Category Archives: Dharma

Dharma musings

from the Lankavatara Sutra

How, Mahamati, does the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva come to have a clear understanding as to what is seen of Mind itself? He comes to it by recognising that this triple world is nothing but Mind itself, devoid of an ego and its belongings, with no strivings, no comings-and-goings; that this triple world is manifested and imagined as real, under the influence of the habit-energy accumulated since beginningless time by false reasoning and imagination, and with the multiplicity of objects and actions in close relationship, and in conformity with the ideas of discrimination, such as body, property, and abode. Thus, Mahamati, the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva acquires a thoroughly clear understanding as to what is seen of Mind itself.


Bodhisattva of Compassion – and patience – and…

Avalokitesvara is known as the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Sometimes he is depicted having a thousand-arms (represented by many arms, not a literal thousand) because it is said that in his quest to save all beings from suffering, Avalokitesvara shatters his arms. Seeing this, Amitabha Buddha grants the Bodhisattva a thousand arms to save all beings.

Lately I’ve been feeling like I have a thousand arms, reaching out into all of the various projects and responsibilities I have going right now. Family, work full time, school full time, photography, cleaning the house, car maintenance, applying for school, trying to buy a house, dealing with credit bureaus. Today I was thinking about how burdensome those 1000 arms would be, and how infinite Avalokitesvara’s compassion must be.

But a Bodhisattvha isn’t limited to one paramita. In order to have boundless compassoin, Avalokitesvara must have already developed boundless patience. Must have already developed dhyana. And prajna. And the rest of the paramitas.

This path is not a staircase. It can’t be taken in succession. It must be taken up at once, all of it, with the determination of Hui-k’o. Realization comes as a thunderclap and a blowing dandelion all at once.

Is it beneficial to apply oneself to the paramitas, or the precepts one at a time? Certainly. But we cannot believe for one moment that once we have conquered one, we can simply move on to the other. Nor can we assume we have mastered one without the others.

More photos hopefully coming soon btw. I haven’t had the opportunity to take any lately because it has either been raining, or completely dark out by the time I get home from work. I also recently inherited an older Canon film SLR that I’ve been playing with, so I don’t have much digital to share.



Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing to steal.

Ryokan returned and caught him. “You have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.”

The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.

Ryoken sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, “I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon.”

the world father

I, too, am like a father to the world,
Saving all from suffering and woe.
But to living beings, inverted as they are,
I speak of cessation, although I actually remain.
Otherwise, because they often see me,
They would grow arrogant and lax.
Unruly and attached to the five desires,
They would tumble into the evil paths.
I am ever aware of living beings
Those who practice the Way and those who do not.
I speak various Dharmas for their sakes
To save them in an appropriate manner.
I am always thinking,
“How can I cause living beings
To enter the Unsurpassed Way
And to quickly perfect the body of a Buddha?

The Lotus Sutra, Chapter 16




Once in the Jurassic about 150 million years ago, the Great Sun Buddha in this corner of the Infinite Void gave a discourse to all the assembled elements and energies: to the standing beings, the walking beings, the flying beings, and the sitting beings—even the grasses, to the number of thirteen billion, each one born from a seed, assembled there: a Discourse concerning Enlightenment on the planet Earth.

“In some future time, there will be a continent called America. It will have great centers of power called such as Pyramid Lake, Walden Pond, Mt. Rainier, Big Sur, Everglades, and so forth; and powerful nerves and channels such as Columbia River, Mississippi River, and Grand Canyon. The human race in that era will get into troubles all over its head, and practically wreck everything in spite of its own strong intelligent Buddha-nature.”

“The twisting strata of the great mountains and the pulsings of volcanoes are my love burning deep in the earth. My obstinate compassion is schist and basalt and granite, to be mountains, to bring down the rain. In that future American Era I shall enter a new form; to cure the world of loveless knowledge that seeks with blind hunger: and mindless rage eating food that will not fill it.”

And he showed himself in his true form of


A handsome smokey-colored brown bear standing on his hind legs, showing that he is aroused and watchful.

Bearing in his right paw the Shovel that digs to the truth beneath appearances; cuts the roots of useless attachments, and flings damp sand on the fires of greed and war;

His left paw in the mudra of Comradely Display—indicating that all creatures have the full right to live to their limits and that of deer, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes, dandelions, and lizards all grow in the realm of the Dharma;

Wearing the blue work overalls symbolic of slaves and laborers, the countless men oppressed by a civilization that claims to save but often destroys;

Wearing the broad-brimmed hat of the west, symbolic of the forces that guard the wilderness, which is the Natural State of the Dharma and the true path of man on Earth:

all true paths lead through mountains

With a halo of smoke and flame behind, the forest fires of the kali-yuga, fires caused by the stupidity of those who think things can be gained and lost whereas in truth all is contained vast and free in the Blue Sky and Green Earth of One Mind;

Round-bellied to show his kind nature and that the great earth has food enough for everyone who loves her and trusts her;

Trampling underfoot wasteful freeways and needless suburbs, smashing the worms of capitalism and totalitarianism;

Indicating the task: his followers, becoming free of cars, houses, canned foods, universities, and shoes, master the Three Mysteries of their own Body, Speech, and Mind; and fearlessly chop down the rotten trees and prune out the sick limbs of this country America and then burn the leftover trash.

Wrathful but calm. Austere but Comic. Smokey the Bear will Illuminate those who would help him; but for those who would hinder or slander him…


Thus his great Mantra:

Namah samanta vajranam chanda maharoshana Sphataya hum traka ham mam


And he will protect those who love the woods and rivers, Gods and animals, hobos and madmen, prisoners and sick people, musicians, playful women, and hopeful children:

And if anyone is threatened by advertising, air pollution, television, or the police, they should chant SMOKEY THE BEAR’S WAR SPELL:





And SMOKEY THE BEAR will surely appear to put the enemy out with his vajra-shovel.

Now those who recite this Sutra and then try to put it in practice will accumulate merit as countless as the sands of Arizona and Nevada.

Will help save the planet Earth from total oil slick.
Will enter the age of harmony of man and nature.
Will win the tender love and caresses of men, women, and beasts.
Will always have ripened blackberries to eat and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at.


…thus we have heard…

(may be reproduced free forever)


Song of the Taste

Eating the living germs of grasses
Eating the ova of large birds

 the fleshy sweetness packed
around the sperm of swaying trees

The muscles of the flanks and thighs of
soft-voiced cows
the bounce in the lamb’s leap
the swish in the ox’s tail

Eating roots grown swoll
inside the soil

Drawing on life of living
clustered points of light spun
out of space
hidden in the grape.

Eating each other’s seed
ah, each other.

Kissing the lover in the mouth of bread:
lip to lip.

~Gary Snyder

Kyogen said, “Zen is like a monk hanging by his teeth in a tree over a precipice. His hands grasp no branch, his feet rest on no limb, and under the tree another monk asks him, ‘Why did Bodhidharma come to China from the West?’ If the monk in the tree does not answer, he misses the question, and if he answers, he falls and loses his life. Now what shall he do?”