The Distillation of Zen

Wake Up!
Life is transient
Swiftly passing
Be aware
The Great Matter
Don’t waste time.

A wonderful distillation of Zen practice.  “Wake Up” – our inspiration and the stick driving us on.  Not proclaiming a goal but serving as a reminder of our essence and purpose.  Our mission statement.  “Life is transient, swiftly passing” –  Facts.  Bare and painful facts.  No eternity and no heaven.  Focus and don’t forget that everything swirls by with such speed that it seems one long, eternal, never-ending moment.  “Be Aware, The Great Matter” – Every moment is a practice and we should practice every moment.  Our koan?  The Great Matter.  What is it?  It is the manifestation of this moment through the power and integrity of  our practice.  Whether that practice is zazen, following breath, chanting, visualization or the overall benefit of others through a compassionate act.  The Great Matter is the sound of the present moment being lived.

Don’t waste time.  I planned to write a longer post.  Instead I walked the dog and sat with my daughter, drank a beer and mowed the lawn.  Please don’t waste your time.



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14 thoughts on “The Distillation of Zen

    • LOL! Thanks Nathan…

      Sometimes I think I come off as preachy (I have been told so) but mostly posts like these are a reminder to myself. You are your own worst critic, right?



  1. I heard my third grade math teacher- “Sit up and pay attention!”

    …or my sixth grade art teacher- “Sit down and shut up or I’ll rip your head off!”

    The sentiment is basically the same.

  2. That’s the han outside the zendo at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center.

    I know exactly how it sounds. It’s death, knocking on the door of your heart, telling you to wake up.


  3. If you would kindly allow me to insert here one comment regarding your excellent artice on the Karmapa Lama:

    The Constitution of India determines that Buddhism is Hinduism. Not Buddhism. Buddhist Temples in India have also been, by the Indian Constitution, disowned as being Hindu. Consequently, the Indian Govenment – officially Hindu – treats the Karmapa Lama as subservient to the Hindu religious authorities. The Indian government did not justify its violation of human rights, because the Karmapa Lama has the human right to travel abroad on religious duties, which this time, were impeached by the Hindu government of India.

    Buddha bless you.

    • Hmm. Really? So the Tibetan refugees currently in India are subordinate to the Hindu religious authorities? I had no idea. Thanks for your comment.



      • The chief Hindu religious authority – the one in question – is the Jagad Guru of Sringeri Matham, incarnation of Shankaracharya. In other words, the Hindu Pope.

        • so M.F. Machado,

          I enjoy your comments and insight but it seems that they should be placed on my post on the Karmapa, in order to read them in the proper context. With your permission, I would be happy to move them over there for the benefit of all 20 of my readers!



  4. Corrigenda: kindly, read:

    “If you would kindly allow me to insert here one comment regarding your excellent article on the Karmapa Lama:

  5. Beautiful, John. Less time ‘thinking about’ on your blog, and more just being with your daughter and yourself.

    More powerful than words . . .

    Deep bow to you, Dharma brother.


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