Just some random short notes I have been wanting to jot down, reflecting my current understanding as experiential insight deepens in my practice.

....

Many people mistaken letting go and dispassion in terms of dissociation (a subject 'letting go' and 'standing back' from object). This is not true letting go or dispassion.

'In the seen just the seen' with no 'you in terms of that' is true dispassion. It is the state where each sound, each color, each sensation is happening on its own, manifests on its own as its own radiance, and yet there is completely no additional fabrication, or whatever kind of identity in relation to that. This complete emptiness of any kind of identity and clinging or subject-object relation in relation to 'in the seen just the seen', 'in the heard just the heard' is true dispassion.

A dissociated state is just another form of grasping, attachment. It is attaching at 'something' or 'someone' being more true and real than the rest of the field.

....

There's absolutely no need to attempt to bring anything whatsoever, presence, witnessing, whatever, into sleep or any states (waking, dreaming, and deep sleep). Any dualistic effort is a form of doing. Bringing in a watcher is karma. All dharmas, all phenomena, are fundamentally quiescent as nirvana, fundamentally non-arising and naturally manifesting as one's own state of radiance. Therefore true practice is resting in the natural, spontaneous perfection of luminosity and emptiness. Yet this requires anatta and emptiness as pre-requisite.

Therefore, it is always the eventuality of every practitioner to discover that spontaneous perfection is the only course of liberation. Yet one must also be wary of falling into a nihilistic extreme of interpreting non-action as not needing practice or effort. We still have to meditate, but this meditation becomes directionless (or more accurately, aimlessness and wishlessness -- one of the three doors of liberation) and without subject-object (I'm here, trying to get 'there') but immediate practice-enlightenment or instant actualization in every encounter or activity, sitting, walking, working, encountering people. This effort is not the same as the dualistic effort of trying to attain a result in the future, or trying to sustain a subject/object structure by bringing in a dualistic form of watching.

There can and should be effort and focus in practice, but this effort and focus is applied in a way that completely dissolves the subject/object structure rather than retain or strengthen it, for example when being mindful of the breathing, the breathing is its own attention and awareness, there is no dualistic attempt to 'shine the spotlight of awareness on an object or a subject'. Effort and focus, and effortlessness becomes one. This is why Dogen's teachings are very useful here to counteract the nihilism of the wrongful understanding of non-action.  The kind of "doing" or "action" we should be rid of is not "don't have to make any effort" but "not being affected by results/gain/loss", for it is the attachment to the results that are karmic. Each step, each breath, becomes the ends rather than the means -- it is the actualization of enlightenment/Buddha-nature rather than a means to get enlightenment in the future.

And this, also happens to be true non-meditation and non-action, beyond the sense of there being a meditator-meditation and actor-action.
Chandrakirti:

"If you regard things as existent by virtue of (a reified) intrinsic reality, you thereby regard them as bereft of causes and conditions. And thereby you are condemning effects, causes, agents, actions, activities, originations, cessations, and even fruitional goals. Whatever is relativity we proclaim that emptiness. Nothing whatsoever is found which is not relativistically originated. Therefore, nothing whatsoever is found which is not empty. So if all things were not empty, there would be no origination and no destruction.

