Saturday 11 July 2009

‘Just sitting’ (shikantaza) and ‘choiceless awareness’

A friend recently wrote to me as follows:

I have been reading chapter 9 (Self-Investigation) of your book Happiness and the Art of Being.

What you describe regarding the practice of atma-vichara as advocated by Ramana Maharishi, I interpret as being very similar to the practice of choice-less awareness, or shikantaza, as it is commonly referred to by Zen practitioners.

The significant difference between the two techniques is that I, as a Zen practitioner, am trained to use the power of attention in order to step back from ‘I’ thoughts and ‘I’ feelings. And thereby effectively return to the abiding silence.

The self-investigation technique in contrast uses the question, who?, whose?, where? etc in order to disentangle from ‘I’ thoughts and ‘I’ feelings, effectively returning to the abiding silence (and yes, I understand that you prefer to define self-investigation as the practice of being nothing other than oneself and not a process of mental questioning).

Some ‘I’ thoughts and feelings are so very powerful that challenging the validity of the ‘I’ by directly asking who? whose? where?, may very well be a more potent technique for disentangling from the ‘I’ chain, thereby returning to the abiding silence.
In reply to this I wrote as follows:

I understand what you are saying, but I think a few points in what you write require some clarification.

Firstly you refer to ‘I’ thoughts and ‘I’ feelings, but actually there is only one thought (or feeling) ‘I’, which is our ego, the subject who thinks all other thoughts. This single thought ‘I’ may appear in any number of different forms, because it identifies itself with many different adjuncts, but though its forms may thus be many, it itself is just one, because we never feel that we are more than one ‘I’.

This single thought ‘I’ is a compound form of consciousness, because it is a mixture of our pure non-dual consciousness of being, ‘I am’, and various adjuncts such as our body and mind. That is, when we feel ‘I am this body’, ‘I am a person called so-and-so’, ‘I am sitting’, ‘I am reading’, ‘I am thinking’, ‘I am seeing’, ‘I am hearing’, ‘I perceive this world’, ‘I know this or that’, ‘I remember’, ‘I hope’, ‘I believe’, ‘I want this or that’, ‘I am happy’, ‘I am unhappy’ and so on, the ‘I’ that feels all these is our primal thought ‘I’, our mind or ego.

In verse 18 of Upadesa Undiyar Sri Ramana explains that this thought ‘I’ is the root and essence of the false thinking consciousness that we call ‘mind’:
Mind is only [a collection of] thoughts. Of all [these thoughts], the thought called ‘I’ alone is the root. [Therefore] what is called ‘mind’ is [in essence just this root thought] ‘I’.
So long as this spurious thought ‘I’ appears to exist, we cannot really ‘step back’ or ‘disentangle’ ourself from it, because it appears to exist only when we experience ourself to be it. How can ‘I’ step back or disentangle itself from ‘I’? In order to disentangle ourself from it, we must erase it entirely, and since it is a mere illusion or figment of our imagination, we can erase it only by seeing through it — that is, by experiencing the reality that underlies it.

So long as we are attending to anything other than ‘I’, we are experiencing ourself as this spurious object-knowing ‘I’ (the ego or thought ‘I’), and thus we are sustaining it, nourishing the illusion that it is really ourself. But when we withdraw our attention from all other things by focusing it wholly and exclusive upon ourself, we are literally seeing through this false ‘I’, because by attending only to ‘I’ we begin to experience ourself as the one real ‘I’ — our pure adjunct-free non-dual self-conscious being, ‘I am’ — which underlies and supports the illusion of our false adjunct-bound thought ‘I’.

This false thought ‘I’ is a mere imagination, like the imaginary snake that we think we see lying on the ground in the dim light of dusk. If we look carefully at the imaginary snake, we will see through its false appearance and recognise that it is actually only a rope. Likewise, if we keenly scrutinise this primal imagination, our thought ‘I’, we will see through its false appearance and recognise that it is actually only the one real non-dual self-consciousness, ‘I am’.

Thus vigilant self-attentiveness is the only means by which we can effectively step back or disentangle itself from our false thought ‘I’, because it is an illusion that we can destroy only by carefully examining it and thereby seeing the reality that underlies it.

As you say, when we thus examine this false thought ‘I’ in order to know who or what it really is, we will ‘thereby effectively return to the abiding silence’, which is our essential self-conscious being, ‘I am’.

You say that in Zen Buddhism this practice is called shikantaza (which you describe as ‘choice-less awareness’), so I did a Google search to find out what exactly shikantaza means. According to the Wikipedia page about shikantaza, it literally means, ‘nothing but (shikan) precisely (da) sitting (za)’, or in other words ‘just sitting’. I assume that whoever coined this word in this context did not intend ‘just sitting’ to mean merely a state in which the body is just sitting, but intended it to mean the state in which our mind is ‘just sitting’ — that is, abiding free of all activity or thinking.

If this is really the intended meaning of shikantaza, it means the same as the Tamil term summā iruppadu, which means ‘just being’ and which Sri Ramana defines in the sixth paragraph of Nan Yar? (Who am I?) as ‘making the mind to subside in ātma-svarūpa [our essential self]’. That is, the adverb summā literally means without work or activity, leisurely, silently, peacefully, restfully, merely, only or just, and iruppadu is a verbal noun that literally means being, so summā iruppadu means just being without any activity whatsoever.

In verse 4 of Anma-Viddai Sri Ramana describes the state of summā iruppadu or ‘just being’ very clearly as follows:
... When [one] just is, having settled down without the least action (karma) of speech, mind or body, ah, in [one’s] heart only the light of self (ātma-jyōti) will be [one’s] eternal experience, fear will not exist, [and] only the ocean of happiness [will remain].
In order for us just to be, our mind must completely subside along with all its activity. In other words, the thinker — the primal thought ‘I’, which thinks all other thoughts — must cease to exist along with all its thoughts.

As Sri Ramana says in verse 2 of Anma-Viddai:
Only the thought ‘this body composed of flesh alone is I’ is the one thread on which [all the other] various thoughts are strung. Therefore if [one] goes within [by scrutinising] ‘Who am I? What is the place [the ground or source from which this false ‘I’ originates]?’ [all] thoughts will disperse [because their root will be dissolved], and self-knowledge (ātma-jñāna) will shine forth spontaneously as ‘I [am] I’ within the cave [of our heart]; this alone is silence, the one [non-dual] space [of pure being-consciousness], the abode of [true] happiness.
Since this primal thought ‘I’ (which always experiences itself as ‘I am this body’) will continue to exist as long as it is thinking of things other than itself, and since those other thoughts will continue to exist as such as long as it is thinking them, neither will subside unless the other also subsides. That is, so long as other thoughts exist, the first thought ‘I’ must be existing to think them, and since this thinking thought ‘I’ can exist as such only when it is thinking other thoughts, so long as it exists, other thought will certainly exist along with it.

