The pinpoint perspective of the present moment can feel so sharp but ultimately always impossible to fathom and out of our reach. As Erich von Hungen writes, it is simultaneously hard and soft, early and late, tiny and all-encompassing 'like a pocket-sized Big Bang.'
"I saw a man walking his dog, throwing a ball for him/her. The moment was simple and joyful."
The true stillness that is at the root of human wisdom and the Taoist endeavor is a positive state, in as much as it is not the absence of anything nor a resistance to anything. Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu, author of foundational Taoist texts, writes in this poem: "The sage is quiet because he is not… Continue reading Chuang Tzu’s Action and Non-Action
'If nothing's here, nothing's there', writes poet Stephen Dunn about the instinct to believe that happiness is a place other than where we are, over the horizon, up in the sky, on the streets of a foreign city. If you are expecting to find salvation there, he says, all you'll find are reflections of the… Continue reading There’s No Salvation in Elsewhere
As it says at the beginning of this text, the teaching of no-self is a tough one to come to terms with. It's one of the most anti-intuitive notions Zen students eventually come across, and it takes some investigation and experimentation to begin to pick apart. Zen priest and prolific Zen author Brad Warner walks… Continue reading There Is No ‘I’ In Self
Huineng was an illiterate woodcutter who became a Zen master and the sixth patriarch of Ch'an in China. His defining work is the Platform Sutra which emphasizes the importance of direct experience over intellect and learning in the study of Zen. In this extract from the second chapter of the sutra, entitled 'Prajna', he talks… Continue reading From Huineng’s Platform Sutra: What Does Maha Mean?
The concepts of form and emptiness - shiki and ku - as put forward in the Heart Sutra - the Hannya Shingyo - are among the most difficult ideas in Zen, especially for new students. Here, they are tackled by Taisen Deshimaru, the monk who travelled from Japan to Paris in the 1960s and eventually… Continue reading Taisen Deshimaru and the Doctrine of Emptiness