Zen 101

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Sky

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Joshu asked, “What is the path?” Nansen said, “Everyday life is the path.” Later Nansen added, “If you want to reach the true path beyond doubt, place yourself within the same freedom as that of the sky…”

There are two aspects that arise from disciplined practice. First, our disciplined practice is in every moment. Second, as a result, our disciplined practice is not contained by the dimensions of a zabuton. As Janis Joplin sang, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” In Zen we actually mean this.

When every moment is practice it means in every moment we are attuned to our heart/mind. There is just this in front of us and there is no separation between it and us. Why? Because we realize there is no “it” and no “us.” When ownership, attachment, and emotional investment fall away there is nothing left to lose, but nothing has been lost either. In fact, we have actually gained the universe itself.

We speak of a “path” as if to say there is an actual journey, a beginning point, a walking along the way point, and an end point. This is deluded thinking. Better would be to forget the word “path” altogether. Throw “journey” away, as well. As our true nature is within us and everything else, where is there to go?

A boundless sky has room for the birds, the trees, and the earth. A boundless sky, by its nature, allows a frame. Yet, in truth, the frame and the sky are one. When properly understood, neither are independent, both inter-are.

Be well.

September 27

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Tuesday comes. Rev. KoMyo arrived yesterday and we enjoyed several hours together before it was time to retire. Student Jeffery arrives late this evening (at 10:00 PM). Rev. Shoji, Student Ryugin, and Rev. Elliston arrive Wednesday.

Today we will proceed as usual with Zazen, Dokusan and Zen 101. Our class this evening will wrap up our study of The Eight Gates of Zen by Daido Loori-roshi. We will practice Zazen at 9:30 AM and again at 6:00 PM with Zen 101 at 7:00 PM. Rev. Soku Shin and I will be having a Peace Camp planning lunch at noon today with the new Director of Peace Village.

I would like to thank in advance Students Shelley Tenborin and Bonnie Hensan, Ino Joe DaiShugyo, Doan Kathryn Soku Shin and Tenzo Tamra for their assistance preparing and setting up our coming Thursday Gathering and Ohigan Sesshin.

A few notes:

We have ordered 5 copies only of The Wholehearted Way, which is the text for Zen 101 beginning on October 4th. Please let me know if you wish to reserve a copy.

In other news, Dharma Teacher Reba Zen Shin will be offering a class on Buddhism at the UU Church here in Las Cruces. These are the details:

What: Class on Basics of Buddhist Teaching and Practice

When: Over four Mon. evenings beginning Oct. 17 from 7 to 8:30 PM

Where: UU Church Library

Text: What the Buddha Taught by Rahula

To register, call church office 575-522-7281

For further info call Reba Zen Shin at 575-522-0691

Be well

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Elliston-sensei at Sesshin

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

This week we will be gathering together for sesshin in honor of Ohigan. Rev. KoMyo-sensei will arrive on Monday from California, Rev. Taiun Elliston-sensei will arrive from Georgia, Rev. Shoji and Student Ryugin will arrive from California on Wednesday, and our El Paso people will arrive on Thursday. Rev. Bussho from Deming will arrive Thursday. In addition to our Order’s members, we will host Rev. Gozen and Rev. Pries from the Zen Center of Las Cruces. So, our house will be full of Zensters and we will be practicing strongly in silence.

We are very much looking forward to our workshop day with Taiun-sensei on Thursday. The aim is to explore Matsuoka-roshi’s lineage and discuss the future direction of the Order of Clear Mind Zen. On Saturday morning Rev. Taiun-sensei will offer a presentation to the sesshin participants. Revs. KoMyo and Shoji will offer teishos on Saturday and Sunday respectively. On Sunday, after Rev. Taiun departs in the morning, we will complete two ordinations: Kathi Ryugin Sorensen will take Jukai and Tenzo Tamra will take Shukke. The ceremonies will begin at our 10:00 AM Sunday service which will be open to the sangha and public.

If you are not registered for sesshin, you are invited to attend the 10:00 AM service on Sunday and support our sangha members.

