan Zhi

Meditation requires that we are first in the right state of mind and body.  If we are "stressed out" we should first do something that will relax us, like exercise, gardening, cooking, taking a shower: whatever works for us.  When we begin, we should also not be tired, or have...

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Get Lost!

by Chuan Kong, OHY

“Get lost!” You can’t seem to get through life without hearing that at least once. The command usually means that you should exit, either literally or metaphorically, and the quicker the better. It’s especially hurtful when the person who says it thinks he means well. “Get lost!” The expression...

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The Wu! Gate

The Wu! Gate

by Fa Liang, OHY

We can, each of us, experience Wu! -- that emptiness, that relief -- every time we give up our attachment. When we have a job to do, we simply do it - without grumbling, without daydreaming about all the other things we could be doing instead, without any sort of...

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So Simple, A Child Could Do It . . .

So Simple, A Child Could Do It . . .

by Fa Xing (Hadashi Sharishi)

A Zen Buddhist's perspective on the five precepts. I don't remember much about the fifth grade.  Oh, I remember a few faces, what the school looked like, and other such inane details, but I don't remember specifically what I learned that year.  All of my elementary school years kind of blend...

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Who Drags This Corpse? The Vajra-Sword of Hsu Yun

by Fa Gong, OHY

For the beginner new to Chan's tactics, attacking a hua tou may seem too abstruse, too hard, and too alien to know how to approach it. As easy as it might be to sit and count our breaths, be mindful of our thoughts, or concentrate on a mantra for a...

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Passing Through the Gateless Barrier

Passing Through the Gateless Barrier

by Fa Lohng

The Great Way is gateless, approached by a thousand paths. Pass trough this barrier, you walk freely in the universe. One of the principal Zen texts from thirteenth century China is a collection of koans entitled Wu-wen kuan (Mumonkan). This translates into English as The Gateless Gate, or what...

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The Hua-Tou Practice

The Hua-Tou Practice

by Chuan Zhi

Zen’s hua-tou practice recently seems to be enjoying a renaissance among the small contingent of Zen Buddhists speckling the globe.  In part, this may be due to the growing awareness that this was Hsu Yun’s personal favorite Zen practice that he spent much of his life advocating.  One of the...

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The Healing Breath

The Healing Breath

by Chuan Zhi

Everyone who enters Zen's Gateless Gate, has a story to tell. Mine begins one summer evening when I received a call from a friend who had recently moved to another state. "I found a Buddhist Priest who teaches Zen." He told me. "Last night she gave me a pranayama exercise...

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Penetrating Emptiness: Ta panta rei

Penetrating Emptiness: Ta panta rei

by Fa Lian Shakya

Plato wrote that when we're able to negate both being and non-being, we discover absolute nothingness, and that within that absolute nothingness we discover the absolute present - which is itself the Ultimate Reality. No such understanding can come without a mystic's eye. Shunyata, Emptiness, Void, Oneness, Suchness, Buddha Mind, Nirvana...

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The Hua-Tou practice: perspectives and examples of an ancient and potent Chinese…

The Hua-Tou practice: perspectives and examples of an ancient and potent Chinese Chan practice

by Stuart Lachs

Hua-tou is a Chinese term that can be translated as “critical phrase”. In Korean, hua-tou is pronounced hwadu and in Japanese as wato. I mention this in case some one has read or heard the term in a Korean or a Japanese context to know we are discussing the same...

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On Detachment: Neti! Neti!

On Detachment: Neti! Neti!

by Chuan Zhi

For L.C. Attachment, we are told by all Buddhist sects, is the central cause of suffering.  Not the kind of suffering we endure when we have a cold, or accidentally slam the car door on our hand, but the kind of suffering that comes with being a conscious, sentient, being.  In...

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Dangers and Warnings

Some common hazards to avoid are discussed here.
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Coming Down from the Zen Clouds

Coming Down from the Zen Clouds

by Stuart Lachs

Zen Buddhism became widely known in America through D. T. Suzuki's writings, which promoted a non-traditional, modernist interpretation of Zen. Suzuki was a Japanese writer and intellectual who had experienced Zen training as a layman, and who, writing in the nationalistic intellectual climate of early twentieth-century Japan, emphasized a Zen...

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Sidetracked by Institutionalized Zen

Sidetracked by Institutionalized Zen

by Chuan Zhi

I was approached recently by a man in his middle years who had spent much time sitting with various Zen groups around the country.   He had left one after another after being disillusioned with each.  In one, the head teacher was having an open affair with a student, to...

