Counting from Now

8 August 2014

How to think of time as relative to this particular moment.

Although the idea had passed through my thoughts some time ago, I never gave it much thought, until a friend and I were immersed in a discussion about our relative time-related projects (and for the record, the man is a genius, with some interest projects on the go – but that’s for him to share).

theAbysmal Calendar begins counting measures of time with the numeral 0 (this is how the Maya counted, which is where I learned of it). This allows us to count the time periods, like we do with seconds, minutes, and hours. The day begins at midnight (for some), which on the clock is 00:00:00 – or 0 hour, 0 minute, 0 second.

this is followed by 00:00:01, which indicates that one second has elapsed. It is a way of counting a measure of time AFTER it has run its full course.

This is not how we mark longer measures of time. We begin the numbering with 1 (as in the years 1-2014), or in the case of the days of the month, we use the ordinal system of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, which is an indication of the sequence of the days.

theAbysmal applies the system of counting from 0 (as we saw with clock time) to every measure of time, from the second (and by extension, its subdivisions) to the year (and by extension, all its groupings). So, in this sense, time can be indicated from second (on the right) to the year (on the right)

The moment I finish this sentence would be noted as
01:08:05:13:14:49
Year 1, Month 8, Day 5, Hour 13 (1pm), Minute 14, second 39

or in Gregorian terms
1:16 pm and 39 seconds, August 8th, 2014

That’s the way to have an absolute count of days. Any given day is a fixed reference point on the calendar (and every other calendar).

However, if we apply the 0 to the current moment, as in this year, this month, today, this hour, this minute, this second. As we experience the progression of time, the current moment remains the same, but the numbers assigned to every past and future day change. This is a very different method of thinking about time. We do this to some extent, refering to next year, this month, yesterday.

Having this system overlap with theAbysmal requires some kind of programming knowledge to do anything with, and I abandoned any hope of acquiring such knowledge as I scribbled pencil marks in tiny boxes on punchcards.

At any rate, it’s something I haven’t seen applied to any other calendar system, and it would provide yet another function that this tool could perform, if needed. Here’s a comparison. Not sure I’ve quite figured out how to do this.

Today
Calendar Year Month Day Hour Minute
Gregorian 2014 8 8 1 28 pm
theAbysmal 1 8 5 13 28
Relative 0 0 0 0 0

 

Past Date
Calendar Year Month Day Hour Minute
Gregorian 1945 8 6 8 15 am
theAbysmal N/A 08 03 8 15
Relative -69 0 -2 -5 -13

 

Future Date
Calendar Year Month Day Hour Minute
Gregorian 2050 1 1 1 01 am
theAbysmal 38 0 10 01 01
Relative +37 -8 +5 -12 -27

Buddhist Bodhisattva Behaviour

16 July 2012

A Summary on the Behaviour of Awakened Beings

The following is a direct quotation from 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva from the site Unfettered Mind: Pragmatic Buddhism

Namo Lokesvaraya

You who see that experience has no coming or going,
Yet pour your energy solely into helping beings,
My excellent teachers and Lord All Seeing,
I humbly and constantly honor with my body, speech, and mind.

The fully awake, the buddhas, source of joy and well-being,
All come from integrating the noble Way.
Because integration depends on your knowing how to practice,
I will explain the practice of all bodhisattvas.

1
Right now, you have a good boat, fully equipped and available — hard to find.
To free others and you from the sea of samsara,
Day and night, fully alert and present,
Study, reflect, and meditate — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

2
Attraction to those close to you catches you in its currents;
Aversion to those who oppose you burns inside;
Indifference that ignores what needs to be done is a black hole.
Leave your homeland — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

3
Don’t engage disturbances and reactive emotions gradually fade away;
Don’t engage distractions and spiritual practice naturally grows;
Keep awareness clear and vivid and confidence in the way arises.
Rely on silence — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

4
You will separate from long-time friends and relatives;
You will leave behind the wealth you worked to build up;
The guest, your consciousness, will move from the inn, your body.
Forget the conventional concerns — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

5
With some friends, the three poisons keep growing,
Study, reflection, and meditation weaken,
And loving kindness and compassion fall away.
Give up bad friends — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