Therefore this thought ‘I’ will cease to exist only when it ceases thinking of any other thing, and it will permanently cease thinking of any other thing only when its entire attention is fixed firmly upon itself. Though it does cease thinking when it falls asleep, it does so only due to sheer exhaustion, and hence it rises from sleep as soon as it has recuperated sufficient energy by resting in its essential being.

Therefore, in order to subside permanently, the thinking mind (the first thought ‘I’) must not only cease thinking of any other thing, but must also vigilantly focus its attention upon its own essential consciousness of being, ‘I am’. As Sri Ramana says in verse 16 of Upadesa Undiyar:
The mind knowing its own form of light [its essential light of self-consciousness, ‘I am’], having given up [knowing] external viṣayas [objects or experiences], alone is true knowledge.
That is, since this mind, our primal thought ‘I’, is an illusion, a false form of consciousness, it can be destroyed only by true knowledge of our real ‘I’, so to destroy it permanently we must focus our entire attention upon ourself — our true ‘form of light’ or self-luminous consciousness, ‘I am’ — thereby withdrawing it completely from all other things (which are only thoughts or figments of its imagination).

Therefore keen and vigilant self-attentiveness is the only effective means by which we can truly abide in silence, our natural state of ‘just being’, shikantaza or summā iruppadu.

You describe this true state of shikantaza as ‘choice-less awareness’, but this term ‘choiceless awareness’ (which was popularised by J. Krishnamurti) is potentially misleading and on analysis is actually devoid of any truly substantial meaning. Awareness or consciousness (chit) is our real nature, our essential being (sat), so there is truly never a time when we are not aware (or conscious). Therefore we really have no choice (or option) whether to be aware or not.

However, we can choose what we are aware of. We are now aware of our mind, our present body and this world because we choose to attend to them, and we can become aware of our real self only when we choose to cease attending to anything else and to attend instead only to our own essential being, ‘I am’.

Our choice to be aware of our thinking mind and whatever is known by it is called desire or attachment, whereas our choice to be aware only of our essential self, ‘I am’, is called true love or non-attachment — that is, true self-love or svātma-bhakti. Without this choice or love to know nothing other than ourself, we cannot know ourself as we really are, because our awareness of other things is the cloud that obscures and conceals our natural state of pure non-dual self-consciousness (or self-awareness).

As Sri Ramana often used to say, bhakti is jñāna-mata — that is, love is the mother of true knowledge — because we cannot experience ourself as we really are unless our love to experience ourself thus is all-consuming. That is, our love to know and to be nothing other than our real self must be so intense that it completely consumes all our other desires (which drive our mind outwards, away from ourself to experience other things).

When our love to be aware of nothing other than our essential self, ‘I am’, is so intense that it dissolves the illusion of our thinking and object-knowing mind in the absolute clarity of pristine non-dual self-consciousness, we will discover that such self-consciousness (or ‘self-awareness’) is our real nature and therefore absolutely ‘choiceless’ and ‘effortless’.

However, until we experience it thus, it is necessary for us to make a positive ‘choice’ and ‘effort’ to be vigilantly and persistently self-attentive or ‘self-aware’.



1) Ordinary thinking is due to association and mind is allowed to move

anywhere it likes.

2)In Contemplation:- Thinking is allowed in one direction only.

3) In concentration:- Thought i.e mind is not allowed to move,it is focussed

and fixed but thought is still there in concentration.

The above three are something to do with thinking.Process of thinking is

mind.So if we try to

concentrate we are allowing the mind i.e the process of thinking to continue.

In Self-Enquiry the process of thinking i.e mind itself is not allowed.Process of

nonthinking is Self-Enquiry,a state of no mind, choice less awareness,
Shikantaza of Zen Buddhism.

Sankarraman said...

The term choicless awareness was coined only by the late philosopher J.Krishnamurti according to whom there are no psychological opposites, the psychological memory itself being an illusion. The understanding the untruth of psychological memory and the search for one's true self are one and the same if sincerely practiced. A gentleman from Cylone mentioned this to Bhaghavan who did not criticise it, but said that effortless and choicless awareness is our true state, but since by virtue of inattention we are identified with I thought involving efforts, some effort is necessary till we realize it.

Akira said...

shikan taza 只管打坐
= சும்மா உக்கார். Just do sit.

只管 shikan = சும்மா just
打坐 taza = உக்கார் to sit

'choiceless awareness' - I have never heard of it. I do not think it is Zen practise.

Anonymous said...

The great zen poem starts:
"The great way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences"
It does sound like choiceless awareness.

Akira said...

The poem is from Xinxinming信心銘.

至道無難 唯嫌揀択 但莫憎愛 洞然明白

Literal translation:
至道無難 = Reaching the truth (or Walking the path of truth) is not difficult.
唯嫌揀択 = All you have to do it to hate making choices.
但莫憎愛 = Only when there is no love and hate,
洞然明白 = it is clear like a (big entrance of )cave.

The poem continues. It means discarding likes and dislikes, dettachment in general.
Choiceless awareness is Theravadan practice. Zen is Mahayana. Two different Buddhism.

Anonymous said...

You are right Mahayana it is.
The third Chinese patriarch finishes this wonderful poem 'The way is beyond language' and indeed who can question that.

baskar said...

Re Akira:

Thanks for your comments- I found these verses in "Three pillars of Zen", I think, and another version in an old issue of Mountain Path: I was amazed at the terseness of the verses, and how similar it is to the teachings of Bhagavan. I think one should read this alongside Ribhu Gita: that good.

However, these are translations: do you have any intention of discussing this word by word, the way Michael James here does with the original Tamil writings of Bhagavan? That would help us a lot, I think.

Because, in the translation you give, you write, "All you have to do it to hate making choices." Is this a positive hatred, or is it more like a resistance to the making of choices? I think possibly the original word for 'hate' has different connotations than the one we have in English.

And the other query I have is, about this: "it is clear like a (big entrance of )cave.": I think this means you are in darkness, and once you have found the Way- it leads into light: so, the Way itself is in effect, clear like a vast opening out from a cave- am I right in reading it this way? Because, the way and the goal could not be different in time or thought.


Anonymous said...

It makes me wonder. I'm not one of the silent ones here, but
there are silent ones here. Is this a microcosm of the
planet? It is said that there are silent ones on this
planet, unheard of ones whose presence keeps the world from
falling apart
quote from Jerry

Anonymous said...

