Maku mozo! Archive

I’ve archived the Maku mozo!’s for those who jumped in mid-stream.

Or for if you just want to see them all in one place.

More zen-type quotes on the Words Page.

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As children,

We ask.

And quickly, are told.

Unknowingly accepting

Words from another,

Belief replaces wonder.

Endlessly tortured by the alphabet,

We imagine,

Somehow –

Things can be different (from what they are).


Driven to doubt

All we have accumulated –

At last,

We open to wonder, again.

Should wonder appear, however:

Be careful not to

Remember or recognize anything.

Remain powerfully aware –

Without being aware of anything in particular.

With one blow,

Smash the universe of reason completely!

In the end you will not doubt.

This is called insight knowledge,

And since it’s not received from anyone,

It’s called the truth.

-Maku mozo!

Let the wise watch over the mind,

so hard to perceive, so artful,

alighting where it wishes;

a watchfully protected mind

will bring happiness.


Sages use the mind deliberately,

based on its essence.

With the support of the spirit,

they finish what they begin.

Thus they sleep without dreams

and wake without troubles.


Question: Why do you call the inherent mind the basic teacher?

Answer: This true mind is natural and does not come from outside. It is not

confined to cultivation in past, present, or future. The dearest and most

intimate thing there could be is to preserve the mind yourself. If you know

the mind, you will reach transcendence by preserving it. If you are confused

about the mind and ignore it, you will fall into miserable states. Thus we

know that the Buddhas of all times consider the inherent mind to be the

basic teacher. Therefore a treatise says, "Preserve the mind with perfect

clarity so that errant thoughts do not arise, and this is birthlessness."

This is how we know the true mind is the basic teacher.


Ordinary people lose sight of the nature of reality and do not know the

basis of mind. Arbitrarily fixating on all sorts of objects, they do not

cultivate accurate awareness; therefore love and hatred arise. Because of

love and hatred, the vessel of the mind cracks and leaks. Because the vessel

of the mind cracks and leaks, there is birth and death. Because there is

birth and death, all miseries naturally appear.


What should you do?

Wherever you are, examine your mind with accurate awareness.

Clam yourself, quiet yourself, master your senses. Look right into the

source of mind, always keep it shinning bright, clear and pure. Do not give

rise to an indifferent mind.


Question: Please point out the true mind.

Answer: You need to have complete confidence and effective determination.

You should make your own body and mind unfettered and serene, not entangled in any objects at all. Sit straight, accurately aware, and tune your

breathing so that it is properly adjusted. Examine your mind to see it as

not being inside, not being outside, and not being in between. Observe it

calmly, carefully, and objectively; when you master this, you will clearly

see that the mind’s consciousness moves in a flow, like a current of water,

like heat waves rising endlessly.

When you have seen this consciousness, you find it is neither inside or

outside; unhurriedly, objectively, calmly observe. When you master this,

then melt and flux over and over, empty yet solid, profoundly stable, and

then this flowing consciousness will vanish.

Those who get this consciousness to vanish thereby destroy the obstructing

confusions of the enlightened beings of the ten stages. Once this

consciousness has vanished, the the mind is open and still, silent, serene

and calm, immaculately pure, and tremendously steady.

I cannot explain this state any further.


… Let go of all objects and put to rest all concerns, so that body and

mind are one suchness, and there is no gap between movement and stillness.

Do not think of anything good or bad. When a thought arises, notice it, when

you become aware of it, it disappears.. Eventually you forget mental objects

and spontaneously become unified.


[The next 15 Maku mozo!’s comprise one poem on suchness: "Hsin Hsin Ming" – written by Sengtsan around the year 600. "Hsin Hsin Ming" is said to be the first Chinese Zen document.]

The Great Way is not difficult

for those who are not attached to their preferences.

When love and hate are both absent

everything becomes clear and undisguised.

Make the smallest distinction, however,

and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If you wish to see the truth

then hold no opinions for or against anything.

