Also see:

The Tendency to Extrapolate a Universal Consciousness

No Universal Mind

No Universal Mind, Part 2

Wrote in Facebook:

Yes... as for collective consciousness, no Buddhist (including Tibetan Buddhism) teachings accept the notion of a collective consciousness. A cosmic, universal, collective, over-arching consciousness is a Hindu teaching, not a Buddhist one. In Buddhism, all notions of 'universals' are pure abstractions.

Loppon Namdrol/Malcolm: "Buddhism is all its forms is strictly nominalist, and rejects all universals (samanya-artha) as being unreal abstractions."

When we investigate "consciousness" in the same way as the "weather" analogy, we completely deconstruct any notion of a consciousness in and of itself - be it universal or individual (though conventionally we can accept that consciousness is always individual and unique), but most of all, an 'inherently existing' consciousness. We do not treat 'consciousness' as any sort of a thing in the same way we do not treat 'weather' as a 'thing' - when the word 'weather' comes to mind it is immediately understood to be an imputation for the wind blowing, sun shining, clouds flowing etc. Likewise the word "consciousness" is immediately penetrated (instead of reified into an entity) and directly apprehended in immediate, direct experience as the suchness of seeing/seen-consciousness, hearing/sound-consciousness, and so forth, all of which are directly, immediately and gaplessly apprehended in its total luminous clarity.

Or as Alex Weith says in his third step,

"This also means that the first step is to disembed from impermanent phenomena until the only thing that feels real is this all pervading uncreated all pervading awareness that feels like the source and substance of phenomena. Holding on to it after this realization can hower become a subtle form of grasping diguised as letting go.

The second step is therefore to realize that this brightness, awakeness or luminosity is there very nature of phenomena and then only does the duality between the True Self and the appearences arising and passing within the Self dissolve, revealing the suchness of what is.

The next step that I found very practical is to push the process of deconstruction a step further, realizing that all that is experienced is one of the six consciousness. In other words, there is neither a super Awareness beyond phenomena, not solid material objects, but only six streams of sensory experiences. The seen, the heard, the sensed, the tasted, the smelled and the cognized (including thoughts, emotions, and subtle thougths like absorbtion states, jhanas).

At this point it is not difficult to see how relevent the Bahiya Sutta can become."

The fact that all notions of universals are pure abstractions is not a notion, it is a truth that can be realized in direct experience. Universals cannot be found in direct experience, ever. It is related to the truth of anatta. Universals are either abstractions born out of delusions, or abstractions spoken merely for convenience/conventional parlance/communications.

How can you appreciate "sensate facts" or the particulars/specifics of "in the seen just the seen/in the heard just the heard" if you are obscured by abstractions (including the abstraction of a universal soul, etc)? Even if you have a PCE but back in the mind you hold the view of a universal soul, i.e. an abstraction, the PCE will come and go and one will continue to rest in the view and sense of Self.

Hence, one needs to investigate, challenge, realize and penetrate all of our false views - self/Self/objects/here/now etc. By the manifestation of prajna wisdom, the veil of ignorance is released.

Only then can there be any true "intelligence" to speak of


Both "self", "it" and so on are imputations. It is just like the imputation, "weather".


28/3/13 10:35:30 PM: Thusness: A table is just color, shapes, line, hardness, texture in touch, the sound when u hit it and being labelled
28/3/13 10:36:51 PM: Thusness: When deconstructed r just these
28/3/13 10:37:07 PM: Thusness: In direct experience

