drafty mountain hut

always at home, forever on the way

by tendo zenji

Waiting for Wine that Doesn’t Come

Jade winejars tied in blue silk….
What’s taking that wineseller so long?

Mountain flowers smiling, taunting me,
it’s the perfect time to sip some wine,

ladle it out beneath my east window
at dusk, wandering orioles back again.

Spring breezes and their drunken guest:
today we were meant for each other.

Li Po, translated by David Hinton in The Selected poems of Li Po


by tendo zenji

We’re cast into this human form, and it’s such happiness. This human form knows change, but the ten thousand things are utterly boundless. Who could calculate the joys they promise?

And so the sage wanders where nothing is hidden and everything is preserved. The sage calls dying young a blessing and living long a blessing. We might make such person our teacher, but there’s something the ten thousand things belong to, something all change depends upon–imagine making that your teacher!

Chuang Tzu translated by David Hinton in Chuang Tzu: The Inner Chapters

The Hongzhou School: Huangbo

by tendo zenji


Dajian Huineng (Sixth Patriarch)
Nanyue Huairang
Mazu Daoyi
Baizhang Huaihai
Huangbo Xiyun

Huangbo was the teacher of Linji from whence the dominate Linji school formed.

Huangbo in the Record of the Transmission of the Lamp

HUANGBO XIYUN (d. 850) was the disciple of Baizhang and the teacher of Linji Yixuan. He came from ancient Fuzhou. As a youth, he entered a monastery on Mt. Huangbo in his home province. Later, he traveled to the district of Gao’an where he resided at Mt. Huangbo (Xiyun renamed the mountain after his old mountain home in Fuzhou). Huangbo also traveled and lived at Mt. Tiantai, as well as the capital city of Changan, where he received instruction from National Teacher Nanyang Huizhong. Huangbo’s physical appearance was striking. He had a large protruding forehead that was whimsically described as a “large pearl.” Regarded as a teacher with simple methods and few words, Huangbo embodied Mahayana Buddhism’s bodhisattva ideal by adhering to the vow to defer the fruit of enlightenment until all other beings can first enjoy it. A famous legend about Huangbo provides a metaphorical teaching on this vow. – Andy Ferguson. Zen’s Chinese Heritage (p. 133)

House Tune

Huangbo was taking his leave of Nanquan. Nanquan accompanied Huangbo to the monastery gate. Lifting up Huangbo’s hat, Nanquan said, “Elder, your physical size is not large, but isn’t your hat too small?” Huangbo said, “Although that’s true, still the entire universe can fit inside it.” Nanquan said, “Teacher Wang!” Huangbo then put on his hat and left.- Andy Ferguson. Zen’s Chinese Heritage (p. 135)

If a monk asked Huangbo, “Why did the First Ancestor come from the west?” Huangbo would hit him. Through these and other methods, his students realized the highest function. Those of middling or inferior ability have never understood the master’s greatness. Huangbo passed away in [the year 850] on the mountain where he lived and taught. He received the posthumous name “Zen Master Removing Limits.” – Andy Ferguson. Zen’s Chinese Heritage (p. 138)


Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings
Andy Ferguson.
Wisdom Publications. Expanded edition (February 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780861716173

Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 1: The Collected Translations of Thomas Cleary
Thomas Cleary
Shambhala (April 12, 2005)
ISBN-10: 1590302184

The Zen Teachings of Huang Po: On the Transmission of Mind
Join Blofed
Grove Press (January 18, 1994)
ISBN-10: 0802150926

A Bird in Flight Leaves No Trace: The Zen Teaching of Huangbo with a Modern Commentary
Seon Master Subul
Wisdom Publications (April 30, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1614295301

Ordinary Mind as the Way: The Hongzhou School and the Growth of Chan Buddhism
by Mario Poceski
Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 13, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0195319966

Winter Retreat 2022 Instructional Talks

by tendo zenji

During the February 2022 Winter Retreat held at Tahoma Zen Monastery there was a series of morning instructional talks, primarily on the Dream Mountain practices. Links to the video of these talks are made available here in order that this instruction be accessible throughout the retreat. The links take you to a page where you can watch the video.

