Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Vegetarian Banquet in the Monastery of Great Compassion

Fuke always used to roam about in the street markets, ringing a bell and shouting: "When it comes in brightness, I hit the brightness. When it approaches in darkness, I hit the darkness. When it comes from the four quarters and eight directions (of space), I hit like a whirlwind, and if it comes out of the empty sky, I thrash it like a flail."

The master made one of his attendants go there, instructing him to grab Fuke while speaking and ask him,"If it does not come in any of these ways, what then?"

Fuke freed himself from the grasp of the attendant and said: "Tomorrow is a vegetarian banquet in the monastery of Great Compassion."

The attendant returned and told the master, who remarked: "I was always intrigued with this fellow." - The Record of Linji

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tozan's Sixty Blows Mumonkan #16

               十五 洞山三頓

Tõzan came to study with Unmon. Unmon asked, "Where are you from?"
"From Sato," Tõzan replied.
"Where were you during the summer?"
"Well, I was at the monastery of Hõzu, south of the lake."
"When did you leave there," Unmon asked.
"On August 25" was Tõzan's reply.
"I spare you sixty blows," Unmon said.
The next day Tõzan came to Unmon and said, "Yesterday you said you spared me sixty blows.
I beg to ask you, where was I at fault?"
"Oh, you rice bag!" shouted Unmon. "What makes you wander about, now west of the river, now south of the lake?"
Tõzan thereupon came to a mighty enlightenment experience.

Mumon's Comment
If Unmon had given Tõzan the true food of Zen and encouraged him to develop an active Zen spirit, his school would not have declined as it did.
Tõzan had an agonizing struggle through the whole night, lost in the sea of right and wrong. He reached a complete impasse. After waiting for the dawn, he again went to Unmon, and Unmon again made him a picture book of Zen.
Even though he was directly enlightened, Tõzan could not be called brilliant.
Now, I want to ask you, should Tõzan have been given sixty blows or not?
If you say yes, you admit that all the universe should be beaten.
If you say no, then you accuse Unmon of telling a lie.
If you really understand the secret, you will be able to breathe out Zen spirit with the very mouth of Tõzan.

Mumon's Verse 頌曰
獅子教兒迷子訣    The lion had a secret to puzzle his cub;
擬前跳躑早翻身    The cub crouched, leaped, and dashed forward.
無端再敍當頭著    The second time, a casual move led to checkmate.
前箭猶輕後箭深    The first arrow was light, but the second went deep.

[Someone asked for an elucidation of this seemingly bizarre "case" from the Mumonkan. So, here are my blow-by-blow "notes." Don't bother to read them if you already get the gist. I will only add that I would love to see a suspenseful and action packed movie made of the whole Mumonkan. Whenever I read it, I get white knuckles and move to the edge of my seat.]
Tozan came to study with Unmon. Unmon asked, "Where are you from?" "From Sato," Tõzan replied.
Unmon was renowned as an Enlightened Master of Chan. By coming to study with him, Tozan was declaring his intention to seek Enlightenment also. However, in Unmon's peculiar brand of Chan, Buddhahood is not something you can seek; it's the all-pervading and instantaneous reality before words and thoughts. Tozan must have an inkling of this already. Unmon's teaching was renowned. So Unmon rightly asks, "Where are you from?" This far reaching Zen question should be enough to wake Tozan up. But he interprets it narrowly to be a question about his mentally objectified "self" -- the Tozan, who has supposedly come from point A to point B. Of course, for Unmon, this delusional picture of self is the least interesting topic of conversation possible. Tozan's dull, flat, rote factual answer must have been a great disappointment. 

Unmon is awake to the comic possibilities of this dialogue. He continues it even though it must have been exquisitely painful to hear Tozan "miss the mark" every single time:
"Where were you during the summer?" "Well, I was at the monastery of Hõzu, south of the lake." "When did you leave there," Unmon asked. "On August 25" was Tõzan's reply.
This is too much. Tozan is completely blind not only to the intent of the Master's questions but to the real source of his dull answers. Mind is just speaking to and hearing Mind, but Tozan actually believes this dull-headed figment of words and speech called "Tozan" to be his real Self! Even more hilariously, he seems to believe that an Enlightened Master is actually interested in such ephemeral nonsense.

So we have the turning point: 
"I spare you sixty blows," Unmon said.
Tozan must have been insanely bewildered. Here the great Zen Master, the man he has always dreamt of studying with, is saying right at the instant Tozan's dream is about to get fully realized: 1) You deserve sixty blows from my stick; 2) I will spare you (this time). Where did he go wrong? All he did was directly answer the Master's questions! So unfair! Or is it?

Tozan probably spent the night in a hell of doubts. If the Master is just crazy, he has come all this way to study with a crazy man. But if the Master is right, then how was he (Tozan) wrong? What did he do? What did he say? Or maybe it's just how he looks? All night, Tozan sleeplessly goes over the simple little dialogue with Unmon, and he cannot find his mistake. It's driving him out of his mind. Why didn't the Master just beat him senseless!? That would have been more compassionate. Toward dawn, he bursts into tears. It's all over for him. He'll never understand Zen.
The next day Tõzan came to Unmon and said, "Yesterday you said you spared me sixty blows. I beg to ask you, where was I at fault?"
Try to hear the desperation under Tozan's politeness. The man has reached the end of his rope. This isn't how he saw studying Zen under Unmon. He's been made to feel stupid, totally worthless; not even worth the sixty blows!
"Oh, you rice bag!" shouted Unmon. "What makes you wander about, now west of the river, now south of the lake?"
Unmon's shout, combined with the most insulting possible slur you can make about a monk -- who after all has sacrificed everything in order to enter the Way -- must have caused Tozan's hair to stand on end.  This is really the worst possible outcome of his quest. Right? But Unmon's next question shatters the block of ice, making everything as clear as the open sky. *"What is it* that makes you . . . " Here, Unmon is pointing directly to Tozan's true Self and to the free activity of his Original Nature, and drawing a sharp distinction between this already Enlightened activity and the imaginary "Tozan" who inhabits a mental prison ward of mere ideas "about" this or that. 
Tõzan thereupon came to a mighty enlightenment experience.
Note that this case entirely contradicts the fraudulent "buji Zen" orthodoxy that rules over most online Zen discussions. cf. Tozan has a "mighty enlightenment experience" as a direct result of his dialogue with Unmon. In other words, enlightenment in Zen is a real experience in time and space, not a myth or a figure of speech; enlightenment can be provoked by a Master who is clever enough to trap a student in logically impassible situation; also, there are degrees of enlightenment in Zen (Tozan's is said to be "mighty"). Those who are enlightened know the "secret" and so "breathe out Zen spirit" just like Tozan. Note the very explicit reference to breathing and Qi 氣 as connected to enlightenment.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hakuin's Satori Zen vs. the Comatose Badgers of Silent Illumination

Alone in the hut, I thrust my spine up stiff and straight and sat right through until dawn. All through the night, the room was haunted by a terrifying demonic presence. Since I dislike having to swell the narrative with such details, however, I won't describe it here.

In the morning, I opened the rice pail, reached inside with my left hand, and grasped a fistful of the grains. I boiled these up into a bowl of gruel, which I ate in place of the two regular meals. I repeated the same routine each day. I wonder, was my regimen less demanding than National Master Muso's, with his half persimmon?

After a month of this life, I still hadn't experienced a single pang of hunger. On the contrary, my body and mind were both fired with a great surge of spirit and resolve. My nights were zazen. My days were sutra-recitation. I never let up. During this period, I experienced small satories and large satories in numbers beyond count. How many times did I jump up and jubilantly dance around, oblivious of all else! I no longer had any doubts at all about Ta-hui's talk of eighteen great satoris and countless small ones. How grievously sad that people today have discarded this way of kensho as if it were dirt!

As for sitting, sitting is something that should include fits of ecstatic laughter -- brayings that make you slump to the ground clutching your belly. And when you struggle to your feet after the first spasm passes, it should send you kneeling to the earth in yet further contortions of joy.

But for the past hundred years, ever since the passing of National Master Gudo, advocates of the blind, withered-up, silent illumination Zen have appeared winthin the Rinzai, Soto, and Obaku schools. In spots all over the country, they band together, flicking their fingers comtemptuously, pishing and pughing: "Great satori eighteen times! Small satoris beyond count! Pah! It's ridiculous. If you're enlightened, you're enlightened. If you're not, you're not. For a human being, the severing of the life-root that frees you from the clutches of birth-and-death is the single great matter. How can you count the number of times it happens, as if it were a case of diarrhea!

