Number 4: The Spirituality of Work

Work as Devotion

The work is not limited because Dharma work cannot be measured or comprehended.

Measuring and comprehending disturb the mind.

All things help you to cut off disordered and defiled thoughts and views coming from the measuring and comprehending.

The Dharma work is infinitely numberless and universally performing.

What is there to worry about? Nothing at all. And yet, we find ourselves again and again caught in the grip of fretting, rubbing our hands together trying to figure out what to do.

The answer is given, but are we willing and able to follow it?

Let me remind you of the answer.

Roll up your sleeves, and give your attention to whatever shows up and the Way Seeking Mind is realized in the work.

We live in and by the pleasure of the Divine, Eternal power, called by many names. We are never apart from the existence of this power. But…we often think, believe and act as though we are a separate somebody with something to do…finish…keep.

We forget that our action, no matter what, is part of the bigger action. Let’s say that again. Our actions are part of the bigger action. What else would it be?

When you do anything, throw the trash out, make some coffee, sweep the floor, wash someone’s face, turndown the bed covers, go for a walk, look at the sky, contemplate, meditate…run, walk, eat, sleep…birth, aging, sickness, die…are part of the bigger action.

Roll up your sleeves doesn’t just apply to the activities you selected; pay full attention to all action with the mind of rolling up your sleeves. This is the Way.

Some things that hinder us. We tend to live in a world of labels. Labels lead to categories and classifications which lead to judgment and criticism. And this leads to separation.

Our tendency is to want to take charge – to control the world rather than practice with the mind and body. Many of us want to be right or perfect or better than or more comfortable or more something. But trying to measure the immeasurable, trying to comprehend the ineffable disturbs the mind.


Dharma work is infinitely numberless and universally performing.



So…what is all the dividing and measuring about? It is about the apparent world which does not last. When we get into this mindset, we are separated from the infinite and the universal.

All of these tendencies must be discarded. Practicing with mind and body is a practice that cannot be skipped since we think we are the body and we are the mind. This is what scares us. We know we will lose the body and many of us will lose our mind. We have mistaken ourselves as a body and mind which is as crazy as the man who mistook his hat for his wife. In essence, we do not know who and what we are.

Here’s a specific practice. Right there in the mind and body.

Concentrate and focus on, if you will, what happens to the mind and body when it likes something.

Concentrate and focus on, if you will, what happens to the mind and body when it does not like something.

And finally, watch what happens to the mind and body when it is indifferent.

Notice whether you are able to experience attachment and aversion with the things you like and dislike.

And remember…

The non-essentials are when you are given over to likes, dislikes and indifferences. Likes, dislikes and indifference are not essential causes of realization.

If you put your mind on the essential, you will realize the Dharma work.

Humming Bird

Author: Fashi Lao Yue

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at:


Number 3. The Spiritual World of Work

Work as Devotion

War Horse - Chinese horse painting | Horse painting, War horse, Horses


Pay full attention to all action…

the Way Seeking Mind is actualized…

by rolling up your sleeves.

Any Act that Leads to Your Original Nature

 is Virtuous

Any Act That is Selfish, Self-Centered

is Not.

To pay full attention is to give from the position of kneeling down to whatever is in need right there, where we are. From the position of kneeling, we give in such a way that our giving is an offering of love from a docile and trained mind. The training here refers to giving to that which is the Source of our life.

To act unselfishly is to actualize the Way Seeking Mind.

These two quotes are often misunderstood when misused as goads to whip another or to whip oneself into shape. Goads and prods and whips are guilt-creating and shame-bashing by the unenlightened do-gooders of the world. These rich and powerful quotes are for you to contemplate and study and to examine your life actions, not the life actions of another.

What we must be willing to do is to discipline ourselves to be meek. We are to discipline ourselves in such a manner that we are able to keep our strength under control. In no way are we to use our inherent force to go after another being with a rod.

The origin of “meek” in English comes from the Old Norse mjukr, meaning “gentle,” though perhaps a fuller understanding comes from the Greek origin, praus, which is translated as “strength under control.” In ancient Greece, war horses were trained to be meek — strong and powerful yet under control and willing to submit …quote

In the most common rendition of the Cook’s Prayer (p.64) to pay full attention to all the work requires us to keep our strength under control. To concentrate and focus on what is at hand and not what another is doing.

We use our strength, which we have under control, to train in such a way that our selfishness dissipates and remains weakened to the point it no longer interferes with our actions. An image, useful to keep us contained, is to imagine ourselves giving from our knees.

Giving from our knees suggests a position of obedience and docility to the Source. The Source being that immutable, eternal, changeless beingness which is there from the very beginning. It is not some thing outside of us; it is our true original nature. If we pull all of this together, we begin to see that we need to train our wily, cunning, foxy, sly selfish nature to kneel down to that which is immutable, unchanging, eternal and get to work.


Now before we get a little deeper into this Buddhist prayer, when we hear the word work, we often associate it with some remuneration; in other words, we the selfish ego, tends to tally up some gain. We are motivated by that gain which is well-summarized in the sentiment: what is in it for me?

We need a motivation to pick up the training of meekness. An inspiration, incentive, a stimulus within ourselves to train the mind to be docile; to have our strength under control. No easy feat.

It requires our will. We use our will to make a choice. We need to use our will to turn inward towards our true original nature and to turn away from all the things that bog the mind down. In other words, those things that pull us into a swamp-mind.

There are three pointers in the prayer that help us train to be meek, like a war horse ever-trained and ready but exceptionally skilled at being able to control and focus our strength. Anyone who has ever ridden a horse knows the importance of meekness.

The three pointers here are:

  1. Give your full attention (devotion, care, responsive)
  2. The Way Seeking Mind is actualized  (strength under control, tamed)
  3. By Rolling Up Your Sleeves (performance, effort, enacting)

In short, it tells us when we give our full attention to any action, the Way Seeking Mind (Buddha Self Mind, the higher self) is present, involved, engaged and then is actualized by giving our mind and body to the action at hand. We turn and move as a well-trained war horse in battle.

This is a big deal. Simple. Clear. Giving full attention clicks us on to the path of the Way Seeking Mind, where the Higher Self is made real to us when we engage in the action at hand. The Higher Self is that which never dies; that which returns to the Source. Selfishness is the basis of our wanting something in it for ourselves.

What gets in the way, distracts us from rolling up our sleeves is an endless array of mental and physical hindrances. But here is a quote that gets to the bottom of our reluctance to roll up our sleeves and actualize the Way Seeking Mind.

A quote:

God does not give us what we want,

God does not cater to us in this way –

nor should we cater to ourselves or others in this way.

God wants us to stop being the center of desire –

making things just right for “me.”

