rivers into islands

rivers into islands

Monday, December 29, 2014

Soen Master Ko Bong’s Three Gates

Gate 1The sun shines everywhere. Why does a cloud obscure the sun?

Lance Kinseth, Why Does A Cloud Obscure The Sun, 1997

Gate 2Everyone has a shadow following him. How can you not step on your shadow?

Lance Kinseth, How Can You Not Step On Your Shadow. 1997

Gate 3The whole universe is on fire. Through what kind of samadhi can you escape being burned?

Lance Kinseth, How Do You Save Yourself When The Whole World Is On Fire. 1997

Lance Kinseth, How Do You Save Yourself, 2001

Friday, December 12, 2014


Prairie Moon, 2006

MANY APROACHES TO STILLNESS exist, and for a variety of reasons.  Health (both physical and mental), restoration, contemplation, and enhanced awareness perhaps comprise the predominant directives.  And these approaches vary in their effect on the brain as indicated in scans.

Because of the impossibility of finding a boundary,
Za is a pure, unreasoned way, to activate what we are, in intentional stillness and everyday activity.

Buddhism has “housed” a widespread practice termed dhyana, Chan, Soen, Thien, and Zen, but Zen essence is not exclusive to Buddhism.  It is an inherent dimension of human experience. 

The orientation of Zen Za Wild Grass is an intention to enter the most basic moment: Suddenly awakening, what did Siddartha see?

Strip away the ritual, sit, at rest.

ZA: sitting, at rest: a method of opening/access rather than a belief:
Concretely: finding comfort and stimulus reduction—knees down (so sitting on something), hands folded, back straight, ears between shoulders, body wrapped in blankets/cloth, perhaps wall-facing, reduced light.



FRESH, Fresh, fresh:
The flow of body and mind

Sitting for just a little time, thought and sensation appear and disappear.

There is this insightful Hinayana sense of (a) sensations and thoughts as well as objects and processes as impermanent and (b) attachment to these experiences causing suffering.  

There can be a problem at this point as meditation is very likely to be viewed as psychological process of “letting go” or “sweeping/cleaning one’s mind” to produce a more tranquil and resilient self.

Sitting longer, meditation offers samadhi, a state that is empty of concepts—luminous, not even present moment.


 Body and mind drop away

Experiencing impermanence is not the real step in Zen.  The big change occurs when impermanence is realized to include body and self as a conception.

There is an insightful Mahayana sense of “nothing outside” that challenges self, and accordingly, makes clinging to self—which is impermanent—suffering.  If all is impermanent and our body goes and there is no individual soul to realize, then what are we?

The essence of Zen is actualizing no-self.

Zen Za is Samadhi and satori. Satori/awakening, needs to be perceived directly: what are we?  What is our authentic nature?  The actualization experience is satori that can occur outside seated meditation.
No longer psychological, awakening does not provoke the appearance of an enlightened being.  There is no “becoming enlightened.” This is not possible if we actualize what we are.  Inherent enlightenment awakens. That which awakens is everything: many/One as equal, so that a million are also 0.

A thunderclap under the clear blue sky
All beings open their eyes;
Everything under heaven bows together;
Mount Sumeru leaps up and dances.
Wuman Hui-K’ai
[enlightenment poem, Robert Aitken translation]

Still, Dogen Ekaku admonishes:
No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.


Beyond body and mind and oneness

And then, embodying the many/one, actualization, not response as if separate, unable to find boundaries . . .

Tell Me What This Hand Is

There are moons in this hand. 
There is blossoming in this hand. 
This room is in this hand.

This hand is cloud-filled.  It is rainfall.
There is a sparrow flying in this hand.
There is a photograph and a broom in this hand. 
There is no–hand, no-moon, no-sparrow, no-rain…