To set up what you like against what you dislike

is the disease of the mind.

When the deep meaning of things is not understood

the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect like vast space

where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.

Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject

that we do not see the true nature of things.

Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,

nor in the inner feelings of emptiness.

Be serene in the oneness of things

and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.

When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity

your very effort fills you with activity.

As long as you remaining in one extreme or the other

you will never know Oneness.

Those who do not live in the single Way

fail in both activity and passivity,

assertion and denial.

To deny the reality of things

is to miss their reality;

to assert the emptiness of things

is to miss their reality.

The more you talk and think about it,

the further astray you wander from the truth.

Stop talking and thinking,

and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find the meaning,

but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.

At the moment of inner enlightenment

there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.

The changes that appear to occur in the empty world

we call real only because of our ignorance.

Do not search for the truth;

only cease to cherish opinions.

Do not remain in the dualistic state;

avoid such pursuits carefully.

If there is even a trace

of this and that, of right and wrong,

the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion.

Although all dualities come from the One,

do not be attached even to this One.

When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,

nothing in the world can offend,

and when a thing can no longer offend,

it ceases to exist in the old way.

When no discriminating thoughts arise,

the old mind ceases to exist.

When thought objects vanish,

the thinking-subject vanishes,

as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.

Things are objects because of the subject [mind];

the mind [subject] is such because of things [object].

Understand the relativity of these two

and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.

In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable

and each contains in itself the whole world.

If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine

you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.

To live in the Great Way

is neither easy nor difficult,

but those with limited views

are fearful and irresolute;

the faster they hurry, the slower they go,

and clinging [attachment] cannot be limited;

even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment

is to go astray.

Just let things be in their own way,

and there will be neither coming nor going.

Obey the nature of things [your own nature],

and you will walk freely and undisturbed.

When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden,

for everything is murky and unclear,

and the burdensome practice of judging

brings annoyance and weariness.

What benefit can be derived

from distinctions and separating?

If you wish to move in the One Way

do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.

Indeed, to accept them fully

is identical with true Enlightenment.

The wise man strive to no goals

but the foolish man fetters himself.

There is one Dharma, not many;

distinctions arise

from the clinging needs of the ignorant,

to seek Mind wih the [discriminating] mind

is the greatest of all mistakes.

Rest and unrest derive from illusion;

with enlightenment there is no liking and disliking.

All dualities come from the ignorant inference.

They are like dreams or flowers in air:

foolish to try to grasp them.

Gain and loss, right and wrong:

such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.

[Consider war. The core of which is ignorance:

liking and disliking; right and wrong; my idea, your idea…]

If the eye never sleeps,

all dreams will naturally cease.

If the mind makes no discriminations,

the ten thousand things

are as they are, of a single essence.

To understand the mystery of this One-essence

is to be released from all entanglements.

When all things are seen equally

the timeless Self-essence is reached.

No comparisons or analogies are possible

in this causeless, relationless state.

Consider movement stationary

and the stationary in motion,

both movement and rest disappear.

When such dualities cease to exist

oneness itself cannot exist.

To this ultimate finality

no law or description applies.

For the unified mind in accord with the Way

all self-centered striving ceases;

doubts and irresolutions vanish.

With a single stroke we are freed from bondage;

nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.

All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,

with no exertion of the mind’s power.

In this world of Suchness

there is neither self nor other-than-self.

To come directly into harmony with this reality

just simply say, when doubt arises, "not two."

in this "not two," nothing is separate,

nothing is excluded.

No matter when or where,

enlightenment means entering this truth.

And this truth is beyond extension or

diminution in time or space;

in it a single thought is ten thousand years.

Emptiness here, Emptiness there,

but the infinite universe stands

always before your eyes.

Infinitely large and infinitely small:

no difference, for definitions have vanished

and no boundaries are seen.

So too with Being and non-Being.

Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments

that have nothing to do with this.

