Book Bits

No Attachment to Dust

101 Zen Stories is a compilation of stories about Zen teachers through the ages compiled by Nyogen Senzaki, a Rinzai monk who was one of the leading proponents of Rinzai Zen in the US in the 20th century. This particular story, number 77, charts the advice of Master Zengetsu to his students. Zengetsu, a Chinese… Continue reading No Attachment to Dust

Japanese Poetry, Poetry, The Masters

Muso’s Green Mountains

Muso Soseki was a Japanese monk born in the 13th century who achieved satori at the age of 30 while staying in a hermitage in the countryside. One night he was walking about in the dark and reached out for a wall he thought was there. When he realized it wasn’t, he gave a great… Continue reading Muso’s Green Mountains

Book Bits, Japanese Texts, Texts, The Masters

Master Daito’s Original Face

Daito Kokushi (also known as Myocho Shuho) was a monk born in Japan just a generation or so after Dogen’s death and is widely celebrated in the Rinzai tradition. The founder of Daitoku-ji monastery – which still stands today – Daito is best known for the (probably apocryphal) tale of his decision to shun institutional… Continue reading Master Daito’s Original Face

Dogen, Japanese Texts, Texts, The Masters

“When you release it, it fills your hand; when you speak it fills your mouth” – Dogen’s Bendowa

Last week we published the Jijuyu Zanmai, which is the second part of the first half of Master Dogen’s Bendowa, the first text to be written in casual Japanese to explain the Zen Dogen had learned in China under Master Rujing. This text is the very first part of the Bendowa that precedes the Jijuyu… Continue reading “When you release it, it fills your hand; when you speak it fills your mouth” – Dogen’s Bendowa

Seung Sahn
Book Bits, Korean Texts, The Masters

What is Death? You Are Already Dead

Seung Sahn was the first Korean Zen master to come to live and teach in the West. His style borrowed from a number of different Buddhist traditions, particularly Rinzai. The book, ‘Dropping Ashes on the Buddha’ is a collection of his teachings that happened both in person as well as through correspondence – a way… Continue reading What is Death? You Are Already Dead

Koans, The Masters

Gutei’s Finger

‘Gutei’s Finger’ is the 3rd case or koan in the Mumonkan, The Gateless Barrier, a collection of koans compiled in the 13th century by Rinzai master Wumen Huikai (known as Mumon Ekai in Japan). The 48 koans in the collection are all sourced from well-known scenes and moments through the history of Zen that Master… Continue reading Gutei’s Finger

Chinese Texts, Koans, The Masters

Master Ma-tsu and Original Mind

“Strange words and extraordinary actions” were the hallmark of 8th century Ch’an master Ma-tsu (also written as Mazu Daoyi) whose teaching methods involved the kind of unorthodox actions that became associated with certain forms of Zen, especially Rinzai. Ma-tsu was particularly fond of holding up his fly whisk, shouting and hitting his students, in order… Continue reading Master Ma-tsu and Original Mind