Sunday, December 11, 2011

Altered Muse: Silence really is golden

This is a blog post from a new acquaintance, Celina, the author of a wonderful blog, Altered Muse, who just discovered what meditation really is. She participated in a rapidly growing form of psychological therapy, MBSR, where Mindfulness is used to treat various forms of stress-related problems including those experienced by the returning combat veterans with PTSD. The brilliant Ph.D from MIT and founder of MBSR, Jon Cabat-Zinn, is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. 

I hope you enjoy this post and take some time to visit Celina's blog and personal website. Be well!


Yesterday I spent the majority of my day not speaking. No it wasn't a silent treatment directed at my husband, but a series of exercises in pure blissful stillness. I am rounding out my 8th and final week of a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class based on John Cabit Zinn's curriculum and approach to meditation. The class has been an eye opening experience on how many of us (myself very much included) get skillfully good at going through our days on auto-pilot. Everything from the way we eat to the way we drive can become incredibly zoned out. The exercises I participated in yesterday were something I did not ever envision myself sitting through so peacefully. Which led me to the realization that I am behind in checking off one item on my life list: Learn the Art of Meditation.

Here is what I now know to be true about meditation:

You don't "learn" to meditate. Meditation is not a destination. It is a practice. It is not a skill, it just is what it is.

Meditation is about being gentle with yourself and what you can do in this moment. There are no "shoulds."

Taking a walk through the woods listening to the sound of the wind in the trees and noticing the color of the grass is a meditation.

Sitting quietly in your car focusing on one breath, then another.....and then another before stepping out into your busy day is a meditation. 

Placing your attention on your toes and breathing with that tiny part of your body is a meditation. 

Eating your food one slow bite at a time, tasting, feeling, smelling and seeing is a meditation.

Meditation is not about thinking about absolutely nothing, but instead an opportunity to compassionately reel yourself back in as your mind slips away.

You see, what I've learned over this past year is that I do in fact already have everything inside of me I need to know to practice meditation. Every day life is a meditation if you allow it to be. If you practice noticing, sensing, feeling then you are practicing a form of meditation. Something I was not aware of when I was plunking down wishes on my life list. I realize now it isn't a skill that can be learned but an artful practice that occurs moment to moment to moment every day of our lives. 


Saturday, December 10, 2011

What is the Dantian?


There are three Dantians (dan tiens). The Lower Dantien is the one referred to as your "Center' and is where chi is accumulated and stored. All movement originates and is directed from here. Enjoy!



What is the Dantian?

There are numerous references to the dantian in T’ai Chi Ch’uan practice, as well as in other martial arts and in Chinese methods of meditation and self-cultivation. In Japanese practices, it is referred to as the hara.
The word dantian, also written as tan t’ien, usually refers to the general area in the lower abdomen, beneath the navel and about one-third of the way in the abdominal cavity.

It is sometimes associated with the acupuncture point Guanyuan, Origin Pass, conception vessel 4. The dantian is also sometimes associated with conception vessel 6, qi hai, sea of qi or ocean of breath.

The word dantian translates as cinnabar fields, or elixir field. Alchemists in ancient China, as in the West, were interested in transmuting base metals into gold. Others were interested in transforming the base materials of life into a golden elixir for immortality or long life. Others sought higher stages of illumination or to create a soul. Another use is to transmute the qi in the dantian into spirit, or shen.

For the average practitioner, it involves improving health and reinvigorating internal organs. Sometimes massaging the dantian helps to stabilize one’s emotions or to improve internal organ function. A famous Japanese healer diagnoses diseases using the patient’s dantian.
Since the dantian is so fundamental to the culture, there are many uses and locations described. There are three primary dantian. One is in the abdomen, one in the heart, area and the upper one in the location of the third eye, or brain.

Sometimes one of the dantians is described as being at the top of the head, at the Bahui acupuncture point, a second at the navel, and a third at the Huiyin acupuncture point at the bottom of the torso between the legs.
The dantian at the navel, or in the lower abdomen, is sometimes described as including the important mingmen area at the back, between the kidneys, roughly opposite the navel.
The dantian in the lower abdomen is said to be the residence of primordial qi, or the yuan qi, the energy that each person receives from their parents.

This inheritance is the foundation of life, and as one matures, it is consumed as people use it in daily life. People learn to get other energy from food, air, and their environment for daily life.
T’ai Chi Ch’uan and meditation are said to be two methods of replenishing this original qi. During daily life, energy from the dantian is drawn upward and used by intellectual activity. If properly used, some of the energy re-circulates throughout the body, returning to the abdomen.

Too often it remains in the head, causing distress or disease. Often, when people get emotionally upset, it can mean that their qi has risen to their emotional or mental centers, where it stagnates.
In T’ai Chi Ch’uan and meditation, one tries to "sink" the qi, or energy, into the lower abdomen. Of course, one cannot sink all of the qi. The idea is to help recirculate the qi through the dantian.

