Archive for the ‘Chinese’ Category

What is Zen?


  • Not reliant on written word
  • A special transmission separate from the scriptures
  • Direct pointing at one’s mind, seeing one’s nature, becoming the Buddha

Fish forget that they live in lakes and rivers; people forget that they live in the magic of the Dao. – Confucius

  • If one engages in self-cultivation with the desire to sever the roots of defilement and erroneous thinking, it is not only to attain the tranquil realm of true emptiness which involves no-thought, no-idea, no-mind, no-self, etc.; it is also in pursuit of the wonderful wisdom that is experienced in and grows from a way of life that is different from the ordinary. In that realm, the whole world is seen from one perspective, and there are no dichotomies; it is the true world where the self and others, as well as good and evil, are all transcended.
  • Don’t get mired in the worlds of yesterday and tomorrow. Instead, live in the world of today. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, experience the beautiful things around you at that moment.
    • Life is but a breath.
    • When you can see the beauty and goodness in everything around you, you have entered the gates of Zen.
  • Heaven and Hell aren’t places that suddenly appear after death. They exist here and now. Good and evil involve just a single instant of thought, and the gates of Heaven and Hell are ready to open for you at any time.
  • When you go point out other people’s mistakes, the real error may very well be hidden in your own misconceptions.
  • The truth and words are unrelated.
    • The truth can be compared to the moon. And words can be compared to a finger. I can use my finger to point out the moon, but my finger is not the moon, and you don’t need my finger to see the moon.
    • Language is merely a tool for pointing out the truth, a mean to help us attain enlightenment. Whoever insists on language sacrifices the truth and will be confused forever.
    • Anytime we use words to explain something, there will be deficiencies. That which is asked about is itself the most complete answer.
    • If a rock is thrown at a dog, the dog will go after the rock. If a rock is thrown at a lion, the lion will go after the person who threw it. When investigating the language of Zen, you should be like lion and not the dog.
      • The words of a person of Zen are just pointers, topics that lead to a deeper level of experience, so when encountering the language of Zen, don’t pursue simply the meanings of the words themselves.
  • If you had one hundred sheep and one of them lost its way, wouldn’t you immediately go in search of the lost one, abandoning the other 99 in the open fields? It is important to help those who need help the most.
  • In practicing Zen, we should be like the mute, gaining insights yet feeling it not worthwhile to discuss them with others. The worst thing a person can do is emulate a parrot and go around teaching others about one’s merely superficial understanding of Zen.
  • Don’t project  yourself on things you come into contact with, and don’t differentiate between yourself and other things, because so-called  subjectivity and objectivity do not exist. The domain of wisdom is in understanding that there is no self, there is no other, and everything is the way it is.
  • Consistency between actions and words is the foundation of self-cultivation.
  • Heaven looks on all beings just the same and won’t help anyone in particular. The one who can help you is yourself.
  • Everything has its place in nature.
  • Don’t dwell on the past. Don’t worry about the future. Experience and cherish the moment. Happiness is acting according to circumstances, whatever they may be.
    • While we live, we should enjoy the mystery and beauty that are life, rather than worrying about what comes after death. Live today without worrying about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have its own worries.
  • When the wind blows, the bamboo bends; when the wind is gone, the bamboo makes no sound. A wild goose crosses a wintry lake, and when it departs, the lake leaves no trace. When something happens, confront it with your original nature. When it’s over, empty your mind of it.
    • All you have to do is respond in a direct, resolute way to any situation, and you will become that situation, and that situation become you.
  • The perfect person’s mind is like a mirror: neither taking nor welcoming, it responds but doesn’t store. So, when it is time to be a general, you should be a general, and when it is time to be a monk, be a monk.
    • If your mind is torn by two conflicting desires, the contradiction will destroy your mind’s unity and tranquility. Just remember, when you should grab something, grab it; when you should let go, let go.
  • Rich and poor are not functions of how much money we have, but rather, of whether or not we are content with what we have.
  • Meet the changes by not changing, for the number of ways to change is limited, while the number of ways to stay the same is infinite.
  • The same pat answer isn’t necessarily true in all situations. The truth of life is always moving, always changing.
  • It is not until the external light is extinguished that our internal light shines bright. It is not until our crutch is discarded that we can realize our latent potential.
  • …we can attain this new life not through thought, but through direct insight.
  • The most precious thing there is resides inside you – it is yourself. In pursuing external objects, we lose the self.