14/4/13 7:35:01 PM: Thusness: When u say "weather", does weather exist?
14/4/13 7:35:20 PM: AEN: No
14/4/13 7:35:42 PM: AEN: It's a convention imputed on a seamless activity
14/4/13 7:35:54 PM: AEN: Existence and non existence don't apply
14/4/13 7:36:02 PM: Thusness: What is the basis where this label rely on
14/4/13 7:36:16 PM: AEN: Rain clouds wind etc
14/4/13 7:36:25 PM: Thusness: Don't talk prasanga
14/4/13 7:36:36 PM: Thusness: Directly see
14/4/13 7:38:11 PM: Thusness: Rain too is a label
14/4/13 7:39:10 PM: Thusness: But in direct experience, there is no issue but when probed, u realized how one is confused abt the reification from language
14/4/13 7:39:52 PM: Thusness: And from there life/death/creation/cessation arise
14/4/13 7:40:06 PM: Thusness: And whole lots of attachment
14/4/13 7:40:25 PM: Thusness: But it does not mean there is no basis...get it?
14/4/13 7:40:45 PM: AEN: The basis is just the experience right
14/4/13 7:41:15 PM: Thusness: Yes which is plain and simple
14/4/13 7:41:50 PM: Thusness: When we say the weather is windy
14/4/13 7:42:04 PM: Thusness: Feel the wind, the blowing...
14/4/13 7:43:04 PM: Thusness: But when we look at language and mistaken verb for nouns there r big issues
14/4/13 7:43:22 PM: Thusness: So before we talk abt this and that
14/4/13 7:43:40 PM: Thusness: Understand what consciousness is and awareness is
14/4/13 7:43:45 PM: Thusness: Get it?
14/4/13 7:44:40 PM: Thusness: When we say weather, feel the sunshine, the wind, the rain
14/4/13 7:44:58 PM: Thusness: U do not search for weather
14/4/13 7:45:04 PM: Thusness: Get it?
14/4/13 7:45:57 PM: Thusness: Similarly, when we say awareness, look into scenery, sound, tactile sensations, scents and thoughts


U must understand that pure vivid luminous experiences of transient manifestion r very important for both non-dual and anatta. It is key in fact. The unsupported, disjoint springing out non dually is a test on ur degree of "no self". Without the support of the second stanza, there is no true realization of anatta.

When we say "no agent", what does that mean?

It implies a practitioner has penetrate reification of whatever arises and everything is in fact presenting itself in gapless and plain simplicity. If u realized that there is "no agent" that awareness/super awareness is simply a label much like the word "weather" to denote the changing aggregates, then this insight must be also applied to "body", "mind", "weather".... How is it possible to say one has realized anatta in realizing that there is no-self yet see "weather" as having inherent existence?

Because there r certain clear experience relating to the initial arising insight of anatta, I have expressed it out in writing. If you r attached to the "words" and not see the essence, then u have missed the point.

Therefore maturing implies the clarity of insight to see "anatta" in whatever arises.

So first integrate stanza 1 and 2 and apply this insight of "anatta" to whatever arises. It is then the condition for stable maha experience of suchness.
Labels: 2 comments | | edit post
(Note: this is still speaking from the perspective of one mind and no mind, but not the insight of anatta)

Taken from Facebook group, Transparent Being
Awareness is the fabric of the universe or Quantum Intelligence. Whatever we have "contact" with in any way is never outside of our awareness. Can we separate any color, sound, taste, smell or feeling from awareness or consciousness? Since we can't find a border separating colors, sounds, tastes, smells and feelings from awareness... we recognize that awareness IS color, sound, taste, smell, feelings and mental phenomena.
Like · · Follow Post · October 7 at 7:41am

  • Al Garcia, Grant Tyler and 9 others like this.
  • Ted Thompson Color, sound, etc are occurances within Awareness. Awareness can witness sensations or can be free of them. Awareness is self-existent and transcendental. All thoughts and perceptions are temporary experiences within awareness and consist only of awareness, yet awareness is not identical with thoughts and perceptions.

    Awareness is real, timeless and unbounded. Thoughts and perceptions have no reality. Awareness is real. Thoughts and perceptions are unreal. There can be no real relationship at all between what is real and what is unreal. Refer to Gaudapada and Shankaracharya.

    There is a very significant "border" between the real and the unreal.
  • Michael Orchard Aloha Ted...wld u say there is a "border" between the surface of a mirror and it's reflections...?
  • Ted Thompson Between Awareness and the objects of awareness is a gigantic conceptual gulf. There are 5 factors in experience - Being, Awareness and Bliss on the one hand and Name and Form (thoughts and perceptions) on the other. Being, Awareness and Bliss are absolutely real, identical and more subtle than any object. All objects in awareness are fleeting, temporary, unreal, totally dependent on Awareness for their spurious ephemeral appearance.