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Dressing the Donkey

Dressing the Donkey

by Stuart Lachs

Modern day Zen masters/roshi, while enjoying the decided advantage of being part of a tradition that imputes to them quasi-divine qualities, suffer the disadvantage of living in an age of widespread information. Thus, while the image of the Zen masters of the past bask in the unquestioned glow of hagiography...

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Finding a Teacher, Practicing in a Group

Finding a Teacher, Practicing in a Group

by Fa Zhang Shakya

It is fortunate that many people who gain some acquaintance with Buddhism decide to engage in its practice. Yearning for enlightenment, they set about establishing a practice, and this normally leads them to read as much as possible about the topic, and, very often, to chose a teacher. Many find...

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Eating the Menu

Eating the Menu

by Chuan Zhi

Zen requires that we bring mindfulness into our lives. If we are experiencing fear, we delve into the nature and content of that fear, working to understand it, tearing it apart piece by piece until there is no more fear. Our Buddhist faith needs to be invoked. If we're feeling...

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The Celibacy Question

by Chuan Zhi

An Interview with Chuan Zhi from Non Duality Magazine, 12/27/2013 Chuan Zhi: This is a good subject for public discussion – one that’s usually avoided. I wrote on a related subject recently that may address some of the questions/issues people have on the topic of sexual intimacy, and some of the...

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Richard Baker: The Myth of the Zen Roshi

Richard Baker: The Myth of the Zen Roshi

by Stuart Lachs

Most people think of Zen as being iconoclastic, anti-authoritarian, simple, direct, and unattached. Its raison d'etre is to produce people who possess a fundamental insight into life, people who are not fooled by appearances or ideas. The fact is that almost everything about Zen's presentation, practice, and rituals is aimed...

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When Righteousness Goes Wrong

When Righteousness Goes Wrong

by Fa Dao, OHY

  Chan Buddhists, just like followers of other religions, want to do what's right. We strive to be righteous and to avoid self-aggrandizing actions and activities. It's imperative that we consider what it means to "do right" since we often fall into the trap of "doing wrong." We must identify and...

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Non-cultic Buddhism

Non-cultic Buddhism

by Fa Gong Shakya

A personal perspective Buddhism is an ancient path of practice; to some a religion, to others a philosophy, and to many simply a practice of sane living. From the outside looking in, it can seem an evolutionary, and revolutionary, spiritual technology that seems to stand unique amongst religions in that it...

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Don’t Drink the Kool-aide: How to Avoid the Projection Trap

Don’t Drink the Kool-aide:  How to Avoid the Projection Trap

by Chuan Zhi

Introduction In 1912 the French philosopher Lucien Lévy-Brühl published a collection of works that gave us a new model with which to view the relationship between self and other. He offered new insights into many of the problems that are encountered by people in relationships of all kinds.  Carl Jung further...

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A Dangerous Game

A Dangerous Game

by Fa Guang, OHY

A Warning for Forum Aficionados! The Internet has a peculiar way of grabbing us and taking us off course, often without us even being aware it's happening. Recently as I was searching the Internet for a particular book I came across a list of forum posts relating to religious beliefs...

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The Aitken-Shimano Letters

The Aitken-Shimano Letters

by Vladimir K. and Stuart Lachs

Following is a summation of the extraordinary story, as explicated in the Aitken letters, of a Zen master teaching in America for some 35 years, who has been accused of sexual misconduct numerous times and yet was never called to task nor properly investigated. A thorough, open and public inquiry...

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Holier Than Thou

Holier Than Thou

by Fa Gong, OHY

How is it that the "spiritual" person, for whom we might assume humility to be an essential characteristic, so often presents as aloof and arrogant? It is bad enough that the "holier than thou" attitude which often flaws the religious character is common to monastics, priests, gurus, teachers and devotees...

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Remembering Jonestown: a Homage to the Dead, a Prayer for the Living

Remembering Jonestown: a Homage to the Dead, a Prayer for the Living

by Chuan Zhi

What is it about us humans that we seek, with such ferocity, to belong to a group, to the extent that some of us will believe whatever we are told to believe for the sake of the group? We put our own identity aside in favor of the group's identity...

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Means of Authorization: Establishing Hierarchy in Ch'an/Zen Buddhism in America

Means of Authorization: Establishing Hierarchy in Ch'an/Zen Buddhism in America

by Stuart Lachs

Ch'an/Zen Buddhism has become widely accepted in the West during the past fifty years. At the head of Zen institutions sits the person of the Master/roshi. Through the mechanisms of sectarian histories, ritual performance, a special language, koans, mondos,[2] and most importantly through the ideas of Dharma transmission and Zen...

