Saturday, March 02, 2024


 If you ask

I won’t tell

If you don’t ask

I won’t tell

here's your hat, there's the door, what's your hurry

heat wanders without coat

losing itself degree by degree

as winter begins to pack valise

folded coat under toothbrush

why this is not (a poem)

it does not rhyme

    it has no time

there is no space

    for angular face

no depth no insinuation

    not an inch of inspiration

rather, nullity and parsimony

    where not a meter of harmony

not a second of thought

    nothing that should be sought

this is not a poem not at all

    not at all not (a bit) at all 

Friday, March 01, 2024

ipse dixit, cogitas?

 “Netanyahu is a difficult interlocutor.” (Nicholas Kristof, 1mar24)

not making anything or anything else

 My world shrinks to this

Soundless and sightless silence

Each thing heard and seen

neither fixed nor one-dimensional

Finding self is a walk on icy floats where covered schooners strain their ropes in high freezing wind.

It was morning practice.

2. Nothingness as Root of Existence and Religious Practice

How does the self overcome the identity imposed on it by society? How does the self become reconciled with the identity prescribed by the conditions of human existence? A search for one’s true self is one of the motivations for religious practice. Self-identity, however, is neither fixed nor one-dimensional; if we are willing to open up ourselves to the various possibilities that contribute to the construction of self-identity, we come to realize that the self is rather more unstable than stable, more changeable than fixed. Admitting the changeable nature of the self inevitably generates insecurity and anxiety, but it does not necessarily have to lead to a pessimistic view of life. One contribution of Buddhist teaching to our understanding of the self and life is the idea that opening up the boundaries of the seemingly permanent self and the firm ground of existence can lead us to a broader and more positive view of life and the self. What is not frequently emphasized is that this is sometimes a counterintuitive argument, and actually practicing the teaching requires a constant and consistent effort on the part of the practitioner.

Then I bought 40 lbs of sunflower seed, chocolate milk, and organic jam.

You can't know yourself. You can only walk by covered boats the leap year last day of February, for example, listening to Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax, by Michael N. McGregor.

It's a circus out there.

The self is being-walked-through.

In fact.

Thursday, February 29, 2024



why not



a total, accepting openness

About which more later. 

 26. "Thinking" for Heidegger means more than merely intellectual activity -- it involves an authentic response of the whole man to the revelation of Being. As such, it is non-conceptual and non-representational -- a total, accepting openness to Being. Likewise, "poetizing" means more than simply writing "poetry" or the "poetic arts" in any ordinary sense -- it means bringing the revelation of Being into appropriate language.

(--Richardson footnote to Spiegel Interview with Martin Heidegger, 1966) 

 May we, all of us, come to word, sooner than later!

outside the window

 Two times through the night

unusual animal

screeches— such haunting

where’s the switch for the deus ex machina

So much anguish about the Supreme Court’s decision to hear and slow-walk his absolute immunity claim right up to the November election.

Sober legal commentators in measured tones and terms are factual and uncertain why they phrased the ruling (“alleged”) and gave a two month delay before hearing the case.

There’s a bargain with the devil here for Trump. 

Yes, a victory delaying and possibly evading justice for crimes for which he has been accused and indicted. 

But, no, he is possibly unleashing a profound level of antagonistic frustration among less measured more unhinged individuals and bodies of horrified groups interested in their own shadowy justice against the former president and his announced despotic agenda going forward.

Listen carefully here. 

Without wanting it to happen, nor suggesting it should, and concerned about the repercussions following, it is not difficult to imagine occurring the kind of assassination we have not seen in this country since 1963 and 1968. 

It is with great sorrow and upset we have seen one man dominate, manipulate, and damage the institutions and laws of the United States. Such depth of emotional and intellectual distress about the integrity and fairness of the country’s ethos and identity is no small concern among many categories of people, organizations, and historical analyses. 

Mr.Trump threatens in a profound way and in various forms the political and psychological well-being of a complex and involved system of governance and everyday sense of common weal.

The bargain he has made is not good for the country and not good for him. If the legal system cannot abate him, I fear he puts himself into the hands of a more dangerous and devious solution.

If you ask for lawlessness and injustice you might just get it.

God help us all! 

Whatever higher power exists for us, a bedeviled people, now would be a good time to switch on that deus ex machina and save Trump and the country from themselves.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

opening the box

Source is not elsewhere.