One thing, all things:

move among and intermingle,

without distinction.

To live in this realization

is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.

To live in this faith is the road to non-duality.

Because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.


The Way is beyond language,

for in it there is

  no yesterday

  no tomorrow

  no today.


Over thinking, over analyzing

separates the body from the mind.


Just know your own mind.


If you seek understanding, then you do not understand. Just know that which does not understand; this is seeing essence.


Who has the folly to look forward to what lasts but a moment? Add to this consideration the fact that the physical body is like a dewdrop on the grass, a lifetime is like a lightning flash: all of a sudden they are void, in an instant they are gone.


There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man’s whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue.

-Yamamoto Tsunetomo

All that we are is the result of our thoughts; with our thoughts we make the world. If a man speaks or acts with a harmful thought, trouble follows him as the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.


All that we are is the result of our thoughts; with our thoughts we make the world. If a man speaks or acts with a harmonious thought, happiness follows him as his own shadow, never leaving him.


The birth of a man is the birth of his sorrow. The longer he lives, the more stupid he becomes, because his anxiety to avoid unavoidable death becomes more and more acute. What bitterness! He lives for what is always out of reach! His thirst for survival in the future makes him incapable of living in the present.

















Hating can never overcome hatred. Only love can bring the end of hating. This is the eternal law.

You too will die someday, as everyone must. When you know this, your hatred is stilled.


The attentive man looks on wakefulness as his greatest treasure. Stay awake. Watch and reflect. Work with careful attention. In this way you will find the light within yourself.


The seeker who guards his thoughts and fears the willfulness of his mind, burns through the bonds which tie him with the fire of his attentiveness.


Throughout the twenty-four hours of the day, you operate and act in all sorts of ways, seeing and hearing, laughing and talking, raging and rejoicing, affirming and denying. Now tell me, ultimately who is it that can operate and act in this way?

If you say it is the physical body operating, then why is it that when people’s lives have just ended and their physical bodies have not yet decomposed, their eyes cannot see, their ears cannot hear, their noses cannot smell, their tongues cannot talk, their bodies do not step? So we know that what can see, hear, and act must be your basic mind, not your physical body.

Indeed the gross elements of the physical body are inherently empty, like images in a mirror, like the moon reflected in the water; how can they be capable of perfectly clear and constant awareness, thoroughly lucid, sensitive and effective, with countless subtle functions? Thus it is said, "Spiritual powers and subtle functions—drawing water and hauling wood. "


The release of your own spirit is the pure substance of your mind, with open awareness of empty silence.

This pure, open, tranquil mind is the supremely pure luminous mind of the Buddhas of past, present, and future. It is also the essence of awareness that is the root source of all living beings.

Those who realize this and keep to it sit in one suchness and are immutably liberated.

Those who stray from this and turn away from it traverse the six courses and go round and round for eternity.


If you want to awaken it is necessary to always observe an examine yourself.

When errant thoughts suddenly arise, do not go along with them at all; reduce them, reduce them, reduce them, until you reach the point of non-contrivance, which alone is the ultimate end.

Therefore it is said that even as you fully cultivate myriad practices, only no thought is to be considered a basis.


The mind is like a fish out of water which thrashes and throws itself about, when thoughts try to shake off their cravings.

As the bowman makes straight his arrows, so the wise man straightens his unsteady mind.


Whatever an enemy may do, he cannot harm you as much as your own wrongly directed thoughts.

Once you understand, no one – neither your father nor mother – can do as much good to you as your own well-directed thoughts.


Do not remark on the faults of others, but see what you yourself have done or left undone.


It is said that we should not fear the arising of thoughts, just fear being slow to notice.


If there is a lot of [mental] excitement, you first use concentration to conform to noumenon and rein in the scattered mind; by not going along with mental objects, you merge with the original silence.


Better than a hundred years of uncontrolled existence is one day of thoughtful and meditative life.


