New York Public Library-2008-7.jpg

His golden locks time hath to silver turned;
Oh, time too swift, oh, swiftness never ceasing!
His youth ‘gainst time and age hath ever spurned.
But spurned in vain; youth waneth by increasing.
Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen;
Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green.
— George Peele, His Golden Locks Time Hath To Silver Turned (1-6)

Spiritual practice

Dogen’s "Practice-Realization" and St. Paul’s "By Grace – Not Works"

The idea that enlightenment or salvation is always already the case and freely available was taught by both Eihei Dogen, 13th century Japanese Zen teacher and founder of the Soto School of Zen Buddhism and by St. Paul, 1st century Jewish teacher and “founder” of Christianity. Dogen’s short-hand term for effortless enlightenment or salvation is “practice-realization;” St. Paul’s phrase is “by grace are ye saved.”

Here are two relevant texts, Dogen’s “Fukanzazengi” (Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen) and an excerpt from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

Paul’s first:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

Dogen’s is a bit longer. You can download the Fukanzazengi by clicking here.


Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen

The Way is originally perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent on practice and realization? The true vehicle is self-sufficient. What need is there for special effort? Indeed, the whole body is free from dust. Who could believe in a means to brush it clean? It is never apart from this very place; what is the use of traveling around to practice’ And yet, if there is a hairsbreadth deviation, it is like the gap between heaven and earth. If the least like or dislike arises, the mind is lost in confusion. Suppose you are confident in your understanding and rich in enlightenment, gaining the wisdom that knows at a glance, attaining the Way and clarifying the mind, arousing an aspiration to reach for the heavens. You are playing in the entranceway, but you still are short of the vital path of emancipation.

Consider the Buddha: although he was wise at birth, the traces of his six years of upright sitting can yet be seen. As for Bodhidharma, although he had received the mind-seal, his nine years of facing a wall is celebrated still. If even the ancient sages were like this, how can we today dispense with wholehearted practice?

Therefore, put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest. If you want such a thing, get to work on such a thing immediately.

For practicing Zen, a quiet room is suitable. Eat and drink moderately. Put aside all involvements and suspend all affairs. Do not think ‘/good” or “bad.” Do not judge true or false. Give up the operations of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop measuring with thoughts, ideas, and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha. How could that be limited to sitting or lying down?

At your sitting place, spread out a thick mat and put a cushion on it. Sit either in the full-lotus or half-lotus position. In the full-lotus position, first place your right foot on your left thigh, then your left foot on your right thigh. In the half-lotus, simply place your left foot on your right thigh. Tie your robes loosely and arrange them neatly. Then place your right hand on your left leg and your left hand on your right palm, thumb-tips lightly touching. Straighten your body and sit upright, leaning neither left nor right, neither forward nor backward. Align your ears with your shoulders and your nose with your navel. Rest the tip of your tongue against the front of the roof of your mouth, with teeth and lips together both shut. Always keep your eyes open, and breathe softly through your nose.

Once you have adjusted your posture, take a breath and exhale fully, rock your body right and left, and settle into steady, immovable sitting. Think of not thinking. Not thinking-what kind of thinking is that? Nonthinking. This is the essential art of zazen.

The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the Dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the Road realized, traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true Dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside.

When you arise from sitting, move slowly and quietly, calmly and deliberately. Do not rise suddenly or abruptly. In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred, and dying while either sitting or standing, have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. ~

In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout- these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking, much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views?

This being the case, intelligence or lack of it is not an issue; make no distinction between the dull and the sharp-witted. If you concentrate your effort single-mindedly, that in itself is wholeheartedly engaging the way. Practice-realization is naturally undefiled. Going forward is, after all, an everyday affair.

In general, in our world and others, in both India and China, all equally hold the buddha-seal. While each lineage expresses its own style, they are all simply devoted to sitting, totally blocked in resolute stability. Although they say that there are ten thousand distinctions and a thousand variations, they just wholeheartedly engage the way in zazen. Why leave behind the seat in your own home to wander in vain through the dusty realms of other lands? If you make one misstep you stumble past what is directly in front of you.

