Elle Loge la Folie by Roberto Matta, 1970 - Matta's paintings were responsive to dysfunctional political and social systems and many of his works reflect the chaos, confusion, and suffering endured by those affected by them.

Buddhism is a complex religion, without a single voice, with many faces, and many representatives holding many different views. It's tremendously easy for a newcomer to get lost in the quagmire of beliefs, ambiguous language, customs, teachings, superstitions and myths that have produced a Matta-like painting of this unusual and expansive religion. Yet we must not allow ourselves to miss the forest for the trees. The Chan sect, as Master Hsu Yun repeatedly taught, is about discovering that inner light which is Buddha Nature. The effort required is not in the seeking, but in the letting go.

Follow the path and avoid samsaric involvement with groups and organizations. Follow that path to the Dharma that works for you. Each of us is unique in our own disposition, aptitudes, abilities, and interests - there is no single path to the Dharma to conform to. Recognize the institution of Zen as just that, an institution, and not the Path itself.

Follow your life where love takes you - as a dancer, a writer, a teacher, an artist, a carpenter, a parent … every activity is an opportunity to live Chan. In the words of Empty Cloud, "Our everyday activities are executed within the Path itself. Is there anywhere that is not a place for practicing the Path? A Chan Hall should not even be necessary."

A hundred thousand worlds are flowers in the sky
A single mind and body is moonlight on the water
Once the cunning ends and information stops
At that moment there is no place for thought.
- Grandmaster Hanshan Déqing, 564-1623


Readers interested in learning more about the subjects discussed here may find useful information in the references below.


Writings by Stuart Lachs

Stuart Lachs has been a practicing Zen Buddhist for over 40 years, having studied under numerous teachers at temples and training centers in the United States as well as Europe, Korea, Japan and Taiwan. He is a valuable resource to the Buddhist community for his breadth of experience with Zen institutions as well as for his understanding of Zen/Chan and his commitment to protecting and preserving the Buddha Dharma. Some of his works include:

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

Copyright (c) 1999, Stuart Lachs

Richard Baker and the Myth of the Zen Roshi
Copyright (c) 2002 Stuart Lachs.

Coming Down from the Zen Clouds
A Critique of the Current State of American Zen
Copyright (c) 1994, Stuart Lachs.

Chinese Chan Resources

Original Teachings of Ch'an Buddhism
Translated with an introduction by Chang Chung-Yuan

A Buddhist Bible, edited by Dwight Goddard
Beacon Press

Daughters of Emptiness, Poems of Chinese Buddhist Nuns
Beata Grant
Wisdom Publications

The Diamond Sutra & The Sutra of Hui Neng
Translated by A. F. Price & Wong Mou-lam
Forwards by W.Y. Evans-Wentz & Christmas Humphreys
Shambhala Publications

Master Yun Men - From the Record of the Chan Teacher "Gate of the Clouds"
Translated, Edited, and Introduced by Urs App
Kodansha International

The Golden Age of Zen
By John C. H. Wu

Zen's Chinese Heritage
The Masters and Their Teachings

By Andy Ferguson
Wisdom Publications

Swampland Flowers: The Letters and Lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui
Translated by J. C. Cleary
Shambala Press

Chan and Zen Teachings, First Series
By Charles Luk, Rider Press
See pages 19-109 for translations of some of Hsu Yun's lectures


Tao Te Ching
By Lao Tzu, the Richard Wilhelm Edition
Clays Ltd., St Ives Plc

The Texts of Taoism, The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu
The Writings of Chuang Tzu, The Sacred Books of China

Translated by James Legge
Dover Publications

History of Buddhism

A Short History of Buddhism
By Edward Conze, Oneworld Publications

The Story of Chinese Zen
By Nan Huai-Chin
Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc.

Other Related Works

The Dhammapada with The Udanavarga
Edited by Raghavn Iyer
Concord Grove Press

Book of Serenity, One Hundred Zen Dialogues
Translated by Thomas Cleary
Lindisfarne Press

Teachings of Rumi: The Masnavi
Abridged and translated by E. H. Whinfield
With an introduction by Idries Shah
MPG Books Ltd.

Mahayana Buddhism, The Doctrinal Foundations
By Paul Williams

Symbols of Transformation
By C. G. Jung
Translated by R.F.C. Hull
Bollingen Foundation Inc.

Shoes Outside the Door: Desire, Devotion, and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center
By Michael Downing
Counterpoint Press

Zen and the Ways
By Trevor Leggett
Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc.

Buddhist Theology

Critical Reflections By Contemporary Buddhist Scholars
Edited by Roger Jackson and John Makransky