by Mipham Rinpoche

Namo Mañjuśrīye!
Once you have gone through the training in analysis
And developed confidence in the crucial point
Of how the individual is devoid of self,
Then consider how, just as the so-called “I” is
An unexamined conceptual imputation,
All phenomena included within
The five skandhas and the unconditioned are the same:
Labeled conceptually as this or that.
Although we apprehend all these various phenomena,
When we investigate and search for what's behind the labelling, it cannot be found.
And when we reach the ultimate two indivisibles,
Even the most subtle and infinitesimal cannot be established.
It is the same for all that appears through dependent origination:
Entities themselves arise dependently,
And ‘non-entities’ are dependently imputed.
So, whether an entity or non-entity,
Whatever is conceived of uncritically,
Once it is analyzed and investigated,
Is found to be without basis or origin —
Appearing yet unreal, like an illusion, dream,
Reflected moon, echo, city in the clouds,
Hallucination, mirage, and the like.
Appearing yet empty, empty yet appearing—
Meditate on the way empty appearances resemble illusions.
This is the ultimate that is categorized conceptually.
It has the confidence of a mind of understanding,
And is indeed the stainless wisdom of seeing
The illusory nature of post-meditative experience.
Yet it is not yet free from focus on apprehended objects,
Nor have the features of a subjective mind been overcome,
And so, since it has not gone beyond conceptuality,
The true reality of natural simplicity is not seen.
Once this kind of certainty has arisen,
Even clinging to mere illusion
Can be understood as conceptual imputation.
There is apprehension, but no essential nature to the perceived,
And even the perceiving mind cannot be found,
So, without clinging, one is brought to rest in natural ease.
Remaining like this, all perceptions,
Both external and internal, are not interrupted.
Yet within this fundamental nature, free from grasping,
All projections imposed upon phenomena,
Have never arisen and never ceased to be.
So, free from the duality of perceiver and perceived,
We rest in the all-pervading space of equality.
This is beyond any assertions, such as ‘is’ or ‘is not’.
And, within this inexpressible state of true and natural rest,
An experience dawns that is free from the slightest trace of doubt.
This is the actual nature of all things,
The ultimate that cannot be conceptualized,
And can only be known individually —
The non-conceptual wisdom of meditative equipoise.
Once you become familiar with this state,
In which emptiness and dependent arising are an inseparable unity,
The ultimate condition in which the two truths cannot be separated,
That is the yoga of the Great Middle Way.
Those who wish to realize this swiftly
And make evident non-dual, primordial wisdom
Beyond the domain of the ordinary mind,
Should meditate on the pith instructions of Secret Mantra.
This is the ultimate profound and crucial point
Of the progressive meditations on the Middle Way.
So, begin by thoroughly refining your conduct,
And then arrive at certainty, experientially and in stages.
With confidence in the illusory nature of empty appearance,
This is what it means for nothing to be removed or added on the path.
And, within the equality of the all-pervading space of perfect wisdom,
There is complete liberation.
In a place where people suffer drought and dehydration,
Hearing that there is water does not dispel thirst;
It is only by drinking that relief is found.
And this is how it is for learning and experience — so the sūtras say.
Someone with only dry, theoretical understanding,
Who is worn out by all kinds of reasoning and ideas,
Does not need sporadic practice; but, when meditating in proper stages:
Will swiftly gain acceptance of the profound.
Jampal Gyepe Dorje
wrote down whatever came to mind,
On the twenty-ninth day of the eleventh month of the Water Dragon year (1892).
Through this, may all beings realize the meaning of the profound Middle Way!
Maṅgalam!

| Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2006.


"People that have gone into the nihilistic understanding of 'non-doing' ended up in a mess. You see those having right understanding of 'non-doing' are free, yet you see discipline, focus and peace in them.

Like just sitting and walking... ...in whatever they endeavor. Fully anatta."

~ Thusness

"Peace is every step.
The shining red sun is my heart.
Each flower smiles with me.
How green, how fresh all that grows.
How cool the wind blows.
Peace is every step.
It turns the endless path to joy."

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

"Oprah Winfrey: Already just being in your presence for a short time, I feel less stressed than I did when I started out the day, because you have such a peaceful aura that follows you and that you carry with yourself. Are you always this content and peaceful?

Thich Nhat Hanh: This is my training, this is my practice, to live every moment like that. Relaxed, dwelling peacefully in the present moment, and respond to events with compassion."


"This is most difficult as it is actualization. Insight is just (the) beginning. If you simply just base on insight and do not actualize your insight in practice meeting situations, you will not have genuine and deep understanding."
~ Thusness




..............

Richard Cooper I think nihilistic beliefs need to explored like any others in order to find how they mislead and are belief rather than actuality.

I don't really understand why there is a need for actualisation unless insight hasn't really penetrated and is still intellectual/abstract. Is it to do with habitual responses ?
Manage
· Reply · 38m
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu You see all the nihilistic beliefs spouted by people that advocate no practices since 'you are already what you seek', etc, usually in the neo-Advaita circle but not limited to it. There's a bunch of unhelpful bullshit out there and this article by Daniel M. Ingram illustrates the problems and limitations with such views succinctly - a must read: https://www.mctb.org/.../the-nothing-to-do-and-you-are.../

As for actualization, Daniel also wrote this -- despite stating this his realization of MCTB 4th path since 2003 has withstood all trials and challenges and remains completely stable since (same as my experience for almost 8 years now), in his own words: "any sense of a this-and-that is fundamentally completely uprooted at the perceptual level (not that ordinary discrimination doesn’t function as before), and that this holds up over the long-haul, meaning off-retreat and for years in the face of the strongest vicissitudes of life, across insight cycles, across jhanas and other shifts, and is the only and default perceptual mode at all times when there are any sensations of any kind occurring."