We are the wanderers off into some other place some other time. 

When you suddenly
Realize the source of mind,
You open a box of jewels.
Honorable on earth and in the heavens,
You are aloof even
From the joy of meditation.
The essence containing all flavors
Is the supreme delicacy,
Worth more than ten thousand
Ounces of pure gold.


Or two chocolate donuts. 

Maybe three garlic trisquit crackers.

too unsorted to actively pursue

Maybe there are intelligent beings from off-world.

UFOs, UAPs, ETs.

I'm nearly done with D.W. Pasulka's American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology (2019).

Extraterrestrials, SETI, Edgar Mitchell, the Contact Modalities, patterns of energy, the dyadic model of consciousness (remote viewing, telepathy, mystical experiences).

The day is gray with rain.

"The awareness is the undifferentiated awareness of the primordial field, as the sense of Self is merged totally into the field." (DWP, on the dyadic model of consciousness, see above)

I'm not feeling it today.

I think I lack the intelligence and the awareness to care whether we are alone, part of the greater whole, or merely lost in space.

I enjoy the words she lays out in her book.

As an eremite claustrated in this quasi-anchoritic cell, I'm not feeling it today.

I sit zazen. I read the news of the day. I tolerate the videos of late night comics' attempts to satirize the serious foibles of the leader class of the country.

Strong wind blows dooryard trees. The forecast accurate.

The author arrives in final chapter at the Vatican observatory at Castel Gandolfo. Cosmographies, bi-locating nun Sister Maria of Jesus of Ágreda OIC  in 17th century from Europe to southwest America. Joseph of Cupertino's levitations (Franciscans, both.)

 I'm too small to comprehend, too unsorted to actively pursue.

The cultural imagination is seeded by the rare creatures among us.

The experiences she describes perdure.

Levitation and levity leave me unallocated and seated with window opened to the remainder of the dark-mattered deep space expanse of unendable distance out into the billions of stars in billions of galaxies in, perhaps, innumerable universes spanning branes, dimensions, and infinite regions of thought. 

Credo quia absurdum is a Latin phrase that means "I believe because it is absurd", originally misattributed to Tertullian in his De Carne Christi. (Wikipedia and Cambridge Core)

I.S. Shklovskii, astronomer, co-authoring  with Carl Sagon in 1966 Intelligent Life in the Universe, said the prey runs to the predator.

Martin Heidegger gave an interview published just after his death. The Spiegel Interview "Only a God Can Save Us" (1966), translated by William J. Richardson SJ, includes this footnote by Richardson:

27. In all probability, Heidegger is not using the word "god" here in any personal sense but in the sense that he gives to the word (often in the expression, "god or the gods") in his interpretations of Hölderlin, i.e., as the concrete manifestation of Being as "the Holy."

Quoting the classical saying of Aunt Ronnie -- "And there she remained."

sadness of self-immolation for any cause

Others confuse me.

Suggesting I am not alone.

An opinion I contend.

What I point out to you is only that
You shouldn’t allow yourselves
To be confused by others.
Act when you need to,
Without further hesitation or doubt.
People today can’t do this.
What is their affliction?
Their affliction is in their
Lack of self-confidence.
If you do not spontaneously
Trust yourself sufficiently,
You will be in a frantic state,
Pursuing all sorts of objects
And being changed by those objects,
Unable to be independent.

Linji (d.867) dailyzen

I'll just stay here.

Self-compromised, uncomposed.

Listening to roof-rain. 

As empty as objectless subservience.

Wandering through dark infinite cosmos so silent.

Not striking a match, not immolating, however right the protest.

We'll find something wrong with him, claiming he wasn't even Buddhist. 

tide out in eyes

In every Instant being begins; around

every Here rolls the ball There. The

middle is everywhere. Crooked is the

path of eternity.


