The most common metaphors in Buddhism revolve around space. Enlightenment is compared to space. Likewise the teachings. Likewise the Dharmakaya, the universal body of Buddha. It is important that we understand what is meant by space. For us it implies vacuity, or absence. This is not at all how space is used in Buddhism.

Its use is more akin to brightness, or liberation, and the closest analogy is with water. Just as the fish does not realise he is in the ocean, the bird does not realise he is 'in' space. But there is a critical difference. If an object is placed in water, the water is displaced.  If an object is placed in space the space is not displaced. Because space is everywhere, there is nowhere for it to be displaced to.

When we come into this room and sit, space is undiminished. And this place where we are sitting now contains both 'us' and 'space'. If we examine our actual experience carefully, we can see this to be true.

So each 'thing' is both itself and space, both particular and universal, and one does not obstruct the other. We can in this way understand what Fujita means when he talks about practice as being 'one piece Zen'.




The verses of faith mind starts:

The Great Way is not difficult

Only avoid picking and choosing. 

When love and hate do not arise,

Things cease to exist, in the old way.

It is not that things cease to exist, but that they cease to exist 'in the old way', that is, dualistically. Me here. The world way out there. Each of us, looking for ropes, looking for snares.

When we sit we relax our gaze; the world isn't 'out there' any longer. It is not sliced up into this and that. Any longer

If our gaze is relaxed, then our gaze includes our eyes, and the whole head and the whole body. The gaze encompasses everything

Is this not ceasing to exist in the old way?


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.




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.


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.



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