You have gained the pivotal opportunity of human form. Do not pass your days and nights in vain. You are taking care of the essential activity of the Buddha way. Who would take wasteful delight in the spark from a flint stone? Besides, form and substance are like the dew on the grass, the fortunes of life like a dart of lightning emptied in an instant, vanished in a flash.

Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not doubt the true dragon. Devote your energies to the way that points directly to the real thing. Revere the one who has gone beyond learning and is free from effort. Accord with the enlightenment of all the Buddhas; succeed to the samadhi of all the ancestors. Continue to live in such a way, and you will be such a person. The treasure store will open of itself, and you may enjoy it freely.

November 2014
« Aug    
Culture, Philosophy, Humor

Diotima's Ladder - From Lust to MoralityJust about everyone has some idea about what platonic love is: a spiritual form of love in which wha [...]

Dropping a Bowling Ball and a Feather Inside a Vacuum ChamberOne of the ways in which Galileo revolutionized the world of physics was by challenging the Aristote [...]

Steven Pinker - Linguistics as a Window to Understand the BrainOne of the things I first enjoyed when I was introduced to philosophy was its recursive nature: we c [...]

In ancient Greece, when visitors went to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the very first thing they e [...]

Beyond Freakonomics: Musings on the Economics of Everyday LifeFor most of its history, economics has been an esoteric discipline concerned with abstract concepts [...]

Thou Shalt Not Commit Logical Fallacies!With unprecedented access to the vast accumulation of knowledge of the world at our fingertips, it i [...]

Pawel Kuczynski's Thought-Provoking IllustrationsAs you've seen in this fascinating lecture by Slavoj Žižek, the logic of the reigning corporati [...]

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Word CrimesYou may remember that about a year ago Robin Thicke's song "Blurred Lines" created a [...]

Slavoj Žižek - On IdeologyOne of the more interesting lessons Hegel's dialectical method has contributed to our understan [...]

Sean Carroll vs William Lane Craig - God and CosmologyDoes the universe need an explanation for its existence, or can it be understood as a self-containin [...]

Right Living, Thinking, Etc
  • Two Truths News
  • Natural Living-Healthy Planet

Photo by Velcrow Ripper.On Saturday, November 22, Plum Village issued a new update on the health of [...]

Who is the Dalai Lama? The Dalai Lama Foundation wants to answer that question simply and definitely [...]

The Shambhala Sun Foundation's Eighth Annual Online Auction starts this coming Monday. You [...]

Calligraphy by Thich Nhat Hanh. Available in the Lion's Roar store.We’ve got a question for you [...]

Longtime practitioner and psychotherapist Rob Preece says even though as students we may be devoted [...]

Recent headlines have revealed that spiritual communities, including Buddhist ones, are particularly [...]

We took our time getting to the issue of abuse in Buddhist sanghas—perhaps too long. In hindsight, I [...]

Peter Bagge illustrated Brad Warner's Shambhala Sun article, "A Punk Looks at Fifty"– [...]

Photo, "Tibetan Buddhist Nun praying, Tharlam Monastery Porch, Boudha, Kathmandu, Nepal," [...]

Sik Kok Kwong, head of the Buddhist Association of Hong Kong, died on Monday at the age of 95. The p [...]

(NaturalNews) Just when you think that you have heard all that you can possibly hear about what is w [...]

(NaturalNews) A regulatory scheme that would have barred individual European nations from deciding f [...]

(NaturalNews) The time may be now to hold an official funeral for the death of freedom in the U.S., [...]

(NaturalNews) With what seems like hundreds of new supplements coming out on the market every day, i [...]

(NaturalNews) Four people, including two brothers, recently died when a chemical leak at the Texas D [...]

(NaturalNews) A sore throat, or inflammation of the pharynx and fauces, is a common medical conditio [...]

(NaturalNews) House Republicans have filed suit against the administration in D.C. Circuit Court, al [...]

(NaturalNews) With all the hazardous health and environmental aspects of our current energy sources [...]

(NaturalNews) We've got great news to share with you today: I have confirmed that I'll be [...]

(NaturalNews) With so many different types of cookware on the market today, making the best and safe [...]

Science News
  • The Universe Today
  • Perimeter Institute
  • Science Daily
  • Sky and Telescope

After a decade of hard work, numerous twists and turns, and ups and downs, NASA’s new Orion deep spa [...]