For most beginners, there is no specific feeling in the dantian and no feeling of energy there. So, it is hard for them to comprehend. The practitioner may be told to put their mind in their lower abdomen. This also is not that easy to do for a beginner, or even an advanced practitioner. But it is easy to say.

It sometimes helps to be aware of the abdominal wall moving out and in as you breathe. This awareness helps to give a focus point. But don’t make a judgement whether it is too little or too much.There are many ways to work with the dantian, including rotating it and coordinating the rotation with movements as practiced in the Chen style. There are many variations on this.Most styles just let the energy sink to the dantian. Then the movements will naturally activate and massage the dantian.

The important thing is not to try to force the energy or the mind. The first principle is relaxed awareness. Even awareness of one’s own body will help to release qi and let it gently return to the lower abdomen.
Over time, one may experience some fullness or heat in the lower abdomen, but this is not a measure of success or failure. With reasonably good practice over time, qi will accumulate in the dantian.
The abdomen should always be kept relaxed, but as qi accumulates from daily practice, it does become "strong," like a drum during movement.

This condition may exist even in a relaxed state. But it is self-defeating to try to create this artificially by force or try to make it become strong.

Keep in mind that teachers are often limited in what they can say about this and other complex practices because they are often talking to beginners and people they do not know well. So, they can only speak in the simplest terms lest the students try too hard, do the wrong thing, and injure themselves because they are inexperienced.
So, the beginner should listen with this in mind and continue practice with common sense. Later, they can ask for clarification based on their experience.

Like all internal practices, this is not a procedure where day by day you get better and better in a linear fashion. It is an organic process with delays and errors and gradual development. Your development depends on your own abilities and efforts, like everything else. You cannot expect a teacher to always want to or be able to tell you what to do next in this process, since you are dealing with yourself in a global perspective.

Even more important than the teacher or the result is training yourself to consistently search for insight and to always keep trying. Proper humility helps to preempt impatience.•—Marvin Smalheiser

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Six Poems on Living in the Mountains

Six Poems on Living in the Mountains

I've got a little picture in my mind of a clean and quiet place.
Everywhere you look it's completely natural.
The house is made of plaited rushes.
There's a good half-acre for growing tubers and flowers.
Beautiful birds perch on cliffs
That encase a few clouds that hang around green peaks.
The world's red dust won't be able to get up here.
Simple elegance is better than saintliness or spirituality.

Can joy be found in the mountains?
Let me tell you. There's more joy in the mountains
Than anywhere else.
Pines and bamboos perform sacred chants.
The songs of Sheng flutes are played by birds.
In the trees, monkeys climb for fruit.
In the ponds, ducks cavort with lotus lilies.
This escape from the ordinary world
Month by month and year by year
Eliminates the hindrances to Enlightenment.

Don't try to stand tall in the courtyards of fame.
In the mountains such dreams fade away.
Your body stands on its own when it's up with the clouds.
Your heart pulls away from worldly attachments.
The moon that I love clears a path through the pines
And guides a stream right to the bamboo gate.
Naturally, this is nothing short of amazing.
How could you disparage it... or ever tire of the sight?

In the mountains there's nothing at all which prohibits
Dreams of cooking millet during afternoon naps.
If you're lazy by nature, you won't brood about problems.
You'll make light of the body and won't fear the cold.
Chrysanthemums grow by the three ancient paths.
A few planted plum trees make the whole yard fragrant.
Engagements are blessedly short.
Leisure is blessedly long.

Just wake up from an afternoon nap in a grass hut.
Drag a walking stick and let it bounce free and easy.
Lean on a rock and watch the clouds rise.
Listen to the pine saplings and hear the sound of waves.
When the forest is dense, no guests pass by.
When the roads are dangerous, they're only used for gathering firewood.
The place is so pristine and cool
How could it fail to quench my mind's furnace of cares?

People complain of a hard life in the mountains.
I don't think it's much different from the hardships of anywhere else.
A clay oven burning birch twigs,
A stone cauldron boiling wild sprouts.
It seems that you've only just picked the chrysanthemums
That grow in the three months of autumn
When it's time to view the flowers of March.
Pity more the moon that night after night
Is forced to entertain society.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Zen, Yoga, Gurdjieff- perspectives on inner work: Be the grass

This is an excellent blog post from a student/teacher of the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff - a Sufi Master who developed a distinctive Practice, a Way, to become One again with our True Nature. The title says it all so I will let this wonderful blog by Lee van Laer take it from here. Enjoy!


 ~ By  Lee van Laer, a member of the New York Gurdjieff Foundation

This morning, I was pondering the role of time, and ended up reading part of Dogen's Uji,  or, “existence–time.”

