My Buddha is better than yours


My Buddha is better than yours

Informal discussion on the practice of Huatou in our lineage


My Buddha is better than yours! My practice beats yours! No way your silly thing rides you to enlightenment before me… and we could go on and on. Of course, we never hear that per se. But that is what we can ‘read’ between the lines sometimes, both in others that we may interact with… and in us, lets be honest.

There is a natural tendency in each of us to think that our choices and references are better than the ones that people around us assume. That is a crucial part of our practice: doubting. Not staying on any position or thought. But its easy to say, not so easy to do… how to do that anyway?


Well, the great chance for a teacher are his student questions. Each question demands to deeply search and expound, to adapt an answer to his student needs and capacities. And I had a teacher who, through his questions, obliged me to go deeper and deeper in my own relation to our main practice: reflecting on the Huatou to shed light on the MindGround. That student was a serious practitionner of a Japanese School of Buddhism for 20 years. During these two decades he practiced and, above all, studied. In this school of Nichiren Buddhism he meet tremendous people, and especially an old and compassionate teacher. When his teacher had to come back to Japan, he left the school and continued practicing and studying for years on his own.


One day he came to know my own teachings and come to see me because he knew that Master Hsu Yun and his followers were, generally, sincere Buddhists who praised the Lotus Sutra. He also had in mind that Hsu Yun himself actually studied Huatou Meditation with a Tientai master. He then asked me to teach him our “Tientai Chan Meditation style”. 

“What a soup” I thought, he seemed to blend everything. 

He was sincere and dedicated to his practice but he had one big problem. He was a real connaisseur of Japanese Buddhism, knowing all his schools, teachings and practices and he tried to paste his understanding of Japanese Buddhism on Chinese Buddhism. 


And we could say they have lots in common, but they grew totally differently. Lots of Japanese schools existed previously in China but almost none was identified as a separate school per se. Take Pure Land tradition, in Japan it exists as a different school (we could say schools because of different splits), in China it is a feature of almost all Lineages and Schools (note that these years some are trying to create a distinctively Pure Land school based on Japanese Models). 

In his mind, we had a common ancestry, the historical Buddha of course, but more importantly in his eyes: Tientai Buddhism. Tientai Buddhism is the first True form of Chinese Buddhism, putting toguether the core of Mahayana principles of philosophy based on the Prajna, Nirvana and Lotus Scriptures; giving a skeleton to meditation practices based on the traditional Shamatha-Vipassana understood as Zhi-Guan/Stopping and Seeing; and becoming a symbol of Chinese Mahayana itself. And Chan Buddhism, wich is different from Tientai Buddhism per se, can be seen as a direct path of Mahayana Buddhism taking its roots in Tientai Buddhism as the core of Chinese Mahayana Buddhism. 

So he wanted his practice to come closer to Chih-i and his Zhi-Guan thing (jp. Shikan). Thus, I introduced him to the practice of repeating the name of Amitabha, as I would with every student. Oh my, what did I do? He recited with the utmost sincerity, and almost rage, the sayings of Nichiren against Pure Land schools of his time. Giving me more and more evidences showing that one must certainly not repeat Amida’s name he noted that I wasn’t paying attention to him for a few seconds. ‘Did you understood?’ he asked. And yes, I was understanding that it would take time. Time to make him realise that all Buddhas share the same nature. Time to realise that the Buddha gaves to his disciples 84.000 skillful means to enlightenment and that repeating Buddhas names was one of them. It would take time for him to understand how different Chinese Buddhist monasteries are than Japanese ones. In a Chinese Chan monastery, you can find monks of PureLand or Tientai or any school of Chan. The Abbot himself may be a master from a different Lineage… time to break all the barriers that he built by his years of sincere, yet sectarian, study (or “reading with one eye only” as one of my old teachers used to say). 


But Nevertheless, through the years of relation and common practice we had he is a student that helped me understand more profoundly how deeply linked to Tientai Buddhism the teachings of master HsuYun on the practice of Huatou are. 

