The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas

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Beginning Zen

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Todaiji Buddhist Temple - Nara, Japan

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This site includes a unique ten step course on how to practice the Buddha Dharma, including a novel approach to the Ten Dharma Realms and how to work on Zen koans. Hovering over the photos below reveals that blog post. The first three rows are sticky posts that stay in one place because they include most of the website. Row one is Beginning Zen, row two is Intermediate Zen and row three is Advanced Zen.The recent posts begin in row four. Please Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Your "Likes" help move the website higher in the search engines so that more people will find it. The site is still growing so please bookmark it and visit us often! And please Contact Us with comments or questions. I am still trying to fix an audio clip in the Buddha Name Recitation section and the latest update to this wonderful Tempera Word Press template seems to have stretched the pictures a bit...so I've got to get back to work. Thanks for visiting and come again and again!

Tranquil Wisdom Zen

    Don’t just sit there – do something! Conventional wisdom Don’t just do something – sit there! Buddhist wisdom This website is about practice;...

Present Moment Awareness Zen

Introduction to Buddhist Practice Nirvana is the highest happiness…the Buddha, as quoted in The Dhammapada, verses 203 and 204.  If we complete this course, it...

Loving Kindness Zen

Step 2 – Finding the Footprints The Ninth Dharma Realm Along the riverbank under the trees, I discover footprints. Even under the fragrant grass, I...

Silent Present Moment Zen

Step 3 – First Glimpse of the Ox The Eighth Dharma Realm I hear the song of the nightingale. The sun is warm, the wind...

Mindfulness Of The Body Zen

Step 4 – Catching the Ox The Seventh Dharma Realm I seize him with a terrific struggle. His great will and power are inexhaustible. He...

Mindfulness of Feelings Zen

Step Five – Taming the Ox The Sixth Dharma Realm The whip and rope are necessary, else he might stray off down some dusty road....

Mindfulness of the Mind Zen

Step Six – Riding the Ox Home The Fifth Dharma Realm Mounting the Ox, slowly I return homeward. The voice of my flute intones through...

Mindfulness Of Mind Objects Zen

Step Seven – Self Alone, Ox Forgotten The Fourth Dharma Realm Astride the Ox, I reach home. I am serene. The Ox too can rest....

Dependent Arising Zen

Step Eight – Both Self and Ox Forgotten The Third Dharma Realm Whip, rope, person, and bull — all merge in No-Thing. This heaven is...

Super Power Mindfulness Zen

Step Nine – Reaching the Source The Second Dharma Realm Too many steps have been taken returning to the root and the source. Better to...

Stream Entry Zen Part One

Entering the stream means that we have at least loosened the fetter of belief in an independent self, we no longer have much doubt in...

Stream Entry Zen Part Two

Sotapanna is the Pali word for stream entry. We enter the stream by lessening the first three fetters of the ten fetters, i. e., the...

The Core Meditation

There are numerous meditation techniques. Some use mantras, some use Zen koans, some, like vippasana, monitor thoughts. But the core meditation taught by the Buddha...

54 prostration verses

A complete Buddhist practice, in my opinion, includes a prostration practice. Complete instructions on how to perform a prostration are found under the heading Prostrations...

Zen Yes, Religion No

It is OK to believe that exercise is good because there is evidence to support that belief. It is OK to believe that a vegetarian...

Zen: Be Kind and Shallow

Many Buddhists have heard the story about the fellow who was a good meditator and was proud of it. He developed an arrogant personality and...

Outflows and Inflows

The irony of Zen is that more words have been written about it than any other branch of Buddhism although the central teaching of Zen...

The Garden of Zen Practice

Buddhism teaches that there are three worlds: The world of sense desire (the crude one we’re in now; it has six realms and is often...

Zen From An Unexpected Guest

Buddhism is a method of cultivating the mind. Since Buddhism affirms that the universe is governed by impersonal laws and not by any creator-god, it...

Mudita And Zen Always Win

Of the four Brahma Viharas, mudita is the one we find to be a little strange. When we cultivate mudita, we are never envious or jealous...

The Sixth Fetter of Ten

In the list of ten fetters, the higher the number, the more subtle the fetter. The more subtle a fetter is, the less seriously we...

Greed and the First Paramita

When preparing to write on a Buddhist topic, I first read what others have to say on the subject. Then I try to find something...

Unintended Consequences

So Time magazine tells us that the U.S. Marines are into Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. My first reaction was that using MBSR to increase the...

