Does Time fly by?

The dichotomy we have been working with in Dogen’s Uji is time and timelessness. Another way of naming this duality is linear, sequential time and ‘being-time’. “Being-time” drops the moment down and touches timelessness or eternity or no-birth-no-death as Thich Nhat Hanh would call it. Each moment in Buddhist understanding, is the entire world and … Continue reading Does Time fly by?

The Self is Time

I am teaching a class on the Buddhist sense of Time. It feels like working with Time could be a complete avenue to awakening. We know that one of our primary admonishments is to “live in the now” but what does that mean exactly? Keats has coined a term called “negative capability”. I often use … Continue reading The Self is Time

Cubist Enlightenment

Several years ago in the practice leaders study group, we were questioning what to study. Ken Ford said, “Let’s study enlightenment!” We all laughed and balked. Balked because it’s a tricky or scary question. We all should understand this thing we search for, ‘enlightenment’, but who does? Can enlightenment be understood? And yet, if we … Continue reading Cubist Enlightenment

The Circle of the Way

Clouds in Water just finished a sesshin at Hokyoji Zen Community in Southeastern Minnesota. I have been coming to this land and this place for at least 35 years. This land and place is so conducive to sesshin. It’s simply a wondrous place to practice. The mountains, valleys, birds, bells, grasses, tiles and pebbles are … Continue reading The Circle of the Way

The Smile of Composure

The third ancestor, Sencan’s famous quote from “Affirming Faith in Mind” : The Great Way is without difficulty; Just avoid picking and choosing. Just don’t love and hate And you’ll be lucid and clear.   This famous quote is very fundamental to our practice. So important, that Joshu had five or more koans, just on … Continue reading The Smile of Composure

Dongshan’s Five Ranks

There is some disagreements over the 5 Ranks of Dongshan within the Soto School. Some people say that it is too much of a developmental step-ladder and loses the “nowness” and immediacy of “each moment is enlightenment”. In my lineage, the labeling of a “kensho” is looked down upon because we usually end up clinging … Continue reading Dongshan’s Five Ranks

Awakened Awareness

It seems that we get sidetracked in practice in many ways. Buddha said that he was the “awakened one.” Thich Nhat Hanh calls it mindfulness in every moment. Katagiri Roshi explains that enlightenment is subject and object merged in every moment that arises. It is a very rare and concentrated person who is able to … Continue reading Awakened Awareness

Dropping off body and mind

“To be verified by all things is to let the body and mind of the self and the body and mind of others drop off.” — Genjokoan, Dogen “Dropping off body and mind” is a key phrase in Dogen Zenji’s teaching. This is an expression that was originally used by Dogen’s teacher, Tiantong Rujing in … Continue reading Dropping off body and mind

A continuous line of immediacy

Dogen is like a twentieth century cubist. He tries to show the “whole” by showing every possible angle. He tries to show the “whole” by contradicting all the views. If we hold on to one view or understand realization through our perceptions, that is not realization. He writes in the Fukanzazengi, “realization can not be … Continue reading A continuous line of immediacy

Dana or Generosity or Giving

It is interesting what comes first. The first practice is dana, giving, or generosity in the fundamental structure of Buddhist spiritual life as represented by the Paramitas. (The Great Perfections). How many years can we spend learning to have a generous attitude in life? All of our years! Generosity and Giving are the opposite of … Continue reading Dana or Generosity or Giving

The emancipation of suchness

From Dogen, Bussho fascicle, Shobogenzo: Although with mu-buddha-nature (no- Buddha-nature) you may have to grope your way along, there is a touchstone — What. There is a temporal condition — You. There is entrance into its dynamic functioning — affirmation. There is a common nature — all-pervading or wholeness. It is a direct and an immediate … Continue reading The emancipation of suchness

To Do

As I have been talking about non-doing (the non-doing beyond non-doing), my dharma brother, Ken Ford, came up to me and said he found this passage in Shobogenzo that was talking about “doing” but sounded very similar to how I was talking about non-doing. And so, the paradox comes around. If we are non-doing, then … Continue reading To Do

The Two Truths

The two truths, the absolute and relative truths, which we speak of in Buddhist pedagogy, are a linguistic skilfull means to help teach, actually, the opposite. We want to be able to express “oneness” and “twoness” as a complete dynamic happening in the present moment. However we try to speak of this, we end up … Continue reading The Two Truths

We knowingly transgress

In Joshu’s koan: “Does a dog have buddha nature?”, my version of one of the questions is “Since everything is mu-buddha-nature (emptiness or suchness), why do we even have this skin bag? or why do we even bother taking care of form? If everything and every moment is already complete and whole, why act? Or … Continue reading We knowingly transgress