Europa, Jupiter’s sixth-closest moon, has long been a source of fascination and wonder for astronome [...]

Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain) Guests: Morgan Rehnberg ( / @cosmic_chatter) Brian Kober [...]

Since it was founded in 1984, the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mount [...]

Holy Northern Lights, Batman! This new timelapse is just beautiful! Photographer Joe Capra traveled [...]

Red alert — the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing year-by-year due to human a [...]

It’s an amazing thing, staring into deep space with the help of a high-powered telescope. In additio [...]

A black hole is an extraordinarily massive, improbably dense knot of spacetime that makes a living s [...]

Need a part on the International Space Station? You’re going to have to wait for that. That is, wait [...]

In another sign of dramatically changing times since the end of NASA’s Space Shuttle program, the wo [...]

Prestigious Polanyi Prize goes to PI Visiting FellowWednesday Nov 12, 2014 Visiting Fellow Eduardo M [...]

Schuster and Toro Awarded New Horizons PrizeTuesday Nov 11, 2014 Perimeter Faculty members Natalia T [...]

19 Awesome Things about Carl SaganThursday Nov 06, 2014 To commemorate what would have been Carl Sag [...]

Tensor Networks Initiative to Boost Promising ApproachThursday Oct 30, 2014 Perimeter Institute anno [...]

The Last Gasp of a Black HoleFriday Oct 17, 2014 New research from Perimeter shows that two of the s [...]

Teachers Who Inspired Great ScientistsThursday Oct 02, 2014 A great teacher can change the world. [...]

Are Weak Values Quantum? Don't Bet On ItTuesday Sep 23, 2014 New work asserts that a key techni [...]

New Results Cloud Earlier Gravitational Wave ClaimsTuesday Sep 23, 2014 New measurements of galactic [...]

Researchers Tackle Complex Question of Time's ArrowFriday Sep 19, 2014 Time flies straight ahea [...]

From Faraday to Present DayThursday Sep 18, 2014 How a curious 19th century mind shaped our world.  [...]

How the hummingbird achieves its aerobatic featsAlthough hummingbirds are much larger and stir up the air more violently as they move, the way that [...]

Life's extremists may be an untapped source of antibacterial drugsLife's extremists, a family of microbes called Archaea, may be an untapped source of new antiba [...]

Deep-Earth carbon offers clues on origin of life: New organic carbon species linked to formation of diamonds -- and life itselfScientists reveal details about carbon deep beneath Earth’s surface and suggest ways it might have i [...]

How to estimate the magnetic field of an exoplanetScientists developed a new method which allows to estimate the magnetic field of a distant exoplanet [...]

Geologists discover ancient buried canyon in South TibetScientists have discovered an ancient, deep canyon buried along the Yarlung Tsangpo River in south T [...]

Why some people may be immune to HIV-1: CluesDoctors have long been mystified as to why HIV-1 rapidly sickens some individuals, while in others t [...]

Dizzying heights: Prehistoric farming on the 'roof of the world'Archaeological findings pose questions about genetic resistance in humans to altitude sickness and g [...]

Imagination, reality flow in opposite directions in the brainAs real as that daydream may seem, its path through your brain runs opposite reality. Aiming to disc [...]

It's filamentary: How galaxies evolve in the cosmic webHow do galaxies like our Milky Way form, and just how do they evolve? Are galaxies affected by their [...]

Quantum mechanical calculations reveal the hidden states of enzyme active sitesEnzymes carry out fundamental biological processes such as photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation and res [...]

Despite rescue efforts, no one has heard from one of two NASA spacecraft on the far side of the Sun [...]

Mars remains visible in the southwest during and after twilight, with the crescent Moon passing it t [...]

Three astrophysicists discuss preparations for three recently funded dark matter experiments, and th [...]

A bizarre set of galaxies in the Coma Cluster have lost most of their stars (or star-making material [...]

The dark ways of Algol the Demon Star, and what it can teach us about stellar evolution.The post Whe [...]

The post M31 Andromeda Galaxy close galaxy to our milky way appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

The post crescent NGC 6888 appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

The post M33, The Pinwheel Galaxy in Triangulum appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

The post Autumn Moonlight appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

The post Orion party appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]