All his questions helped me to go back to one thing. The importance of Seeing our Own Nature as stated by the 6th Patriarch of Zen, master HuiNeng, is the same thing as Seeing the Empty MindGround trough the barrier of Huatou. Master Chih-i used to talk about Cessation to relate to the ending of normal thought and the entering into real concentration were one is able to look deeply into things without getting attached to things. 

But more importantly, master Hsu Yun added his own flavor to Huatou. It is often said that they are now mostly two active schools of Chan Buddhism active in China, LinJi (jp.Rinzai) and CaoDong (jp.Soto) (forgetting that Master HsuYun re-established both GuiYan and YunMen Lineages). One generally assumes, from the Japanese context, that Linji Chan is all about gongans (jp. koans) and that CaoDong Chan is all about MoChao (silent illumination). Well, Yes and No. Most monks in these schools practice Huatou, and as I said different lineages may be found at a single monastery under the same abbot and master. So this grid isn’t a good one. 

To teach my student I used to talk about Dahui’s use of Huatou, which is very near the use of great teacher of the 17th, Hanshan Dequing. Hanshan was a life model for master Hsu Yun, he rebuilt temples and spoke from the Heart of his practice, outside a specific school or lineage. In Dahui and Hanshan teachings, the Huatou is nothing more than another skillfill mean that Chan people use because they need “one poison to cast all poisons (of thought)”. a skillfull mean for the Direct and sudden practice that Chan is. But the purpose was only to realize one’s MindGround, once the True Nature realised there is no need to cultivate the skillfull mean anymore. It is very similar to the raft to the other shore that Shakyamuni Buddha used himself several times. That is totally in line with the old masters view that one must first realize is own mind, and only then cultivate (sudden enligthenment, gradual practice). 


But master Hsu Yun shared the Huatou practice as he received it from his Tientai teacher, old master Yung Ching. Also, master Hsu Yun wanted to root his practice on the practice of reciting Amitabha’s name, as this simple practice could be done by everyone, and that he was a friend and admirer of Pure Land master Yin Kuang and shared his understanding. Master Hsu Yun, taking care of the students of this Dharma Ending age, prepared us a practice that embodied the different key aspects of Chinese Chan Buddhism in a very direct and simple way. It is important to practice discipline and aquire concentration in order to look deeply in us to let our True Nature shine through the vieils of ignorance, these are the tenets of Tientai Buddhism and are the basis of Chan Buddhism. He deeply advocated to respect Amitabha and his Pure Land that could be viewed as our Own Nature, integrating thus the Pure Land view BUT he was very careful for the silly students of this ending dharma age. Master Hsu Yun never gave as an advice the fact of stopping the practice of Huatou after seeing the Mindground. And that can seem to be nothing but it is a huge gift. You see, some Zen schools have the view, at least today poor pracitionner, that once the True Nature is seen … that is it nothing as to be done anymore. But master Hsu Yun gave us the advice to just keep ‘maintaining the Huatou’. Once the Huatou is drilled to it’s bottom… well, just continue this simple practice. It is as simple as that. With the aknowledgment of this constant attention and practice, master Hsu Yun keeps us from stopping at any point thinking that “the job is done”. He also doesn’t try to represent only one Chan school, all his life he acted as a testimony that our acts could be the embodiement of the Heart of the Five schools of Chan. And wich school of Chan you are in doesn’t really matter when one practices Chan/Zen with an utmost effort and sincerity. Chan is a trap you see, a master can show you the path, as a friend on the way which is ahead of you on a mountain track. But once he gave you the method, you are the only one who can walk on the same path. Once the Huatou is given, no one can walk the path of “generating and keeping the Great Doubt” in your place.Simply continuing our practice with determination and compassion, we wave the Vajra-Sword of Huatou until the True Mind of every being shines in every place. 


Like that student, we all wave our views, likes and dislikes all day. May we simply wave the Vajra-Sword of Huatou, turn the light on the Mindground and humbly continue on the mountainous path to Enlightenment.  


Goodbye 2019


As 2019 comes to an end, let’s take some time to consider all the attachments we have nourished, all the ego-masks we have been wearing.

