Also see: Fully Experience All-Is-Mind by Realizing No-Mind and Conditionality

    Traditionally Zen is a form of Buddhism that strictly emphasises 'sitting meditation' for the realisation of Buddhist truths, particularly for realising the truth of no-self, emptiness, and the uncreated Mind. Zen is also a form of Buddism that emphasises the originally pure nature of the mind, much as other Mahayana schools of Buddhism.  As Bodhidharma, who is thought of as the first Chinese teacher of Ch'an (Jap: Zen), said:
Once mortals see their nature, all attachments end.  Awareness isn't hidden.  But you can only find it right now.  It's only now.  If you really want to find the Way, don't hold on to anything.
Zen Buddhism has gained a lot of popularity in the West partly because of this emphasis on the here and now.  It is very simple and straightforward.

"This mind is the Buddha.  I don't talk about precepts, devotions or ascetic practices such as immersing yourself in water and fire, treading a wheel of knives, eating one meal a day, or never lying down.  These are fanatical, provisional teachings.  Once you recognise your moving, miraculously aware nature, yours is the mind of all buddhas.  Buddhas of the past and future only talk about transmitting the mind. They teach nothing else.  If someone understands this teaching, even if [she's] illiterate [she's] a buddha.  If you don't see our own miraculously aware nature, you'll never find a buddha even if you break your body into atoms."  Bodhidharma (5th cent.)
     Zen teachings are said to be 'non-dual', emphasising that our usual way of being is like living in a trance of dualism.  The philosophy of emptiness -  no subject, no object -  has become the hallmark of Zen teachings.  (It should be said, however, that in calling into question the traditional, egological subject-object split, Zen is no different to other forms of Buddhism).
     In Zen there is an emphasis on the interdependence of body and mind. 13th cent. Japanese Zen master, Dogen Kigen: 

"You should know that the Buddha Dharma from the first preaches that body and mind are not two, that substance and form are not two." (Bendowa)
     Zen Buddhism affirms the body as the means of our self-realisation.  It is, perhaps, for this reason that so many westerners have found Zen attractive as a philosophy and spiritual practice.   From the Zen point of view, to live the body's life fully is to be self-realised: 
A monk asked Master Tung-shan, “Cold and heat descend upon us. How can we avoid them?”
Dongshan answered, “Why don’t you go to the place where there is no cold or heat?”
The monk continued, “Where is the place where there is no cold or heat?”
Dongshan said, “When it is cold, let it be so cold that it kills you. When hot, let it be so hot that it kills you.”
     In Zen practice freedom comes when identification with the body and body-image is ended; this is to transcend the 'fabricated body' and realise the 'true body' of grass, trees, and wall rubble; wind, rain, water and fire.  "The Buddha-body", says Dogen, "is the manifesting body, and there is always a body manifesting Buddha-nature."
     In the teachings of the Zen masters the Buddhist teaching of 'dependent-origination' takes on a decided ecological flavour:
"What we call the body and mind in the Buddha Way is grass, trees and wall rubble; it is wind, rain, water and fire." (Dogen, Hotsu Mujo Shin)
To be fully present in "the immediate presencing here and now of being-time," Dogen said, is to realise the presence-time of all life, "As self and other are both times, practice and realization are times; entering the mud, entering the water, is equally time." (Dogen, Being Time)
We cannot know the Buddha-nature through the sense-seeking ways of our ordinary individual mind:

When most people hear
That the Buddhas transmit the
Teaching of the One Mind,
They suppose that there
Is something to be attained
Or realized apart from mind,
And they use mind to seek the teaching,
Not realizing that mind and
The object of their search are one.
Mind can’t be used to seek mind;
If it is, even after millions of eons
Have gone by, the search will still not be over.

- Huang-Po
      So the task, as Zen conceives it, is to simply be attentive to our ordinary lives, becoming more and more aware of the delusions that we live by, and hence, while not suppressing the flow of an imaginary film that we mistake for 'self and world' , not depending on it either.  As someone said, "Enlightenment is an accident, and practice makes us accident-prone".  So, practice won't free us -  only realisation can do that -  but without practice one is likely to remain stuck in the cyclic existence of delusory consciousness.
"The great way of the Buddha and the patriarchs involves the highest form of exertion, which goes on unceasingly in cycles from the first dawning of religious truth, through the test of discipline and practice, to awakening and nirvana. It is sustained exertion proceeding without lapse from cycle to cycle. Accordingly, it is exertion that is neither self-imposed nor imposed by others but free and uncoerced. The merit of this exertion upholds me and upholds others."  Dogen

3 Responses
  1. flávio Says:

    Hi Soh,

    Do you know if the "One Mind" mentioned in the Huang-Po's poem is equivalent to Thusness's "Stage 4: Presence as Mirror Bright Clarity"?

