Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mumon's Poem On His Enlightenment

Blue sky, broad daylight, and a peal of thunder,

The earth and creatures'eyes are opened,

The entire universe is making profound bows,

Mount Sumeru dances to the ancient music.

Naked Awareness

The body is not separate from the mind. The mind is an activity of the body.

The world does not stand out there at a distance from your mind. Your mind arises within the world, within your physical space. And the experience of what we call the world and physical space arises within your mind.

The colors and forms of trees and buildings and faces are as intimate with who you are as is your most private thought. They are more authentically and completely aspects of you who are than your flickering thoughts or even your deepest longing or most looming fear.

Who you are presences as everything and everyone and every thing and every one has the shape of space and is sunya, space-like, in its ungraspability as a thing or object.

When we say "I" or "you" or "fist" or "tree" it can seem as if we are referring to something. But there is nothing there. Although there is nothing there, this "nothing" or "sunya" is not a blank and dead space we might think of when we hear the word "nothing". What is spoken of is the intimacy of hearing, the presencing of sounds, of colors, of the ten directions. It is space with stars and trees and rice grains and warmth and cold.

When we meet ourselves as we truly are and meet the world as it actually is then the absence of our projections and assumptions and frameworks stands forth in the standing forth of a cup.

The nothing of sunya is the absence of dualism between knower and known self and forms, sounds, stones, cloth, grass, and flowers.

We arrive at sunya by exposing ourselves to reality, by attending openly with the whole bodymind and by releasing any structure of attention that is revealed into the expanse of knowing that it arises within.

Ven. Anzan Hoshin Roshi, continuing teisho 2: "Naked Awaresess" in the teisho series "Five fingers, Ten directions: Commentaries on Eihei Dogen Zenji's text 'Jippo'", presented Saturday, April 14, 2001.

The White Wind Zen Community has a very rich website with plenty of excellent Dharma publications on offer -books, translations, CD, teishos, Dharma texts and talks online, calligraphies, photographs...
To be connected to their site through "Entering the gates of Practice", click here.

I warmly suggest that you take the time to admire the beautiful photographs taken by the Sangha members and listen at leisure to their Dharma talks 'through your eyes'. To be connected to their photo galleries, click here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The true goods of the spiritual life are those which are not diminished by being shared but which, on the contrary, are possessed all the more perfectly when they are shared with others.

The monk who feels himself to be most destitute in virtue and in grace can be rich in both if he has the humility and charity to share the virtues of his brothers by rejoicing in them as if they were his own.

These two excerpts are taken from Thomas Merton's book The Silent Life, page 39, in the chapter 'Monastic Peace -The Highest Tabernacle'.

The book is edited by Sheldon Press in London. To find interesting customers' reviews about it , go to

The prologue of the book 'What is a monk' and the first chapter 'Monastic Peace' is worthwhile reading for those preparing to become monks - indeed it is worthwhile reading for all of us!

Friday, September 14, 2007

One temple, so many temples

Dogen wrote:

..... Buddha said to Ananda, "Make Nanda an officer."

Ananda conveyed the Buddha's word to Nanda. Nanda said, "What is an officer?"

Ananda said, "That's a position of responsibility in a temple."

Nanda said, "What kind of work is it?"

Ananda said, "After the monks go out to do their begging, you sweep the garden, sprinkle the water on the grounds, collect firewood, remove cow dung, clean up, see that nothing is stolen, and close the gates and doors for the sangha. In the evening you open up the gates and clean the toilets."

This is an excerpt from "Enlightenment Unfolds -The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen" * edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi and published by Shambhala Publications Inc. It is part of the chapter "Guidelines for Officers of the Eihei Monastery" on page 211.

Although this short excerpt may seem out of context presented as it is, those words really spoke to me, it is why I chose to share them with you. (I would still recommand reading the whole text which is offering much more.)

As I have been away from the zendo for some times now, I first saw my home as the temple, but realized that family and circle of friends, body and mind, my whole life and altogether the whole world, could become the temple to care for in this simple and non 'attention seeking' way.

Having let these lines sink in my heart after reading them again and again, they now often rise up at unexpected times to remind me that some 'watering' may be needed, or maintenance of the fire, that cleaning and clearing up is an ever ending job in every situation, or just that 'closing the gates' or opening them when it is appropriate is an essential practice in one's life.

A reminder also that there is no "Being" without a function, as vice versa...

* Excerpt from the back cover :

"Enlightenment Unfolds contains works written by Dogen throuhout his life, presented in chronological order, beginning with the journal from his study in China; providing a substantial selection from his masterword, Treasure of the True Dharma Eye; and concluding with his spare but eloquent death poem"

"A number of the selections appear here in English for the first time."

"Tanahashi has brought together his own translations of Dogen with those of some of the most respected Zen teachers and writers of our own day, including Reb Anderson, Edward Espe Brown, Norman Fisher, Gil Fronsdal, Blanche Hartman, Jane Hirshfield, Taigen Daniel Leighton, Alan Senauke, Katherine Thanas, Mel Weitsman, and Michael Wenger."

Hoping that this information will give you a taste for the book.
If you want to know more about it, click here to be connected with and also read the customers reviews.

Monday, September 10, 2007

This is a reproduction of something I read in a French book.

As a shaykh was on a visit to
Shaykh Al Alawi de Mostaganem,
he told him that he had taken one of
his students.

To which Shaykh Al Alawi replied:

- "If you bring him closer to God,
you are bringing him to me,
if on the other you take him away from God, then it is true that you are taking him from me."

Read in "Eclairs d'Eternite", La Table Ronde, coll. "Les Chemins de la Sagesse", Paris, p.136

If you want to know more about Shaykh Al Alawi and his teaching, click here to be connected with Wikipedia.