When we drop this madness of seeking what we want,

 we have a chance to be devoted to God.

 We want our desires fulfilled, our likes and dislikes satisfied. We want to be catered to – we want to be the center of our desires; making things just right for “me.” All of this madness hinders our chances of being devoted to our spiritual path. Many of us use our spiritual path as another way to do, get, keep a just-right-comfort for “me.”

Study yourself as you meet what comes up in your day. We are all in this together. You are not being singled out.

Here is a small sample from earlier in the Covid 19 virus pandemic:

The day here began with a text message before 5 am, followed by a text message an hour later asking for help, followed by bags of groceries delivered to our front door, followed by two dogs going wild, barking and crying, followed by washing and cleaning all the food, sanitizing the packages and returning to silence after each event. Noticing the energy. Letting it pass. Washing all the food. Putting it a way. Hearing from MF’s brother in Australia, explaining to us the USA no longer is sending or delivering mail from Australia. Finding out the USA is no longer sending or delivering mail to 22 countries. Grateful for food and help. All this before 6:30 am.

These events are what asked us to give our full attention, to actualize the Way Seeking Mind by meeting what showed up – rolling up our sleeves is the way to forget the self, forget the I-ME-MINE likes and dislikes and find ourselves in reality.

To devote ourselves to what is at hand….

 Do not seek what you want,

Do not cater to yourself in this way –

nor should you cater to others in this way for gain.

Stop being the center of desire –

making things just right for “you.”

When you drop this madness of seeking what you want, you have a chance to be a devoted war horse in the Dharma.


To pay full attention is to give from the position of kneeling down to whatever is in need right there, where we are. From the position of kneeling, we give in such a way that our giving is an offering of love from a docile and trained mind. The training here refers to giving to that which is the Source of our life.


Don’t give up. Begin again and keep going. OM

Humming Bird

Author: Fashi Lao Yue

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at:

Image Credit: War Horse

The Spiritual World of Work


“Whatever human existence there is; whatever freedom, rights and duties the individual has, whatever meaning there is in individual life, all are determined by society according to the society’s objective need to survival. The individual in, other words, is not autonomous.

He is determined by society. He is free only in matters that do not matter. He has rights only because society concedes them.” Peter Drucker

Briefly, very briefly, Peter Drucker the 20th century guru of work and business, a man who was erudite and savvy, spiritual and business-like, gave work a new face. It was the face of man’s need for fulfillment. Work as a means to personal and yes, spiritual fulfilment became the sentiment of the worker.  It was to be the “new” religion of the world. To some extent it may have actualized into just that…except…yes, there is an exception. The world of work did not payoff for many and I question whether or not it paid-off in any meaningful way for the very rich.

Greed is the evidence. Greed begets more greed. If you are struggling financially, everything you earn goes towards basic survival, which includes digital connections as well as a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food in your belly of yourself and family.

Before we turn and take what might seem to be a backward step in regards to work, there is a but that carries with it a shift in terms of religious affiliation and spiritual fulfillment. There seems to be another area of life that portends to be, if not the ‘new´ religion, the growing one as we head towards the end of the first quarter of the 21st century.

And that is ‘politics.’  More on this shift in another composition.

Drucker, in a talk he gave at Bennington College in 1943, which may have been a foretelling of our current situation, said, “…whatever freedom, rights and duties the individual has, whatever meaning there is in individual life, is determined by society’s…survival.” He goes on to say that the individual has “a will only if he wills what society needs” and then adds, … individual freedom is what does not disturb society.

Yet, there remains a “…trumpet voice upon the weak, the miserable and the downtrodden of all races, all creeds, and all sects, to stand on their own feet and be free…physical freedom, mental freedom and spiritual freedom…” Vivekananda

No matter how weakened this clarion is, it still is heard.

Freedom, as most of you know, is a central tenet of Zen Buddhism; not just Zen Buddhism, nay, I’d say all religions tout the need for at the very least, ‘religious freedom to practice their faith.’ But this societal freedom is being challenged by the continual rise in fundamentalism which claims to be the one and only right way. This claim might be able to stand, if and only if, it does not encroach on the rights of others to practice their faith. Oddly, the encroachment threats appear to be coming from the ‘new’ religion of politics. And it appears that if politics does not provide, taking up arms must be used.

Given the previous administration’s devotees and its final effort to gain power, by whatever means including violence, suggests that ‘freedom’ which includes ‘freedom of religious practice’ is at best being questioned and at worst being sentenced to a forceful death. Making-money and gaining-power are strident, vocal and clamorous allies.

So…I imagine those reading this rather stark beginning on the topic, The Spiritual World of Work, are wondering how these ideas from the past implicate seeing, studying and practicing our spiritual preference at work.

Here’s how.

The constant barrage of ‘breaking news’ of every sort distracts the mind.  The 24-hour cycle of bombardment of civil unrest, in both small and big ways, disturbs even the strongest amongst us. It is a tell; it betrays that many of us are more concerned about the material plane than the spiritual.  I recently heard the head of a monastery who has not voted for 50 years declare that ‘the elections’ were so potent that he could not help but form an opinion for and against a candidate. When the mind is distracted by the material world, it is unable to focus and concentrate. Focus and concentration are essential to the Way-Seeking mind.


Although Drucker’s work as self-fulfillment is waning, I am not taking here to revive work as religion, nor am I promising that work, just the right work for you is the road to self-fulfillment.

So, what is this all about?


What I am going to write about in one composition at a time, over a period of time, is a practice that will help those who are interested to see work as a spiritual practice. This includes all sorts of work. To be quite clear and honest, it does not promise any self-centered fulfillment. Just the opposite. It is to empty selfishness from having a grip on the mind.

The requirements are simple.

It requires that backward step I mentioned above which is to step back from the external, material world of work into the spiritual domain which is neither material or external. It is what Buddhism and many other traditions exclaim as without form, name, characteristics or function. It is a practice. “Yes! That is exactly right.” It is not believable. It is to be experienced in your individual life right where you are.

Drucker, interestingly repeats Kierkegaard’s understanding as seeing two planes; one material, the other spiritual. Two realms that we live in simultaneously whether we know it or not.

One of the requirements to know this – not believe it – but know it – is the backward step into the practice of karma. It is to do whatever is done with a spiritual attitude of giving and offering. It is a fearless approach. Requires everything to be given and offered over and over again without reward.

Yes. With nothing in it for “ME.” The “ME” that thinks and claims it is a separate self that deserves, strives and goes after the things in the material world for personal gain.  But say, I am getting ahead of myself. It is a practice of one step at a time. Just one step. No big flourishes. No grand sweeps. No bravado moments. Just one step at a time.