Ashtavarka Gita


Even if you have nothing,

It is hard to find that contentment
Which comes from renunciation.

I accept nothing.
I reject nothing.

And I am happy.

The body trembles,

The tongue falters,
The mind is weary.

Forsaking them all,
I pursue my purpose happily.

Knowing I do nothing,

I do whatever comes my way,
And I am happy.

Bound to his body,

The seeker insists on striving
Or on sitting still.

But I no longer suppose
The body is mine,
Or is not mine.

And I am happy.

Sleeping, sitting, walking,

Nothing good or bad befalls me.

I sleep, I sit, I walk,
And I am happy.

Struggling or at rest,

Nothing is won or lost.

I have forsaken the joy of winning
And the sorrow of losing.

And I am happy.

For pleasures come and go.

How often I have watched their inconstancy!

But I have forsaken good and bad,
And now I am happy.

top of page

Anonymous said...

I find the comments on buddhist shikantaza and the quotes very interesting because I practised some buddhist meditation in the past. My main practice was metta-meditation.

Concerning shikantaza I don't know much about it but from what I have read I have some reservations about it.
For me personally it sounds a bit to technical. I miss the aspects of love and grace, which are essential in my spiritual practice.
In my understanding the practice of atma-vichara is not just a technique or discipline because there has to be also a strong sense of love or bhakti
to do that. Love just to be and surrender to "I am" but also love for and surrender to Sri Bhagavan.
I think his grace is absolutely necessary for the experience true self-knowledge.
Of course in essence Sri Bhagavan is our true self, but as a beginner I haven't experience the self in its pristine form so far, that's why thinking of him and at times even prayer is important for me. This is also a big help in developing humility.

I have the highest respect for other traditions and teachers but at a certain point reading other teachers and different traditions
was more a distraction for me than a help.
Sri Bhagavans teachings are so clear and simple and thats why it is sufficient just to stay with that. In my opinion they contain everything that is necessary for liberation.
A few years ago I read much more spiritual books of buddhist and other traditions, but now I just use only a few which translate and explain Sri Bhagavans teachings.
This simplicity in my bookshelf is also some kind of relief.
All the best

Akira said...

Stefan, I agree with you.
Sri Bhagavan's teaching has everything we need.
A good example that you should avoid distraction is described on page72.'Living By the Words of Bhagavan'.

Anonymous said...

That moment that occurred.
This moment this occurred.
Every moment this or that is occurring.
These occurrings is my living

- Prabhu

Anonymous said...

Xan: "Spirituality" may be something you would or would not
integrate into your life depending on your individual sense
of purpose.
"Enlightenment", or the recognition of eternal awareness as
yourself, is not necessarily "good" for anything. It is not
necessarily something you then use to improve life
conditions for yourself or others. In the surrender of your
identity, *It* uses you as it will. The prayer of surrender
is "Thy will be done" until it is recognized there is only
one will. Anything else is just ideas.

Anonymous said...

Happy Deepam!

Anonymous said...

This is the deepest message of this whole
Song of Mahamudra: do not seek, just remain
as you are, don't go anywhere else. Nobody
ever reaches God, nobody can because you
don't know the address......No, nobody ever reaches God.
It is always the reverse: God
comes to you. Whenever you are ready. And
the readiness is nothing but a receptivity: when
you are completely receptive, there is no ego;
you become a hollow temple with nobody in it.

Anonymous said...

My own meditative practice shifted in the beginning from Vipassana(an awareness and noting of thoughts) to the "non meditation" of the Tibetan Dzogchen open eye practice which is really akin to Shikantaza. Though helpful during the years I did it, I must say that the drawback was that thinking never ceased and hence, it was all too easy for the ego/mind to remain intact outside the practice. On the other hand, I've found that Atma Vichara effectively can and does end thought once one successfully maintains the attention on the "I Am" sense.

seeker said...

In Shikantaza, we sit in a comfortable erect posture. Then we allow our awareness to be in its natural state - Zen Mind, Original Face, and realize this to be our ordinary everyday mind as it is. What exactly this means is we 'allow' our mind to just be aware in an entirely uncontrived manner. This can be surprisingly difficult for the beginner because most people are unconscious of subtle tensions and "efforts to do, to suppress or not do" something with their mind which are deeply habitual - thinking, analyzing, fantasizing etc. If we can 'just sit' and just be aware of what is, focusing on nothing in particular and allowing our minds to rest, let go and just be aware and rest as THAT - as-we-are - we will notice a sense of awareness opening up, of brightness, of peace and ease. If allowed further, we will notice energy and bliss at some deeper dimension of awareness as Being itself. Taken further we get an increasing, yet subtle sense of infinity and loss of identification with the separate self arising from sensory stimuli.

Implicit to this discussion is a distinction between awareness and mind. I am defining awareness as our basic fundamental nature - the Tao itself. Mind in this context, is defined as cognitive activities or functions arising out of the brain and possibly astral levels of being. Mind may be considered a tool like the body. The body rests and just sits there; the mind rests and just sits there unengaged. Awareness as the fundamental nature of 'you' sees both the mind and the body, but is neither mind nor body, nor is it dependent on mind and body for its existence and function. Awareness is prior to mind and body. Awareness is essential and unchanging; mind and body are epiphenomena existing in awareness.

seeker said...

continue ...

The simple meditation practice of Shikantaza is this:
Just sit and be aware. The key then is to just be aware with no effort to be aware - no doing, just be natural awareness as it is. If you find yourself trying to be natural awareness as it is, then that is contrived and you have engaged the mind. Simply LET GO, relax, and be aware of what is, but of nothing in particular. In letting go and naturally being aware of what is you will find that natural still point. Allow the mind to ease off and open up. This can be practiced at all time during the day. Just be naturally aware, openly at ease, and spontaneously engaging - whether sitting or otherwise.

This is true vipassana. Uncontrived. To see the natural state of reality as it is.
We should allow ourselves to notice mind throughout this period of sitting, as with other particulars that arise; as mind is part of reality, and not to be rejected, as rejection is an act of mind, not awareness. Rejection is based on the false premises of mind. In so doing we will notice when we find ourselves having fallen into doing in which we 'try' to be open and relaxed, when this happens we are no longer in an uncontrived state of natural abiding. The whole process requires concentration; that is, being brightly aware of what is. Concentration in this sense simply means being naturally aware and not being distracted by having our attention divided by activities of mind. As concentration wanes, awareness may become dull and one my space out, or more often, one's thoughts will re-assert themselves and we will go off on a tangent of thought. When we notice this we allow the stream of thought to drop by letting go again of the activities of mind, and just rest brightly aware of what is.