    Thanks for your attention.

  2. Soh Says:

    It depends on how One Mind is understood. Does it fall into the eternalist extreme or the extreme of existence? If awareness is seen to be changeless and independent even though undivided with manifestations, that is Stage 4.

    Huang Po said:

    "The Mind is Buddha; no-mind is the Tao. Just be without mind and stop your thinking. Just be of that Mind where there is no existence or non-existence, no long and no short, no self and no others, neither negative nor positive, and neither within nor without. Just know, above all, that non-differentiating Mind is the Buddha, that Buddha is the Mind and that the Mind is voidness."

    Question: "Can the immeasurable body of a Bodhisattva be seen or not be seen?" The master answered: "There is really nothing to see. Why not? Just because the immeasurable body of a Bodhisattva is the Tathagata. So, again, there is nothing to see. Just do not hold any view of the Buddha and you will never go to the Buddha extreme; just do not hold a view about sentient beings and you will never go to the sentient-beings extreme; just do not hold any view about existence and you will never go to the existence extreme; do not hold a view about non-existence extreme; do not hold any view about worldly characteristics and you will never go to the worldly-characteristics extreme; do not hold any view about holy characteristics and you will never go to the holy-characteristics extreme.

    Thus the state of merely being without any view whatsoever is already the Immeasurable Body. If you have something to see, you are a heretic. While heretics like to hold all different kinds of views, Bodhisattvas are not moved by any view whatsoever. 'Tathagata' means the suchness of all phenomena, the undifferentiated whole of all dharmas. "

    "The view that holds to the duality of existence and non-existence and of permanent and impermanent is like being limited by the two iron-enclosing mountains, because understanding and liberation are obstructed by any and all views."

    Buddhism Plain and Simple page 115, by Zen Teacher Steve Hagen:

    With the two types of views there are two kinds of minds. As human beings, we all have what we could call ordinary minds - the mind that you've always assumed you've had. It's a calculating mind, a discriminating mind, a fragmented mind. It's the mind of ordinary consciousness, the mind of self and other. We generally think of it as "my mind."

    But there's another mind that is unborn, ungrown, and unconditioned. Unlike "your mind," it is unbound, for there is nothing beyond it. To this Mind, there is no "other mind."

    This Mind is nothing other than the Whole. It's simply thus, the fabric of the world itself - the ongoing arising and falling away that are matter, energy and events.

    Speaking of this Mind, the great Chinese Zen master Huang Po said,

    All buddhas and ordinary people are just One Mind... This Mind is beyond all measurements, names, oppositions: this very being is It; as soon as you stir your mind you turn away from It.

    This Mind is self-evident - it's always switched on, so to speak. We can - and, in fact, we do - see It in every moment. If we would refrain from stirring our minds (rest our frontal lobes, as my Zen teacher used to say) and let our conceptualising die down, like the ripples on a pond after the stirring wind has ceased, we would realise - we would know Mind directly.

    (Steve Hagen)
    Ultimate Truth, on the other hand, is direct perception. And what is directly perceived (as opposed to conceive) is that no separate, individualised things exist as such. There's nothing to be experienced but this seamless, thoroughgoing relativity and flux.

    In other words, there are no particulars, but only thus.

  3. Soh Says:

    Dogen wrote:

    You should ponder this deeply: since the Buddha Dharma has always maintained the oneness of body and mind, why, if the body is born and perishes, would the mind alone, separated from the body, not be born and die as well? If at one time body and mind were one, and at another time not one, the preaching of the Buddha would be empty and untrue. Moreover, in thinking that birth-and-death is something we should turn from, you make the mistake of rejecting the Buddha Dharma itself. You must guard against such thinking.

    Understand that what Buddhists call the Buddhist doctrine of the mind-nature, the great and universal aspect encompassing all phenomena, embraces the entire universe, without differentiating between essence and form, or concerning itself with birth or death. There is nothing - enlightenment and nirvana included - that is not the mind-nature. All dharmas, the "myriad forms dense and close" of the universe - are alike in being this one Mind. All are included without exception. All those dharmas, which serves as "gates" or entrances to the Way, are the same as one Mind. For a Buddhist to preach that there is no disparity between these dharma-gates indicates that he understands the mind-nature.

    In this one Dharma [one Mind], how could there be any differentiate between body and mind, any separation of birth-and-death and nirvana? We are all originally children of the Buddha, we should not listen to madmen who spout non-Buddhist views.