Category Archives: Tao Te Ching, Zen, I Ching

Reflections in Water 2

Reflections in Water 2


 Buddhist  Words- Art of Dharma

Mind at Peace

“When the mind is at peace,

the world too is at peace.



Nothing real, nothing absent.


Not holding on to reality,


not getting stuck in the void,


you are neither holy or wise, just

an ordinary fellow who has completed his work.”

(By P’ang Yün-The Enlightened Heart 34)



“Thus shall ye think of this fleeting world:

A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;


A flash of lightning in a summer cloud;

A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.”

(-Buddha, Diamond Sutra)

“Without insight, meditation cannot contain the highest state of quietude.



Without meditation, wisdom cannot achieve its profundity of insight.”





The Invisible Sutras

The Invisible Sutras

Invisible Sutras (1)

Tetsugen, a devotee of Zen in Japan, decided to publish the sutras, which at that time were only available in Chinese. The books were to be printed on wood blocks in an edition of seven thousand copies, a tremendous undertaking.

Invisible Sutras (2)

Tetsugen began by traveling and collecting donations for this purpose. A few sympathizers would give him a hundred pieces of gold, but most of the time he received only small coins. He thanked each donor with equal gratitude. After ten years Tetsugen had enough money to begin his task.

Invisible Sutras (3)

It happened that at that time the Uji Rive overflowed. A terrible famine was the consequence. Tetsugen took all of the funds he had collected for the books and spent them to save many from starvation. Then he began again his work of collecting.

Invisible Sutras (4)

Several years afterwards an epidemic spread over the country. Tetsugen again gave away what he had collected, to help his people. For a third time he started his work, and after twenty years his wish was finally fulfilled.

Invisible Sutras (5)

 The printing blocks which produced the first edition of sutras can be seen today in the Obaku monastery in Kyoto.

The Japanese tell their children that Tetsugen made three sets of sutras, and that the first two invisible sets surpass even the last.

Invisible Sutras (6)

Zen Koan

Stingy in Teaching

Stingy in Teaching


A sensitive young physician in Tokyo named Kusuda one day met a college friend of his who had been studying Zen. After the preliminary greetings and felicitations the two were seated at the side of the road under a tree, conversing further. The young doctor abruptly stopped speaking, with concern written all over his face, turned to face his friend then asked what Zen was.

“I cannot tell you what it is,” the friend replied, “but one thing is for certain. If you understand Zen, you will not be afraid to die.”


“That’s fine,” said Kusuda relieved of his friends perceptiveness. “It’s exactly what I need to learn, can you recommend a good teacher that would impart this knowledge to me in the briefest time possible?”

His friend shook his head with an appeasing smile, “You are always in such a rush, but some things cannot be hastened.” Then after a second thought, he added, “Go seek out master Nan-in, he may be of some help.”


The very next day, as soon as he concluded his physician’s responsibilities, Kusuda went to call on Master Nan-in. Not entirely convinced however, he carried a dagger nine and a half inches long on his person to determine whether the teacher was truly unafraid of death.


 Nan-in received Kusuda kindly and, when latter bowed with his hidden hand grasping the dagger with intent, the master observing the cold sweat on Kusuda’s forehead, he simply smiled and said: “Hello, friend. How are you? We haven’t seen each other for a long time!”

This perplexed Kusuda, who responded somewhat aghast: “But sir, we have never met before.”

“That’s right,” answered Nan-in pinning his eyes to Kusuda. “Ha, I mistook you for another physician who is receiving instruction here.”

With such a beginning, Kusuda had lost the momentum and his nerve to test Nan-in, so he reluctantly asked instead, if he might receive Zen instruction from the master.

Nan-in then instructed him: “Zen is not a difficult task. If you are a physician, treat your patients with kindness. That is Zen.”


Kusuda visited Nan-in three times after that. Each time Nan-in told him the same thing. “A physician should not waste time around here. Go home and take care of your patients.”


It was not clear to Kusuda how such teaching could remove the fear of death. So on the forth visit unable to constrain his displeasure, he complained: “My friend has told me that when one practices Zen one loses his fear of death. That’s the reason I sought Zen.  I don’t mean to be disrespectful sir, but each time I’ve come here you’ve dismissed me with perfunctory words to take care of my patients. I know that much. If that is your so-called Zen, I am not going to visit you anymore.”


Nan-in smiled and patted the doctor’s back. “I have been too strict with you son. Let me give you a koan.” He presented Kusuda with Joshu’s Mu to work over, which is the first mind-enlightening problem in the book called The Gateless Gate.


Kusuda pondered this problem of Mu (No-Thing) for two years. At length he thought he had reached certainty of mind. But his teacher again commented: “You are not in yet.”

Kusuda continued with his studies and practiced concentrating for another year and a half, during which time his mind became placid. Problems dissolved. No-Thing became the truth. He served his patients well and, without even knowing it, he was free from concern of life and death.

Then he visited Nan-in, his old teacher just smiled.