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Dangerous Zeal

Dangerous Zeal

by Chuan Zhi

In meditation we enter the realm of selflessness (or egolessness). When we meditate there is no urge or desire for meditation, there is only beautiful meditation. Problems occur only when we stop meditating to return to the ego’s realm of desires and opinions about what is and what is not...

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When the Saints Go Marching In: Modern Day Zen Hagiography

When the Saints Go Marching In: Modern Day Zen Hagiography

by Stuart Lachs

This paper takes a critical look at recently published biographies of two modern day Chan/ Zen teachers in America. The popular American magazine “Tricycle: A Buddhist Review” printed both biographies, making them widely available to the diverse American Buddhist communities and the interested general reader. Both biographies were presented as...

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Snapping and Zeno's Paradox

Snapping and Zeno's Paradox

by Chuan Zhi

Religion always presents us with extraordinary paradoxes. Is the person's experience going to diverge and take him into infinity's stratosphere or is it going to converge to that nice, desirable finish line? Luck has a lot to do with limits: that sane boundary. Consider a fraction. We know that the...

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Advanced Topics

Articles discussing some of the experiences and encounters common to the mystic's journey.
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Dreams and Visions: Part II

Dreams and Visions: Part II

by Chuan Zhi

As barnacles to pilings, we often grasp at our notions of things with a fear that letting go of them could only end in annihilation. What if the ideas we take as ultimate truths are flawed, or only partially true, or even altogether false? What if the anchor of security...

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Yearning to be Met

Yearning to be Met

by Chuan Zhi

'The human heart yearns for contact - above all it yearns for genuine dialogue. Dialogue is at the heart of being human. Without it, we are not fully formed - there is a yawning abyss inside. With it, we have the possibility of our uniqueness, and our most human qualities...

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Contemplating Consciousness

Contemplating Consciousness

by Chuan Zhi

Consciousness. We don't think about it, we don't act upon it. It's just there. We awaken in the morning and go to the bathroom and do those things, make coffee, eat a donut, take the dog out … and so goes our entire day. At the end, we take a...

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Applying the Hua Tou Method of Chan Practice to Archetypal Projections

Applying the  Hua Tou Method of Chan Practice to Archetypal Projections

by Chuan Zhi

Everyone who comes to Zen develops his or her own unique relationship with it.  That relationship is affected by a myriad of factors, from one’s native culture, to the culture of the Zen sect one embraces, be it Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. It’s also affected by the practices and philosophies...

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Science and Spiritual Inquiry: Striking a Balance

Science and Spiritual Inquiry: Striking a Balance

by Chuan Zhi

The universe, governed by power and the law power obeys, conforms to a dualistic principal of yin and yang, eros and logos, shakti and Shiva. We cannot separate them. Only through spiritual labor can we succeed at reconciling and integrating the noumenal with the phenomenal, the mathematical formula with that...

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Encountering a Zenner can be a strange experience indeed . . .

Encountering a Zenner can be a strange experience indeed . . .

by Chuan Zhi

Zen people are strange. I've been told this many times, usually before I announce that I am a Zen person. My usual rhetorical thought has always been a humorous, well of course we are! My vocal response is, most often, silence. Having this come up in casual conversation today...

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Dreams and Visions: Part I

Dreams and Visions: Part I

by Chuan Zhi

Dreams and visions have a special significance in Zen Buddhism, for it's through them that we often see the fruits of our spiritual labor. While consciousness speaks in recognizable words and images, the unconscious communicates with mysterious "symbols" of creatures and objects quite unknown to us:  oceans, snakes, thunder, wind...

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Spirituall Growth: Stages & Transitions

Spirituall Growth: Stages & Transitions

by Chuan Zhi with special thanks to Drew Dixon

How do we keep our spiritual life alive? How do we keep moving forward? Embrace life in all its beauty and ugliness: treat all things with equanimity, seeing what is real and not what is superimposed by our beliefs and opinions. Seek the unknown: approach fears with fierce resolve to...

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The Sexuality of Spirituality

The Sexuality of Spirituality

by Chuan Zhi

Anyone who cares to investigate advanced spiritual practices of the Buddhist traditions (and many others), or has delved into them directly, quickly comes to realize that the exalted spiritual states referred to, most often obliquely, actually entail considerable sexual experience. The difference being that this experience is an internal experience...