Or, "Ta-hui made statements like that because he was ignorant of the supreme, sublime Zen that is to be found at the highest reaches of attainment. Supreme Zen, at the highest reaches, does not belong to a dimension that human understanding of any kind can grasp or perceive. It is a matter of simply being Buddhas the way we are right now -- 'covered bowls of plain unvarnished wood.' It is the state of great happiness and peace, the great liberation. Put a stop to all the chasing and hankering in your mind. Do not interfere or poke around after anythng whatever. That mind-free state detached from all thought is the complete and ultimate attainment."

These people, true to their words, do not do a single thing. They engage in no act of religious practice; they don't develop a shred of wisdom. They just waste their lives dozing idly away like comatose badgers, useless to their contemporaries while they live, completely forgotten after they die. They aren't capable of leaving behind even a syllable of their own to repay the profound debt they owe to the Buddha patriarchs.

-HAKUIN ZENJI (from Mount Iwataki: Reflections on Do-Nothing Zen)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Real Buddha Has No Mouth and Preaches No Dharma

(This is from Master HUANG-PO'S Wan Ling Record, translated with notes by John Blofeld)

One day, after taking his seat in the great hall, the Master began as follows: Since Mind is the Buddha (Absolute), it embraces all things, from the Buddhas (Enlightened Beings) at one extreme to the meanest of belly-crawling reptiles or insects at the other. All these alike share the Buddha-Nature and all are of the substance of the One Mind. So, after his arrival from the West, Bodhidharma transmitted naught but the Dharma of the One Mind. He pointed directly to the truth that all sentient beings have always been of one substance with the Buddha. He did not follow any of those mistaken 'methods of attainment'. And if YOU could only achieve this comprehension of your own Mind, thereby discovering your real nature, there would assuredly be nothing for you to seek, either.

Q: How, then, does a man accomplish this comprehension of his own Mind?

A: That which asked the question IS your own Mind but if you were to remain quiescent and to refrain from the smallest mental activity, its substance would be seen as a void -- you would find it formless, occupying no point in space and falling neither into the category of existence nor into that of non-existence. Because it is imperceptible Bodhidharma said: 'Mind, which is our real nature, is the unbegotten and indestructible Womb; in response to circumstances, it transforms itself into phenomena.' For the sake of convenience, we speak of Mind as the intelligence (prajna); but when it does not respond to circumstances [and so rests from creating objects.] it cannot be spoken of in such dualistic terms as existence or non-existence. Besides, even when engaged in creating objects in response to causality, it is still imperceptible. If you know this and rest tranquilly in nothingness then you are indeed following the Way of the Buddhas. Therefore does the sutra say: 'Develop a mind which rests on no thing whatever.'

Every one of the sentient beings bound to the wheel of alternating life and death is re-created from the karma of his own desires! Endlessly their hearts remain bound to the six states of existence, thereby involving them in all sorts of sorrow and pain. Ch'ing Ming [A famous lay-disciple.] says: 'There are people with minds like those of apes who are very hard to teach; people who need all sorts of precepts and doctrines with which to force their hearts into submission.' And so when thoughts arise, all sorts of dharmas [Doctrines, precepts, concepts, things.] follow, but they vanish with thought's cessation. We can see from this that every sort of dharma is but a creation of Mind. And all kinds of beings -- humans, devas, sufferers in hell, asuras and all comprised within the six forms of life -- each one of them is Mind-created. If only you would learn how to achieve a state of non-intellection, immediately the chain of causation would snap.

Give up those erroneous thoughts leading to false distinctions! There is no 'self' and no 'other'. There is no 'wrong desire', no 'anger', no 'hatred', no 'love', no 'victory', no 'failure'. Only renounce the error of intellectual or conceptual thought-processes and your nature will exhibit its pristine purity -- for this alone is the way to attain Enlightenment, to observe the Dharma (Law), to become a Buddha and all the rest. Unless you understand this, the whole of your great learning, your painful efforts to advance, your austerities of diet and clothing, will not help you to a knowledge of your own Mind. All such practices must be termed fallacious, for any of them will lead to your rebirth among 'demons'-- enemies of the truth -- or among the crude nature spirits. What end is served by pursuits like those? Chih Kung says: 'Our bodies are the creations of our own minds.' But how can one expect to gain such knowledge from books? If only you could comprehend the nature of your own Mind and put an end to discriminatory thought, there would naturally be no room for even a grain of error to arise.

As it is, so long as your mind is subject to the slightest movement of thought, you will remain engulfed in the error of taking 'ignorant' and 'Enlightened' for separate states; this error will persist regardless of your vast knowledge of the Mahayana or of your ability to pass through the 'Four Grades of Sainthood' and the 'Ten Stages of Progress Leading to Enlightenment'. For all these pursuits belong to what is ephemeral; even the most strenuous of your efforts is doomed to fail, just as an arrow shot ever so high into the air must inevitably fall spent to the ground. So, in spite of them, you are certain to find yourselves back on the wheel of life and death. Indulging in such practices implies your failure to understand the Buddha's real meaning. Surely the endurance of so much unnecessary suffering is nothing but a gigantic error, isn't it? Chih Kung says elsewhere: 'If you do not meet with a teacher able to transcend the worlds, you will go on swallowing the medicine of the Mahayana Dharma quite in vain.'

Were you now to practice keeping your minds motionless at all times, whether walking, standing, sitting or lying; concentrating entirely upon the goal of no thought-creation, no duality, no reliance on others and no attachments; just allowing all things to take their course the whole day long, as though you were too ill to bother; unknown to the world; innocent of any urge to be known or unknown to others; with your minds like blocks of stone that mend no holes -- then all the Dharmas [Laws of Existence or Universal Laws.] would penetrate your understanding through and through. In a little while you would find yourselves firmly unattached. Thus, for the first time in your lives, you would discover your reactions to phenomena decreasing and, ultimately, you would pass beyond the Triple World; and people would say that a Buddha had appeared in the world. Pure and passionless knowledge [Enlightenment.] implies putting an end to the ceaseless flow of thoughts and images, for in that way you stop creating the karma that leads to rebirth -- whether as gods or men or as sufferers in hell.

Once every sort of mental process has ceased, not a particle of karma is formed. Then, even in this life, your minds and bodies become those of a being completely liberated. Supposing that this does not result in freeing you immediately from further rebirths, at the very least you will be assured of rebirth in accordance with your own wishes. The sutra declares: 'Bodhisattvas are re-embodied into whatsoever forms they desire.' But were they suddenly to lose the power of keeping their minds free from conceptual thought, attachment to form would drag them back into the phenomenal world, and each of those forms would create for them a demon's karma!

With the practices of the Pure Land Buddhists it is also thus, for all these practices are productive of karma; hence, we may call them Buddha-hindrances! As they would obstruct your Mind, the chain of causation would also grapple you fast, dragging you back into the state of those as yet unliberated. [John Blofeld's note: The Pure Land Sect advocates utter reliance upon Amida Buddha of Boundless Light and Life, holding that perfect faith will insure rebirth in a paradise where preparation for final Enlightenment follows under ideal conditions. Zen Buddhists, on the contrary, often claim that reliance on Amida Buddha is the negation of that self-reliance which Gautama Buddha taught to be the only sure path. Nevertheless, the Pure Land doctrine PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD is not truly opposed to Zen, since the real meaning of Amida is the Buddha-Substance innate in man, and rebirth into his paradise implies the awakening of the individual's mind to its Oneness with the Buddha-Substance.]

Hence all dharmas such as those purporting to lead to the attainment of Bodhi possess no reality. The words of Gautama Buddha were intended merely as efficacious expedients for leading men out of the darkness of worse ignorance. It was as though one pretended yellow leaves were gold to stop the flow of a child's tears. Samyak-Sambodhi [Supreme Knowledge.] is another name for the realization that there are no valid Dharmas. Once you understand this, of what use are such trifles to you? According harmoniously with the conditions of your present lives, you should go on, as opportunities arise, reducing the store of old karma laid up in previous lives; and above all, you must avoid building up a fresh store of retribution for yourselves!

Mind is filled with radiant clarity, so cast away the darkness of your old concepts. Ch'ing Ming says: 'Rid yourselves of everything.' The sentence in the Lotus Sutra concerning a whole twenty years spent in the shoveling away of manure symbolizes the necessity of driving from your minds whatever tends to the formation of concepts. In another passage, the same sutra identifies the pile of dung which has to be carted away with metaphysics and sophistry. Thus the 'Womb of the Tathagatas' is intrinsically a voidness and silence containing no individualized dharmas of any sort or kind. And therefore says the sutra: 'The entire realms of all the Buddhas are equally void.' [The implication is that the Western Paradise of Amida Buddha is as void as the rest of them.]