The many have one essence, and the one has many manifestations.

  • What other people have come to understand intuitively can never become yours unless you come to understand it through your own effort.
  • 僧问:“祖意教意是同是别?” 师曰:“鸡寒上树,鸭寒入水。”
    • Everyone has a different way of arriving at the same destination.
    • There is not just one path, and not everyone is fit to travel the same path. By limiting yourself to a certain path, you may actually lead yourself astray.
  • Socrates said that if people know what they should do, they will do it. But he underestimated people’s ability to fail themselves. Everyone knows what they should do, but how many people actually do it?
  • Someone asked a Zen Master, “How do you practice Zen?” The master said, “When you are hungry, eat; when you are tired, sleep.” “Isn’t that what everyone does anyway?” The master replied, “No, No. Most people entertain a thousand desires when they eat and scheme over a thousand plans (untie a thousand knots) when they sleep.”
  • Any time and any place are always the best time and the best place. All you have to do is experience things with an attentive mind.
    • Seize the moment; experience the present; don’t let anything slip by.
  • No teacher can instill a student with anything; but he can help that student understand everything in the student’s own mind.
  • Everything in the world is different from everything else. Therefore, there can never be one certain, unfailing standard. Standards change with people.
  • Movement was originally easy, but we have been shackled by so many worldly rules and restrictions that it is sometimes difficult to take even a single step.
  • A man of Dao is of no-mind; how can he do wrong? By not getting mired in appearances and by following our original nature, we can do no wrong.
  • Only by assimilating yourself with nature and sincerely forgetting the self can you be one with the truth.
  • Flowers are quick to wither, yet the cycle will always remain. Water may move, but the surface of the stream will never change. The meaning of life lies in the process of living – change is the only thing that never changes.
  • You don’t need to travel to some illusory world to find the principles of life; just pay attention to the details of life and experience them. When you begin to doubt, an answer is most likely found where the question begins.
  • We often discover a certain joy in hardship after the hardship is over. If we can discover it while it is happening, then summer will have its goodness and winter will have its wonders.
  • The world and I live together, the myriad things and I are one.  Although the myriad things have innumerable manifestations, they are really of one body.

Zen teachings do not incorporate any practices of belief within them. In fact, you could not get a religion further from beliefs than Zen. As a meditator, if a belief is encountered within oneself, it is simply to be recognized for what it is – a belief – but not followed. There is no question of pushing beliefs away as terrible things, but neither are they to be justified and shored up to be convictions. Then they come and go within the mind, and one’s life is not based upon them. If one places any importance on beliefs they distort reality and cut off the drive to realize truth within oneself.

Trust, however, is a different thing altogether and very important. It is necessary, for example, to trust in the teachings and the path, otherwise they could not be followed.

  • We are all the instruments of nature’s cycle of life and death, whether we like it or not.
    • It is recognized that merely by being alive and breathing, or placing one’s foot upon the ground, one causes countless beings to perish.

There is nothing special about what I do each day;
I only keep myself in harmony with it,
Everywhere I neither accept nor reject anything.
Nor here do I confirm or refute a thing.
Why do people say that red and purple differ?
There’s not a speck of dust on the blue mountain.
Supernatural power and wonder-making works
Are but fetch water and the gathering of wood.

  • The more love you give, the more love you get. The more you share good fortune with others, the more you have for yourself.

An apprentice asks his master, what’s the worth of one bowl of rice?

The master answers that it depends on who gets the bowl of rice.

If a housewife gets it, she will add some water and cook it. About half an hour later, a bowl of cooked rice will be ready and worth one Yuan.

If a vendor gets it, he will soak it and make it into four or five traditional Chinese rice-puddings. Then the bowl of rice is worth four to five Yuan.

If a clever merchant gets it, he will heat and ferment it until he obtains a bottle of good alcohol. The bowl of rice is worth ten to twenty Yuan at that time.

In whichever case, the rice is the same, but the value of the rice depends on the understanding and capabilities of a specific operator.