auntie christ

mustard orange


slithers through

hoards of

stoned dementia

political nincom-

poopery, vacant-

eyed rote-robotic

followage foliage

weedage slime-

snaked seepage

polluting populace

with sludge-mind

viscosity heart-dark

"we're seldom

better than weather" 

poet Richard Hugo 

wrote, "we're nearly as 

good as a woman we 

met in passing once

at Invergarry" --

his villager "tide out

in his eyes" a better man

than the creep right wing

wants to ordain as chief 

demon spewing fiery lies

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

as if by magic

 Wait for it

Wait for it

Behind tree

And Melvin Heights

Horizon cloud

Glowing glowing

Wait, wait

Behind bamboo

Behind Buddha 

Wood coffin cross

Inching globe

Turning reaching





To green

Bird feeder 


 It’s fine 

I have no 

friends I 

have no 


I don’t,

I  think, 

exist —

Who wants

to know

polite inquiry

 There’s the owl

Middle-night inquiry —

Yes, thank you, it’s me

No, no, is it you

Monday, February 26, 2024

skip the name, look through

 If you wonder who you are --

know this

If you cannot find yourself --

be happily lost

The world is ify, uncertain, dark --

insist on seeing for your self


 Reading Thomas Cathcart’s There Is No God and Mary Is His Mother.: Rediscovering Religionless Christianity. (2021)

The phrased title is supposedly from George Santayana, but, the author says, more likely Robert Lowell’s reference to Santayana’s aesthetic attitude toward his Catholic tradition.

Of course, Robert Lowell. That’s what poets are for.

Opening hymn stanza of Office of Readings this middle night:

Be thou my vision, through night and come day

Light on me always, thy spirit to stay

Thou, eternal father, the great and the last

The wise and true sov’reign of all that shall pass. 

Me? I’m just passing through.

Difficulty in such passing need not make it a hard pass.

out on limb

 Owl hoots 

In night

Tells story

Of its practice

While, on ground

Many listen up

Sunday, February 25, 2024




The human soul

luna di neve

So much has changed, this

Snow Moon, full and sky-bright, see --

no one dwells where once I was

Saturday, February 24, 2024

l'ignoranza è beatitudine

The ex-president is loved (or mesmerized) by so many in his party.

Just to put it in context -- there are many poems I do not get.

चिन्तयतु, प्रतीक्ष्य, भोजनात् निवर्तयतु *

An old, wrapped in mailing plastic, London Review of Books under box of bamboo tissues on makeshift table next to bed in eremetic room.

In Hermann Hesse’s novel Siddhartha he has the young not-yet ascetic say the three skills he possesses are the ability “to think, wait, and fast.” *

Some day I’ll remove the issue from plastic.

like nothing else

 Reading Erasure: A Novel, by Percival Everett (2001).

Last night, at conversation, as at prison earlier, Wallace Steven’s poem Anecdote of the Jar (1918)

Anecdote of the Jar

 I placed a jar in Tennessee,

 And round it was, upon a hill.

 It made the slovenly wilderness

 Surround that hill.

 The wilderness rose up to it,

 And sprawled around, no longer wild.

 The jar was round upon the ground

 And tall and of a port in air. 


 It took dominion everywhere.

 The jar was gray and bare.

 It did not give of bird or bush,

 Like nothing else in Tennessee.

And so we took a look, had a chat, and found it, (in L’s words), “jarring”.

Friday, February 23, 2024

thanks, wallace stevens

 When is a door not a door able?

When it’s a jar in Tennessee.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

test the reality / of misty fields


In Zen To Go, Compiled and Edited by Jon Winokur (1989):

Zen is consciousness unstructured by particular form or particular system, a trans-cultural, trans-religious, trans-formed consciousness.

--Thomas Merton


Zen is a way of liberation, concerned not with discovering what is good or bad or advantageous, but what is.

--Alan Watts


Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake up and become aware. It does not teach, it points.

--D.T. Suzuki

 Suddenly, the words of Wallace Stevens come to mind:

She says, “I am content when wakened birds,
Before they fly, test the reality
Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings; ..."

(--in poem, Sunday Morning, by Wallace Stevens 

Once someone wrote me from Inman Street in Cambridge, calling me a "kindred spirit in an ellipsis-hating world."

She knew something I didn't.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

end of day

When all that is heard 

Monastery bells

Announcing compline

keeping silence, releasing any explanation

Truth is hard to hear.

Literally, not symbolically.

It is buried under soil, beneath consciousness, beyond the periphery of sight. 

Sometimes only by looking away might you catch an intimation of it. Only by dozing on brink of unconsciousness might you catch a faint echo on the narrow edge of awareness. 

Pilate asks, what is truth?

The Gospel that is truth is good news, but before it is good news, let us say that it is just news.

Let us say that it is the evening news, the television news, but with the sound turned off. 

