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Thursday, 05 October 2017 09:27


Master Dogen, in his instructions for meditation, said that when we practice zazen, we have to take 'the backward step'.

That suggests that the world we ordinarily experience is constructed. But also, that what we are searching for is abundantly available to us, and always has been. It isn't somewhere we've not been to yet, but somewhere we've forgotten. It is easy enough for us to say that the ways we demarcate the world is a construction, but harder to say - and to mean - for the self, or, as the Heart Sutra says, 'the five skandas'.

To abandon one but not the other is useless, like collapsing all the props, yet leaving the actor on stage. Which is more essential to the delusion?

In his commentary on the Heart Sutra, Dogen said that the five skandas are five pieces of prajna. Pra-jna. Pre-knowing. So, what is differentiated in the stepping forward into self and world is 'one piece', which is broken when we step forward, unbroken when we fall back, breaking and unbreaking, like space.



 

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 October 2017 09:34
 
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Monday, 25 September 2017 11:24


The Verses of Faith Mind is attributed to Sosan, the Third Patriarch. The first line is "The Great Way is not difficult, only avoid picking or choosing."

Well, we may readily think Sosan is being ironic, because when we start practicing, The Great Way seems very difficult indeed. Not just difficult, but impossible to see at all. It's as if all we experience is a repetitive cascade of thought and emotion.

Yet somehow, with enough practice, we will step through this, and then The Great Way will be visible. And will be ours.

Sosan uses the term 'faith mind', because the faith is that this mind, this body, this experience is Buddha.

And we don't see that, because in encountering what we deem this repetitive cascade of thought and emotion, we have already stepped forward into duality. 

Our task is not to imagine that we can step forward further, this time into non duality, wholeness, but rather to fall backwards -

 

Last Updated on Monday, 25 September 2017 11:56
 
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Friday, 22 September 2017 14:05

 

One of the three meanings of satori is awakening, in the sense of awakening from a dream, or awakening within a dream.

We're liable to misunderstand the metaphor, as we equate dream with falsity, and awakening with truth, which is complete nonsense.

The issue is whether we partition and appropriate experience, or not. Awakening to the dream within the dream isn't about seeing falsity, it's about seeing wholeness. Wholeness, seeing.


 

Last Updated on Friday, 22 September 2017 14:11
 
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Sunday, 17 September 2017 17:41


Dogen said that the path of all buddhas and ancestors is prior to the myriad things. That being so, it cannot be understood or explained by conventional means.

When we hear 'path' or 'way', we might imagine a path made up of the sutras, the words, the heads, the hearts, the hands of the ancestors.

And because there is such a path, here or somewhere, we can walk it.

Creation myths often take unpicturable chaos, which is then ordered into a pictured world.

It's as if we can't see the swirling of time without the picture of a clock. Or the surge of the ocean without a picture of it, first. But isn't this picture world a loop? Isn't the picture not a door, but a wall?

This life is not a million pictures. Our practice is not stepping onto this pictured path.

But rather, stepping from the hundred foot pole. Not falling

the words, the heads, the hearts, the hands.


 

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 September 2017 17:44
 
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Tuesday, 12 September 2017 15:15


In the Mountains and Waters chapter of the Shobogenzo, Dogen talks about how various different beings see what human beings see as water.

When we see water, fish see palaces. Gods see strings of pearls, hungry ghosts see blood or pus.

Dogen didn't say that the fish, the Gods and the hungry ghosts are all mistaken, that they are mis-seeing water.

What we see as water is just one window, and there is an infinity of windows.

But for us, just one window. But looked through with which eye?

The eye that gives life, or takes it?

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 September 2017 15:20
 
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