Still, there is still lots of integration in life --

"Accurately qualifying and quantifying depths of realization is a perpetually difficult business. In my own practice, I have noticed that realizations which occurred many years ago continue to percolate, continue to change how this Daniel operates, continue to benefit from cushion time and attention to dharma teachings and other practices, continue to benefit from interaction with other dharma practitioners and other social interactions, and seem to have no obvious endpoint in terms of how far they can go to gradually transform this organism. I have also mostly lived the life of a householder, being in graduate school and working at a professional job for most of my adult life except when on retreat. While caring for patients clearly has dharmic aspects to it, providing many opportunities to learn about suffering and to try to do something about it, there are those who have chosen lives dedicated to meditation and the reclusive life, and that causality can be significant." - https://www.mctb.org/.../depths-of-realization-and.../
Manage
Richard Cooper
Richard Cooper Thanks. It sounds to me like the difficulty those people have is an inability to recognise, question and explore their beliefs.

Seems like having the right attitude helps with actualisation too. I hope I am fortunate enough to have the right attitude !
Manage
· Reply · 3m

On a short break from winterizing greenhouses t.k. was asked. Q: “What is central to spiritual realization?. Spontaneously he answered:  "Foremost know this: if realization, by whatever name, non-dual wisdom, Buddha Nature, Truth, Reality, Tao, the kingdom of heaven …….  does not set the heart alight with tender hearted great compassion, if it does not cause the body to swoon in great exaltation perception of all appearance as divinity, if it ever changes in waking or sleeping …. then it is not realization.

What is central to realization? Well its depth and vastness cannot ultimately be described in words but there can be pointers as to its mystery. I will speak from this body mind’s own experience and understanding for what it is worth.

The mind untouched by any stain of birth or death - this is central.

A heart imbued with tender hearted compassion for every being seemingly friend or enemy, relative or stranger – this is central.

That body, speech and mind experience, without contrived concepts, all appearance as a pervasion of divinity, mysterious, utterly beautiful – the wondrous magical illusion of Buddha Nature – this is central.

To be free of any concern with worldly possessions whether impoverished or wealthy – this is central.

That the cells of the body be constantly inspired by the longing and radiance of prayer, even in the midst of stable realization of emptiness – this is central.

That the very notions status, high or low, is laughable – this is central.

That one is steadfastly occupied with the benefit of beings – this is central.

That one is free from all interest in Dharma politics – this is central.

That no trace of phenomena can any longer be found – this is central.

Realization is not an experience. In realization both poles of experience – perceiver and perceived – have dissolved, resolved, disappeared in the luminous ground whose essence is unutterable mystery and whose nature is clear light divinity. Anything that can in any way be described as experience, as involving a subject or an object – falls short of profound realization.

Realization does not come and go – once entered with authentic totality it never changes, ceases, comes or goes in the so-called waking or sleeping states.

Realization does not give one status – realization is not status but rather it is the death of even the possibility of thinking or feeling that appearances participate in the anxious ugliness of higher and lower.

Take refuge in the most profound wisdom compassion. Take up the way and follow with earnest care and sincerity. Don’t fret to much about what realization is or isn’t because any idea about it is based in confusion and falls far far short of the reality. Instead purify obstacles and hindrances to seeing things exactly as actually are, cultivate tender hearted and active compassion with a profound concern for cause and effect while practicing the view and meditation which transcend cause and effect.

Do not rely on others for no one can do your work for you and no one will enjoy or suffer the karmic consequences of your actions other than you. At the same time as this do not be shy about binding yourself to the sublime sources of wisdom that ceaselessly manifest in myriad ways. Realization cannot be bought or sold with money or other bartered goods. Day by day, step by step and the result is assured." - t.k., recent teachings
Zen Master Charlotte Joko Beck:

Practice is not about achieving a realization in our heads. It has to be our flesh, our bones, ourself. Of course, we have to have life-centered thoughts; how to follow a recipe, how to put on a roof, how to plan our vacation. But we don't need the emotionally self-centered activity that we call thinking. It really isn't thinking, it's an aberration of thinking.

Zen is about an active life, an involved life. When we know our minds well and the emotions that our thinking creates, we tend to see better what our lives are about and what needs to be done, which is generally just the next task under our nose. Zen is about a life of action, not a life of passively doing nothing. But our action must be based in reality. When our actions are based on our false thought systems (which are based on our conditioning), they are poorly based. When we have seen through the thought systems we can see what needs to be done.

