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Sunday, 23 April 2017 16:19


Dogen said that the five skandas (form, sensation, perception, mental formation, consciousness) are five pieces of Prajna; before thinking.

It is easier to see with the first two. 

With the first skanda, when we sit, we don't think, I am a man, I am a woman, this is a wall and suchlike, we just sit, right in the middle of our raw experience.

Likewise with sensation. We just feel what is there. We don't label it.

With perception and mental formation, it's a little harder to see Dogen's point, but it's very important that we do.

We just need to see the incessant urge to understand this flood of experience. This constant 'What is this?'

It is as if we are in a room with a storyteller. The point is not to get caught up in the stories, nor to speculate if they're true, nor to get annoyed because they're not, but just to see the aliveness of the storyteller and, seeing this, the aliveness of everything.

 
180. PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 19 April 2017 17:21

 

Sometimes we think of practice as developing equanimity. Quietening the mind.

But which mind? Certainly not the personal mind.

What is obvious when we start sitting is the incessant talking itself into existence, which the personal mind seems to engage in endlessly. Like an apprehended fraudster. Talking himself in. Talking himself out.

So if our aim is to have equanimity, it would be foolish to expect this mind to be silent, to drop away, and leave equanimity pristine behind it.. 

So what do we do?

This personal, karmic mind is occurring within the greater body-mind.

Do our thoughts extend to our felt bodily experience or not?

This bodymind is already sitting within vast space. Do our thoughts extend above our head or behind or in front of us?

Of course not. There is no boundary to this space. It extends everywhere, and holds everything. Practice like this.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 April 2017 17:27
 
179. PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 19 April 2017 17:19

My first teacher said it was impossible to break the mirror of the self with the head.

It's true. Not because the mirror is unbreakable, but because the attempt to break it is still the activity of the self. And it's not necessary.

Self is momentary. Buddha is momentary. We wobble between this moment of Buddha and this moment of self. But one does not obstruct the other.

He is me but I am not him.

 
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Saturday, 15 April 2017 18:07


Master Dogen described our practice of shikantaza as dropping off body and mind. 

The Japanese which is rendered as 'dropping off' has two aspects. One is intentional, as we might drop off an article of clothing. The other is natural, like leaves falling in Autumn.

Dropping off mind, means dropping off that dualism between mind and world, and which is often prominent, although unacknowledged, in meditation.

So we don't think, "I must make my mind clear, my thoughts are an encumbrance to that". But rather, thoughts are just one more thing going on within unbroken experience, where there is not inner and outer, me and not-me.

And likewise dropping off body, we don't think "My body is experiencing these sensations and emotions", but rather, there is just this experiencing, which includes everything.

We can drop off Mind, in the sense that we can relocate the mind within the body, but we need to drop off both, otherwise the dualism remains.

So dropping off body and mind is, as it were, sitting within the body of the world. It is not to do with individual gain, or individual effort, and so it is the gateway to peace and joy.

 
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Sunday, 02 April 2017 14:11


Each time we sit, we chant the Heart Sutra: Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form. But what do we mean by Emptiness?

The meaning has changed over time. In the original teachings, the word simply meant absence. If the room was empty of elephants, that just meant there were no elephants there. The concept wasn't central, because anatta - No Self - was emphasised. The person was 'empty' of a self.

In due course, in the Mahayana, all things were seen as being empty of a 'self' - an immutable essence - and hence the world was empty: interdependent, dynamic, connected, whole.

But the original meaning of absence, voidness, vacuity has always lingered.

So when the Chinese started using the term, they equated it with Suchness. They said that it meant empty of delusion. And Dogen said it was prajna - before thinking. Hence Emptiness is that felt inexpressible wholeness which is there prior to thinking, which is always there, before the mind tries to amputate a self from the body of the world.

 
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