 In the Tanahashi translation (Shambhala, 2011), we hear:

“Know that in this way there are myriads of forms and hundreds of grasses [all things] throughout the entire earth, and yet each grass and each form itself is the entire earth. The study of this is the beginning of practice."
"When you are at this place, there is just one grass, there is just one form; there is understanding of form and beyond understanding of form; there is understanding of grass and beyond understanding of grass. Since there is nothing but just this moment, the time being is all the time there is. Grass being, form being, are both time. Each moment is all being, each moment is the entire world. Reflect now whether any being or any world is left out of the present moment.”

 Because Dogen routinely presents sophisticated ideas, and because his arguments appear to be dense and complex, one tends to be drawn towards abstract, or intellectual, analysis. So much of his work reads like an argument of this kind, one is perhaps tempted to be academic about it.

 Yet I think that the whole point of his arguments is to defeat such an approach. His ubiquitous, self-reflective dialectic isn't meant as a de facto call to complexity; rather, it is to point our own complexity out to us, calling our attention to the fact that we are perpetually trapped in dualistic complications. His words and statements, one after another, throughout his teaching, morph into koans. Each one tries to point beyond the dualism that we know, the affirming and denying, towards a third force–a force of reconciliation–that we are not sensitive to. Gurdjieff, one may recall, indicated that man is “third force blind.” We are unaware of this reconciling factor, which could otherwise make the world whole.

Sp there is nothing academic or intellectual about this brief passage. We are called, rather, to a sensitive emotional moment: in this translation, the point has been deftly realized by referring to grass. (The Nishijima and Cross translation,which has its own transcendental moments, does not quite rise to the occasion in the same way this time.) Associations are called forth: the green color of grass, the delicacy of grass, its tenderness, flexibility, suppleness. The way that grass cover surfaces gently, its movement in wind, the ability of grass to be composed of myriad forms (blades) and yet be one thing, acting together, seen together, experienced together.

Buried deep in this teaching- in all of Dogen's teachings- are body, blood, bones and marrow, not just of the intellect, but of an emotional opening.

We are called to a simple moment, a moment that has nothing to do with trying to figure things out. We are called to this immediate moment. We are called to a relationship with grass, to form-  to a relationship with both our inability to understand form and the existence of form itself. Our awareness becomes a bridge in which we inhabit both the condition and our failure to understand the condition. ( I am reminded of my conversation with my daughter last night, in which she pointed out that for Kant, the sublime– the quality of spiritual purity or excellence–begins with our failure, our inability, to comprehend... "the study of this is the beginning of practice."

We discover feeling.

 An emotional opening to the quality of grass and the existence of form brings us to a moment where wholeness is possible. Nothing is left out of the present moment. We are called to understand– and do not understand– the present moment, at the same time. Our understanding lies– as the understanding of Socrates lay– in being neither wise with our wisdom, nor stupid within our stupidity, but being just as we are.

"The wisest of you men is he who has realized, like Socrates, that in respect of wisdom he is really worthless." (Plato: The Collected Dialogues, Apology, p. 9, Hamilton & Cairns, Princeton University Press, 1989)

Hence we discover blades of grass that gather themselves together in a landscape: Zen Masters,  German philosophers, wise Greeks. All of them understanding that while we try, and while we fail, we still inhabit the wholeness of all the forms we know– and that this wholeness comprises an ineffable truth that cannot be denied.

Jeanne de Salzmann calls us back over and over to this act of seeing, this act of inhabiting the moment. Nothing is left out of the present moment. We do not need to change the present moment. The need is for the present moment to be seen.

It is not the present moment, its nature, or its content, that distracts us from experience and relationship; the present moment, its nature, and its contents are completely valid and true. They need not change; only our relationship to them must change.

Don't think about the grass... be the grass.

 I respectfully ask you to take good care. 

“There do exist enquiring minds, which long for the truth of the heart, seek it, strive to solve the problems set by life, try to penetrate to the essence of things and phenomena and to penetrate into themselves. If a man reasons and thinks soundly, no matter which path he follows in solving these problems, he must inevitably arrive back at himself, and begin with the solution of the problem of what he is himself and what his place is in the world around him.”

Thursday, November 10, 2011



Here is Part III of Section IV.  From the Chinese Masters from the Manual on Zen Buddhism written by the late, great brilliant scholar and Zen Master D. T. Suzuki. This teaching is so important! In essence, it explains the absolute necessity for living in the Present without the dualistic nature of thought or words and actually Being the Truth within the words. You must let go of All dogma and actually Live the Oneness of our True Nature which can not be described. Just live the meaning of the word "BE"!

