Originally Not A Single Dharma

Originally Not A Single Dharma March 2, 2021

“Originally there is not a single dharma;

Why discuss inspiration and training?”

-Song of Mind

What does it mean if there’s not a single dharma? Are Buddhist teachings empty and meaningless? What are we even doing?

There’s a story from the life of the Buddha that this reminds me of.

Some monks were arguing about which of the Buddha’s teachings were the most important. (Yes this even happened when the Buddha was alive) The Buddha approached them and said, “With 45 years of teaching, I have not said a single word.”

This is a different kind of encouragement from what we’re used to. I like to say we’re selling water by the river. This path is about tuning in to your true nature, which is your true nature whether you realize it or not. The teaching is we don’t need to spend a whole lot of time thinking about if these practices are even working for us. As the old saying goes, “A watched pot never boils.”

The truth is that if we spend too much time thinking about results, we can very easily get off track. This can be a hard thing to think about.

My view is that we aren’t practicing to become enlightened. We’re practicing because that’s what enlightened beings do.


Daniel is an American Buddhist Teacher based in Kansas City. In his day job he’s a union labor activist. Daniel was given teaching authority by the International Chan Buddhism Institute and gives talks at the One Mind Zen Hermitage.
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