Thursday, October 28, 2004

The 'Is-ness' of Things

One thing which has come to me over and over again in recent days is the profound ‘is-ness’ of things. By this, I don’t mean the ‘suchness’, to use Buddhist terminology. What I mean is that when I look at a leaf, it is extraordinary how ‘leafy’ it is …. the texture ripples with extraordinary ‘rippleness’ .. the colours are so vibrant .. greens are so ‘green’ … the sheen on the leaf is so ‘sheeny’ … the shape is so ‘leafy’ and on and on. Everything I look at …. My computer keyboard, the sunrise this morning, my cup, my hand, the carpet …. All are so vibrantly what they are .. such utterly, extraordinarily rich and full.

Why is that? …. The inevitable ‘why’ question from myself! Well, I believe it is because as my meditation matures, then the clarity aspect of mind is becoming purified, and the conceptual overlay on sense perceptions is lessoning its hold. As such, I directly perceive the sensory impressions from the first 5 senses more directly, without the veil of conceptual overlay – all the endless associations which that thing has had for me, and so see things much more clearly and vividly than before.

What is so profound for me is how amazing this world of sensory impressions really is. With the benefits of meditation, the sensory fatigue of the normal mind is cleared, and an openess to the richness of experience opens up. Much like ‘beginners mind’, and much like the sheer wonderment and openess of the small child but with intelligence and wisdom intact, the clarified awareness brings the world to life, and the sense of sacredness to the fore.

This ‘is-ness’ of things is so apparent. And yet.

And yet, when you continue to look deeply, the ‘is-ness’, this new found richness, the is-ness melts away, nowhere to be seen, as the emptiness of all impressions comes to view.

How amazing, that appearances are so magical, so vibrant, so utterly powerful in their charge, compared to the non-meditating mind.

And how amazing that none of it truly exists, at all ….. a phantasm which entices and entrances.

Monday, October 25, 2004

How Blessed!

..... my two old boy, sitting on my lap, clasped to me with his little hug, whilst I gently chant and meditate. Moments before, he was mid-tantrum, screaming and kicking ... lost in his pain.

How beautiful to share those precious moments with him, 5 minutes together, with peace in our hearts.

.... how beautifully the meditation stilled his heart. How blessed we all are.

Friday, October 22, 2004

My Identity is Portable

I was re-reading one of my favourite blogs this morning - Willow's 'Life as a Dervish'. Her blog resonates really strongly, I guess because I've also lived abroad for many years in a totally different culture from the one that I was born into. And for me, that experience was just like meditation - a mirror which illuminated so much, so much that I previously took for granted and didn't see, because it was just too close and familiar. But I get a sense in her blog that although it seems as though that new cultural experience is very alien, in a sense, it's more 'home' than 'home' ever was.

One phrase above all others has stuck in my mind from her postings is 'My Identity is Portable', which seems to keep popping up in my consciousness like a cork floating in water. I too have a sense of carrying an identity around with me .. not a solid one anymore, as in pre-Dharma days ... where 'I' was 'me', and I knew who I was ... and strongly attached myself to all manner of views about myself .... but more an amorphous shimmering visage, which mutates like a shadow play before my eyes, endlessly reinventing itself in colours and shapes, most-times reflecting back what is projected forward. An identity which tells more about what looks, than what is looked at .... which coalesces around thoughts and feelings at that moment .... an illusory solidity, which conspires to reassure, yet is ultimately groundless, absent, and a phantasm.

Yet the magical display proceeds ... and pops up here and there ... a sense of continuity, a sense of centre .... a knowingness which lies behind both seeming identity and appearances that arise. This luminous knowingness which projects as both identity and world perceived ... creator, knower, that which obstructs nothing, yet enables all to be ...

All is not what it seems, so no wonder conventional notions seem complex, confused and paradoxical. My Identity is Portable ... nothing to get worked up about ... just a magical display ... in the mirror of ..... ?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Quote - Four Themed Precious Garland

The supreme peerless vehicle of the secret Dzogchen, the Great Completeness, functions to bring you directly into the Sphere of that which is spontaneously there. This sphere, which is the foundation, is unchanging.... It need not be sought for because it is spontaneously present from time immemorial. No trying or effort is required. This path is naturally obvious. The mandala sphere of clear light is unconditioned. It is the innate Dharmakaya, the all pervasive intentionality of the Buddhas. To realize it is the supreme view of reality.

from the ‘Four Themed Precious Garland’

Just wanted to post this beautiful Dzogchen evocation of the Ground, Path and Fruition.