For many of us, this year has been a year of fighting against certitude and division, sometimes against our own friends or families.

Political, economic and social challenges are ahead of our societies forcing us to accept impermanence and embracing the changes. It implies more than ever Buddhist practitioners need to practice.

So, let’s hope that next year, 2020, will be the year of harmony. The year of taking the battle inward, fighting our own certitude and division.

Our Old Sun, Ming Zhen Shakya, used to say that her Zen was very simple and could be summarized as the Way of Action (Karma Yoga). When we take action, for the sake of all beings, there is no I-me-mine, no ego, not even an inch of something special called Zen. Beyond our own egos, through action, we can manifest our True Nature.

But True Action takes true honesty…. the kind of honesty needed to face what is in front of us and accept the reality of change and impermanence.

Our lives are always changing, yet they are always starting right here and now. In every situation, go forward and take action.

Let’s vow to talk less and act more in this coming year!

Saying Goodbye to 2019

Shakyamuni Buddha’s Enlightenment Night Meditation Retreat

IMG_20191207_234721.jpgDharma Winds Zen Sangha is happy to celebrate Shakyamuni Buddha’s Enlightenment during our traditional 12 hours night sitting and walking meditation retreat live from Dharma Winds Zen Hermitage in Namur, Belgium.

Unfortunately, this year a live recording isn’t available through Facebook or Hangout. Other live one day and half-day meditation retreats from Dharma Winds Zen Hermitage will be available online in the coming months.

May every being realize enlightenment!
Deep bows

YaoXin Shakya

Master Taego on Reciting Amitabha’s name


If you, sir, really are mindful of the Buddha, just be mindful that your own nature is Amitābha. In the twenty-four hours of the day and within the four awe-inspiring deportments, take the letters of the name Amitābha Buddha and hang them in front of your mind’s eye, and the mind’s eye and the Buddha’s name form one piece.

Mind after mind continues with this, and when thought after thought/moment it is not neglected, closely reflect on “Who is the person being mindful?” If you have perfected the study technique over a long time, then unexpectedly in a moment, the mind and its thoughts will be cut off and eliminated, and the true body of Amitābha Buddha will firmly appear in front of you.

At this very time you will believe the words “From of old the immovable is named buddha.”


Excerpt from Instructions to Layman Nag-am on the Essentials of Mindfulness of the Buddha, found in Collected Works of Korean Buddhism, Vol 8-1, by Master Taego Bowou, Dharma Heir of Chan master Shiyu Qinggong from the Linji school.


November 2019 Special Annoucements

IMG_20191116_104924.jpgThe month of November is always a special time of the year for our Sangha.

First, this is the month of the year in which we celebrate our Original Order’s anniversary. The Zen Buddhist Order of HsuYun, was founded on November 8 1997 by Great Master WeiMiao JyDin Shakya and ChuanYuan MingZhen Shakya with ChuanZhi Shakya has its first Western Abbot. This was also the day of our Chan Order first ordination ceremony.

Secondly, this is the month were we celebrate the Ancestors and Ghosts Ceremony, some our our local groups perform the ceremony at Halloween. It is a special time to remember those who have left and to dedicate the merit of our practice to all beings, material and imaterial who need the Dharma.

Thirdly, it is during this month that we remember our dear teacher, ChuanYuan MingZhen Shakya (Emma Barrows) who passed into Nirvana on November 19 2016. We are grateful for her wonderful teachings and the light of loving presence still shines in our community.

Fourthly, November, is also the month of the year were we like to ordain new clerics and do great announcements.

This year, we are happy to share that brother QianMing Shakya (Daniel Scharpenburg) has been elected to the office of Sub-Prior of the Dharma Winds Zen Sangha to assist our Prior in his duties. He will be the second Sub-Prior of the Sangha, the first one being QianMen Shakya, leader of our French Sangha (who is preparing to become a Transmitted Head Priest in the coming months).

