TPL BS talks

On Attitudes – Views – Mind 26-8-1997 Poem – On the Sea Shore of Endless World 26-8-1990 Robes of Honour 11-12-1996 Short Stories & Teachings 28-9-1996 Smacking Down the Waves 14-6-1989 Songs & Stories of the Ways Sparks from the Heart Flint 1-9-1982 Stars and Comets Study Class – Fragments of Stories 19-9-1989 The Breeze Hammering at the Door 25-8-1999 The Five Hindrances 15-8-1987 The Flower of the Heart 11-9-1986 The Mind Twitches 2-9-1997 The Obstacles Created by the Intellect in Understanding the Teachings – Mindfulness 26-8-1990 The Soft and the Hard 28-8-1980 The Spur 10-10-1990 The Stone Sermon 11-8-1985 The Ways 1974 Thus I Have Heard 28-10-1998 Time for Listening, Time for Learning Aug 1990 Tips and Icebergs 3-9-1983 Tokusal on Sword and Mind 15-3-1993 Tradition of the Ways 3-9-1976 Traditions of the Ways Zen and the Ways Zen Buddhism (4) A Hundred Hearings Not like One Seeing 22-1-1990 A Zen Way 3-9-1993 Advice on Practice and Work with Feelings 1989 Becoming a Thing 12-8-1987 Collected Stories 22-8-1984 Early Indian Buddhism 14-12-1979 Early Indian Mahayana Buddhism 14-12-1979 Early Zen in Japan 30-8-1975 Early Zen Texts and the Ways Fingers & Moons 25-8-1984 Hearts of Religion 27-9-1988 Indian Background to …

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Categories Zen

Zen master Hakuin on the Lotus Mantra

The Sutra called “The Lotus of the Wonderful Law “ (Sad Dharma Pundarika) is one of the fundamental scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism. A commentary on it was written by Prince Shotoku, who used it to introduce Buddhism into Japan in the sixth century. Since his time, the chief Buddhist teachers of Japan have given this text an important place. Dengyo Taishi, founder of the Tendai Sect in Japan, made it the centre of his doctrine ; his great contemporary Kobo Daishi, of the Shingon or Mantra Sect, wrote his own commentary on the Lotus Sutra. There are introductions to the sutra by Honen, founder of the Pure Land sect, by the famous Zen master Dogen, and many others. Then in the thirteenth century, the saint Nichiren began to teach his followers the practice of repetition of the mantra of the Lotus, which runs: ” Namu Myoho Ren ge-kyo “, ” Reverence to the Sutra of the Lotus of the Wonderful Law “. By repetition of this mantra with single-mindedness and sincerity, taught Nichiren, we become conscious of the essence of the Sutra, namely the eternal Buddha-nature in all. The practice of mantra is very ancient, and goes back to Vedic …

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The Buddha can write a masterpiece and since then I felt a strength holding me and peace within

¬†A Japanese master of calligraphy retired to the country and he took an interest in the schoolchildren in their education and there was one boy there who was being brought up by his grandmother because both his parents had died and the teacher of calligraphy saw this boy and saw his schoolwork and he told the grandmother, he said: ‘when the time comes he ought to go to college in the capital and sure enough the grandmother made great sacrifices for bringing up the boy and made it clear that she was making great sacrifices and that she did not have very many friends. People complain a lot if they don’t have many friends. When the time came, the teacher said: well now, he should go to the capital to study, and the president of one of the main universities is a friend of mine and I can write you a letter of introduction and he has a special hostel for students from the country who don’t have any money and I believe that with my recommendation he will accept the boy. So the grandmother said: well, I shall be very lonely of course but for the boy’s sake I …

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Categories Zen

What is your true face, your original face which you had before your parents were born

The original face is a well-known Zen riddle where the pupil is asked, when you were born, just when you were born, your face was covered with little wrinkles. When you were young your skin was smooth. When you get old your skin is covered with wrinkles again. Now what is your true face, your original face which you had before your parents were born? It’s quite easy to work out a philosophical answer to this. We can say, well, of course the true self has no attributes. These wrinkles or absence of wrinkles, they are all attributes. True self, they aren’t attributes, and so the original face is the true self. The teacher never accepts such things. If the pupil persists in them he hits him quite hard. Now he has to go and find the original face. He can think well, I know it, Hakuin quite easily said. These attributes, these passing things: reputation, money, poverty, illness, they are not me they are passing attributes. But in actual fact, when something happens, I find there may be masks but they are actually me. Hakuin was a great Zen master, very famous, and a girl in a neighbouring village …

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Categories Zen

Life is the teacher: if we do not waste time in complaining, but try to learn from it

In the 1950’s it was difficult for Japanese to get the foreign currency to travel. Japanese travellers sometimes helped each other out, and sometimes they were helped by acquaintances in the foreign countries. I did a little service to the head of a big Tokyo hospital, who was a Judo man like myself. He himself on another occasion had done a similar service to the travelling Primate of the Soto Zen sect, the largest of the Japanese Zen sects, with well over 10,000 temples affiliated to it at that time. (There are now more.) The Tokyo doctor wanted a chance to re-pay my own little service, and similarly the Primate had told the doctor to ask freely if there was anything the Zen priest could do for him. When I was in Tokyo a bit later, I looked up the doctor who took me out to lunch. In the course of the conversation he found that I was interested in Zen, but that it was difficult at that time to get an introduction to a good teacher. I knew that the doctor was not a Buddhist, and the remark was made only in passing. But he sat up as if …

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In Taoist thought there are warnings against trying to teach the unteachable

There are certain rules for the transmission of the Holy Truth. One set of traditions is concerned with the passing on from teacher to pupil in a face-to-face relation, and another set is concerned with what might be called broadcasting it to groups. The face-to-face relationship was in India called Upanishad, which means literally “sitting near”. The implication is that the teachings were passed on to one person only, in privacy where no one else could hear. The passing on of the secrets often took place without any formality, and was not dependent on outward circumstances. This meant that there were no fixed centres where alone the instruction could be given. It could be given in ceremonial form but that was not essential. In times of persecution under some fanatical ruler such as the blood thirsty Aurangzeb of 17th century India, it was not possible for the ruler to find centres that he could destroy. The case was similar in 9th century¬† China when the Emperor Wu tried to stamp out Buddhism. Most of the traditional sects had a richly endowed temples as there headquarters, often enshrining relics of their Indian founder. The rule was that a new priest had …

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Categories Zen

See, Hear, Understand, and Sit On

The huge body of Chinese Buddhist scriptures, which include not only translations of many Indian texts which have disappeared in India but also many texts which originated in China, are sometimes put together in the form of an enormous revolving book-case, in the form of a great drum. There is a belief that modern man – beginning presumably with the modern men in China of the first century AD when Buddhism arrived there – cannot be expected to study them all. Or even half, or even a quarter, or even a fraction of them. But if he has the faith, and stands before that great drum of the scriptures, and simply turns it round a complete revolution – why then, he will get the same merit as if he had studied them. It is a bit like the Tibetan prayer-wheel, though that has only one scripture, or sentence from a scripture, in it. But it can be revolved many times without much effort. With the Chinese one, you have to give a steady push to the spokes which stick out of the drum. You can’t be expected to read them, of course but you push them, and by pushing the …

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