The 2022 edition of the Outside Practices text can be found here: Outside Practices

Day 1: February 14th, 2022

Topics Covered
Introduction to the Winter Retreat
Purpose of the Instructional Talks
Cultivating the Still Pool
Zoom Video Recording

Day 2: February 15th, 2022

Topics Covered
Ten Breath Relaxation Method
Zoom Video Recording

Day 3: February 16th, 2022

Topics Covered
Sesshin practices: Chanting/Samu/Meals
Physical Practice
Outside Practices
Zoom Video Recording

Day 4: February 17th, 2022

Topics Covered
Letting Go
Zoom Video Recording

Day 5: February 18th, 2022

Topics Covered
(Online text of the Mahā Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta)
Zoom Video Recording

Day 6: February 19th, 2022

Topics Covered
Immediacy Followup
Zoom Video Recording

Day 7: February 20th, 2022

Topics Covered
Continuous Practice
Closing Remarks
Zoom Video Recording

The Buddha on Solitude

by tendo zenji

Ānanda, a monk does not shine if he delights in company, enjoys company, is committed to delighting in company; if he delights in a group, enjoys a group, rejoices in a group. Indeed, Ānanda, it is impossible that a monk who delights in company, enjoys company, is committed to delighting in company; who delights in a group, enjoys a group, rejoices in a group, will obtain at will—without difficulty, without trouble—the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening. But it is possible that a monk who lives alone, withdrawn from the group, can expect to obtain at will—without difficulty, without trouble—the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening.

Shakyamuni Buddha from The Greater Discourse on Emptiness (Mahā Suññata Sutta)

on teachers

by tendo zenji

“If you follow the realized mind you’ve happened into, making it your teacher, how could you be without a teacher? You don’t need to understand the realm of change: when mind turns to itself, you’ve found your teacher. Even a numbskull has mind for a teacher. Not to realize yourself in mind, and to insist on yes this and no that—it’s like leaving for Yueh when you’ve already arrived there. It’s like believing that what isn’t is. What isn’t is—even that great sage-emperor Yu couldn’t understand such things, so how could someone like me?”

Chuang Tzu, translated by David Hinton in Chuang Tzu: The Inner Chapters


by tendo zenji

Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp – Talks Dec 2020

by tendo zenji

The Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp of the Zen School
by Zen Master Torei Enji
with Commentary by Master Daibi of Unman
Translated by Yoko Okuda
Download pdf: here
Purchase: here

For the 2020 Autumn Training period we are studying The Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp by Torei zenji. This is primarily through dharma talks at sesshin and other opportunities held via Zoom due to the pandemic and thus are being recorded. Periodically these will be posted here along with the basic information on each talk and the material covered.

Previous Talks

Part 1: Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp – Talks July-Oct. 2020

Part 2: Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp – Talks Oct/Nov 2020

14) December 1st, 2020
Virtual Rohatsu day 1
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part  16-17 p. 63-67
Northern and Southern Schools, Hui-neng, Nanyue. Considered myth, history, teaching value of archetypes. The archetype of the unlearned zen master. The teaching value of tearing down support.
this talk wasn’t recorded.

15) December 2nd, 2020
Virtual Rohatsu day 2
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part  18-19 p. 67-71
Baizhang, Huangbo, Linji
Began by talking about Rohatsu and lineage, how the great effort is put into Rohatsu ala the historical Buddha. The debt owed to the lineage. Not worshiping the ancients but gratitude. Considered the Baizhang Monastic Regulations and sam and the great succession of Matsu, Baizhang, Huangbo and Linji. With the Linji note how essential his teachings are, both in how we function but also directly as koans. Read from the Linji Lu on the costume a teacher puts on and discussed his core teachings such guest and host, person of no-rank and so on.
Download talk: Discourse Talk part 14

16) December 3rd, 2020
Virtual Rohatsu day 3
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part  19-21 p. 71-73
Wrapped up Linji section and continued on with the lineage through Koke and Nanin. It is vital to grasp the importance that the Recorded sayings of Linji has to all of Chan and the very conception of Zen. Capped the Linji section with a selection from a Hisamatsu lecture on the True Person of No Rank.
Download talk: Discourse Talk part 15

