Master Seung Sahn's Satori

As someone who at one time did a lot of Zen, I find the story of Master Seung Sahn's Enlightenment quite riveting:

One day, Zen Master Seung Sahn decided that he wouldn’t be able to help people through his political activities or his academic studies and instead, shaved his head and went into the mountains, vowing never to return until he had attained the absolute truth. In 1947, a friend gave him a copy of the Diamond Sutra. This was his first encounter with Buddhism. “All appearance is delusion. If you view all appearance as non-appearance, then that view is your true nature.” While Zen Master was reading the scripture, his mind became clear.

In October 1947, he was ordained as a monk and soon began a rigorous 100-day solo retreat at Won Gak Mountain (the Mountain of Perfect Enlightenment). He ate only pine needles which had been dried and ground into powder. He chanted the Great Dharani 20 hours a day and took ice cold baths several times a day. Despite its intensity, Zen Master Seung Sahn persisted in his hard practice. On the final day of the retreat, as he was chanting and hitting the moktak, suddenly, his body disappeared into infinite space, and from far away he could hear the sound of the moktak and his own voice. He remained in this state for some time. When he returned to his body, he understood that the rocks, the river, everything he could see, everything he could hear, everything was his true self. All things are exactly as they are. The truth is just like this. When he woke up the next morning, he saw a man walking up the mountain, some crows flying out from a tree and wrote the following poem:

The road at the bottom of Won Gak Mountain is not the present road.
The man climbing with his backpack is not a man of the past.
Tok, tok, tok - his footsteps transfix past and present.
Crows out of a tree.
Caw, caw, caw.

Now, I have no doubt that Master Seung Sahn actually had these experiences -- his mind suddenly becoming clear on reading the words from the Diamond Sutra (ken-sho), then the experience of disappearing into infinite space and returning to find that everything he saw was really his true self (satori, which in Japanese breaks down into the kanji "I" and "mind," the real Mind of the living person).

However, there are various ways of looking at this experience. For example: Is it really worth anything? Does it really change anything? Couldn't it just be a psycho-physical response to extreme stress (such as starving and exhausting yourself for a long time)?

If people feel hesitant to describe this type of experience they shouldn't. I respect that. But if you read through the Chinese and Japanese Zen literature, every "great" Zen figure has had an experience very similar to this. Here are a few examples:

In the Sûrangama Sûtra, which has had a significant influence upon the Zen Buddhist tradition, the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Jap. Kannon 観音, literally 'Seeing Sound'), the 'One Who Hears the Sounds of the World', describes how she attained enlightenment by initially meditating on hearing and sound. Zen master Xiangyan Zhixian (香厳智閑, J. Kyôgen Chikan, ca. 9th C.) attained enlightenment upon hearing the sound of a pebble hitting a bamboo while sweeping the ground. Wumen Huikai (無門慧開, J. Mumon Ekai, 1183-1260) was awakened as he heard the sound of the drum that announced mealtimes. Hakuin Ekaku (白隠慧鶴, 1686-1769), was enlightened by the sound of the temple bell announcing dawn as he was meditating through a winter's night. One monk experienced awakening with the clattering of a tile breaking on the ground.

Actually, I had an experience like this. And some of my friends have had experiences like this, too. But I'd be the first to admit it can't be objectively verified, and not only that but the experience doesn't necessarily mean anything. I didn't become a Buddhist after having the experience. Maybe this Zen experience really has nothing at all to do with the so-called Buddhist Way? It's possible.

I ask these questions because I'm interested in honest responses. Please don't tell me to "go ask my teacher." My teacher has quite cruelly told me that now I'm the teacher, so I have to answer all questions by myself. Anyhow, This doesn't seem to be a matter of knowledge that one person can give to another. Who is qualified to pronounce on an experience like this anyway? What adequate pigeonhole exists into which one can insert "Tok, tok, tok . . . Caw, caw, caw?"

LIfe & Sayings of the Sage Zaixos

While still a young man, Zaixos went with Alexander's army to the Indus Valley. There he heard a sage in a yellow robe preach the following words: "Form is only emptiness; emptiness is only form.” His mind opened. "For the first time in my life, I could breathe without effort."