Everything happens for a reason and my writing this now and sharing these  great words of Wisdom from an ancient Chan, or Zen, Master, are directly related to a conversation I had earlier tonight about this very aspect of Wisdom. All I can say is, "WOW"! This IS the True Nature of Reality and is realized in everyday life by those who understand the One Truth. I am constantly in Awe of the workings of this One Truth as it reveals IT's Presence and settles the waves of our illusory duality back to Reality's natural Stillness to reveal the explicit grandeur of the Calm and Peaceful Oneness within us All! With great honor and sincere humbleness, I offer you this impeccable Teaching. Enjoy!

 Namaste' **




24. Mahaprajnaparamita is a Sanskrit term of the Western country; in T'ang it means "great-wisdom (chih-hui), other-shore reached". This Truth (dharma=fa) is to be lived, it is not to be [merely] pronounced with the mouth. When it is not lived, it is like a phantom, like an apparition. The Dharmakaya of the Yogin is the same as the Buddha.

What is maha? Maha means "great". The capacity of Mind is wide and great, it is like emptiness of space. To sit with a mind emptied makes one fall into emptiness of indifference. Space contains the sun, the moon, stars, constellations, great earth, mountains, and rivers. All grasses and plants, good men and bad men, bad things and good things, Heaven and hell-they are all in empty space. The emptiness of [Self-] nature as it is in all people is just like this.

25. [Self-] nature contains in it all objects; hence it is great. All objects without exception are of Self-nature. Seeing all human beings and non-human beings as they are, evil and good, evil things and good things, it abandons them not, nor is it contaminated with them; it is like the emptiness of space. So it is called great, that is, maha. The confused pronounce it with their mouths, the wise live it with their minds. Again, there are people confused [in mind]; they conceive this to be great when they have their minds emptied of thoughts--which is not right. The capacity of Mind is great; when there is no life accompanying it, it is small. Do not merely pronounce it with the mouth. Those who fail to discipline themselves to live this life, are not my disciples.

26. What is prajna? Prajna is chih-hui (wisdom). When every thought of yours is not benighted at all times, when you always live chih-hui (=prajna, wisdom), this is called the life of Prajna. When a single thought of yours is benighted, then Prajna ceases to work. When a single thought of yours is of chih, i.e. enlightened, then Prajna is born. Being always benighted in their minds, people yet declare themselves to be living Prajna. Prajna has no shape, no form, it is no other than the essence (hsing) of chih-hui (wisdom).

What is Paramita? This is a Sanskrit term of the Western country. In Yang it means "the other shore reached". When the meaning (artha in Sanskrit) is understood, one is detached from birth and death. When the objective world (visaya) is clung to, there is the rise of birth and death; it is like the waves rising from the water; this is called "this shore". When you are detached from the objective world, there is no birth and death for you; it is like the water constantly running its course: this is "reaching the other shore". Hence Paramita.
The confused pronounce [Prajna] with their mouths; the wise live it in their minds. When it is merely pronounced, there is at that very moment a falsehood; when there is a .falsehood, it is not a reality. When Prajna is lived in every thought of yours, this is known as reality. Those who understand this truth, understand the truth of Prajna and practise the life of Prajna. Those who do not practise it are ordinary people. When you practise and live it in one thought of yours, You are equal to the Buddha.

Good friends, the passions are no other than enlightenment (bodhi). When your antecedent thought is confused yours is an ordinary mind; as soon as your succeeding thought is enlightened, you are a Buddha.

Good friends, Prajnaparamita is the most honoured, the highest, the foremost; it is nowhere abiding, nowhere departing, nowhere coming; all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future issue out of it. By means of Great Wisdom (ta-chih-hui=mahaprajna) that leads to . the other shore (paramita), the five skandhas, the passions, and the innumerable follies are destroyed. When thus disciplined, one is a Buddha, and the three passions [i.e. greed, anger, and folly] will turn into Morality (sila), Meditation (dhyana), and Wisdom (prajna).

27. Good friends, according to my way of understanding this truth, 84,000 wisdoms (chih-hui) are produced from one Prajna. Why? Because there are 84,000 follies. If there were no such innumerable follies, Prajna is eternally abiding, not severed from Self-nature. He who has an insight into this truth is free from thoughts, from recollections, from attachments; in him there is no deceit and falsehood. This is where the essence of Suchness is by itself. When all things are viewed in the light of wisdom (chih-hui=prajna), there is neither attachment nor detachment. This is seeing into one's Nature and attaining the truth of Buddhahood.

28. Good friends, if you wish to enter into the deepest realm of Truth (dharmadhatu), and attain the Prajnasamadhi, you should at once begin to exercise yourselves in the life of Prajnaparamita; you just devote yourselves to the one volume of the Vajracchedika-prajnaparamita Sutra, and you will, seeing into the nature of your being, enter upon the Prajnasamadhi. It should be known that the merit of such a person is immeasurable, as is distinctly praised in the sutras, of which I need not speak in detail.

