Kusen
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Tuesday, 18 September 2018 16:32


Dogen said that zazen was not learning meditation. Rather, it was simply the Dharma gate of ease and joy.

But almost always, people coming to zazen do think it is meditation. That is, it is an effort - in which we can progressively succeed - to control the mind. To put down thought and to pick up stillness. To put down noise and pick up silence.

Except, both thought and noise seem inordinately sticky.

So, we need to make an effort to understand what Dogen is saying. First, we should understand that the desire to make our ‘mind’ different is just the continuation of the habitual activity of the self. There’s nothing spiritual about it. We may as well aspire to be beautiful, or rich.

Second, we need to understand that zazen is making a complete effort with all we are; our ‘body’, our ‘mind’. It’s not something restricted to the mind, or consciousness. It’s not psychological. It’s not mindfulness. That’s one of the reasons we emphasise the posture so much. If the posture is balanced then the breath is free. If the breath is free we can start to feel a kind of pleasure, or easefulness when we sit, and that’s very important.

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 September 2018 16:34
 
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Tuesday, 18 September 2018 15:45

 

Sometimes, as if in a dream, we enter a house called Buddha, sit at a table called Zazen, and opposite us is a fool; repetitive, moody, mocking. And the more we wish him to shut up, the louder he is. And we think that if we just endure this, at some point he will go away, or at least be silent, and then better companions: wisdom, compassion, stillness and so on will appear; and they need to appear soon, before we are thrown into nothingness.


We need to understand that we’re the fool. Wisdom, compassion, stillness have been there all along.

How so? Because each thing is everything. A pinpoint of light illuminates the entire universe.

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 September 2018 15:47
 
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Tuesday, 18 September 2018 15:40


In Memoriam

1. During a Mondo, someone asked my late first teacher Nancy about Master Tozan.

Nancy said to this person 'Is Tozan here, or not?'

The person said -  'He's not here'. Nancy struck him, playfully.

Then she asked again: 'Is Master Tozen here?'

The person said 'He is here'. Nancy struck him again.


Alive or dead? Nancy? Tozan? You and me?


2. The ignorant person thinks that this person, whom they call their self, is their possession; and where this person appears in the heart or eye or mind of someone else, then this simply is echo, or shadow

But this person is not a half finished fortification.

This person is multitudes. Being is numberless.

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 September 2018 15:41
 
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Tuesday, 18 September 2018 15:25


If you were to ask someone to give an example of Buddhist doctrine, the example given may well be ‘the Buddhist doctrine of no-self’.

But actually that isn't true, in two senses.

Firstly, at no point in the sutras or anywhere else did the Buddha either deny the self or affirm the self.

He just pointed out that our ideas of what the self is are incoherent and contradictory, and whether or not the self existed, we couldn’t find it in any of the familiar places.

And he did this because thinking in terms of self and world is obviously dualistic; but likewise thinking in terms of no self and world is dualistic too.

It is as if one sketched out an outline of a person, filled it up with imaginary karma, and called the whole thing ‘self’. And you then took that content away, simply leaving the outline again, and this time filled up the space with imaginary enlightenment. What is the difference, really?

And this is the second sense. There isn’t ‘Buddhist doctrine’ in the normal sense, because the heart of Buddhism isn’t within the conceptual realm.

If our understanding is theoretical then our liberation will also be theoretical.

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 September 2018 15:27
 
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Thursday, 23 August 2018 15:52


"The Buddha's true dharma body is just like space.
Manifesting its form according to circumstances,
It is like the moon in water."

This  passage from the Nirvana Sutra talks about the relation between the particular and the universal, the concrete and the spiritual. And, by necessary implication, how we should practice.

"The Buddha's true body is just like space": space is boundless. It extends everywhere. It is not the air. It is not like water. When objects appear, when people appear, they don't displace space; because there is nowhere that space doesn't reach, there is nowhere extra for it to go to.

So the person, from this perspective, is both person and space. John, Michael, Anne, Rachel, Buddha.

We do not require to exclude the personal, the particular, the phenomenal to attain the universal, that is delusion. The particular is the universal. And vice versa.

"It is like the moon in water" : the moon is a common metaphor for enlightenment, Buddha. And water is a common metaphor for the mind.

Moonlight and water completely interpenetrate each other. It is not that there is a moon, standing somewhere apart, casting its secondhand light upon the water. No. The moon is in the water.

That being so, do not hate or love the thoughts, emotions, sensations and reactivity which arise from moment to moment. They are not clouds obscuring the sky, they are the sky.

Because just this is everything.

 

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2018 15:58
 
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