So, it really is simple, just sit and be aware.

A further point. Do not concentrate on sensory stimuli in particular, as that is contrived, it is effort of mind to do something. See this subtle distinction. Awareness is brightly aware as its natural state, there is not effort - no doing. Just be aware of what is - environment and awareness itself - no artificial distinction between external and internal - just the continuum of awareness. This, however, does not mean we are practicing awareness of awareness, that again is a contrived condition, a use of mind to focus on awareness. In such a case we would be privileging one object of awareness over another, and that is a use of mind. Rather, we are just being aware, just sitting. Discrimination in terms of intention, demarcation, effort, judgment are all discursive faculties of mind. Awareness operates entirely through direct knowing or clearly apprehending the nature of what is - it simply sees it for itself. No recourse to the inferential faculties of mind.
So, Shikantaza or Dzogchen practice is simple on the surface, but there is much subtly and depth to it. Just sitting does not give it explanatory justice.

A final point on the body. Since the body is peripheral to awareness, it does not matter if the eyes are open or closed. Traditionally, they are open. There are merits and problems with both options. My recommendation is conclude this question by what feels natural to you. We do not wish to maintain unnatural, contrived states of body and mind in our practice. Awareness is the practice... drop all else.

Anonymous said...

Dear seeker,

many thanks for your interesting and inspiring explanation of shikantaza.

You wrote:
"Do not concentrate on sensory stimuli in particular, as that is contrived, it is effort of mind to do something. See this subtle distinction. Awareness is brightly aware as its natural state, there is not effort - no doing. Just be aware of what is - environment and awareness itself - no artificial distinction between external and internal - just the continuum of awareness."

I never practised shikantaza so it is a bit difficult to understand what you mean with "..just be aware of what is". But in what you wrote I see a difference between these two practices. In my understanding atma-vichara is an intentional withdrawing of ones attention or consciousness from all other things and focus it only on itself. So there is not the question of being aware of the awareness itself and also something else like the environment or anything.

You also wrote:
"This, however, does not mean we are practicing awareness of awareness, that again is a contrived condition, a use of mind to focus on awareness. In such a case we would be privileging one object of awareness over another, and that is a use of mind."

It's not about privileging one object of awareness over the other. It's about fixing ones attention on the first person, the experiencer, the sense of "I" or I am".

There are different explanations of mind, awareness and consciousness in different traditions. In Sri Bhagavans teaching mind or ego has no reality of its own and it always needs some kind of object to connect with. First and foremost the identification with the body.

"„That is, our mind or ego is a spurious entity, an impostor that
poses both as consciousness and as a body composed of inconscient
matter. It seems to come into existence and to endure only by
grasping an imaginary body as itself, and it feeds itself and
flourishes by constantly attending to thoughts or imaginary objects.“"
(Happiness and the Art of Being,p. 172)

So in my understanding of atma-vichara the consciousness aspect of the mind is conscious of or rest in itself. When consciousness can't connect with thoughts and objects, primary the body", the mind will disappear and there will be an experience of the self, the consciousness "I am" in its pure, unadulterated form.

There is also some kind of effort needed to do this. Because of our vasanas and the habituation to pay attention to thoughts, emotions and so called outer experiences it seems so difficult just to be and to stay with "I am".

Best wishes


seeker said...

Dear Stefan,

it's likely that the practice of attention on the first person 'i am' is just another ego trick,when what actually happens is the ego reflects on itself!never underestimate the ego;otherwise the world will be full of jhanis.

ultimately when realization dawns,there's no different between i and world ; duality vanishes,so its much more profitable to proceed the awareness practice in a 'double edge' way,attend both to 'I' and the world simultaneously.

this can be done,but requires no preferance,just BE.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the difficulty of staying with I am.
" Do not meditate be.
Do not think you are - be.
Don't think about being - you are."
This is only for people with an iron will and still grace is needed.

Anonymous said...

Here's a quote from Papaji:

"You simply have to watch:
where does mind arise from?
Where does thought come from?
What is the source of this thought?
Dive together with this mind
to its Source from where it began.
Then you will see that you have always been Free
and that everything has been a dream.

Watch your thoughts come from nowhere.
If something comes from nowhere
how can it be anything?
Anything must come from somewhere.
If it doesn't come from somewhere it is nothing at all.
So if thought comes from nowhere it must be nothing at all,
because only nothing comes from nowhere.

It's easy.

Anonymous said...

He's a rather slippery and insubstantial guy, when I look
directly at him he kind of fades away. If I try to grab him
he slips right through my fingers, like grabbing at smoke.
He's always trying to get somewhere but he doesn't actually
ever go anywhere. His biggest concern is what beings he
calls 'other people' are thinking about him. These 'other
people' are smokelike slippery insubstantial beings like
him. No matter what he hears from these 'others' he's never
happy for long.

--love, andrew

Anonymous said...

The most important lesson we can learn frm him is how tricky the ego is ; this article should be helpful

Akira said...

To Stefan,

I also think that Zen and Atma-vichara is different. Although some Zen teachers instruct to look inside, look at yourself, but it is not universal Zen practice, and the method to look inside is not specific. The gist of Zen of Shikantaza school (other zen schools have other methods) is just to sit, doing nothing else, just to be.
As Stefan is German, I recommend a book 'Zen in the art of archery' by Eugen Herrigel, a German philosopher.
The book is not about Shikandaza itself, but is a very good book with deep meaning. It is specially helpful to understand karma yoga, action without do-er.
English translation is available for download here:
(If you read it, I advise you to read from the chapter 2. As the author is a philosopher, he is a bit too pedantic in chapter 1, and you might throw the book away.)

Anonymous said...

Akira, the book "The art of archery " has been around along, long time. It's also influenced not only by Zen but also the Tao.
You must remember Ramana also said:
"Do not meditate be
Do not think you are - be
Don't think about being - you are"

Anonymous said...

marcia wrote--we all sing our songs again &again with the
same notes-- ain't it the truth!! at least here on the list
there's enough variety so it almost never gets boring, but
in my quaker meeting discussion groups i basically know what
every one is going to say before they open their mouths!!
how nice it would be if no one was home... is it possible to
drop one's "usual" personality if one is empty??just

Anonymous said...

Dear Akira,

many thanks for your book recommendation.
I can recommend the ‘Ashtavakra Gita’. Sri Bhagavan sometimes made references to this wonderful book. You can read it here:

You can also listen to the text or download the audio files here:

Best wishes


Akira said...

Dear Stefan,

My pleasure.

I did not know Ashtavakra Gita.
Thank you for your recommendation.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

It is common: claiming enlightenment;
less common: to die while alive.

