Kang Maike Returns

December 20th, 2013

The days have been arduous, blending into night, bleeding into day.  I have much studying to do of the world as I have been removed too long.  I have lost contact with myself and everything.  I have walked a hundred score of miles and have many more to go.  In a fortnight I shall arise a new man — the same man I always was.  I have missed writing and missed truly living, and like all things am returning to my natural state.  I hope to have much more to share this year, and next.

Have a wonderful holiday season.  Enjoy yourself and those around you.  This is the time of year to celebrate.  There is always something to celebrate!  Celebrate the little things, it makes the big ugly ones less painful.

Mountains as Mountains

December 19th, 2012

“Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters. But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it’s just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters.” -Ch’uan Teng Lu (The Way of Zen)

I think many people turn to Zen looking for something profound. This is not a bad thing, but do not confuse profound with complicated or intelligent. Without our preconceptions and prejudices, we see things as a child. That wondrous time when mountains are mountains and waters are waters. As we get older and begin to learn more about the world, we have begin to think deeply about subject matter, begin to philosophize about the world around us. This is not a bad thing either, in and of itself. But let us not use this thinking to cloud our vision. Do not let simple conclusions, thoughts, and opinions to form filters over our eyes so things do not appear as they are.

The quote above alludes to the fact that we may learn about mountains and waters and other things, and these may symbolize other emotions or concepts for us. At some point in our complex adult lives, we begin to over complicate nearly everything. Everything we see, whether it is a mountain, a friend or family member, or our pets, become something more to us than just what they are. We have imposed our expectations onto them. We expect more and more each day, and these expectations lead to suffering. If we go home and expect our pets to have behaved all day without making any mess, then arrive home to see otherwise, we become angry, unhappy, and frustrated. We have created suffering in ourselves by having expectations.

As the quote above states they are now at rest, in their body with zazen, and have stillness in their mind as well. This, without expectation and without having expectations, the mountains are seen as their true nature, just mountains. And water is seen again as just water, magnificent water. This is what is meant by when you think of nothing, you see everything. Everything in its true nature. No expectations.

Do Not Follow The Ideas of Others

September 12th, 2011

“Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself. Your body and mind will become clear and you will realize the unity of all things.”

Just reading these words is following the ideas of others.  It’s not that we should never read or listen to anyone else, but we need to be mindful of the impact of those words, written or spoken.  We can make time to quiesce our thoughts and minds.  Through zazen or other methods we can decrease the thoughts that pop in our head.  Decrease them to one thought at a time, like a single ripple in an otherwise still pond.

Let the ripple fade until the pond is still again.  Just sit.  No thoughts.  If you practice this enough, you realize the essence of everything.  You realize how wonderfully important everything is.  You realize how nothing matters at all which is what makes everything matter the most, even the most mundane.  Later when you are thinking about something, the answer should be clear.

Follow the way, your own way, let yourself and your thoughts flow through what is natural to you.