Joshu’s Dog

A monk once asked Joshu, “Has a dog the Buddha-nature?” Joshu answered, “Mu!” (Mu is the negative symbol in Chinese, meaning `No-thing’ or `Nay’.)



Appreciating Chrysanthemums

Appreciating Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums  (1)

Finding a Diamond on a Muddy Road

Chrysanthemums  (2)

Once there was a famed teacher named Gudo who tutored the Japanese Emperor. From time to time Gudo would travel the country alone as a wandering mendicant.

Chrysanthemums  (3)

It was near dusk on his way back to Edo, the cultural and political center of the Shogunate, when he approached a little village named Takenaka. A heavy rain had been falling without let up and Gudo, soaked to the skin, cast his eyes on his tattered straw sandals. He then looked about and saw a farmhouse just outside the village. To his delight he noticed that there were four or five pairs of newly made sandals arrayed on the windowsill and decided at once to buy himself a new pair.

Chrysanthemums  (4)

The woman who made the sandals, seeing how wet he was, invited him in to remain for the night in her home. Gudo accepted graciously and thanking her.

Chrysanthemums  (5)

He entered and recited a sutra before the family shrine. He was then introduced to the women’s mother, and to her children. Observing that the entire family was forlorn, Gudo asked what was wrong.

“My husband is a gambler and a drunkard,” the housewife told him. “When he happens to win he drinks and becomes abusive. When he loses he borrows money from others. Sometimes when he becomes thoroughly drunk he does not come home at all. What can I do?”

Chrysanthemums  (6)

“I will help him,” said Gudo. “Here is some money. Get me a gallon of fine wine and something good to eat. Then you may retire. I will meditate before the shrine.”

Chrysanthemums  (7)

When the man of the house returned quite drunk about midnight, quite drunk, he bellowed: “Hey, wife, I am home. Have you something for me to eat?”

Chrysanthemums  (8)

“I have something for you,” said Gudo. “I happened to be caught in the rain and your wife kindly asked me to remain here for the night. In return I have bought some wine and fish, so you might as well have them.”

Chrysanthemums  (9)

The man was delighted. He wolfed down the fish and drank all the wine then lay down on the sleeping mat. Gudo sat in meditation beside him.

Chrysanthemums  (10)

In the morning when the husband awoke he had forgotten about the previous night. “Who are you? Where do you come from?” he asked Gudo, who was still meditating.

Chrysanthemums  (11)

“I am Gudo of Kyoto and I am going on to Edo,” replied the Zen master.

The man was utterly ashamed. He apologized profusely to the teacher of his emperor.

Chrysanthemums  (12)

Gudo smiled. “Everything in this life is impermanent,” he explained. “Life is very brief. If you keep on gambling and drinking, you will have no time left to accomplish anything else, and you will cause your family to suffer too.”

Chrysanthemums  (13)

Gudo’s words brought the husband to his senses as if awakened from a dream. “You are right,” he declared. “How can I ever repay you for this wonderful teaching? Let me see you off and carry your things a little way.”

“If you wish,” assented Gudo.

Chrysanthemums  (14)

The two started out. After they had gone three miles Gudo told him to return. “Just another five miles,” he begged Gudo. They continued on.

Chrysanthemums  (15)

“You may return now,” suggested Gudo.

“After another ten miles,” the man replied.

Chrysanthemums  (16)

“Return now,” said Gudo, when the ten miles had been passed.

“I am going to follow you all the rest of my life,” declared the man.

Chrysanthemums  (17)

Modern Zen teachings in Japan spring from the lineage of a famous master who was the successor of Gudo. His name was Mu-nan, the man who never turned back.

Here’s some information about Chrysanthemums:

As early as 15th Century B.C., chrysanthemums have been cultivated in China; though at the start they were only used as a flowering herb.  The plant is renowned as one of the “Four Gentlemen” in Chinese and East Asian art, the others being the plum blossom, the orchid, and bamboo. 

The chrysanthemum, also a symbol of nobility, is believed to have been favoured by the famous Chinese poet Tao Qian. Chrysanthemums are especially significant during the “Double Ninth Festival”. 

Sometime in the 8th Century, it is believed that the flower may have been brought to Japan and the ruling Emperor of that time, taking a liking to it, adopted the flower as his official seal.  The Chrysanthemum Throne was the name attached to the position of Emperor of Japan.

 The Chrysanthemum Crest is the usual term for a mon of chrysanthemum blossom design, with 150 or more different patterns. The notable pattern of the Imperial Seal of Japan is used by the members of the Japanese Imperial family.   Several state-owned shrines in Japan, most notably Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, have also adopted the Chrysanthemum Crest. 

The Supreme “Order of the Chrysanthemum” is a Japanese honour awarded by the Emperor.  In Imperial Japan, small arms were required to be stamped with the Imperial Chrysanthemum as they were deemed the personal property of the Emperor. 

Meanwhile to the delight of citizens and visitors alike, on every autumn, within the city of Nihonmatsu, in the historical ruins of Nihonmatsu Castle, Japan has been hosting the famed “Nihonmatsu Chrysanthemum Dolls Exhibition”.  In the well known “Festival of Happiness” Japan continues to celebrate this flower.  Imagine; so many honours being heaped on a particular genus of flower.