Peerless inspiration ... how extraordinary that the Realised Ones could leave words which point to the wordless, signs which point to that which could not be pointed to!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Never Absolutely So ...

I have been thinking a lot this last few days about how pretty much any statement you make about approaches to Dharma can be contradicted. I was reflecting on Al's post the other day:
Seated meditation is the arena in which the meditator practices his own fundamental skills. The game the meditator is playing is the experience of his own life, and the instrument upon which he plays is his own sensory apparatus. Even the most seasoned meditator continues to practice seated meditation, because it tunes and sharpens the basic mental skills he needs for his particular game. We must never forget, however, that seated meditation itself is not the game. It's the practice. The game in which those basic skills are to be applied is the rest of one's experiential existence. Meditation that is not applied to daily living is sterile and limited.
and thinking "though that may be just so for Al, actually for me, that's not actually how it is. Seated meditation *is* the game, just as much as 'post meditation' *is* the game. It's all the game, and none of it is practice". Practice could imply somewhere you go to try to get it right, then turn it on when it's really important .... in life itself. Or it could imply that there is a significant difference between meditation and post-meditation, and that one is somewhere where you really do it, and the other is where you try to carry it over. Or a whole bunch of other things which aren't really how it is ... all of them too-hard dualisms.

But for me, at this time, it's all a seamless whole ... there isn't really much difference between meditating and post-meditation time .... sure, in one I am following a particular sadhana, a particular set of visualisations and recitations in sequence, but essentially the way I view mind, how I relate to what appears, and how I *am* is the same.

But this is not to say that I think Al is wrong! Far from it. Just that perspectives on Dharma practice so much relates to what is right for you at the time, and it's so hard to generalise too much beyond that. What is right for me now may not be right next week, or even the next moment! Let alone be right for someone else.

For me, the concept of *practice* seems a bit iffy, if you know what I mean. Life just is, and Dharma is the way I see it, relate to it, and experience it. For someone else, it's vital to have a sense of practice, in order to get to grips with how their life is, and initiate the types of forces and motivations which they wish to bring to bear and cultivate.

And Al didn't say this was right for everyone always either ... he talked of himself, and how it is now.

If only more people in the world would realise how relative their views are .... how much more tolerance of difference their might be .... and peace in the world.

Just a view!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Compassion Gap

The last few days (whilst ill) I've been reflecting on how painful it is watching other people suffer. And how hard it is to help them to see the causes of their suffering.

So often when we suffer we can see what is going on, where the attachment is, where the resistance to how things are is, where we are trying to make things other than how they are, crashing our desires up against the state of things, until the rough edge of suffering throws on the red light in our awareness which says "stop! ... this isn't the way to achieve happiness". And then we start to loosen our grip, to ease back, and allow the tight knots of ignorant action to unwind, still painful, but easing over time, now that their fuel and momentum has been cut.

But when another is suffering, and unable to see the causes, we feel compelled to help out of compassion. We so want to show them what we see, lend them the eyes of awareness that we've developed, and thereby give them the tools to dismantle the structure of their pain. But how often does someone without the dharma truly see where suffering is self-caused? How often do they get past saying "it was him", or "if only this was different", or "once I've done this it'll be fine again" ... all the time trying to reset the world, to alter conditions there which somehow are compelling them to pain. If only we could share our insight, and enable the paradigm shift which no longer blames the happenings of the world for our suffering, but sees the cause in our responses to those happenings. It's not the world, it's us, the way we act that fuels the fires of pain.

We try to help, to distract, to console, to suggest other ways of looking at the situation, and the reactions going on. To point to what can be done, and what cannot be done. But how hard indeed for them to make that leap from 'the world' to 'my response', and so begin the journey.

And how hard indeed it is to be there with their suffering, wishing to help, trying to help, and seeing that suffering caused time and time again. The child who's behaviour keeps on bringing them pain instead of happiness. The partner who keeps grasping for things outside of themselves as lifelines. The hardest thing seems to be to accept the limits of what our compassion can do to help, and to allow them to suffer on. We wish for a magic wand, a wish-fulfilling jewel, that will wipe away their pain in an instant, never to return. We wish we had infinite power to make those changes, so that never again do they taste the bitterness of defeat. But our compassionate actions have limits, other beings karma is strong, and that gap between what our compassion would like to do and what can be done is ever present.

Our own pain is so easy to bear as we can see where the roots are, and the path beyond is never out of sight, however hard it is to reach. But when another suffers, it sometimes seems like a blind man groping around for a solution, so hard it is to bear that directionless search for release.