Though others may talk of the Way of the Buddhas as something to be reached by various pious practices and by sutra-study, you must have nothing to do with such ideas. A perception, sudden as blinking, that subject and object are one, will lead to a deeply mysterious wordless understanding; and by this understanding will you awake to the truth of Zen. When you happen upon someone who has no understanding, you must claim to know nothing. He may be delighted by his discovery of some 'way to Enlightenment'; yet if you allow yourselves to be persuaded by him, YOU will experience no delight at all, but suffer both sorrow and disappointment. What have such thoughts as his to do with the study of Zen? Even if you do obtain from him some trifling 'method', it will only be a thought-constructed dharma having nothing to do with Zen. Thus, Bodhidharma sat rapt in meditation before a wall; he did not seek to lead people into having opinions. Therefore it is written: 'To put out of mind even the principle from which action springs is the true teaching of the Buddhas, while dualism belongs to the sphere of demons.'

Your true nature is something never lost to you even in moments of delusion, nor is it gained at the moment of Enlightenment. It is the Nature of the Bhutatathata. In it is neither delusion nor right understanding. It fills the Void everywhere and is intrinsically of the substance of the One Mind. How, then, can your mind-created objects exist outside the Void? The Void is fundamentally without spacial dimensions, passions, activities, delusions or right understanding. You must clearly understand that in it there are no things, no men and no Buddhas; for this Void contains not the smallest hairsbreadth of anything that can be viewed spacially; it depends on nothing and is attached to nothing. It is all- pervading, spotless beauty; it is the self-existent and uncreated Absolute. Then how can it even be a matter for discussion that the REAL Buddha has no mouth and preaches no Dharma, or that REAL hearing requires no ears, for who could hear it?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Life or Death Zen

Posturing on the Internet, being an expert in Zen or in Buddhism or in any sort of "spiritual" discipline, will not even remotely help you when you are confronted directly with a life or death situation. It won't even help you observe falling yellow leaves or heat up the water for tea.

No -- the real test of something like "Zen" is whether it helps you engage every natural situation of this life, or fails you exactly when you need it the most. Given that clear fact, what else can be said? "Intoxicated by the moonlight," maybe!

There are "Zen" practices and forms of training that were effective in equipping people with the equanimity to cut their own bellies open, like tea master Sen no Rikyu, when there was no other way to face reality. Do you have that kind of ability? Do you even want it?

Charcoal, though placed exactly according to teaching, is dead charcoal if it does not boil the water. - Rikyu

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wicked Wicked 老虎!

-So! I'm confused. You say I'm Enlightened just as I am. Seeing and hearing are enlightenment. All my actions are also just the actions of Mind, which is the clear and brilliant Self-Nature, and is also called Buddha. This inherent nature isn't born, doesn't die. It's clear and boundless. It can be directly experienced. Once you experience it, you're free. You don't ever get fully caught up in the dream again. What's the dream? You say the dream is based on the delusion of being this body, this mind, these thoughts and so on. You teach me that instead this body, this mind, these thoughts and ideas all appear in the Great Clear Mirror Consciousness. It happens instantaneously. It's always happening. If not this body, another body. A bird, for example, or a monkey. It's all Buddhahood. But due to some kind of ignorance, there's a mistaken view of things and beings as separate from the spontaneously vivid and real Self-Nature. Due to "thinking" we build up karmic debts. We feel lost. We suffer. So you say cut away the place of thought and speech and realize it directly. The Self-Nature instinctively knows itself. It seeks itself, and it awakens itself unerringly. Right?

-Right! You're not confused. But these are words. You've got to cut away the thoughts and see the Mind that is the source of its own awakening. But you don't need to enlist in a Zen meditation class or bow to a Roshi or put flowers in front of an iron statue or wear a black robe or sit on a zafu. See the snow falling. Who sees it? Where is the snow falling? When? It seems that clear consciousness has no problems. Everything is instant and vivid. When you're walking, you just walk. When you're eating, you just eat. The thought-obsessions vanish. Mind is right here. Buddha is this Mind, Mind is this Buddha. It isn't the ordinary tortured troubled mind of thinking. It's the great Mind of Zen. What is it? Clear bright and shining in all situations.

-How can I get to This?

-Drop your energy into the zero state. You can drop it into the one point in the Hara -- that's It too. Then seeing is just Seeing. It's not a person seeing objects and "other beings" and thinking it over.

-Does the Buddha Mind have any thoughts in it?

-Human thoughts? None. Not for an instant. The Buddha Mind needs no tarrying in reflections on what it instantly cognizes. It is not dependent on words and letters. Its transmission is instantaneous. It transmits only itself. It receives only itself. It is majestic and remote. It is before the birth of this or any universe. It's a snow lion roaming across glaciers. Suffering leaps out of the big blue sky. Enlightenment happens like yellow leaves falling. Yet the Buddha's Mind does have Tathagata-thoughts, which are not the same as word-thoughts or letter-thoughts. Each Tathagata thought is an empty and vivid dharma. Mountain gate, kitchen, rice bowl, cloud, stream, bird. These are all Tathagata-thoughts. This Whole Universe is one. Get it now? If you don't get it now, when in Heaven or Hell will you get it? Wake the fuck up!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Body-Tiger, Mind-Dragon: Notes on Refreshing Mind -Body in the Zero State

Stagnation, low-transition intertia states = anxious self-protectiveness, worried thought, inhibited action, eg. shoga or "small self."

High energy, rapid, sudden transition states = expansive spirit, Taiga. "Under Heaven and above Earth, I am the only honored one!"

How, then, do we move from the stagnant low-transition state into the clear blue sky of Zen?

Not by addressing it directly, arguing with it, being ashamed over it or worried about it. These are all low-transition emotional manifestations.

No. Instead we're going to drop out of the low-transition state into a complete zero-state.

By resting in the zero-state, we'll find ourselves "with a solitary sword against the cold sky."

Action, high-transition energy, will then emerge spontaneously from this zero state in natural response to conditions.

Zen is just this. All things return to the One. To what does the One return? Quick!

One excels in the Way of Zen by using "collapse" into a zero-state of Dhyana to enable higher level transitions that exceed the working capacity of "small self."

The principle here is that dropping stagnant energy into the Hara results in the complete annihilation of any sense of "self/other."

This no-state persists only briefly. It is timeless and spaceless, infinite. It is nothing.

Out of that no-state, the tiger-ki of earth reappears, and the ascending dragon flies straight to the clear blue sky, feeding on beings and sunlight.

So use the Hara to enter the stillness of Clear Mirror Mind. Energy, an unstoppable maelstrom, naturally rises out of this state. It doesn't disturb the stillness but manifests and reveals it.

Aum Swasti!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mind's Puppets

(another fragment from the Rat Shit Zen Sutra)

-World Honored One, I have heard materialist teachers claim that our minds are just illusions created by the random interaction of material elements, that they are transitory, unreal: that dust is more real in the sense of being actual, accessible to the senses and to knowledge, than any supposed “Mind” or “Consciousness.” It has been said that “mind” is just a name for something like a puppet play. How do you answer such teachings?

-Mahamati, if your materialist teachers claim that objects and dust and other assorted “material elements” give rise to mind, then they must believe that mind is of the same nature as these so-called material elements, or in other words that mind is no different than a stone or a piece of wood. Yet a moment’s reflection is enough to dispell this falsehood, as it is only in and through the mind that one can ever experience a “material” element or an “object,” not the other way around. If consciousness emerges from material elements the way flames emerge from wood, then it must be acknowledged that consciousness is latent in material elements, and mind-nature emerges whenever the right causes and conditions are present. But this also implies that mind-nature and the nature of matter are not two. Correct?

-I think I follow you, O Bhagawan. Your intelligence dazzles me a little.

-Well, Mahamati, if mind nature and “matter” are in essence one and the same, then the materialist teachers are only senselessly debating words. Can a barren woman give birth to a son?

-I think not, Great One.

-If a woman gives birth, this in itself proves she is not barren. If matter can give birth to mind, this proves that matter is not devoid of mind. How can “seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling” emerge from objects, when it is only through these senses that one experiences a reality one then divides into so-called subjects and objects? Mind is that through which all subjects and objects arise. If matter is the source of mind, this is the same as saying that matter is itself basically Mind. Having said this, we are back to realizing that “Mind is all there is.” No basis exists for two opposed views on this question. The opposed views turn out on analysis to be one and the same view. All of the senses are just Mind.

-Wow, Bhagawan. That was an amazing display of logic. I feel a little breathless now.

-As to your mention of a puppet play, the puppets are certainly mindless objects, unable to speak or move by themselves, which proves my point. The spectators are imbued with mind, and so is the puppet master who keeps the puppets speaking and in continual motion. The puppets do nothing by themselves -- they are moved by the hands of the puppeteer; the spectators burst into tears or laughter based upon what they see the puppets do and hear them say. Seeing and hearing are part and parcel of “mind nature.” If you say it is the other way around, then senseless woodless puppets would be more real than the puppet master, who carved and painted them with his own hands and makes them sing and dance at his whims! The puppets would more of the true essence than people watching, who laugh and clap and cry. But this claim ends in sheer absurdity, Mahamati. Stupid speculation! Do not follow materialist teachers, as they will only scam and bewilder you with words.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Great Nirvana & Other Poems


You are not
your name,
anybody's opinions of you,
your accomplishments,
your ideas,
your problems,
your thoughts,
your body.
your mind,
your energy.
your feelings.
your will,
your rebirths,
your sensations.