*

As soon as he returned to Greece Zaixos gave away his armor and sword, put his younger brother in charge of the family estate and, ignoring the pleas of his mother and sisters, made his way to a cave near the summit of Mt. Olympus, where he sat facing a wall every day and night for six years. When not seated in the cave, he was always walking or running like a young goat on mountain paths. He begged for his food – fresh sheep's milk cheese, bread, olives –from the shepherds, or gathered bitter greens to boil. When his mother heard all this, she tore at her clothes.

*

"Today is tomorrow's yesterday. Likewise, yesterday was the tomorrow of the day before. Actually it's all the same day. Let's stop playing with words."

*

Strolling through Athens' marketplace, he remarked with a sardonic laugh: "The bridegroom has entered the hall and his footsteps shake the rafters, yet the wedding party is still asleep."

*

"Even the richest palace has an outhouse or a sewer flowing underneath. In great Thebes, a fishwife shrieks at her crippled daughter. Men living on other worlds are just as unhappy as you."

*

"The world is so old that if perfection were possible, it would already have been achieved. But perfection is like the dream of a beggar shivering under a pile of straw in a frozen field. If it weren't beyond your grasp, you would already have it."

*

In a dispute with philosophers who argued over whether the cosmos was transient or eternal, or made of water, fire, or dust, Zaixos only said: "The thing is broken."

*

Asked what he thought about when he sat in his cave, Zaixos said: "It thinks me.But in the end it gets tired and falls asleep. Only then do I wake up."

*

Once in the marketplace of Thessaly he hurled a costly bowl to the ground, shattering it. "If it didn't have a void inside, it would not have broken," he claimed. Brought before a jury for breaking the bowl, Zaixos said, "True – I broke the bowl, but not the emptiness that was in it. Nor the memory of the bowl in your heads, which comes to the same thing” A jury member said, "Zaixos, I'll pay for the bowl. Just let me follow you and listen to your words." Zaixos laughed and said, "Quite a deal. Pay for that broken bowl and you’re buying emptiness, which outlasts the world." Another jury member jumped up, discarding both robes and jewels, and followed Zaixos back to the mountains.

*

King Theonides visited Zaixos in his cave, wanting advice on how to rule. Zaixos said, "Your chariot wheel has a hole in the center. The wheel turns because of this empty space. Your ear also hears men's words because it has a hole in it." After this, King Theonides was to be found in his palace many hours of day or night hearing the petitioners. He soon became known as "Theonides the Wise," and "Theonides the Considerate." Zaixos, hearing about the dramatic change in King Theonides, remarked: "Listening is better than speaking – it doesn't tire you out as much, and sometimes you can even use the time to think about other things that are important to you."

*

An aristocrat sought out Zaixos, saying: "My son is always going out to banquets, wearing a peacock's finery. He spends our family fortune on fine wines. He even insists on chilling his wines with snow carted from the summit of Mt. Ida. How will I help him to grasp the seriousness of life?" Zaixos said, "Hire some men to pose as bandits and kidnap him when he leaves the house tonight. Have them name a high ransom and send a messenger to you, who will soon return with word that you have refused to pay. Then one of the men should draw his sword as if to cut off your son's head. At the last moment, they should seem to change their minds and turn him loose in disgust." The aristocrat followed Zaixos' advice. Next morning, the man's son came to him in tears and kissed his hand, then embraced his mother. After that he put on sober dark clothing, and visited Apollo's temple to sacrifice a ram. He never attended another banquet until the one thrown for his wedding.

*

Pairos sent a delegation of elders to Zaixos' cave. The city’s dispute with a powerful neighboring city had brought on war. "Our enemies are now on the march, and our women are sharpening knives to cut the throats of our children, so they will not be raped or sold into slavery." Zaixos said, "Take your soldiers inside the walls and have them give all their armor, lances, swords, and shields to the women. When the enemy shows up, send the women out to fight." They did so. The enemy forces broke up and fled in a panic.