6
With some teachers, your shortcomings fade away and
Abilities grow like the waxing moon.
Hold such teachers dear to you,
Dearer than your own body — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

7
Locked up in the prison of their own patterning
Whom can ordinary gods protect?
Who can you count on for refuge?
Go for refuge in the Three Jewels — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

8
The suffering in the lower realms is really hard to endure.
The Sage says it is the result of destructive actions.
For that reason, even if your life is at risk,
Don’t engage in destructive actions — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

9
The happiness of the three worlds disappears in a moment,
Like a dewdrop on a blade of grass.
The highest level of freedom is one that never changes.
Aim for this — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

10
If all your mothers, who love you,
Suffer for time without beginning, how can you be happy?
To free limitless sentient beings,
Give rise to awakening mind — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

11
All suffering comes from wanting your own happiness.
Complete awakening arises from the intention to help others.
So, exchange completely your happiness
For the suffering of others — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

12
Even if someone, driven by desperate want,
Steals, or makes someone else steal, everything you own,
Dedicate to him your body, your wealth, and
All the good you’ve ever done or will do — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

13
Even if you have done nothing wrong at all
And someone still tries to take your head off,
Spurred by compassion,
Take all his or her evil into you — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

continued on next page

14
Even if someone broadcasts to the whole universe
Slanderous and ugly rumors about you,
In return, with an open and caring heart,
Praise his or her abilities — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

15
Even if someone humiliates you and denounces you
In front of a crowd of people,
Think of this person as your teacher
And humbly honor him — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

16
Even if a person you have cared for as your own child
Treats you as his or her worst enemy,
Lavish him or her with loving attention
Like a mother caring for her ill child — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

17
Even if your peers or subordinates,
Put you down to make themselves look better,
Treat them respectfully as you would your teacher:
Put them above you — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

18
When you are down and out, held in contempt,
Desperately ill, and emotionally crazed,
Don’t lose heart. Take into you
The suffering and negativity of all beings — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

19
Even when you are famous, honored by all,
And as rich as the god of wealth himself,
Don’t be pompous. Know that the magnificence of existence
Has no substance — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

20
If you don’t subdue the opponent inside, your own anger,
Although you subdue opponents outside, they just keep coming.
Muster the forces of loving kindness and compassion
And subdue your own mind — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

21
Sensual pleasures are like salty water:
The deeper you drink, the thirstier you become.
Any object that you attach to,
Right away, let it go — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

22
Whatever arises in experience is your own mind.
Mind itself is free of any conceptual limitations.
Know that and don’t generate
Subject-object fixations — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

23
When you come across something you enjoy,
Though beautiful to experience, like a summer rainbow,
Don’t take it as real.
Let go of attachment — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

24
All forms of suffering are like dreaming that your child has died.
Taking confusion as real wears you out.
When you run into misfortune,
Look at it as confusion — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

25
If those who want to be awake have to give even their bodies,
What need is there to talk about things that you simply own.
Be generous, not looking
For any return or result — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

26
If you can’t tend to your needs because you have no moral discipline,
Then intending to take care of the needs of others is simply a joke.
Observe ethical behavior without concern
For conventional existence — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

27
For bodhisattvas who want to be rich in virtue
A person who hurts you is a precious treasure.
Cultivate patience for everyone,
Completely free of irritation or resentment — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

28
Listeners and solitary buddhas, working only for their own welfare,
Are seen to practice as if their heads were on fire.
To help all beings, pour your energy into practice:
It’s the source of all abilities — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

continued on next page

29
Understanding that emotional reactions are dismantled
By insight supported by stillness,
Cultivate meditative stability that passes right by
The four formless states — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

30
Without wisdom, the five perfections
Are not enough to attain full awakening.
Cultivate wisdom, endowed with skill
And free from the three domains — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

31
If you don’t go into your own confusion,
You may just be a materialist in practitioner’s clothing.
Constantly go into your own confusion
And put an end to it — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

32
You undermine yourself when you react emotionally and
Grumble about the imperfections of other bodhisattvas.
Of the imperfections of those who have entered the Great Way,
Don’t say anything — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

