Robert Aitken Roshi - Selected sayings

The Buddhist Channel, August 7, 2010

"Our practice is not to clear up the mystery. It is to make the mystery clear."

Robert Baker Aitken Roshi
June 19, 1917 - August 5, 2010



When the children fight in the car
  I vow with all beings
to show how the car doesn't move
unless all of its parts are engaged

When I'm drawn to watch crime on TV
  I vow with all beings
to smile at my own little drama
and expose the killer of time

If action must wait for satori
  I vow with all beings
to foget satori completely

What a relief! Let's go home!

When someone speaks of no-self
  I vow with all beings
to be sure there is no contradiction -
the speaker is there after all

Hearing the crickets at night
  I vow with all beings
to find my place in the harmony
crickets enjoy with the stars


Facing my imminent death
  I vow with all beings
to go with the natural process
at peace with whatever comes.

When someone close to me dies
  I vow with all beings
to settle in ultimate closeness
and continue our dialogue there.


Raven took his perch on the Assembly Oak
and addressed a special meeting of the
Tallspruce community, saying,
'It's time for me to be moving on.'
Porcupine asked,
'Where will you be going?'
Raven said,
'Where cedar roots stand bare in the creek.'


If your teacher is not a fake, he or she will tell you
to count your breaths. If he or she advises you
to do something else at the outset of your practice,
you have a fake teacher. Use this criterion
and find somebody genuine.


The Heart Sutra says,
“Form is no other than emptiness,
emptiness no other than form;
form is exactly emptiness,
emptiness exactly form; sensation,
perception, formulation,
consciousness are also like this.”
Show me what the sutra is getting at.