You are That!

You are the immovable reality
"before" any of these --
that clear Naked Awareness
which is never an object
since only "in" and "by" it
does any object appear.

inherently liberated,

Congratulations! And
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti!


Wind in the trees, plus a Hearing ear = sound.
No wind, no sound
No trees, no sound.
No Hearing ear, no sound.
What is the great and majestic sound of the Soundless?


This cruel and senseless "I" illusion
that confuses Self
with objects, names and forms
has to be cut away completely & all at once
by dropping all mental labeling
and emotional grasping at the resultant
objects, names and forms.
Satori! Great Mind Realization. The Big Being.


Is the lama enlightened?
Is the Tulku enlightened?
Is the Roshi enlightened?
Is the Great Buddha enlightened?
Is the whole universe enlightened?
No! Unless you are enlightened,
nothing and nobody is. So, please -
get Enlightened now!

Saturday, August 11, 2012


& the deluded biological robot said:
this mysterious quality
of the brain
which is going to die when "I" do.

& the Buddha said,
Who is this "I,"
where can you find "him" or "her"
& when, pray tell,
is this "I" born
or going to die?

Reality is appearing right now
in all your senses!
Look at it clearly!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Direct Entry with a Sharp Chopper

Mu Shin Do Zen is a school for "direct entry [into vivid true Reality] with a sharp chopper."

Zen is the "Mind-Dharma." It is not transmitted from master to student -- how could Great Mind be transmitted? It's the unborn medium of everything already! However, Master and student recognize each other as sharing the same all illuminating Mind-nature. Yowza!

"Outside Mind there are no dharmas."

This is Kyoge Betsuden -- like pure water being poured into pure water. It's what occurred between Gotama and Mahakasyapa when Gotama held up the Flower for the assembly on Eagle Peak. In this instance, the gesture of holding up the flower was the "sharp chopper" that enabled Mahakasyapa to enter suddenly and completely into the formless form of the energetic and always vivid True Reality.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Wasp and the Leaky Nest

The blind priest who plays the biwa said:
You have lived before
and you will live again
until you see that life is dream,
pure and empty illusion,
created by the thought of "I"
and "not-I," and "this is mine"
and "this is not mine."
This rising here, that rises there.
This ceasing here, that ceases there.
Everything is dependent
on everything else,
therefore all is empty.
All compounded things
are transitory, and given time
will fall apart. Where, then,
in any of this can there be
an "I" or a "mine"?

All is hollow like bamboo,
a body pervaded by space,
and mind is infinite space, too.

You must know that at any instant
death could come --
a sword could cut you down,
a bolt of lightning could strike you,
you could burn up in a fire
or fall off a thousand foot cliff.
Would this be the end?
No. This consciousness of "I" and "mine"
would pass into another body
by the energy of karma,
and another person would arise
growing the womb of another woman,
suffering from all the same delusions --
and so on and so forth
until the day of your Enlightenment
when you realize infinity
in a hair raising instant
and so become a Buddha.
Upon which you know
there was never anything to realize --
Naked Awareness was never lost,
nor did it ever delude itself for a moment.

Shed it! Shed the shadow puppet play now!
Sentient beings must help themselves!
Nobody else can do It for you!


Shakyamuni then declared:
having vanquished Ego-consciousness,
I am now perfectly Enlightened.
for I have shed the false sense
of "I" and "mine"
that obscured this pure Awareness
since long before my birth as Gotama.
I have overcome that
to which I foolishly succumbed
and which made me suffer
in countless life after life
as this Consciousness moved
in a dream, in a fantastic illusion,
from one body to another,
each time mistaking itself
for that body, for those thoughts.
Each time getting drawn into conflicts,
and each time suffering endless grief
from its own negative emotions --
while always stupidly blaming others,
never accepting a shred of responsibility
until I awakened love
and devotion --
throwing myself into a hermit's fire,
giving my flesh to a mother tiger,
practicing equanimity as a king
cut me into pieces
in the great forest --
to the accompaniment of the cries
and groans of his weeping wives.
So. The previous Buddha's prophecy
heard in a long ago kingdom
in a half-forgotten life
has now come to be.
I am Awake, nakedly.
I have walked the Great Way.
And I have attained cessation.
Our revels are now ended;
the play is finished.
No more ominous pageants.
Toss out the moth-eaten god and demon masks!
No more suffering from dreams,
clutched in the talons of a delusion.
"The wasp has flown its leaky nest."

The contemplative life is done. All over.
Gone beyond, beyond, totally beyond! Bodhi Svaha!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

All the Buddhas Ask the Same Thing

All the Buddhas ask the same thing:
Listen to this bell in the total darkness --
What are you listening to?

Who is listening?
How do you know it is a bell?
Why does your eye see darkness, and by what light?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Great Zen Jailbreak

I will explain Buddhism to you. There IS nothing more than momentary impressions, sensations, feelings, sights, sounds, &c.:

The temple bell's sound
melts away into infinity.
Each time it's struck --
How wonderful to hear
a bell clanging
in the empty freshness
of a clear blue sky!
How fantastic to be so alive --
and so laughably, so awesomely stupid!

Despite all the language and conceptual frenzy that there IS something else over and above THIS, there is not. The cure for getting lost in dreamlike attachments and abstractions is "empty mind" knowing wordlessly that form is empty, the empty is form.

Although the mind seizes on this and that, wants this and doesn't want that, in truth everything has already happened, yet nothing has -- or will ever -- happen.

Happenstance has no enduring stance. It's merely instantaneous.

What's "this"? Is it one, or two? Maybe it's not one or two. Maybe you can't explain it! Here It Is! Appearance happens all at once. It IS the Great Happening. Why divide it up into happenings or appearances?

C'est tout! There's nothing more than this. Nothing IS it. In its great IS-ness it is No-thing and No-being at all. Welcome to the Primordial Open Secret. Welcome to the Great Zen Jailbreak!

Friday, June 29, 2012

looking at a waterfall spray rainbows --
showered by cold drops of water
from the sheer cliff face

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Awake! Some Aphorisms by Wei Wu Wei

During the late sixties, Master Wei Wu Wei (really a wealthy Irishman nobleman named Terence Gray who was mainly known for his experimental theater) set out to give a syncretic summary of Zen, Tao and Vedanta dwelling on their common Source. Wei Wu Wei speaks of perceiving, which is instantaneous, as almost always falsified by conceiving, which leads to concepts and "objects." By returning to naked perceiving, we rejoin our Source and resolve all conceptual problems. This is exactly the same point made by Master Huang-Po, but Wei Wu Wei used more "up to date" philosophical language.

Master Wei Wu Wei's aphorisms and short essays were widely published in small Buddhist magazines in the United States at a time before "Zen" became the marketing tool it is now. In any case, it's doubtful that Wei Wu Wei ever did "Zazen." He simply woke up -- it seems this happened one night when he was looking at the starry sky. He used Taoist, Vedanta, Tibetan and Zen terminology to elucidate this Enlightenment, but without ever choosing one over the other. Anyway, the Vedic Rishis already knew all about Consciousness manifesting AS "everything." "Buddhism" introduced nothing new in this.

"No difference exists between sentient beings and Buddhas, Samsara and Nirvana, delusion and bodhi. Drop all forms to wake up!" Huang Po, quoted by Wei Wu Wei.

THAT which seeks to conceive and to name the unmanifested source of manifestation is precisely THIS: it is itself what it seeks.

Without Here or There, Was or Will be, When or Why, Who or What, Suchness is Such.

We are the perceiving and conceiving which as perceptions conceived are then so-labelled as objects.

Do we exist or do we not exist? There has never been anyone either to exist or not to exist. Or "anyone" to answer such a question.

Don't call it "meditation" if it is not, but if it is -- don't do it!

Return every thing to its source, to which it belongs, and which it has never left! That is the practice of non-practice.

That which hearing is -- is beyond thought, mind and body. Surangama Sutra, quoted by Wei Wu Wei.

All judgements and "problems" vanish when split-mind is made whole.

I am it, it is I. How, then, can I "see" it? There is no object there: therefore there cannot be any subject here.

Sentient beings are not there at all as such, as the Buddha pointed out in the Diamond Sutra, so how can they wake up?

If you suppose that anything is NOT Prajna, let me hear what it is. - Master Ta-chu Hui Ha, quoted by Wei Wu Wei.

"I" am not conscious of anything: never. "Consciousness" as such is all that I am.