So the gap between what our compassion impels us to do and what we are able to do at this time is there, and once more is an opportunity to do the work, to see how things are, to see what can be done, do what can be done, and then let go with what cannot .... allowing things to be, as they are ... for now.

Bearing suffering, and bearing our inability to help .... bearing witness to suffering ... and just being there ... in the gap.

And coming back to the view ... the view that these arisings, these appearances, are ultimately empty, empty of substance ... so allowing them to be what they are ... plays of the mind, the dance of the mind ...

and staying in *that* gap .... between solid/not solid, real/not real, exists/not exists

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Echoes Beyond Time

I was reflecting this morning on how certain things seem to reach out to me from beyond time and space. They are so deep, so closely connected to me, indeed, they seem to *be* me in a sense, in the sense that I cannot separate or distinguish between them and me.

For example, some dharma words or names I come across resonate so deeply that they seem to come from within, not without, nor even within seems close enough.

In Machig Labdron's life story, when she receives major empowerment, at a certain point she rises off the floor, displays a great array of deities and dakinis, and flies out through the walls of the building! In her namthar (her spiritual life story), it is said that she lands at the Tree of Serlag.

This Tree of Serlag is a name, a tree, which has stuck in my mind ever since the first time I read her biography, resonating, echoing, on and on. The name itself seems delicious, and delightfully rolls around my mind like rolling food rolls around in ones mouth.

What is this tree, this place, that is said to be terrible to behold, a dark place inhabited by powerful nagas, and spirits? What visions does it conjure up, for those unprepared? Machig overpowered the naga and his display of demons with the power of her samadhi. The scene seems so vivid ... the empowerment, her leaving through the walls themselves, and the tree .. that tree!

The lama who gave Machig the empowerment was called Kyoton Sonam Lama ... another name that reaches in so deep. I dreamt of him one night, a powerful dream, which lingers in memory to this day.

How is it that these names are embedded so deep in my consciousness? How do they resonate so, where other words don't? What karmic connection is there, from past lives, with this place and people? It reminds me of stories where disciples first encountered the names of their future gurus, like when Gampopa first heard the name 'Milarepa', or when Naropa heard the name 'Tilopa'. Such reactions were stirred up in them, never to be quelled, with the connection resonating even beyond Enlightenment itself.

Chanting the words of my Sadhana (my deity practice), the words seem to echo down from beyond any reference point, as if all beings chant them together, always have, always will ... one eternal chant ... enveloping all ... expressing all.

These connections seem so deep, they reach out beyond time itself. So deep, that they're inside, outside, all around ... they are my very being. Where do I start, and where do I end? Identification with this body and mind is lessoned, and other vistas open up, connections ... no ... more than that ... inseparability. No beginning and no end .... interconnected .... interpenetrating.

Resonating, Ripples ..... How fortunate indeed to open to what is. How fortunate indeed to have precious teachers and gurus. How precious indeed this lifetime, this opportunity, this chance to attain Liberation, and help all beings recognise their true home, which they never left .... just forgot.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


I will wait.

Waiting in the face of the unpleasant, the difficult, the challenging. Waiting in the face of uncertainty, confusion and disorientation.

Patience - bearing with that which is hard to bear. Allowing things to be, however they are. Not trying to grasp it and force it to be other. Allowing a young plant to grow, by just watering it with awareness, patience and kindness. Not trying to make it grow faster by grabbing it (with impatience, with wanting it to be other than it is, with ill-will or attachment) and trying to pull it up and stretch it into faster growth.

Things are as they are. Mind is as it is. Looking deeply, does it change? Does it?

Appearances come and go .... or so it seems. Do they really?

The play of appearances entrances, and like a rabbit in a headlight, we get caught up, entranced, and snared in their intoxicating fullness. Emotions swirl like deep ocean currents, stirring up the mind, sweeping one along. The froth and foam on the surface grabs the attention with its dramatic movement.

The waves and the ocean, the depths and the surface. How is the mind? How is what we call life?

Endless activity, but is it?

Changing appearances, but do they?

What arises, and what changes?

And what if that which arises is so utterly not what you wish for in life? What if it is so utterly not what you 'think' is going to help you, or other beings?

Well, how do you know? How do you know what is 'good' and what is 'bad', what will 'help', and what 'will not'?

How do you ultimately know?

So why make judgements on how things are, and get swept up in seeming conditions, in changing appearances.

Wait, Look, See how things are.