What we are doing is not reprogramming ourselves, but freeing ourselves from all programs, by seeing that they are empty of reality. Reprogramming is just jumping from one pot into another. We may have what we think of as a better programming; but the point of sitting is not to be run by any program. Suppose we have a program called "I lack self-confidence." Suppose we decide to reprogram that to "I have self-confidence." Neither of them will stand up very well under the pressures of life, because they involved an "I." And this "I" is a very fragile creation - unreal, actually - and is easily befuddled. In fact there never was an "I." The point is to see that it is empty, an illusion, which is different from dissolving it. When I say that it's empty, I mean that it has no basic reality; it's just a creation of the self-centered thoughts.

Doing Zen practice is never as simple as talking about it. Even students who have a fair understanding of what they're doing at times tend to desert basic practice. Still, when we sit well, everything else takes care of itself. So whether we have been sitting five years or twenty years or are just beginning, it is important to sit with great, meticulous care.

...

When we aren't into our personal mischief, life is a seamless whole in
which we are so embedded that there is no problem. But we don't
always feel embedded because - while life is just life - when it seems to
threaten our personal viewpoint we become upset, and withdraw from it.
[] There are a million things that can upset human beings. They are
based on the fact that suddenly life isn't just life (seeing, hearing,
touching, smelling, thinking) anymore; we have separated ourselves and
broken the seamless whole because we feel threatened. Now life is over
there, and I am over here thinking about it. I am not embedded in it
anymore. []
How do we bring our separated life together? To walk the razor's edge
is to do that; we have once again to be what we basically are, which is
seeing, touching, hearing, smelling; we have to experience whatever our
life is, right this second. If we're upset we have to experience being
upset. If we're frightened, we have to experience being frightened. If
we're jealous we have to experience being jealous. And such
experiencing is physical; it has nothing to do with the thoughts going on
about the upset.
When we are experiencing nonverbally we are walking the razor's edge
- we are the present moment. When we walk the edge the agonizing
states of separateness are pulled together, and we experience perhaps
not happiness but joy. []
If I feel that I've been hurt by you, I want to stay with my thoughts about
the hurt. I want to experience my separation; it feels good to be
consumed by those fiery, self-righteous thoughts. By thinking, I try to
avoid feeling the pain. The more sophisticated my practice becomes, the
more quickly I see this trap and return to experiencing the pain, the
razor's edge. And where I might once have stayed upset for two years,
the upset shrinks to two months, two weeks, two minutes. Eventually I
can experience an upset as it happens and stay right on the razor's
edge.
In fact the enlightened life is simply being able to walk that edge all the
time. And while I don't know of anyone who can always do this, certainly
after years of practice, we can do it much of the time. It is a joy to walk
that edge. 
...
All troublesome relationships at home and work are born of the desire to stay separate. By this strategy we hope to be a separate person who really exists, who is important. When we walk the razor’s edge we’re not important; we’re no-self, embedded in life. This we fear—even though life as no-self is pure joy. Our fear drives us to stay over here in our lonely self-righteousness. The paradox: only in walking the razor’s edge, in experiencing the fear directly, can we know what it is to have no fear.

...

“Daily sitting is our bread and butter, the basic stuff of dharma. Without it we tend to be confused.” 

I've been advising a few people on self-inquiry and getting to the Witness/I AM stage. That is an important and precious realization, although not the final phase of practice as the structure of subject and object, self and phenomena (existing inherently) remains intact.

But it is not possible to immediately reach the collapse of witness or subject/object structure prior to nondual and anatta insights, so one always start from 'observing'. Telling people about non dual and anatta simply provides them an intellectual idea at the beginning, even if he/she is able to grasp it conceptually (and many do not). Practically speaking, when practicing one always begins with witnessing (and with right pointers can be led to Self-Realization) as a start, and that's perfectly fine. But with right view and guidance, one will go through all the phases.

In fact the collapse of the Witness and the subject/object structure is not a denial of the "Witnessing" per se, but clarifying its nature such that it is realised to be non-dual and empty. The luminous clarity, Presence, Awareness is not denied.


The famous Zen Master Charlotte Joko Beck writes about this below.

Excerpt from Everyday Zen by the Zen Master Charlotte Joko Beck:

The Observing Self

“Who is there?” asks God.
“It is I.”
“Go away,” God says. . .
Later . . .
“Who is there?” asks God.
“It is Thou.”
“Enter,” replies God.

