Archive | Koans/Poems


The Tao is like a Well

The Tao is like a well: used but never used up. It is like the eternal void: filled with infinite possibilities.   It is hidden but always present. I don’t know who gave birth to it. It is older than God.   Text: Mitchell, Stephen. Tao Te Ching: A New English Version (Perennial Classics), HarperCollins. […]

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Arrested by Light

I was suddenly arrested in the long, crunching path of the ridge by an exceedingly pointed awareness of the light.  The moment I paused, the full impact of the mood was upon me. I saw more clearly than I’d ever seen before, the minute detail of the grasses, the small flotsam of the forest, the […]

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Given to a Zen Person

Mind itself is buddha. Practice is difficult. Explanation is not difficult. Not-mind. Not-buddha. Explanation is difficult. Practice is not difficult. ~ Dogen     From Chinese-style poems, translated by Philip Whalen and Kazuaki Tanahashi   Text from Moon in a Dewdrop, Writings of Zen Master Dogen, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi,  North Point Press, 1985.  Image: […]

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Dogen: Colors of Mountains

Colors of the mountains, Streams in the valleys; One in all, all in one, The voice and body of Our Sakyamuni Buddha. ~ Dogen   Text from The Zen Poetry of Dogen: Verses from the Mountain of Eternal Peace, by Steve Heine Image: Mountains by Skeeze from,  CC0 Public Domain

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From Dogen’s Echizen

For so long here without worldly attachments, I have renounced literature and writing; I may be a monk in a mountain temple, Yet still moved in seeing gorgeous blossoms Scattered by the spring breeze, And hearing the warbler’s lovely song— Let others judge my meager efforts. ~ Dogen   This kanshi, one of a series […]

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Dogen: Fleeting Dharma

Everyone admires A graceful horse Galloping past the streaming sunlight, But few realize that this fleeting image Is itself the way of Dharma. ~ Dogen Text from The Zen Poetry of Dogen: Verses from the Mountain of Eternal Peace, by Steve Heine Image: Wild Horses by skeeze,  CC0 Public Domain from

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Transmitting to the East

Transmitting to the east the way the ancestors brought from the west, My daily activities illuminated by the moon and shadowed by the clouds, Because I revere the ancient way of the patriarchs, The secular dust of worldly customs does not reach Where I remain secluded in my grass-thatched hut, On a snowy evening deep […]

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Whole-Hearted Attention

…without attention we live only on the surface of existence. The secret of beginning a life of deep awareness and sensitivity lies in our willingness to pay attention…. Our growth as conscious, awake human beings is marked not so much by grand gestures and visible renunciations as by extending loving attention to the minutest particulars […]

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Message from Henry: Shadows

The brighter the light the deeper the shadow. It’s easy enough to see the mote in another’s eye. Our Lord is infinitely merciful – and we’ll torture you until you do feel his mercy… We venerate the bond between mother and child (witness our icons), but have a child out of wedlock and we’ll take […]

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