Posted: November 29, 2011 in Chinese

[弟子规文化网 for videos and other resources]

zǒng xù
【总 叙】

dìzǐguī   shèngrénxùn  shǒuxiàotì   cìjǐnxìn
弟子规  圣人训  首孝悌  次谨信
fànàizhòng  érqīnrén  yǒuyúlì   zéxuéwén
泛爱众  而亲仁 有余力 则学文

rù zé xiào

fùmǔhū yìngwùhuǎn fùmǔmìng xíngwùlǎn
父母呼 应勿缓 父母命 行勿懒
fùmǔjiào xūjìngtīng fùmǔzé xūshùnchéng
父母教 须敬听 父母责 须顺承
dōngzéwēn xiàzéjìng chénzéxǐng hūnzédìng
冬则温 夏则凊 晨则省 昏则定
chūbìgù  fǎnbìmiàn jūyǒucháng yèwúbiàn
出必告 反必面 居有常 业无变

shìsuīxiǎo wùshànwéi gǒushànwéi zǐdàokuī
事虽小 勿擅为 苟擅为 子道亏
wùsuīxiǎo wùsīcáng gǒusīcáng qīnxīnshāng
物虽小 勿私藏 苟私藏 亲心伤
qīnsuǒhào lìwèijù qīnsuǒwù jǐnwèiqù
亲所好 力为具 亲所恶 谨为去
shēnyǒushāng yíqīnyōu déyǒushāng yíqīnxiū
身有伤 贻亲忧 德有伤 贻亲羞
qīnàiwǒ xiàohénán qīnzēngwǒ xiàofāngxián
亲爱我 孝何难 亲憎我 孝方贤
qīnyǒuguò jiànshǐgēng yíwúsè róuwúshēng
亲有过 谏使更 怡吾色 柔吾声

jiànbúrù yuèfùjiàn hàoqìsuí tàwúyuàn
谏不入 悦复谏 号泣随 挞无怨
qīnyǒují yàoxiāncháng zhòuyèshì bùlíchuáng
亲有疾 药先尝 昼夜侍 不离床
sāngsānnián chángbēiyè jūchùbiàn jiǔròujué
丧三年 常悲咽 居处变 酒肉绝
sāngjìnlǐ jìjìnchéng shìsǐzhě rúshìshēng
丧尽礼 祭尽诚 事死者 如事生

chū  zé  tì
【出 则 弟】

xiōngdàoyǒu dìdàogōng xiōngdìmù xiàozàizhōng
兄道友 弟道恭 兄弟睦 孝在中
cáiwùqīng yuànhéshēng yányǔrěn fènzìmǐn
财物轻 怨何生 言语忍 忿自泯
huòyǐnshí huòzuòzǒu zhǎngzhěxiān yòuzhěhòu
或饮食 或坐走 长者先 幼者后
zhǎnghūrén jídàijiào rénbùzài jǐjídào
长呼人 即代叫 人不在 已即到
chēngzūnzhǎng wùhūmíng duìzūnzhǎng wùxiànnéng
称尊长 勿呼名 对尊长 勿见能
lùyùzhǎng jíqūyī zhǎngwúyán tuìgōnglì
路遇长 疾趋揖 长无言 退恭立
qíxiàmǎ chéngxiàjū guòyóudài bǎibùyú
骑下马 乘下车 过犹待 百步余
zhǎngzhělì yòuwùzuò zhǎngzhězuò mìngnǎizuò
长者立 幼勿坐 长者坐 命乃坐
zūnzhǎngqián shēngyàodī dībùwén quèfēiyí
尊长前 声要低 低不闻 却非宜
jìnbìqū tuìbìchí wènqǐduì shìwùyí
进必趋 退必迟 问起对 视勿移
shìzhūfù rúshìfù shìzhūxiōng rúshìxiōng
事诸父 如事父 事诸兄 如事兄


