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!

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