So, let’s go, shall we.

Let me begin with a quote.

It is pure arrogance to attempt to decide what is supposed to be part of our daily experience and what isn’t. Sufism

This is true for every day of our life. And yet, we get up thinking we do know and how we wish the day to go. It is arrogant to think we are in charge of what happens. Our arrogance causes suffering and takes many names and forms. After all, the world pervaded by Eternal Power is not the cause of suffering, our desire to lay claim to a thing is. We act as though we have all the power.

When we look to do, to finish, to get and to keep a thing we suffer because we are in delusion. The delusion is that we think and function as though we are the doer, finisher, getter and keeper.

Pause for just a moment and ask yourself if you are the power that put you together and keeps you together?

There is a Sufi saying, fiha ma fiha which captures the essence of our situation. It translates as it is what it is.  But when we don’t like what comes our way we suffer. But there is another Way. When we realize the Truth of It is what it is as being whatever comes our way, we have an opportunity to meet it with courage and big-open-handed generosity not with judgment and criticism. When we presuppose or wish the day to be a certain way, according to our plan in our head, we are bound to disappointment. Literally and figuratively, we bind our mind to the disappointment. And we do it habitually.

There is another Way. But for many it is too hard, too difficult, too much against all the habitual patterns built up in the mind over lifetimes. The mountain of habits is the wilderness where we must be willing to go. It is a choice. We must be willing to clear away our consistent patterns of getting angry, blaming a thing in the external world, judging and measuring and comparing what it is that is confronting us. This practice requires that we face what comes into our life as our life without complaint, but with a calm-abiding awareness within ourself. This requires a turn. A willingness to stop and clear away as though we are traveling into a wilderness.

Facing the work of our life as devotion is a practice that gives us an opportunity to relinquish our arrogance and to meet what comes as a fish swims in the vastness of the ocean or a bird flies in the expanse of the sky; not knowing what might show up we swim with the flow and fly with the wind.

With this short introduction to a series of compositions that will be posted over time,  I welcome any questions that might arise in your practice of the Dharma.

Humming Bird

Author: Fashi Lao Yue

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at:


In Memory of Qian Shen Shakya



Qian Shen Shakya (Rhonda Martinez) wife, mother, daughter, and sister; Zen teacher and mentor.



Qian Shen Shakya, wife of Sad Monk – Yao Feng Shakya who died in 2016. Known by many as Rhonda Martinez, died December 22nd 2018, about two years after her husband. It is said she died of a broken heart.

They lived their life together helping others. They lived according to this motto:

We are all one! One family, one world, one love! ”
-Sadmonk – Scott & Rhonda Martinez.”

Rhonda Lynn Martinez

Dec 16, 1954 – Dec 22, 2018

“I’m just a Dreamer

I dream my life away”


Both Scott and Rhonda were artists.  The following poem and art work is a small glimpse into Rhonda’s work.


So many roles I’ve Played

Sailing through the cosmic sea,

But I am not afraid

Again the darkness swallows me

So happy that I stayed

The cycle spins eternally,

Never will I fade,

Because I know

There’ll always be

In everything,

A part of me.


Artist Rhonda Martinez

May we, with all beings realize the emptiness of the three wheels, giver, receiver and gift.


The basic elements of life are not unlike the basic elements of Zen practice.  To become one with Zen is to uncover the fundamental truths of the universe.  This may at first glance seem a mystery, but with practice, the underlying truths that are reflected in the elemental building blocks of life will appear to the Zen student as familiar and comforting helpers along the way.

Take the water element, for example.  How are we like water in our practice?  We flow, ever-onwards, never stopping, always going, going, like the brook, falling over rocks and into pools, always a new turn in the stream.  Like water, the practitioner continues brightly, with confidence and purity onward, not clinging to the thought or sensation or dislike that arises, not lingering to give any of it purchase, saturated in, absorbed in this exact moment while not becoming attached to it.  Always flowing, bubbling on.

By stepping courageously into the next moment without bringing the idea or feeling with us, we enter the changefulness of flowing time and use time skillfully.  “Keep going,” says my teacher.  By not fundamentally taking up residence anywhere, we, like the water, keep moving on, ever-changing until we can go on beyond all the bubbling changeful going, going, going and reach the other shore.

I saw a play in the 90’s, “Pig Earth,” about peasant life in a small village in France.   I remember very little about the play but I do remember vividly that the set was comprised of dirt.  Loads and loads of dirt filled the stage.  The actors trudged through the dirt, worked hard to move the dirt and got very dirty.

Dirt is hard when dry, heavy when wet, very dense to plow or till or pull weeds from.  Older farmers are often stooped, limping and broken down from decades of effort to move dirt around, to plant the seeds and grow them well.  The earth they contend with every day is the element of solidity and stability.  We go into the earth as the ultimate protection from the fury of some elements and use earth to smother, extinguish others.

In Zen practice, we too go down into our own earthiness to steady ourselves in order to fully dwell in each moment and through time, even though the world around us or within us may be anything but stable.

We practice to move nimbly forward through the flowing changing quality of time while remaining planted in the dense unchanging quality of our awareness.  Our minds anchor us in presence like the dirt, just here, just here, just here.  This steadiness is an innate trusting in and acceptance of change that itself does not change.

Fire must be tended with care so as to not burn out of control…or dwindle to smoke and ash.  Our inner fires when left unattended can kindle old habits of passionate greed or hate that like grass fires burn quickly, spreading out of control in all directions, hot and destructive.  The sudden surge of heat signals that our anger, pride, our ambition or our sexual drive is raging out of control and will certainly burn somebody.

We learn to sit in the steadiness of the earth beneath us, staying calmly in the flow of the heat as it runs through the mind and body.  We practice seeing every impassioned thought and emotion and impulse steadily, not dwelling there, going on, going on, with confidence, cooling the flames by letting time flow by, refusing to be drawn closer to the flame.

We harness time and stabilize our attention so that our inner fire can be a source of energy for a steady, ethical, harmless practice to cultivate the mind that fundamentally does not dwell anywhere while dwelling fully, caring fully, for each moment in this precious, fragile life.

We need our fire to warm our hearts to the ultimate power and beauty of a practice that promises us eternal wellbeing, Ultimate Compassion, Absolute Truth.  Our steady flame of love for these great mysterious powerful possibilities and for the guides that direct our search, this love is the ultimate elemental friend.  It is a love we cultivate and a fire we tend with every insight, every act of kindness and generosity, every prayer and every opening we experience that tears away the veil of delusion, leaving us under the open sky, bathed in the brightest light.  Without this love, practice can be drudgery, tiring and replete with doubt.