33
When you squabble with others about status and rewards,
You undermine learning, reflection, and meditation.
Let go of any investment in your family circle
Or the circle of those who support you — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

34
Abusive language upsets others
And undermines the ethics of a bodhisattva.
So, don’t upset people or
Speak abusively — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

35
When reactive emotions acquire momentum, it’s hard to make remedies work.
A person in attention wields remedies like weapons,
Crushing reactive emotions such as craving
As soon as they arise — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

36
In short, in everything you do,
Know what is happening in your mind.
By being constantly present and aware
You bring about what helps others — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

37
To dispel the suffering of beings without limit,
With wisdom freed from the three spheres
Direct all the goodness generated by these efforts
To awakening — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

Following the teachings of the holy ones
On what is written in the sutras, tantras, and commentaries,
I set out these thirty-seven practices of a bodhisattva
For those who intend to train in this path.

Because I have limited intelligence and little education,
These verses are not the kind of poetry that delights the learned.
But because I relied on the teachings of the sutras and the revered
I am confident that The Practices of a Bodhisattva is sound.

However, because it’s hard for a person with limited intelligence like me
To fathom the depths of the great waves of the activity of bodhisattvas,
I ask the revered to tolerate
Any mistakes — contradictions, non sequiturs, and such.

From the goodness of this work, may all beings,
Through the supreme mind that is awake to what is ultimately and apparently true,
Not rest in any limiting position — existence or peace:
May they be like Lord All Seeing.

Tog-me, the monk, a teacher of scripture and logic, composed this text in a cave near the town of Ngülchu Rinchen for his own and others’ benefit.

158 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Buddha Flowering Moon Festival

5 May 2012

 

Or Wesak

Wesak is the day observed by Theravada and Mahayana Buddhists that commemorates Siddharta Gautama Buddha. More specifically, it celebrates his birth, his attainment of enlightenment, and his death without being reborn (birth, nirvana, parinirvana) . No small feat considering he started out as a prince, and could have immersed himself in earthly delights until he died in opulence, smothered under his own flab, to be reborn as ringworm or something.

For Buddhists, it is a time of reaffirmation of their vows to live in peace and harmony with those around them by following the eightfold path and the five precepts.

Five Precepts

Eight-fold Path

  Right view
Abstain from taking life Right intention
Abstain from taking what is not given Right speech
Abstain from sexual misconduct Right action
Abstain from false speech Right livelihood
Abstain from fermented drink Right effort
  Right mindfulness
  Right concentration

Offerings of flowers, candles and incense are traditionally made, as each is a reminder of the temporary state of being. Flowers wilt, candles and incense burn. Celebrants are also expected to make a special effort to bring happiness to the neglected corners of the world, the infirm, the elderly (all too neglected in North America, sad to say), the homeless, and so on. Happiness is pursued in a significant manner, not through catering to one’s whimsy, but in creating beauty, and sharing warmth with those around us.

Personally, I’m stringing a garland of flowers for my Buddha statue, and finding a nice tranquil spot to set him up, as a reminder to keep chill and be helpful. I’m also thinking of putting a clown nose on him, to remind us all not to take ourselves too seriously. Buddha was never a god, just a guy. Buddhism isn’t a religion per se, but a belief system that is compatible with any given religion (despite Muhammed Omar).

Gautama wasn’t trying to develop a new religion or belief system, he was simply trying to figure out how to be a good person, and shared what he learned. From what I gather, it involves sitting and stilling the disruptive jabber that makes up most of modern living.

Whichever path you chose, one more holiday is never a bad thing. I think we have far too few as it is.

230 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Three Pillars of Zen

13 April 2012

A Collection of Talks, Letters and Advice from Yasutani-Roshi, Bassui and Harada-Roshi

the Three Pillars of Zen by Roshi Philip Kapleau

Part One – Theory and Practice

p31 “…on the morning of the eighth of December, at the very instant when [O-Shaka-sama aka buddha Shakyamuni] glanced at the planet Venus gleaming in the eastern sky, he attained perfect enlightenment.”

p32 “Most people place a high value on abstract thought, but Buddhism has clearly demonstrated that discriminative thinking lies at the root of delusion.”