Be well.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

American Zen: the True Buddha Way

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

An certain Owen Flanagan, PhD recently blogged on Huffington Post that “Buddhism is first and foremost a complex philosophy about the nature of reality, the self and morality.” He goes on to suggest that we American Buddhists use a “code” for meditation by which he means to say, we actually practice the Buddha Way. Dr. Flanagan is right. But his thesis (that we are bourgeois Buddhists and know little to nothing of “Buddhism” is far from the mark as he completely misunderstands and mis-states the Buddha Way.

As anyone passing familiar with what we call “Buddhism” will tell us, there is actually no such thing as “Buddhism.” There are a set of practices taught by the Buddha, passed down through the millennia, refined and honed. The derived teachings from such practice when written about becomes something to test in our own practice, but philosophy? I do not believe so. It is only through a Western, academic eye, such might be the case. Buddhism is the Buddha Way, no -ism, thank you very much.

In countries Dr. Flanagan speaks of, where he claims Buddhists do not meditate is only half correct, Buddhists in Tibet, Nepal, Korea, Japan, etc., do meditate. But this notwithstanding, he takes the wrong point. In such places the Buddha Way has become much like that of Christianity here in the United States. Sunday Christians sing hosannas in Church and flick drivers off on the way home. Maybe they have actually read the Sermon on the Mount, but to literally practice the wisdom teaching of Jesus? Not.

American Zen Buddhism is all about the actual practice of the Buddha Way. The Buddha Way is Zazen. This is what the Buddha taught and this is what true, authentic Buddhists do. So, in contradistinction to the dismissive nature of Dr. Flanagan comments regarding Buddhism in America, the wonderful thing about the Buddha Way as practiced in the United States is that we are actually doing the practice. We have taken Master Dogen seriously, as well as all the Buddhas and Patriarchs before and after him. We practice to study the Buddha Way, thus practice to study the self, and sooner or later, through our practice, allow the mind and body to fall away.

This practice, this Buddha Way, has nothing to do with a goal. Nor does it have anything to do with happiness or heart rates. In America we are witnessing the rise of a new, true Buddhism, the same Buddhism Master Dogen found in China and brought back to Japan. It is there for each of us.

Be well.

Ohigan Sesshin, Paramitas

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

We are getting very excited about our coming sesshin and Seniors gathering day. We have people from California and Texas, as well as Guest Teacher Rev. Taiun Elliston-sensei, coming. Thursday will be a workshop day led by Rev. Elliston and myself. We are hoping to have an open discussion about Soto Zen, our lineage, and opportunities to deepen our practice.

Beginning Friday evening we will enter Ohigan Sesshin and close that on Sunday afternoon. Ohigan, as you may know, is the sesshin done in honor of crossing over to the other shore, realizing we have never left. We prepare by beginning to examine the Six Paramitas. The paramitas, generosity, morality, patience, vigor, meditation, and wisdom, are aspects of our Buddha Nature, so to speak. They are the actualization of our True Nature. The thing is, these aspects, like all dharmas, are constantly changing. They are interdependent and interconnected. Therefore, we say they are empty.

Generosity in this moment will manifest as this moment requires. It is not a constant, static thing, and cannot be defined in this way. We often say dana paramitas is “giving” but this is misleading. Giving requires a giver, a gift, and a receiver. Dana is more like a flow. Do not consider what is flowing or from whence or to where the flow is moving. Just flow.

Practice where we lift the focus from the “I” to the universe allows us the possibility of realizing unification and actualizing it. Releasing thought of “I am meditating” or the thought of “I am patient,” creates an opportunity to just be meditation or patience. So, paramita practice is about releasing oneself, or more directly, getting out of our own way, so that what quite naturally resides in us is actualized.

Our sesshin is closed as we have now maxed out, but the Sunday morning service will remain open to the public and it will begin at 10:00 AM. Please consider joining us.

Be well.

For those attending sesshin, a few notes from my Jiisha:


SILENT means No Talking. If we are talking, we are likely not practicing. Please monitor yourself. Reminders will be provided as needed.

Sesshin is a silent MEDITATION retreat to benefit our practice:

MEDITATION means zazen, kinhin, oryoki and samu, primarily. This is an opportunity for us to spend an extended period of time engaged in these activities exclusively.

Use your time well, there is nothing else to “do.”

Sesshin is a silent meditation retreat to benefit our PRACTICE:

PRACTICE means the way in which we manifest the dharma in each moment.

