Tag Archives: Shinran

Monkey Mind


clock ticking
as they race by-
monkey mind

New growth


new trees growing
from old stump-
summer camp

The Stick of Buddhism


the stick of Buddhism
teaches a hard lesson-
mental myopia

Today at the Buddhist Temple of Chicago Rev Nakai gave a talk and during this talk she said a phrase. The phrase was “stick of Buddhism” and it hit me, well like a stick.
It reminded of a discussion with my wife about how the path of a Buddhist is not an easy one and it is easy to just settle into complacency and not delve into your own psyche and short comings. I remember reading stories where the Zen Master would hit students with a stick, not to punish them but to jolt them into a new awareness.
So the next time you are stuck try and find a way to jolt yourself out of your mental myopia.

Last breath


last breath
cicada sings-
present moment

As I approach my surgery date I plan on living each day as mindful as I can up until the anesthesia alters my awareness.
During past surgeries I have memories of talking during the surgery, hearing conversations and even smelling things in the OR. I hope that this time, since I have been meditating more perhaps I can be more lucid and experience new things while my body is repaired. Stay tuned to see what happens.

Shinran’s Pine


butterfly departs–
even Shinran’s pine
seems to know

choo yuku ya shinran matsu mo shitta kao

by Issa, 1818

Shinran founded the Jo^doshinshu^ (True Teaching Pure Land) Buddhist
sect to which Issa belonged. This haiku has the prescript, “Zenko^ji”
(Zenko Temple), the major Pure Land temple in Issa’s home province. At
that temple, Shinran left a gift of a pine tree in a great pot,
centuries ago. Shinji Ogawa notes that Issa is punning in this haiku.
Shinran matsu (“Shinran’s pine”) is close to shiran matsu
(“not-knowing pine”), which contrasts with shitta kao: the “knowing
face” of the butterfly. Thus, Shinji writes, the haiku might be
translated: “butterfly departs/ Shinran’s pine/ acknowledges.” Or:
“butterfly departs/ even the not-knowing pine/ [has a] knowing face.”

Tr, David Lanoue

More about the pine and Saint Shinran

Buddhist Proverbs


This Sunday, April 15th 2012, I have been asked to give the message at the Buddhist Temple of Chicago. I decided to discuss the “Four Dharma Seals.” In my research I came across many Buddhist Proverbs at http://japanlifeandreligion.com, the following ten are the my favorites. I am not going to add commentary at this time but I hope to do so in the future. Furthermore, If you live in Chicago please come on by as I would love to meet you.

I also suggest using these proverbs as an object for contemplation/meditation.

  1. 悪事身にとまる (akuji mi ni tomaru) – All evil done clings to the body.
  2. 頭そるより心をそれ (atama soru yori kokoro wo soré) – Better to shave the heart than to shave the head.
  3. 会うは別れのはじめ (au wa wakaré no hajimé) – Meeting is only the beginning of separation. (This one I am using!)
  4. 凡夫も悟れば仏なり (bonbu mo satoréba hotoké nari) – Even a common man by obtaining knowledge becomes a Buddha.
  5. 仏法とわら屋の雨、出てきけ (Buppō to waraya no amé, dété kiké) – One must go outside to hear Buddhist doctrine or the sound of rain on a straw roof.
  6. 仏になるも沙弥をへる (Hotoké ni naru mo shami wo heru) – Even to become a Buddha one must first become a novice.
  7. 地獄極楽は心にあり (Jigoku Gokuraku wa kokoro ni ari) – Hell and Heaven are in the hearts of men.
  8. 露の命 (Tsuyu no inochi) – Human life is like the dew of morning.
  9. 陰の形にしたがうごとし (kagé no katachi ni shitagau gotoshi) – Even as the shadow follows the shape.
  10. この世は仮の宿 (Kono yo wa kari no yado) – This world is only a resting-place. 

    You can also check out the below sources for many others.

  1. http://japanlifeandreligion.com/2010/11/26/ten-great-buddhist-proverbs-by-lafcadio-hearn/ Thanks to Doug 陀愚 for his wonderful kanji.
  2. http://www.sacred-texts.com/shi/igj/igj12.htm
  3. http://oaks.nvg.org/buddhist-proverbs.html

Sing with joy.


birds sing and
the clouds cry in joy
a Buddha is born

Today’s senryu is in honor of Buddha’s birthday.

See yesterday’s post for more info



Today was a special day at the Buddhist Temple of Chicago. Today we celebrated the birth of the Buddha. Most Buddhist congregations celebrate the Buddha’s birthday sometime in April or May. The happy occasion is called Wesak, in the Japanese tradition it is called “Hanamatsuri” which translates to “The Flower Festival”.

The name Hanamatsuri derives from the story of Buddha’s birth. The story says that when the Buddha was born, the Earth was so glad that flowers sprang forth in full bloom. This show of joy of Earth manifested itself because there had not been a real Buddha on Earth for centuries. The deities, too, were also so happy that they sent a shower of green tea accompanied by music. It is all very festive. (The Deities come from Japanese Mythology and are part of the Japanese culture not Buddhist)

This festive event, actually a birthday party, is for, Gotama Siddhartha Shakyamuni, a real human being who was like us was not always a Buddha. He, just like us, shared in Samsara (the cycle of all life, that is birth, growth, illness and challenges, aging, death and rebirth). Humans share this cycle with all forms of life, and non-living things like mountains and stones—and the waters of the earth. In fact our whole planet and Universe goes through the same cycle of impermanence.

In the teachings of Shinran, by living our lives in the spirit of a Bodhisattva we help recycle (teach) the truth of Amida’s Bodhisattva Vow. By living such a life we bring the Dhamma (Dharma) back into the world of suffering humanity. This program can start at any point on the cycle of, in fact it embraces the whole process as it is.

So when you sing “Happy Birthday to the Buddha” in your Hanamatsuri service, sing your heart out and enjoy the day, it could be the starting point of something very important.

Happy Birthday Buddha.

The images below are of the Dharma School children performing Kambutsu. This represents the washing of the newborn baby Buddha.

(my daughter is the one closest to the camera in the above image)