Posted in han shan

Calming the Waters

Waves roughen the sea and windmill turn because of the wind. Take away the wind and the sea becomes calm and the windmills come to rest. For every effect there is a cause. The waves of desire for things in the material world churn our minds, keep up in a constant state of agitation, scrambling in all directions. What do you think could happen if we eliminate desire?

Master Silly Mountain

 

Our various struggles can really get us down sometimes. Life is hard and we need to do whatever we can to keep it together. We are like the sea. We have different forms of emotional baggage and neuroses that cause us all sorts of harm. We want things to be different, we want things we don’t have, or we want things to not change when the truth is everything does. All of these things, our delusions and attachments, are the wind and we are the sea. This is a wonderful analogy for our practice and I like it a lot. We are trying to just settle down the sea. There are big waves sometimes and little waves other times. And sometimes the sea is very calm. People have described the aim of meditation practice in various ways over the years. I like the image of a calm sea.

We are agitated by our desires. And we want to be calm instead.

That’s what our practice can help us with. We want to learn how to calm the waters, but also how to not get dragged away when there are waves. Because there will always be waves.

 

Posted in han shan

Boring is OK

Those who pursue money are always rushed, always busy with urgent matters. Those who pursue the Dharma, go slow and easy. “Boring” you say? Maybe. Maybe it’s downright dreary to stop and smell a flower or listen to a bird. Maybe a glint of gold is really more dazzling than the sight of one’s Original Face. Maybe what we need is a better definition of “treasure”. -Master Silly Mountain

Go slow and easy. We seem to have lost our ability to relax in the modern era. We try hard to keep busy. But there’s something more significant than that. We also don’t want to be bored. Entertainment is so common these days that we’ve come to expect it. By entertainment I mean anything that’s designed to take you away from where you are. Maybe most people don’t think of their phones as entertainment, but that’s what they are. I struggle with that myself. I really don’t want to be waiting in line anywhere, so when I’m waiting in line I’m checking my phone. I’m either scrolling through Facebook or reading emails. I’m always doing this. Where did I get the idea that I should be entertained all the time? And I don’t think that’s rare. From what I can see by watching other people, that thing I do in line at the store is really really common. We should be willing to let ourselves be a little bored. This is advice I really need to take. Go for a walk alone without wearing headphones. Drive to work without the radio on. Just sit on the couch, not checking Facebook, not watching Netflix, no doing anything. Just BE. The truth is there are no ordinary moments. Even the moments that seem boring can be full of wonder. We’re just missing them. Let’s bring back boredom.

Posted in han shan

Master Silly Mountain

Han Shan Deqing (1546-1623)  is an important figure from the history of Ch’an Buddhism who isn’t well known. They called him Silly Mountain(not to be confused with the other monk named Han Shan, who they called Cold Mountain).

He lived in China and is regarded as a great reformer. He spent a lot of time just wandering from monastery to monastery giving teachings and helping spread the dharma. He was renowned as a great lecturer and commentator and he advocated practicing Ch’an and Pure Land practice side-by-side, which is  pretty universal in modern Ch’an Buddhism today.

It has been suggested that he questioned the value of the system of Dharma Transmission, saying that real enlightenment is beyond such things as certificates and doing the right rituals. Even today, in the modern west,  that’s a scandalous thing to say. Throughout much of the Ch’an/Zen community Dharma Transmission is considered beyond questioning.

Han Shan wrote many commentaries, lectures, and poems. He was a great inspiration to Master Hsu Yun and as such he is revered in the lineages that are descended from him, but outside of those groups he’s largely unknown in spite of his great accomplishments. Master Hsu Yun has long been an inspiration to me, but I’ve only recently delved into the teachings of his hero, Han Shan Deqing. (the hero of my hero is my hero? maybe)

You can read the “The Maxims of Master Han Shan” here.

I’ll close with an example of a poem that Han Shan Deqing wrote (source). I think this a profound statement about our practice on the path and requires no commentary from me:

 

“When the bow’s stiff, its string is first to snap;

The sharper a blade is, the easier to chip.

Trouble results from a talkative tongue,

Harmful deeds reflect a hardened heart.”


 

Upcoming Events

9/9/18: 9:00AM-10:15AM

tam bao

Dharma Talk and Meditation

Tam Bao Buddhist Temple

16933 E 21st St, Tulsa, OK 74134

I’ve been invited to travel to a beautiful Buddhist temple to give a dharma talk. While we’re there, we’ll have the opportunity to visit the largest Buddhist statue in America.

To learn more about this group, click HERE