“To be sure, abstract thinking is useful when wisely employed – which is to say, when its nature and limitations are properly understood – but as long as human beings remain slaves to their intellect, fettered and controlled by it, they can well be called sick.”

p41 “Makyo are the phenomena – visions, hallucinations, fantasies, revelations, illusory sensations – which one practicing zazen is apt to experience at a particular stage in his sitting. Ma means “devil” and kyo “the objective world.” Hence makyo are the disturbing or “diabolical” phenomena which appear to one during zazen.”

p42 “Broadly speaking, the entire life of the ordinary man is nothing but a makyo.”

p45-6 “Through the practice of bompu [ordinary] Zen, you learn to concentrate and control your mind. It never occurs to most people to try to control their minds, and unfortunately this basic training is left out of contemporary education, not being part of what is called the acquisition of knowledge. Yet without it what we learn is difficult to retain because we learn it improperly, wasting much energy in the process. Indeed, we are virtually crippled unless we know how to restrain our thoughts and concentrate our minds. Furthermore, by practicing this very excellent mode of mind training you will find yourself increasingly able to resist temptations to which you had previously succumbed, and to sever attachments which had long held you in bondage. An enrichment of personality and a strengthening of character inevitably follow since the three basic elements of the mind – that is, intellect, feeling, and will – develop harmoniously.”

p49 “The aims of zazen are three: 1) development of the power of concentration (joriki), 2) satori-awakening (kensho-godo), and 3) actualization of the Supreme Way in our daily lives (mujodo no taigen).”

p60 “Strictly speaking, you ought not to think of zazen in terms of time.”

p79 “What is the substance of this Buddha- or Dharma-nature? In Buddhism it is called ku [shunyata]. Now, ku is not mere emptiness. it is that which is living, dynamic, devoid of mass, unfixed, beyond individuality or personality – the matrix of all phenomena. Here we have the fundamental principle or doctrine or philosophy of Buddhism.”

p80 “We die because we are alive. Living means birth and death. Creation and destruction signify life.”

p113 “Student C: I feel Mu is everything and nothing. I feel it is like a reflection of the moon on a lake, with no moon and no lake, only reflection.
Roshi: You have a keen theoretical grasp of Mu, a clear picture of it in your mind; now you need to take hold of it directly.”

p115 “It is simply a matter of engrossing yourself in Mu so totally that there is no room for thoughts of any kind, including Mu itself.”

p118 “There are those who do zazen for years, with strong joriki, yet never awaken. Why not? Because in their deepest unconscious they can’t disabuse themselves of the idea that the world is external to them, that they are a sovereign individuality independent of and opposed by other individualities. To renounce such conceptions is to stand in “darkness.” Now, satori comes out of this “darkness,” not out of the “light” of reason and worldly knowledge.”

“In Zen it is said that ‘the grand round mirror of wisdom is as black as pitch.'”

p120 “Deep in our subconsciousness the conception of ‘me’ and ‘other’ is strong. We think ‘I am here, what is not me is out there.’ This is an illusion; inherently there is not such dichotomy… but this ‘I’ is so powerfully imbedded that it can’t be uprooted by reasoning. In single-minded concentration on Mu you are not aware of ‘I’ standing against what is ‘not-I.’ If the absorption in Mu continues without interruption, the ‘I-ness’ dies out in the subconscious mind. Suddenly ”Plap!’ – there is no more duality. To experience this directly is kensho.”

p124 “Your mind, like a mirror, reflects everything – this table, this mat – whatever you see. If you don’t perceive anything, the mirror reflects itself. Now, everybody’s mind is different. How my mind reflects objects differs from the way yours does. Whatever is in your mind is the reflection of your mind, therefore it is you. So when you perceive this mat or this table, you are perceiving yourself. Again, when your mind is devoid of all conceptions – opinions, ideas, points of view, values, notions, assumptions – your mind is reflecting itself. This is the condition of undifferentiated Mu.”

Enlightenment and practice are one. — Dogen

p136 “Your mind is at the spot where you put your attention. if you concentrate on your finger your mind is at your finger; if on your leg, at that place. With your mind concentrated below the navel your vital energy gradually becomes stabilized in that region.”