Rumi, who often uses the elements in his writing, says it best.  In hundreds and hundreds of poems, he shows us how to fall in love with Mystery:

This world of two gardens, both so beautiful.

This world a street where a funeral is passing.

Let us rise together and leave this world,

As water goes bowing down itself to the sea.

From gardens to the gardener,

From grieving to a wedding feast.

We tremble like leaves about to let go.*

Humming Bird

Author: Lao Huo Shakya

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If you are interested in doing a silent retreat or for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching, please contact editor at:


*excerpt from “Leaves About to Let Go,” Rumi, Bridge to the Soul, trans. Coleman Barks, p. 32





I have for some time, viewed many of the essays sent in and finally thought possibly I would send something in that possibly may be of interest.  I am new to the Order in 2020 and  I am learning much from all of you who express your Hearts & Minds  through your writings.

Since I am new to this Order, I just realized I had better introduce myself.  I am Arakawa Mitsugi, reborn once again as “Lǎo xīn shàn Shakya”  (otherwise known as “ Old Heart Mountain” )  which I find most respectfully expressed in this Buddhist Order of Monastics.

Today, is the 15th of February 2021.  In two days, I begin my 63rd year in the Path of Martial Arts & Sciences, which I entered many years ago.  I have only been a Monk approximately 27 years.

Many of you within Hsu Yun Ch’an Yuen’s Martial Arts Dojo division may have vast knowledge in the Ancient Ways at which I follow for many years. Most modern-day Ryu of Budo, whether Japanese or Chinese Lay Disciplines have omitted many Spiritual

Practices of the various Zen & Yoga Sadhana Meditation Practices vital to actually encompasses the very foundation of Budo set by the Century ’s old Ancient Master’s.

You will have to forgive my using the term “ Master” as, for one, I do not believe in anyone being a Master; only those who are continuous ‘ Students of the Path’  and I mean no disrespect towards anyone who are looked upon as Master or Expert ).

I have studied, searched for and upon finding, researched all I have studied over the years.  I am a Practitioner of Buddhist Chinese Ch’uan Fa ( referred to as Kuntau ), Japanese Aikido  and  Tibetan Lama Pai Haaga; each of Ancient Buddhist Origin Transmission, with the exception of Japanese Aikido ( although Spiritual ).  I have additionally studied under Hindu Priest, as well as Yogi & Swami-Ji.

So in this, I believe I am well versed in many areas of Ancient Classical Traditions- however, again, I am NO Master of these Traditions and my overall knowledge rests only within these Transmissions.

The one area I am most fond of, have studied under the delightful Asian Teachers, were the stories that were awarded as they were just as much a part of our Spiritual development as were my “Combative Waza” Teachings.

Here is one of them.

                “The Master & His Young Disciple”

The Master Hoshi ( Monk ) asked his young Disciple student,  to run out and pick herbs for the afternoon’s meals. The young Monk was a “Yokasei,” ( a Novice ) that wanted to impress his Master.  He immediately left out of the Temple and went into the forest, and after some time, arrived at the Tang-Ji Mountain paths where herbs were plentiful.

As he began picking herbs and placing them in his cloth sack, he began to travel further up the

path where he sometimes would swim and bathein a shallow part of the mountain creek.

The young Monk did not realize that the Master had decided to follow him as he knew all too well the Young Monk, who was around the age of 8, was rather mischievous at times.

As the young Monk traveled the path further into the mountain-side, he came across the mountain creek and there, he saw a lone fish in the water at which he decided to catch.

When he caught the small fish, he then, tied a string around the fish and on the other end, tied a small stone.

Releasing the fish back into the creek, he began to laugh as he saw how difficult it was for the fish to swim.

After laughing at the struggling fish for several minutes he began to follow the path once again at which he saw a frog and immediately chased it catching it and again, wrapped a string around the frog’s body and tied another stone on the other end.

Releasing the frog, the young Monk began to laugh loudly as the frog began to struggle as he began leaping forward. After several minutes, the young Monk began to walk the path descending the mountain path and found a snake on the path.

Immediately the young Monk ran after it and catching it, began tying a string around its body with a stone at the other end of the string.  Of course, the snake had difficulty in wiggling away.

The Master had witnessed each of the three occurrences but said nothing each time.

That night, as the young Monk slept, the Master Hoshi, turned the young Monk over and tied a large stone to the Young Monk’s back.

Early the next morning at breakfast, the young Monk began to complain to the Master Hoshi that he was having difficulty walking around and even rising up as he fell on occasion.

The Master, then looking the young Monk in his eyes said . . .

“I had seen what you had done to the Fish, the Frog and the Snake, and as you thought it amusing in laughing as to each of their struggles; you’ve committed grave acts of cruelty to those who are defenseless.  Go to the mountain again and FREE each of them – THEN, I will free you. If you do not, you will suffer in your Heart and Mind for this suffering will become your Karma!”

The young Monk traveled up the Tang-Ji Mountain again only to find that each ;  the Fish,  the Frog, and the Snake, had each died.

The Young Monk began to weep in each case knowing he had caused suffering and returning to the Temple, he Shame- fully wept as he advised the Master Hoshi, what had happened .

As the young Monk wept in sorrow, the Master summoned the young Monk to sit on his lap where the Master Hoshi released him from his bondage and said . . .

” I see you are sorry in your heart for what you have done and I did to you, what you had done to them, the least of us. I did to you so that you should feel their suffering and will always remember throughout your lifetime, to never harm another again.  I love you just as if you are my son but most of all, God loves you as ‘ you are His son’ !

“Remember what happened here and let no man ever tell you, it is alright to Kill! “

I am not certain where this came from but I do know, there  are many areas of life I may consider “Necessary Evils” at which I have not and will not ever participate …taking a Life is one of them.

Blessing to all who read these words.

Humming Bird

Author: Lǎo xīn shàn Shakya

In Metta

“Old Heart Mountain”

A Single Thread Zen Contemplative - Order of Hsu Yun

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If you are interested in doing a silent retreat or for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching, please contact editor at:



The Subcaster

EM Cairn © 2017

It was a hard day – like most. The ground felt as though it was on an uphill incline no matter where he placed his old toes. The leather boots helped steady his frail legs and arthritic bones. Convinced he’d fall on his back without them, he kept the pair close by his bed for his night time trail walk to the cramped but utilitarian bathroom only a few feet away.

He laughed every morning when he read the imprint on his old dungarees – ‘Levi’s.’ The laugh came from his head where everything he ever knew or said was stored. ‘Levi’s.’ The word formed into a wry smile on his face which like a cover on an old Saratoga trunk held down all the funniness of life.

Funny words and descriptions were out-of-place, corrupted, exaggerated by advertisements.


