DaShi ChuanSheng Entered Emptiness by Fashi Yao Xin Shakya

We are very interested in the Chan:

Da Shi ChuanSheng, Steven Baugh, was a wonderful master with several lives: kung-fu master, a teacher, a family man, a … friend, and an example for all of us.



He was my main transmission master (Senior Dharma Teacher) in the Linji Lineage, along with Master Chuan Yuan and Master YinDin. And he was a close disciple of our two founders, master JyDin Shakya and Ming Zhen Shakya.

Deep bows DaShi!

Please recite hundreds of mantras of OM MANI PADME HUNG for Dashi; show him your love and compassion


Image Credit: Flowers

Spring Forward

Vows by Fly 2019


This week has been particularly difficult. The daemons of the mind sometimes take us by surprise – trouncing our good sense and our eyesight that sees the danger always creeping outside the door. We go blind. Then, we get in trouble.

We must be constant in our vigilance or risk being taken captive by the patterns of selfishness that come disguised as wounds, history, psychological mumbo-jumbo, rights and privileges – any one of a numberless set of costumes that come to deceive us. But there is THAT which is beyond compare – beyond all the nonsense of the mind constructions, THAT which is ONE and the main principality of existence, THAT which has no second. Some call it love, others emptiness, or cosmic consciousness – by whatever name, it is present even when our selfishness crouches at our door and we get sucked into it with open arms. 

What must we turn to?  What must we know and practice to protect our wily coyote mind? What must we do to protect the play of the road runner who is always ready to lure us into a chase – a chase that always ends in harm.? Foolish harm.

A foolish harm that, fingers-crossed, leads us to remorse and forgiveness; if we are lucky (winds of grace). The luck that aids our awareness enough, that we realize we were caught in the road runner’s race and that we need to stop our coyote mind. Stop running after lures in the mind that harm ourselves and others. If we are able to stop, we are lucky.

Stopping provides time for reflection. Reflection to forgive ourselves. Courage to ask for forgiveness from others who were in the wake of our dust. 

And then – we take refuge in THAT – the singular principle that sustains the universe. We take refuge as a student of the Dharma in the knowledge that we are the ever-present manifestation of the mysterious expression of the Truth. Not by a clinging path of having and getting; of trying to rearrange the external material world, but by our realization that all that we are is the expression of this Truth. The sureness which illuminates all of existence. The illumination that helps us realize we share the same consciousness.

THAT, the existence of all the myriad things is strung on the same thread. If the thread is cut, all the myriad things experience the lacerated wound. Our practice is to practice for the entire world – knowing THAT and not me, not the selfish little me, but THAT which is beyond compare. THAT which is birth and death, the cause for all effects, the light and heat of the Sun, the power that generates all things.

As I sat this morning, aware and humbled by my mistakes, I looked for THAT – for God – for all the Buddhas in the three worlds, for all those who surround us in the ten directions – for all the myriad things that are given in unimaginable generosity. 

I realized this Presence of the high bird comes in the form of heat from the fire that warms my legs, the Sun’s light that shines through the doors on my back, the sound that never goes away, the strength that comes in the form of a Peace Lily. Whatever intelligence I may have, I realize it is not mine – but is a borrowed knowledge from an inexplicable Source. A gift!

My ability to walk, talk and move is not my strength – but given by the ineffable Source.  I must be watchful for the obstacles I build, like a child building sand castles, thinking and acting on them from ignorance.

When I fail to keep my mind on suchness, on this sureness,  I challenge the wild road runner to a race and uh oh harm is sure to follow.

It is a breakthrough to know my true refuge is in suchness, THAT which holds this unsettled world, beyond the temptations of winning and losing and all the opposites (worldly winds) and mysteriously rest in reality. This clear knowing comes as an answer to a menacing question – how do we settle in an unsettled world?  

The answer is – we keep our mind – all of our being – on knowing the Truth and being with expressions of THAT Truth all around us, right where we are over and over again.

How do we keep our mind on the Truth?

We don’t give up. We practice wisdom.

Where? Right where you are in the middle of life as it is.

What helps?

May you not give up. May you keep going. May you practice suchness – right where you are.

Renew your vows. Let the Truth awaken you right where you are.


Vows by Fly 2019


May we with all beings realize the emptiness (love) of the three wheels,

Giver, receiver and gift.

Beings are numberless, I vow to save them.

Greed, hatred and ignorance are inescapable.

I vow to abandon them.

Dharma gates are boundless,

I vow to enter them.

Buddha’s Way is unsurpassable,

I vow to know it.


Humming Bird

Author: FaShi Lao Yue

Image credits: Fly, 2019

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at: yao.xiang.editor@gmail.com


LESSONS. Lesson 5 B. The Second Rank to End Suffering

Divided Man by FLY, 2019


The main teaching I was introduced to many years ago by my first teacher was from the Genjo Koan by Dogen, a 13 century Japanese Zen monk. It is simple and worth memorizing.

