​​​​​​​​Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) Topics - Inspiring Words

General Information
Whether we feel besieged by the demands of life, suspended and lost, or otherwise unhappy, the underlying problem is largely one of perspective.  How we see the world shapes our experience of it, and both are determined by the mind.  This is the premise of meditation - everything comes down to how we use the mind. 

- Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede, "The Power of Sesshin", Zen Bow, Number 4, 2011 - 2012

As long as one is practicing sincerely, there is continuous unfolding.  

- Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede, "Guiding Lights, Part One", Zen Bow, Number 1, 20001

Forms and Customs
Bowing with hands in gassho upon entering and leaving the zendo, doing prostrations before buddhas and bodhisattvas and making offerings to them, taking part in regular confession and repentance ceremonies - these acts when performed no-mindedly refine the emotions and purify the mind, gradually softening the sharp corners and rigid outlines of the personality.  And because they all serve to 'prune' the ego-I, they hasten awakening.  Sincere devotional practices also help to liberate our inherent compassion so that it may work freely in everyday life. 

- Roshi Philip Kapleau, Zen: Merging of East and West

The encouragement stick has been a common aid in group zazen since ancient China, where meditation masters discovered a spot on each shoulder situated along an acupuncture meridian called 'the Triple Warmer'.  When struck at these two points, receptive sitters can find their drowsiness shattered, their thoughts quelled. 

- Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede, "The Power of Sesshin", Zen Bow, Number 4, 2011 - 2012

Mind is unlimited. Chanting when performed egolessly has the power to penetrate visible and invisible worlds. 

- Roshi Philip Kapleau, Zen: Merging of East and West

This is the paradox of freedom that is revealed in Zen training (especially sesshin): the more of our personal freedom we are willing to relinquish, the more true freedom we can realize.  Because true freedom is not freedom to, but freedom from - freedom from the baying of our desires and the squawking of our aversions.  Then we can use every training rule and restriction to help us overcome the dictates of our likes and dislikes.

- Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede, "The Freedom of No-Choice", Zen Bow, Numbers 1 & 2, 2013

Zen Center Leadership

Clouds move freely - that is, no-mindedly - forming and reforming according to atmospheric conditions and their own nature.  Water adapts itself to all circumstances, becoming round when put into a round vessel and square when put into a square one.  But it always retains its identity...Clouds and water are symbolic of the perfected Zen man [or woman], whose life is characterized by freedom and spontaneity plus the resilience to adapt himself to changing circumstances.  So he lives without strain or anxiety.  That is why Zen trainees are called 'cloud-water'. 

- Roshi Philip Kapleau, Zen: Merging of East and West

Recommended Resources

The good book stirs the heart, fires the imagination, and leads to the resolve to let nothing stand in the way of full awakening.  In short, it gets you out of the armchair and onto the sitting mat. 

- Roshi Philip Kapleau, Zen: Merging of East and West