*

A fierce bandit entered Zaixos’ cave to kill him. He found the sage standing by a fire warming his hands. "Come in and warm up a little," Zaixos said. "It’s bitter cold out there." When asked why he had not struck down Zaixos he said, "I just couldn’t. It would have been like killing my own mother."

*

A madwoman who had been wandering the hills frightening the shepherds regained her senses when Zaixos spoke to her in passing. She returned to her native village and opened a small wine-shop. The man who had raped her as a child, driving her mad, still lived nearby. One evening he came into the shop and ordered a jar of wine, watching her closely. She served without showing any sign of agitation. She even smiled. He went home and ate supper in silence with his wife and children, then went outside saying that he wanted to look in on the horses. In the morning his slave found him hanging from a barn rafter. All that the madwoman ever said about Zaixos was: "As soon as he spoke to me, my mind cleared, like a sky swept clean by the north wind. Each moment I've lived since then has been like a pebble sparkling in the bed of a clear stream."

*

Zaixos said, "I would sooner let another man blow his nose on my sleeve than read words written in books."

*

Zaixos once taught a young slave to box. He made the boy run all day in the mountains, and gave him only bread to eat and water to drink. He said, “Closely observe your opponent as he prepares to fight. Take on his bearing and expression. He will be unable to touch you. No man can strike himself." Also: "Stroll into the ring as you would into your own house at the end of a work-day. Think of the opponent as your guest and brother. If he tries to hit you, step away or duck your head. If he tries to grasp you, get behind him in a flash. Do not attack until he breathes with effort and move sluggishly. Then attack like a thunderbolt, or an eagle dropping out of the sky to seize a rabbit." As a result of this teaching, the slave-boxer never lost a match anywhere in Greece. He was soon able to buy his own freedom, and after several years in the ring he retired to the country a rich man.
A ZEN TRANSLATION OF THE LORD'S PRAYER

(This was also published in Elephant Journal )

“Our father, who art in heaven” - Our eternal source and Self, timeless, stainless, dwelling always in infinite bliss

“Hallowed be thy name” - May we always remember the sky-like being we really are by the power of this mantra

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” - And by remembering the timeless being we are, make this present life blissful and infinite too

“Give us this day our daily bread” - We would be lost, nothing at all, if we didn’t rely every moment on awareness emanating from the unbelievable treasury of clear light

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” - By following this pathless Buddha Way we can stop holding grudges and behold the truth of our infinite being free of karmic delusions

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” - By realizing this boundless giving Self we are, we can avoid turning into demons suffering and hating in the countless hell realms

“For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever” - Because our unstained Nature is the origin of all goodness, all love, and all ability whatsoever, throughout past present and future worlds

“Amen” - Clap-clap. Done! It’s always just like this!
In the Sûrangama Sûtra, which has had a significant influence upon the Zen Buddhist tradition, the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Jap. Kannon 観音, literally 'Seeing Sound'), the 'One Who Hears the Sounds of the World', describes how she attained enlightenment by initially meditating on hearing and sound. Zen master Xiangyan Zhixian (香厳智閑, J. Kyôgen Chikan, ca. 9th C.) attained enlightenment upon hearing the sound of a pebble hitting a bamboo while sweeping the ground. Wumen Huikai (無門慧開, J. Mumon Ekai, 1183-1260) was awakened as he heard the sound of the drum that announced mealtimes. Hakuin Ekaku (白隠慧鶴, 1686-1769), was enlightened by the sound of the temple bell announcing dawn as he was meditating through a winter's night. One monk experienced awakening with the clattering of a tile breaking on the ground. The sound of honkyoku being played on a bamboo flute is the sound of enlightenment itself.

-Shakuhachi
Mountains appear. Water appears.
Shouting into a valley, you hear an echo.
Cold wind rages on Daibosatsu Pass,
where pilgrims pray to a stone buddha.

Stone buddhas, gold buddhas, iron buddhas.
Sky in ten thousand directions --
shattering light, shattering form.
Everything's empty, yet all at once there it is.

