Category Archives: Zen

An Outsider Questions the Buddha – The Blue Cliff Record

SIXTY-FIFTH CASE

An Outsider Questions the Buddha

POINTER

Appearing without form, filling the ten directions of space, expanding everywhere equally; responding without mind, extending over lands and seas without trouble; understanding three when one is raised, judging grains and ounces at the glance of an eye. Even if the blows of your staff fall like rain and your shouts are like thunder rolling, still you have not yet filled the footsteps of a trancendent man. But tell me, what is the business of a transcendent man? Try to see.

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Not the wind, not the banner – Hui-neng

Once when the wind was whipping the banner of the temple, the Sixth Patriarch of Zen (Hui-neng) witnessed two monks debating about it. One said the banner was moving, one said the wind was moving.

They argued back and forth without attaining the principle, so the Patriarch said, “This is not the movement of the wind, nor the movement of the banner; it is the movement of your minds.”

Wumen says:

It is not the wind moving, not the banner moving, not the mind moving: where do
you see the Zen patriarch? If you can see intimately here, then you will realize
that the monks were buying iron but got gold, while the Zen patriarch, unable to
conceal his enlightenment, divulged it on this occassion.

Wumen’s verse:

Wind, banner, minds moving-
Their crimes are listed in one indictment.
If you only know how to open your mouth,
You won’t realize when you’re trapped in words.

Zen Master Baling said:

The Zen master said it is not the wind moving, and not the banner moving. If it
is not the wind or the banner, where is it evident?
If there is anyone who can play the host for the Zen master, come forth and meet
with me.

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Musical Secrets – Lilias Mackinnon

Eleven points taken from the book, Musical Secrets by Lilias Mackinnon.

MIND-WANDERING
IT is the nature of mind to wander, and one thought inevitably suggests another. Take an object such as a pencil and try to concentrate on it for five minutes, and in five seconds you will probably find your mind full of irrelevant things.
The only way to concentrate on that pencil is to give your mind a reason for looking at it. Consider the size of the pencil, its shape, its uses, &c., and without effort you will be able to think continuously about it.
In order, therefore, to concentrate on music or anything else, you must think not only about it, but round it. Many people worry because their thoughts naturally wander, and they try to check the sequence of thought instead of rather making use of it. Indeed, the train of thought, or chain of thought, is necessary to memory, and without it the recall of anything would be an impossibility. To concentrate you must learn to direct your thoughts, and to prevent them from wandering away from a thing, you must train them instead to wander round it.

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The Issue at Hand (Genjokoan) – Dogen

Commentary by Thomas Cleary

The term genjokoan seems to appear first in ninth-century China and is often used in Japanese Soto Zen to refer to present being as the topic of meditation or the issue of Zen. Gen means “manifestation” or “present,” jo means “become.” Genjo means actuality-being as is, at hand, or accomplished, as of an accomplished fact. Koan is a common Zen word which is often left untranslated, having to some extent become a naturalized English word. Ko means official, public, or open, as opposed to private or personal; an means a consideration, or a considered decision. A koan in standard literary Chinese means an official report or an issue under consideration. The term was adopted in Zen with much the same meanings, only transposed into the frame of reference of Zen tradition and experience.

Genjokoan is one of the most popular and oft-quoted essays in Shobogenzo. Written to a lay disciple, it contains a number of key points stated in a most concise fashion.

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