Zazen: Just Turn the Light Around

The essential instruction for zazen practice in the Zen tradition from Shitou's (700-790) "Song of the Grass Hut Hermitage" to Dogen's (1200-1253) "Universal Recommendations for Zazen" to today is just this simple phrase:"Just turn the light around to illuminate."Reading Charles Egan's Clouds Thick, Whereabouts Unknown: Poems by Zen Monks of China, I stumbled upon a striking little tidbit of context for this phrase.Egan translates the phrase as "shine the reflections back" and notes … [Read more...]

Tracking Bodhidharma

Back in the 1980's, the scholarly perspective that Bodhidharma was a myth began making the rounds in practice places. Seems like the earliest reports of the old dog that the scholars could find were a couple hundred years after his purported death. I was surprised because ... well, I suppose I was surprised mostly because I was young and naive and believed stuff, especially Zen stuff, without much skepticism.I brought the Bodhidharma matter up with Katagiri Roshi who first hunched a bit, … [Read more...]

Is Truth Inside or Outside?

Good stuff in the blog world this morning, sorta on a theme - is the buddha way transcendent or immanent?More simply put, is the truth "out there" or "in here"?Take a look, for example at the ruminations of James Ford over at Monkey Mind and the bowing of Koun Franz over at Nyoho Zen.Both seem to be dealing with this central and subtle issue.In my view, the transcendent view tends to deprecate the utter beauty of the moment at hand. The immanent view tends to deny the possibility … [Read more...]