These verses are the remnants of short dharma talks. All of the commentary, examples, explications, context etc. have been stripped away so that the verses can be experienced individually. These teachers got to the heart of the matter succinctly  (There are so many words these days that it is easy to be distracted by the presentation) References to the full work are made where possible.



One may ask, “How can thought and mental acts arise without an object?” To remove this doubt, there is comparison to a mirage.—Here thought and mental acts correspond to the mirage, and the object to the water. When a mirage makes it appearance, no real water is there, and yet the notion of real water arises. (2)


One may ask, “How in the absence of objects, can different verbal expressions arise?” In answer things are compared to an echo.—An echo is not a real sound, and yet it is heard. Similarly verbal expressions are not real things, and yet they are understood. (6)


One may ask, “ How, in the absence of an object, can the images apperceived in trance arise?” In answer, things are compared to the moon reflect in water,–The moon reflected in water is not really in the water, and yet, because the water is wet and limpid, the moon is seen in it. So with concentrated thought. The objects which form its range are not real things, and yet they are perceived, the state of trance playing the part of the water. (7)

(Asanga Mahayanasamgraha II, 27 in Buddhist Texts through the Ages (Conze et al editor, 1964)


Forms don’t hinder emptiness; emptiness is the tissue of form.
Emptiness isn’t the destruction of form; form is the flesh of emptiness.
Inside the Dharma gates where form and emptiness are not-two
A lame turtle with brushed eyebrows stand in the evening breeze. (31)


A boundless unencumbered space, open, empty, still,
Earth, its hills and rivers, are only names, nothing more.
You can quarter the mind, lump all forms into one,
They’re still just echos murmuring through empty ravines. (42)

(Zen Words for the Heart, Hakuin’s Commentary on Heart Sutra, Waddell Editor.)

Dharma talks are often energy transmitted through words with the intention to help further the sitting and the  practice.   The talk may be non-discursive, having no progression from beginning to end.  Just simply sit with attention and listen.  If something resonates with you, allow it in to help with the zazen.  If there is no resonance, simply let it go without looking back or chasing after it. If attention strays during, simply come back to the present; there is no need to try to reconstruct it as a lecture   There is also no need for intellectual analysis as there is nothing to figure out. The energy in the room and the attention are essential to experiencing these talks.


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