Smacking his lips together after he said the whole word out loud, he felt satisfied.

His pants now draped over his hairless bones as he commented on the demise of everything. His knuckled fingers tightened around the beltless loops of his dungarees as he corrected his commentary. He needed to be accurate.

“Nothing new under the Sun. Just another day, another dollar. Of course, it wasn’t always a dollar. It is not a dollar now. The almighty dollar. No, sir. A dollar doesn’t work like it once did.” There was no immediate satisfaction. No rest from the popping of thought going on in his head. He liked ending his commentary with a certain propriety. The word sir was common amongst many other words – words like all the funny things in his mind that were in some old trunk somewhere underneath the pretense of something new was better and even worse, best.

There was no reason in particular for him to pull on his dungarees, but he did. It wasn’t just a habit. It was a form. Something he knew was both grace and gratitude. The night before he, like all the 32,851 days of putting the dungarees over his thin-skinned legs, emptied his pockets of whatever he collected on the route of his high-level moments of being alive. When he lived with a woman, a being who was unlike himself, he had more than one belt. The woman insisted he have more than one belt and when he would inquire of her why did he need more than one belt she’d tell him, ‘you never know when you might need it.’ This reply, if he let it, still puzzled him. When he lived with the woman, it always puzzled him. The inquiry would not last long – when he’d tell her with gestures of kindness that he had one waist and two legs and in reality, could only wear one pair of dungarees at any time which meant his need, if he succumbed to such a need, was for one belt. The woman not like him listened in a silent politeness up until the point when he in his generosity offered what for him was the denouement of the subject on the table – “I will never need more than one belt.”

At this point, the woman’s brow would shrink with rivulets of skin suggesting she was contemplating his conclusion of never needing more than one belt. In turn he listened in silence for her response. The woman usually squinted before she answered these exchanges and shrugged just before she’d tell him with a sweeping away voice. “You, sir, never know.” This broom-like moment left both of them silent and staring with adoration into each other’s eyes. Like a rug being pulled out from under them they landed together in not really knowing much in terms of reality. Knowing he couldn’t argue with the possibility of needing another belt – and she felt content in stating what she knew was the truth. There had been a few times when he would explain his need in terms of now by adding the word now and sometimes emphasized the word now with the word right.

“Right now, I don’t need more than one belt.”

The woman’s cheeks, which were hairless and rounded with soft skin, turned rosy giving her an advantage, pressed her plum-colored lips together in a smile that made her eyes dazzle replied,

There you have it, sir. You never know. Nothing stays the same.”

Over the years he learned to be like a slick yellow raincoat – those kind that make lots of crinkling noises when you put them on, the kind with a hood and if you like, matching slick yellow trousers. He let everything the woman said, especially when she smiled and issued forth with the triumphant sword of possibility, run off his back. He knew there was no response to possibilities and deep with him he cherished her resolve to hold to the position of possibility. In almost every way the woman was unlike him. They never let their differences interfere with equality.

Those were the years when he lived with a woman. There were times that he considered the possibility she was right but he tried not to get bogged down by the past. Like a wet dog he tried to shake off any ideas that bogged him down and most of the past came with a soggy force.

Right now, he lived in a Subcaster. It is a small 14 feet footprint which he sometimes counts as he makes his way during the night to empty his bladder. In the years he’s lived in the Subcaster, he has never been able to count up to 14 feet inside the trailer. Oh, he knows the 14 feet must mean the outside length but even so there is a disturbance that he is unable to get a number that matches the description. The disturbance is not a wonder for him, but the mismatch of what is written down compared to what is does disturb him. He feels cheated and it is like an itch on some part of his back he can no longer reach.

“Advertisement.” He says the word in syllables. “Ad – ver- tize – ment.”  He repeats it with a different inflection. “ad VERT-is-ment[1]” Smirking he says it yet another way – “ad – vert- is – ment.” The last one is his favorite and he admits to himself it is because it agrees with his view of the meaning. Meaning especially in regards to liability and not telling the truth. ‘For the life of me, I cannot find the 14 feet in this Subcaster.” Puckering his lips before he guffaws, he bows to the words and says to it. “I see. I see. You little scoundrel. I am not to expect any truth in anything that is under the rubric of ad -vert – is – ment. It is meant to fool me.” He bows again and this time grabs the top of his dungarees and slides them up to his knees then stands to pull them to his flat, sunken belly. Admitting the durability of both his legs and the dungarees he relinquishes any quarrel over the incongruity of the 14 feet. “After all,” he concedes, “my feet are not 12 inches long.” For a moment this disturbs him further since he must reckon that if that is the case that the Subcaster should count out beyond the 14 feet. But he is tired of the dialogue with what is true and drops it out of hand.

With both hands he rubs the sides of his cheeks checking for stubble. The bristle is a sparse and random shadow of former years making him the sole judge of whether to razor it off or not.  He decides for no particular reason, today is a day for a clean shave so he foregoes his denim shirt that hangs on a small plastic hook next to the tight concave space which is more like an upright locker than a bathroom. Tucks in his loose gray undershirt before he soaps up his hand. For years he has leaned in against the mirror so he can give himself a close, cut-free shave. Rinsing the razor for a final time he shakes it off and sets in on the bottom shelf of a wicker cabinet. With clean, warm fingers he checks for any stray whiskers he may have missed. Slips on his shirt and tucks the tails between his stretched-out undershirt and his beltless pants.

A murmur-unspoken comes to mind and he wonders how not having a belt might be the truth of his need in his discourse with the woman. How might it resolve the mystery of belts and need for one? For just a moment he wonders if not needing them might be the perfect answer. Before he slaps his thigh with the force of a by-golly triumph he feels a sharp pang of sadness. Never in all the years did he ever want to feel triumphant over the woman.  Once, however, the shirt is smoothed down from back to front between the dungaree cloth and his underwear and the pants are zipped and buttoned; he notices how they fall below his waist and rest unsettled on his hard-hip bones.

“Oh. Dear.” he says aloud in a mocking way. He finds he has nothing else to say. Nothing more to add. No discriminating comment or judgement. No follow-up.

Humming Bird

[1] (

Don’t be afraid to experience what shows up. It is your life.

Consider how you might understand the nature of what comes your way. Instead of reacting to what shows up, contemplate the nature of it. It is both teacher and kin.

The universe exists. You exist. We are from the same Source and share the same material and we are different.

Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intellect and ego.

Meet the existence of whatever comes with devotion. The many things come to awaken you.

Whatever comes is given to you to see and know. Consider it carefully. With a longsuffering mind. Not with the habitual patterns of mind. With care. Slow and care-full. Whatever it is, it comes to liberate you as you meet it to liberate it.

