Antonio Machado – Traveler, your footprints

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Traveler, your footprints
are the only road, nothing else.
Traveler, there is no road;
you make your own path as you walk.
As you walk, you make your own road,
and when you look back
you see the path
you will never travel again.
Traveler, there is no road;
only a ship’s wake on the sea.

-Antonio Machado


A moment of Zen penetration from the Western philosophical tradition

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“To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.”
-Michel de Montaigne; Complete Essays, Chapter XIX

Linji’s How-To for Buddhists & Zen practitioners

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“Followers of the Way, the Dharma of the Buddhas calls for no special undertakings. Just act ordinary, without trying to do anything particular. Move your bowels, piss, get dressed, eat your rice, and if you get tired, then lie down. Fools may laugh at me, but wise men will know what I mean.”
– Linji Yixuan, 9th c. China

The way to study true Zen is not verbal

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Photo by flickr user Sascha Sormann. Appearing via Creative Commons license. All rights revert to originator.

“I feel sorry that I cannot help you very much. But the way to study true Zen is not verbal. Just open yourself and give up everything. Whatever happens, whether you think it is good or bad, study closely and see what you find out. This is the fundamental attitude. Sometimes you will do things without much reason, like a child who draws pictures whether they are good or bad. If that is difficult for you, you are not actually ready to practice zazen.”

— Shunryu Suzuki, Not Always So

Sengkan and transformative illumination

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Photo by flickr user Abdul Rahman. (CC) All rights revert to originator

It’s really this simple: like unzipping a zipper.

When Daoxin (the 4th Patriarch) was 14 he traveled to see Sengkan, so named since his transformative encounter with Master Hui’ke.

Daoxin pleaded “I beg the master to have mercy. Please instruct me on how to achieve release.”

The master said “Is there someone who constrains you?”

Daoxin said “There is no such person.”

The master said “Why then seek release when you are constrained by no one?”

Layman Pang

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“Only hope to make empty that which exists.
Be careful not to make real that which does not exist.”

-Shōbōgenzō, Case 16

Image by flickr user Mark Robinson, appearing under Creative Commons license. All rights revert to the originator.

Basho – Slender, so slender

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Photo by flickr user Arnoud Boekhoorn. All rights revert to originator.

Slender, so slender
its stalk bends under dew —
little yellow flower.


-Matsuo Bashō, 17th c. Japan