Just look .... deeply ..... and allow the lotus flower to unfold.

What *is* reveals itself, though it isn't an 'it', and nothing is 'revealed'.

And 'nobody' 'looks', and 'nothing unfolds' .... and yet, and yet .... and yet!

Monday, October 11, 2004

What Would I Do?

That's what I would do .... I would wait.

One of my strongest memories of Herman Hesse's novel Siddhartha, is of a part where the character Siddhartha is asked what can he do ... what skills does he have. And Siddhartha's reply was "I can fast, I can think, and I can wait". And that has always stayed strongly with me ....

I can wait.

and watch (the mind) .....

and the path will clarify and open up.

When Dreams Lie Broken

What do you do when your future disappears like a mirage, and all your plans lie broken ?

Years of work, moving forward, step by step, ... then gone.

The road ahead disappears ... but will another take its place?

Imagined future gone ... but did it ever exist?

All that's left is 'don't know' ... and faith. Faith that the way ahead will become clear. Faith that doors will open. Faith that all was not in vain.

Interesting 'problem' ... like a death, a bereavement.

Loss and gain, happiness and pain. The winds keep on blowing ....

So what do you do?

Friday, October 08, 2004

Graceful Presence

After reading Meridith's gracious comments on my blog, I 'discovered' hers ....
Today, with my friend's words in my heart, I felt very calm, and centered. My interactions seem to bloom from a spiritual center today – full of warm and radiant light. I opened my heart with each person I came into contact with. I listened more intently, and spoke openly with less restraint. When I am able to listen and speak from this space, there is a mystical quality in the interaction. Today, I risked more, opening my heart more intentionally, and noticed subtle rewarding differences. The energy with others was gentler today. Eyes sparkled. Faces relaxed. Conversations became more real, honest, and hopeful.
Graceful Presence

Eh Ma Ho!

Beautiful expression of the opening of the heart ...... what more is there to say!


An Autumn morning
Reveals her splendour;
Birds play at flight.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Online Kagyu Study Group

I have been thinking recently about setting up a Online Dharma Study Group, and wondered if anyone out there was interested. Perhaps I could briefly describe what would be involved, and also some background to how it might be organised?

The group study would centre around a Yahoo e-group, like those such as DWBN-chat, which would have open membership. Involvement in the group would be open to anyone with an interest in the materials. My idea is to systematically study a text, starting with Gampopa’s ‘Jewel Ornament of Liberation’. The reason for this is that it sets out the path (from a Kagyu perspective) in a systematic fashion, step by step, from Buddha Nature right through to Wisdom and Buddhahood and beyond. So it covers pretty much the major areas of Dharma from beginnings on the path right through to Englightenment.

The group would go through the text, section by section, over a period of perhaps 6 months or a year. For each section in turn, the facilitator of the group would put forward a number of discussion points. They would then provide a focus for reflection and discussion on that section, though the discussion wouldn’t be limited just to those points of course. After a certain period (perhaps a week) or when the discussion of that point begins to wind down, the group would move on to the next section, triggered by the facilitator of the group.

Those involved in the study would need a copy of the text studied. There are 3 English language translations available, and I believe the text has been translated into other languages too. For each section studied, the idea would be to read the materials, spend time reflecting on them, and then meditate on them, holding the sense of understanding in one’s mind as one pointedly as possible. On the basis of that reflection and meditation, people can bring questions to the discussion, respond to questions etc. People could bring in quotes from other sources which were relevant, their life experiences … basically anything which is relevant to the section under discussion.

The inspiration for the structure of the group comes from another online group which studied a different Lamrim text (a graduated series of teachings) which I took part in some 3 years ago or so. It seemed those involved (including myself) found great benefit in the study, and learnt a lot from the process, and from each other.

I have been thinking for a while it might be nice to have such an online study group, studying Kagyu Dharma, in an informal, yet systematic way. Several people in the past have suggested they would like to be involved in something like this, but were not in a position financially to go somewhere for the study, or perhaps didn’t have a group of people in their locality to study with. So an online group seems like a useful addition to the various supports to practice which are available. The idea of the group is obviously to add a new support to practice which would work alongside those we already have. The group would be open to all, whether Kagyu, other Buddhist, or even non-Buddhist, as long as the person had a genuine interest in the materials at hand.

I would be happy to facilitate the group, coming up with the set of topics for each section, and do the appropriate admin work. The success of the group would obviously be down to how much each person involves themselves in the study, reflection and discussion.

