Kusen
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Tuesday, 23 October 2018 15:31


If we don't understand the assumptions embedded in our language, it's very difficult for us to understand buddhism.

One of the assumptions we have is that there shouldn't be contradiction. Something is either one thing or another. Alive or dead. Active or passive. Good or bad. Fundamental or peripheral. High or low.

This leads us to misunderstand familiar buddhist metaphors like space, or mountains, or the ocean. We think that space is a metaphor for something - tranquillity, say - rather than the container and enabler of everything.

And not just buddhism. When 19th century European sanskrit scholars were translating tantric texts, they rendered 'Supreme Being' as 'The Supreme Being'. It seems innocuous, but it's not.

'Supreme Being' is an expression of being, not an entity. Just like the deepest depth of the ocean is part of the ocean. It's not separate. Everything is working together in full expression. Like a real person. Not a corpse, tethered to a ghost.

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 October 2018 15:35
 
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Tuesday, 23 October 2018 15:23

 

A lot of Dogen’s dharma discourses in the Eihei Koroku consist of him quoting someone and then “after a pause” expressing something.

We imagine that he knows what he’s going to say. We imagine this because we always do. But we’re wrong. True expression has nothing to do with the karmic mind. It comes from a completely different position.

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 October 2018 15:31
 
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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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