I am no thing.

Everything cognised is just what is called "mind,"
And what is called "mind" is just the cognising of everything.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Can Kensho be induced? Can Satori be brought on?

Certainly they can! Ch'an Masters' sly, sometimes wild behavior and the hair-raisingly intense Rinzai Koan practice are examples of one and the other.

But let's see first as Zen people to the iron-like stability of Seiza-sitting (Mokuso), and majestic grounding in "Samadhi" -- since Kensho and Satori come and go like a shooting star, a sunflower, a dewdrop, a lamp at night, a cloud in the autumn sky, a shattering galaxy.

"Who Done It?"

"What did you say?" "Who are they?" "Who is writing all this?" Well, who is reading it? Who is there to do, or to appear to do, the one or the other? Really, really, what a question! Who indeed! Why, no one, of course; who could there be? Surely that is evident, axiomatic, elementary? From the beginning there has never been a single "who," as Hui Neng approximately said; "who," utterly absent noumenally, is ubiquitous phenomenally.

Whoever asks the question, that is "who"?'

He is the seeker who is the sought, the sought who is the seeker.

He done it!

-Master Wei Wu Wei

Samadhi of the Indescribable

Satori is essential to Zen but it isn't the essence of Zen. What is?

Resting calmly and aware in the Samadhi of the Inconceivable and Indescribable is the essence of Zen.

In this Samadhi the mind rests in the Mind-Nature, becoming its own pure and infinite circle. Dark Brilliance!

The Light can't be seen -- it's just Lighting that sees.

You cannot say "This is it," or that it comes or goes, or that anything that appears in or by it really is or is not. Who is blind, who is deaf? Who is awake? Who is still asleep?

Stumbling to bed, feeling your way along the wall, the Buddha and Patriarchs blink your wide open but sightless eyes.

Objects don't exist. Beings don't exist. The Infinite takes care of its own Infinity. Sometimes it pretends finitude, to hide its own Lighting beneath a heap of shit.

Laugh and play. Shake the snow out of your hair and we'll build a snow Buddha!

Crows flying,
caw caw caw --
the summer dandelion fluff glitters like confetti

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Shivering in the snow,
Hui-K'o cut off his arm:
"Pacify my mind!"

Bodhidharma said,
"Give it here!
No, you can't find it?

The Eye of Kensho

If you don't have the eye of kensho, it is impossible for you to use a single drop of the Buddha's wisdom . . . That is why I say: if upon becoming a Buddhist monk you do not penetrate the Buddha's truth, you should turn in your black robe, give back all the donations you have received, and revert to being a layman.

Don't you realize that every syllable contained in the Buddhist canon -- all five thousand and forty-eight scrolls of scripture -- is a rocky cliff jutting into deadly, poison-filled seas? Don't you know that each of the twenty-eight Buddhas and six Buddhist saints is a body of virulent poison? It rises up in monstrous waves that blacken the skies, swallow the radiance of the sun and moon, and extinguishes the light of the stars and planets.

It is there as clear and stark as could be. It is staring you right in the face. But none of you is awake to see it. You are like owls that venture out into the light of day, their eyes wide open, yet they couldn't even see a mountain were it towering in front of them. The mountain doesn't have a grudge against owls that makes it want to hide. The fault is with the owls alone.

You might cover your ears with your hands. You might put a blindfold over your eyes. Try anything you can think of to avoid these poisonous fumes. But you can't escape the clouds sailing in the sky, the streams tumbling down the hillsides. You can't evade the falling autumn leaves or scattering spring flowers.

-Master Hakuin

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Shakyamuni Buddha recommended a path of Dhyana (Zen) plus Direct Inquiry and Analysis.

As Shakyamuni was dying he refused to name a lineage successor. Instead, he said the Dharma was his successor, and that students should "Be a light for yourselves, go all out, work hard, attain liberation."

THIS would seem to settle all questions about which lineage is the right one, which teaching is the right one.

No lineage!

As for teachings, the Dharma is not a teaching, it's just Reality as revealed by Dhyana (Zen) and Direct Inquiry and Analysis.

No Self, No Lasting Phenomena. Clinging to what doesn't exist or last causes anguish. Releasing oneself from such clinging is Cessation of Anguish (Nirvana)!

What's the problem? This is simple. Anyone can do it. Ambitious people are at a disadvantage.

"Delightful is the Dharma. Delightful in the beginning, delightful in the middle, delightful at the end."

Let's do it! What fucking horseshit all the arguments and disputes are. If you're truly pursuing Dhyana plus Direct Inquiry you have no time for throwing your intellectual weight around or playing "Buddhist" games.

Aum Swasti!

"Ah!": Is the Non-Dual Free of Duality? Is Right View Different Than Wrong View?

(This is my response to a person I recently met on an online "chat board" devoted to Buddhism who claimed that Hakuin's "meditation-in-ACTION" is still dualistic, and that it is extremely important to proceed from the spontaneous "non-dual awareness" of satori to a fully understood "right view" of "Emptiness." Or, in a nutshell, that Zen isn't enough -- one must also study Madhyamaka-Prasangkika.)

Actually Hakuin's "meditation-in-ACTION" is not dualistic -- or rather, if it is dualistic it is just the inescapable Duality of the Non-Dual. I believe Hakuin-Zenji embodied what he meant on a poem-scroll where he describes pretty young girls returning from the tea fields with dirty feet and baskets of tea leaves, talking about getting a handsome husband. That's it! What else do you want?

(Note that by relying on my memory from seeing this scroll in the San Francisco Asian Art Museum I actually got the poem wrong. Either that, or it was translated differently. In any case, I spent my time gazing at the Enso itself and didn't pay much attention to the translation of the verses. As I found the poem on the Web, it actually goes like this:

Hammamatsu of Enshu
is a tea-growing district.
I want to marry off
my daughter there,
to pick fine tea leaves.

It's interesting how my mind turned it around so that for me the poem was about laughing young girls with dirty feet and baskets of tea leaves talking about wanting a husband!)

For Hakuin this scene in the tea-growing district was itself Realization, and there was nothing more to do about it, nothing to add or take away-- no "right view" or "wrong view."

Is gathering tea leaves right? Is getting a handsome husband wrong? Is the laughter of the girls right, wrong, both right and wrong, or neither right nor wrong?

Here we simply have Reality freed of fixation by labels.

Hakuin described his Great Satori thus: "The rhinoceros of Doubt fell over dead. It was just like looking at the palm of my hand, knowing it was the palm of my hand."

What is this kind of Great Knowing? Maybe it's even more wrong than right -- the inherent, confusing, demonic all-wrongness of Dualism as the free expression of Absolute Subjectivity, which can't be pinned down.

In comparison to That, emptiness has the color of dust. It's not even empty!

HOWEVER, my point was somewhat different than this. It's merely that after breakthrough to the non-dual one needn't stagnate in passivity nor study and develop a "right view."

One can instead throw oneself into the maw of this life of battles and miracles with refreshed energy, intensity and resolve, like the samurai general who resolved Joshu's "Mu" and then, having conquered all his fears of death, like a ferocious tiger drove the Mongol invasion out of Japan.

Tiger-like samurai generals solving "Mu" before going into battle, laughing girls with dirty feet coming home with baskets of tea leaves -- AH! This universe even at its strangest and most appalling is simply brilliant, resounding, awesome, lucid and wonderful. Lazarus laughs, cherry blossoms fly between cold raindrops, mountains respond to the temple bell in the darkness, and all the teachers fall over dead.

Friday, June 8, 2012

if your mind goes here
it can't go there
let it go
don't cling to anywhere
not falling down
falling in
rough wind
& among the cold raindrops
fir blossoms

Friday, May 18, 2012

Try The Awareness Experiment to Attain Kensho

Let's try an experiment in simple, direct Awareness. This experiment might be a Dharma gateway for you into true nonduality.

Empty your mind of stray and tormenting thoughts. Sit down, shut your eyes, and concentrate on trying to find your awareness in space.

If it's in your head, what part of your head is it in? See if you can find the center of your awareness. Can you?

Isn't it strange that your awareness seems to be as much "in" your chest, or shoulder, or feet, as it is inside your skull? Weird!

Doesn't it seem not to be "in" anywhere at all, nor "outside," but somehow free of both? Can you find the exact point where your awareness originates, any more than you can find where it lives?

Try bending forward with your eyes shut, concentrating intensely not on body sensations but on your awareness itself. What is it doing? Is anything happening to it?

Now straighten, just as slowly, to your former sitting posture. Did your awareness move in the least? Did it bend slowly forward when you did, then back? Or did it maintain the stillness of space itself?

Try it from side to side. Lean back, all with your eyes shut. You're aware of all this, clearly aware, but is the awareness moving at all?

Concentrate with the finest possible attention until you suddenly "get it."