I’m basically bringing this up (here, and elsewhere) to see what the level of interest is. It would need a certain amount of interest to get the group off the ground. Though people could join in at any time of course, the ideal would be to be involved at the start, as the text starts with fundamentals like the four ordinary foundations – precious human birth, impermanence etc, and so there is some sense in building from the ground up.

My thought is that when this text is finished, the group could move on to study other materials, such as HH3 Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje’s ‘Aspiration Prayer of Mahamudra’, for example.

The ideas above are not fixed or final, and are open to discussion. They are simply based on how this other group successfully operated. If people have an interest in the group, and would like to express the desire to take part, then perhaps they could email me at my Personal Email or they could add comments here of course.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Compassion, Judging and Wisdom

Some reflections on Compassion, judging the correctness of actions, and Wisdom - in response to a discussion on a Buddhist list about a particular collective action that had taken place there.

I've been reflecting quite a lot the last few days on these discussions on the list. Two themes which seem to have recurred in these discussions were ...

Was it compassionate to do this particular action?


Did we do the right thing, or act in the best possible way in doing so?

In reflecting on the nature of compassion, and it's application to this event, one thing which struck me this week was that in a sense the issues around this act aren't really just about compassion as such. Trying to judge whether an action was useful or right for someone isn't just about compassion.

Looking and reflecting, it seems to me that compassion is very much a motivation, it's the desire to help, if you like, to respond to someone's suffering. It's not really the choice of action, or how you choose that action as the right one, but actually the motivation behind actions, as it were. In the Thera teachings compassion is described as response of loving kindness (Metta) when it meets the sufferings of a being. It's what is drawn out of you in terms of feeling and motivation, in a sense. You care, you empathise and you wish to help. In that sense, compassion is the desire to act to relieve that suffering.

When we act on the basis of that compassion, that desire to help, then how do we express that .... how do we choose which action to take in order to help?

Well, what struck me this week (and I may be entirely up the garden path with this, as they say in England), what struck me is that the way we choose how to help is through wisdom, not compassion. The working out of how best to help, the sensing of it, the judging of it, this is a function of wisdom, not compassion. To act to help requires that we see things as they are, and then know what is needed .. and these require wisdom. It struck me that all 5 wisdoms - mirror-like wisdom, discriminating wisdom, wisdom of equality etc, all these are needed to truly see things as they are, and to know the best course of action to help that being. In that sense, compassion is the fuel, the desire to help, and wisdom enables us to know what best to do.

Of course, on another level, it's hard to tell where compassion leaves off and wisdom takes over ... as compassion as Bodhicitta ... both relative and absolute is pretty much indistinguishable from wisdom.

And then, how do we know if the action that we did take is the best or correct one? Well, here it struck me that we pretty much don't know, nor ever will know. What vantage point can we take that will enable us to judge? Wherever we stand in the field of conditions will give us a view which is reflective of that particular vantage point. There is no absolute or objective position from which we can judge. The Buddha taught that only another Buddha can fully know karma, and all its intricacies, and only a highly realised being can see the nature of dependent origination in full.

So we think we see a good response somehow to our actions, but at that point things may look good, but later on, that may change. Or vice versa. There's a story in Chinese Buddhism about a man who bought his son a horse ... and he thought that this was really good ... a good action, coz his son loved it. Then, the son fell off his horse, breaking his leg, and was therefore unable to plough the fields of their farm. Oh no, what a bad thing buying the horse was! Then, the emperor’s troops came through the village, and took all able bodied men off into the army to fight. In the battle, everyone was slaughtered. Now the old man thought that buying the horse for his son was a good thing, as it had saved him from going off to battle to be killed. So it was good, then bad, then good, or so it seemed to him from his particular vantage point, from the particular set of conditions from which he could see.

So isn't it like that for all of us, in a particular set of conditions, and able to see things from there, with a limited view of what is, and a limited view of what will come to be. So at what point can we truly judge what was good, and what wasn't?

Of course, things can appear to be a particular way .... someone may seem to respond well to our actions which seemed to be guided by compassion, but I'm just suggesting that we can't *really* know, ultimately know what is good or bad in that sense, so maybe to just hold those judgements very lightly, rather than to be attached to them as 'right' or 'wrong'. It just appears to be so, from our own perspective, at this point in time.

One other rather obvious reflection ... .it's pretty hard to know the rights and wrongs of our actions towards ourselves, let alone towards another person. We perhaps act in our meditation, directly on our mind, perhaps by loosening our concentration. How hard to see the correctness of that action! How much harder to see the correctness of an action towards another being. And when we've never met them in the flesh, so to speak, but only have their words in email ... how much harder still!