A particular truth can be stated in words.

But truth itself is another matter. Truth itself cannot be stated. Truth simply is, and is what is, the good with the bad, the joy with the despair, the presence and absence of God. Before it is a word, the Gospel that is truth is silence, and in answer to Pilate’s question Jesus keeps silence. 


(--in, Frederick Buechner: Telling the Truth, the gospel as tragedy, comedy and fairy tale, HarperOne 1977, Notes Alison Morgan Dec 09)

Truth is not a crackerjack prize given to diving fingers. It is gift without warning to a heart/mind wandering through what is there without expectation or intention. Only oblique presence experiences the donation of truth. It is the boon of a love that knows not itself, but which is open-eyed and open-souled in its surround.

Silence, the maxim says, means consent.

If we are to construe anything, it is "yes".

so, out of holy womb

In tribute book to William J.Richardson S.J., Babette Babich includes a line from Friedrich Hölderlin -- (p.30, Reflections, in memoriium, 51st meeting of the Heidegger Circle 3March--2April 2017):

Wie du anfiengst, wirst du bleiben.

    As you began, you will remain

It is found in Hölderlin's poem Der Rhein (The Rhine). Here's an excerpt:

Ein Rätsel ist Reinentsprungenes. Auch
Der Gesang kaum darf es enthullen. Denn
Wie du anfingst, wirst du bleiben,
So viel auch wirket die Not,
Und die Zucht, das meiste nämlich
Vermag die Geburt,
Und der Lichtstrahl, der
Dem Neugebornen begegnet.
Wo aber ist einer,
Um frei zu bleiben
Sein Leben lang, und des Herzens Wunsch
Allein zu erfüllen, so
Aus günstigen Höhn, wie der Rhein,
Und so aus heiligem Schoße
Glücklich geboren, wie jener?

Pure source is a riddle. Poems even
May hardly show the solutions. For as
You started, you will continue,
Whatever the workings of discipline
Or necessity; for most is
Achieved by birth
And the ray of light
That meets the new-born infant.
But where is there anyone
Who may remain free
Lifelong and fulfil solely the heart’s wish,
In heights that will favour him, like the Rhine,
So born, out of holy womb,
Fortunate as this river?

Hölderlin says that "Pure source is a riddle." 

During Tuesday Evening Conversation Chris brought up faith, read some Merton on it, then threw it to the gathered for reflection. Asha, Doris, Tina, Saskia and I joined conversation with his prompt. It was, as often is, delightful and inspiring.

Perhaps faith has no object because source is a riddle, a koan for which no positing answer is acceptable.

And, that, because (perhaps) source or origin is (surprisingly) not the same as beginning or starting point.

Norman Fisher writes:

The reflection on beginnings and endings is taken still further in Buddhist teachings. The closer you contemplate beginnings and endings, the more you begin to see that they are impossible. They can’t exist. There are no beginnings and endings. The Heart Sutra, chanted every day in Zen temples around the world, says that there is no birth and so there is no death either.

What does this mean? We are actually not born. We know this from science, there is nothing that is created out of nothing—everything comes from something, is a continuation and a transformation of something that already exists. When a woman gives birth, she does not really give birth, she simply opens her body to a continuation of herself and the father of the child, to their parents and their parents before them, to the whole human and nonhuman family of life and nonlife that has contributed to the coming together of preexisting elements that we will see as a newborn child. So there really is no birth. This is not a metaphorical truth.

If no beginning, then no ending. There is no death. In what we call death the body does not disappear. It continues its journey forth. Not a single element is lost. The body simply transforms into air and water and earth and sky. Our mind travels on too, its passions, fears, loves, and energies continue on throughout this universe. Because we have lived, the world is otherwise than it would have been, and the energy of our life’s activity travels onward, circulates, joins and rejoins others to make the world of the future. There is no death, there is only continuation. There is nothing to be afraid of.  

(in, No Beginning, No Ending, No Fear, When you’re afraid of what might happen, remember that all you have is now. By Norman Fischer -- Tricycle, Summer 2021)

 The line in Hölderlin, "You started, you will continue" (or, "As you began, you will remain") might be a trick poetic phrasing. The words "started" or "began" are, for a Buddhist, infinitely retroactive impossibilities (let's say).

So too, "continue" or "remain" are enticing atemporal horizons beyond which our vision cannot penetrate.

