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The poet’s life is the same. Every drop of rain in the face.

Once a visiting official asked Master Joshu, “Is the master able to enter into the hell realms?”
The master said, “I entered the hell realms long ago.”
The official asked, “Why did you, a great Zen master, enter into hell?”
The master said, “If I didn’t enter into hell, who would teach you?”

Joshu [Zhaozhou Congshen, or 趙州從諗], 778-897 China

Photo by flickr user Cathy McCray. Appearing via cc:. All rights revert to the originator.

When you are aware of Buddha, you are Buddha

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Photo by flickr user Fred Moore. Appearing under cc: license. All rights revert to the originator.

When you are aware of Buddha, you are Buddha.

When you are aware of deluded thoughts, you remain an unenlightened person.

–Dayi Daoxin (大毉道信 ) China 580-651

Your daily affirmation, from The Record of Linji

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Photo by flickr user marneejill. Appearing under cc: license. All rights revert to originator.

If students today do not succeed, where is their shortcoming?

Their defect is that they do not believe in themselves.

If you are unable to believe in yourself [as a vessel of the universal enlightened reality], you go off frantically following various objects, and get turned around by them, so that you have no independence.

If you can put to rest the mind that is frantically seeking moment after moment, then you are no different from the Buddhas and patriarchs.

–Linji Yixuan (臨濟義玄), 8th c. China

A true observation: how it is and feels, how it works

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Photo by flickr user vadislav@munich appearing under cc. All rights revert to the originator.

“What does prajna mean? Prajna means ‘wisdom.’ At all times to keep your thoughts free of ignorance and always to practice wisdom, this is what we mean by the practice of prajna. One thought of ignorance, and prajna stops. One thought of wisdom, and prajna reappears. A person whose mind is full of ignorance says ‘I’m practicing prajna.’ But prajna has no form. It’s the nature of wisdom.”

The Platform Sutra, trans. Red Pine

Nansen giving up the goods

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Photo by flickr user Rachael Voorhees. Appearing under cc: license. All rights revert to the originator.

‘Joshu asked Nansen, “What is the Way?”

“Ordinary mind is the Way,” Nansen replied.

“Shall I try to seek after it?” Joshu asked.

“If you try for it, you will become separated from it,” responded Nansen.

“How can I know the Way unless I try for it?” persisted Joshu.

Nansen said, “The way is not a matter of knowing or not knowing. Knowing is delusion; not knowing is confusion. When you have really reached the true Way beyond doubt, you will find it as vast and boundless as outer space. How can it be talked about on the level of right and wrong?”

With these words, Joshu came to a sudden realization.’

–Mumonkan (無門関) 19

Generator Hill

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This is where I’ve been living for the past 1.5y. I did not so much have a breakthrough here as finally gain sufficient mental bandwidth to discern an important pattern in what I had previously considered chaos: like a confused sea state, with swells arriving from all quarters. I feel like Henri CharrièrePapillon of book and film fame– who studied the crazed wave state off his island in the French penal colony in Guyana until he discerned its true rhythm and used that wisdom to escape its treacherous, rocky shores unscathed.

By being willing to sit still (meditation) and knowing how (zazen) I studied the chaos –the disquiet from which I still suffer– and learned its secret. I am in the act of using this wisdom to escape, e’en as we speak.

I was looking ahead instead of behind for satori: looking for satori to relieve me of the chaos. What I came to realize is in an upside-down world like ours –a world determined to prevent each of us from self-realization or true fulfillment– chaos originates in satori. The chaos I now see is small-potatoes, like the dozens of impotent little reflections of a wave as it passes under a bridge. They exist yes, but now I see what they are worth.

The thing I was looking ahead for actually happened when I was 8. I climbed out of my bedroom window onto the roof of the back porch with a pillow and blanket while the moon was full and high above and sat there watching it set over the broad river before me until it gained the horizon and reached out its glistening bright arm to touch me before departing.

Instead of presenting itself to me in some glorious imagined future as a balm for my wounds or a weapon to employ against those who caused those wounds the knowledge –the wisdom, the thing I thought I sought– taps me playfully on the shoulder from behind; has been following me most of my life just waiting for me to notice. Considering one’s karma often arrives in the form of a slap I’ll take a tap.

I made real progress on Generator Hill. Here are some pictures of the place as I knew it…as I lived in it.

‘The True Dharma Eye’

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The waterway is defined by its banks as much as its water. Without water it’d just be a ditch. Photo by flickr user Peter Mooney. Appearing via cc: license. All rights revert to the originator.

“Morality without enlightenment is not yet morality. Enlightenment and morality are nondual in the Way. One does not exist without the other . The truth is not beyond good and evil as is commonly believed. It is, rather , a way of living one’s life with a definite moral commitment that is practiced, realized, and verified within the realm of good and evil itself, yet remains undefiled by them.”

House Burning Down

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23864598632_8c9e6b2bc5_w“When my house burned down, I gained an unobstructed view of the moonlit sky.”
-Mizuta Masahide (1657–1723)

Bernard Moitessier on the zen mind

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“I can only give them my first log, with birds, sea, daily sights and little everyday problems. My real log is written in the sea and sky; it can’t be photographed and given to others. It has gradually come to life out of all that has surrounded us for months: the sounds of water on the hull, the sounds of wind gliding on the sails, the silences full of secret things between my boat and me, like the times I spent as a child listening to the forest talk.”
― Bernard Moitessier, The Long Way

Antonio Machado – Traveler, your footprints

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Traveler, your footprints
are the only road, nothing else.
Traveler, there is no road;
you make your own path as you walk.
As you walk, you make your own road,
and when you look back
you see the path
you will never travel again.
Traveler, there is no road;
only a ship’s wake on the sea.

-Antonio Machado