It is usual: to claim the truth;
less usual: to be claimed by truth.

It is easy: to be as meaningful as others;
less easy: resting in that which is prior to meaning.

Found often: passing the time;
less often: being time.

Frequently seen: lacking time for others;
seen less often: timeless and alone.

It is typical: to want to be special;
less typical: the perfection of the ordinary


Anonymous said...

I remember at the end of a retreat with Gangaji, I was questioning a few
things and the other people were saying to drown me in the ocean (they were
joking on the surface). It
was if it had become a cult where everyone had to agree with
the leader.

Anonymous said...

Everybody has a sorrow in his heart. We have radios and televisions; we
have jet planes and motor cars; we have the best food to eat and most
attractive dress to put on; we have got social status and position; we
have got money to spend and to burn. There is nothing that we lack,
materially speaking. But we are unhappy, we are sorrow-stricken and we
have a grief at the bottom of our heart. This is the essence of the
whole matter. This grief is present in every human being,--you, me and
everyone--in spite of the fact that we have all comforts conceivable
that can be bestowed upon us by science and industry. The purpose of the
incarnation of these Masters is to point out where the crux of the whole
problem lies. They are the physicians of the soul and they come to
diagnose the illness of the spirit in man.
Swami Krishnananda

Anonymous said...


From MU:

I have some neemyth friends in my life.
They are so close to awakening.
Because they are so close they become frightened.

Some of them turn away.
Some of them turn petty.
Some of them just stop right where they are.
I love them all. They are me.
Only I know it.

Some of them parrot it back to me.
Some of them just can't understand me.
Some of them have rejected me.
I love them all. They are me.
Only I know it.

What a joyous mystery!
I am awake, they are not, yet.

They may never awaken.
Friends, children, lovers, enemies,
Strangers all to the awakened ones.
One may comprehend the other,
No matter.

Why are they asleep and I am awake?
This is the mystery of life.
I am no better than they.
I cannot awaken them.
I lost everything to gain everything,
I was ready, I had no choice, I had to see.

Why am I awake while they still sleep?
Life will have its mysteries.
They have spiritual riches to protect,
Property to own, positions to enjoy,
Senses and needs to satisfy.
Who can give all that up?

I see within them to the power and the glory
I see within them to the grace and the beauty
I gaze upon their personalities
I gaze upon their shells
It is all the game of the I AM.

Sweet mystery!

Akira said...

I found follwing words of Bhagavan about 'choiceless awareness'.
Probably you have already read this. I just post this in case you have not.

Excerts from "Day By Day With Bhagavan" ,11-1-46 Afternoon
A young man from Colombo asked Bhagavan,
“J. Krishnamurti teaches the method of effortless and choiceless awareness as distinct from that of deliberate concentration. Would Sri Bhagavan be pleased to explain how best to practise meditation and what form the object of meditation should take?”
Bhagavan: Effortless and choiceless awareness is our real nature. If we can attain it or be in that state, it is all right. But one cannot reach it without effort, the effort of deliberate meditation. All the age-long vasanas carry the mind outward and turn it to external objects. All such thoughts have to be given up and the mind turned inward. For that, effort is necessary
for most people. Of course everybody, every book says, “summa iru” i.e., “Be quiet or still”. But it is not easy. That is why all this effort is necessary.
Even if we find one who has at once achieved the mauna or Supreme state indicated by “Summa iru”, you may take it that the effort necessary has already been finished in a previous life. So that, effortless and choiceless awareness is reached only after deliberate meditation.

Anonymous said...

This wonderful story of Prof Aiyer has always taken my fancy. The story is timeless in essence.

Professor Krishnamoorthy Aiyer speaks in his old age:

I am now ninety-two years old and I first met the Maharshi
in the summer of 1914.

I had a question for the Maharshi. At that time I was an
agnostic. I thought nature could take care of itself, so
where is the need for a Creator? What is the use of writing
all these religious books telling 'cock and bull' stories,
which do not change the situation. I wanted to put to him
straight questions: is there a soul? Is there a God? Is
there salvation? All these three questions were condensed
into one: Well sir, you are sitting here like this - I can
see your present condition - but what will be your future
sthiti ? The word sthiti in Sanskrit means 'state' or

The Maharshi did not answer the question. "Oho," I thought,
"you are taking shelter under the guise of indifferent
silence for not answering an inconvenient question!" As
soon as I thought this the Maharshi replied and I felt as
if a bomb had exploded under my seat.

"Sthiti, what do you mean by the word sthiti!" he
exclaimed. I was not prepared for that question. "Oho, this
man is very dangerous, very dangerously alive. I will have
to answer with proper care," I thought. So I said to
myself, "If I ask him about the sthiti or 'state' of the
body it is useless: the body will be burned or buried. What
I should ask him was about the condition of something
within the body. Of course, I can recognize a mind inside
of me." Then I was about to answer "By sthiti, I mean
mind," when it struck me what if he counter-questions with
"What is mind?" This I am not prepared to answer.

As all this was passing through my mind he was sitting
there staring at me with a fierce look.

I then questioned within me, "What is mind? Mind is made up
of thoughts. Now, what are thoughts?" I landed in a void.
No answer. I then realised that I could not present a
question about a mind which did not exist!

Up to that point, the mind was the greatest thing that
existed for me. Now I discovered it did not exist! I was
bewildered. I simply sat like a statue. Two pairs of eyes
were then gripping each other: the eyes of the Maharshi and
my eyes were locked together in a tight embrace. I lost all
sense of body. Nothing existed except the eyes of the

I don't know how long I remained like that, but when I
returned to my senses, I was terribly afraid of the man.
"This is a dangerous man," I thought. In spite of myself, I
prostrated and got away from his company.

Anonymous said...

From MU:

I have some neemyth friends in my life.
They are so close to awakening.
Because they are so close they become frightened.

Some of them turn away.


who's MU?

Anonymous said...

AMERICAN SHAMANS; People who switch on Oprah and Dr Phil have just flat out given up on dignity and accepted they need the daily intervention of American shamans to get by.

Oprah and Phil have become rich selling hope to this lost demographic. Why not? It makes perfect sense. If you are going to sell hope you might as well sell it to the broken and beaten, for they are many and they are desperate.

Anonymous said...