Delusion conceives of things as existent or nonexistent,

as being real or unreal, as born or unborn.

In an uncluttered place, concentrate your mind;

remain steady and unmoving, like a polar mountain.

Observe that all phenomena have no existence,

that they are like space, without solid stability,

neither being born nor emerging.

Unmoving, unflagging, abide in oneness:

this is called the place of nearness.

-Lotus Scripture

The essence of awareness, round and bright, the body without form;

Do not force distance or closeness in knowledge and opinion.

When thoughts differ, they obscure the mystic being;

When mind diverges, it is not close to the Path.

When feelings distinguish myriad things,

you sink into the objects before you;

When consciousness reflects may things,

you lose the original reality.

If you understand completely what is in these lines,

Clearly you are trouble free, as you were of yore.

-Caoshan (quoted by Ejo)

In a classic statement of the discipline of unity, Shakyamuni Buddha said, "If you want to foster the sprouts of enlightenment so that the light illuminates the world, you should calmly examine the real characteristics of phenomena: they are not born and do not perish; they are not permanent and yet are not annihilated; they are not one and yet are not different they do not come and do not go. Do not conceive discriminatory ideas, even between learning and the state beyond learning."


The forests and flowers, the grasses and leaves, people and animals, great and small, long and short, square and round, all appear at once, without depending on the discriminations of your thoughts and attention.


If you do not continue thoughts, thoughts cannot arise by themselves. Like an empty space, like a mass of fire, letting your breathing flow naturally out and in, sit decisively, without getting involved in anything at all.


Better to do good than harm, and better to do it at once.

It is easy to lose yourself in mischief. What is helpful and good is often hard to do.


When you breathe out, know you are breathing out; when you breathe in, know you are breathing in. Focus your consciousness on your breathing, not letting consciousness go up or down or out or in, not thinking discursively, not making intellectual or emotional interpretations, not trying to figure anything out, simply being aware of outgoing and incoming breathing, not missing a single breath.

If your concentration is pure and single, truth will become manifest and there will be no subjectivity in your standpoint.


[Instructions on sitting meditation.]

Do not cling to the pleasant, much less to the unpleasant. Losing that which you love brings suffering; harbouring the pain of your loss brings more pain.

Everything is changing. It arises and passes away. The one who realizes this is freed from sorrow.


Having the fortune to know that all living beings have Original-nature and that there is already a matter of utmost importance right where you stand, investigate continuously, twenty-four hours a day, in principle and in fact: what is it that is walking, what is it that is sitting, what is it that acts, what is the mind?

If you forge bravely and powerfully ahead, wholeheartedly questioning and wondering for three to five years without flagging, the Great Wonder will inevitably occur and you will not fail to awaken.


Everything that appears in the three realms comes from the mind. Hence buddhas of the past, present, and future teach mind to mind without bothering about definitions.

Question: But if they don’t define it, what do they mean by mind?

Answer: You ask. That’s your mind. I answer. That’s my mind. If I had no mind, how could I answer? If you had no mind, how could you ask?

The reality of your own self-nature, the absence of cause and effect, is what’s meant by mind. Your mind is nirvana.


Space has a name but no form.


If you seek direct understanding, don’t hold on to any appearance whatsoever, and you’ll succeed. I have no other advice.

















Although it does not

mindfully keep guard,

In the small mountain fields

the scarecrow

Does not stand in vain.

Everything is like this.


If you’re not sure, don’t act.


The body has no awareness.

Like a plant or stone, the body has no nature.

So how does it move?

It’s the mind that moves.

Using the mind to look for reality is delusion.

Not using the mind to look for reality is awareness.


When we’re deluded

there’s a world to escape to.

When we’re aware

there’s nothing to escape.


Whoever knows that the mind is a fiction and devoid of anything real knows that his own mind neither exists nor doesn’t exist.


The flower that would surrender its fragrance

before my brushwood door

Does so regardless.

I, however, sit and stare –

How rueful, this world.