    Awareness is niralambaya, totally independent of objects. There is no way whatsoever that the permanent, timeless awareness is identical with thoughts and perceptions.

    There is no spacial distance between the mirror and its reflections. Yet, they are hardly identical. If you think the reflections in a mirror and the mirror are identical, then I would not want to sent you to a shop to buy a mirror.

    All thoughts and perceptions are appearances in awareness and dependent on awareness. Awareness is self-existent and dependent on nothing. Objects cannot appear without awareness. Awareness is singular. There is ONLY awareness. There is no way in which Awareness and its objects are identical.
  • Ted Thompson “Trust in awareness, in being awake, rather than in transient and unstable conditions” quoted from a Jackson Peterson post down below.
  • Jackson Peterson Ted Thompson, your description implies a fundamental dualism. In that model an awareness is a separate entity from experience: like purusha and prakriti. It seems there is an enduring "thing" called awareness. However the better example is the ocean and its waves. We can't separate the waves from the ocean. Waves are the ocean. Likewise colors, sounds, perceptions etc. are waves of awareness. All experience is essentially empty. That essential emptiness reveals the true subtle nature of all experience. Experience IS awareness not that which is perceived by awareness. It's all awareness, waves of awareness with no separation between experience and the awareness. Actually experience is the awareness of it. The problem with Advaita is the imputation of a changeless Self that appears like a witness. That's an illusion. Seeing the emptiness of the Self, reveals a completely undefined dimension that can't be conceptualized by any description. It is this empty dimension of Intelligence that manifests as everything. It's not that there is some Self that stands apart and transcendently apart. The ocean is the waves. Non-dual samadhi reveals this in consciousness.
  • Jackson Peterson You are the bird chirping in the tree. You are the wind blowing through the pines. You are the sunset's brilliant colors. You are all of it! All of It!
  • Ted Thompson My statement is clearly non-dual. There is only Awareness.
  • Ted Thompson A calm sea has no waves. Samadhi reveals consciousness without content.

    "The problem with Advaita is the imputation of a changeless Self that appears like a witness." This is a totally false charge.

    Awareness is not an appearance. Awareness does not appear at all. We can only know Awareness by being that.

    No advaitin has ever described Awareness as a "thing." If you want to criticise Advaita, you should first read Shankara and Gaudapada so you know what you are talking about. A good, easy simple place to start is with Shankara's Atma Bodha.

    "The ocean is the waves." Tell that to the creatures that live thousands of feet below the surface.
  • Jackson Peterson Ted Thompson, I have studied Advaita. The problem is the notion of Self. It implies a standing apart Divinity, Brahman that is untouched by experience. Because the concept Self is the referent, it implies a subjectivity that continues and persists beyond space and time, yet in it. Awareness IS appearance. Appearance is "emptiness". Awareness is emptiness. The emptiness of appearance is the presence of awareness. Empty-Form: like a vast and infinite hologram. Nagarjuna and Madhyamaka is a good place to start...
  • Ted Thompson Brahman is both trancendental and immanent. It is beyond the duality of subject and object, of subjectivity and objectivity.

    Brahman is untouched and has nothing to stand apart from. Brahman is singular.

    Names and form are empty. Awareness is beyond the duality of emptiness and fullness. Awareness is the witness of emptiness and fullness, and is transcendental beyond all changing phenomena. Awareness and emptiness are both useful pointers, but emptiness is not ultimate.

    I am quite happy with the Advaita of the rishis, Gaudapada, Shankara, Vidyaranya, Ramakrishna, Ramana, Atmananda, Swami Krishnananda and Dayananda. The only form of Buddhism that I have much interest is genuine Dzogchen.

    I would only read Nagarjuna and Madhyamaka out of a historical interest. Presently I find the Upanishads and the Ashtavakra Gita to be infinitely rewarding.