zhāoqǐzǎo yèmiánchí lǎoyìzhì xīcǐshí
朝起早 夜眠迟 老易至 惜此时
chénbìguàn jiānshùkǒu biànniàohuí zhéjìngshǒu
晨必盥 兼漱口 便溺回 辄净手
guānbìzhèng niǔbìjié wàyǔlǚ jùjǐnqiè
冠必正 纽必结 袜与履 俱紧切
zhìguānfú yǒudìngwèi wùluàndùn zhìwūhuì
置冠服 有定位 勿乱顿 致污秽
yīguìjié búguìhuá shàngxúnfèn xiàchènjiā
衣贵洁 不贵华 上循分 下称家
duìyǐnshí wùjiǎnzé shíshìkě wùguòzé
对饮食 勿拣择 食适可 勿过则
niánfāngshào wùyǐnjiǔ yǐnjiǔzuì zuìwéichǒu
年方少 勿饮酒 饮酒醉 最为丑
bùcōngróng lìduānzhèng yīshēnyuán bàigōngjìng
步从容 立端正 揖深圆 拜恭敬
wùjiànyù wùbǒyǐ wùjījù wùyáobì
勿践阈 勿跛倚 勿箕踞 勿摇髀
huǎnjiēlián wùyǒushēng kuānzhuǎnwān wùchùléng
缓揭帘 勿有声 宽转弯 勿触棱
zhíxūqì rúzhíyíng rùxūshì rúyǒurén
执虚器 如执盈 入虚室 如有人
shìwùmáng mángduōcuò wùwèinán wùqīnglüè
事勿忙 忙多错 勿畏难 勿轻略
dòunàochǎng juéwùjìn xiépìshì juéwùwèn
斗闹场 绝勿近 邪僻事 绝勿问
jiāngrùmén wènshúcúnjiāngshàngtáng shēngbìyáng
将入门 问孰存 将上堂 声必扬
rénwènshuí duìyǐmíng wúyǔwǒ bùfēnmíng
人问谁 对以名 吾与我 不分明
yòngrénwù xūmíngqiú tǎngbùwèn jíwéitōu
用人物 须明求 倘不问 即为偷
jièrénwù jíshíhuán hòuyǒují jièbùnán
借人物 及时还 后有急 借不难


fánchūyán xìnwéixiān zhàyǔwàng xīkěyān
凡出言 信为先 诈与妄 奚可焉
huàshuōduō bùrúshǎo wéiqíshì wùnìngqiǎo
话说多 不如少 惟其是 勿佞巧
jiānqiǎoyǔ huìwūcí shìjǐngqì qièjièzhī
奸巧语 秽污词 市井气 切戒之
jiànwèizhēn wùqīngyán zhīwèidì wùqīngchuán
见未真 勿轻言 知未的 勿轻传
shìfēiyí wùqīngnuò gǒuqīngnuò jìntuìcuò
事非宜 勿轻诺 苟轻诺 进退错
fándàozì zhòngqiěshū wùjíjí wùmóhū
凡道字 重且舒 勿急疾 勿模糊
bǐshuōcháng cǐshuōduǎn bùguānjǐ mòxiánguǎn
彼说长 此说短 不关己 莫闲管
jiànrénshàn jísīqí zòngqùyuǎn yǐjiànjī
见人善 即思齐 纵去远 以渐跻
jiànrénè jínèixǐng yǒuzégǎi wújiājǐng
见人恶 即内省 有则改 无加警
wéidéxué wéicáiyì bùrúrén dāngzìlì
唯德学 唯才艺 不如人 当自砺
ruòyīfú ruòyǐnshí bùrúrén wùshēngqī
若衣服 若饮食 不如人 勿生戚
wénguònù wényùlè sǔnyǒulái yìyǒuquè
闻过怒 闻誉乐 损友来 益友却
wényùkǒng wénguòxīn zhíliàngshì jiànxiāngqīn
闻誉恐 闻过欣 直谅士 渐相亲
wúxīnfēi míngwéicuò yǒuxīnfēi míngwéiè
无心非 名为错 有心非 名为恶
guònénggǎi guīyúwú tǎngyǎnshì zēngyìgū
过能改 归于无 倘掩饰 增一辜

