15.

The foundation sutra for Zen is the Prajna Paramita Sutra, the teachings on Emptiness. The Heart Sutra, which we chant after sitting, is a very abbreviated version. In it we say that “form is nothing other than emptiness, emptiness is nothing other than form”. Emptiness is thus not another world, or something to aspire to. It is a way of describing this world, this experience.


It is infinitely faceted. One can say that it is dependent origination; nothing exists separately and independently of anything else. Equally, one can say that because emptiness cannot be grasped – one cannot seize space – it is a way of describing the ineffability of all being. The world eludes the web of words. And one can say that it is a way of describing our experience when self consciousness drops away. The world is empty of you, and so, is luminous.


The teachings on emptiness are themselves empty.

 

 
14.

Buddhism is full of metaphors of space. And space is not conceived in an abstract way, but rather as the absence of obstruction. Hence Buddhism being described as a path, or a way.

 

We are free, but not lost.


Likewise Emptiness.

 

 
13.

The bodhisattva vow “All living beings, I vow to save them” at first blush seems impossible. Surely it is much more practical to vow to save ourself?

 

But we cannot save ourself. The ego is the fulcrum of dualism. A fist cannot unclench itself.

 

We can however liberate all beings from us. And this liberation is “All living beings”.

 

 
12.

In zazen, do we rely on ourself, or do we rely on Buddha?

 

In some schools of Zen, there is a plain reliance on the self. Sitting is the means by which we accumulate the capacity to experience enlightenment. Equally, in other Japanese traditions, particularly Pure Land, reliance is on the other, on Buddha; faith, devotion, surrender feature prominently.

 

Dogen’s view is that we rely neither on self or other. We do not sit to become a Buddha and we do not sit in devotion to something other than ourself which we call Buddha. Sitting is Buddha.

 

We are lifted up by the same ground.

 

 
11.

Shoji


If all things have real form, then everything - particularly what we commonly regard as negations - has real form. Thus, 'No Self' exists just as much as 'Self' in the total Full Dynamic Functioning. So, 'Negation' is not a kind of absence, but a full presence. And if this is so, 'Not Self' can be obstructed by 'Self', just as easily as the other way around.

 

Things do not fall in and out of existence in a logically coherent world. Existence and Non Existence are two aspects of Full Dynamic Functioning, and are always present. Whether they are present to us doesn't matter.

 

So Death isn't the absence of Life. Winter isn't the absence of Spring.

 
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