Brother QianMing Shakya is developing an unique Dharma turned on serving the lay Sangha in a practical way. We hope that he will continue to help our Prior in his office and serve the community in his own personal way.

Fifthly, we are happy to share that our Prior, YaoXin Shakya, in addition to his other Dharma activities, also has the pleasure to study Vietnamese and Korean Zen as a Formal Student of Venerable Wonji Dharma (Thich Duc Hien). Founder of the Five Mountain Zen Order, Venerable Wonji was ordained as a teacher and Bodhisattva Priest in the Korean Zen lineage of Master SeungSahn and as a teacher and Monk in the Vietnamese LamTe (ch.Linji, jp. Rinzai) Lineage of Master Thich Thien An. Today, Wonji is a close student of Great Master Thich An Giao and a dedicated Zen Teacher under his authority.

And as a natural following of this Teacher-Student relation, since November 2019 YaoXin’s Dharma Winds Zen Hermitage/group in Belgium is affiliated with the Five Mountain Zen Order founded by Wonji Dharma.

Nothing good, nothing bad … Just Taste It Fully!

May all beings realize enlightenment!

Amituofo !
Amituofo !
Amituofo !

DaShi ChuanSheng entered emptiness

We are very sad to share that one of our Chan Order leading figures just entered emptiness.

Da Shi ChuanSheng, Steven Baugh, was a wonderful master with several lives: kung-fu master, Buddhist teacher in several traditions, a family man… a wonderful man who was always available for answering our questions or take some time for a student or a friend, an example for all of us.


He was my main transmission master (Senior Dharma Teacher) in the Linji lineage, along master Chuan Yuan and master YinDin. And he was a close disciple of our two founders, master JyDin Shakya and Ming Zhen Shakya.

Deep bows DaShi!

Please recite hundreds or thousands of mantras of OM MANI PADME HUNG for Dashi, show him your love and compassion as he moves onto his next existence


Amituofo !
Amituofo !
Amituofo !

Pratyutpanna Samādhi Sūtra on reciting a Buddha’s name

IMG_20190103_141129~2.jpgAn excerpt of a relatively unknown sutra, the Prayutpanna Samadhi Sutra, giving a particularly pragmatic waywof thinking and practicing the Recitation of a Buddha’s name. This sutra is sometimes counted as one of the « Amitabha Sutras ».


« The Buddha said, “Bodhisattvas in this land can see Amitābha Buddha by thinking intently only of Him. When they see Him, they can ask, ‘What Dharma should I uphold in order to be reborn in Your land?’ Amitābha Buddha will reply, ‘Those who wish to be reborn in my land should think of my name. If they can continue without rest, they will succeed in being reborn here.’”
The Buddha said, “Because of intent thinking, one will be reborn there. One should always think of Amitābha Buddha’s body with the thirty-two physical marks and the eighty excellent characteristics, unequaled in its majesty, radiating vast bright light to illuminate everywhere. He teaches, in the assembly of Bodhisattvas and bhikṣus, that dharmas [in true reality] are emptyand, therefore, indestructible. Why? Because indestructible are all dharmas, such as form, pain, itch, thinking, perception, birth, death, consciousness, spirit, earth, water, fire, wind, the human world, and the heaven world, including Great Brahma Heaven. By thinking of a Buddha, one attains the Samādhi of Emptiness.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “Who have attained this Bodhisattva samādhi? My disciple Mahākāśyapa, Indraguṇa Bodhisattva, the god-son Good Virtue, and those who already know this samādhi, have attained it through training. Hence, Bhadrapāla, those who wish to see present Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions should think of their lands single-mindedly, without other thoughts. Then they will be able to see them. As an analogy, one travels to a distant land and thinks of family and kin in one’s hometown. In a dream, one returns home, sees one’s family and relatives, and enjoys talking to them. After waking, one tells one’s dream to friends.”
The Buddha said, “If Bodhisattvas hear of a Buddha’s name and wish to see Him, they will be able to see Him by constantly thinking of Him and His land. For example, a bhikṣu visualizes before him the bones of a corpse, turning blue, white, red, or black. The colors are not brought by anyone, but are imagined by his mind. Likewise, by virtue of Buddhas’ awesome spiritual power, Bodhisattvas who skillfully abide in this samādhi can see, as they wish, a Buddha of any land. Why? Because they are able to see Him by virtue of three powers: the power of Buddhas, the power of the samādhi, and the power of their own merit.
“As an analogy, a handsome young man dressed in fine clothes wants to see his own face. He can see his reflection by looking into a hand mirror, pure oil, clear water, or a crystal. Does his reflection come from the outside into the mirror, oil, water, or crystal?”
Bhadrapāla replied, “No, it does not. God of Gods, it is because of the clarity of the mirror, oil, water, or crystal, that the man can see his reflection. His reflection comes from neither the inside [of the medium] nor the outside.”
The Buddha said, “Very good, Bhadrapāla. Because the medium is clear, the reflection is clear. Likewise, if one wishes to see a Buddha, one with a pure mind will be able to see. When one sees Him, one can ask questions, and He will give a reply. Having heard the teachings, one will be exultant and think: ‘Where does this Buddha come from and where am I going? As I think of this Buddha, He comes from nowhere and I am going nowhere. As I think of the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm, these three realms are formed by my mind. I can see what I think of. The mind forms a Buddha for itself to see; the mind is the Buddha mind. As my mind forms a Buddha, my mind is the Buddha; my mind is the Tathāgata; my mind is my body.’
“Although the mind sees a Buddha, the mind neither knows itself nor sees itself. The mind with perceptions is saṁsāra; the mind without perceptions is nirvāṇa. Dharmas as perceived are not something pleasurable. They are empty thoughts, nothing real. This is what Bodhisattvas see as they abide in this samādhi.”
Then the Buddha spoke in verse:

The mind does not know itself; the mind does not see itself.
The mind that fabricates perceptions is false; the mind without perceptions is nirvāṇa.
Dharmas are not firm, only founded upon thinking.
Those who see emptiness with this understanding are free from perceptions and expectations « 

Winter Holliday Message

The Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun is happy to announce that on this month of November 2018, our Chan/Zen Order, the Zen Buddhist Order of HsuYun (ZBOHY), founded on November 8 1997 by Master WeiMiao JyDin of the Linji school of Chan/Zen (One of Master HsuYun’s direct disciples), by Dharma Teacher Ming Zhen Shakya of the Linji and Yunmen school of Chan/Zen celebrate its 20th anniversary!

This 20th anniversary, like all anniversaries, means a lot and not much at the same time. It is a time to celebrate our roots and to look ahead at the same time. A time to value our heritage, to thank our founders and to celebrate the spirit that unites us and allows everyone to express his most profound nature in his own local community and ways.

The path the new generation of priests of the order is taking is a more horizontal way to look at a sangha. A way that consists of simplified forms with the aim to keep the heart of our Chinese Chan by means of sincere practice.

I am writing these lines just after I learned about the awful terrorist attack that happened in Strasbourg last night. I have in mind all the other attacks and their lot of victims. No need to take sides. Misunderstanding and possible violence exists at every level in our world, our societies, even our families and Buddhist sanghas. We all can be divided by illusion, greed and hatred.

So, beyond the separations between each sangha, priory, even between the two parts of our original Chan order, may we all celebrate our founders, their lineage, and all the abbots who followed them. May we honor the Chan teachings they gave us as a treasure, and share it openly. May we fight illusions, greed and hatred and rejoice between all heirs of JyDin and Ming Zhen Shakya.

May we keep the spirit of humble daily practice. That is the spirit symbolized by the typical robe of lay Chan Buddhists, that monks use also in their day to day practice, the ManYi Kasaya (One Panel Kesa). A plain fabric with the simplest borders and four squares. The spirit of keeping one mind even when being in the world, surrounded by suffering, because we live by the four pillars, the four Noble Truths. In a nutshell, the spirit of ‘zen householders’ as our Old Sun liked to say.

We hope that this new year for our order will be a year of Simplicity, Sincerity and Humility!

