Samadhi, Schamadhi

My family knows I love to eat rice and natto, or fermented soy beans, in the morning. Often with Korean kimchi. It’s a breakfast habit I started about 10-15 years ago, and never looked back. Thanks to the crunch of the pandemic, and inflation, shipments from Japan have become a trickle, and so our localContinue reading “Samadhi, Schamadhi”

The Real Treasure Was Inside Us All Along

Recently, I have been reading up on the Obaku sect (Ōbaku-shū, 黄檗宗) of Japanese Zen Buddhism: the same sect that Tetsugen was a disciple of. Obaku Zen is the third and last Zen sect to come to Japan to China, centuries after Rinzai and Soto were imported. Rinzai and Soto were both imported from ChinaContinue reading “The Real Treasure Was Inside Us All Along”

What Separates Humans from Animals

Time and again, I keep thinking back to that famous scene from the original Dune novel by Frank Herbert and the gom jabbar test. “A duke’s son must know all about poisons,” she said, “…Here’s a new one for you: the gom jabbar. It kills only animals.” Pride overcame Paul’s fear. “You dare suggest thatContinue reading “What Separates Humans from Animals”

Don’t Play To Win

For those of you who are competing somewhere, consider the following the advice from Kenko in the 13th century Japanese text, the Essays in Idleness: I once asked someone skilled at the board game of sugoroku for hints on how to play. “Don’t play to win,” he said. “Play not to lose. Consider what movesContinue reading “Don’t Play To Win”

Buddhist Practice and Being Reasonable

I found this quotation recently in the 13th century Japanese text, the Essays in Idleness, and have been giving it some thought: Someone asked the holy priest Honen how to prevent himself from being negligent in his practice by inadvertently nodding off when chanting the nenbutsu. “Chant for as long as you stay awake,” answeredContinue reading “Buddhist Practice and Being Reasonable”

Making A Good Impression

In 17th century China there lived a Buddhist monk named Ouyi Zhixu1 (蕅益智旭, 1599–1655) who wrote a famous commentary on the Amitabha Sutra called the Mind Seal of the Buddhas (阿彌陀經要解, Ā mí tuó jīng dài jiě, lit. “Commentaries on the Amitabha Sutra”). I have linked a PDF of it here. Ouyi lived during aContinue reading “Making A Good Impression”

Mind Over Matter

I found this excellent from the Hojoki recently: The Triple World [a Buddhist term for reality] is solely Mind. Without a peaceful mind, elephants, horses and the seven treasures are worthless things, palaces and fine towers mean nothing. The Triple World is solely Mind. Without a peaceful mind, elephants, horses and the seven treasures areContinue reading “Mind Over Matter”

The Diary of Lady Sarashina

In the Tenth month [of the lunar calendar], I turned, my eyes full of tears, towards the intensely bright moon. Even into the mind always clouded with grief,There is cast the reflection of the bright moon. Diary of Lady Sarashina, (source) Recently, I finished a somewhat obscure but interesting work of Japanese literature from theContinue reading “The Diary of Lady Sarashina”

Being A Burden To Others

In the 14th century text, the Essays in Idleness, Kenko writes: 140) The intelligent man, when he dies, leaves no possessions. If he has collected worthless objects, it is embarrassing to have them discovered. If the objects are of good quality, they will depress his heirs at the thought of how attached he must haveContinue reading “Being A Burden To Others”