Finding a teacher

Do you have the aspiration for enlightenment
Don’t look to clever minds
Men with lots of degrees
who write books
Find a simple man or women
someone who sits by the water
and feeds the fish
Someone who feeds the birds
in their yard
Too many words clutter the
mind and cause confusion
non-thinking is where the
truth radiates wisdom
Sit quietly at night
and look to the moon
and see your
original face.

R C Hess Feb 9, 2018

Posted in Buddhism, Chan, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sengzhao before Bodhidharma 

Bodhidharma is traditionally given credit for bringing Buddhism to China and is considered the first ancestor of Chan Buddhism.  But before him there were others.  One of them was Sengzhao, a disciple of Kumarajiva and was a principle translator.  His teachings already pointed to Chan/Zen.  He taught that ultimate truth could not be known through words and concepts but only through intuition/meditation.  Of course all of our information from that far back is based on subjective history.  Some scholars even doubt the existence of Bodhidharma while others claim there is evidence of two or more Bodhidharmas. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The core of Chan/Zen

The core of Chan/Zen is found in the intuitive understanding of beyond the beyond.

This is expressed in many teachings. In the Heart Sutra it’s expressed in the first few lines: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Also in the mantra at the end: “Gate gate paragate, Bodhi Svaha.”
This is translated by some as: Gone, gone all the way to the other sure; the entire sangha gone beyond the beyond, enlightenment, hallelujah. Others have add gone beyond all concepts, gone beyond the cycle of birth and death, gone beyond the boundaries of space and time.

It’s expressed in the Diamond Sutra: “Anyone who believes in a personality, a being, a self, a lifespan or a soul is not a Bodhisattva.”

Hui-neng, the sixth Chinese patriarch, expressed it as from the first not a thing exists.

Some people think that Zen is something you practice to deal with difficulties in this life. But Zen is much more, much deeper than that.

Some people point to the so called crazy clouds in history and use them to justify ignoring the precepts and doing whatever they want. But these people have left the path of Buddhism. To truyl practice Zen you must constantly work on the precepts and the teachings of the Sutras.

Posted in Buddhism, Chan, Uncategorized, Zen | Leave a comment

The wisdom of nature.

You hear the gentle
babbling of the brook.
The wind blowing the branches.
You see the clouds
floating by
They all speak more
wisdom than all the
volumes spoken by
men and women.
Listen and watch
They tell the secret
of life and death.

R. C. Hess Jul 24, 2017

Posted in Buddhism, Chan, Uncategorized, Zen | Leave a comment

What is the Last Word.

In the Mumonkan, case 13, Tokusan Holds His Bowls Ganto says Tokusan is renowned but he doesn’t know the last word.  Later he says “Our old man has got hold of the last word!  This led me to contemplate the “Last Word.”  It has become a Hwatou for me;  What is the last word? much like “What does the one return to?  I recommend studying this case and working on it.  It can bring great insight.


Posted in Buddhism, Chan, Koan, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Silent Illumination

Silent Illumination is the practice of just sitting.  You can read about it in a book on Master Hongzhi’s teachings titled ‘Cultivating the Empty Field.’   Also in ‘The Method of No-method’ by Master Shen Yen.   It’s a simple method but not easy to fully develope.  You must relax the body and the mind and practice awareness of the body just sitting.  The awareness is on the body as a whole and not individual elements of the body.  The mind is totally relaxed and one let’s go of all wandering thoughts.  Master Sheng Yen teaches additional practices as part of it such as contemplating impermanence of the environment, body and mind.   When one can fully experience impermanence there is no fear, no suffering.  I suggest reading the two books mentioned above.  Loving Kindness to ALL

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


We have six senses: Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and mental functions. Ego sits on top of these and attaches to the objects of these senses. It causes desire for things we see, touch or any of the other functions. We should meditate and learn to let go of ego. Without ego there is no suffering only a luminous awareness. Today I practice letting go of ego.

Posted in Buddhism, Chan, Zen | Leave a comment

Daily practice

Zen Buddhism is very simple. I try to keep my mind still and free from wandering thoughts. I practice the following daily

May all beings practice compassion
May all beings have sympathetic joy for others
May all beings live in peace and detachment

I try to ferry all beings to the other shore.

But I have my demons too. Remember me in your meditation.

Loving kindness to ALL beings.

Posted in Chan, meditation, Uncategorized, Zen | Leave a comment

Book of Equanimity

Case 69 – translation by Gerry Sheshin Wick.

Attention! Nansen addressed the assembly, saying, “All Buddhas of the three times don’t know of it, but cats and cows know of it.”

One interpretation:  the Enlightened life is simple like that of cats and cows.  Don’t get lost in words, thoughts and concepts.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Who am I?

People keep busy with trivial and mundane things so they don’t have to look deeply into this.

Posted in Buddhism, Chan, Uncategorized, Zen | Leave a comment