Crooked Belly Button

Crooked Belly Button January 8, 2009

Woman's stomach, skin, belly button

As I mentioned recently, I’ve started to work on “Bodhi Mind” or “Way Heart,” looking at some translations of Dogen and playing around with a commentary by Hashimoto Roshi. It might become a book project, another six years in the making.

Then yesterday a thought bubble passed through about an old Katagiri riff that started with something about “Way Nose,” which means something like being able to pick up the scent of the dharma and follow through, upstream.

Katagiri Roshi continued,

In ancient times, people were more straightforward toward the truth than human beings in our days. We aren’t straightforward. So we have a technical term, “crooked belly button.”

It is impossible to contort your belly button because your belly button is always in the center of your situation. But when your belly button is crooked – toward the right, left, up, or down – even a little bit you lose the center of your life.

Zen students really have crooked belly buttons.


Are you a gentleperson accepting Buddha’s teaching straightforwardly without any complaints?

No, you can’t say so. You always discuss from your viewpoint. I don’t mean you should be blind but I don’t think it is a good idea for your belly button to be so crooked.

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