What has ever been outside this essential mystery?
"The universal mind is no mind and is completely detached from form. Only study how to avoid seeking for or clinging to anything. If nothing is sought, the mind will remain in its unborn state. If nothing is clung to, the mind will not go through the process of destruction. That which is neither born nor destroyed is the Buddha."

-Great Zen Master Hsi Yun
The Buddha said: "All that is seen in the world is devoid of effort and action because all things in the world are like a dream, or like an image miraculously projected . . . Those who see things otherwise walk in discrimination and, as they depend upon discrimination, they cling to dualism. The world as seen by discrimination is like seeing one's own image reflected in a mirror, or one's shadow, or the moon reflected in water, or an echo heard in a valley."

-The Lankavatara Sutra
A monk asked Ummon, "What is the Dharma Kaya (the ultimate formless timeless reality)?". Ummon replied: "A garden of medicinal flowers." The monk then said, "Is that all I need to understand?" Ummon replied: "If that isn't enough, then you'll need to see the mythical Golden-Haired Lion."

List of Ko-ans by Zen Master Ummon
one bird said to another bird did you hear about the sky?

one fish said to another fish I will teach you about water


AJIKAN

May I suggest, if you've come here to find any "trouble" or to ridicule the writer of these notes, that you let go of the mean, angry thoughts that have had you wandering in various hell-states for the last few aeons? No better method exists than contemplating the letter "A" in Sanskrit siddham script. By gazing with an open heart at the "Ajikan" you will quickly purge away your karmic filth and become a radiant Buddha. As soon as you achieve realization, along with a thrill of the most surpassing joy you may also begin to feel a little sad about how you wasted so many lives dirtying your pure original nature by sulking over imagined wrongs or disparaging, jeering at and hurting other people. Let it go! You don't have the old grinning hell demon visage anymore -- you have even dropped that dull and stupid "zombie" look that used to so dishearten all the people around you. The Buddha blinks, and your eyes uncloud. Bo-ji so-wa-ka!


Another Tiger-Spirit Zen gatha:

ENSO

The state "before the universe ever gets born"
is very clear and still, majestic, bright, imponderable:
Wish you could share it
but I guess you're off somewhere trying to "get" Enlightenment!
Good luck with that!

臨兵闘者皆陣列在前

  
WELCOME TO MY "CAVE OF ILLUMINATIONS"

Old Tiger:
stick your head in its maw to ask the question
what is my 'true self' (honshin)



Making snowmen, lumps of coal for eyes
carrot for a nose:
broomstick to sweep away false deluded mind --
What fun at night, to hear the wind howling in the deep eaves!


Twin owls with wide slow-blinking eyes
sit utterly alert while ice shatters on the tin roof:
Clear Zen, before there was ever a Buddha


My Way is eccentric
neither master nor student:
just a person pretending to be crazy
so he can merge with mountains and clouds.
You won't hear of me anywhere you ask
my name won't appear on the lists of great lamas, tulkus, roshis --
you'll find me along the riverbank
sitting the warm grass, playing my flute.


"Sit down on your mat, shut your eyes, empty your mind, and attain satori." This is the Way. There are no shortcuts.

The Guru is your own clear mind.

The Rainbow Body is just this body when directly perceived and experienced as energy, a resonance in the Infinite.

The simple delight of washing your feet and sitting down on your mat in a beautiful grove with "nothing on your mind" -- this is Buddhism.

Layman Pang had a straw raincoat once
but he gave it to an itinerant monkey:
sufferings arise from a big blue empty sky


This tweet is a Zen tweet asking you to think deeply on "three pounds of flax" and "dry shit on a stick." That Ummon was a real bastard!


My life has been filled to brimming over with what Gurdjieff termed "meetings with remarkable men [and women]."


"Great doubt will produce great enlightenment. Small doubt, small enlightenment. Constant doubt, constant enlightenment. No doubt --"


Move your eyes in a slightly different way and a different world appears. Try it! Awakening tastes like cold rain. The desert smells fresh.