fàn ài zhòng
【泛 爱 众】

fánshìrén jiēxūài tiāntóngfù dìtóngzài
凡是人 皆须爱 天同覆 地同载
xìnggāozhě míngzìgāo rénsuǒzhòng fēimàogāo
行高者 名自高 人所重 非貌高
cáidàzhě wàngzìdà rénsuǒfú fēiyándà
才大者 望自大 人所服 非言大
yǐyǒunéng wùzìsī rénsuǒnéng wùqīngzī
己有能 勿自私 人所能 勿轻訾
wùchǎnfù wùjiāopín wùyàngù wùxǐxīn
勿谄富 勿骄贫 勿厌故 勿喜新
rénbùxián wùshìjiǎo rénbùān wùhuàrǎo
人不闲 勿事搅 人不安 勿话扰
rényǒuduǎn qièmòjiē rényǒusī qièmòshuō
人有短 切莫揭 人有私 切莫说
dàorénshàn jíshìshàn rénzhīzhī yùsīmiǎn
道人善 即是善 人知之 愈思勉
yángrénè jìshìè jízhīshèn huòqiězuò
扬人恶 即是恶 疾之甚 祸且作
shànxiāngquàn déjiējiàn guòbùguī dàoliǎngkuī
善相劝 德皆建 过不规 道两亏
fánqǔyǔ guìfēnxiǎo yǔyíduō qǔyíshǎo
凡取与 贵分晓 与宜多 取宜少
jiāngjiārén xiānwènjǐ jǐbúyù jísùyǐ
将加人 先问己 己不欲 即速已
ēnyùbào yuànyùwàng bàoyuànduǎn bàoēncháng
恩欲报 怨欲忘 抱怨短 报恩长
dàibìpú shēnguìduān suīguìduān cíérkuān
待婢仆 身贵端 虽贵端 慈而宽
shìfúrén xīnbùrán lǐfúrén fāngwúyán
势服人 心不然 理服人 方无言

qīn rén
【亲 仁】

tóngshìrén lèibùqí liúsúzhòng rénzhěxī
同是人 类不齐 流俗众 仁者希
guǒrénzhě rénduōwèi yánbúhuì sèbúmèi
果仁者 人多畏 言不讳 色不媚
néngqīnrén wúxiànhǎo dérìjìn guòrìshǎo
能亲仁 无限好 德日进 过日少
bùqīnrén wúxiànhài xiǎorénjìn bǎishìhuài
不亲仁 无限害 小人进 百事坏

yú lì xué wén

búlìxíng dànxuéwén zhǎngfúhuá chénghérén
不力行 但学文 长浮华 成何人
dànlìxíng bùxuéwén rènjǐjiàn mèilǐzhēn
但力行 不学文 任己见 昧理真
dúshūfǎ yǒusāndào xīnyǎnkǒu xìnjiēyào
读书法 有三到 心眼口 信皆要
fāngdúcǐ wùmùbǐ cǐwèizhōng bǐwùqǐ
方读此 勿慕彼 此未终 彼勿起
kuānwéixiàn jǐnyònggōng gōngfūdào zhìsètōng
宽为限 紧用功 工夫到 滞塞通
xīnyǒuyí suízhájì jiùrénwèn qiúquèyì
心有疑 随札记 就人问 求确义
fángshìqīng qiángbìjìng jīànjié bǐyànzhèng
房室清 墙壁净 几案洁 笔砚正
mòmópiān xīnbùduān zìbújìng xīnxiānbìng
墨磨偏 心不端 字不敬 心先病
lièdiǎnjí yǒudìngchù dúkànbì huányuánchù
列典籍 有定处 读看毕 还原处
suīyǒují juànshùqí yǒuquēhuài jiùbǔzhī
虽有急 卷束齐 有缺坏 就补之
fēishèngshū bǐngwùshì bìcōngmíng huàixīnzhì
非圣书 屏勿视 敝聪明 坏心志
wùzìbào wùzìqì shèngyǔxián kěxúnzhì
勿自暴 勿自弃 圣与贤 可驯致

The Spider and the Monk

Posted: November 19, 2011 in Chinese, Short Stories

There was once a monk who was bothered by a great big spider whenever he tried to meditate. He spoke to his Master: “Every time I try to meditate, this big spider appears, and no matter what I do, I just can’t get rid of it.”

“Hmmm… Next time you go to meditate, grab a paintbrush, and if that spider shows up again, draw a circle right on its belly; then you will see what kind of a monster it is.”

So the monk took his master’s advice, and as soon as he had finished drawing the circle on the spider’s belly, the spider disappeared and the monk was able to continue meditating in peace. When he withdrew from his concentration, the first thing he saw was a big black circle right on his own belly.


