rivers into islands

rivers into islands

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Eternal Life

Lance Kinseth, The Speech Of The Flower, 48x60”

ABBOT ZENKEI SHIBAYAMA [1894-1974] whom I met in late 1960s writes,
Silently a flower blooms,

In silence it falls away;…

The glory of eternal life is fully shining here.

How can the quickly fading flower demonstrate eternal life?

Yet here now, at this moment, at this place,
The world of the flower, the whole of
the world is blooming.

This is the talk of the flower, the truth
 of the blossom;

Flower buds, blossoms, shrivels, and disappears—still, no birth and death, and flower not “there” and you “here.”

Friday, November 13, 2015

Zen Furniture

Lance Kinseth, detail from Self As Landscape II

WHEN YOU READ Zen literature or hear dharma speech, you presume that you are learning about Zen.  At some point you may begin to understand that rather than describe the essence of Zen, helpful Zen words tells you what the primary point of Zen is not about to try to extricate you from concepts to have a direct, personal experience of reality that is wordless.
The one who tastes knows
The one who explains lies.

As Zen practice becomes shared, the literature and discussion and activities become more about creating a house of Zen and stocking it with a particular Zen furniture: gods, hungry ghosts, nirvanas, rebirth, robes, cushions, altars, Buddha image, bells, scriptures, right procedures, vows, classes, gatherings, birth and death days—just like before Siddhartha, something to be overturned. 

There is neither house nor furniture.  This “No” is what Zen is trying to say.

Zen and its No are not answers—only a luminous gate where there had appeared to be a wall.

The landscape of Zen—houses of bodies and rivers and moon and stars and cities—is empty.  All these things, and yet there is no furniture anywhere.  There is no place in any of it for dust to alight. 

Wordless, every day and every night, Siddhartha raises a flower and Kasyapa smiles.

With nothing but “NO,” with nothing to which to cling, “who am I” falls into what?

Unhidden, suddenly, what very specifically is experienced in bodies and rivers and moon and stars and cities? 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Only One Koan Matters

     Ikkyu Sojun

The barriers of "you,"


"This," “That,” “He,” “She,” “It,” “They,” “Those,"

“One,” “All”