The truly virtuous is not conscious of his virtue. The man of inferior virtue, however, is ever consciously concerned with his virtue and therefore he is without true virtue. True virtue is spontaneous and lays no claim to virtue —Lao-tzu Tao Teh Ching

p156 “…man is forever seeking and grasping. Why? he grasps for the world because intuitively he longs to be rejoined with that from which he has been estranged through delusion. It is in consequence of this alienation that we find the strong overcoming the weak and the weak accepting enslavement as an alternative to death. Yet when undeluded, human beings naturally gravitate toward one another. Those with strong natures want to cherish and protect the weak, while the latter long to be cherished by them. So we have the Buddha, who is spiritually powerful, embracing us who are weak, and we bow down before him in grateful acceptance of his overwhelming compassion. Like a mother caressing her infant, here there is no separateness, only harmony and oneness. Everything in nature seeks this unity. If you carefully observe the pod of a lotus, you will see that when drops of rain or dew overflow the little combs, they merge.”

p157 “…because [man] falsely sees himself as no more than his puny body, just a speck in the universe, he is constantly endeavouring to enlarge himself through possessions and power. But when he awakens to the fact that he embraces the whole universe, he ceases his grasping, for he no longer feels a lack within himself.”

p178-9 “…’Arouse the Mind without its abiding anywhere.’ Thousands of words spoken directly by Buddhas and patriarchs add up to this one phrase. Mind is the True-nature of things, transcending all forms. The True-nature is the Way. The Way is Buddha. Buddha is Mind. Mind is not within or without or in between. It is not being or nothingness or non-being or non-nothingness or Buddha or mind or matter. So it is called the abodeless Mind. The Mind sees colors with the eyes, hears sounds with the ears. Look for this master directly!”

Dogen on “Being-Time”

p309-311 “An ancient Zen master said: ‘Being-time stands on the topmost peak and in the utmost depths of the sea, being-time is three heads and eight elbows, being-time is a height of sixteen or eighteen feet, being-time is a monk’s staff, being time is a hossu, being-time is a stone lantern, being-time is Taro, being-time is Jiro, being-time is earth, being-time is sky.’

“‘Being-time’ means that time is being. Every existent thing is time. The sixteen-foot golden figure is time. As it is time it has the grandeur of time. You must learn that it is twelve hours of ‘nowness.’ Three heads and eight elbows is time. Since it is time it cannot but be identical with these twelve hours this every moment. Though we do not measure twelve hours as a long or a short time, still we [arbitrarily] call them twelve hours. The traces of the ebb and flow of time are so evident that we do not doubt them; yet, though we do not doubt them, we ought not to conclude that we understand them. Human beings are changeable, at one time questioning what they do not understand and at another time no longer questioning the same thing, so their former questionings do not always coincide with their present ones. The questioning alone, for its duration, is time.

“Man disposes himself and construes this disposition as the world. You must recognize that every thing, every being in this entire world is time. No object obstructs another, just as no time obstructs another. Thus the initial orientation of each different mind toward the truth exists within the same time, and for each mind there is as well a moment of commencement in its orientation toward truth. It is no different with practice-enlightenment.

“Man disposes himself and looks upon this disposition [as the world]. That man is time is undeniably accept that in this world there are millions of objects and that each one is, respectively, the entire world  – this is where the study of buddhism commences. When one comes to realize this fact, [one perceives that] every object, every living thing is the whole, even though it itself does not realize it. As there is no other time than this, every being-time is the whole of time: one blade of grass, every single object is time. Each point of time includes every being and every world.

“Just consider whether or not there are any conceivable beings or any conceivable worlds which are not included in this present time. If you are the ordinary person, unlearned in Buddhism, upon hearing the words aru toki you will doubtlessly understand [that they mean ‘at one time,’ that is] that at one time Being appeared as three heads and eight elbows, that at one time Being was a height of sixteen or eighteen feet, or that at one time I waded through the river and at one time crossed the mountain. You may think that that mountain and that river are things of the past, that I have left them behind and am now living in this palatial building – they are as separate from me as heaven is from earth.