Since we are celebrating Ohigan--Consider the Paramitas in this regard, and consider the vows you have taken, or may be studying.

Let’s come together to make this sesshin a time that will enhance not only our personal study and practice, but that of the sangha, the Order, and the universe itself

NECESSITIES LIST--for Sesshin Participants

SLEEPING GEAR—please note that the floor at the zendo is

wood, and the floor at our residence is Pergo (no carpeting)

-Air mattress and pump, pillow, sleeping bag or sheet/blanket

-Pajamas (full-coverage, please)

-Towel/Wash Cloths (shower at zendo, bathtub at residence)

-Toiletries, minimal (no electrical devices, please)


-Flashlight (mandatory)


-Change of clothing for as many days as you will be with us.

Remember that sesshin involves samu, which is often rigorous.

-Clothing must be clean each day, dark in color (preferably black), loose fitting, comfortable, and full-coverage (no tank tops, “camis” shorts, etc).

-Kinhin will be performed outside. Please bring slip-on shoes to the zendo that are easy to put on as you will be moving in and out of the temple in a single file line.


You will have “free time” during sesshin. Please use this time to take care of your personal needs and to continue your practice. Free time is NOT social time. In fact, there is no social time during sesshin.

Please do not bring books, writing materials, computers, cell phones,

or equivalent electronic devices into the zendo or residence. If there is

some sort of URGENT communication you must have during sesshin,

please speak to Rev. Daiho to arrange for this now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Update: stress test was fun, but I suppose that is very subjective. I am one of those hapless individuals who enjoys being physically stressed. I enjoy running, biking, weightlifting, and in the distant past, Korean karate. Each, of course, to the max. Perhaps that is why I am feeling it now  Anyway, the stress test was the typical 3 minutes, three minutes, three minutes: each with an increased level of difficulty designed to get the heart rate up, open the arteries, and see what happens. The idea is to get to your “predicted HR max” based on age. I am 64 and that means my max should be 157 according to the Cardiac Care Tech.

So we started at a resting HR of 56 and climbed. At the end of the 9 minutes I was barely touching the predicted max so we agreed to go farther. She punched up the incline and increased the speed so I had to jog. I ended up after another minute or two at 162 and felt great.

I am beginning to think all of this stuff is in my head which, of course as we know, it always is. My sense is that I am so in-tune with my body from years of noticing my paralysis and meditation, that any change registers. I interpret this change as a warning, poor me, and find myself wondering what is going on in there. This is called anxiety.

So. We will wait for all the testing to be interpreted and a final interview with my docs to see what they say, but I say, “I am fine.” Time to get on the Diamond Back and ride to the Temple for dokusan and morning Zazen.

Be well.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Zen Mindlessness

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I would like to report that I failed my stress stress due to not reading the instructions. After Zazen and dokusan yesterday, several of us went to Tokyo Sushi for lunch and I ate vegetarian fried rise with jasmine tea. Didn’t think anything of it until getting to the cardiac care center where Student Marcos offhandedly referred to fasting. Oy. Soooo, we rescheduled for today aqnd I was profusely apologetic and down-right embarrassed.

So, this morning at 11:30 stress test. No food, no coffee, no nothing.

Anyway, we will sit Zazen at 9:30 this morning and again at 6:00 PM. We will follow this with Zen 101 at 7:00. If you have any questions about Zen or your practice, this is the group to join.

Zen 101 will be moving into the next text for discussion which will be “The Wholehearted Way” a translation of Eihei Dogen’s Bendowa With Commentary by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi. This text is a foundational text for understanding the practice of Zazen. Please order a copy and have it available for group the first Tuesday of October.

See you soon.

Be well.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Zen is Being Now

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

The dawn has yet to break
across the mountains in the east.
Mesilla’s air is crisp,
September half over already,
and October looms close by.
Time seems to travel so quickly
as we age, and yet,
it seems like only yesterday…

…that I just could not wait for my fourteenth birthday so that I could get my “Restricted” Driver’s License and ride the motorcycle my step-father had bought for me.

Miami in the 1950’s was a very different place than it is now. But then, everything changes. Talking with a friend, who also grew up there, we remembered so many small details that seem to act as little anchors for our existence. Driving to the Keys in an old MG Midget, Wolfies, rock pit swimming, these were good times in the sun.

