Friday, March 22, 2013

Master Dried Shit Stick Teaches How to Attain Satori in a Single Afternoon

If an ordinary man . . . could only see the five elements of his consciousness as void; the four physical elements as not constituting an 'I'; the real Mind as formless and neither coming nor going; his nature as something neither commencing at his birth nor perishing at his death, but as whole and motionless in its very depths; his Mind and environmental objects as one – if he could really accomplish this, he would receive Enlightenment in a flash. He would no longer be entangled by the Triple World; he would be a World-Transcendor. -Huang Po

Master Dried Shit Stick sometimes teaches an infallible method of attaining Satori. He claims this can be done in a single afternoon (a single instant, actually, but there is some working up to it). I sketch it out here with some trepidation, because it can be dangerous. One person I know tried it and went stark raving mad, or at least felt he was going stark raving mad. Nobody else noticed anything, which annoyed him a little. Luckily, this was not the case -- after a few days he snapped back completely and once again felt like his usual self. He said he was never going to touch Zen again. Ever.

Master Dried Shit Stick admitted that this method is not necessarily superior to Za-zen. "Sit down, face a wall, cut off thinking." That's what I'd always heard him teach before. But this method has some new twists, and the advantage of freshness.

Master Dried Shit Stick claims he invented this method after reading an aphorism by Nietzsche: "If you gaze long enough into the Abyss, the Abyss will gaze back into you" then recalling Joshu's "oak tree in the courtyard" koan. It occurred to him that a koan is the Abyss, and that a tree could be used just like a koan. Anyhow, here it is. At your own risk:

-Raise strong Ki, preferably by walking at a fast but not exhausting pace.

-Stop and gaze intensely at a tree (preferably a pine tree).

While gazing at the tree, suddenly cut off thinking and completely enter the resulting sensation of Great Doubt ("reckless bravado" is needed at this point; also, please note that the Great Doubt is not a matter of intellectual questions, since one's head should feel "completely empty as if all thoughts were burnt up in the great fire of your penetrating gaze" but of "a hair-raising sensation like what you might experience in confronting a tiger about to spring"; furthermore, this gaze should take in the tree all at once without breaking it down into parts or dwelling on details.)

"See it as it is; see it completely. Don't let any thoughts intervene. Don't drift off into a reverie. Don't fall into a trance. There it is! Do you see it?"

When asked what to do if this technique does not work, if one feels hopelessly stuck, Master Dried Shit Stick laughed and offered one further piece of advice: "See it [the tree] with your ears, or your tongue. Hear it with your eyes."!).

If one doesn't attain Satori using this method in a single instant of a single afternoon, Master Dried Shit Stick says that one should do it at the same time every day, always using the same tree, until the big breakthrough. "Exert yourself to the utmost. Strive on! Strive on!" (Huangbo).

At a certain point the Abyss will engulf you ("the most terrifying instant of your life -- don't draw back") followed by a flash of illumination ("laughing and crying, a cold sweat -- these are the usual signs") leading to "joy-filled amazement" and rebirth into a fantastic and amusing new world. "Strange and harmless walks in the midst of life." "A cold March wind playing with white clouds."

"Profound is the state of Treeness, lofty and beyond illusions!"

Thursday, March 21, 2013


1.  Reality is appearing right here now, complete as it is. Or incomplete, if you prefer. It is not a product of teachings. It has nothing to do with ideas or beliefs. Nothing is held back in this instantaneousness.

2.  "Is" just means this -- appearing right here now. Can you experience it? Yes. Can you grasp it? Can you pick up a broom and sweep all the dust from empty space?

3.  This experience of isness is Enlightenment. Life itself, with all its sorrows and difficulties, is Supreme Realization.

4.  Does or can anything, then, ever obstruct this instantaneous Reality? Yes! Teachings, ideas, beliefs, worries and expectations when clung to by the so-called "mind" obstruct Reality and thereby create feelings of confusion and un-ease. [Takuan Soho calls this "moshin," the false mind or mind of delusion, as opposed to "honshin," which is the natural and inherently self-liberated Mind. "The Original Mind, Honshin, is the mind which does not stop anywhere or become fixed to or identified with anything but pervades the whole body and being. When this Original Mind becomes fixed on particular things it fails to function and becomes Moshin, ignorance and suffering. Original Mind is like water, flowing freely into various shapes, while deluded mind is rigid like ice."  Honshin and Moshin are not opposites. Nor are they "one." There is a pragmatic difference between water and ice. But they are "not two." Here is another way of putting it: the Mind of Instantaneous Reality is always just the Mind of Instantaneous Reality, but when it gets distracted by and mis-identified with particular phenomena it becomes the Small Mind of Delusion without ever ceasing to be the Mind of Instantaneous Reality. However, trying to understand this wonderful truth with the Small Mind of Delusion is useless, because Moshin believes only in the Either/Or world of name-and-form, made up of rigid distinctions and opposites such as "good and evil," "existence and non-existence" and so on and so forth. So if a Zen Master like Master Dried Shit Stick tries to explain it to you, you'll scoff that it's not rational. It isn't rational; that's a fact! It just is. Stop believing in the "rational" dogma of this Small Mind of Delusion and you'll wake up instantaneously, like a thunderclap out of a clear blue sky!]

5.  An indescribable ease and bliss is achieved simply by dropping any and all adherence to the entire mass of teachings, ideas, beliefs, worries and expectations. (Drop it all! Or better yet -- burn it all up like the trash it is!) [Note Mumon Ekai's somewhat overheated evocation of this simple, indescribable state: 如奪得關將軍大刀入手、逢佛殺佛、逢祖殺祖、於生死岸頭得大自在、向六道四生中遊戲三昧 "It will be as if you snatch away the great sword of the valiant general Kan'u and hold it in your hand. When you meet the Buddha, you kill him; when you meet the patriarchs, you kill them. On the brink of life and death, you command perfect freedom; among the sixfold worlds and four modes of existence, you enjoy a merry and playful samadhi." -Mumonkan]

6.  Once you've woken up to This, live like a simpleton! Just look at what is in front of your face and don't create concepts about it; act in a direct and minimal way according to whatever changing circumstances happen to demand.