Zen, Mindfulness, and Ignorance

This week’s Time magazine’s cover story reports that mindfulness practice is becoming a mainstream practice despite its Buddhist origins. People who won’t listen to monks...

Zen and the Quantum

I grew weary decades ago of the tiresome claims of new age non-scientist novelists that ancient spiritual masters knew all about the implications of quantum...

Dokusan and Mu! #zen

Dokusan, or private instruction, provides an opportunity for Zen students to work directly with a teacher in a confidential, face-to-face setting. In the early days...

The Magic of Sesshin #Zen

Sesshin is the Japanese word that we use in the world of Zen for a meditation retreat. A sesshin may last one day,  a weekend, three or...

Eating Meat Is Stupid #zen

Becoming a vegetarian is the single most effective thing that a single individual can do to inhibit global warming. It dwarfs the impact of switching...

The Stones and L. Ron Hubbard

We Zen practitioners have no bigotry or bias and we practice non-opposition so as a Zen practitioner I have no beef against Scientology. Actually, only Zen...

Is the Self Just An Object?

People who have never given the teachings of the Buddha a second thought know all about subject and object. They know that cars, trees, bodies...

Why does Zen admire rocks?

Ever wonder why rocks are so highly esteemed in Zen? They are esteemed because they exist in the realm of formlessness (the third world referred to...

Thrill Seeking and Ignorance

All of us have seen the interview conducted by admiring journalists after someone has run up to a cliff and jumped off it into the abyss with nothing but a hang...

Disney and Zen Practice

Walt Disney called Disneyland in California “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Walt Disney World in Orlando uses the same slogan. But having visited WDW scores of...

Zen, Christianity and No Self

The Buddhist doctrine of no self is often misunderstood even by some Buddhists. People with low self esteem are known to embrace it: See, it...

Tweet, Blog or Practice Zen?

The more I tweet, the less I meditate. The more I blog, the less I meditate. I just finished an hour of meditation. Even the...

The First Precept of Zen

The first precept of Buddhism, the one that drives many people away from Zen practice because they can’t keep it, is a call for not...

Buddha Name Recitation

Master Chin Kung and the Archbishop of Brisbane The Buddha spoke repeatedly of the Pure Abodes in the Pali Canon and taught that the sentient...

Cursing like a Christian

I had a politically liberal friend, recently passed away, who said Jesus God! many times per day. Did you here what Rush Limbaugh said today?...

Four Stages of Enlightenment

The Buddha identified the four stages of enlightenment: Stream Entry (sotapanna), the Once Returner (sakadagamin), the Non-Returner (anagamin), and Buddhahood. The Buddha taught that Stream...

MBSR Demotes Buddhism

Buddhism is not involved in a rivalry with any religion. It is a religion, as Roshi Philip Kapleau explained, only to the extent that we...

Mindfulness of Mind Objects

Venerable Ajahn Sumedo The Mahayana school of Buddhism recognizes but ten dharma realms whereas the Theravada school recognizes thirty one: The eleven sense-sphere or desire...

Mindfulness of the mind

  After arriving at the Still Forest Pool, the eighth stage of Tranquil Wisdom meditation, discussed in the previous blog, we sit in equanimity, i.e, our mind...

Mindfulness of Feelings

The previous blog post discusses the first four steps of the Buddha’s sixteen step meditation popularly known as Tranquil Wisdom meditation. Now we can briefly...

From Diversity to Unity

Steps one and two of Tranquil Wisdom meditation – Awareness of long and short breaths In the Anapanasati Sutta the Buddha said that after we...

Two Views of Anapanasati

When we study The Anapanasati Sutta by Venerable U. Vimalaramsi and Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond by Venerable Ajahn Brahm, we notice that these two prominent...

Koans and Mindfulness

Harnessing the power of what Ajahn Brahm jokingly refers to as super power mindfulness is the key to cracking open a Zen koan. Without it,...

Would the Buddha tweet?

Yes, but it would not just be a pithy quote of the type so many tweeters enjoy sending out. The Buddha lived before the age...

The Rise of Buddhism

Years ago, having read the delightful novel Don Quixote, I decided to read a scholarly criticism of the book. It was filled with fascinating insights,...

Forgetfulness is the darkness

Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that forgetfulness is the darkness, mindfulness is the light. Trouble is, most people have no idea what forgetfulness is. I have...