This Truth of the highest order is taught to people of great intelligence and superior endowments. If people of small intelligence and inferior endowments happen to hear it, no faith would ever be awakened in their minds. Why? It is like a great dragon pouring rains down in torrents over the Jambudipa: cities, towns, villages are all deluged and carried away in the flood, as if they were grass-leaves. But when the rain, however much, falls on the great ocean, there is in it neither an increase nor a decrease.

When people of the Great Vehicle listen to a discourse on the Vajracchedika their minds are opened and there is an intuitive understanding. They know thereby that their own Nature is originally endowed with Prajna-wisdom and that all things are to be viewed in the light of this wisdom (chih-hui) of theirs, and they need not depend upon letters. It is like rain-waters not being reserved in the sky; but the water is drawn up by the dragon-king out of the rivers and oceans, whereby all beings and all plants, sentient and non-sentient, universally share the wet. All the waters flowing together once more are poured into the great ocean, and the ocean accepting all the waters fuses them into one single body of water. It is the same with Prajna-wisdom which is the original Nature of all beings.

29. When people of inferior endowments hear this "abrupt" doctrine here discoursed on, they are like those plants naturally growing small on earth, which, being once soaked by a heavy rain, are all unable to raise themselves up and continue their growth. It is the same with people of inferior endowments. They are endowed with Prajna-wisdom as much as people of great intelligence; there is no distinction. Why is it then that they have no insight even when listening to the Truth? It is due to the heaviness of hindrance caused by false views and to the deep-rootedness of the passions. It is like an overcasting cloud screening the sun; unless it blows hard no rays of light are visible.

There is no greatness or smallness in Prajna-wisdom, but since all beings cherish in themselves confused thoughts, they seek the Buddha by means of external exercises, and are unable to see into their Self-nature. That is why they are known to be people of inferior endowments.

Those beings who, listening to the "Abrupt" doctrine, do not take themselves to external exercises, but reflecting within themselves raise this original Nature all the time to the proper viewing [of the Truth], remain [always Undefiled by] the passions and the innumerable follies; and at that moment they all have an insight [into the Truth]. It is like the great ocean taking in all the rivers, large and small, and merging them into one body of water -'this is seeing into one's own Nature. [He who thus sees into his own Nature] does not abide anywhere inside or outside; he freely comes and departs; he knows how to get rid of attaching thoughts; his passage has no obstructions. When one is able to practise this life, he realizes that there is from the first no difference between [his Self-Nature] and Prajnaparamita.[2]

30. All the sutras and writings, all the letters, the two vehicles Major and Minor, the twelve divisions [of Buddhist literature]-these are all set forth because of the people of the world. Because there is wisdom-nature (chih-hui-hsing), therefore there is the establishment of all these works. If there were no people of the world, no multitudinous objects would ever be in existence. Therefore, we know that all objects rise originally because of the people of the world. All the sutras and writings are said to have their existence because of the people of the world.
The distinction of stupidity and intelligence is only possible among the people of the world. Those who are stupid are inferior people and those who are intelligent are superior people. The confused ask the wise, and the wise discourse for them on the Truth in order to make the stupid enlightened and have an intuitive understanding of it. When the confused are enlightened and have their minds opened, they are not to be distinguished from the people of great intelligence.
Therefore, we know that Buddhas when not enlightened are no other than ordinary beings; when there is one thought of enlightenment, ordinary beings at once turn into Buddhas. Therefore, we know that all multitudinous objects are every one of them in one's own mind.[3] Why not, from within one's own mind, at once reveal the original essence of Suchness? Says the Bodhisattvasila Sutra: "My original Self-nature is primarily pure; when my Mind is known and my Nature is seen into I naturally attain the path of Buddhahood." Says the Vimalakirti Sutra: "When you have an instant opening of view you return to your original Mind."

48. The Great Master died on the third day of the eighth month of the second year of Hsien-t'ien (713 C.E.). On the eighth day of the seventh month of this year he had a farewell gathering of his followers as he felt that he was to leave them forever in the following month, and told them to have all the doubts they might have about his teaching once for all settled on this occasion. As he found them weeping in tears he said: "You are all weeping, but for whom are you so sorry? If you are sorry for my not knowing where I am departing to, you are mistaken; for I know where I am going. Indeed, if I did not, I would not part with you. The reason why you are in tears is probably that you do not yourselves know whither I am going. If you did, you would not be weeping so. The Essence of the Dharma knows no birth-and-death, no coming-and-going. Sit down, all of you, and let me give you a gatha with the title, "On the Absolute"[4]
There is nothing true anywhere,
The true is nowhere to be seen;
If you say you see the true,
This seeing is not the true one.[5]