What we ordinarily think of as the self has many aspects. There is the thinking self, the emotional self, and the functional self to which does things. These together comprise our describable self. There is nothing in those areas that we cannot describe; for instance, we can describe our physical functioning: we take a walk, we come home and we sit down. As for emotion: we can usually describe how we feel; when we get excited or upset, we can say that our emotion arises, peaks, and falls in intensity. And we can describe our thinking. These aspects of the describable self are the primary factors of our life: our thinking self, our emotional self, our functional self.

There is, however, another aspect of our self that we slowly get in touch with as we do zazen: the observing self. It is important in some Western therapies. In fact, when used well, it is why the therapies work. But these therapies do not always realize the radical difference between the observing self and other aspects of ourselves, nor do they understand its nature. All the describable parts of what we call ourselves are limited. They are also linear; they come and go within a framework of time. But the observing self cannot be put in that category, no matter how hard we try. That which observes cannot be found and cannot be described. If we look for it there is nothing there. Since there is nothing we can know about it, we can almost say it is another dimension.

In practice we observe—or make conscious—as much as we can of our describable selves. Most therapies do this to some degree; but zazen, continued for years, cultivates the observing self more deeply than do most therapies. As we practice we must observe how we work, how we make love, how we are at a party, how we are in a new situation with strange people. There is nothing about ourselves that shouldn’t come under scrutiny. It’s not that we stop other activities. Even when we are completely absorbed in our daily life the observing function continues. Any aspect of ourselves that is not observed will remain muddy, confusing, mysterious. It will seem independent of us, as though it is happening all by itself. And then we will get caught in it and carried away into confusion.

At one time or another all of us get carried away by some kind of anger. (By “anger” I mean also irritability, jealousy, annoyance, even depression.) In years of sitting we slowly uncover the anatomy of anger and other emotion-thoughts. In an episode of anger we need to know all thoughts related to the event. These thoughts are not real; but they are connected with sensations, the bodily feelings of contraction. We need to observe where the muscles contract and where they don’t. Some people get angry in their faces, some people get angry in their backs, some people get angry all over. The more we know—the stronger the observer is—the less mysterious these emotions are, and the less we tend to get caught by them.

There are several ways to practice. One is with sheer concentration (very common in Zen centers), in which we take a koan and push hard to break through. In this approach what we are really doing is pushing the false thought and emotion into hiding. Since they are not real, we suppose that it is OK to push them out of the way. And it’s true that if we are very persistent and push on a koan long enough, we can sometimes break through temporarily to the wonder of a life that is free of ego. Another way, which is our practice here, is slowly to open ourselves to the wonder of what life is by meticulous attention to the anatomy of the present moment. Slowly, slowly we become more sophisticated and knowledgeable, so that (for example) we may know that when we dislike a person, the left corner of our mouth pulls down. In this approach everything in our life—the good and bad events, our excitement, our depression, our disappointment, our irritability—becomes grist for the mill. It’s not that we seek out the struggles and problems; but a mature student almost welcomes them, because we gradually learn from experience that as this anatomy becomes clear, the freedom and compassion increase.

A third way of practice (which I view as poor) is to substitute a positive for a negative thought. For example: if we are angry we substitute a loving thought. Now this changed conditioning may make us feel better. But it doesn’t stand up well to the pressures of life. And to substitute one conditioning for another is to miss the point of practice. The point is not that a positive emotion is better than a negative one, but that all thoughts and emotions are impermanent, changing, or (in Buddhist terms) empty. They have no reality whatsoever. Our only freedom is in knowing, from years of observation and experiencing, that all personally centered thoughts and emotions (and the actions born of them) are empty. They are empty; but if they are not seen as empty they can be harmful. When we realize this we can abandon them. When we do, very naturally we enter the space of wonder.

This space of wonder—entering into heaven—opens when we are no longer caught up in ourselves: when no longer “It is I,” but “It is Thou.” I am all things when there is no barrier. This is the life of compassion, and none of us lives such a life all the time. In the eye-gazing practice, in which we meditate while facing another person, when we can put aside our personal emotions and thoughts and truly look into another’s eyes, we see the space of no-self. We see the wonder, and we see that this person is ourselves. This is marvelously healing, particularly for people in relationships who aren’t getting along. We see for a second what another person is: they are no-self, as we are no-self, and we are both the wonder.