TA - Thinkers Anonymous
It started out innocently enough. I began to think
at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably
though, one thought led to another, and soon
I was more than just a social thinker I began
to think alone - "to relax," I told myself - but I
knew it wasn't true. Thinking became more and
more important to me, and finally I was thinking
all the time. I began to think on the job. I knew
that thinking and employment don't mix, but I
couldn't stop myself. I began to avoid friends at
lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka.
I would return to the office dizzied and confused,
asking, "What is it exactly we are doing here?"
Things weren't going so great at home either. One
evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife
about the meaning of life. She spent that night at
her mother's. I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker.
One day the boss called me in. He said, " I like you,
and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become
a real problem. If you don't stop thinking on the job, you'll
have to find another job." This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss.
"Honey," I confessed, "I've been thinking..." "I know you've
been thinking," she said, "and I want a divorce!" "But,
Honey, surely it's not that serious." "It is serious," she
said, lower lip aquiver. "You think as much as college
professors, and college professors don't make any
money, so if you keep on thinking we won't have any
money!" "That's a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently,
and she began to cry. I'd had enough. "I'm going to
the library," I snarled as I stomped out the door. I headed
for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche. I roared
into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors...
they didn't open. The library was closed. As I sank to
the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering
for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. "Friend, is heavy
thinking ruining your life?" it asked. You probably
recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinkers
Anonymous poster. Which is why I am what I am today:
a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At
each meeting we watch a non educational video; last
week it was "Porky's." Then we share experiences about
how we avoided thinking since the last meeting. I still have
my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just
seemed... easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped

Some Other Anonymous said...

@Anonymous- this is brilliant. Why does it have to be Anonymous? (Okay, I get the point that you are at Thinkers Anonymous, but does it have to be Anonymous elsewhere too?)

Some pseudonym would help us differentiate you from other named, but nevertheless anonymous persons, wouldn't you agree?

Anonymous said...

Yes, it was brilliant but not penned by me. Whoever wrote it remains anonymous.
Maybe in future I'l sign off as Hey Jude.

baskar said...

Thank you- there is no point in signing in as Anonymous while you have infinite choices.


Baskar (real name)

Anonymous said...

To all free range non-dualists.
The best thing to tell myself is 'let it be' It allows the inner struggle to fall away.

hey jude

baskar said...

@hey jude- I'd like to engage you about this:

When i say, "let it be," it is true, of course, that the inner conflict might come to a halt.

When we embrace all that there is, the part we like and the part we don't, this might happen.

But, the problem, as it seems to me, is not that there is a problem outside me that seeks resolution- I am the part of the problem that makes it a problem: hope I make sense here.

What are we to do with the consciousness that makes it a problem and seeks a way out? Saying "let it be" does not seem to bring this consciousness to rest- this consciousness that has turned outward and seeks engagement with external objects, does not seem to let itself be.

Anonymous said...

Baskar, You are so right. Nevertheless Nisargadatta says "If you could only keep quiet, clear of memories and expectations, you would be able to discern the beautiful pattern of events. It is your restlessness that causes chaos."
Consequently when my mind is troubled I say to myself 'who is troubled?' 'let it be' let go of it' be detached and often it works and I'm peaceful and happy.
h j

Anonymous said...

A student went to his meditation teacher and said, "My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I'm constantly falling asleep. It's just horrible!"

"It will pass," the teacher said matter-of-factly.

A week later, the student came back to his teacher. "My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It's just wonderful!'

"It will pass," the teacher replied matter-of-factly.


baskar said...

@hj, This is in response to your statement- "Consequently when my mind is troubled I say to myself 'who is troubled?' 'let it be' let go of it' be detached and often it works and I'm peaceful and happy."

Yours is a happy state- I, on the other hand, can't find peace of mind with such ease. I think you are a person who is naturally blessed with equanimity.

Coming to the Nisargadatta quote, "...If you could only keep quiet, clear of memories and expectations, you would be able to discern the beautiful pattern of events,"- there is still the element that discerns a pattern.

I find that even when I don't have anything to worry, or any troublesome thoughts, the mind still wanders, and as Maharaj says, its restlessness causes chaos (and sorrow).

The central problem that I face is, what am I to do with the mind that perceives calm/ conflict, peace/strife: it seems to me that no matter what the state of mind- the struggle does not bother me as much as the element of duality that is present all through the day in all our activities.

I think when you ask yourself "who is troubled?" and let it go, the mind is disengaged from its preoccupations and returns to its peaceful nature: it is in the nature of mind to see peace reflected in its consciousness, am I right? I think you are predominantly Sattvic.

But, I am faced with the sorrow and grief of the mind that won't rest- no matter whether there is peace or conflict. It does not let go: It lets go its objectivisation alright, but it does not let go its root-tendency of extroversion.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Baskar, Did you see my last input about the student with the meditation master. The many games the mind plays, up and down like a yoyo. The teacher says" and this too will pass."
I am not naturally blessed with equanimity. My mind is often troubled and I'm in a family situation where there is enough drama or melodrama.
You'll find with Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta both say effort is needed. It all depends on the strength of the mind. What is self enquiry? There is no answer to the question, it is simply a ploy to quieten the mind and stop the flow of thoughts. Happy extroverted thoughts can bloat the ego. Sad and worrying thoughts just agitate the mind.
Are we not all sick of the brooding thoughts? The only way out of this is awareness, self enquiry and surrender.

baskar said...

@hj- Thank you- this is so succinct. Ultimately it is through our own mind that we win freedom: effort is made natural through practice, i see that.


Anonymous said...

A 43-year-old unemployed bachelor who lives with his elderly mother in Russia — and who won $1 million for solving a problem that has stumped mathematicians for a century. Grigory Perelman can't decide if he wants the money. "He said he would need to think about it."
Perelman is a recluse and even though this is not a spiritual story as such, the fact that he can't be bought and seems to live a simple life that greed hasn't touched is quite arresting.

Anonymous said...

So you have to make up your mind, you see.
So you have to make a firm decision. Nothing can
trouble you. If you are weak, then everything will
trouble you. Simply decide to sit quiet. Simply!
This will be a fire. Nothing can touch you.
Only your decision is weak.


baskar said...

@hj: Perelman seems to have turned down another award, something called Fields medal, earlier:

"Perelman's reasons for turning down the Millennium prize are likely similar to why he turned down the Fields Medal. To quote him on the Fields Medal: I'm not interested in money or fame. I don't want to be on display like an animal in a zoo. I'm not a hero of mathematics. I'm not even that successful; that is why I don't want everyone looking at me. "

Such strong streak of asceticism is astonishing.

Anonymous said...

So you have to make up your mind, you see.
So you have to make a firm decision. Nothing can
trouble you. If you are weak, then everything will
trouble you. Simply decide to sit quiet. Simply!
This will be a fire. Nothing can touch you.
Only your decision is weak.



no!try to be strong will only strenghten the ego we'r trying to kill!

just be!and this,alone ;will be enough

Anonymous said...