Where the true is left to itself,
There is nothing false in it, which is Mind itself.
When Mind in itself is not liberated from the false,
There is nothing true, nowhere is the true to be found.
A conscious being alone understands what is meant by "moving";
To those not endowed with consciousness, the moving is unintelligible;
If you exercise yourself in the practice of keeping your mind unmoved, [i.e. in a quietistic meditation] [6]

The immovable you gain is that of one who has no consciousness.
If you are desirous for the truly immovable,
The immovable is in the moving itself,
And this immovable is the [truly] immovable one;
There is no seed of Buddhahood where there is no consciousness.
Mark well how varied are aspects [of the immovable one],
And know that the first reality is immovable;
Only when this insight is attained,
The true working of Suchness is understood.
I advise you, O students of the Truth
To exert yourselves in the proper direction;
Do not in the teaching of the Mahayana
Commit the fault of clinging to the relative knowledge of birth and death. [7]

Where there is an all-sided concordance of views
You may talk together regarding the Buddha's teaching;
Where there is really no such concordance,
Keep your hands folded and your joy within yourself.
There is really nothing to argue about in this teaching;
Any arguing is sure to go against the intent of it;
Doctrines given up to confusion and argumentation
Lead by themselves to birth and death.


** Please excuse the formatting problem resulting in all capital letters with my introduction and the following notes. My blogging skills are humorously lacking but after contemplating this situation, I concluded that the great Wisdom contained in this post should be hollered from the rooftops! :)




1. The Dunhuang copy, edited by D. T. Suzuki, 1934. Hui-neng = Daikan Enō; 637-712 A.D.


2. The text has "the Prajnaparamita Sutra" here. But I take it to mean Prajna itself instead of the sutra.


3. The text has the "body", while the Koshoji edition and the current one have "mind".


4. The title literally reads: "the true-false moving-quiet". "True" stands against "false" and "moving" against "quiet" and as long as there is an opposition of any kind, no true spiritual insight is possible. And this insight does not grow from a quietistic exercise of meditation.


5. That is, the Absolute refuses to divide itself into two: that which sees and that which is seen.


6. "Moving" means "dividing" or "limiting". When the absolute moves, a dualistic interpretation of it takes place, which is consciousness.


7. Chih, jnana in Sanskrit, is used in contradistinction to Prajna which is the highest form of knowledge, directly seeing into the Immovable or the Absolute.



Sunday, October 23, 2011


Here  is Part II of Section IV. of From the Chinese Masters from the Manual of Zen Buddhism written by the late, great scholar and Zen Master, D. T. Suzuki. This teaching is so clear in it's attempt to help us understand the essence of Reality which is the state of non-duality or Oneness. It can not be described but must be experienced. We All are currently in this Reality and always have been so it is not any place we need to go. We All must come to the realization that what we perceive to be reality is just that, a perception and flawed personal definition of Reality. It is an illusion created by our Egos. Every one's "reality" is different too because each is based upon their individual Ego's experiences. Time for the ancient Masters to speak now. Enjoy!



1. The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise;
A tenth of an inch's difference,
And heaven and earth are set apart;
If you wish to see it before your own eyes,
Have no fixed thoughts either for or against it.

2. To set up what you like against what you dislike--
This is the disease of the mind:
When the deep meaning [of the Way] is not understood
Peace of mind is disturbed to no purpose.

3. [The Way is] perfect like unto vast space,
With nothing wanting, nothing superfluous:
It is indeed due to making choice
That its suchness is lost sight of.

4. Pursue not the outer entanglements,
Dwell not in the inner void;
Be serene in the oneness of things,
And [dualism] vanishes by itself.

5. When you strive to gain quiescence by stopping motion,
The quiescence thus gained is ever in motion;
As long as you tarry in the dualism,
How can you realize oneness?

6. And when oneness is not thoroughly understood,
In two ways loss is sustained:
The denying of reality is the asserting of it,
And the asserting of emptiness is the denying of it.[2]

7. Wordiness and intellection--
The more with them the further astray we go;
Away therefore with wordiness and intellection,
And there is no place where we cannot pass freely.

8. When we return to the root, we gain the meaning;
When we pursue external objects, we lose the reason.
The moment we are enlightened within,
We go beyond the voidness of a world confronting us.

9. Transformations going on in an empty world which confronts us
Appear real all because of Ignorance:
Try not to seek after the true,
Only cease to cherish opinions.

10. Abide not with dualism,
Carefully avoid pursuing it;
As soon as you have right and wrong,
Confusion ensues, and Mind** is lost.

11. The two exist because of the One**,
But hold not even to this One;
When a mind is not disturbed,
The ten thousand things offer no offence.

12. No offence offered, and no ten thousand things;
No disturbance going, and no mind set up to work:
The subject is quieted when the object ceases,
The object ceases when the subject is quieted.