17) December 4th, 2020
Virtual Rohatsu day 4
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part  23 & 24 p. 73-75
Sekiso Soen, Yogi Hoe
 Read Practicing Mu at 27 Degrees Below Zero ( Sheng Yen, Shattering the Great Doubt p. 98) and noted the privations and suffering in practice and how we have experienced that at Tahoma and Sogenji. Commitment can be simulated by a stressful schedule, giving one no choice. In a virtual sesshin, like all sesshin, that commitment has to be genuine. If one genuinely sits even for one sitting it is far more fruitful than hours of artificial commitment.  This lead into the text, where I read through the lineage so far with the Chinese names I had dug up (see here: Linji Lineage). Then read the entries on Sekiso Soen, Yogi Hoe. Sekiso Soen was the fellow who kept himself up stabbing himself with an awl. This story related in the Chan Whip inspired Hakuin to keep on the Zen path.  Yogi (Yangqi) was the founder of the two main lines of Linji Chan from Sekiso Soen. All Linji and thus Rinzai lines descend from him. Read a little from Zen’s Chinese Heritage on Yogi to flesh out his contributions to the line. Talked about the use of poetic language to arose some of the feelings that can arise from the ineffable. Concluded with an exhortation to sit severely and experience “The clear moon of the universe. The clear wave of the blue ocean.”
Download talk: Discourse Talk part 16

18) December 5th, 2020
Virtual Rohatsu day 5
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part  25-28  p. 75-80
Haku’un (White Cloud), Goso Hoen, Engo Kokugon (BCR Biyan Lu)
This talk delved into mediation, the Social Construction of seeing past the self which is this construction. Mediation in texts and mediation in how the practice is done. At first it was direct, then it was increasingly mediated. That is at first teachers confronted students directly, then they began to use the words of previous teachers, then they collected those encounters and then we worked with those collections. In Japan this became systematized and further mediated.  Talks are on this past events and original nature is seen through that lens.Examined the three lineage holders concluding with Kokugon who was like a sleeping tiger, but beware of his claws and fangs. Noted that this is the way of a master, they may seem meek and compassionate but they are uncompromising where it counts. Pushing students toward awakening their commitment is total.  Zen in the west is often compromised, But our own commitment doesn’t have to be.
Download talk: Discourse Talk part 17

19) December 5th, 2020
Virtual Rohatsu day 6
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part  29, 30  p. 80-81
Kukyu Shoryu, Oan Donge, Mittan Kanketsu, Dahui, Huatou Chan. The literary period had another peak surrounding the development of the koan collections and Huatoa. Last real devices created. Looked at the mediation with Dahui though where Chan masters mostly reference older Chan Masters. How much more so today!  Considered the complicated issue of the lineage surround Kukyu Shoryu, Oan Donge, Mittan Kanketsu and Dahui. These students worked with teachers of multiple generations, Dahui had gotten “the robe” from Engo Kokugon and gave it to Oan for safekeeping and then allowed it to pass on to Mittan. Is there a straight lineage here? Does that even matter much. Considered Dahui and the impact of Huatoa.
Download talk: Discourse Talk part 18

20) December 7th, 2020
Virtual Rohatsu day 7
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part  31 and 32 p. 82
Sogen Sogaku, Unman Fugan,  Kido Chigu
Spoke about the practice of Chan at this time and the next period. Gongfu, the dominance of Huatoa Chan. The importance of koans to Rinzai zen, this independent practice that can be carried from place to place. Read from the Chan whip an example of a monk going from place to place and working on huatoa.  Koans infuse the Torei text embedded in these stories and then the focus of later chapters.  The direct encounter with a master becomes one with a text. Completed the Chinese lineage with Sogen Sogaku, Unman Fugan and Kido Chigu.
Download talk: Discourse Talk part 19

21) December 19th, 2020
Virtual Solstice Observance
Continued Chapter 1 – Lineage part 33-35 p. 82-88 Nanpo Jomyo (Daio Kokushi), Shuho Myosho (Daito Kokushi), Kanzen Egan
Enmity between the Tendai and Zen sects. Kokushi means National Teacher. Hanazono – retired emperor who found Shuho under the bridge and brought Kanzan back from the farm to lead Myoshin-ji.These three founded the bedrock of Rinzai Zen: Daitokuji, Myoshinji and the “retired emperor” Hanazono, the Rinzai University was named after. Shuho – Wrote a Koan collection of 120 koans that evolved into Entangling Vines. Entangling Vines – contains koans involving Nanpo, Shuho and Kanzan
Download talk: Discourse Talk part 20


1) The Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp of the Zen School
by Zen Master Torei Enji with Commentary by Master Daibi of Unman
Translated by Yoko Okuda
Tuttle Publishing (September 15, 1996)
ISBN: 0804830878
Download: here Purchase: here