Meat is Murder Tofu is Not

The first fold of the Eightfold Path, Right View, is sometimes translated as Right Understanding and is explained by many commentators to mean that one...

Black or White Precepts?

I had the misfortune of taking a tour of a Buddhist temple today. It was a spur of the moment tour, taken only because the...

Happiness is a Warm Brain

With apologies to the late George Schulz, happiness is not a warm puppy. Puppies last a few weeks and then they’re dogs. And dogs don’t...

Is Life But A Dream?

Putoshan Dreams are so easy to leave. We just wake up when we’re rested. It seems quite automatic. If this life is but a dream,...

The Ambitious Zendo Project

  The U.S. government estimates that the number of church buildings in the U.S. is about 330,000. Although census reports have determined that about forty percent of...

The Dharma Realms

This blog will highlight the content of howtopracticezen.com. There are only ten dharma realms according to the Mahayana (thirty one in the Theravada). Here goes: 1. Our...

Words and Nirvana

Mahamati asked the Buddha: “What do you mean by ‘nirvana’?” The Buddha answered the question but he prefaced his answer with definitions of nirvana propounded by “followers...

The way to Nirvana

  Let’s suppose you are the Master of a Buddhist sangha, or in Western terminology, an Abbot of a Buddhist monastery or convent. A student comes...

Renaming the Realms

The ten dharma realms smack of religiosity. Whenever I tell my friends that Buddhism is not a religion of blind belief but a rational system...

Are Buddhists bat-shit crazy?

Many Buddhists sit on a cushion every day, counting their exhalations. Many Buddhists practice loving kindness meditation every day. And the sixteen mindfulness steps of...

In Search of Teachers

I got on Twitter with the primary goal of communicating with Zen and other Buddhist teachers. Unfortunately, some teachers collect followers but don’t follow back...

The Mind/Body Connection

I attended a meditation retreat in the late 1980s in southern Missouri with about 500 people. It was by far the largest group I had ever sat...

Is zazen subversive?

  Zazen is subversive. In our gun-promoting, militaristic culture, sitting on a cushion and practicing metta is a practice that undermines the foundation of that...

Mindfulness or Forgetfulness

What, really, is mindfulness? It is perhaps best understood by contrasting it with its opposite, which is forgetfulness. Most of us are robots, performing most of...

The Present Moment

  I see quite a few tweeple in the twitterverse who tweet every day that they are beginning a meditation with Insight Timer or have...

Repeal the 2nd Amendment

The U.S. air force is unconstitutional because the Constitution gives Congress the power to raise an army and a navy. Thus, Congress has no power...

Beingness Will Pull You In

The second following paragraph appeared as a post on my WordPress blog.  I assume it was meant to be a comment on a blog I had...

Dropping Off Body And Mind

What could be easier than just letting go? If we had nothing to hold on to, nothing to reach for, nothing to drop, what would that be...

Zen and the Flag of Japan

I laughed when I heard the Dalai Lama apologize for not being a good meditator. He said that with his speaking schedule and teaching duties,...

No Meditation, No Life?

Consider two people, one screaming his or her head off out of excitement over a football game on TV and another sitting in a meditation...

Clear Water, Muddy Water

My law partner walked into my office a few years ago and announced that he had just had an amazing conversation. You won’t believe this,...

Terrorism and Religions

This blog and its website will come down immediately (to the chagrin of a very few, if anyone) if I ever encounter a passage in a Buddhist...

Are Buddhists Vegetarians?

I know self-proclaimed Buddhists who brag that they eat meat because they have transcended all notions of right and wrong and are no longer concerned...

Theravada and Rinzai Zen

The Anapanasati Sutta teaches the sixteen steps the Buddha followed to develop the mindfulness that led to his enlightenment. It is well-known to Theravada monks...

Dreams Within Dreams

We can all agree that nothing happens in a dream. Most dreams are classified as anxiety dreams – we dream about what we worry about. More than once...

Have You Made A Good Choice?

  A client who had invented a very clever way to keep track of NASCAR driver standings (we applied for and obtained a patent for...

Arousing the Unsupported Mind

Rinzai Zen teachers assign koans to students in order to arouse the mind of the student. So we apply logic in order to answer the...

Dark energy and Zen

I have vented to some extent my outrage over Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programs simply because I hold the strong opinion that such programs demote Buddhism...