What is this clear mysterious awareness that does not move when "you" move? Are you so sure who "you" are? Isn't it possible that "you" are merely this naked unmoving Awareness -- and nothing else?

When it seizes upon movement in its lightning like way, does it not forget itself for an instant and tend to become identified with what moves? And is this not the sudden birth of all your "thinking"?

Could this strange tendency of Awareness to forget itself in the midst of movement be the source of all the confusion and stress in life?


If done with sincerity and resolve, this Awareness experiment will give you a startling direct glimpse of the unchanging backdrop of all phenomenal changes and introduce you to the actual substance of your own"consciousness" -- the true Unborn Mind of ancient Zen.

This is not to say that your "defiled" consciousness is It. In absolute terms it is. But in practice, it isn't. An obscured light is still a light. But it's not the same as an unobscured light, now is it?

In order to taste the cold radish of emptiness, you will first have to let go of all dualistic religious teachings and, above all, cut away any craving for some elevated "spiritual" state or any special recognition from others.

Then natural wisdom will appear like a flash of lightning in the jaws of night.

How wonderful, deep in the night, to hear cold wind howling in the eaves!
Shake the snow out of your hair and we'll build a snow Buddha!


NOTE: It is really regrettable that the clear and vivid Mind-Dharma of Zen sometimes gets claimed as a possession by religious fanatics. More often than not, such people suffer from mental problems that manifest as a rigid, sectarian viewpoint and a pitiable and desperate clinging to mere words and concepts. Here, for example is an arrogant, presumptuous and condescending "comment" added onto this blog post by someone named "Tozen" -- a self-proclaimed spiritual messiah who runs his own blog called UnbornMindZen:

That is not Kensho. Kensho is Spirits first encounter with its own pure (unborn) self-nature (svabhava or zìxìng i chinese), which lies beyond the self-emtpty body consciousness generated by the skandhas. 

If you knew genuine Chán, by your own genuine kensho and the awesome light arised from such a powerful experience, you would know this and teach it accordingly. But I see no trace of it 'here'.
Having read some of your articles, I see you have a rare spiritual potential, but also great inner resistance against the genuine dharma. This is because your spirit is divided between the greta desire for the inner (Buddhanature) and the refusal to let go of the percieved samsara and its countless phenomena.

You are essentially your own worst obstacle (by cause of great vasana) before that which you desire most (Satori) which is the first enlightenment of many, that frees you from all forms of ignorance and suffering and paves the path to annutara-samhuak-sambodhi.

What you are doing with this 'blog' is that you are publically peacocking your deep desire to 'teach' and 'share'. But you have nothing of true essence to teach, much less share. You speak out of great ignorance and create difficult karma for yourself as you keep posting articles that reaches and 'misguides' sentients following your imaginary notion of Zen, beings whom like yourself desires to discover the supreme dharma within themselves.

You should deepen your study, preferably with a good spiritual guide (dharma master) and then offer advice to those of lesser abilities. Contemplate what I have written here and find your true nature accordingly.

Best regards,

Huh! Sadly, this is the type of "spiritually" fawning, dualistic horseshit that is all too common in SOME "Buddhist" religious circles. Make no mistake here: "Tozen's" stated conception of "the genuine dharma" is wildly anti-Zen. (By contrast, many of the remarks on his blog are actually interesting and quite valid. Once again, I seem to have brought out the online worst in someone.) Let's take these points one by one, not to be argumentative for argument's sake but to clarify the "Great Matter" for ourselves:

"Tozen" is right that the pure original self-nature is described by Zen as "unborn" -- but this is not to render it impossibly remote from life. It's because life itself is seen in kensho to be "unborn." All phenomena are unborn. (Of course they are. They appear only in Mind, and are caused only by Mind, and isn't Mind itself unborn?)

Because "Tozen" is shockingly ignorant of this basic Zen insight -- perhaps by the fault of an equally ignorant teacher embedded in some ignorant sectarian tradition -- he wrongly contrasts the pure self nature of the unborn reality (e.g. Naked Awareness) with a "self emtpty" [sic!] body consciousness generated by the skandhas." 

This is spiritual babble. According Zen, the so called skandhas generate absolutely nothing. How could what are, in the end, mere descriptive labels generate any kind of "consciousness" whatsoever? How could there be a "body consciousness" that is in essence different from Consciousness itself? When water freezes into ice cubes, it is still water. Vijnana is undercover Citta. 

"Tozen's" rigid view of Chan and his false assumptions about reality lead him into a dualism that would have made Mani blush, choosing to set the "Buddha Nature" against "perceived samsara and its countless phenomena" -- as if there were ever a choice to make between what has never for an instant been "two." "Samsara and Nirvana -- not a hair of difference!"

In a most un-Zen like style, "Tozen" then disparages the idea of human beings instantly "discovering the supreme dharma within themselves." Huh! What else is Zen but jikishin ninshin, kensho jobutsu--"seeing into one's nature, becoming a Buddha"? 

"Tozen" goes on, in his condescending way, to suggest that I study with a real Dharma Master -- as if I hadn't already! But the true Roshi is just your own clear Mind, is it not?  -- and advises me to "contemplate" the deep wisdom of his all-too derivative and fatuous remarks in order to find my true nature.

I say that "Tozen" should search out his true nature by carrying out the Awareness experiment with the resolve of a samurai going into battle. If done with sincerity and resolve, it MIGHT give him a startling direct glimpse of the unchanging backdrop of all phenomenal changes and introduce him to the actual substance of his own "consciousness." 

But in order to taste This -- which, like the takuan, may at first seem tasteless --  "Tozen" will first have to let go of his enslavement to dualistic religious teachings and, above all, cut away his deluded craving for some elevated "spiritual" state such as annutara-samhuak-sambodhi [sic], along with the various supernatural powers (siddhis) it is rumored to bring in its train. He will have to stop trolling to be recognized as some sort of spiritual Übermensch

Those who cannot serve a simple, refreshing bowl of tea tend to write ambitious and supposedly mind-bending sutras instead!

Weird Zen

The more one meditates on the deep nature of Intrinsic Awareness, the more mysterious It seems. For instance:

Where is It right now, in physical space?

In Zen there is always an instant when the mind stops and you break out in a cold, shivering sweat at the sheer vividness of This.

Joshu's "Mu" is really just the "natural freedom of the myriad Buddhas" and is in itself clear about everything. There is no point in trying to make anything special out of it.

This afternoon clumps of snow are falling from the tops of the tall Douglas firs. Crows are taunting each other wickedly. A big cloud just covered the sun. Ah!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Drinking tea out of iron teacups,
shattering the empty sky with a stick.
"Suffering arises out of the clear blue."


I am a Sahajayana:
I follow the Vajra path of bliss and naked ease.
Everything's just the same to me --
simple, boundless, beautiful, void.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Q. What is it?

A. It's two week intensive study with me via Skype, phone and texts-- or face to face, if you want to come up to the mountains of Oregon. Actually, face to face is best. Let's do that.

Q. What does it cost?

A. How much it costs is up to you, but I'd suggest about 10 grand in folding cash if you're serious about "shedding body and mind." If you can't afford 10 big ones, contact me anyhow if you like and maybe we can work something out. Maybe you could just cut off your arm, like Huike.

Q. What are you offering?

A. I'll teach you a series of energetic techniques that will set you on the right direction to realizing your True Self, sometimes poetically called "the True Flower." After this, it's up to you.

Q. Why would I want this?

A. Why wouldn't you? Usually, up until the last century, Zen practice was to attain kensho, which means directly seeing your inherent nature; Satori, actually experiencing it in a hair-raising way; and Daigo, the art of embodying and living it in everyday life. I can't promise you any of that. You may only gain a vague sense of the "True Flower." But you will receive techniques that, when practiced with resolve, will raise energy, free you from depression, anxiety and negative emotions in general, and put you on the path to realizing the subtlest and highest aspects of your dazzling original being. Note that I don't hold any teaching certificates in any religious school. Anyhow, Zen is about intuitive realization -- it cannot be faked or peddled. Once you glimpse the boundless splendor of truly realizing It, there will be no doubts at all. You'll see!

(Also note that I will soon be e-publishing a short treatise or "practical handbook" on all of these techniques [The Book of Zen & Haragei] so please don't fret if you don't have a bag full of cash to spend on some dubious quest for Enlightenment.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hannya Zen

Through Mind everything is suddenly manifest.

However, life often makes people forget this, and that is how Mugen (夢幻, dream, illusion) occurs and afterward holds sway as a karma of persons.

Due to a special kind of concentration the mind can realize Itself as Mind.

This concentration is attained by exhaustive efforts that involve dropping the mind of illusion that jumps from thing to thing, thereby realizing Itself with the greatest intensity in a single instant and transmitting its essence directly to other minds.