“However, the truth has another side. When I climbed the mountain and crossed the river, I was [time]. Time must needs be with me. I have always been’ time cannot leave me. When time is not regarded as a phenomenon which ebbs and flows, the time I climbed the mountain is the present moment of being-time.. When time is not thought of as coming and going, this moment is absolute time for me. At the time I climbed the mountain and crossed the river, did I not experience the tie I am in this building? Three heads and eight elbows is yesterday’ time, a height of eighteen or sixteen feet is today’s; but ‘yesterday’ or ‘today’ means the time when one goes straight into the mountains and sees ten thousand peaks. It has never passed. Three heads and eight elbows is my being-time. It seems to be of the past, but it is of the present. A height of sixteen or eighteen feet is my being-time. It appears to be passing, but it is now. Thus the pine is time, as is the bamboo.

“Do not regard time as merely flying away; do not think that flying away is its sole function. For time to fly away there would have to be a separation [between it and things]. Because you imagine that time only passes, you do not learn the truth of being-time. In a word, every being in the entire world is a separate time in one continuum. And since being is time, I am my being-time. Time has the quality of passing, so to speak, from today to tomorrow, from today to yesterday, from yesterday to today, from today to today, from tomorrow to tomorrow. because this passing is a characteristic of time, present time and past time do not overlap or impinge upon one another. But the master Esigen is time, Obaku is time, Kosei is time, Sekito is time. Since you and I are time, practice-enlightenment is time.”

252 Days to Dec 21st 2012


the Abysmal Centre

4 April 2012

Something to consider every now and zen.

I’m becoming increasingly interested in Zen. It’s something that’s been drifting around the periphery of my attention for some time, but lately, I’ve decided to pay a little more attention. Brad Warner was brought to my attention as an ordained Zen practitioner (if that’s the right term for him) who has retained a good amount of his punkish attitude. I’ve only found one of his books at the library, Sex, Sin and Zen, which was interesting enough, but his sense of humour sometimes rubs me the wrong way. I appreciate that his criticism is consistent in that it seeks to cut the extraneous nonsense out of practice. Do zazen, and forget all the mindfulness, enlightenment talk.

Having gotten a taste for it (and doing zazen as much as my still old legs will allow), I signed up for an introduction at the White Wind Zen Community. In the meantime, I read Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, which at its heart repeats the same ideas as Warner supports. I’d subscribed to Suzuki’s facebook feed (he died in 1971), and have been receiving occasional quotes from the man, not really knowing much about him. This is often how my life seems to work out. Serendipity is a very real force, and the key to it (and to Zen practice) is paying attention.

Next, I picked up the Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau. I read it over a decade ago, and figure I’d see what new perspective would add to the reading. So far, it’s similar stuff to what Suzuki & Warner have written, which is encouraging. There doesn’t seem to be huge discrepancies at the heart of it, although different “schools” practice in different ways. I imagine that these differences are more in the details. Every time I sit down to read, within a few pages, I’m eager to sit in zazen some more. It’s getting easier, but I still can’t get my legs into the preferred position. It seems like it’s attainable given patience and time. We’ll see.

Zen and theAbysmal

Having just dipped a toe in the ocean of Zen practice, I’m hardly qualified to draw any conclusions and make any statements about it, or, I am already, and should just sit down and shut up.

My recent foray into Zen keeps bringing up the idea of theAbysmal Centre, which I’ve been playing with for years now. There is a commonality of theme, in that it represents both one and zero, the centre and the perimeter, everything and nothing, being and non-being, etc, along those lines. It is the realization of self at its most fundamental as perfect in its current incarnation – one just needs to take down all the window dressing to see it.

I’ve had such positive experiences with meditation of late that I’m seeking a regular place for practice. It’s much easier sitting in a room full of other people than to do it by oneself (provided the others aren’t playing Call of Duty  – that’s a more advanced exercise).

Also, this: How to draw a Zen circle (Enso)

261 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

3 April 2012

Entering into the centre of Zen, which is mind-bending, or unbending, or both, and neither.

