go deeper

Understand this: that I make these observations in order to let them go.

In the wrestling act of writing ‘on paradox’, companion piece to this (see previous entry), I experienced a series of felt, entirely natural, ‘openings’ – as though all the windows in the house, the road, the town, were suddenly thrown wide…
Light dazzles: tears come, unbidden.
To make clear at once: there is not necessarily a sense of personal advance here, certainly no sense of claiming such, but there is without doubt a sense of intuitive response, of going deeper. I draw attention to it as a means of encouragement therefore, offering a direction of travel.

There is a saying in the Tai Chi tradition: First in the Mind then in the body.
This is Mind with a capital M because it denotes an understanding that is not only intellectual (although this is a necessary part) but more importantly ‘felt’: synonymous with another big word – Awareness. Yet this is only half the story…

First in the Mind then in the body, Yes: but also…
When in the Body then in the Mind, again.
Here Body too has its capital B, denoting not only the corporeal stuff but its subtle or hidden-ness as well. Likewise the ‘again’ is also of a different or changed nature. So…

First in the Mind then in the body: When in the Body then in the Mind again.

And thus the following linked thoughts, set down here, are not removed from a physical daily discipline but are as a result of it. This is my experience, my belief, my school; as near as I can come at this time to direct pointing.

  • When the Body – its posture – comes into balance and is open, then the Mind and senses in common become free, universally.
    Where the body is neither in balance nor open, the Mind and common senses are bound captive.
    Make right-posture your mantra therefore.
  • An  ****ist is someone taking refuge in an  ****ism which, however comforting is not real, or at least only in part. If this statement seems harsh it is because somewhere deep down we know it to be true. We are enjoined to take refuge in the teaching, the community, etc. But this does not mean a passive resting in sanctuary-sofa-land, rather it is to establish a haven from where we may safely go deeper, harder

It is not enough to bite-off the finger-that-points only as far as the knuckle: bite it to the hand!

  • There is no Taoist, there is no Taoism, there is only Tao.
    There is no Buddhist, there is no Buddhism, there is only Buddha.
    To wit: There is no Chan Master, nor no Tai Chi Master, there is only Chan and Tai Chi.
    There is no method, there is only meditation.
  • Standing in the gateless gateway wu men
    He became invisible –
    Neither of light nor of darkness but the supra-interpenetration of both.
  • In the end even the iron mountain dances in space.

In 1970, just a year before his death, the informal talks teisho of the Japanese Soto Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki were recorded and published in North America; his personal wisdom – the oral tradition – had crossed the great ocean*. The book was titled Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind and it is still in print today, widely read and loved. My copy is dated 1979 and must have been amongst the first books in spiritual training that I actively went out to find, ante-ceding the start of my Tai Chi journey by some four or five years.

Just recently I have read it again – very much aware in myself of the thirty seven years that have passed – and again have found its clarity, its brilliance, inspiring; there is such a warmth, true Buddha-compassion, in its indicator that: it is wisdom to seek after wisdom. And of course it is that title that beguiles, its paradox and inherent balance conjured from the voice (and brush) of the enlightened patriarch Dogen eight centuries earlier. Perfect as it is, I cannot resist offering this addition, bowing as I do so, to place a pebble beside a jewel.

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
Beginning Mind, Mind’s Zen

*Following the Second World War, the surrender and national
self-abjuration that came after, a decline
in Zen took place in the country of its adoption.
At the same time as the Japanese left the temples
for the factories, an optimistic sense of spiritual
enquiry blew somewhat rootless-ly in the USA.
True dharma teachers were needed there, and in the
travelling tradition of Bodhidharma, during the 1950s 60s and 70s,
they came: the last of an era now passed.
Among them was Shunryu Suzuki.

(Please note that the Chinese and Japanese words
Ch’an and Zen are entirely interchangeable in this piece.)

©May 2016