13. The object is an object for the subject,
The subject is a subject for the object:
Know that the relativity of the two
Rests ultimately on one Emptiness.**

14. In one Emptiness the two are not distinguished,
And each contains in itself all the ten thousand things;
When no discrimination is made between this and that.
How can a one-sided and prejudiced view arise?

15. The Great Way is calm and large-hearted,
For it nothing is easy, nothing is hard;
Small views are irresolute,
The more in haste the tardier they go.

16. Clinging is never kept within bounds,
It is sure to go the wrong way;
Quit it, and things follow their own courses,
While the Essence neither departs nor abides.

17. Obey the nature of things, and you are in concord with the Way,**
Calm and easy and free from annoyance;
But when your thoughts are tied, you turn away from the truth,
They grow heavier and duller and are not at all sound.

18. When they are not sound, the spirit is troubled;
What is the use of being partial and one-sided then?
If you want to walk the course of the One Vehicle,
Be not prejudiced against the six sense-objects.

19. When you are not prejudiced against the six sense-objects,
You are then one with the Enlightenment;
The wise are non-active,
While the ignorant bind themselves up;
While in the Dharma itself there is no individuation,
They ignorantly attach themselves to particular objects.
It is their own mind that creates illusions--
Is this not the greatest of all self-contradictions?

20. The ignorant cherish the idea of rest and unrest,
The enlightened have no likes and dislikes:
All forms of dualism
Are contrived by the ignorant themselves.
They are like unto visions and flowers in the air;
Why should we trouble ourselves to take hold of them?
Gain and loss, right and wrong--
Away with them once for all!

21. If an eye never falls asleep,
All dreams will by themselves cease:
If the Mind retains its absoluteness,
The ten thousand things are of one Suchness.[3]

22. When the deep mystery of one Suchness is fathomed,
All of a sudden we forget the external entanglements;
When the ten thousand things are viewed in their oneness,
We return to the origin and remain where we ever have been.

23. Forget the wherefore of things,
And we attain to a state beyond analogy;
Movement stopped and there is no movement,
Rest set in motion and there is no rest;
When dualism does no more obtain,
Oneness itself abides not.

24. The ultimate end of things where they cannot go any further
Is not bound by rules and measures:
In the Mind harmonious [with the Way] we have the principle of identity,
In which we find all strivings quieted;
Doubts and irresolutions are completely done away with,
And the right faith is straightened;
There is nothing left behind, There is nothing retained,
All is void, lucid, and self-illuminating;
There is no exertion, no waste of energy--
This is where thinking never attains,
This is where the imagination fails to measure.

25. In the higher realm of true Suchness
There is neither "self" nor "other":
When direct identification is sought,
We can only say, "Not two".[4]

26. In being "not two" all is the same,
All that is is comprehended in it;
The wise in the ten quarters,
They all enter into this Absolute Reason.

27. This Absolute Reason is beyond quickening [time] and extending [space],
For it one instant is ten thousand years;
Whether we see it or not,
It is manifest everywhere in all the ten quarters.

28. Infinitely small things are as large as large things can be,
For here no external conditions obtain;
Infinitely large things are as small as small things can be,
For objective limits are here of no consideration.

29. What is is the same as what is not,
What is not is the same as what is:
Where this state of things fails to obtain,
Indeed, no tarrying there.

30. One in All,
All in One--
If only this is realized,
No more worry about your not being perfect!

31. Where Mind and each believing mind are not divided,
And undivided are each believing mind and Mind,
This is where words fail;
For it is not of the past, present, and future.


*  Since this translation from the Transmission of the Lamp, two Tun-huang MSS. containing the text have come to light. The one is in the Masters and Disciples of the Lanka (Leng-chia Shihtzu Chi), already published, and the other still in MS., which however the present author intends to have reproduced in facsimile before long. They differ in minor points with the translation here given.

**  The Mind = the Way = the One = Emptiness.

[1] By Seng-t'san (Sosan in Japanese). Died 606 C.E. Mind = hsinHsin is one of those Chinese words which defy translation. When the Indian scholars were trying to translate the Buddhist Sanskrit works into Chinese, they discovered that there were five classes of Sanskrit terms which could not be satisfactorily rendered into Chinese. We thus find in the Chinese Tripitaka such words as prajnabodhibuddhanirvanadhyanabodhisattva, etc., almost always untranslated; and they now appear in their original Sanskrit form among the technical Buddhist terminology. If we could leave hsin with all its nuance of meaning in this translation, it would save us from the many difficulties that face us in its English rendering. For hsin means "mind", "heart", "soul", "spirit"--each singly as well as all inclusively. In the present composition by the third patriarch of Zen, it has sometimes an intellectual connotation but at other times it can properly be given as "heart". But as the predominant note of Zen Buddhism is more intellectual than anything else, though not in the sense of being logical or philosophical, I decided here to translate hsin by "mind" rather than by "heart", and by this mind I do not mean our psychological mind, but what may be called absolute mind, or Mind.

