201.


Our lives do not exist in time. But in our lives, time exists.

Likewise, space. The budding tree births the sky.

Buddhist language is not a description of 'reality'. It is a provisional language, aimed at liberation.


My first teacher said that we can't break the mirror of the self with the head.

But if not with the head, then with what?

What.


 
200.


With application, stilling the mind is not difficult. What is difficult is dropping off the sense of self. The sense of something to gain, something to lose. Self separate from the alive wholeness of everything. 

Dropping off the sense of self, or 'me', which is central to our practice, means we do not describe practice in terms of acquisition, aspiring to acquire wisdom, enlightenment, compassion or whatever.

That is why we describe our practice as the whole universe experiencing itself through this body.

 

 
199.


(With thanks to David Taylor)

Enlightenment is sometimes referred to as 'The Narrow Gate'. Note the words carefully. The gate isn't hidden, or difficult to access, or far far away. It's narrow. The sort of gate that a person would get stuck in. Neither able to go through, nor go back.

Zen is part of Mahayana. Mahayana means 'Great Vehicle'. It's 'great' because there's nothing outside it. The whole chaotic miracle is there. That being so, there is no gate in, and no gate out. Enlightenment and delusion are both there, and nowhere else.

Delusion is taking experience and constellating it around the fiction of a 'person'. The sort of person who might get fixated, who might get stuck. But enlightenment isn't an attribute of a person, actual or potential: it's universal.

In wholehearted expression and exertion, everything is the narrow gate.

 

 
198.


The practice of allowing thoughts to come and go freely and not attaching to them is an ancient practice. It goes right back to the origins of Buddhism.

But if we think the aim of this practice is just to make 'the mind' still, to make 'consciousness' empty; then our practice lacks compassion.

It's for this reason that when Buddhism went to China and the Chinese truly made it their own, they changed the emphasis from emptiness to suchness. The unstatable state when we are no longer conceptually grasping experience, fabricating self and object, when everything is vivid and whole.

Not Nothing, but nothing that can be described. No-thing, because Everything.

 

 
Kusen Practice Instruction


There is a general instruction in many meditation schools that we should allow our thoughts to come and go freely, but what is meant by "thoughts"?

We are aware - all too aware - of what we might feel as the noise of our mind, but what we are less aware of is what lies behind this noise. If we reflect carefully, it appears that there is a 'something' which - as it were - endeavours to keep us in a familiar state, and usually a negative one : fear, dissatisfaction, boredom, dissociation, dullness.. the list is endless, and different for each of us, but it's there. There, but difficult to see.

Rather than focus on purifying consciousness, what is essential for us is to be thoroughly grounded in the dynamic, living body, which means to be grounded in the breath, and to experience the breath as permeating the whole body. Everything moves with the breath: the bones of the pelvis, the bones of the head, the face, the legs. That movement from 'mind' to body loosens and liberates us, and is "beyond thinking".

 

 

 

 
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