Prostrations Support Zazen

I don’t recall any Buddhist sutra or sutta that mentions prostrations as a Buddhist practice. I don’t know the history of how prostrations became a part of Buddhist practice....

Sakkaya Ditthi Sumedho

Sakkaya ditthi, the wrong view of self, is the first of the ten fetters that bind unenlightened beings. Its counterpart or antidote is Right View or...

Emptiness Is Fullness

“All sentient beings” includes ourselves but “no sufferer is found, no doer of the deeds is there.” No person enters Nirvana and the path has...

Judge not…Divide Not

The famous Bible (Matthew) verse: “Judge not that ye be not judged” has two (2) meanings, I think. The obvious, mundane meaning is that the law...

Empty the cup, Practice Zen

A learned professor once sought out Japanese Zen master Nan-In. He told the master that he was well-read on Zen matters and did not need...

For Whom The Bell Tolls

If there is no independent self, what is there? Buddhism teaches that nothing exists independently of anything else. Everything we see, hear, smell, taste or...

The Ox of Enlightenment

The Ten Ox-Herding Pictures provide a framework for the How To Practice Zen program. Although they were not intended by their artist to be used as...

Venerable Ajahn Brahm

When venerable Ajahn Brahm received some beautifully wrapped gifts when visiting Japan, he left them wrapped and started through the customs line. He was advised...

Why do we sit? Why breathe?

Modern Zen practitioners usually sit on mats and cushions indoors but we practice outdoors whenever it’s reasonable to do so. Even the Buddha eventually established...

Zen and Foolishness

The word “Zen” means meditation. However, Zen meditation is unlike Hindu, Christian, and Islamic meditation. It requires no belief in a creed, a guru, a...

No Two Things. They Are Us.

A man wrote a letter to the editor of The St. Petersburg Times in the spring of 2009, saying that he wanted oil companies to...

Mirrors, Mind and Equilibrium

The mind is the mind of a Satan if it is not the awakened mind of the Buddha. A Buddha mind does not divide reality...

Karma and the Satanic Mind

If we find ourselves today in an unpleasant situation, it is because every thought we have ever had, every act we have ever performed, has...

The Goal Of Zen Practice

As we work our way through the ten steps of the How To Practice Zen program, we will gradually begin to understand what the Augustinian monk...

Psychotherapy Anyone?

My unenlightened, judgmental mind tells me that Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction demotes Buddhism to just another stress-reduction program in competition with yoga classes, tai chi exercises,...

The rabbit that cooked itself

Although the term “Zen” is usually translated as “meditation,” the actual practice of sitting meditation is just  part of Zen practice. Zen meditation is not...

The Sniper and Jesus

In the spring of 2009, I saw a pickup truck with “My boss is a Jewish carpenter” on one bumper and “This vehicle will be...

The Ninth Fetter of Ten

The unenlightened mind suffers from agitation. A mind that is not agitated is a mind at rest. Although there are many techniques for quieting the...

The Tenth And Strongest Fetter

The last and final fetter that an arahat breaks in order to realize nirvana/nibbana is the fetter of ignorance of the Four Noble Truths. Funny,...

The Heart Sutra (Red Pine)

Nor is there pain or cause of pain or cease in pain or noble path to lead from pain, not even wisdom to attain, attainment...

The Seventh Fetter

The Pali texts define the seventh fetter as attachment to formlessness. The three worlds are: 1. The world of desire, which is the one we live...

The Fourth and Fifth Fetters

Sense desire is the fourth fetter and ill will or hatred is the fifth. According to the Pali canon, if we can break the first...

Roshi Aitken, Zen Master

I decided to visit my sister in Hawaii for the first time in ten years and was determined to visit the Diamond Sangha at the...

The Eighth Fetter Conceit

The eighth fetter, conceit, seems at first to be a lot like the first fetter, sakkaya ditthi, the wrong view of self. The eighth fetter,...

Sakkaya Ditthi Spirit Rock

This is a copy of an email I received June 14, 2010 from the Contact Us page of the old static html How To Practice Zen.com...

Stream Entry Fetters 1-3

Sometimes we try to learn too much, too fast. That’s why it’s good to let the concept of sakkaya ditthi sink in for a long...

Practice Zen or Waste Time?

Entrance to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas One person quit our local Zen sitting group with the question: Why should I sit and torture...

Rebirth of a Hillbilly

It is not hard to imagine that after we are dead and gone, some other life form will appear. After all, we appeared after Ben...
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