To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by the myriad things. When actualized by the myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization exists, and this no-trace continues endlessly.

It is a clear and reliable approach to finding the Buddha Way. But as most teachings, it is not easy. It requires a turn that very few are willing to make. Nevertheless, it is worth our attention.  An elucidation of how this teaching relates to the Buddha’s promise to end suffering is priceless. Before I dive into this teaching, I want to remind us that all the high spiritual teachings in the world give us the same instruction. The never-ending Way of Eternal Truth is continuously flowing with immeasurable generosity for us to awaken.

It is never apart from one right where one is.

In the last lesson, Lesson 5 A we dipped into the first rank. Refer to it here. In summary, we looked at the relative in the absolute – sometimes described as the material in the eternal or the personal in the universal. I’d like to expand on the first training with a caution and further explanation.

First, a caution. Many get stuck in studying the self and end up polishing the self to look good, to become a good person, to do good. By itself, this does not lead to the end of suffering, but is a step to take and then overcome. It is not the end of the Way. It is a first step and must be remembered as such otherwise the spiritual practitioner risks getting an inflated ego that thinks itself as a goodee, goodee or a badee, badee.

Suppose one gains pride of understanding and inflates one’s own enlightenment, glimpsing the wisdom that runs through all things…one is making the initial, partial excursion…but is still somewhat deficient in the Way of total emancipation.

Fortunately, our glimpse into wisdom helps us to continue to practice. And since we are in the middle of it right here, right now we are in the midst of endless opportunity and potential to discover our unbounded self. But far too often, when things don’t go well for us, don’t go our way, we get stuck in it – isn’t this true? All sorts of fretting and worry rush in – but as long as things go smoothly, we are able to see the truth given in the first rank.

Here is how to work with the first rank of seeing the relative in the absolute. As mentioned before, the relative is that which changes. In order to understand this and to practice it, we need to see what in the self-construct changes. The simple answer is everything in the self-construct comes under the law of change. There is NOTHING in the relative world that lasts.

In brief, the body, the breath, the mind, the intellect and even the beguiling ego changes. All of it is empty of an eternal attribute. But don’t jump the gun. Knowing this intellectually is not enough. Ananda, Shakyamuni Buddha’s faithful companion knew all the teachings – many by heart – but he knew it intellectually which did not hold him on the path.

At some point, he faced a temptation that almost swamped him. Those around Buddha asked – what is happening to your faithful Ananda? Buddha’s reply was Ananda thinks his mind is real.  Ananda was stuck in the first rank. After, Buddha dies, however, Ananda does awaken.

Let’s now add the next step. Remember, first step is to study the self (body, breath, mind, intellect, ego; earth, water, fire, air, ether) and to realize all of it changes.

The second step is to forget the self.  Here is where many adepts falter. We forget to forget the self and instead end up reifying it in some damnable way that makes us and others miserable.

The second rank requires we let go of our grip (belief in thinking the self is real) on the self-constructions. Step One and Two are simple and yet challenging. We like studying our self, but we do not like to let go of what we have studied. It is a precarious place where most of us need a teacher to help us travel across it without getting stuck in it. The main work of a teacher is to point out to us when we are heading towards the swamp and to encourage us to stop going there. The rest of the work is up to us.

To forget the self requires we see the absolute in the relative ( the second rank) – even a glimpse of the absolute is enough. This step is not a belief in the absolute – it is a realization. It is important to remember that the Truth is ever-present, we are never apart from it – but we miss it because we are looking at the self-attributions of the construction and not at the nature of them. Step One is necessary. We need to realize the self-construction is not lasting. It is unreliable in terms of the eternal.

To let go of the studied self is not a dictum or demand – it is a realization that comes from studying the self and discovering it does not hold. Not holding is the realized awareness that comes when the first rank is realized.

Step Two is taken when we see the self for its relative attribute. Forget the self follows and we see a glimpse into THAT which lasts. Again, it is not to use the intellect to fill in what lasts – but to know and discover what is always there.

Suffering, at this point, begins to lessen because suffering is connected to the constructed self. The self-construction is the holder of misery because it is the holder of all that passes – it is what gets blown around by the eight worldly winds. When we let go of it by forgetting the self we open to the realization of seeing what is always present. THAT which does not change. Our grip loosens, but we are not yet free. Our vision, however, shifts and we glimpse at what has not been seen before.

Here is a chant that reminds us of our work.

Life is precious.

Life is fragile.

Death is sudden and strikes without warning.

Cause and effect are inescapable.

Suffering in the conditioned world is inescapable.

Liberation is beneficial.

A teacher is helpful.

May all beings realize the emptiness (love) of the three wheels,

giver, receiver and gift.

May this benefit all beings everywhere.