臨兵闘者皆陣列在前
Rin Pyō Tō Sha Kai Jin Retsu Zai Zen


Shugyo is "doing." It shatters talk, and talkative "thoughts," leads to great bliss, supreme insight, and magically awakened clarity.

riding a white tiger on the winds
shooting arrows into Mount Sumeru
Cloud Dharma, Rain Dharma, Thunderbolt Dharma

To be able to remain always in a deeply mysterious, amused state of energetic surprise -- this is what Taoist masters could do easily.

Mind in its original state has the basic nature of being self- liberated from any and all "phenomena," up to Buddha, Zen, enlightenment.

Recall looking down at a river from an airplane. Though water may "take days" to get from one part to the other, you see it all at a glance.


Reaching the state of "non-effort" may require much "effort" to bypass habitual states of being and learn to "be empty, hollow like bamboo."


The Infinite Light of Realization is beaming from a spot between Amida Buddha's brows, and it permeates all "matter," all time and space.


Matter is just congealed qi/it's a slightly coarser form of light/your illumination is all over the sky: look at the full moon, your body

my writing leaves no traces anywhere
clear light shone from the pregnant moon
tonight the trees rain ice

on the Internet we've realized the great dream of writing on and with light

sunk in deep awareness
suddenly realizing the Trackless One
Avalokiteshvara wiped away the last smudges of his footprints in clear space


banging the vast empty sky like a drum it's refreshing to drink clear water

Buddha holds snow in his mudra:
Awake Everywhere, Bodhi Svaha!
No path, no goal, no realization --
crows sitting on blue sky-shoulders

Highest Yoga Siddhi is to become a boring normal person

"Storehouse of lightning in the pattering rain"
Heart shugyo unlocks the Great Potential:
Manjusri's seed syllable makes the sky go BONG


Paper covers rock, rock shatters scissors, scissors cut paper -- but what can you ever do to vast empty space?

"One with the Buddhas, infinite":
a stone water cistern flecked with green moss
in the morning sky, raucous crows chanting "form is empty"


in "deep prajnaparamita" (nonconceptual samadhi) there are no "things" at all, no separateness -- coming out, things appear only as "empty"


"Tasting lightning bolts, riding rainclouds"
I wake up to white frost, mist hiding the mountains

shatter any mind that does coming and going/waves breaking on Big Sur/jewels of foam

My grandmother was a great Bodhisattva, sublime as Kannon!
when she held my hand to lead me down the stone path, I became a Buddha

taking my sword out onto the hoar-frost stiff grass
sparring my own wild shadow:
the fir trees exhale Great Doubt, inhale Pure Mind


keen-eyed sparrow
hops on a stone
- cold mountains dawning brilliant today

Cold wind scouring infinite mountains
from everywhere, "cries of suffering people"
waking up to scent of plum blossoms, the spring breeze


"Gradual Realization" utterly useless both in Sword-Practice and Shugyo
someone attacks intending harm, no time for anything but Empty

No Path, No Realizer, No Realization!
Lightning Quick Kannon had the "first and last word" -- Buddha just sat there like a dunce!

We've both been in this Dhyana from the deepest beginning
never moved even an inch
two great mossy rocks, above the clouds!


Is it full yet? Maybe a hair's breadth away from full?
What the fuck does it matter?
Bright moon, vast Starry Sky


No path, no realizer, no Realization
no enemies, no obstructions, no "walls in the mind"
Enlightenment, just seeing the full moon


Bodhi heart is a sparkling Lotus sprung from endless Affliction
dead karma blossoming like a pear twig in Spring
Birds warbling to Chenzrig


On the way up, ice-waterfalls:
on the way down, blue sky.
Difficult to choose!



Fir trees holding up the fog
Great Void dawning as sunlight
naked clouds:


Cedars are green. My tea-bowl has a black glaze. Some notes on the flute are "darker" than others. Life is just doing "moving calligraphy."

The vast clear sky doesn't have north, south, east, west anywhere in it, and Buddha went beyond all concepts, became what can't be limited.