As much as Chrysanthemums are admired, the white chrysanthemum is also considered to be the representation of lamentation and or grief in China, Japan and Korea.

In 17th Century chrysanthemum was introduced to Europe.  In some countries chrysanthemums represents honesty but, sadly, the chrysanthemum in Europe (as in Spain, Italy, France, Poland, Hungary and Croatia) is mostly considered to be the symbol of death and so is only used for funerals or on graves. 

In Australia and the United States (with the exception of New Orleans which adopted the French traditions) chrysanthemum is generally regarded as a cheerful, positive thing.  For a while now in Australia chrysanthemums have enjoyed the privilege of being the choice of flower given to mothers on “Mother’s day”, perhaps because it is in bloom during their autumn season.

The End.



A Time to Die

A Time to Die

(Zen Koan)


Ikkyu, the Zen master, was very clever even as a boy. His teacher had a precious teacup, a rare antique. Ikkyu happened to break this cup and was greatly perplexed.


Hearing the footsteps of his teacher, he held the pieces of the cup behind him. When the master appeared, Ikkyu asked: “Why do people have to die?”


“This is natural,” explained the older man. “Everything has to die and has just so long to live.”


Ikkyu, producing the shattered cup, added: “It was time for your cup to die.”



The End


The Nature of Man

The Nature of Man




Man’s nature is what it is; some of it is innate, some learned and absorbed depending on the circumstances of his life.





A Zen student came to Bankei and complained: “Master, I have an ungovernable temper. How can I cure it?”


“You have something very strange,” replied Bankei. “Let me see what you have.”


“Just now I cannot show it to you,” replied the other.


“When can you show it to me?” asked Bankei.


“It arises unexpectedly,” replied the student.


“Then,” concluded Bankei, “it must not be your own true nature. If it were, you could show it to me at any time. When you were born you did not have it, and your parents did not give it to you. Think that over.”



The master Bankei’s talks were attended not only by Zen students but by persons of all ranks and sects. He never quoted sutras not indulged in scholastic dissertations. Instead, his words were spoken directly from his heart to the hearts of his listeners.


His large audience angered a priest of the Nichiren sect because the adherents had left to hear about Zen. The self-centered Nichiren priest came to the temple, determined to have a debate with Bankei.


“Hey, Zen teacher!” he called out. “Wait a minute. Whoever respects you will obey what you say, but a man like myself does not respect you. Can you make me obey you?”


“Come up beside me and I will show you,” said Bankei.


Proudly the priest pushed his way through the crowd to the teacher.


Bankei smiled. “Come over to my left side.”

The priest obeyed.


“No,” said Bankei, “we may talk better if you are on the right side. Step over here.”


The priest proudly stepped over to the right.

“You see,” observed Bankei, “you are obeying me and I think you are a very gentle person. Now sit down and listen.”


The End




State of Inner Tranquility

State of Inner Tranquility




A Buddhist text describes the state of inner peace as such: “Tranquility of mind comes from having successfully transcended greed, hatred and ignorance.”

The state of inner peace can therefore be achieved by bringing all deluded impulses or inner poisons under control.



The greatest achievement is selflessness. The greatest worth is self-mastery. The greatest quality is seeking to serve others. The greatest precept is continual awareness. The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything. The greatest action is not conforming to the world’s ways. The greatest magic is transmuting the passions. The greatest generosity is non attachment. The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind. The greatest patience is humility. The greatest effort is not concerned with results. The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go. The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.




Here’s a Breathing Meditation, one of several ways to achieve peace of mind:

When you start to meditate, you may want to focus the mind by using some kind of external object of concentration. It need not be a physical object—the most common meditation ‘object’ is the breath—but it should be something simple and still. If moving, then it should be something repetitive, like the breath.



A good practice is to count to 21 breaths in and out, and then rest your mind by letting your attention wander for a bit. Then, gently bring your attention back to your breath, counting to 21 again. Rest again, and then repeat this cycle for the duration of your meditation session. You will develop quickly if you focus on counting your breaths in this way.



After a while, once you are accustomed to concentrating, you can stop using an external object of focus. Instead, you can then start to focus on mind itself. At this point, you can also focus on the passing moments of mind. Before starting this more advanced practice, you should first go through the concentration training of shamatha. Later, once your concentration is stable, then you can begin to meditate on mind itself.

Shamar Rinpoche



Upon rising, when you are most rested, before you get out of bed, quietly tune in to the mind. Listen to what your mind is telling you. Is your mind filled with the dream you had just before waking? What is the feeling tone of your thoughts? Are you geared up for the day with a list of things to do?



Whatever is on your mind, begin your day with an intention to be mindful, to pay attention to one thing at a time, one task at a time. Take a few deep breaths and remember that no matter what you are doing, no matter where you are, you can breathe and quiet your mind for a moment.



Each time you do this, you are training your mind to be still, and with practice, those still moments make a big difference.