Fisher points out that no beginning, no end, (then) no fear.

Is it possible to dwell at origin? (Change that!) Is it possible to dwell as origin dwells?

And is faith the willingness to dwell in that objectless riddle wherein and through which Being and Truth dance in ever recurring surround with liberating joy -- even in the midst of turmoil, uncertainty, pain, and unknowing?

This holy womb, out of which, through which, we are ever-presently coming into existence and out of existence with nothing, to be, afraid of, and unafraid with.

for now, enough

First light off east

Red coals in firebox

Car-lights up road

Tuesday, February 20, 2024



Faith has no object

Yes without knowing

Letting go without

Going anywhere

Residing (absurdly)

With what yes is

menuha, stillness and peace

Much disturbs me.

It is a fact of linear time. A fact of populated space.

 The contention of opinion and religion and ideology.

In the mythology of the Bible, it took God six days to make the world, and on the seventh day He rested, pleased with what had been created. On this day was created menuha, in Hebrew stillness and peace. The Sabbath is therefore a place of still waters that soothes the soul; it is a different atmosphere that envelops those who celebrate it. (in, The Sabbath, by Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1907-1972)

There is, I'm told, another way.

Where stillness and peace emerge. As if of themselves.

And yet, we are creatures of chaos and conflict.

Quarrelsome and querulous. 

Menuha to you! To us!

sorrow for sin

I cannot turn away

The ghoulish horror

His face on every

Screen and front page

Fool fooling the foolish

Monday, February 19, 2024

she was smiling

I remember her face

As she left chemo

For final time

Someone quietly cried

She would not be back

the faint chattering of the songs that are to come

 In prison this morning conversation about Wendell Berry's poem --  "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front."

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry


Love the quick profit, the annual raise,

vacation with pay. Want more

of everything ready-made. Be afraid

to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.

Not even your future will be a mystery

any more. Your mind will be punched in a card

and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something

they will call you. When they want you

to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something

that won’t compute. Love the Lord.

Love the world. Work for nothing.

Take all that you have and be poor.

Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace

the flag. Hope to live in that free

republic for which it stands.

Give your approval to all you cannot

understand. Praise ignorance, for what man

has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.

Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.

Say that your main crop is the forest

that you did not plant,

that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested

when they have rotted into the mold.

Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus

that will build under the trees

every thousand years.

Listen to carrion — put your ear

close, and hear the faint chattering

of the songs that are to come.

Expect the end of the world. Laugh.

Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful

though you have considered all the facts.

So long as women do not go cheap

for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy

a woman satisfied to bear a child?

Will this disturb the sleep

of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.

Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head

in her lap. Swear allegiance

to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos

can predict the motions of your mind,

lose it. Leave it as a sign

to mark the false trail, the way

you didn’t go. Be like the fox

who makes more tracks than necessary,

some in the wrong direction.

Practice resurrection.


“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” from The Country of Marriage, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc1973.


 cat on lap

chant down hall

purring psalm-tone 

Sunday, February 18, 2024

causes, conditions, consequences

In article about Shantideva’s thoughts on anger at Sunday Evening Conversation, this insight: anger is about the past; compassion about the future.

Forget anger.

Forge the future.

an aerobic, this

 I don't want

to be president

I will not run

nor serve if asked

I do want 

to jog residence

or briskly walk to

reserve asking

you what you want 

an inner incandescence --

if wanting is talk

turn, preserve, ask this


 Middle night 

If I pray it is 

Basement furnace

Eleven degrees

Doing what it can

Is all just that

Saturday, February 17, 2024

of a sudden

 Snow squall during walk

Hides mountain curtains field white

At dusk walking ice 

in the unity of things

What to do? 

The perfect Way’s like boundless space
Nothing lacking, nothing extra
It is because of choice
That its absolute truth is lost.
Don’t pursue externals;
Don’t dally in the interior void.
When the spirit remains serene
In the unity of things
Dualism vanishes by itself;
When that unity is not clear
There is loss in both directions.

Seng-ts’an (d. 606), dailyzen


Not anything.

Let disappear.

about the intersection

 This is America at its most new-normal.

Wednesday was Valentine’s Day, the sixth anniversary of the shooting that killed 17 at a Parkland, Fla., high school. It was also the 45th day of 2024, and by that night, there had been 49 mass shootings in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive. (The archive defines them as shootings in which at least four people are killed or hurt, not including the shooter.)