Some years ago in a workshop I did the eye-gazing exercise with a young woman who said her life had been shattered by the death of her father. She said that nothing she had done had given her any peace with this loss. For sixty minutes, we looked into each other’s eyes. Because of zazen practice, I had enough power that it was easy for me to keep my gaze steady and unbroken. When she wavered, I could pull her back. At the end she started to cry. I wondered what was wrong, but then she said, “My father hasn’t gone anywhere! I haven’t lost him. It’s fine, I’m at peace at last.” She saw who she was and who her father was. Her father was not just a body that had disappeared. In the wonder, she was reconciled.

We can practice observing ourselves becoming angry: the arising thoughts, the bodily changes, the heat, the tension. Usually we don’t see what is happening because when we are angry, we are identified with our desire to be “right.” And to be honest, we aren’t even interested in practice. It’s very heady to be angry. When the anger is major we find it hard to practice with it. A useful practice is to work with all the smaller angers that occur everyday. When we can practice with those as they occur, we learn; then when the bigger uproars come that ordinarily would sweep us away, we don’t get swept away so much. And over time we are caught in our anger less and less and less.
There is an old koan about a monk who went to his master and said, “I’m a very angry person, and I want you to help me.” The master said, “Show me your anger.” The monk said, “Well, right now I’m not angry. I can’t show it to you.” And the master said, “Then obviously it’s not you, since sometimes it’s not even there.” Who we are has many faces, but these faces are not who we are.

I have been asked, “Isn’t observing a dualistic practice? Because when we are observing, something is observing something else.” But in fact it’s not dualistic. The observer is empty. Instead of a separate observer, we should say there is just observing. There is no one that hears, there is just hearing. There is no one that sees, there is just seeing. But we don’t quite grasp that. If we practice hard enough, however, we learn that not only is the observer empty, but that which is observed is also empty. At this point the observer (or witness) collapses. This is the final stage of practice; we don’t need to worry about it. Why does the observer finally collapse? When nothing sees nothing, what do we have? Just the wonder of life. There is no one who is separated from anything. There is just life living itself: hearing, touching, seeing, smelling, thinking. That is the state of love or compassion: not “It is I,” but “It is Thou.”

So the way of practice that I’ve found to be the most effective is to increase the power of the observer. Whenever we get upset we have lost it. We can’t get upset if we are observing, because the observer never gets upset. “Nothing” can’t get upset. So if we can be the observer, we watch any drama with interest and affection, but without being upset. I’ve never met anyone who had completely become the observer. But there is a vast difference between someone who can be it most of the time and someone who can be it only rarely. The aim of practice is to increase that impersonal space. Although it sounds cold—and as a practice it is cold—it doesn’t produce cold people. Quite the opposite. When we reach a stage where the witness is collapsing, we begin to know what life is. It’s not some spooky thing, however; it just means that when I look at another person, I look at them; I don’t add on ten thousand thoughts to what I am seeing. And that is the space of compassion. We don’t have to try to find it. It’s our natural state when ego is absent. We have turned into very unnatural beings. But with all our difficulties, we have an opportunity open to us that no other animal has. A cat is the wonder; but the cat doesn’t know that, it just lives it. But as human beings we have the capacity to realize it. As far as I know, we are the only creature on the face of the earth that has that capacity. Having been given this capacity—being made in the likeness of God—we should be endlessly grateful that we have the opportunity to realize what life is and who we are.

So we need to have patience—not just during sesshin, but every day of our lives—to face this challenging task: meticulously to observe all aspects of our life so that we can see their nature, until the observer sees nothing when it looks out except life as it is, in all its wonder. We all have such moments. After a sesshin, we may look at a flower and for a second there is no barrier. Our practice is to open our life like this more and more. That’s what we are here on earth to do. All religious disciplines at bottom say the same thing: I and my Father are one. What is my Father? Not something other than myself, but just life itself: people, things, events, candles, grass, concrete, I and my Father are one. As we practice, we slowly expand this realization.

Sesshin is a training ground. I’m just as interested in what you will be doing two weeks from now when you find yourself in a crisis. Then will you understand how to practice? Observing your thoughts, experiencing your body instead of getting carried away by the fearful thoughts, feeling the contraction in your stomach as just tight muscles, grounding yourself in the midst of crisis. What makes life so frightening is that we let ourselves be carried away in the garbage of our whirling minds. We don’t have to do that. Please sit well.