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The Emperor asked Master Gudo,

“What happens to a man of enlightenment after death?”

“How should I know?” replied Gudo.

“Because you are a master,” answered the Emperor.

“Yes sir,” said Gudo, “but not a dead one.”


The master walked with his disciples. He taught using questions full of content, riddles that kept within a whole wisdom of life. And he always surprised his disciples with his wise teachings.

On certain occasion, while dusking, he asked his disciples if they knew how to tell when the night ended and the day started.

The first of them said: “When you see an animal at the distance and you can distinguish if it is a cow or a horse.”

“No,” said the master.

“When you see a tree at the distance and you can distinguish if it is a pine or an eucalyptus.”

“Not either,” said the master.

“OK,” said the disciples, “tell us, when is it?”

“When you look at a man in the face and recognize in him your brother; when you look at the face of a woman and recognize in her your sister. If you’re not able to do this, then, be whatever hour it be, still it’s night for you.”


The master Bankei’s talks were attended not only by Zen students but by persons of all ranks and sects. He never quoted sutras nor indulged in scholastic dissertations. Instead, his words were spoken directly from his heart to the hearts of his listeners.

His large audiences angered a priest of the Nichiren sect because the adherents had left to hear about Zen. The self-centered Nichiren priest came to the temple, determined to debate with Bankei.

“Hey, Zen teacher!” he called out. “Wait a minute. Whoever respects you will obey what you say, but a man like myself does not respect you. Can you make me obey you?”

“Come up beside me and I will show you,” said Bankei.

Proudly the priest pushed his way through the crowd to the teacher.

Bankei smiled. “Come over to my left side.”

The priest obeyed.

“No,” said Bankei, “we may talk better if you are on the right side. Step over here.”

The priest proudly stepped over to the right

“You see,” observed Bankei, “you are obeying me and I think you are a very gentle person. Now sit down and listen.”

“If nothing exists,” inquired Dokuon, “where did this anger come from?”


may your bowl be filled with zen this day


I was feeling big, and rather strong

in my car and driving home.

When I saw the full moon

peeking through the tall timbered pines

above the road that twist and whined.


It made me feel small and rather meek

a spec on this earth, where I squeak

I bowed to the moon’s ancient smile

like a zen master, it taught me

I am but at the mercy of time.


By Art~


The blissful state reveals itself as a shining light, as a luminescence permeating the still field of the mind. There is a sense of light from an undefined “above,” silence, a fullness of vitality, and deep rest.

In sacred poetry, particularly in Zen poetry, this is often expressed as the full moon in the night sky.

The moon is the individual consciousness that shines only by reflecting the constant light of the sun, which is unbounded awareness. Individual consciousness, like the moon, waxes and wanes, sometimes bright and clear, sometimes dark.

When the moon, consciousness, is full, it is round, whole, complete, perfectly reflecting the light of divine awareness. The full moon is enlightenment. It is Buddha-mind. It is the soft light that illumines the land below when all is at rest.

In yogic poetry, the crescent moon is often associated with the brow chakra or opened “third eye” of spiritual vision. This is why some poetry and Hindu iconography depict gods and saints with a moon on the forehead.

Some Taoist and Buddhist poetry speaks enigmatically of the sun shining within the moon. These poems are referring to the state of full enlightenment when pure awareness (the sun) shines unhindered through the enlightened individual consciousness (the moon).

The full moon reminds us of the ultimate in awareness and spiritual presence. The new moon, in its darkness, can represent the “death” of complete egolessness or encountering the unknowable nature of the Mystery…

Moon (a list of poems with the moon theme)


There is an old zen saying; The finger pointing at the moon, is not the moon.


may your smile be as bright as a full moon


A zen master and a student were traveling through the countryside. They had been to the next village and heard a sermon from a well known spiritualist. It was winter and the sun sank fast in the evening sky, causing the chilled air to become even colder.

“I really liked the sermon from the spiritualist,” blared the student through chattering teeth. “His speech was full of fire and excitement. His words ignite my thoughts and warm the soul. Don’t you agree?” He asked.

The zen master stopped and began gathering some wood for a fire. The student did the same. “Yes, exactly, the sermon was full of fire.” The zen master replied. He pitched the wood together and struck a match, lighting a fire under the gathered wood. The two sat next to the flames and extended their arms to warm the hands. The sun disappeared in the night sky as the moon rose and the cold wind blew.

“See how the flames dance above the wood?” The zen master asked.

“Yes,” answered the student.

“The fire seems brilliant and mesmerizing?” The master said. “But without the wood there would be no fire, the root to the flames life.” The two hovered over the fire and absorbed the warmth.

“I better get more wood,” said the student, “If were going to be here all night?”

“We are not,” replied the master. He reached over and grabbed a twig, racked it across the fire and scattered the flames and destroyed the camp-fire. All that was left was red hot coals. The master pulled from his pocket, two small tin boxes. He opened the boxes and placed a red hot coal in each then wrapped them in cloth. He took one of these and placed it in his pocket and offered the other to the student. Then he took a small cloth and wrapped the end of a stick with this cloth and placed it over the coals and blew into it till it ignited again. He then caught the ‘cloth on the stick’ on fire and stood up.

“We are ready to travel,” the zen master said. With a torch to light their way and hand warmers in their pockets. “It is the coals that makes the heat and allows the flame to live.”

The student placed his wrapped tin in his pocket and placed his hands around it to warm his hands. “This works nicely,” the student spat.

“It is the same with people,” the master began, “A warm heart can start a fire in another’s. The fire may dazzle and light up a life, but it is the root of the flame that matters the most. When a heart is on fire others may see it and be dazzled by it, but more importantly they can feel its warmth.”

By Art~



Sometimes when a small child is playing and filled with joy. I can’t help but smile.

When the love of my life looks at me, wordless, and smiles, it warms the heart.

Holding new-born pups.

A song that fires the emotions.

Reading a good short story with a great moral.

(What warms your heart?)

May your warm heart ignite others



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Emma (Sunshine),

wedding day