Everything in motion, no matter how you try to be "still"
body, mind, breathing, posture --
quick as lightning, changing faster than a dream


When you sit silently and all alert
dropping the ki down into your hara,
great like a mountain
-Nothing happens! Wonder! Cedars are green.


Heart Nectar of all the Buddhas!
Cinnabar, gold, and the note "RO" on my bamboo flute
Everybody, taken aback, sits deeply like a mountain

All oneness "is"
Yes! What else could it be?
warbling birds jump around on the bare rocks
far above a white cloud-ocean

Self is partless. It is infinite and extremely subtle. So the sword cannot cut It, fire cannot burn It, wind cannot dry It. ~ Bhagavad Gita

Another way of saying it: If you do not truly feel that you are inhabiting hell, no reason to go "all out," so no result.


"No path, no realizer, no realization!"
Kannon really laid it on the line, didn't he?
Does it move from left to right, or West to East?


Eyelids awake, clouds dissolving in a dream -- the heart of a Bodhisattva is empty like bamboo. "Who" exists to misunderstand?


Nothing to realize, no path" is just what "we" are, deepest mind-substance, clear. Frost melting from the fir-trees. Muga mushin.


Who somebody happens to be a re-incarnation of interests me much less than melting frost crackling as it rains down from a Douglas fir.


Sit silent and alert watching breathing and body-sensations as "ringing of empty space." Blow so loudly on a flute you hurt your eardrums.




self is void, malicious energy is void, wild accusations are void, teachings are void, shiki soku ze ku, ku soku ze shiki


Would you know Bodhidharma as a Master if he glared at you?


"Dharma Teachers who try to project malice
are like fire-demons trying to eat snowflakes -
Doesn't really work!"

"O Sariputra! Form is Void, Voidness is Form! Not a speck of difference!"

"One note on a bamboo flute clears the sky of dark clouds. A golden rooster sings."

"How are you going to cut Voidness? Do you own a sword sharp enough for that? Here, take mine!"


your body is a Dharma treasure
your mind the pure ringing of Voidness:
if somebody rushes to destroy you, slap them down without thinking


training the body, mind appears bright and whole
training the mind, body rests calmly, flexible and at ease

no partial views:
wind playing with clouds like a child with new toys


unobstructed mind can ring or not ring, just as it happens:
wind chimes don't change their nature just because there's no wind

the one who knows the ringing isn't near:
the one who laughs about it isn't far:
sit at your ease, forget about achieving anything!

rest your mind in no-mind,
refresh yourself in the no-self:
seeing night and day with the same eyes
whoever said a word about dark or light?


light rises spontaneously -- the clear brow of Krishna
a tiger prowls through the dark forest ringing with sounds


Sinking into the hara
the Gateway to Vastness creaks wide:
clouds enveloping mountains
mountains embracing clouds


True teacher is anyone who introduces you to your true self
: be patient and kind no matter what and the teacher will find *you*



In a state "before thoughts," *before* you've broken down All That Appears into separate objects for analysis (this is what "mind" does) -"What are you?"

A jade mosquito settles on a wooden man. Bzzt.

"Buddhism" was invented by the very buffoons Guatama failed to Enlighten.

Think back to 2 seconds before the "universe" was born. Be that. If you can, Zen.

Argue with me about where the best green tea comes from/let's leave Mahavairocana out of it

Three pounds of flax/Breaking the mountain barrier/clouds obstruct the valley entrance yet birds wing through

All the Dharma Hall reveals is your own Light:/cold wind clicks the mountain gate/Buddha is ten billion aeons old today

Drop obsessive thinking and your clear nature miraculously appears: the moon soars above mists and clustering fir trees

The so-called phenomenal world of "objects" is the "magical display of mind" -- "magical mentation" -- for there are *no such things* ! The physical world does not "exist" except as a buzz of energetic appearance, and the energy is a pure and lazy manifestation of Mind Nature, like a tiger mother licking her cubs

Clear mind clinging to the same rock for a thousand years/blooming like a sunflower in empty space

"Dead people doing Dharma, Dharma is dead./A branch scratching a windowpane/a dog skeleton howling Mu/Right now, are you alive?"