I wanted so much to be a scientist, but was soooo working class. I was a combined wannabe geek and biker, a condition that has seemingly defined my life over the decades. “Two Fires” my Navajo friend called me.

The good news is that for some time now the struggle between these two has been over. Rather than resisting living in multiple worlds, I have let go of, and surrendered into, this condition. Monk, householder, partner, friend, lover: these are just names we give to an otherwise seamless existence in the eternal now. There is only one world, the world of this moment itself.

A canvas sits on my easel: I am a painter. A zafu sits in the Zendo: I am a Zenster. A pan in the kitchen: I am a cook. My partner in our bed: I am a lover. I am each and none. Labels do nothing for us but separate us from our actual life. They change everything. It is better to live without them.

This is one meaning of mind and body falling away.

Be well

PS, today Zazen for Sangha Members at 9:30 AM, Stress Test at 1:30 PM, Dokusan in the late afternoon.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mindfullness and Toxicity

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Let’s see, yesterday I did a wonderful little test at the skilled hands of Student Marcos who referred me to the cardiologist he works for at Cardiac Care here in New Mexico. I also did a duplex study of my arteries and a CAT scan of my brain with contrast. The physician was amusing in his grandeur, but solid in his approach. He read my record and did an exam at which point he indicated things looked good, but wanted further tests. I am scheduled for a treadmill stress test on Monday afternoon. The CAT and duplex results will not be available for a few days.

My sense at this point is that all of this is simple anxiety over noticing the subtle --- and sometimes not so subtle --- changes in my body. Zen practice is a practice that has us constantly noticing. We are supposed to “let go” of that which we notice. Perhaps I notice and let go of some, but not all, of this stuff. Aging is one of those processes that is resolutely constant and as it marches, it increases its chorus’s volume in what seems to be daily decibel levels. In addition to this, of course, there are the daily money issues, family issues, and temple issues that exist because we are alive and participating in the world around us.

Zen practice is a healthy practice, but care must be taken to truly do something with those things we are constantly noticing and not allow them to build into snowball weight over our head or weave into a blanket with which we smother our heart. The danger of increased mindful attention, then, is in training ourselves to be aware without providing ourselves the tools to deal with what we become aware of.

What are some of these tools? Well, as Rev. Soku Shin is so fond of saying, “You could talk to me!” Talking about feelings and thoughts is a mainstay process of dealing with anxiety. Exercise is always an excellent option, but remember, it should have a component of vigorous effort built in. Meditation itself is a tool, as is yoga. Tai Chi Chih and Tai Chi Chuan can be very supportive in directing energy flow. Lastly, writing practice is an excellent contemplative tool, as well as a terrific mechanism for ordering and processing our thoughts and feelings.

As I write this, I recall a favorite book of mine written some years ago by Dr. Dean Ornish. It was a program to reverse heart disease and it had four components: a very low fat diet, vigorous exercise, meditation, and bodywork like yoga. Maybe I should take another look at it.

Be well.

Friday, September 16, 2011

September 16

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Every day brings moment to moment opportunities for change. Today I will undergo several important medical tests: an initial cardiac exam with my new cardiologist and a duplex carotid-vertebral arteries exam and a CT of my brain, for my new neurologist. For some time now I have experienced chest discomfort, pain, and shortness of breath and I had an anomaly on a routine EKG at my annual physical two months ago. My leg and arm seem to be deteriorating faster, and I have headaches several times a week. With encouragement from my partner and a few sangha members, I am getting these tests done. I am hopeful that we will find a cause and that this cause can be repaired.

From 1964, when I began practicing karate, through decades of recovery from combat injuries, and on into my experience of long distance running and the discipline of Zazen, I have come to believe deeply in the personal strength and power of each of us to overcome obstacles. More precisely, I have become a very stubborn person. Sometimes this stubborn discipline is helpful, sometimes it is hurtful. I am coming to believe that in matters of health, it can be hurtful when used in service to avoiding things, but very helpful when used to address healing and engage recovery. While I am a little worried about my body, I am not at all worried about my ability to deal with whatever comes up in each day.

At CMZT this morning we will practice Zazen at 9:30. Tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM we will practice Zazen through the day. Zazenkai is a short, intensive practice period, like a mini-sesshin. It involves Zazen, kinhin, samu, and oryoki. We will practice in silence.