The Kansas City shooting raised familiar questions about the intersection of American sports and culture. Are sports events, and the parades that celebrate them, a place to forget the real world, or experience it?

Mourn, yes, our fate.   

“The language of a people is its fate,” wrote Amos Wilder.

The language of guns, shootings, hurt and death is america's epic narrative obituary.

a heavy black x

 Heather Cox Richardson tells this story about Teddy Roosevelt:

As headstrong as her father, Roosevelt’s daughter beat her father’s prediction by two days. On February 12, Alice gave birth to the couple’s first child, who would be named after her. Roosevelt was at work in Albany and learned the happy news by telegram. But Alice was only “fairly well,” Roosevelt noted. She soon began sliding downhill. She did not recover from the birth; she was suffering from something at the time called “Bright’s Disease,” an unspecified kidney illness.

Roosevelt rushed back to New York City, but by the time he got there at midnight on February 13, Alice was slipping into a coma. Distraught, he held her until he received word that his mother was dangerously ill downstairs. For more than a week, “Mittie” Roosevelt had been sick with typhoid. Roosevelt ran down to her room, where she died shortly after her son got to her bedside. With his mother gone, Roosevelt hurried back to Alice. Only hours later she, too, died.

On February 14, 1884, Roosevelt slashed a heavy black X in his diary and wrote “The light has gone out of my life.” He refused ever to mention Alice again 

Hard day. Hard loss.

Grateful to the historian for educating such a dull pupil as I am. 

Friday, February 16, 2024

non ancora



Slowly slowly


Not-yet there

from dusty hallways

 I agree to volunteer to serve as international investigator of human rights abuses against human beings with a focus on equal justice and fair treatment worldwide.

What’s that? I’m not needed?

You say Vladimir Putin has agreed to plead guilty to crimes against individuals and humanity? 

Well, that’s good news.

I guess I can remain in obscurity and anonymity futzing about with zen and meditation.

I’m pleased to await the end of this country’s useful idiot’s meaningless rantings from dusty hallways of mental vacuity.

I’ll sit this one out.

May God be out there and in here at the same time!

вечный покой*

 *Eternal peace!

Алексей Навальный  (Alexie Navalny)


to see our nature without being confused

 I do like zen.

 It's not as confusing as you might think.

18. Good friends, in this school of the Dharma, when we practice Zen, we don’t contemplate the mind, and we don’t contemplate purity, and we don’t talk about being dispassionate.

If someone says to contemplate the mind, the mind is basically a delusion. And because a delusion is the same as an illusion, there is nothing to contemplate. 

If someone says to contemplate purity, your nature is already pure. It’s because of deluded thoughts that reality is obscured. But once you are free of deluded thoughts, your original nature is pure. If you don’t see that your nature is already pure, and you rouse your mind to contemplate purity, you create the delusion of purity instead. A delusion has no actual location, which is how we know what we contemplate is a delusion. And purity has no form. 

If someone establishes a form for purity and thinks they have achieved something, those who hold such a view separate themselves from their own nature and become trapped by purity instead. 

And if someone cultivates dispassion, as long as they don’t pay attention to the faults of others, their nature is dispassionate. But deluded people act dispassionate then open their mouths and talk about right and wrong and turn their backs on the Way. Meanwhile, contemplating the mind and contemplating purity are actually what separates them from the Way. 

19. In that case, what do we mean in this school by ‘to practice Zen’? In this school, by ‘to practice,’ we mean not to be obstructed by anything and externally not to give rise to thoughts about objective states. And by ‘Zen,’ we mean to see our nature without being confused. 

And what do we mean by ‘Zen meditation’? Externally to be free of form is ‘Zen.’ And internally not to be confused is ‘meditation.’ Externally, if you are attached to form, internally, your mind will be confused. But if you are free of form externally, internally your nature will not be confused. 

Your nature itself is pure and focused. It is just that you come into contact with objects, and as you come into contact, you become confused. When you are free of form and not confused, you are focused. To be free of form externally is ‘Zen.’ Not to be confused internally is ‘meditation.’ External Zen and internal meditation, this is what we mean by ‘Zen meditation.’

(--from The Platform Sutra, The Zen Teaching of Hui Neng, Translation and Commentary by Red Pine) 


Not confused?

Ask questions.

Tell no lies.