I wouldn't trust Manjusri with a dung bucket, and as for Ananda, the less "said" about his supposedly great memory, the better!

Sometimes Yunmen confused West and East:/he was blind as a bat and couldn't read the sutras/but he knew all about "dried shit on a stick"


Tiger Mother doesn't have paths or ideas:/doesn't know a thing about Enlightenment/ -- she's content to just lie there licking her cubs


Gurus, roshis, mahasiddhas and all their students turned suddenly into stone:/dry grass frozen by the woodpile


"Your bodies and minds are just appearances within the wonderful, bright and pure Profound Mind."


the moon rising in a dream:/who says it's a dream?

"
the moon's halo loves the night too


The "immovable" mind is the Whole Universe before it has been cut up into "things" or even into past present and future.

Nirvana is where concepts stop. Like a fire going out in the rain.

your reflection -- does it appear in the mirror or in your mind?


where do notions such as negative or positive appear or mean anything at all, outside of mind?

so what is this mind, right? but when you ask "what is" you're looking at mind as object, not as the source of the question "what is it"?


what is the mind that isn't an object of its own question because it isn't and has never been an object (but instant perceiving of objects)


the original state "before-thought" (not without thought) is before all subject and objects and questions, this is the enlightened state


if buddhist sutras sometimes point to this state, wonderful! if not, who cares? "nothing to argue, nothing to prove -- relax"


to put it yet another way, what am I originally but a field of pure awareness (before thinking I, mine, this body, this life, this mind &c)


confusing this field with any of the phenomena that might appear in or to it could be said to be the source of mental anguish (Dukkha)


the field of awareness is not a thing and it is really just open vast and empty, it's clear light mind, it's luminosity as such

it's the inner hearer, seer, and knower -- the Noble Witness, the Deep One




You can't hide being awake or not being awake. It's instantly evident to everybody and even to yourself.


Even in the dark everything is still shining in that subtle clear way. Wide awake. Look at your eyes in a mirror. Are you awake? Eyes tell.



"Like ten thousand lamps shining in a single room."


All the Masters agree that you should go "beyond" thinking. In the bare darkness of meditation there will be a sudden brilliance.

All the Masters agree that it can't be reached, or even intuited, by thinking.


cutting the root of ego-delusion:/subduing all thoughts like a true warrior -- /empty sky shining with mind-brilliance


never having to re-incarnate/just seeing it naked and clear
the temple's so old and dark/the incense has crumbled/the sutras are chewed to strips/and the rats are enlightened
a boat moves in the frozen reeds:/a little girl is clapping her hands while her father sings
let's meet where the starry sky sheds its last drop of light
frost-stiff bamboo leaves clicking together/in between long silences:/last summer feels like another life



Siddhartha cut his hair, left home by night:/came back years later, radiant --/his father didn't recognize him


a full moon gleams in the star-sea --/rats scratching and nibbling on the Buddha's words

the old temple is still falling apart:/rat-droppings punctuate the sutras


it's beautiful not to be enlightened/rowing in the mist


seeing moon and bright stars in a dream:/not worrying about is this a dream or not/ --ah!


after all moonlight isn't moonlight, and even sunlight is just "light" which could come from anywhere

going downstairs to sit in the moonlight:/oh wonder!

trying to sleep through a cold night/-- frost sparkling on the rooftops:/the bright moon and stars keep waking me up


shutting the wicker gate:/too sleepy to look up at the bright moon and stars!


accepting not being enlightened, forgetting praise and blame:/buddha shining as the vast blue sky


seeing the bright moon and stars:/who can question?/not seeing, who can blame?


Experiencing is the startling function of a boundless essence.
Essence of reality cannot be what one experiences as reality.
Essence of mind cannot be what one experiences as mind.


the eye itself is an optical illusion/tigers prowl the forest without thinking about it

buddhas-gone-into-hiding/praising and blaming people/dragging it out through endless hell-aeons -- /water frozen in the pail overnight


the full moon in a dream/looking bigger than usual:/someone explained "it's an optical illusion"/someone else said "everything is like that"

enlightenment is basically yourself


The Zen thing to do, today or any day, is to practice direct non-conceptual meditation -- and "sink into the Empty, the Infinite."