All of this, however, is still within the place of Mugen. Yet from within the place of Mugen, and as the role-playing of karma, it manifests the True Law as a mysterious, abrupt act.

This is the Flower. "Hidden, it is the Flower; once revealed, it is not."

It has to be kept dark (secret), especially from "oneself." Unthought. Simply done, attained, experienced. This is the basis of its manifesting.

Nakedly Awake Being

Gazing into middle distance;
relaxed, at ease, energetic;
dropping all "thoughts"
-- nakedly Awake Being, what joy and bliss!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Total Night

A blazing mass of red flowers
obliterates the whole universe
plunging the Buddha's mind and body
into total night --

yet! yet!

Turn and Look Resolutely Upstream of the Saha World

Your pure Being has become lost
in the tangle and detail of dreams.
Return in a single instant to the Great Source
and live blissfully in supreme wakefulness.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dragon Samadhi on Mount Sumeru

Dragon-samadhi -- highly energetic Ki rises in barely muted splendor within the Lucid Clarity of Muga Mushin (no self, no mind)

The beautiful and awe-inspiring direct realization of impermanence.

"Emptiness" just means impermanence and no-substance. Melt, ice cube -- turn to water. Solidify, water -- turn to ice!

Hot day, crazed blue sky -- a cold and blissful wind blows through the pine trees.

The method of Zen: One turns gently yet decisively from grasping onto perceptions of "beings and things" to simple, wide-awake and vivid absorption in Great Clarity, Great Space.

Do things appear in This? Do beings appear in Being? No doubt. Much is wildly appearing and happening all the Time!

"Life goes up and down, back and forth -- what is it that doesn't move at all?"

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Zen Spring And the Crazed Shadows of Blossoms

Viewing Blossoms at a Mountain Temple

The road enters the green mountains near evening's dark;
Beneath the white cherry trees, a Buddhist temple
Whose priest doesn't know what regret for spring's passing means--
Each stroke of his bell startles more blossoms into falling.

Writing a Spell to Protect Blossoms

Wind and rain just as the blossoms are falling!
I laugh as I write an incantation to hang on the flowering branches
People returning home sobering up from their wine will have a hard time reading this--
Slanting across the sparse plum shadows, a poetic charm in Sanskrit.

Keijo Shurin, from Zen Poems of the Five Mountains translated by David Pollack.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Buddha's Direct Pointing at Awakened Mind Nature

Buddha pointed directly at the splendid, radiant, unconquerable Mind-Nature.
Is that the same as thoughts?
No. It is not. Yet thoughts can also reveal it in glimmers.
The Infinity of Nirvana is yours right now, if you are bold enough to claim it.
How do I claim it, you ask? By breaking through.
Put your sandal on a turtle's back/the essence is clear, like those red flowers./When did you ever not "get it"?
Ummon, on getting asked "What is Buddha," cried, "Dried shit stick."
Who am I? A simpleton who laughs a lot.
Can you grasp empty space? Can you move This?
Muga Mushin -- boiling surf hits the rocks./An osprey stands still in the blinding fog.

Monday, April 30, 2012

wildflowers in hell

Hey! Liberate yourself with Zen, and you won't be the slave of the bewildered thinking-discriminating process.

A single thought arises
and you are plunged into the Three Realms.
A single thought disappears
and the Three Realms melt away into nothing.

The "one thought" is the origin of the ten thousand things.
Drop this "one thought" and the ten thousand things vanish -- clear sky!
-Takuan Soho

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Who is this nobody?
A dream of snow.
A broken wildflower.
Who knows?

No Cut, Nothing Is Cut

There is great suffering in life.
Shakyamuni cut his hair and left home
to find the way beyond it.
What anguish.
Zui, zui, zui; shaku, shaku, shaku!


Luring a cat with the tip of your tongue --
Cast away all discriminating mind and tell me:
Is It at war? Is It at peace?


When your bow is broken
and all the arrows are gone --
then, shoot with your whole being.
Shoot! Shoot!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The nature of this writing is Absolute Writing;
the nature of this Zen is Absolute Zen.

Hot at dusk, cold in the morning.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Was Shakyamuni A Clear Light Yogin?

When he saw the morning star,
he exclaimed, "All beings' eyes are opened!
There is nobody who is not Buddha."
For a long time he just sat there --
smiling, blissful, contemplating Nirvana.
Huh. Should he go on living in the forest,
Listening to the owls hoot hoot hoot?
Or must he go back out into the shit,
padding the roads on his big bare feet,
to try and get "other people" to experience This, too?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Stacking up firewood in cold shade under the eaves
as birds sing crazily in the big pine.
Cherry blossoms flying on the spring breeze!
The pure sound of water penetrates everywhere.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There Is Awareness -- Or Is There?

"There is" Awareness. Can you say there "is" anything else? It's just This. Before thinking breaks It down into beings & things, subjects & objects, "there is" the mysterious, shocking immediacy of sensing, mind-ing, etc.

Zen only points to This Here Now -- not as an objective fact, but as the natural state & Absolute Nature of Awareness. One might say that we humans have created our problems by departing from This Here Now in the quixotic attempt to freeze Experiencing-Awareness-Enjoyment into "permanent, graspable, comprehensible names-forms."

Can you grasp a sound? Or a color? Here's a poem for you:

"Thickly growing bamboo stalks
don't obstruct the rushing stream.
A vast, blue mountain
doesn't hold the drifting clouds."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Just As It Is

Everything's here, just as it is,
and can be instantly realized as such.
I stretch out my arm,
& that's It.
I see & hear,
& my seeing & hearing are Not Seeing, Not Hearing,
& that's it, too.
Get it? See it now. Don't blink!
It's all real. There's no problem.

As for the rest --
endless speculation in words,
writing beautiful texts --
that's It, too,
but in a more complicated way,
not so instant & vivid as This-Here-Now.
A bird's voice leaps out of space.
A bamboo pole thunks on rock.


The Real Living Truth of Zen

Don't divide yourself up. Do everything naturally, effortlessly from within the Absolute and AS the Absolute.

The fury of the absolute.

The quick sound and the form of the absolute.

THIS is the real living truth of Zen. I know what it is for me. What is it for you?

The Inconceivable State of the Tathagatas

When you enter the Tathagata's Inconceivable State of Suchness, various distinctions disappear. What is "mind"? Who exists to be scornful? What can ever threaten you? Is it possible in this inconceivable state to hold a grudge, to take anything "personally?" Is it possible to "hold" anything in this state? If so, what would it be, and why do you want to hold it? Before this, weren't you just like someone dreaming about a scary tiger? When you wake up, you're not dreaming anymore. Dream, tiger, and dreamer, all gone in a flash! All can realize this. It's as close to you as the nose on your face. Welcome everybody! Be cheerful and gentle with each other. Did any Buddha ever "teach" anything apart from this?

Shake the snow out of your hair, and let's build a snowman.

Naked Sensation Occurring In Bare Space

Touch the back of your head, feeling it with your fingers. Where, now, is your Awareness in relation to your head? To your fingers? To your hair? To your eyelids?

And where is your mind in all this?

Can Awareness really be a sensation of this or that or is it only the spontaneous having of sensations?

Is anything really being "had" by anyone, or is it all just naked sensation occuring in bare space, inexplicably wonderful, like a deep booming bell that contains all notes and all tones and all colors in a single vibration?

I have a humble poem for you:

"Dropping all these stupid labels
that don't stick worth a crap anyway,
Void is suddenly not neither Void nor not-Void.
Wonderful! A demon's hair raising Dharma Realm."

"There Is Nothing Further To Be Said About Him"

"All dharmas are truly non-existent in one sense and not non-existent in another sense. In the first point of view they are although apparently existing, de facto non-existing. In the second point of view they are although apparently non-existing, de facto not non-existing. That is why the Sage is as a hollow void. He cherishes no-knowledge. He remains in this world of impermanence and usefulness, however he abides in the realm of non-action. He is situated within the walls of what is expressible, and yet he lives in the open space that transcends all speech. He is silent and alone, empty and open; his form of existence cannot be covered in words. There remains nothing further to be said about him." - Master Seng Ch'ao

Mumyo Soku Hossho

True reality is not hidden from you -- where would it hide, that which pervades all space, that which is everywhere and everything?

