Thursday, 22 June 2017


122. Zazen is the pre-eminent practice for the realization of Nansen's 'Ordinary Mind'. For this practice we adopt a stable upright sitting posture. However, in the stillness and silence of this posture we soon become aware of the mind's activity, the activity of what we tend to think of  as our ordinary mind. Many of us will find it to be unruly and learn to appreciate why it is sometimes referred to as 'monkey mind'. It seems to be up to all sorts of tricks and won't be silenced or stilled. We will feel a certain kinship with Eka (Hui-k'o), the Second Patriarch, who went to Bodhidharma and begged him to pacify his mind. Or we might recall the story of Eno (Hui-neng) who, on encountering two monks arguing about whether it was the wind or the flag that moved, remarked 'It is neither the wind nor the flag but only your mind that is moving'. We might also remember the line from the Kanseon which says 'thought after thought arises in the heart-mind'. And so we come to feel that we cannot concentrate. Our mind, it seems, is all over the place.
     What can we do? Deliberately trying to stop the thoughts, to turn off the radio in our head, just doesn't work and simply leads to feelings of frustration. As Nansen warns us: 'If you try for it, you will become separated from it'.

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