    My first teacher was Shunru Suzuki Roshi of the San Francisco Zen Center.
  • Ted Thompson Waiting for the edit button...

    of the SF Zen Center. I find Gaudapada and Shankara to be the most brilliant minds I have ever encountered and feel a deep sense of communion with the rishis.

    It is all Brahman.
  • Jackson Peterson Suzuki Roshi was my teacher, at Bush St. in 1968... My Soto Dharma name is Honshin. We can leave our discussion for now. But Dzogchen is my expertise... Are you in the Dzogchen Discussion group?

    There is no concept like Brahman in Dzogchen.


23/10/2013, Jackson Peterson: "there is no sense here of an awareness "behind" appearances. The empty nature of appearances IS awareness, not to be found in a separate "behind" or "within". Appearances ARE awareness glowing. The aware quality of appearances is their emptiness. There is no separate "viewer" behind as an observer. If there was we would have dualism. Knowing appearance/emptiness/awareness as one piece that includes everything in all moments is the gnostic insight. Please share this with John for his comments.,, thanks!""


10/27, 1:37am

Dogen: "When you see forms or hear sounds fully engaging body-and-mind, you grasp things directly. Unlike things and their reflections in the mirror, and unlike the moon and its reflection in the water, when one side is illumined the other side is dark."


Xue Feng said, “To comprehend this matter, it is similar to the ancient mirror – Hu comes, Hu appears; Han comes, Han appears.” Xuan Sha heard this and said, “Suddenly the mirror is broken, then how?” “Hu and Han both disappear.” Xuan Sha said, “Old monk’s heels have not touched ground yet.” Jian says instead, “Hu and Han are actualized/manifest.”


Seppo: “My concrete state is like one face of the eternal mirror. When a foreigner comes, a foreigner appears. When a Chinaman comes, a Chinaman appears. Gensa: If suddenly a clear mirror comes along, what then? Seppo: The foreigner and the Chinaman both become invisible. Gensa: I am not like that. Seppo: How is it in your case…If a clear mirror comes along, what then? Gensa: Smashed into hundreds of bits and pieces.” Dôgen comments: “…the truth should be expressed like that.”

Ven Sheng Yen

This is not the ultimate state, because if you have nothing but awareness of the environment and there is no self apparent, there must still be a self to be aware of the environment. Someone who is in this state is certainly in a unified state, because there seems to be no self and only the environment seems to exist. This is called the state of "one mind," but still it is not Ch'an. There must be "no mind' if it is to be Ch'an.

A true Ch'an state should not be compared to an all-reflecting mirror. All things exists without the mirror. In this state everything is seen very clearly, but there is no concept of outside or inside, existing or not existing, having or not having.
Jackson Peterson
10/27, 8:34am
Jackson Peterson

Ah... I see! It can never be found as other than this. It has no shape or form or existence of its own other than "this". There is not something appearing in a knowing awareness. Rather the knowing awareness has no other "private" existence other than as this. This moment is always its best shot!
Jackson Peterson
10/27, 6:45pm
Jackson Peterson

Interesting... its clear there is no "perceiver" or "experiencer" there just vivid experience. The idea of a "mirror like awareness" is placing an intermediary in the middle. The "intermediary" actually is a projection of mind: the witness or self. There is only direct experience as what It is. There is no observer of it. There is no awareness of it. It's completely direct. I see now what you have been trying to point out. Your Shen Yen link was instrumental in pointing this out.

Jackson Peterson
10/28, 4:14am
Jackson Peterson

Just posted this on your blog:

I think Soh makes a valid point: there is no reason to impute "awareness" to be an ontological entity that perceives. The Buddha Nature is a perception complete in its moment. Awareness is the vividness of experience not a perceiver or observer of it. There is no middle man perceiving, other than the one imagined by the the mind. Otherwise we still have a subtle empty self called "awareness" that "has" experiences. Awareness should be used as a descriptive term not one implying a subject that is aware. This fortunately or unfortunately shatters the mirror that was only believed to be there....


