you set your body
on the meditation bench,
it is no more than silencing and
emptying the mind and investigating with
your whole being. Just make your mind and thoughts
clarify and become still. A fine place to do active meditation work is
among confusion and disturbances. When you do active meditation, you must
penetrate through the heights and the depths, without omitting anything.
The whole essential being appears ready-made before you, and it
no longer arises from anywhere else. It is just this one Great
Potential, turning smoothly and steadily. Why talk
anymore about “worldly phenomena” and
“enlightened truth”? If you maintain a
uniform equilibrium over months
and years, naturally your
stand will be true
is nothing that
is impure, nothing in need
of elimination, no place to go, not a thing
to obtain. Shed the duality that you are a seeker
in search of some attainment. Just be as
you are, without attachment
to anything, anyone,
any state, any
you of enlightenment,
but don’t try to keep your mind on
it. Simply turn to the ocean of
your own essence and
wish to use Tao to influence
others don’t rely on force or weapons
or military strategies. Force rebounds.
Weapons turn on their wielders.
Battles are inevitably
what needs to be
done, and then stop.
Attain your purpose, but
don’t press your advantage.
Be resolute, but don’t force.
Succeed, but don’t crow.
Accomplish, but don’t
things invites decay,
and this is against Tao.
Whatever is against
Tao soon ceases
the widespread degree
to which people prefer chasing
fame and fortune to refining their
understanding of the Way. The evidence
is that status and riches make people
more insecure and frantic,
not less, but do
and acts accordingly.
She divests herself of unnecessary
possessions and abandons frenetic activity.
With her quiet mind and untroubled
heart, she is at home anywhere
in the universe wearing
God is love.
He who hates does
not know God, but he who
has love has the key that unlocks
the door to the meaning
for the dead are on the
same footing as gifts for the living.
The angel goes in to the dead with a tray of light,
bearing a cloth of light, and says, “This is a gift for you
from your brother so-and-so, from your relative
so-and-so.” And he delights in it just as
a living man rejoices
in a gift.
and every part
of the world is a snare
for the fool and a means
of deliverance for
walking in the spring air
full moon rising in our blood
flowers and grass returning leaves
bursting from the wood we dance
the ancient dance move with the
the grace of animals and
feel beneath our flesh
the earth’s pulse
Twenty-five years ago, a Japanese friend gave me a telescoping fiberglass pole with no reel seat. It was a beautiful, precious gift; light, sensitive, and elegant. When I received this tenkara rod, I didn’t really understand what I was getting. I stored it on a shelf in my cabin for 15 years until one day I decided to try it on a willow-lined meadow creek in the Wyoming Range. It was a very windy day in August, and grasshoppers were being blown about, so I put on a muddler and fished it upstream as a hopper and downstream as a sculpin. The thin, heavy horsehair line cut through the wind far better than a floating fly line and I moved from pool to pool without having to reel in line and let it out again. I caught fish in every pool: nice cut-throats up to 16 inches.
This centuries-old technique was perfect for fly fishing that day and since that time I have found it to be as effective for catching lots of fish as anything that has come out of our high-tech fly-fishing industry. Heaven knows we fly fisherman are suckers for every new gizmo we think will give us a leg up on catching fish: Our trout rods are designed to throw lead-weighted streamers clear across the river and reels come with drags engineered to stop a truck, even though any old click drag will stop a trout. Hundreds of fly lines are available to us, yet I seriously doubt you will catch one more trout with a line fine-tuned to the conditions than with a classic doublt taper. The original pheasant tail nymph may still be the most effective nymph ever tied.
We love our tools, but too often they are overbuilt and over specialized. They get between us and the experience. The satisfaction to be gained from the synergy of hand, eye, and muscle are missing. Sheridan Anderson says in The Curtis Creek Manifesto, “despite rumors to the contrary, the paramount objective is to catch fish,” but in the pursuit of the catch you will gain so much more. The higher purpose of practicing a sport such as fly fishing, hunting, or mountain climbing is to effect some spiritual or physical transformation. But if the process is compromised, there is no gain.