It is often overlooked but it is in truth that all things share an imperceptible mutual assistance. It goes unnoticed because we are caught in some habit, some mindset, some mood that is self-involved.

Furthermore, we are stuck in the flame of separation. We think, believe and act as a separate being ignoring that we are kindred spirits that share a kindred heritage and share kindred experiences of existence. We all breathe the air.

At the beginning of the Cook’s Prayer there is an important recognition of this Truth. It is a Truth that helps us see for ourselves our work is not mine, not a thing to get, not something to finish and keep. It is a rare bird who can offer this part of the prayer with sincerity.

Here it is:

In gratitude I acknowledge all cooks (workers) gone before me, after me, and with me now. I request their help, offering incense to them and Buddha.

Our ancestors before us and after us and those all around us have struggled as we do to see the imperceptible mutual assistance of all things. The requirements to offer work as devotion are resting not only on concentration and focus but a grateful attitude. I can’t say it enough – gratitude is a rarity.

What makes gratitude a rarity is our expectations and desires of the selfish self who has been taught to expect something in return for a gift given. We are so self-centered that we think we deserve certain treatment and certain things from others. This attitude blocks gratitude. When gratitude is blocked, we act in all sorts of selfish ways.

It becomes difficult for us to act according to the following instructions:

Keep your mind on your work and do not throw things around carelessly.

We are careless in regards to what is given and what we offer. We think we deserve better or more or have a fit and think life is unfair. We feel cheated. All of this is self-centered.

We have forgotten the nature of karma. Our actions before have brought the result now. Our response now will bring the result later.

It requires courage and generosity to overcome the wounds done to the selfish ego. But it must be overcome in order to travel upward to the summit. It is easy to see that if the wound is cherished the mind is not able to stay on the work at hand and wants to get even or get some recompense or retaliate or blame. Careless offerings thrown together come from the overwhelmed, selfish ego not from the golden bird.

But all is not lost. Don’t get discouraged, if you are wounded. Selfish. Self-centered. Your ancestors suffered as you do. It is the human condition. And it can be overcome. It requires discipline and diligence and training.

Courage, encouragement and generosity are healing activities that move the mind to the golden bird. Move the mind to the offering of work as devotional acts again and again and again.

After all, everything comes from the One, and One comes from everything. You and I are not the Source but we can find the Source and find union with the Source.

It is like this line from a poem:

The sky, without a map, finds its way to your nose and becomes your breath.

This finding is always possible. Without a map the One comes and without a map everything returns to the One. It is our True nature to return to the One. We yearn for home. The whole world yearns for home. Each thing that comes into your life, comes to awaken you to the yearning for the One. That is the imperceptible mutual assistance that comes and comes and comes. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet it.

Humming Bird

Author: Fashi Lao Yue

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If you are interested in doing a silent retreat or for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching, please contact editor at:




Old Age is a Boon

Remembrance of Aging

The Four Boons of Aging.

My hope is to pull the door open, even if it is just a crack, on what is beneficial in the truth of aging. I’ll begin by listing out the boons, followed by a short explanation and example of each.

  1. Aging gives us an opportunity to awaken to who am I.
  2. Aging gives us an opportunity to discover wisdom.
  3. Aging gives us an opportunity to witness the arc of time.
  4. Aging gives us an opportunity to surrender.


The date and time vary but the mirror tells the tale of aging. Hair graying and thinning, bones aching, toes and fingers changing shape and not in a pretty way; hip replacements and even yellowing teeth. The mind is slower. You’re more forgetful. Not as fast or as strong as you once were. If you stop running, you’ll forget how to – skipping and jumping become dangerous activities. You’ll need jar lid removers, hand rails in the shower and walkers to keep you from falling.

Aging comes upon us all; that is, if we are lucky.

There’s no use in shrinking away, trying to shirk off the inevitable losses of power. It seems like an end of the era of you and the beginning of mortification that ends with death. But let me repeat the line above.

Aging comes upon us all; that is, if we are lucky.

There is little if any hope of restoration of the past. All the dishonorable and glorious parts of being embodied as a human being; being human gone.  So what do we do?

We molt. Yes. Try to take to it. Molting is shedding all the old feathers, sloughing off the old skin, shedding skin to begin a new era…but most of us are not prepared. The culture frowns at aging. The culture smiles at youthful vigor. Even middle age is uncomfortable for those who are waiting to retire into some fantasy of rest and fun. To travel, to join an active community of aging birds.

Where’s all the boons, you ask? This picture, that old face and crooked body, is dismal.

Aging comes to us; that is, if we are lucky.

Aging gives us an opportunity to awaken to who am I.

The first boon of aging comes when we live a long life, say to 100. If we are given this, we have been given an opportunity to awaken to consciousness – to the knowledge and recognition of WHO AM I.

Not that worldly constructed “I” that plays a role, that worries about the outcomes, who seeks satisfaction from the world. Who bears the troubles and struggles of duty and performance. Not that “I” that can’t sleep at night. That frets and measures and is disturbed in body and mind. It has nothing to do with the “I” that has a bucket list of things you want to do or get before you die.

It is the “I” that is a spiritual seeker. To that “I” old age is a boon.

Aging comes to us; that is, if we are lucky.

Aging gives us a chance to discover the immutable…that “I” that has never had a notch on time, which we call a birth date, followed by another notch which we call a death date. No. But the real, immutable existence in consciousness that is beyond the realm of suffering. Beyond birth and death. The “I” that is beginningless.  The you that is not a victim to any of your senses.

So…pray for a long life that will give you this chance to know your true nature. Let that freedom and realization be an aim. Not more stuff. Not more money. Not more prestige. Not more status. Not more information. Go with the change of loss. Let go. Be a nobody, going nowhere. 

It may sound like a doomed existence; it isn’t. It is freedom from bondage of things that come into existence, appear, and then vanish. It is a life without clinging and craving.

THAT is wisdom.

Aging gives us an opportunity to discover wisdom.

This second boon, wisdom gives us a chance to discover and  know one’s true nature. A long life helps us see and know and understand the arc of life in an intense and deep way as did Guanyin, who is the embodiment of the virtue of compassion and prajna. Both high ground on the spiritual path.

Wisdom changes our senses in such a way that we speak from the depth of wisdom and not from our personal, selfish self. Love, which is unselfishness, which is unconditional is discovered and lived.

We live seeking no gain. There is no concern for the constructed illusion of a separate self. Position, propaganda and the proper hierarchy of institutions no longer traps us; no longer arouses the madness of right and wrong, getting and having, having and keeping and on and on. We see through the illusion.

In order to explain the third and forth boons, I need to set the context with a short history lesson on WWII.