In my view, everything happens by itself, quite spontaneously.
But humans think they would work for a win, towards a purpose.

There's nothing from which the world could profit more than from
giving up profit. A man who's no longer thinking in terms of winning
and loosing is truly non-violent man, since he's above all conflicts.

Erwin said...

I do see no essential difference between the most matured masters like Dogen who taught Shikantaza and Bhagavan who asked us to just BE.Of course is the act of questioning the i-thought a willful exercise but it stops the outgoing mind quickly and reveals immediately the non-dual, even for a fraction of a second.
Choiceless awareness is a beautiful term of Presence that has matured and digested all willfulness.Bassui who practised for 50 years self-enquiry had great regard for Dogen and studied with some teachers of that that tradition of Dogen.

Anonymous said...

Naropa's haunting vision

Truth is your own experience, your own vision. Even if
I have seen the truth and I tell you, the moment I
tell you it will become a lie for you, not a truth.
For me it was truth, for me it came through the eyes.
It was my vision. For you, it will not be your vision,
it will be a borrowed thing. It will be a belief, it
will be knowledge--not knowing. And if you start
believing in it, you will be believing a lie.

Now remember it. Even a truth becomes a lie if it
enters your being through the wrong door. The truth
has to enter through the front door, through the eyes.
Truth is a vision. One has to see it.

Naropa was a great scholar, a great pundit, with ten
thousand disciples of his own. One day he was sitting
surrounded by thousands of scriptures--ancient, very
ancient, rare. Suddenly he fell asleep, must have been
tired, and he saw a vision.

He saw a very, very old, ugly, horrible woman--a hag.
Her ugliness was such that he started trembling in his
sleep. It was so nauseating he wanted to escape--but
where to escape, where to go?

He was caught, as if hypnotized by the old hag. Her
eyes were like magnets.

"What are you studying?" asked the old woman.

He said, "Philosophy, religion, epistemology,
language, grammar, logic."

The old woman asked again, "Do you understand them?"

Naropa said, "Of course... Yes, I understand them."

The woman asked again, "Do you understand the word, or
the sense?"

Thousands of questions had been asked to Naropa in his
life--thousands of students always asking,
inquiring--but nobody had asked this: whether he
understands the word, or the sense. And the woman's
eyes were so penetrating--those eyes were going to the
very depth of his being, and it was impossible to lie.
To anybody else he would have said, "Of course I
under-stand the sense," but to this woman, this
horrible-looking woman, he had to say the truth. He
said, "I understand the words."

The woman was very happy. She started dancing and
laughing, and her ugliness was transformed; a subtle
beauty started coming out of her being. Thinking, "I
have made her so happy. Why not make her a little more
happy?" Naropa then said, "And yes, I understand the
sense also."

The woman stopped laughing, stopped dancing. She
started crying and weeping and all her ugliness was
back--a thousandfold more. Naropa said, "Why are you
weeping and crying? And why were you laughing and
dancing before?"

The woman said, "I was happy because a great scholar
like you didn't lie. But now I am crying and weeping
because you have lied to me. I know--and you
know--that you don't understand the sense."

The vision disappeared and Naropa was transformed. He
escaped from the university, he never again touched a
scripture in his life. He became completely ignorant,
he understood--the woman was nobody outside, it was
just a projection. It was Naropa's own being, through
knowledge, that had became ugly. Just this much
understanding, that "I don't understand the sense,"
and the ugliness was transformed immediately into a
beautiful phenomenon.

This vision of Naropa is very significant. Unless you
feel that knowledge is useless you will never be in
search of wisdom. You will carry the false coin
thinking that this is the real treasure. You have to
become aware that knowledge is a false coin--it is not
knowing, it is not understanding. At the most it is
intellectual--the word has been understood but the
sense lost.

Anonymous said...

Bhagavan Ramana once said referring to the
bodhisattva vow of not attaining the final
liberation until all sentient beings have
been liberated:
"it is like saying I will not wake up from the
dream until all the dream characters have
awakened from the dream"

Anonymous said...

The first thing we have to do
is to notice
that we've loaded down this camel
with so much baggage
we'll never get through the desert alive.
Something has to go.

Then we can begin to dump
the thousand things
we've brought along
until even the camel has to go
and we're walking barefoot
on the desert sand.

There's no telling what will happen then.
But I've heard that someone,
walking in this way,
has seen a burning bush.

Frances Dorff

Anonymous said...

If a person demands worship, that person has his/her head
up a cloud , whether or not they are realized/enlightened.
I don't care if they live in the streets or are regarded as
avatars. The Self has *no* expectations and makes *no*
demands. These *always* arise from the personality, and are
indicative of a narcissistic character disorder much more
than any real understanding or wisdom.

Anonymous said...

"I was a hidden treasure, and I desired to be known; therefore I created the
creation in order that I might be known." -Sufi Wisdom

Anonymous said...

To question reality is good. To create your own reality is not to question.
What you want has nothing to do with what Is.
What Is, is not, as far as you are concerned.
If all is one, that doesn't leave much room for you.
If all is one, where is zero?
It is best to know the tides before building sand castles.
Quantum physicists are well-educated mechanics.
Who decides what you decide?
Those who create their own reality also create the facts to prove it.
If we are all one, then I don't need a co-creator.
Creation is downstream from the source. Find the source.
Your thoughts are as empty as an atom.
Shawn Nevins

baskar said...

@Shawn Nevins

Extraordinary comment. Superb, actually- "Creation is downstream from the source. Find the source.": our preoccupation with the created world sets us on a course that takes us away from the source, right?

Thanks for the insightful comments.

Anonymous said...

Struggling blindly
in the fog of beliefs,
you grasp first one then another
in the quest for security.

What you seek lies between and behind these beliefs.
I am the respectful doubt,
the solvent that detaches beliefs.

Believe in Me.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil — which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama.
Richard Feynman

Anonymous said...

Question: I am contaminated by society. How am I to be free
of that contamination?

K: Surely, the question is not how to be free of that
contamination, for then you merely create another conflict,
another problem. The 'I' is not contaminated by society; it
is the contamination. The 'I' is a thing that has been put
together through conflict, through envy, through ambition
and the desire for power, through agony, guilt, despair.
And is it possible for that 'I' to dissolve itself without

These are not theoretical or theological questions. If one
is at all serious about understanding oneself, one sees
that any effort to dissolve the 'I' has a motive; it is the
result of a reaction, and therefore still part of the 'I'.
So what is to be done? One can see the fact and not do a
thing about it. The fact is that every thought, every
feeling, is the result of society with its ambitions, its
envies, its greeds; and this whole process is the 'I'. The
very act of seeing this process in its entirety is its
dissipation; you do not have to make an effort to dissipate
it. To see something poisonous is to leave it alone.

