258.


In our practice, the breath is absolutely essential.

We are scrupulous about posture because when we sit upright and balanced, the breath is liberated.

The breath is central not because it relaxes and settles us; although it does, obviously.

It is essential because it clarifies our nature.

If we pay attention to the actual experience of breathing - not a conceptual one - we realise there is nowhere that our breath doesn't reach.

It's as if our breath is this dynamic vast moving space at our centre.

And the body is draped around it. 

We are not this body in space. We are space.

There is no clear divide between the space inside and the space outside.

So to actualise this space inside us is to actualise all space; not as something abstract but as

the space between us.

 

 

 
257.


The koan stories recall the words between teachers and students, but a person is missing.

That person is the relational space between the teacher and the student.

We could call this space the true, momentary teacher

It's not that this third person simply exists in the gap between the teacher and student, but rather that both teacher and student exist within this third person; this relational, alive space

Similarly we are not eleven people each pursuing our personal practice; there is a 12th person here.

The space between us. The space which contains us, which lifts us up into being

When people talk of the Dharmakaya, the Universal Buddha-body, they don't mean something conceptual, they mean just this -

 

 

 

 
256.

 

Master Rinzai said that there is a true person of no rank, always entering and leaving, through our face.

It is tempting to interpret this as fantastical or symbolic, rather than a description of actual experience.

Note that he didn’t say the heart - which extends everywhere - but the face.

People often imagine that underneath all our conditioning is a true person, and the purpose of spiritual practice is to get there, but Rinzai’s expression is entirely contrary to that. The true person is not you. They are not someone else.

It is as if metallic casts of our masks were suspended in Emptiness, like wind chimes.

 

 

 

 
Book Of Serenity, Case 23 (adapted)

 

Book Of Serenity, Case 23 (adapted)

 

The case:

When students came to see Master Luzu, he simply turned to face the wall in zazen.

Hearing this Master Nansen said - “this will carry on until the year of the donkey”

Nansen then said “when students come to me, I tell them to experience the state before discrimination. However I don't even have half a student”

Commentary: 

This koan is about teaching.

In Chinese astrology there isn't a year of the donkey.

Nansen is saying that zazen is eternal but also that this way of teaching is eternally deficient.

It is not just a matter of gestures.

But then Nansen, although a great teacher himself, seems to suggest that his verbal teaching was also deficient.

It is not just a matter of words.

We need to understand that neither Luzu or Nansen, or anyone else, are teachers; because the true teacher is a momentary person.

Sometimes he conceals himself within the teacher. Sometimes within the student.

Sometimes partially in one and partially in the other. Sometimes in brightness. Sometimes in memory.

The true teacher always manifests only in this relational space. Because this relational space is without limit, likewise their manifestations.

 

 

 
255.


The most important thing when we start to practice is to have faith.

Not faith in Buddhism or a set of ideas, but faith in our own sincerity, in our sincere practice.

When we start it's often as if everything which arises within experience is like a smoke or fog or noise; obscuring reality, choking, deafening or distracting us; and we wish rid of it.

But what we need to understand is that everything is reality, all of it. Give each thing space and see it so.

Our task is not to empty the mind, but to make it vast.

 

 

 

 
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