During WWII it became clear to the Allied Powers that they needed one another in order to stop the global threat of the Axis powers. The Allies were Great Britain, the United States, China, and the Soviet Union. Surprising allies in today’s world view, but allies nonetheless. The leaders of the Allies were Franklin Roosevelt (the United States), Winston Churchill (Great Britain), and Joseph Stalin (the Soviet Union).

The Axis Powers, those that represented the global threat, were: Germany, Italy and Japan. The leaders were Adolf Hitler of Germany, Benito Mussolini of Italy, and Emperor Hirohito of Japan.

These were the countries that were considered the combatants of WWII. Many other countries suffered but were not considered the ‘fighters.’  There were, however, ‘resisters.’ The French Resistance (French: La Résistance) was the collection of French movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and the collaborationist Vichy régime.

The “official” period of WWII is September 1, 1939 – September 2, 1945. This WW began 81 years ago when Hitler invaded Poland and when two days later France and Great Britain declared war on Germany.

The “official” end of the war came on September 2, 1945, almost exactly 6 years after Germany’s invasion of Poland which makes it 87 years ago that WWII ended. A lifetime for some.

Japan at the time was in turmoil, with major military massacres and the invasion of Manchuria in the Northeastern region of China. Japan joined the Axis powers in 1940 by signing a protectionist pact against the Allied Powers with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. A little more than a year later in 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

Approximately 85 million people died directly and indirectly from the war and war-related damages.

Aging gives us witness to the arc of time.

Now, my friends, what does this short history lesson have to do with the third boon of aging? In a very pointed way, it helps us be patient, to be not so quick to act or react, it helps us give guidance to those who are younger. To help ourselves and others not to take what is arising too seriously for whatever it is, will change.

Aging, living or having lived through a long arc of time may give one wisdom that does not come so easily to those of us who are still on the upswing of the arc of time. Those, however, who live long, even on a material plane, if they are inclined even a little beyond a sense of personal, selfish interest, see that everything, whether it be the body-mind complex or the worldwide politick played out before our eyes, changes. In other words, they see the long arm of change in small and big ways making it possible to see the illusion of peace and the illusion of war. Long life provides the opportunity to see the deceiving nature of the things of the world which includes our body-mind structure.

Change is quite forceful to the aged. Loss of position in the world, loss of loved ones, loss of body-mind ability, loss of self-sufficiency, loss of expansion…and so the losses go as Shakespeare clearly puts it.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

But along with these changes, there can come a firsthand bird’s eye view that the material world comes and goes and is an illusion. The world as Shakespeare wrote, is a stage. It does not last. It changes. And this suggests, with the help of history, that peace does not last nor does conflict.  In fact, may we bold as to say “Peace on Earth” is as changeable as “War on Earth.”

But there is a boon that Shakespeare misses, that most of us miss, and that is exemplified by the actions of the Japanese in WWII. It is the fourth boon.

Aging gives us an opportunity to surrender.

I say what follows in modesty and humility, since I do not know if this story is true in the sense of historical verification or a legend. In either case, it does not matter. But there is evidence that Zen Buddhist Roshi’s in Japan were involved in the militarist stronghold in Japan before and during WWII. So…forgive me for my supposition, but I think it might be worth at least hearing the story whether it is true or not. Fiction, as we all know, does point to truths.

Let us remember that there are many, many suppositions to why the Japanese signed the unconditional surrender of the Potsdam Declaration.  There is, apparently, a contentious debate on why the Japanese signed the Potsdam Declaration.

The leaders in Japan at that time were undecided as what to do in the midst of great and devastating chaos after the atomic bombs were dropped. Some considered an all out war on the US no matter what the cost to the Japanese people; others were counting on the Soviets to broker a peace deal with the Allies but instead of a peace deal, the Soviets attacked Japan. There were other scenarios but all seemed put the decision to surrender in limbo.

The legend goes that being at their wits end the Japanese sought out assistance from a Zen Master of high regard. Now, we must remember that Zen Buddhist masters and followers were involved in this military rampaging. So it is not too far afield to think that the leaders of Japan would seek out a Zen Roshi for advice on what to do. And in this supposition they did seek out the council of a very old Roshi on what to do who responded with one word, “SURRENDER.”

This Zen Buddhist Roshi, although most likely involved in the engagement of war, saw something from his arc of time that surrender was the only response much like raising one finger or giving the student a sudden slap.


Aging is a boon, especially for spiritual seekers. It is an opportunity to turn inward, a grand opportunity to surrender.  And on that we will end. 

Humming Bird

Author: FaShi Lao Yue

Image Credit: A. Holmberg

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at:

Welcome Our New Member

A Single Thread, The Zen Contemplative Order of Hsu Yun Welcomes Old Heart Mountain, 老心山, Lǎo xīn shān shakya aka Arakawa Mitsugi to our Order.

Old Mountain, as he likes to be called, is previously a Monk (Sohei) of the Chinese Chen Yen Mikkyo Order of Monastics. He has been part of a “Warrior Monk” practice since 1995.

He has participated in the Science of Martial Arts for 37 years. He studied several Ryu ( Art of Martial Science) under the direction of Arakawa Nobumasa, his sensei until his passing in 2017.

Old Mountain has found many parallels of Spiritual embodiment that opens the door to Yoga Sadhana (samadhi) through Meditation & Physical practices. He exclaims that Martial Arts is Yoga  and Yoga is Martial Arts.”

It is my honor to welcome Old Mountain to our sangha.

Fashi Lao Yue



The Arthur Sermon

Escape from Hell

We named him Arthur which is a name derived from the word bear. In Medieval Latin Arthurus/Arturus, usually said to be from Welsh arth means “bear.” In sanskrit, artha means wealth, the wealth that is so full it is complete. So, Arthur endures the complete wealth of life. He is so very much like the rest of us.

He came from Michigan. The first we saw of him was a picture of him sitting in a proper sit-stay with a little blue Michigan jersey on and at that time, he was called Kyle, which means lucky. He came by car at 8 weeks with a history of an early injury to his mouth. He recovered well except he does not like his mouth touched.

That is all we knew of him but we have learned many things from him since he has been with us for 1 ½ years.

His is presence both as a teacher as well as a student. To be with him is to experience the mutual co-dependent arising of knowing the reality of this game of life. Let me explain.

For much of the time he is with me. When I move, he moves. When he moves, I move. Together we experience this mutual, co-dependent arising. We, he and I, influence each other. This influence is true for each thing. There is nothing in reality that is separate.

As I was in the zendo sitting, Arthur was with me. Our 5 ½ year old named Harold Godwin. named after an ancient King, was asleep on the floor next to where I was sitting. Arthur, our lucky treasure, was pacing.

