26.

My teacher Nancy Amphoux asked her teacher how she should practice zazen. He said “You should practice zazen eternally”. Nancy said that at first she took this to mean that she should practice for the rest of her life.

 

Eternity means timeless, throwing away linear time. So, Now ceases to be a point and instead becomes vast space, containing everything. We could call it the eternal present. It is not that it is undifferentiated, rather that everything is vivid and whole. Things do not cease to exist, but they do not exist in the usual way, and so we call it Nothing, No-thing.

 

Time is the cornerstone of the house of delusion. If the stone is removed, the house must fall.

 

 
25.

Zen is sometimes described as “the mountain still state”, and we are often admonished to sit like a mountain. Monasteries were frequently named after mountains, Teachers too.

 

At the most obvious level, the mountain can be seen as representative of equanimity, imperturbability. Whatever storm is raging, the mountain is undisturbed.

 

We can also see the mountain as the expression of something eternal. So, when we enter the mountain still state, we enter the same state as the ancestors and patriarchs.

 

But fundamentally, the mountain is the ground made visible, unavoidable. Whilst the ground beneath the feet of our thoughts is overlooked, the mountain is the ground thrown upwards. And the ground is being.

 

 
24.

Menzan talked about “the frozen blockage of thought and emotion”; how it obstructs our practice and our life.

 

To understand what he meant, we need to distinguish between emotion and feeling. Feeling is our lived, momentary, felt response from moment to moment, fluid. Emotion is frozen feeling.

 

Something arises in the body. We then say “I am anxious”, then we speculate why we might be anxious, and the whole process of rumination starts. The thought and the emotion aren’t separate.

 

And we may imagine that this frozen mass obstructs our mind, but in fact it obstructs our heart. It is there like a blockage in the throat, preventing the heart emerging into the world.

 

If we do not understand this, our Zen will be too cognitive, it will lack feeling: Zen is not our liberation from feeling, but our liberation into it.

 

 
23.

I

 

Nonduality is not a mystical state, but a real one. It is abundantly available to us. We fall backwards into it each time the constructed self temporarily falls away. Our practice is a wobbling between the two poles of Self and nondual.

 

And we should not imagine an unattainable, undifferentiated state. Things continue to exist, but not in the old way. For example, a common metaphor for nonduality in the literature is the mirror. One looks at the mirror and sees apparently separate things, when really they are all part of the whole. But it is not a trick. Differentiation is there also. Differentiation is the face of the world.

 

Nonduality allows each thing its full expression.


II


Nonduality is not mystical, but real. It is not undifferentiated. On the contrary, each thing is fully expressed. Each thing fully exerts itself.


Similarly, our practice is not the pursuit of nonduality, but its expression. And each aspect of our practice is an expression of a different aspect of nonduality. So when we bow, we are not bowing to someone or something, because that would be separation. When we bow, we are affirming feelings which are nondual: gratitude, compassion, dignity, faith.


We bow down our head, and the head of the World is lifted up.


III


Zazen is not the pursuit of nonduality, but its expression. Because nonduality is the complete expression of each thing, each thing is everything. When we say that your zazen penetrates the entire Universe, don’t create a picture of planets and stars, because the Universe which is meant is not this constructed world, but your real experience.


When the constructed world falls away, there is just being. When we fall backwards from this constructed world, we fall into being.

 

 
22.

The desire for enlightenment is the root of delusion. It is a project of the heroic ego, and the ego is part of that frozen mass of thought and feeling we call delusion. Zazen is a melting of that mass.

 

It is no use calling on our demons to leave us. Even if they wanted to, they can’t. But we can leave them.

 

 
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