All of this is by way of feeling that perhaps what we do is to do our very best, in the moment, with our best possible motivation, as selfless and compassionate as we can muster ... and try our best to act out with wisdom, allowing our wisdom to guide us ... and then .... let go .... let go of attachment to the consequences of our actions, as we have no vantage point from which to judge them in other than an entirely provisional way. Not to say, let go and don't care about the effects of that action, but let go of trying to get an ultimate 'fix' on it, an ultimate judgement on it. And, I guess, let go of judging others' actions, as we can barely judge our own, with direct access to our own minds (and motivations), let alone others!

Well, that's how it seems to me, and that's just a reflection of the particular conditions that pertain right here right now for me .... and of course, they will change, and my sense of how this is will change too ... so lightly held, gently held views, which play out in the mirror of life and mind .....

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Spartacus, Sunshine and Epiphany

Driving in my car, with Aram Khachaturian's 'Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia' playing on the radio. Just as the music swelled into the almost orgasmic crescendo, I rounded the bend in the road, and in a moment the dark clouds separated, great shafts of golden sunlight pierced the sky, and a tremendous effulgence engulfed one and all, in radiant splendor.

The synchronisation between music and sky was astounding, and my heart burst open with joy and tears.

How wonderful this creation is, how wonderful these myriad appearances, dancing before us, inviting, involving .... yet without substance or ground!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Big Doubt and Groundlessness

After a particularly strong meditation experience this weekend, I was reflecting on one aspect of Zen and Tibetan Buddhism.

In meditation, my sense of all dharmas being Empty was clearer than is often the case. There was nothing I could latch onto, nothing that I could hold in my mind which didn't melt away as soon as awareness illuminated it. Like butter on a hot knife, whereever I looked, its solidity melted away. This particular meditation, the sense of groundlessness was particularly pronounced. Not only couldn't I hold onto anything, and call it a 'thing', but the sense of there being nothing I could hold onto as a ground, as a sense of foundation, or stability, or platform from which to view or see was also really pronounced. There was no 'me', no 'awareness', no vantage point from which to have perspective, or identity. Nothing else. Period.

And yet, much of the time in life, there's a confident sense of perspective, a sense of 'knowing how things are', of being somehow on top of things, or at least being able to work with things as they are. That life is 'workable', and that practice is 'doable'. Yet all that has a subtle, or not so subtle sense of ground there, from which all can be accomplished.

This weekend the ground was missing!

No me, no nothing!

Yet all things appear!

This led me to reflect on Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, as I mentioned above. It struck me that the notion of doubt was really central to Zen practice. Whatever arises, whatever we think we know, well, let it go, don't grasp it, just let it go, and question further. Any answers we think we have, let them go in doubt, and go deeper. Any sense of identity, any sense of ground, let it go, in doubt.

This sense of doubt is really fundamental to Zen. Han Shan wrote
A little doubt,-- a little enlightenment. A big doubt,-- a big enlightenment. Refraining from doubt,-- one doesn't become enlightened.

The more doubt we bring to bear (i.e. the less we accept anything as it appears to be) then the more Enlightenment opens up for us.

And it struck me how contrasting this was in a sense from Kagyu practice. (only in a sense!!). Central here is Guru Devotion ... the field of blessings of the lineage masters, which ripens and matures our minds, allowing Realisation to open out within its field of blessings.

Kagyu Dharma, and Mahamudra emphasise at level of relative truth this cultivation of Devotion, and openess to blessings. Why I said 'only in a sense' above, is that this devotion, and those that respond to this devotion, are not seen as 'really existing' ... they are just the play of the mind, and ultimately empty. So in a sense, there's big doubt here too .... coz nothing is latched onto, nothing is seen as more than images reflected in mind, in the way that images are reflected on water.

But the notion of doubt, of big doubt, seems a nice angle from which to open up the groundlessness of things, the lack of anything to hold onto ... to have a sense of security as a result of.

No Refuge even, let alone egoistic sense of me.

All empty yet apparent ..... whatever arises, just let it go, coz you can't grasp it as a means to security.

No Buddha, no God, no Reality, no Path, no Me, no Doubt, no Nothing!

Yet everything appears, in its place, like a dream, a magicians illusion, a bubble in a stream ....

How wonderous indeed this dance of appearances, simulataneously full and empty!

Friday, October 01, 2004


Leaf caught in a web;
A breeze blows,
The leaf stirs.