What’s happened with fly fishing is no different from what’s happened with every other sport or pastime — in fact, with society as a whole.
We all know the present world economy based on endlessly consuming and discarding is destroying our planet. When we see the results of our high-tech, high-risk, and highly toxic economic system, many of us question our frenetic consumer lifestyles. We years for a simpler life based not on refusing all technology, but on going back to appropriate technology.
It seems to me if there is a way forward, it lies in these words: restraint, quality, and simplicity. We have to get away from thinking that all growth is good, or we end up like the fly fishermen so fixated on launching long casts that they put the fly beyond where the fish are.
I believe the way toward mastery of any endeavor is to work toward simplicity; replace complex technology with knowledge. The more you know, the less you need. A more simple approach to fly fishing helps preserve our capacity for wonder. It can teach us to see, smell, and feel the miracles of stream life — with the beauty of nature and serenity all around — as we pursue wild fish.
The lesson we learn from fishing with a tenkara rod is that we shouldn’t fear that a simpler life will be an impoverished life. Rather, simplicity leads to a richer and more satisfying way of fishing — and more more importantly, living.
the great death,
and in the cool ashes of
the funeral pyre you will
meet what never
By letting go of thoughts,
sacrificing all sentiment,
absorbed in stillness and doing
not-doing, you will find that
the universe comes
one word, or seven words,
or three times five, even if you thoroughly
investigate myriad forms nothing can be depended upon.
Night advances, the moon glows and falls into the
ocean. The black dragon jewel you have
been searching for is
of stars lines up
bright in the deep night.
Lone lamp on the cliff,
the moon is not yet sunk,
full and bright without being
ground or polished.
Hanging in the black sky
is my mind.
to understand the Way,
concentrate upon it without
pause. This is the sunlight that
matures the fruit of your
your insight through
whatever comes, you make
a Oneness of the world, and
conditions such as “good”
and “bad” drop
of delight and praise is
friendship. Consider how when you
are working in a garden or in an orchard, or
singing a song, or just sitting beside swift running water,
how each of these improves immensely if you are
with a friend. In companionship pain
begins to heal, and joy
or two strangers will not
recognize each other when they move
into spirit. From this point on in your life, resolve
to find more friends. God is pleased when
you are together with friends
someone and sees a lover.
Another meets the same and turns away.
These differences in attraction do not come from
your bodies or from your culture. They live innate within
creation as secret inclinations. One person loves
horses much more than pigs, but
pigs have their admirers
too. Pigs have
of conditions, internal or
external or both, is ready to pass away in
favor of a more beneficial situation. What enables this
transformation is your conscious and vigorous
adherence to correct thought
in outer things is possible
without a prior revolution in one’s inner way
of being. Whatever change you aspire to in your affairs must be
preceded by a change in heart, and active deepening and strengthening
of your resolve to meet every event with equanimity, detachment,
and innocent goodwill. When this spiritual poise is
achieved within, magnificent things
are possible without.
of others are enabled also when we
refine the fire of goodness and truth inside ourselves.
Sincere commitment to higher things travels outward in powerful waves
from the superior person, and all those around are affected by this.
Indisputably, to lead one’s inner self to truth and peace is to
lead the outer world to truth and peace. A beneficial
revolution is assured to one who
takes this path now.
to be a
is to be a buddha.
Buddha nature is just
another name for human
nature, our true human nature.
Thus even though you do not do anything,
you are actually doing something. You are expressing
yourself. You are expressing your true nature. Your eyes will
express; your voice will express; your demeanor will
express. The most important thing is to express
your true nature in the simplest, most
adequate way and to appreciate
it in the smallest
While you are
continuing this practice,
week after week, year after year,
your experience will become deeper and
deeper, and your experience will cover everything
you do in your everyday life. The most important thing is to
forget all gaining ideas, all dualistic ideas. In other words, just
practice zazen in a certain posture. Do not think about
anything. Just remain on your cushion without
expecting anything. Then eventually you
will resume your own true nature.
That is to say, your own true