J. Krishnamurti, June 10, 1962, London, England

Anonymous said...

Comment: I find it impossible to be aware all the time.

K: Don't be aware all the time. Just be aware in little bits.
Please, there is no being aware all the time -- that is a
dreadful idea. It is a nightmare, this terrible desire for
continuity. Just be aware for one minute, for one second,
and in that one second of awareness you can see the whole
universe. That is not a poetic phrase. We see things in a
flash, in a single moment; but having seen something, we
want to capture, to hold it, give it continuity. That is not
being aware at all. When you say, "I must be aware all the
time," you have made a problem of it, and then you should
really find out why you want to be aware all the time --
see the greed it implies, the desire to acquire. And to say,
"Well, I am aware all the time," means nothing.

Is love, like marriage, for ever and ever? Are marriages
for ever and ever? You know better than I do. Is love for
ever and ever, or is it something totally stripped of time?

J. Krishnamurti

Anonymous said...

Therefore they say, 'the breath is Vayu (God of the wind), seed is breath;
seed comes into being first when man comes into existence.' In that he
recites a triplet to Vishnu, thus he makes his breath perfect...Where
there is expiration, there is inspiration; in that he recites a triplet to
Indra and Vayu, thus his expiration and inspiration he makes perfect." -
from the Aitareya Brahmana

Anonymous said...

From Day by Day with Bhagawan
The visitor also asked, “When a man realises the Self,what will he see?” Bhagavan replied, “There is no seeing. Seeing is only Being. The state of Self-realisation, as we call it, is not attaining something new or reaching some goal which is far away, but simply being that which you always are and which you always have been. All that is needed is that you give up your realisation of the not-true as true. All of us are realising,i.e., regarding as real, that which is not real. We have only to give up this practice on our part. Then we shall realise the Self as the Self, or in other words, ‘Be the Self’. At one stage one would laugh at oneself that one tried to discover the Self which is so self-evident. So, what can we say to this question?

How amazing some many Vedas and Upanishads and books to realize this Being, which is there always.
The illusion of having to reach somewhere is so strong in us that we fail to look at the obvious right here and now with us. This illusion which is created by thought is also from Being since can any one think without Being? and/but we all know intuitively that we can Be without thinking (may be not without a lot of practice :))


Anonymous said...

An aspirant is seeking a path for himself, may find it has been trodden before and can learn from that and perhaps avoid repeating other unworkable or limited patterns. By contrast, Western philosophy is a dry theoretical excersise created by dilettantes: of the intellect and reason rather than understanding tested and tried by inner experience

Anonymous said...

Buddha Said....

I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.

He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.

Anonymous said...


Your whole mind and body have been tied
To the foot of the Divine Elephant
With a thousand golden chains.

Now, begin to rain intelligence and compassion
Upon all your tender wounded cells

And realize the profound absurdity
Of thinking that you can ever go Anywhere
Or do Anything

Without God's will.

Anonymous said...

The Layers

I have walked through many lives
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled t look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it.
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.


Anonymous said...

The Layers

I have walked through many lives
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled t look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it.
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.


Anonymous said...

Actually one zen teacher calls shikantaza 'just-being'

Anonymous said...

I heard a funny story last night. Seems there was this devotee who had been
with his guru for 18 years and found out some stuff about him. He went to
his guru and said I've heard that you are a liar, cheat and hypocrite. The
guru got angry, called him an ingrate and told him to go away for 6 months
and meditate. After 6 month the disciple went back to the guru. The guru
got excited and assumed the disciple had learned the errors of his way. So
his asked him if God had spoken to him and the disciple told him yes and the
guru wanted to know what he said and he told him that he told him the guru
was a liar, a cheat and a hypocrite. The guru got quiet and after a long
pause said to him with much excitement "He mentioned me by name !!!!!"


Anonymous said...


Sometimes I have fantasies
Of potential hurts
That never will happen.
Such is the soup of ego,
A bizarre concoction
Of 'high' and 'low',
Better see it for what it is
Or it'll be a bitter ride.

Anonymous said...

Unbounded conciousness, you rascal.
You who created all the worlds and set them in motion.
On one little ball you created me.
And formed me and informed me and set me to seeking.

That I did.

Seeking and searching for millions of years
Until at last I found You.
You tricked me!
When I found You, I found only myself.
How the laughter rang out!

Peace - Michael

Anonymous said...

I have learned that everyone wants to live on the peak of
the mountain without knowing that real happiness is in how it
is scaled. I have learned that when a newborn child squeezes
for the first time with his tiny fist his father's finger, he
has him trapped forever. I have learned that a man has the
right to look down on another only when he has to help the
other get to his feet.



Anonymous said...

Hold your breath and put your head underwater. Notice that a clear intention begins to form within a matter of seconds.

Now take a nice big bite of a habanero pepper and begin chewing it. Again, notice that a clear intention forms within seconds.

When you are sick, notice that you gain clarity in your health intentions. When you lose your job, notice that your financial intentions become clearer.

If you want to bring more clarity to your intentions, get off the sidelines of life, and get onto the field. The field is scarier. The sidelines are safer.

Go immerse yourself in something you fear. A new intention will quickly form.

A low-contrast life has very little power to form intentions. Such lives maintain that safety is a higher priority than growth. However, those who subscribe to such a philosophy eventually find themselves locked within their safes.

The quickest way out of that safe is to follow the path of courage. Fear is its signpost.

Turn toward your fears, and powerful intentions will form automatically.


Anonymous said...

Tao Te Ching (feng/english)

The ancient masters were subtle, mysterious, profound, reponsive.
The depth of their knowledge is unfathomable.
Because it is unfathomable,
All we can do is describe their appearance.
Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream.
Alert, like men aware of danger.
Courteous, like visiting guests.
Yielding, like ice about to melt.
Simple, like uncarved blocks of wood.
Hollow, like caves.
Opaque, like muddy pools.

Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?
Who can remain still until the moment of action?
Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfillment.
Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by a desire for change.

Anonymous said...

True Measure:
The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him
absolutely no good.

Anonymous said...

The Master was entering an army encampment to attend a dinner when he
saw one of the officers at the gate. He pointed to a bare wooden gatepost
and said, "A common mortal or a sage?"
The officer had no reply.
The Master struck the gatepost and said, "Even if you had managed a
reply, it would still just be a wooden post!" With that he entered the camp.

Anonymous said...

I offer to weave: Transparent vests, revealing the living heart;
transparent hats, for thoughts ... seen through;
transparent gloves, as symbol of one hand.