We bow in gratitude for those who came before us and for those who will continue to pass on the flame of ZBOHY Dharma after us.

We bow especially in gratitude to Our Old Sun, Venerable Dharma Teacher Ming Zhen Shakya!

Credit: Fa Ming Shakya

May our own houses be the monasteries of daily life,
And our hearts be the temples of the Buddha of Light.
May we all manifest KuanYin hands and eyes in this world!

May we all dedicate ourselves in the coming year to know ourselves and act for union in this world!

Amituofo !


Traduction française générée par les services Google :

L’Ordre Bouddhiste Zen de Hsu Yun est heureux d’annoncer qu’en ce mois de novembre 2018, notre Ordre Chan / Zen, l’Ordre Bouddhiste Zen de HsuYun (ZBOHY), fondé le 8 novembre 1997 par Maître WeiMiao JyDin de l’école de Linji à Chan / Zen (l’un des disciples directs de Maître HsuYun), par le professeur de dharma Ming Zhen Shakya de l’école de Linji et Yunmen de Chan / Zen célèbre son 20e anniversaire!
Ce 20e anniversaire, comme tous les anniversaires, signifie beaucoup et pas grand chose en même temps. C’est le moment de célébrer nos racines et de regarder en même temps. Une occasion de valoriser notre patrimoine, de remercier nos fondateurs et de célébrer l’esprit qui nous unit et qui permet à chacun d’exprimer sa nature la plus profonde dans sa propre communauté et à sa manière.
Le chemin emprunté par la nouvelle génération de prêtres de l’ordre est une façon plus horizontale de regarder une sangha. Une manière qui consiste en des formes simplifiées dans le but de garder le cœur de notre chan chinois au moyen d’une pratique sincère.
J’écris ces lignes juste après avoir appris le terrible attentat terroriste qui a eu lieu à Strasbourg la nuit dernière. Je pense à toutes les autres attaques et à leur lot de victimes. Pas besoin de prendre parti. Le malentendu et la violence possible existent à tous les niveaux de notre monde, de nos sociétés, même de nos familles et de nos sanghas bouddhistes. Nous pouvons tous être divisés par l’illusion, l’avidité et la haine.
Ainsi, au-delà des séparations entre chaque sangha, chaque prieuré, même entre les deux parties de notre ordre original, nous pouvons tous célébrer nos fondateurs, leur lignée et tous les abbés qui les ont suivis. Puissions-nous honorer les enseignements de Chan qu’ils nous ont donnés comme un trésor et les partager ouvertement. Puissions-nous combattre les illusions, la cupidité et la haine et nous réjouir entre tous les héritiers de JyDin et Ming Zhen Shakya.
Puissions-nous garder l’esprit de la pratique quotidienne humble. C’est l’esprit symbolisé par la robe typique des bouddhistes laïques chan que les moines utilisent également dans leur pratique quotidienne, le ManYi Kasaya (One Panel Kesa). Un tissu uni avec les bordures les plus simples et quatre carrés. L’esprit de garder un esprit, même dans le monde, entouré de souffrance, parce que nous vivons selon les quatre piliers, les quatre nobles vérités. En un mot, l’esprit des «chefs de ménage zen», comme notre Vieux Soleil, se plaisait à dire.
Nous espérons que cette nouvelle année de commande sera une année de simplicité, de sincérité et d’humilité!

Nous nous inclinons pour remercier ceux qui sont venus avant nous et ceux qui continueront à transmettre la flamme de ZBOHY Dharma après nous.

Nous nous inclinons particulièrement dans la gratitude envers notre Vieux Soleil, le vénérable professeur de dharma, Ming Zhen Shakya!

Crédit: Fa Ming Shakya

Que nos propres maisons soient les monastères de la vie quotidienne,
Et nos coeurs soient les temples du Bouddha de la Lumière.
Puissions-nous tous manifester des mains et des yeux de KuanYin dans ce monde!
Puissions-nous tous nous consacrer l’année prochaine à nous connaître et à agir pour l’union dans ce monde!

Amituofo !