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Saturday, 15 July 2017 17:52

Is it a mandarin duck
Or a seagull bobbing?
I can hardly tell:
White plumes rising and falling
Between the standing waves

This poem by Dogen is entitled 'This very mind itself is Buddha'

When buddhists say that mind is Buddha, or world is mind, or suchlike, they don't mean that the world is inside your head. They mean that there is no 'inside'. Everything is this one piece of exertion/expression.

We are not caught by our imaginings, floating in front of us like gossamer, but by 'reality'. The world is not a corpse, waiting to be identified truly or falsely. It is the illuminating cascade of momentary expression/exertion. In this moment, the duck. In this moment, the seagull. In this moment, the drumming of the rain. In this moment, the flooding of the heavens.

If you wish to lift up the head of the world, lift this head.



Last Updated on Saturday, 15 July 2017 17:54
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Thursday, 29 June 2017 11:39

Eko said to Bodhidharma, "My mind is not at peace, please pacify it" Bodhidharma replied, "Bring me your mind and I will pacify it".

After a while Eko said, "I have looked everywhere for my mind and I cannot find it".

Bodhidharma said, "There! I have pacified it"

Bodhidharma was very influenced by the Yogacara school and its eight 'consciousnesses'.

Yogacara is often - unhelpfully - referred to as mind-only, or consciousness-only. We can't hear 'Mind' or 'Consciousness' without thinking of the personal mind, and we can't hear talk of a progression of consciousnesses without imagining a spiritual capitalism with a progressively greater spending power. For this reason, it is better to translate Yogacara as experience-only.

The first six consciousnesses correspond with our five senses, plus mind.  The seventh is self,  and the eighth is alaya consciousness, which is said to have two aspects - suchness and delusion.  

That delusion comes about because the original wholeness of experience - Suchness - is appropriated to the self.  

'I' am experiencing.

Once there is a perceiver, a self, there is then a mind and from that, a body, then differentiation into the five senses. Like part of the Antarctic ice cap breaking away, there is first the fundamental split from Suchness. Then all the little agonies.

Eko could not 'find' his mind, because his real experience was not sliced up.

If you imagine that Suchness is somewhere other than here, you will never find it.

It is like looking for the ground standing on the ground.

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 July 2017 16:36
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Tuesday, 20 June 2017 11:24

Of the five hindrances, three seem more related to the mind and two - restlessness and torpor - seem more related to the body.

Restlessness and torpor often arise because we misconceive the relationship between breath and body.

What is the body? Often, we conceive it as something fixed and rigid, like a stone house. And we then imagine that there is a technique of breathing - long slow out breaths say, or a focus on the lower abdomen - that we need to apply.

But we are mistaken.

We place such emphasis on the posture because it enables the breath to breathe itself. This breathing is like a column of enlivened space, from the base chakra in the pelvic floor upwards to the crown chakra at the top of the head. And the body is like fabric around this column. When we breathe in, the column expands and the fabric moves. When we breathe out, the column contracts and the fabric moves. The whole body breathes. The whole body moves.



Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 June 2017 11:27
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Tuesday, 13 June 2017 13:43


The category of koans is never closed.

The Case: There is a person, A, in complete darkness, in complete silence. This person has no memory, and no sense of the body. However, A is telepathic, but only with two other persons. The first person, B, has a shared language with A. The second person, C, is a mute, with no language. In the silence, when A is aware of B, A is aware of all the mental phenomena of B, expressed through a torrent of language. When A is aware of C, A experiences C's whole being - how it is to be C - but without language.

The Inquiry:

Is A alive or dead? If alive, where is A?

If A experiences B and C at the same time, does one obstruct the other?

If one does not obstruct the other, how is each experienced? Is B within C, or vice versa, both, or neither?

In zazen, are we telepathic with ourselves?



Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 June 2017 13:50
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Saturday, 27 May 2017 15:58


Nyojo said to Dogen "Zazen is dropping off body and mind"

Dogen asked, "What is dropping off body and mind?"

Nyojo said, "When you just sit, you are free from the five sense desires and the five hindrances"

The five desires are the content of our experience: what, either in our mind or in our body, we see, feel, hear, taste or smell.

The five hindrances are our attitudes to that experience: the minds of attachment, aversion, torpor, agitation or doubt.

We are "free", not because our experience is voided, but because, from moment to moment, there is the possibility of being completely intimate with our experience, with our whole body mind. "Desire" is a partial response. "Mind" is a partial response.

Once you discover that something is just a covering, whether it is there or not, are you not free of it?


Last Updated on Saturday, 27 May 2017 16:02
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