Kusen
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Monday, 20 November 2017 22:20


My first teacher, Nancy Amphoux, asked her teacher - “How should I practice Zazen?”

Her teacher replied - “You should practice Zazen eternally.”

She said that she thought at first that what he meant was that she should practice Zazen for the rest of her life.

To practice eternally, it's as if we are the ground on which all beings and all moments walk

Or the space within which all beings and all moments live.




 

Last Updated on Monday, 20 November 2017 22:21
 
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Thursday, 16 November 2017 11:33


Master Dogen asked "If the cart is stuck, do we beat the horse, or beat the cart?"

Almost all meditation teachers would say the horse, the mind. Surely that is the point of meditation? To empty and purify the mind.

But Dogen said that we should beat (give attention to) the cart, the body. How so?

Zazen is the way of liberation through the body. Not the body as thought. Not the body as object, but the body as it actually is. Because that body, completely alive, is already part of the body of the universe, completely alive.


 

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 November 2017 11:36
 
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Thursday, 16 November 2017 11:29

 

Taigen Dan Leighton described the various aspects of our practice as ritual enactment and expression.

It isn't moving slowly towards the Buddha, a speck in the ghost cave of the future. It is the living activity of Buddha now. It isn't forming the thought of gratitude, and then giving form to that thought in the symbolism of bowing. No.

Awake-awareness, compassion, gratitude, generosity: they are not qualities of the self. They are pillars holding up the roof of the world.

 

 

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 November 2017 11:32
 
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Wednesday, 08 November 2017 11:46


The three treasures are Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.

Towards the end of his life, the Buddha said to his disciples "My true body is my teachings"

Out of this arose the idea of the dharmakaya, the Universal Body of the Buddha, and then, later, the Bliss Body. As 'buddha' inflated, 'sangha' shrunk.

But there's another way to look at it.

The Buddha's teachings weren't written down in his lifetime. They were held in the bodies and minds of the disciples who heard them. They were brought out by those disciples. That's where the teachings arose. Without a sangha, there would have been no dharma. That's where the teachings were embodied. And from there, outward, to everywhere.

And it is this body - the Sangha body, both mythical and flesh and blood - which keeps giving birth to new buddhas.


 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 November 2017 11:47
 
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Tuesday, 07 November 2017 17:58


When she was alive, I often thought Nancy Amphoux, who introduced me to zen, was a terrible teacher. It took me a long time to realise that I was a terrible listener.

When I last saw her, a week before she died, she gave me a bird's feather. She explained that years before, when she'd been driving in France, she saw a fox attacking a bird. She stopped the car and got out. The fox ran away, but the bird was already dead. Some of its feathers were scattered on the road, and Nancy took them, and kept them.

As people came to say goodbye to her, she would tell them the story and give them one of the feathers. As she finished telling the story to me she gave me the last feather and said "There, all gone"

Often in the teachings, an apparently humble thing: a cat, a pillow, a broken ladle, a dead bird, symbolises the alive wholeness of everything, but unless we feel it, our understanding is useless.

I lacked even that understanding. And I didn't ask her who the fox was, either


 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 November 2017 17:59
 
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