"dreams don't come from the state of awake-ness,/and awake-ness never gets lost in dreams"

possibility doesn't chain up infinity;/infinity doesn't preclude possibility --/going beyond them both, Buddha's face carved in gold

life after life:/just the pure essence of mind/-- melting frost, a bird warbles clearly
seat of all the buddhas:/ before past, after future/ -- the setting sun makes the mountain glow

Master Shiva arrives wearing a tiger-skin/third eye ablaze like a sun/he dissolves it all into mist/then whirls it into bright forms again

beating the universe drum stretched tight over no-thing


a spider's web hardened by night frost:/where did the spider go?


this morning Master Keizan shows up/to explain what Buddha "really meant"/yet doesn't utter a single word/ -- we both gaze out at the mist

neither born nor dying/never having clung to a word in the sutras/a spider's web glitters with night frost

From the intuitive (sometimes called the "spiritual") point of view, there is nothing that needs to be added to the world. It's good as is.

I was a woman in a future life

The spirit medium fell down foaming at the mouth,/then began to speak in the clear voices of the dead./Everybody had tears in their eyes.

Don't let the shaman drink too much chang:/last year's ritual was a big disappointment

Sake! Drums! Flute! Tiger-Spirit will dance tonight.

Tonight Master Keizan brings the firewood,/Ikkyu brings the sake:/If only Master Kunley would keep it buttoned up in his pants!



Grasping mind extinguished,/this physical world is all there is!/Ignorance, Enlightenment -- all one big pathetic delusion.


"bowing deeply my Awareness does not bow: straightening, my Awareness does not straighten!" -- try it 10 minutes a day, this is clear Zen


"frost melts anyhow, no need to strain: night and day are both seen with the same eyes"

Yoginis and yogis realize the Deep One --/the Noble Witness --/but what about just putting on your damp swimsuit and going down to the lake?

Night Zen, scarcely breathing/a window glitters with frost

Any old oracle will do.


The Dharma Body is every body.

Planting flowers on a rock/trying to cause rain in outer space:/ -- Mind Essence sloughs off your "Great Realization," don't even bother


Even in dreams you are awake.


stick your head in the tiger's maw/inhale the roar

Walking up to the temple/every footstep is a sky/the emptiness accumulates like rain in a bucket
Listening the rain: it's unconstructed, just as it is, no foolishness!

Ikkyu got satori hearing the explosive CAW of a crow;/wrote poems about sitting around masturbating /shit, imagine if His Holiness did that!


Every day just try sitting still as your Original Self:/not grasping at anything/ just letting what comes come, what goes go

Master Keizan is right here now --/I greet him with tears in my eyes



the Self Nature isn't apart from sound and form:/still, sounds and forms don't empty it

night Zen/: just sitting stable and serene, mouth contemplating eyes/even when silent, the bell shivers -- hear it?

the sky loves blue

you resound in me

"The bamboo leaf has miraculous powers/rain drops slide off it like pearls!"

If all the Buddhas and sages are in your heart like fresh rain, what do you care how others think about you?
Pick up your begging bowl if you're hungry. Once you've eaten, wash your feet and sit on your mat to meditate. "Don't know" mind.

"Don't know." Sink into an orgy of notknowing. Become like the tiger on a Japanese screen -- wicked, glorious, doesn't know it's painted on.
Grasping at Satori or Realization or Direct Insight might take the form of comparing it to others' similar, or trying to "know" what it was.
Grasping at kensho might also take the form of compulsive attempts to "recreate the moment." But it's gone. Gone totally beyond.

The hardest thing for one who gets an instantaneous realization (kensho, satori, wu) is to stop grasping -- not to grasp at the realization.


If you are reading this, know I have just now said a deep secret mantra for you, and you will receive a bright and clarifying mind energy to enlighten all beings.