Jackson Peterson Two points if I may, and I don't mean to be pedagogic nor nit picky: Dharmadhatu appears as all phenomena not as a welcomer, enjoiner, embracer etc. Also rigpa is not a host to guests but is the wisdom present as both. All appearances are equally: empty essence, vivid arising and energetic form. Rigpa is this "knowledge" present in all phenomena including itself. We have to be careful not to lean into the eternalistic model of a separate Brahman which is like the host to appearances as guests. The relationship between the host and the guest is much more incestuous! 3 hours ago via mobile · Unlike · 2

Jackson Peterson 11:46pm Jackson Peterson
I like this quote from the Buddha: ""If a monk abandons passion for the property of consciousness, then owing to the abandonment of passion, the support is cut off, and there is no landing of consciousness. Consciousness, thus not having landed, not increasing, not concocting, is released. Owing to its release, it is steady. Owing to its steadiness, it is contented. Owing to its contentment, it is not agitated. Not agitated, he (the monk) is totally unbound right within. He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"

Jackson Peterson Maryrose D'Angelo, I mean a memory is not the naked self-knowing moment itself. I'm not sure what you mean by "unified consciousness". I don't notice a unified consciousness, but rather an absence of a consciousness that could be unified or not. Does that make sense? 3 hours ago via mobile · Like

Related: Contemplating/observing breathing (观呼吸)

Someone asked me about practices and said that this blog does not have much specific information about practices... which is true. I told him my practices evolved according to my understanding and some of it is described in my e-book.

I also pointed out this article, as it is is similar to the practice I currently do.

The Touchstone 2: Countless

by Ven. Jinmyo Renge osho

Dainen-ji, January 26th, 2013

Breathing in, sky becomes breath. Breathing out, breath becomes sky. The breath comes and goes; thoughts come and go; feelings come and go; countless experiences come and go. Practising the posture of zazen, feeling into the countless sensations of the whole body sitting, feeling the breath and opening to the senses, we begin to understand, to experience directly, the vastness and richness of this life.

For moments here and there.

In truth, most students are really doing this practice of opening to Openness for only a split-second here and there in the course of a half-hour sitting round. It's not that you couldn't do this more continuously, that your practice couldn't be more open and clearer, but only that habitual patterns and tendencies are strong and attention will tend to follow them. Habitual patterns of attention are rather like dry channels that have been cut into a landscape by streams of water. Just as water will follow channels in the ground, your attention will tend to fall into and follow the narrow channels of habit and tendency instead of opening to richness.

So for a moment you may be sitting zazen, and you really are feeling into the sensations of the body sitting in an aligned posture, feeling the movement of the breath at the diaphragm and tanden, feeling your hands in the mudra, your legs crossed, your backside on the zafu. Peripheral vision is open and you are hearing whatever sounds there are that present themselves, and then a thought comes up: "I have a hole in my boot. I'm going to have to put my wet sock back on and my boot and it's going to be cold and nasty. Damn, I've got to remember to go look for new boots. I hate shopping and I don't want to spend money on boots. I'm saving for a new phone. Oooh, a shiny new phone. The breath. Right, the breath. I have to feel the breath. But oooh, that phone. No, feel the breath. Right. Breathing, breeeeeeathing....hmmm. There's a hole in my boot."

Of course, that's a very brief description of something that could come up. But sometimes these channels are cut very deeply and the compulsion to follow them is quite compelling. It could be about one's child or husband or wife, or an illness or a situation at work or financial difficulties, some past event, or what to make for supper. Thoughts and feelings come up simply because they can and they'll go on for as long as you focus on them and give them attention.

Attention can be round and wide, or it can narrow and congeal. The tendency is to focus attention and allow it to congeal into knots of contraction. These knots can vary in duration, from a few moments to hours, days, weeks, months, even years of contraction. And they can be about anything. I'll just mention here that what seems 'light' or 'open' to you may not be light or open at all. It's just as easy to be contracted over thoughts about what enlightenment might be like as it is to be contracted over breaking up with your girlfriend. Contraction comes about through a narrowing of attention, a congealing, directing and focusing of thought and feeling that becomes increasingly internalized.

