The Fourth of Dongshan’s Five Ranks: Finding Heaven in This Natural Realm

When we read any koan, poem, or myth, we often encounter bits that stand out and speak to us; shiny objects that say, “Come closer, look at me, play with me.” Sometimes, they hook us and refuse to let go. The third line in the above poem was just such an ornament with my latest reading. Who doesn’t want to ascend to heaven?

Something from Nothing: The Poetry of Marie Howe

“The challenge of my whole life has been to slow down. I find it very difficult to be still—to endure it.”

—Marie Howe

The Third of Dongshan’s Five Ranks: Speaking and Not Speaking

The Third Rank is called “Coming from Within the Real,” and we are learning to embody, to become intimate, with emptiness. We make it our own.

The Second of Dongshan’s Five Ranks: You Come Upon an Ancient Mirror

The second rank is called “The Real within the Apparent,” written in the 9th century by Dongshan, the founder of the Caodong (Soto) Chan-Zen School. His Five Ranks present a kind of lyrical roadmap of the process of awakening.

The First of Dongshan’s Five Ranks: Hidden in Deep Midnight

Dongshan’s Five Ranks form the final collection of koans in Pacific Zen’s curriculum. The first rank recognizes darkness and shadow in our lives: the dirt, the mud, the smelly garbage. It is this dark matter that of necessity accompanies us in our search for light in the universe.

Saving the Earth, Helping the People: A Spiritual and Political Journey – A Visit with Governor Jerry Brown

“Politics is a power struggle to get to the top of the heap. Calcutta and Mother Teresa are about working with those who are at the bottom of the heap. I came to see them as no different from myself and their needs as important as my needs. And you’re there to serve them, and in doing that you are attaining as great a state of being as one can.”

—Governor Jerry Brown

The Who of Jerry Brown

Jerry Brown is one of the most fascinating public servants of our era; he remains a passionate advocate for nuclear disarmament, environmental protections, and education reform. Jerry’s life has been one of both spiritual contemplation and political action, all in hopes of making the world better for others.

Ducks Say It Upside-Down

It is nice to occasionally experience the universe as incredibly silly, to see the world as a vast field of play. In even the most dire of circumstances, at times we can taste a quality of suchness and light, one that existed before we attached the definitions “pain” and “struggle.”

Hazy Moon of Enlightenment

The “hazy moon of enlightenment” was one name the ancients had for awakening: the light of the moon is always shining, even through the clouds and the dust.

Does a Robot Dog Have Buddha Nature?

A Zen monk living in Vermont hopes the AI community can “embed the enlightenment of the Buddha into code. Creating AI with a spiritual path is perhaps the most important act of all time.”

(from an article about Steve Forall)