We all experience troubles and worries, but it often happens that our greatest troubles arise from ourselves.

面朝大海,春暖花开 (海子)

Posted: November 15, 2011 in Chinese, Poetry





Posted: November 9, 2011 in Chinese


The Fine Young Man

A young man should be respectful to is parents in the home, and to his elders outside. His words should be cautious and trustworthy. He should care for people in general and seek company of benevolent men. If having accomplished these he still has energy to spare, he should study.

Understanding Others


Do not be dismayed when others don’t understand you, be dismayed when you fail to understand others.

Words and Actions


A gentleman acts before he speaks, then speaks according to his actions.

Good to All


A gentleman is the same to all without bias; a lesser man is biased without being the same to all.

Study and Contemplation


Study without contemplation leads to confusion; contemplation without study is dangerous.

A Benevolent Neighborhood


An atmosphere of benevolence makes a neighborhood attractive. How is one wise who chooses not to live among benevolence?

Residing in Benevolence


A person who is benevolent cannot live long in hardship, nor can he be happy for long. A benevolent person takes refuge in benevolence; a wise person sees benevolence as advantageous.

The Way in the Morning


If one perceives the Way in the morning, he may die content at nightfall!

The Profit Motive


He who acts according to profit, stirs up great resentment.


A gentleman understands things in terms of righteousness; a lesser man understands things in terms of profit.

Dwelling on the Past


Do not dwell on past ills done to you, and there would be little resentment against you.

The Delight of Study


The one who merely knows the value of study is not so good as the one who takes an interest in studying. The one who takes an interest in studying is not so good as the one who delights in studying.


To everyday realize all the things you don’t know; every month not forget that which you have mastered; this can be called love of learning.

Wealth and Enjoyment


If there were a sure way of acquiring wealth, I would crack a whip if that’s what it took. But since there is not, I will do  what I enjoy most.

Extravagance and Parsimony


If extravagance leads to audacity, and parsimony leads to austerity. I will choose austerity over audacity.

A Gentleman’s Freedom


A gentleman has peace of mind; a lesser man is forever on the edge.

A Gentleman’s Worries


Not cultivating virtue, not studying attentively, not acting according to righteousness, not being able to reform my own faults…These are the things I worry about.

Rectitude Leadership


Governing lies in rectitude. If you lead with rectitude, then who will dare not be upright?


When an upright person governs, people act without being given orders. When the person governing is not upright, he may give orders, but the people won’t follow him.

Lead by Example


If you want the people to act good, you must first set an example yourself. If you work hard, the people will do so as well. Act first and work hard, untiringly.

An Agreeable Person


A gentleman gets along well with others but does not agree to unprincipled actions. A lesser man agrees to unprincipled actions but does not get along with others.

A Content Person


A gentleman is content but not conceited. A lesser man is conceited but not content.

Why Study


Scholars of the past studied for themselves. Scholars of today study for others.



Not speaking with someone worth speaking to is missing an opportunity. Speaking with someone not worth speaking to is misspeaking. A wise person neither misses opportunities nor misspeaks.

Judging People and Words


A gentleman does not recommend people based on what they say; or disregard what is said based on the speaker.

Be Skeptical


When everyone labels a person as good or bad, you must look into it for yourself before accepting it.

The Dao


It is people who can exalt the Way, not the Way that can exalt people.



To commit a transgression and not reform is the real transgression. (People will commit transgressions, and that’s OK as long as they reform.)



Passing on hearsay is the abandonment of virtue.

Benevolence Realized


One who studies broadly and maintains a firm determination; questions sincerely and reflects on things at hand; will realize benevolence in the midst of these.

Crossing the Line


If you refuse to cross the line in matters of great moral import, then in matters of minor moral import, there will be room for a little give and take.

  • In talking about profit, it is easy to lose sight of righteousness.
  • Fate is too mysterious to talk about intelligently.
  • A gentleman sticks to the proper way without getting caught up in petty arguments of right and wrong.
  • A depraved person only worries about what he can get for himself. Before he has attained something, he worries about not getting it. After he has attained something, he worries about losing it. And if all he worries about losing what he has, he’ll go to any length to keep it.