Pacing, pacing, pacing. He was restless. He could not settle. He’d go from one side of the room to the other and flop on the floor. Then, he’d get up. Then, he’d jump on the bed. Then, get up. Then, he’d pace. Then, flop against the wall. Up again and down again. Restless. Pacing.

I remained still. Silent. Eyes-half-closed. I watched him. Intermittently he’d come and stand in front of me trying to make eye contact. I closed my eyes. Then, he moved closer and sat down in his perfect sit-stay and stared at me. I did not make eye contact. But I could sense his stares.

When stares did not work, he cranked it up and placed his head on my thigh. I still did not move. Then, he nudged and nudged my arm. I remained still. I did not respond to him. I did not react to him. I did, however, notice him.

I was aware that he wanted something and his wanting something made him restless, unsettled and yes, anxious. Throughout all of this restlessness he would periodically go over to the window and look out at the squirrels; those tormenting rascals who run along the fence.

Arthur is a predator. His instincts of being a predator were in high gear, but I did not move. I knew what he wanted. He wanted to go out and give chase. And then, after he chased the unsuspecting squirrel he would come back and jump on the screen door to come back in. To do it all over again. Pace, up, down, restless!

But I did not give in. I remained still. Quiet. Watching. Seeing his agony which comes because he is not trained. He’s not tamed his instincts. He is out-of-control and restless.

This behavior is a pattern.

He wants to go out and chase the squirrels. I resisted and did not move. He was confined in such a way he had to deal with his instinct differently.

BUT…you say…that is Arthur’s nature…why didn’t you let him out and let him chase the squirrels. LOL I laugh because this giving-in act is what we do with ourselves and one another.

Yes, I know it is Arthur’s nature to be a predator but he needs to tame that down. He needs to calm down. I do not want to give way to his instinctual drives. Just as I do not want to give into my instinctual drives.

AH…I hear you saying, “he’s a dog.” Yes. He is a dog. And dogs are able to tame their instincts with some help from us. He can learn to be calm and quiet and rest. But he needs our help to let go of his instinctual drives to attack and kill.

Furthermore, I know Arthur to some extent, created his own hell with his desire to get out and chase the squirrel. Just as we create our own hell with desires to get what we want.

But desire held in silence and in watching awareness, in time, protects him and allows him to give up his restless desire. He gave it up. He got himself out of hell through the door of resolve.

I acted as his guardian or what I prefer to call ‘Mother.’ Not a mammal mother but an immutable, unchanging ‘mother’ energy that protects and teaches and watches and holds back and is resolved to awaken us. Parental Mind is part of our nature.

Many of us need help to tame and train our instincts. To be resolved to stop going after all the many desires that fill the mind. We, like Arthur, think if we get such and such then all will be hunky-dory. In fact, however, desires are endless until we have experienced samadhi, union with the Divine Self.

We have to be able to STOP…citta vrtthi narodha….the uptick of thoughts of desires by not acting on them. How do we do that?

We watch our desires in stillness and silence whirl around and whirl around in our head making every effort to get satisfaction by some action. Action to hold still, to be resolved to let the desire whirl away.

Just as I watched Arthur, but did not act. Thoughts come and go, come and go, and it is our work not to give in to the endless desires that come up. Don’t believe them. Doubt your thoughts by watching them and watching them in such a way you see how they want you to act in such a way that will result in returning to this whirl of restlessness. When you give in you return to hell.

Our situation boils down to surrender and trust…which requires that we do not measure ourselves along the lines of success and failure of getting what we want. In fact, it is far better for us not to measure ourselves at all since measuring disturbs our mind. Instead of trying to get what we want, we’d be far better off if we use that restless energy to pay attention to the what is at hand right in front of our nose and give our excellence to what is required. To give our finest to whatever we do, rather than be swept up in the whirl in our head that drains and dulls our brilliance.

Arthur, our lucky treasure, counts on us to awaken and finally nudges us to help him even though all along he was being helped but didn’t know it. Am I not the same – Mother Buddha watching until I finally nudge her to help me having forgotten she has always been there helping me with whatever is haunting me with mental formations.

Humming Bird

Author: FaShi Lao Yue

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at:


Don’t Lose One Grain of Rice


History of rice cultivation


Rice is a staple.

A staple is an important part of something like a thin piece of wire that holds two or more things together. It is an essential food. Rice holds body and soul together for over half the global population.

Rice is not to be snubbed. It is important.

When we are encouraged not to lose even one grain of rice we are being nudged to look after a staple that holds millions of lives together around the world. This is a material fact making rice an essential ingredient of keeping many alive. 

In Zen Buddhism the teachings are pointing to both body and mind with the Mind being in the lead. If we consider this teaching as significant as that apple that klunked the head of Newton awakening in him the knowledge of gravity. What would we awaken to in finding and losing one grain of rice? 

At the very least, our attitude about the teaching takes on the importance of endless possibilities. I say endless possibilities because we are all contemplating or not contemplating things in the mind. It may, for example, when a grain of uncooked rice skitters away on the kitchen counter that we realize we have been far away in a dream or a wish in the mind. The wayward grain may awaken us to being in the kitchen, preparing rice to give to others as well as to our own bodies. It may, as another example, when a grain of cooked rice is stirred that we realize that cooking changes the grain of rice in such a way that it no longer is separate and no longer able to skitter off by itself. 

How do we get cooked up with the Supreme Self?

To Reach One Thing is To Reach All Things. It is the All-Things-Realization. Nothing is left out; one grain of rice found, one grain of rice lost. 

The grain of rice, whether we take care not to lose it or take care to find it, is realization. The smallness or bigness of a thing is not the measure of realization. The grain of rice, whether lost or found, contains the whole shebang. The activity of losing and finding is the Way.

There are many, many more discoveries to awaken us when our attitude about a teaching is important to us. When we know all things, even a grain of rice, comes to awaken us to the immeasurable, immutable and ineffable Way Seeking Mind. We see through to the underlying, invisible discovery that is always there in all things. 


When we know this, rice is more than a staple, it is a spiritual gift.


Humming Bird


Author: FaShi Lao Yue

ZATMA is not a blog.

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Don’t Lose One Grain of Rice. It is a teaching  from a sutra by a 12th century Zen Master, Dogen. The complete sutra can be found in this Practice Book on page 64: The Tenzo’s Prayer

For those who drink beer – keep reading.
The brewing company Anheuser-Busch is the largest purchaser of U.S. rice, buying about 8% of the annual crop. The brewing giant owns its own rice mills in Arkansas and California. Budweiser, its most popular beer brand, uses rice as an adjunct. Rice and corn flour are used in other Anheuser-Busch beers. Coors is also a rice-based beer.