In zazen, we cultivate unadorned awareness. We simply allow our experience, without making any judgement.


This awareness operates at a number of levels. Most obviously, we are aware of our ego sustaining chatter. Then we are aware of our strategies to avoid our experience –distraction, fatigue, agitation, and so on. And deeper still, we are aware of our habitual attitudes towards our experience while sitting: anxiety, frustration, hopelessness, resignation and so on, and this habitual attitude mirrors our attitude to our life generally, and so what is unconscious becomes conscious.


Awareness is like a deepening ocean. As it becomes deeper, it becomes clearer. And so, everything is illuminated.



Often our posture is quite poor. We slump, and it is as if our head weighs heavily on our body. Which is to say, our mind weighs heavily on our heart.


When we sit, we allow the spine to uncompress; the head is light and the torso can relax and fully breathe, giving the heart its full space.


The heart is not the seat of the emotions. Emotion is frozen feeling. It is part of the mind, not the heart. The mind is that mass of thought and emotion by which the ego perpetually talks itself back into half existence.


The heart is momentary felt experience. It is always there.



We should distinguish between obstacles and delusion. Obstacles are straightforward: a persistent tune, an idea that keeps returning, a scenario that keeps regurgitating itself.


These seem a serious obstruction to our practice, but they’re not. Delusion is our taking a position towards them. One aspect of delusion.



A person prone to waking in the night who imagines himself an insomniac would be unaware when he is asleep.


Similarly, although when we sit we are frequently in the balanced state, we cannot see it, since there is no one to see. It is as if we oscillate between the dreams of the mind and the dreams of the body.


My teacher would say that we are always passing through the balanced state, in this movement between body and mind.


It is not that there is a something. It is not that there is a nothing.



In zazen we lay down our arms. We place one hand on top of the other. The world is unmanipulated and not held at bay. It comes right up to the heart.


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