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.