non sense

Continuing with a snippet from John Dunne’s talk at Upaya:   “Even if (we) remove self, there is still grasping and rejection.”

We have a systematic map of this self that can be known through the five skandhas: form interacting with sensation (and its positive and negative feeling tone), perception or recognition of that sensation, mental formations or interpretations and consciousness. To cultivate awareness of these arising leads to non-dual awareness – the dissolution of subject and object, me and you, us and them, this and that.  Yet it’s so easy to become confused – or in the words of Zen Master Mazu, “polluted” by “a fluctuating mind.”

I find myself derailed moment by moment, caught up in the what if and even the what is, unable to make non-sense out of the barrage of sensations.  There’s nothing wrong with what I want – for myself, for those I love, for the world and all its beings.  It just in how I get invested, caught, snagged by the twists and turns of the map.  Dunne closed the panel following his talk with the comment that the “practice is not to grasp the end point.”  The practice is in “harnessing the concepts” and letting them work like a “taste that turns you around.”  To do that I need to clarify the process not in the sense of be more assured of it but in the sense of being more alert to its workings.

From Linji (in Zen Essence: the science of freedom, translated and edited by Thomas Cleary:

The six supernormal faculties of the enlightened are the ability to enter the realm of form without being confused by form, to enter the realm of sound without being confused by sound, to enter the realm of scent without being confused by scent, to enter the realm of flavor without being confused by flavor, to enter the realm of feeling without being confused by feeling, to enter the realm of phenomena without being confused by phenomena.

Thank you for practicing,


3 thoughts on “non sense

  1. Hello Genju,

    Thank you for posting this.

    I thought an excerpt from a recent post on the Flatbed Sutra Blog might be appropriate here. It is centered around Dogen’s teaching in Shobogenzo, Sansuikyo.

    Great Teacher Ummon Bun’en once said, “Eno went walking upon the Water.” The meaning of what is fully manifested through these words is that all mountains are Eno, and every Eno goes walking upon the Water…
    ~Shobogenzo, Sansuikyo (Hubert Nearman)

    If this fails to blow your mind, you are not getting the point.

    Dogen goes on to indicate some awesome implications:

    “As for the Water, It is neither strong nor weak, nor is It wet or dry, nor does It move or stay still, nor is It cold or hot, nor does It exist or not exist, nor is It deluded or awakened. When frozen solid, It is harder than a diamond, so who can smash It? When melted, It is more yielding than diluted milk, so who can tear It to bits? This being so, we cannot doubt the qualities of the various forms of existence that manifest before our very eyes.”
    Shobogenzo, Sansuikyo (Hubert Nearman)

    Ha! Cool hey? Obviously, if we do not trust our own perceptions we will never find certainty anywhere. As Blake says:

    He who Doubts from what he sees – Will ne’er Believe, do what you Please – If the Sun & Moon should doubt, – They’d immediately Go out. ~William Blake

    Whenever we posit a real division between subject and object we cannot but fall into speculation. Dogen encourages us not to spend time speculating on what he means here–but to verify it in study and practice:

    “For now, just concentrate on learning to recognize, through your training, the moments when you are able to open your eyes and see the Water in the whole universe as the Whole Universe.”
    Shobogenzo, Sansuikyo (Hubert Nearman)

    Can we see, actually see the water in the whole universe as the Whole Universe? If so, what do we realize? Dogen says:

    “Because the Water puts the Water into practice in order to realize what the Water is, there will be your thorough investigation of the Water’s expressing through words what the Water is. In this way, you will manifest the pathway upon which we ourselves meet our Self.”
    Shobogenzo, Sansuikyo (Hubert Nearman)

    Holy sheeet! Does anyone think that Dogen is talking nonsense, lying, or trying to fool us? If not, then he must mean that this is an authentic means to meeting our true self…

    Now, remember how Dogen’s teaching indicated that each one of us creates (fashions) a unique universe, and creates a unique self. Dogen acknowledges this here saying:

    “To speak in general, what people see as a mountain or as water differs in various ways.”
    Shobogenzo, Sansuikyo (Hubert Nearman)

    While Dogen affirms the same “material” world for all of us, the way in which we fashion that material, our effective use of this material (our skills in painting, so to speak) in creating that world varies widely. While the sage and the fool see the “same” material, one creates a “Mountain” and the other a mere “reflection.” As there are as many levels and ways of “seeing” or “creating” this world as there are individuals, there are no “one-size-fits-all” Ways, or Methods of practice. For one person, authentic ”zazen” is performed by taking up the lotus posture and sitting still; for another, authentic ”zazen” is performed by composing music. As Dogen points out:

    “If what I have just been saying is so, then, likewise, there cannot be just one or two ways for training to realize the Truth and for assiduously practicing the Way, and the realm of the Ultimate can be of a thousand kinds and ten thousand sorts.”
    Shobogenzo, Sansuikyo (Hubert Nearman)

    Thanks again!


  2. In those moments when I attain my confusion (which can appear as rigidity or as chaos) – penetrating confusion with confusion – then even a “fluctuating mind” isn’t a problem.

    Ted so kindly offers Dogen’s words: “Water puts the Water into practice.”

    How ’bout that!

  3. Ted, thank you so much for posting this! Water puts water into practice resonated deeply (and interesting that Barry quotes it back too!). I so often forget this and over-strike on form – which only ever gets everyone po’d, right? But more to the point, it speaks to generosity of spirit when I can allow the vision of mountain and water to be just what it is for each person. Such was the case at sangha tonight: letting all the voices come into a natural harmony – even if we’re all zen-stone deaf!

    I like the Blake quote. It amazes me that in sesshin I perceive a loss of control over my surroundings and immediately translate that into a doubt of my inner capacity to just do what I do.

    Barry, I love how you see things: attaining my confusion! Sometimes when in the throes of delusion/confusion, a fluctuating mind is a gift!

    Enough with the water, both of you! I just had to drive over washboard roads after downing too many cups of tea! How’s that for trusting my innate toilet training despite my sensations screaming otherwise!

    Love to you both!

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