Humming Bird

Author: FaShi Lao Yue

Image credits: Fly, 2019

ZATMA is not a blog. If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at: yao.xiang.editor@gmail.com


LESSONS. Lesson 5. Part A. The End of Suffering

LESSONS. Lesson 5. Part A.

The end of suffering – when things of the world get tough to bear.


Make friends with the problems in your life.    Sarah Young

Everything comes to awaken you – but don’t take any of it personally.

Don’t claim it as yours.


Let’s begin by shouting Hallelujah!  Praise – the Dharma of the True Being. I am, as you truly are, the Dharma as heat and light are the Sun. It is the mysterious Truth of the Tathagata. Whether it is mysterious or not, it is true.


Our common human nature is to think and believe we are somebody other than the true Dharma. Sometimes we think and believe we are a miserable bum or a jealous friend or an envious boor – sometimes we think and believe we are a know-it-all or a better-than-everybody, or  smart-as-a-whip or a hungry ghost. When we look in a mirror, we believe we are that face whether beautiful or ugly, plain or outstanding. We have forgotten who we are – the True Being – conscious and capable of giving, receiving and being a gift. The list of mistaken identity is endless, but forgetting our true nature is our universal condition.

No matter what name we use, we fill in the blank of who we are with some attribute, an identity that teeters up and down in praise, blame, pleasure, pain, fame, obscurity, gain and loss. In this identity ranking, we are caught in the swamp of the ego and not on the ground of being. We all have done it. Those times we feel sorry for ourselves, when we judge and blame, blow up incensed we have not been heard or understood. Those times when we feel righteous in our injury – when we look at our wounds and can’t seem to stop the licking. This swamp is suffering.

And this status is our usual ‘rank’ – what in Zen is called the first rank. Known commonly by many names  ‘instinctual man, ‘ ‘material girl,’ ‘egotist,’ ‘selfie,’ ‘self-centered’ ‘full of pride’ – many names throughout history define this rank. Each depicting the universal nature of being caught in the ego and blown about by the worldly winds of suffering. (Praise/Blame, Pain/Pleasure, Fame/Obscurity, Gain/Loss). When we, for example, are not praised we blame – when we are acknowledged we look down, when we gain, we want to hang on – over and over it goes.

But don’t give up and fall into despair.

The first rank is not without wisdom. There is wisdom that is of the most obvious kind. The man on the street, meaning you and me, knows that everything changes. The fact that everything changes is the first suffering we experience in childhood. We lose a toy. It gets broken, We cry. We lost it. And then we want it back or at the very least a replacement. This is our human nature. It is where we all begin. And for many, it is where we remain.

But for those with dust in their eyes this knowing wisdom remains  a shock throughout life – change surprises us. The knowledge is not used to awaken, instead we use it to complain. Someone leaves us, death comes as a thief in the night – our feeling sorry for ourselves breaks in our consciousness and we are swamped. A sudden tsunami sweeps our family away – we lose our eyesight – an accident leaves us crippled – a stroke cripples. Any number of changes torment us – we see change as unfair, personal and attacking. We react from our grip on what we want. We feel compensation is owed to us. We march in the parade of thinking we deserve “better.” All of these concoctions are attempts to protect the ego from change. Impossible to do. Change is a constant and an inevitable, true principle of this realm. IN knowing this – there is wisdom.

But…because the world follows a replacement system when it comes to change, we fight against the worldly winds with all sorts of schemes and plans and try-agains – because we only know the knowledge of the first rank – everything changes – as a threat to what we want. The ego is center stage.

We need to know this wisdom without making the mistake of schemes and try-agains. All our schemes and try-agains towards the world result in the same lesson being taught – the lesson of knowing everything changes in the material world along with knowing we cannot count on the worldly things for spiritual satisfaction. Impermanence is a mark of being – of existence. When we are unable or unwilling to know this wisdom – we suffer.

This knowledge is wisdom – but alone, it is not enough for us to get out of the swamp. And getting-out-of-the-swamp is how we end suffering. In order to end suffering as Buddha and all great spiritual teachings tell us, we must STOP sinking our claws into the world and the things of the world. We switch from trying to change the worldly things and look inward and pull our claws out. This teaching is a shock.

To study impermanence requires a war house – a meek and disciplined mind that is supple and strong – to see  change as impermanent rather than personal. The wind blows where it will and no one can escape the wind. It is universal in nature – proceeds from the Source and comes to wake us up right where we are. 

There is help. It requires a choice – a decision – a change of mind to receive the changes as the Truth of the Tathagata – the mysterious mystery that it is. It is a practice to receive the changes as they truly are – change comes to mutually assist us to awaken, empty of a personal attack, empty of a personal prize. IT comes and comes and comes giving us all a chance to listen, study and know to get out of the swamp.


Humming Bird
Author: Fashi Lao Yue

If for some reason yon need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact the editor at: yao.xiang.editor@gmail.com

Images by FLY