At our Temple, we practice Zazenkai once a month and sesshin once a quarter. It is very important to have such extended periods of practice as they help us deepen our practice discipline and help us get under the surface of things.

Please consider establishing an intensive day of practice in your home if you cannot attend Zazenkai at our Temple or another.

Be well.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Our Zen 101 group is going strong. It is so good to see such an interest in not only understanding Zen, but actually practicing it. We sit for an hour from 6:00 PM to 7:00, then hold a discussion based on a text selection. This week it was on Clouds and Water, the priest’s track in Zen. Next week we will talk about a lay track.

These distinctions are somewhat fuzzy here in the United States as most Zen priests are actually lay priests and not monastics. As in anything Zen, distinctions such as “monastic” and “lay” are more a thing of the mind than anything else. A priest who goes into sesshin or Zazenkai is a monastic. A priest can form relationships, even marry and have children, but in the Zen world, a priest has by vows, shifted priorities.

What is most central in a priest’s life is the condition of conditioned things: the universe itself. According to tradition, a priest takes vows leading to stability, service, simplicity, selflessness, and the accomplishment of the Buddha’s Way. Priests frame these and understand these in an array of ways. My friend Claude Anshin for instance, assumed vows of poverty and chastity, he only eats one meal a day and does not drink, smoke, or eat meat. He owns nothing and lives off of the donations to his foundation.

Other priests might have a home and a job, children, a wife or husband, and credit cards. In both cases distinctions should not be made as to which is “more religious” than the other. Both priests have made commitments, have obligations, and go about their lives in service to the dharma.

What is true in each case is a shift in focus and priority in the priest’s life from relationship, per se, to dharma and sangha.

Be well

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In the details

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

The morning air is much cooler now that we are entering September. We have turned off the air conditioners and opened the windows. It is a good thing to feel fresh air, but along with it comes teaser sounds which trigger both of our dogs to bark. So, we have fresh air and barking dogs. All is right in the world.

All day yesterday I worked on my painting, details for sesshin, the WebPages, and various other small tasks. I spoke over Skype with my disciples Rev. Kankin and Rev. KoMyo. In the first case we talked about our everyday practice, in the second case, preparations for the coming sesshin. Soku Shin was away most of the day taking care of business of a different sort.

Everyday practice is every moment practice. It involves realizing that each and everything we do, we should do with stillness of mind, what I will call “deep posture.” To do this we must give up our attachment to one form of practice over another. To do that we must realize Zazen is not about the “superficial posture,” the “picture” of our practice as seated buddhas. Formal Zazen is a method of getting our mind and body oriented to the environment in such a way that all fall away leaving only presence. It is this “deep posture” or “presence” that can be opened in each moment regardless of our superficial posture.

We carry this Deep Posture with us everywhere. We are born with it and have the capacity to access it in each and every breath. When painting, just be in the paint, in the canvas, in the manifestation of the painting. When writing, just write, completely and fully expressing what you are. When walking, just walk. Walk completely, fully, touching the earth with your heart. This is not special. It is every day.

Do this and the details of our lives become like the jewels of Indra’s Net.

Be well.

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 12

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

Yesterday was September 11th, 2011, a day of its own accord. Today is September 12, also a day of its own accord. Let’s practice to stay in each day and live it, not another. I wrote on my “status” bar on Facebook, “When tears are our measure, rage soon follows. Zen living is not about tears or jeers, but rather, it is about not holding on to them. “

The measure of a Zen Center or a Teacher is not whether or not we are moved emotionally, but rather that we are taught to experience a feeling and let go of it before we turn it into something. Zen is not about feeling warm and fuzzy, it’s not about feeling special or serene or anything else. What Zen is about is direct experience of what is without grasping it, clutching it, or valuing it.

Yesterday our nation seemed emotionally captured by the violence perpetrated by a few tortured individuals. Our media (to their shame) flooded us for weeks with images of terror, sadness, and heroics. We (to our shame) seem to have become a nation of vicarious bottom feeders, who, having engorged ourselves and reveled in the emotion, today feel quite spent.

I read comments on a few Zen Teachers sites and see a host of sappy sentiment. Those teachers ought get out their sticks, CRACK!: Wake up! Where are you? When are you? Do you smell the air? Can you feel your feet? Do you hear that birdsong or that car’s tires rolling on the pavement? To use “The Little Prince"’s words, these are “matters of consequence.”