[2] This means: When the absolute oneness of things is not properly understood, negation as well as affirmation tends to be a one-sided view of reality. When Buddhists deny the reality of an objective world, they do not mean that they believe in the unconditioned emptiness of things; they know that there is something real which cannot be done away with. When they uphold the doctrine of emptiness this does not mean that all is nothing but an empty hollow, which leads to a self-contradiction. The philosophy of Zen avoids the error of one-sidedness involved in realism as well as in nihilism.

 [3] The Masters and Disciples of the Lanka also quotes a poetical composition of So-san on "The Mysterious" in which we find the following echoing the idea given expression here:
"One Reality only--
How deep and far-reaching!
The ten thousand things--
How confusingly multifarious!
The true and the conventional are indeed intermingling,
But essentially of the same substance they are.
The wise and the unenlightened are indeed distinguishable,
But in the Way they are united as one.
Desirest thou to find its limits?
How broadly expanding! It is limitless!
How vaguely it vanishes away! Its ends are never reached!
It originates in beginningless time, it terminates in endless time."

[4]  [1. I.e. Tat tvam asi.]

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interlude Outside of Linear Time, Courtesy of Chuang-tse

I have been experiencing and exploring the depths of my Path and have not written in my blog until now. For this momentous occasion, I shall entertain you with some stories from a true Sage who understands. Who else but the great Sage, Chuang-tse could explain such dereliction to one's "duty"! 

I have been feeling such a great need to post something and have now realized the pure folly of this man-made linear time structure that we allow to interfere with our living our lives as they are designed, specifically, Not-doing. We must learn to Let Go and allow ourselves to enjoy, savor, and then Let Go again so the next moment can be lived fully. My sharing of my Path is indeed My Calling, My Destiny, and It shall continue to unfold here in depth. Please continue following for if my words here can help just one person to realize Reality, it is worth my entire lifetime of sharing my Path to achieve. May you All be Blessed with many infinite moments spent "unknowingly" within the Peace, Love, and Joy of the Present and Not-doing Everything so perfectly!

Enjoy these beautiful bits of Wisdom as only the greatest storyteller of the Ancient Sages can entertainingly put into writing. I will return soon to continue where I left off with the Ancient Chan Teachings of the Masters interpreted by the great contemporary Zen Master, D. T. Suzuki. Thank you!


Chuang-tse Story - Autumn floods


Chuang Tzu told the story
of the autumn floods:

The autumn floods had come.
Thousands of wild torrents
poured furiously into the
Yellow River.
It surged and flooded its banks until,
looking across,
you could not tell an ox from a horse
on the other side.

Then the River God laughed,
delighted to think
that all the beauty in the world
had fallen into his keeping.

So downhill he swung,
untill he came to the ocean.
There he looked out over the waves
towards the empty horizon in the east,
and his face fell.

Gazing out at the far horizon,
he came to his senses
and murmured to the Ocean God:
“Well, proverb is right:
‘He who has got himself a
hundred ideas,
he thinks he knows more than anybody else.’
Such a one am I.
Only now do I see
what they mean by expanse!”

The Ocean God replied,
“Can you talk about the sea to a frog in a well?
Can you talk about ice to a dragonfly?
And can you talk about the Way of life
to a doctor of

Chuang-tse Story - Wholeness

How does the true man of Tao
Walk through walls without obstruction
And stand in fire without being burnt?

Not because of cunning or daring,
Not because he has learned –
But because he has unlearned.

His nature sinks to his root in the one.
His vitality, his power,
Hide in secret Tao.

When he is all one,
There is no flaw in him 
By which a wedge can enter.

So a drunken man who falls out of a wagon
Is bruised, but not destroyed,
His bones are like the bones of other men,
But his fall is different.
His spirit is entire.
He is not aware of getting into the wagon,
Or falling out of it.
Life and death are nothing to him.
He knows no alarm,
He meets obstacles without thought,
without care,
And takes them without knowing they are there.

If there is such sincerity in wine,
How much more in Tao?
The wise man is hidden in Tao,
Nothing can touch him.

Chuang-tse Story - The Empty Boat

Who can free himself of achievement and fame
Then descend and be lost
Amidst the masses of men?

He will flow like Tao, unseen…
He will go about like life itself,
With no name and no home.

Simple is he, without.
To all appearances he is a fool.
His steps leave no trace.

He has no power.
He achieves nothing.
He has no reputation.

Since he judges no one,
No one judges him.

Such is the perfect man.
His boat is empty.