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

Right Practice

p23 “Zazen practice is the direct expression of our true nature. Strictly speaking, for a human being, there is no other practice than this practice; there is no other way of life than this way of life.”

p25 “These forms are not the means of obtaining the right state of mind. To take this posture is itself to have the right state of mind. There is no need to obtain some special state of mind.”

p29 “What we call ‘I’ is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale.”

p31 ‘To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him.”

p34 “Because we all enjoy all aspects of life as an unfolding of big mind, we do not care for any excessive joy. So we have imperturbable composure.”

p36 “You should rather be grateful for weeds you have in your mind, because eventually they will enrich your practice.”

p38 “In the zazen posture, your mind and body have great power to accept things as they are, whether agreeable or disagreeable.”

p41 “To stop your mind does not mean to stop the activities of mind. It means your mind pervades your whole body. With your full mind you form the mudra in your hands.”

p43 “Bowing is very serious practice. You should be prepared to bow, even in your last moment. Even though it is impossible to get rid of our self-centered desires, we have to do it. Our true nature wants us to.”

p46 “If you continue this simple practice every day, you will obtain some wonderful power. Before you attain it, it is something wonderful, but after you attain it, it is nothing special.”

Right Attitude

p51 “The point we emphasize is strong confidence in our original nature.”

p53 “Even if the sun were to rise from the west, the Bodhisattva has only one way.”

p55 “If you lose the spirit of repetition, your practice will become quite difficult.”

p57 “Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.”

p59 “If your practice is good, you may become proud of it. What you do is good, but something more is added to it. Pride is extra. Right effort is to get rid of something extra.”

p62 “When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.”

p65 “‘To give is non-attachment,’ that is, just not to attach anything is to give.”

p71 “It is when your practice is rather greedy that you become discouraged with it. So you should be grateful that you have a sign or warning signal to who you the weak point in your practice.”

p75 “Usually when someone believes in a particular religion, his attitude becomes more and more a sharp angle pointing away from himself. In our way the point of the angle is always towards ourselves.”

p76 “To have some deep feeling about Buddhism is not the point; we just do what we should do, like eating supper and going to bed. This is Buddhism.”

p80 “When you become you, Zen becomes Zen. When you are you, you see things as they are, and you become one with your surroundings.”

p83 “People who know the state of emptiness will always be able to dissolve their problems by constancy.”

p86 “Without any intentional, fancy way of adjusting yourself, to express yourself as you are is the most important thing.”

p90 “Big mind is something to express, not something to figure out. Big mind is something you have, not something you seek for.”

p92 “Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact, we have no fear of death anymore, nor actual difficulty in our life.”

Right Understanding

p97 “Our understanding of Buddhism is not ust an intellectual understanding. True understanding is actual practice itself.”

p99 “If you are trying to attain enlightenment, you are creating and being driven by karma, and you are wating your time on your black cushion.”

p102 “We should find perfect existence through imperfect existence.”

p104 “When you do something, if you fix your mind on the activity with some confidence, the quality of your state of mind is the activity itself. When you are concentrated on the quality of your being, you are prepared for the activity.”

p107 “Moment after moment, everyone comes out from nothingness. This is the true joy of life.”

p110 “When you study Buddhism you should have a general house cleaning of your mind.”

p113 “It is the readiness of the mind that is wisdom.”

p116 “In our everyday life our thinking is ninety-nine percent self-centered. ‘Why do I have suffering? Why do I have trouble?'”

p118 “That we are attached to some beauty is also Buddha’s activity.”

p121 “for Zen students a weed is a treasure.”

p123 “There is something blasphemous in talking about how Buddhism is perfect as a philosophy or teaching without knowing what it actually is.”

p125 “Actually, we are not the Soto school at all. We are just Buddhists We are not even Zen Buddhists. If we understand this point, we are truly Buddhists.”

p127 “To realize pure mind in your delusion is practice. If you try to expel the delusion it will only persist the more. Just say ‘Oh, this is just delusion,’ and do not be bothered with it.”

p131 “If you take pride in your attainment or become discouraged because of your idealistic effort, your practice will confine you by a thick wall.”

p133 “Before the rain stops we can hear a bird Even under the heavy snow we see snowdrops and some new growth.”

262 Days to Dec 21st 2012