Care must be taken around memorials, as with memories from the past. They conjure up emotions which often run amok. Feel, but let go. Do not value the feeling. Do not treasure it, hold it, or otherwise keep it, as it will turn on you. Remember, the first and last principal of Zen is to be here now.,

Be well.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 10

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

This morning, the morning of our day “off,” we both woke early and slipped into the studio to paint. Painting has become both a morning and evening meditation. This morning I had one spot lit and painted nearly in the dark. Color feels rich, but muted, in the dim light, but then when day emerges, the colors tend to pop out and say, “Good Morning!”

Last night our monitor burnt out for our DVD player. I am noticing things are breaking down: car, DVD screen, me. Soku Shin and I talked quietly in the dim light as I put paint on canvas. “What is it?” she asks, indicating in no uncertain terms that she reads me like a book. I tell her I am anticipating more paralysis, more diminishment of competency. The pain in my legs is getting unbearable at times. My left arm is more and more showing the effects of my aging brain. I can no longer walk quietly. I can no longer hold my left hand out without greater weakness. The fingers do not close as they used to and my grip is poor. Shoe tying takes much more concentration and effort, as does tying my robes. I wonder how this will unfold and more, how I will deal with these losses as they begin to take more and more out of me.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with prematurely aging brain syndrome and realized I was heading toward a complete re-paralysis of my left side. At first the docs thought it was Alzheimer’s Disease and I worked out the scenario of losing my memory, thus myself. This thing is a little different and no one could tell me how it would unfold. So I am left, as we all are, knowing our capacity is diminishing, but not knowing which way it will manifest next.

Someone in Office Max yesterday noticed my foot drag and, coming up behind me, said with a smile, “I’ll race you to the front!” Funny. I smiled. She later apologized and said she hoped she didn’t “offend me.” The fact that I walk like a drunken sailor has demanded that I slow down.

This is just fine. Our practice is to deal with what is in an upright and direct manner. We will do what we will do and (just now) it seems that task is to take the dogs for a walk. (Oh, that reminds me, we have a new addition from the shelter in our family. Soku Shin adopted “Binky” the day before yesterday. Binky is a tiny poodle mix of some sort. Soft and cuddly, she fits right into Soku Shin’s arm.)

Life is good.

Be well.

You may see my artwork by going to clearmindzen.org and clicking on "Daiho's Art"

Thursday, September 01, 2011


With palms together,

Good Evening Everyone,

On the Zen Living list, Ch’an Master Jue Miao Jing Ming , asked me a question the other day. “Dear Sensei, Do you consider Zen a Mahayana practice? If so, what does Mahayana actually do?”

While Zen is within the Mahayana tradition, it is not a Mahayana practice as I understand it. Student Rev. Shoji and I were discussing this question today and Rev. Shoji brought up an interesting distinction. He argued that Mahayana Buddhists aim at the Bodhisattva ideal to free all beings before they, themselves, enter nirvana. He points out that from a Zen point of view, self and other are one, therefore there is no one, but oneself, to free.

Zen Master Seung Sahn argues in his Compass, that both Theravadan and Mahayane traditions have “roads,” but that Zen has not only no road, but no map, as well. The practice is practice realization as one. Path and destination are not two.

These beg the question, however, “What does Mahayana actually do?”

Mahayana does nothing. Mahayana is just a word. And we can see from the question that such things as words and concepts can create a hindrance. We could ask a better question, “What is Mahayana practice and what does it do?” The aim of the practice is to free beings, but how?

Again, Master Sahn offers the Six Paramitas as “practice guides.” They are rather like the manifest value in the nexus between idea and behavior, rather like the term “Quality” as used in Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” A Mahayana practitioner practices to make manifest the six aspects of our true nature in the hope that to do so will free suffering beings.

A Zen practitioner, however realizes practice and life are one, that everything is already free, perfect as it is, but that we jail ourselves with our thoughts. A Zen practitioner notices and ceases all grasping: no attachment to ideas, desires, things, feelings, etc.

A Zen practitioner is free and easy in the everyday world. His mind is free and his heart limitless. He recognizes all beings are likewise like this.

Be well.