The bamboo flute coming alive in your hands, with your breath, in a sudden clear tone, a sudden thrill as if it had been possessed by your specific vibration of ki energy, as if this flute had become your true voice, the buddha's voice, the living voices of the dead, a living serpent, and then with that one note and one breath all sense of separate self vanished and you were no other than everything, inter-being, moving yet still, all vast and silent and pervasively clear like uncreated fire, then all night seeing hearing touching tasting smelling everything as the Dharmakaya, thisness, unbroken and not even fused because never having fragmented, so untroubled and complete and eerily clear as total darkness --

Given Infinite Universes

Given infinite universes (waves appearing out of the Void), it is inevitable that your consciousness will reappear an infinite number of times, though each time may feel to you like the unique one and only time. It is also possible that you right now are just the selection of a single life out of infinite possibilities, a collapse of wave-function that produces you along with a whole particularized universe out of pure potentiality. Each person and each universe would be a such a collapse. It's also possible that you are actually living simultaneously in this and all other universes as every possible form of sentient being and in each of these limited forms you assume that you are "separate" and "unique" when you're really nothing but Empty Uncreated Consciousness. It's because you're empty and uncreated that you can take on any form at all throughout infinite time and space universes in all possible dimensions.

"Singing Madly in Vine Clothing"

Mugwart springs up together on hillsides and in the wasteland.
The families of orchids grow thickly on the south side of mountains.
The sun progresses like the journey of a flying arrow.
In the cycle of the four seasons, people go to death.
The leaves of the willow open in Spring rain.
The flower of the chrysanthemum withers in the autumn frost.
Autumn cicada cry in the fields.
Crickets sadly chirps behind a curtain.
Pine and cypress break on south passes (i.e., between peaks).
In northern cemeteries white aspen are scattered.
People are born and die in solitude .
(Like) lightening is this impermanence (mujō).
Wild geese and swallows alternately come and go.
The red peach formerly dropped the fragrance of the red flower.
The beautiful is robbed by the enemy named time.
Gray hair is not a lucky omen.
People of the past are not seen today.
People of today, why grasp for longevity?
Heat avoids the blowing wind over rocks.
Coolness follows the mist of the waterfall.
Singing madly in vine clothing
In a house of rocks and pine, drinking (wine) and chanting (verse). [11]
If thirsty one drinks ravine water.
If hungry one eats the food of hazy mist.
White Okera (白朮, a medicinal plant for longevity) conditions the heart and stomach.
Yellow Spirit (黄精, a medicinal plant for longevity) fills up the bones and flesh.
The colorful rainbow shines on the mountain.


Sunday, April 22, 2012


"Emotions" are just momentary knots formed in Ki-Energy, the Primordial Resonance that flows through your body like a two-sided waterfall with an infinite vortex in the center. By practicing Haragei or some other form of Ki or Qi training (T'ai Chi, or Qi Gong, anyone? How about some sword practice or shakuhachi playing?), an ordinary dull person becomes capable of untying the knots and dwelling in the clear flow of Energy itself. Such a Tao-imbued Sage is called "one who rides a white tiger on the winds." Dropping all reliance on "thoughts" is the Gateway to this Vastness.

Mind is Dharma

The Lankavatara Sutra says:
"Getting rid of the discriminating mind is Nirvana."
In Nirvana there is nothing to grasp.
Nothing! In the ten thousand directions, nothing.
Hiding a heron in the moonlight,
filling a silver bowl with snow.
You don't have to prove anything to anybody.

Walking Dhyana

Walking meditation. As you walk just be aware of how your perspective moves -- forward but also up and down. Be aware of how everything is felt, attained, realized, all at once in wide-awakeness without any concepts or ideas and without special effort. You are walking. Walking is you. Everything is gone and here and yet it never was here or gone.

Cut Off Your Own Head

Try some "cutting-off-your-own-head" meditation. Here's how. You kneel in Seiza and bring all your attention along with the energetic flow of your breath decisively and all at once, yet softly, with no special effort (like a cut in kendo) down to the tanden (the one-point in the lower belly). This cuts off your head. If any thoughts occur now, they occur like miracles in space, dreams or hallucinations in the middle of the night, nowhere and at no time. Aware, clear, relaxed, and inspired. No problems. No mind. No body, even. Just the sense of breathing and moving around or sitting still. Once you've "cut off your own head" then you can do whatever you like. After this, meditation isn't even meditation. It isn't anything at all.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"The Dharma Killing Tiger Spirit of Zen"

(I originally posted these notes on my "Dharma Killing Tiger" Website in response to ferocious and constant attacks on my Twitter account by a cult group devoted to a particular insane Tulku in the autumn of 2009. The nature of Zen is "either you get it, or you don't." Sadly, they didn't get it.)

नमः समन्त वज्राणां चण्ड महारोषण स्फोटय हूं त्रट हां मां
na maḥ sa maṃ ta va jrā nāṃ caṃ ḍa ma hā ro ṣa ṇa spho ṭa ya hūṃ traṭ hāṃ māṃ
namaḥ samanta vajrānāṃ caṇḍa mahāroṣaṇa sphoṭaya hūṃ traṭ hāṃ māṃ


"Dharma-killing Tiger:/stick your head in its maw to ask the question/what is my 'true self' (honshin)"

"a clear bell ringing in the unmoving, empty sky" /this page is dedicated to Clara Llum Roshi


Please skip the following note if you are here in a state of open and childlike curiosity; read it if you came with a greedy, judging mind

"THE GREAT DRAGON LOVING GIFTED [ONE]", a Sage/Deity born spontaneously from the Womb of the Great Tao, watches over this site both wrathfully and lovingly - this Inconceivable Being is wrathful to the malicious intent of who would try to harm and meddle, loving to the Great Nature, the Golden Vastness we all fundamentally are - OM AH HUNG NAMO GURU DEVA DAKINI SARVA SIDDHI HUNG! Tiger-Spirit Zen has a special inner relationship with this power. Such is the Directly Realized Mind Transmission that omits nothing, not even mountains and clouds.

If your mind is at all impure you will consider this note a threat. If your mind is bewildered you will consider it a bewilderment. If your mind is scheming, you will consider this a scheme. If your mind is doubting, you will doubt it. If your mind is clear, you will see the clarity-- and laugh with joy.


This page takes a nonreligious, nonsectarian stance: the welcoming nature of true Zen! "Making snowmen, lumps of coal for eyes/carrot for a nose:/Broomstick to sweep away false deluded mind/What fun at night, to hear the wind howling in the deep eaves!" All are welcome, all can learn, all can teach, all can love and rejoice. "People who are obsessed with teachers will never realize It." What is "It"? "It" is just your open original Mind Nature. I am not saying anything especially shocking here. This was said by Bodhidharma and by all the Chinese Zen Masters. "If I am wrong, all the Chan Masters are wrong!/Bodhidharma glares at you with wrathful eyes!" "Sudden" or "Instantaneous" Enlightenment is the Fundamental Way. Clarifying is hard work and comes afterward. Bodhidharma was already Enlightened when he sat down to face a wall for nine years. No teacher can give you this: the Mind-Seal is everywhere. No teacher of any lineage can promise you Enlightenment by their power; Enlightenment will come only when you yourself make the supreme effort to shatter thinking, see the starry sky at noon. Why would you believe anyone who promises to give you what you deeply and inherently already have? Hilarious, right?

Some teachers merely drain their students of both ki-energy and money in order to further their own regrettably very selfish and scheming types of practice. They then use their ki-drained, zombie like "students" as "foot" soldiers to try to harry and bewilder other Dharma teachers of different lineages and traditions, or no-lineages and no-traditions. This is really pathetic! Give up your complicated schemes, make the supreme effort on your own, shatter "thinking" and revel in the freshness of your Supreme Awareness! "Grand weather we're having, isn't it?:/Come out to play!"


Tiger Spirit Says, and I quote:



I have a humble saying for you: "Instead of asking of me why I am think I am Enlightened/ you should ask yourself why you think you're not Enlightened!" Can your teacher answer that one for you? Thought not. Stare at a wall until your eyes bug out, answer it yourself! "Overnight, water freezes to ice in a tin pail/Aeons of samsara result from trying to harm anybody./Hell-beings are Buddhas, but they have a long way to go to realize it!" Satori is Mind chewing on Mind. That's one tasty radish!

Clarifying your nature takes time. People you meet along the way are very beautiful. Others may try to get in your way a little. The Vast Heart isn't free of dust. It loves dust. It loves to dance with dust motes.

Cure your Mind of the sickness of thinking, and the Original Mind Nature is like this: BONG . . . BONG . . . BONG . . . No beginning, no ending, no middle. Every "Mind moment" is like a great big iron bell bonging in the "Empty Sky" -- complete, total, perfect, why meddle with it? It just resounds and brings joy. It doesn't do anything else.

Don't cling to the past moments. Don't yearn for the "brighter day" tomorrow that will never conform to your made up ideas. It's all just Thus. What's the problem?

When something happens to me I look at it clearly. I don't try to react. I don't pretend anything. I don't take the blame or the praise. I am just right there, yet in another sense ten billion miles away -- bowing to the cold wind in ten directions, hair made of bronze.

Hail Buddhas! Hail ordinary confused people! You're all A-Okay in my book. When you sleep, sometimes your pillow gets dirty.

Shake the snow out of your hair and wake up, okay?