Most people don't really question into what the process of contraction is, what really happens. But some do recognize that there is this tendency for people to become very scattered and spaced out or to become overly focused, obsessed with thoughts and storylines and feeling-tones. And this has given rise to many techniques and strategies designed to calm the mind and control the scattering or the focusing.

Any strategy or 'technique' you apply to bodymind already has an agenda because it is the product of the presumptions underlying how you experience the world and yourself which are themselves products of the process of locating a sense of a "knower" or "self-image", an "I". The agenda is to strengthen the sense of an "I" or a "self" that is "doing" the practice. If you engage in such practices, what you will actually be doing is practising self-image and if you practise self-image, what you end up with is self-image.

If you truly want to Wake Up, YOU need to get out of the way and allow the bodymind to sit as bodymind. You need to shut up and attend to what is already going on and allow the countless experiences to reveal themselves as the Total Field of experiences as the radiance of the luminosity of Experiencing itself. The bodymind is already breathing and it doesn't need your help, your direction, or any interference from you. It doesn't need you to concentrate on it or regulate it or count it. All that you need to do is feel into the breath at the diaphragm and the tanden but don't stop there. Use the breath as a touchstone, a place from which you can open to the whole of experiencing.

Recently I had a conversation with a student about a technique they had encountered, called something like 'conscious breathing'. This involved following the instructions of a recording and deliberately regulating the breath by focusing on it and counting it. Counting the breath is a practice used widely by many groups and organizations and students sometimes ask me why we don't use it, so I will explain. I have done this practice of counting the breath. In fact, earlier on in my own practice, the Roshi instructed me to do it for a time so that I would understand it and would be able to explain to students why we don't do it. Its aim is to settle and calm the mind by directing attention to a point of focus -- the breath and the counting. This will have the effect of seemingly 'calming' the mind, but it's important to understand what's really going on. You're not stupid and attention is not stupid. If you focus on something, what you are doing by focusing is seemingly making whatever it is that you are focusing on stand out or light up. It seems to become bigger, more important. It's much like looking through a telescope - something far away seen through the lens of a telescope looks much bigger than it is in real life. A cow standing on a distant hillside looks the size of Godzilla. But if you take the telescope away from your eye and see it in context, you'll realize you can barely see it, it's so small.

When you focus on the breath and count it, you're trying to limit experiencing to only the in-breath and the out-breath and the numbers. Those details can seem 'lit up' or much bigger, much more important than anything else because you've thrown a huge circle of darkness on everything around them. If you do that, you will be practising focusing. Of course the mind seems to become quieter -- as I mentioned previously you're not stupid and attention is not stupid.

If you force the mind to pay attention to only one or two details of experiencing, you're numbing it. You're deliberately choosing stupidity. You're putting up a wall of attention to exclude everything else. But what will happen outside of your dull little place of quiet is that the patterns of attention that spawn all those pesky thoughts and feeling tones are regrouping and when your wall crumbles, which inevitably it will, they'll come back with a vengeance. Traditionally, it's compared to holding an empty gourd under water; when you let go of it, it pops back up to the surface and bobs about wildly.

You see, it's not the scattering that's the problem, it's the focusing. When you focus attention on one thing, you do that by excluding everything else. You become so used to focusing on one thing and then another, that if something comes up unexpectedly, it throws you off balance. Your attention becomes less and less flexible, less and less able to open to life as it actually is, full of interruptions and surprises, and change.

A single moment of seeing a thought rise and fall as you open around it is worth years of counting the breath. Why? Because counting the breath or applying any other strategy to the breath will not show you anything about how attention moves towards and away from what is noticed, including thoughts and feelings. You're just swapping one set of thoughts - your storylines - for another set of thoughts, counting and concentrating on the breath.