2) The Record of Linji: A New Translation Of The Linjilu In The Light Of Ten Japanese Zen Commentaries
by Jeffrey L. Broughton
Oxford University Press, USA; (December 11, 2012)
ISBN: 0199936439

3) Critical Sermons of the Zen Tradition: Hisamatsu’s Talks on Linji
Edited by Christopher Ives and Tokiwa Gishin
Univ of Hawaii Press (January 1, 2002)
ISBN:  0824823842

4) Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings
Andy Ferguson.Wisdom Publications. Expanded edition (February 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780861716173

5) Shattering the Great Doubt: the Chan Practice of Huatou
Ch’an Master Sheng YenShambhala, 2009
ASIN: B00C5KK738

6) The Chan Whip : A companion to Zen Practice
Jeffery L. Broughton with Elise Yoko Watanabe
Oxford University Press 2015 New York, NY
ISBN: 0190200723

Dewdrops on Stinging Nettles

by tendo zenji

The Dream Mountain Way is an approach to practice as fully integrated into every aspect of our lives. There is no separation between formal practice and everyday activities. While this is often the ideal, the Dream Mountain approach utilizes practices with which we can engage in throughout all aspects of our lives, whether walking, sitting, standing or lying down. Openness is cultivated in all of our activities and through questioning we directly probe into what is.

These practices and the essential principles that supports them have been collected into a pocket sized book. The format of this book is important for, as the subtitle notes, it is designed to be a companion for practice, always with us to be pulled out for immediate use. The first edition of this book is now available: Dewdrops on String Nettles.

The topics in this book have been the subject of many of the posts and recorded talks posted here. In these cases they often present references from the tradition, deeper explanations and specific examples. As a resource for those interested in the Dream Mountain Way and for those already engaged with it, this post will collect the posts that correspond with sections of the book. This reference will be updated as relevant posts are added.

On the Dream Mountain Way

Wayseeking Mind: Wayseeking Mind – a personal case study

Empty Awareness: Foundations, Cultivation

Cultivating the Still Pool: Cultivating the Still Pool

Outside Practice: Foundations, Summary

Gazing Practices: Engaging Complexity with Trees, Gazing in the Distance, Gazing at Motion

Questioning: The Practice of Questioning

Naturalness: Moving through the world without obstruction

Solitude: The Practice of Solitude

Pilgrimage: Searching for Solitude

Standing in Our Own Way

by tendo zenji

[Download or Listen to this talk: Standing in Our Own Way]

In our study of the lineage from Torei Zenji’s Record of the Transmission of the Lamp we are following a thread of men who have broken through to their original nature and then continued with the practice deepening and maturing. This presents to us the essence of the Buddhism of Zen, that is awakening to our Original Nature. This is continuously emphasized in Rinzai Zen where the talks, interviews and constant exhortations are to see past our small selves and confront reality as it is. Other approaches and sects have come to downplay awakening, to focus on other aspects of the practice. But it is the case that all methods, in fact practice itself, are merely upaya, skillful means, to assist us in this endeavor. To quote Dahui  “...in investigating the ultimate principle take awakening as the standard.” (Letters of Dahui, p. 288)

This continual exhortation toward awakening can create its own barrier.  That is it gets entangled in our egos and becomes reified.  “Break through” becomes an object that one must attain, an object to seek after, grasp and hold onto. The self employs many strategies in order to hold on and seeking after this shiny object in order to become an awakened ego is a prime example. Think of all the glory and benefits of being able to casually drop into idle Zen chatter ones attainment.  Then at other times it turns it around and rejects it.  “It ain’t no thing”, “it’s overblown,” “this is all just old talk” and so on. One can become sullen about the whole thing, one can rationalize it claiming that “I’m just here for the samdahi, resting in emptiness is TRUE meditation” and on and on.

Hearing other peoples stories can inspire us or it can be disheartening. It’s one thing to hear about great Chan masters one after the other “crushing samsara,”  but as the years add up knowing that there are those who have had insight or deeper insights or more insights can lead to these negative thoughts.  There is always something more, some reason for our selves to use to desperately hold on.  But the question comes up again and again is why do some practitioners “break through” and others do not? The canonical answer would be that the causes and conditions are not ripe. We can’t of course really know for any given individual what the causes and conditions for awakening are, but there are some features that crop up again and again.

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