rivers into islands

rivers into islands

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Wild Grass Za

Arrow Does Not Strike

Every day arrows fly and appear to stick to events:  what occurred yesterday—hit!, what to eat—hit!, what time is it—hit!, what to wear—hit!, …

Sitting in za, arrow flies forward, nothing to strike,

Breath, a thought and then another, a body sensation, but nothing solid to strike, and nothing to do.

Anytime and all the time, it is like this; nothing solid for arrow to hit.

Especially in za, there is this landscape where this reality can be actualized and then perhaps carried forward to flower into the everyday.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

One Thing

The Sixth Patriarch once told the assembly, “ I have one thing.  It has no name or written symbol.  Nonetheless, do any of you understand or not?”
Zen Master Shen-hui immediately stepped forward and said, “It is the original source of all Buddhas; it is my own Buddha nature.”  This is the reason Shen-hui was not the Patriarch true heir.
When Zen master Huai-jang came from Mt. Sung, the Sixth patriarch asked him, “What thing has come here?”  Huai-jang did not know what to do.  It was only eight years later that he had the confidence to say, “If you say it is a thing [lit. one thing], then you have already missed the point.”  This is the reason Huai-jang was the Sixth Patriarch’s true heir.
Sosan Taesa, from his Handbook For Zen Students
What is this “one thing”?

What did Siddhartha see that radically opened this “one thing”?

Not something egotistic, esoteric, mystical—
Something simple, unhidden;

Then no birth, no death;

How can this not be something esoteric, mystical?

Again, what is seen that radically opens this “one thing”?

Friday, August 15, 2014


“What is the teaching of the Buddha?”
“It is in front of your eyes.”
“If it’s in front of me, why can’t I see it?”
“Because you have you.  So you cannot see.”
            Mang Gong, in Thousand Peaks 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Certain Light

18x24, ink study, 2014

The mountains, rivers, earth, grasses, trees, and forests, are always emanating a subtle, precious light, day and night, always emanating a subtle, precious sound, demonstrating and expounding to all people the unsurpassed ultimate truth.
It is just because you miss it right where you are, or avoid it even as you face it, that you are unable to attain actual use of it.

Yuansou, from “Expedients and Reality,” in Thomas Cleary, Zen Essence

Not Attached Enough

Siddhartha described attachment to phenomena as the cause of suffering.  And so, the task would appear to be one of letting go of attachments, ridding oneself of self-imposed obstacles. 

Siddhartha’s most revolutionary insight is that we are not attached enough. 
Our deepest suffering come from a sense of being an individual self and missing our true nature.

The task is not one of soulwork or polishing clean an interior soul or self, but rather waking to the already fully expressed ensoulment that is our true self.

Beings, mountains, rivers, weathers are empty of themselves—impermanent—and so there is no final solidity upon which dust may alight. And yet, events are empty of themselves because they are open and full of everything, and this essence does not change. 

While it can appear to be an esoteric or spiritist view, Siddhartha’s insight was particularly revolutionary because it was a view of the nature of reality in this moment in this place and not a transcendental. 

Sky / Mind

High feathery cirrus clouds pass by.
Majestic cumulus mountains pass by.
A low flat ashen veil passes by.
A blue anvil thunder cloud storms by.
Medium animal-shaped clouds pass by.
But "The vast sky is not hindered by the floating clouds" [Sekito Kisen]

A cornucopia of memories pass by.
Beautiful ideas pass by.
A blue storm of anger passes by.
Joy passes by.
An ashen veil of sadness passes by.
But vast mind "is not hindered."

What Is This

Im oo ko.
What is this?

In the Genjokoan, Dogen Zenji wrote:
Once firewood turns to ash, the ash cannot turn back to being
firewood.  Still, one should not take the view that is ashes afterward
and firewood before. One should realize that although firewood is a the
dharma-stage of firewood, and that this is possessed of before and after,
the firewood is beyond before and after.

…the dharma-stage of firewood…is the whole universe.  Only in the realm of the Whole is there before and after.

Thus each moment, though absolutely distinct, is simultaneously the entire universe.
Dainan Katagiri, You Have to Say Something.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Whole World A Single Flower

Silently a flower blooms,
In silence it falls away;
Yet here now, at this moment, at this place
          the whole of the flower, the whole of
     the world is blooming.
This is the talk of the flower, the truth
     of the blossom;
The glory of eternal life is fully shining here.
                  Zenkei Shibayama, A Flower Does Not Talk

Fundamental Point

To study the buddha way is to study the self.
To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be actualized by the myriad things.
To be actualized by the myriad things, your body and mind
            as well as the body and mind of others drop away.
No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.

When you first seek dharma, you imagine you are far from its environs.
But dharma is already correctly transmuted; you are immediately your original self.
            Dogen, “Genjo Koan,” Sections 4 & 5, [translation from Moon In A Dewdrop]

Reaching this point, when you observe closely, even if you use a thousand eyes you do not find a particle of anything that can be called skin, flesh, bones or marrow; there is nothing to divide into mind, cognition, and consciousness…. Therefore it has been said, “When you see, there is not a single thing.”
            Keizan, Transmission Of Light

Star And Flower

THAT WHICH WAS SEEN in Siddhartha's morning star and in Mahakasyapa's observation of Siddhartha raising a flower...

not Shen Hsui's body as the Bodhi tree nor mind as a mirror to be endlessly polished so that dust cannot blemish it...

star, flower,

chirp, bark, a bell’s clang, a cough, the shush of breeze, a word—all song and bell  



Paul Gauguin's From where do I originate?  Why am I here?  Where am I going?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Nine Adamantine Words

No mind, no abode, and here works the mind!

(Translation from Diamond Prajna Sutra by Zenkei Shibayama)

More than enough


Another confirmation in just one word:


The essence of the world is expressed as each event.
It neither comes nor goes,
Is not created, is indestructible,
And never deteriorates.