In Anzan Hoshin roshi's book on the Buddha's Satipatthana sutta, "The Straight Path: Zen Teachings on the Foundations of Mindfulness", he says,

The practice is not to concentrate on the breath, but to just breathe the
breath. If you try to "concentrate" on the breath, what will happen is that you will
abstract yourself from the actual situation. You will create some kind of special
realm and you'll enter into conflict with yourself by trying to screen out what is
really just your own life. So, just sit and breathe the breath. When you get lost in
a thought, or in a feeling, you have separated yourself from the rest of your
experience. So when you have noticed this, gently return to this moment of
breathing in or breathing out.

He also says:

The practice is actually just being aware. It is not really about following the
breath or trying to produce some kind of feeling tone of "being one with the
breath." Zazen is the practise of experience as it actually is. This begins with
being mindful, and so you are using the breath to be reminded of that and to
show you what your mindfulness is like. Just sit and breathe. Do not try to
concentrate on your breath. You are not trying to make any particular mental
state happen, you are just seeing what's happening by looking into the breath.

Although some contemporary Soto Zen Teachers, especially those in the West, might have counted the breath and now instruct their students to do this, our own practice is based directly on Eihei Dogen zenji's foundations and those Awakened Ancestors who have come before him.

In the Eihei Koroku, Dogen zenji says,

In our practice the most essential matter is sitting in the correct posture. Next it is important to release the breath with a calm mind. In the Narrow Path there are two ways of doing zazen. The first is counting the breath and the other is to contemplate the body as impure. So a practitioner of the Narrow Path would control the rhythm of the breath through counting the respirations. However, the practice of the Awakened Ones and Ancestors is completely different from the Narrow Path. A Discourse says," You should never follow styles of practice of the Narrow Path which are based upon 'cultivation'. (EK 2:97)


The Shibunritsu and Kusha schools that are active in Japan currently are of this sort. The Vast Path way of balancing the breath is just to know that a long breath is long and a short breath is short. Breath rises and falls at the lower belly. Breathing in is breathing in and breathing out is breathing out. However the breath is, breathe in and breathe out from the lower belly. When you breathe in this way through the belly, the impermanence of your life becomes clear and the mind stills itself. (Eihei Koroku 2: 96)

And so in "The Straight Path", Roshi also says,

The body breathes. It breathes in and it breathes out. Begin with this. Know this moment of breathing. Attending to the breath, attending to the body, attending to movement, attending to sitting, standing, walking, or lying down, is attending directly to the experience of body. To see directly the rising and falling, the coming and going, the birth and death of each moment, is the Straight Path. So we begin with this body, we begin with this breath.

Note that he says "So we begin with this body, we begin with this breath". He doesn't tell us to focus on the breath or follow it or concentrate on it. Instead he is pointing to the practice of feeling into the breath and body, in the same breath, at the same time.

Just feel this breath as it is. Without focusing on it, without counting, without manipulating it, just breathe. Open attention to the sensations of the breath, but simultaneously open to the rest of the sensations of the bodymind sitting; open to seeing and hearing; open to as many details of experiencing as you are able, all at the same time, all in the same breath. Do this now, in this breath. And now again. And now again. At first it may seem very effortful, but that is because your attention is used to jumping about like a spoiled child. It has to learn to attend, to be available to the open intelligence of the Buddhas and Awakened Ancestors. It has to learn to be a 'big person' instead of a petulant child. And as you practise this, coming back to the breath again and again with each breath, practising this 'Beginner's Mind", over time you will find the gaps in your mindfulness will shorten.

Then you will begin to see what gives rise to those gaps, how they happen, how you get lost. But that will be for the next Dharma Talk.

As I mentioned in the previous Dharma Talk in this series, paying attention to the sensations of the breath, the real details of the real breath as it really is just brings about what is actually going on. It is not a matter of drilling down into the sensations to dig up some special thing, some kind of hidden ore that will make us spiritual or saintly. Or to construct some miracle device out of them that can let us float above our real lives. The simplicity of the practice is so honest and direct that it allows us to be really honest and direct.

Breathing in, sky becomes breath. Breathing out, breath becomes sky. You have never experienced this breath before. Earth and water, wind and breath, nothing held and no grasping. Just breathe and experience this measureless moment with the sensations of fingers and toes and belly and spine and colours and forms. Attend to what already is.