If you use your mind to study reality,

you won’t understand either your mind or reality.

If you study reality without using your mind,

you’ll understand both.


That which exists exists in relation to that which doesn’t exist.


Not to be subject to affliction is what’s meant by liberation.

There’s no other liberation.


Great understanding is broad and unhurried;

little understand is cramped and busy.

-Chuang Tzu

There is nothing that is not so,

nothing that is not acceptable.

-Chuang Tzu

The sage embraces things. Ordinary men discriminate and parade their discriminations before others. So I say, those who discriminate fail to see.

-Chuang Tzu

Our endless sufferings are the roots of illness. When mortals are alive, they worry about death. When they’re full, they worry about hunger. Theirs is the Great Uncertainty. But sages don’t consider the past. And they don’t worry about the future. Nor do they cling to the present. From moment to moment they follow the Way. If you haven’t awakened to this great truth, you’d better look for a teacher on earth or in the heavens. Don’t compound your own deficiency.


Right is not right; so is not so. If right were really right, it would differ so clearly from not right that there would be no need for argument. If so were really so, it would differ so clearly from not so that there would be no need for argument. Forget the years; forget distinctions. Leap into the boundless and make it your home!

-Chuang Tzu

Your life has a limit but knowledge has none.

If you use what is limited to pursue what has no limit, you will be in danger.

-Chuang Tzu

To understand what you can do nothing about and to be content with it as fate – this is the perfection of virtue.

-Confucius [Quoted by Chuang Tzu]

You hide your boat in the ravine and your fish net in the swamp and tell yourself that they will be safe. But in the middle of the night a strong man shoulders them and carries them off, and in your stupidity you don’t know why it happened. You think you do right to hide little things in big ones, and yet they get away from you. But if you were to hide the world in the world, so that nothing could get away, this would be the final reality of the constancy of things.

-Chuang Tzu

Question: If someone is determined to reach enlightenment, which is the most essential method he can practice?

Answer: The most essential method, which includes all other methods, is beholding the mind.


Everything good and bad comes from your own mind. To find something beyond the mind is impossible.


We go around telling each other, I do this, I do that – but how do we know that this "I" we talk about has any "I" to it? You dream you’re a bird and soar up into the sky; you dream you’re a fish and dive down in the pool. But now when you tell me about it, I don’t know whether you are awake or you are dreaming.

-Chuang Tzu

Running around and accusing others is not as good as laughing, and enjoying a good laugh in not as good as going along with things. Be content to go along and forget about change and then you can enter the mysterious oneness of Heaven.

-Chuang Tzu

You forget your feet when the shoes are comfortable. You forget your waist when the belt is comfortable. Understanding forgets both right and wrong when the mind is comfortable.

-Chuang Tzu

You begin with what is comfortable and never experience what is uncomfortable when you know the comfort of forgetting what is comfortable.

-Chuang Tzu

If the mind does not have its Heavenly wanderings,

then the six apertures of sensation will defeat each other.

-Chuang Tzu

External things cannot be counted on.

-Chuag Tzu

Understanding that rests in what does not understand is the finest.

-Chuang Tzu

Existence is beyond the power of words

To define:

Terms may be used

But are none of them absolute.

In the beginning of heaven and earth there were no words,

Words came out of the womb of matter;

And whether a man dispassionately

Sees to the core of life

Or passionately

Sees the surface,

The core and the surface are essentially the same,

Words making them seem different

Only to express appearance.

If name be needed, wonder names them both:

From wonder into wonder

Existence opens.

-Lao Tzu

What is is the was of what shall be.

-Lao Tzu

The fish trap exists because of the fish; once you’ve gotten the fish you can forget the trap. Words exist because of meaning; once you’ve gotten the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can have a word with him?

-Chuang Tzu
















The sage is not still because he takes stillness to be good and therefore is still. The ten thousand things are insufficient to distract his mind – that is the reason he is still.

