This world of samsara is a stormy ocean
Sometimes we are drowning, clinging to the debris of the self
Sometimes we are ecstatic fish, thrown about like lumps of electricity
In the vast aliveness

In zazen, we are a high cliff, white as bone
The ocean’s push is a baby’s hand:
The Dharma is written everywhere
Like white ink on white paper



What is the cause of suffering? We often imagine - wrongly - that the Buddha said that desire was the cause of suffering. But he didn’t. He said that the cause of suffering was the three poisons of ignorance, attachment and aversion.

The most important of these three is ignorance: the other two follow on from that. Ignorance is a confusion about our true nature: instead of understanding our nature as relational, we falsely think we are beings encased in a self. Thinking in this way, it is only natural to want or to keep what we like, and discard what we don’t.

We confuse ourselves so easily because our society’s usual way of thinking of desire is to think of it in terms of a lack: something is missing.

The point isn’t technical, it’s of fundamental importance. If we misunderstand desire, if we can’t see it as the pulse and flow and expression of this great being, then we will aspire to a buddhism  of false equanimity, a buddhism which is empty and lifeless. With the ghost of suffering inside.



The four merits of meditation are said to be intuitive wisdom, compassion, equanimity and empathetic joy - but these are not personal qualities.

Yet when the restless dust and debris of the self is stilled, it is as if it forms an archway, through and around which the vast living space containing these qualities can be actualized.

Through which all the mute things can be given voice



In the Tathagatagarbha sutra, Buddha nature is portrayed figuratively as a little Buddha inside each sentient being. Each being is a womb for the Buddha.

An ignorant or self centred person might imagine that through practice they would actualise a personal Buddha.

Except, the Buddha which is represented in each sentient being is the same Buddha. These same buddhas form a kind of fabric, containing all beings, like a womb. Each being is like the embryo in this womb of Buddha.

It is like space: in this moment, is the breath inside you yours, or not?

Is the dynamic space inside you as the expression of this breath yours, or not? How can we distinguish this inner space from the greater space which holds us?

Yet if Being collapses, space likewise collapses.

All these little tiles create the vast space of the temple.



Master Rinzai said that there is a true person who is always coming and going through our face.

Rinzai is, in his own vivid and embodied words, talking about Buddha nature, non duality and so on. And whether this dart of his own words finds a gap in the armour of the Self for you, who knows? But either way, his authentic and heartfelt expression is this true person.

Buddhism has no interest in how the world is constructed. It is not science. It is not psychology. It is not religion.

Its interest in truth is in the truth of you as a human being: who you are, what you can be, and how you can express yourself, and your enfoldment within this greater being of all things. The you that is like a little bird singing.

I am nothing like my teacher and you are nothing like me - because the function of a teacher isn't to make you like them but to make you like you, because - not you but this ‘you’- is the true person.


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