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The Hua-Tou Practice

by Chuan Zhi

The Hua-Tou Practice

Zen’s hua-tou practice recently seems to be enjoying a renaissance among the small contingent of Zen Buddhists speckling the globe.  In part, this may be due to the growing awareness that this was Hsu Yun’s personal favorite Zen practice that...

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The Hua-Tou practice: perspectives and examples of an ancient and potent Chinese…

by Stuart Lachs

The Hua-Tou practice: perspectives and examples of an ancient and potent Chinese Chan practice

Hua-tou is a Chinese term that can be translated as “critical phrase”. In Korean, hua-tou is pronounced hwadu and in Japanese as wato. I mention this in case some one has read or heard the term in a Korean...

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Connecting the Dots

by Fa Lohng (Koro Kaisan)

Connecting the Dots

Students who come to my weekly Dharma talks (or who meet regularly with me in private) are often confronted with my insistence that they view the world more holistically.  This is typically triggered by one or more meetings in which...

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Reinventing Ourselves

by Chuan Zhi

Reinventing Ourselves

Before we can enter the domain of the spirit, we must exit the domain of self, that is, our ego-self. This requires nothing less than reinventing ourselves - creating a new understanding of who we are - an understanding apart...

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The Story of the Wave

by Fa Liang, OHY

The Story of the Wave

Once upon a time, there was a little wave. The wave loved being a wave going up and down and playing all day and night. The wave was surrounded by lots of other waves and it had fun watching them...

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Perspectives on Zen

by Chuan Zhi

Perspectives on Zen

Inevitably, in the course of the life of a Zen Buddhist, someone will ask us “What is Zen”?  The simple answer is, of course, it’s the mystical branch of Chinese/ Japanese/ Korean/...

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The Refuge of No-Refuge

by Fa Dong Shakya

The Refuge of No-Refuge

The seeker trudges slowly up the mountain through the mists, not sure which path to take. He takes one path only to find that it dead-ends around a few large trees, forcing him to go back and take a different...

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Suffering: the Gateway to Transformation

by Chuan Zhi

Suffering:  the Gateway to Transformation

We cannot discover Chan without the precondition of suffering.  Some people think that this is a pessimistic view, or a perverted view, of a practice (meditation) that can be done by anyone, and that suffering is in no way a...

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The Wu! Gate

by Fa Liang, OHY

The Wu! Gate

We can, each of us, experience Wu! -- that emptiness, that relief -- every time we give up our attachment. When we have a job to do, we simply do it - without grumbling, without daydreaming about all the other...

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Experience Chan!

by Chuan Zhi

Experience Chan!

Within each of us resides an essence that remains hidden - an aspect of ourselves that hides in the unconscious. It hides because of our ego's fear of it. Its aspect is wisdom, understanding, compassion. Do we remain closed within...

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King of the Road: On Loneliness and Solitude

by Chuan Zhi

King of the Road: On Loneliness and Solitude

When we stop to analyze our daily lives, we discover how many of our activities are constructed to assuage a fear of being alone. We wait in lines at restaurants and take several hours to eat a meal that we...

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Empty Zendo

by Fa Guang

Empty Zendo

How many times have you heard, "living in the moment?" The expression is fashionable now. I hear it everywhere, and see it within or on the back of at least sixty percent of the self-help and psychology books in every...

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Autobiography and Maxims of Master Han Shan

by Master Han Shan

Autobiography and Maxims of Master Han Shan

Translated by Upasaka Richard Cheung

A publication made possible for this Website by Chuan Yi Shakya and by Chuan Yin Shakya

 

The Autobiography and Maxims of Han Shan423.79 KB26/01/2012, 12:43

 

 

 

 

Category: Han Shan

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Poems by Empty Cloud: Series I

by Empty Cloud

Poems by Empty Cloud: Series I

Meeting Tang Yousheng

Twenty-one years old and from my village, yet!
So bright and filled with fresh ideas.
No wonder you gained such a high post in Tenchong.
I seemed ancient when I came to Chan.

We simmered...

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Oxherding Poems by Hsu Yun

by Master Hsu Yun

Oxherding Poems by Hsu Yun

Illustrations by Fa Lian Shakya - Greece


1. Pushing Aside the Grass to Look for the Ox

Wanting to break through to Emptiness with my white cudgel

I cried out louder than the bellowing Ox, mooing through my senses.

Category: Visual Arts

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The Urban Hermit

by Fa Dong Shakya

The Urban Hermit

As anyone versed in Chan’s history knows, the hermitic life is a common one passed through by many of China’s most famous Chan teachers.  In fact, all mystical traditions commonly find their members, at some time in their life, retreating...

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