-Chuang Tzu

Surely, any psychological state can be changed.


Everyone knows enough to pursue what he does not know,

but no one knows enough to pursue what he already knows.

-Chuang Tzu

If three men are traveling along and one is confused, they will still get where they are going – because confusion is in the minority. But if two of them are confused, then they can walk until they exhausted and never get anywhere – because confusion is in the majority. And with all the confusion in the world these days, no matter how often I point the way, it does no good. Sad, is it not.

If I know it does no good and still make myself do it, this too is a kind of confusion. So it is best to leave things alone and not force them. If I don’t force things, at least I won’t cause anyone any worry.

-Chuang Tzu

When you’re betting for stones in an archery contest, you shoot with skill. When you’re betting for fancy belt buckles, you worry about your aim. And when you’re betting for real gold, you’re a nervous wreck. Your skill is the same in all three cases – but because one prize means more to you than another, you let outside concerns weigh on your mind. He who looks too hard at the outside gets clumsy on the inside.

-Chuang Tzu

He who has mastered the true nature of life does not labor over what life cannot do. He who has mastered the true nature of fate does not labor over what knowledge cannot change.

-Chuang Tzu

The torch of chaos and doubt – this is what the sage steers by.

-Chuang Tzu

He who knows what it is that heaven does, and knows what it is that man does, has reached the peak.

-Chuang Tzu

The way to do is to be.

-Lao Tzu

Let everything find its own enjoyment.

-Chuang Tzu
















A man who knows how little he knows is well.

A man who knows how much he knows is sick.

-Lao Tzu

If you can transform things, don’t be transformed by things.


If terms to end a quarrel leave a bad feeling,

What good are they?

So a sensible man takes the poor end of the bargain

Without quibbling.

-Lao Tzu

Whatever it is

is nothing but the world of delusion

since even "death" does not turn out

to be a real vacation.


All delusion is routine misunderstanding because of relying on thoughts.


Even written down,

they’re just marks made in a dream;

after waking up,

there’s no one else who asks.


Eloquence is not as good as silence.

The Way cannot be heard;

to listen for it is not as good as plugging up your ears.

-Chuang Tzu

Those who have reached the Way do not debate it,

and those who debate have not reached it.

-Chuang Tzu

What the ten thousand things all look to for sustenance, what never fails them – is this not the true Way?

-Chuang Tzu

To be limited to understanding only what is understood – this is shallow indeed!

-Chuang Tzu

Perfect speech is the abandonment of speech.

-Chuang Tzu

That which gives form to the formed is itself formless – can you understand that?

-Chuang Tzu

Withdraw into thoughtlessness and in this way give life to your mind;

Be reverent of what is within and extend this same reverence to others.

-Chuang Tzu

If you don’t perceive the sincerity within yourself and yet try to move forth, each movement will miss the mark. If outside concerns enter and are not expelled, each movement will only add to failure.

-Chuang Tzu

Only when that which has form learns to imitate the formless will it find serenity.

-Chuang Tzu

The biggest problem in the world

Could have been solved when it was small.

The simple fact that he finds no problem big

Is a sane man’s prime achievement.

If you say yes too quickly

You may have to say no.

If you think things are done too easily

You may find them hard to do:

If you face trouble sanely

It cannot trouble you.

-Lao Tzu

Hui Tzu said to Chuang Tzu, "Your words are useless!"

Chuang Tzu said, "A man has to understand the useless before you can talk to him about the useful. The earth is certainly vast and broad, though a man uses no more of it than the area he puts his feet on. If, however, you were to dig away all the earth from around his feet until you reached the underworld, then would the man still be able to make use of it?"

"No, it would be useless," said Hui Tzu.

It is obvious then," said Chuang Tzu, "that the useless has its use."

-Chuang Tzu

Before the rain stops, a bird begins to sing.

-Shunryu Suzuki

I examine what is within me and am never blocked off from the Way.

-Chuang Tzu