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Nondual Highlights Issue #1694 Saturday, January 31, 2004 Editor: Mark

Self-Acceptance or Ego Death
Excerpt from an article from What Is Enlightenment magazine
(Issue 17, Spring/Summer 2000)

Question: The goal of traditional spiritual teachings has generally been understood to be ego death-the final destruction of our attachment to a separate sense of self. But in today's rapidly evolving spiritual culture, what is often taught as the means to liberation is not ego death, but self-acceptance-acceptance of every aspect of ourselves, including our egos. The message of self-acceptance has become increasingly popular and is now commonly seen by spiritual teachers from almost every tradition to be the most effective and holistic way to address the suffering of contemporary Western spiritual seekers. As someone who works closely with many seekers, guiding them on the delicate and subtle path to liberation, why do you emphasize the importance of self acceptance in the pursuit of spiritual freedom?

Cheri Huber: "Kill the ego" is a phrase that is easily misinterpreted. Who is identifying "ego"? Who is killing whom? Who is seeing whom as the problem? Who is right and who is wrong? Who is making these decisions? There are two things we can count on where egocentricity is concerned-One: It is very clever; Two: Its only job is survival. Ego will take anything-ANYTHING-and use it for its purposes, even the notion of killing/dissolving/transcending/accepting itself. You can see the danger, spiritually speaking, of misinterpreting "kill the ego."

These words are interchangeable: I ego, egocentricity, conditioning, karma, suffering. The definition they share is that they are the illusion of a self that is separate.

I offer this as a working definition of self-acceptance: The realization that there is nothing separate-from All That Is, from "God," from Essence. It is the moment-by-moment living awareness that the self who struggles is not who we are but is, instead, karmic conditioning, a learned response to life, a survival system that served us as children but has lost its efficacy for us as adults and now needs to be appreciated, embraced and relived of its job.

The desire to get rid of ego is very different from ceasing to identify with a karmically driven, egocentric, socially conditioned illusion of a separate self. The first implies a contest: Ego is charged with killing ego; ego battles with ego; ego wins! The second implies letting go of the illusion of control; it is the end of struggle, and the means to that end is awareness.

The processes that I teach for ceasing to identify with conditioning are threefold: pay attention, believe nothing, take nothing personally. I don't actually teach self-acceptance. I encourage people to see that the things they believe about themselves are not true. When you see through all that you have been taught to believe, when you realize who you are, self-acceptance becomes irrelevant.

All suffering is held in place by false beliefs. All beliefs are false. What is, is. Believing it is not helpful. Believing is what the illusory separate self does to maintain an existence outside the present moment. The process of not taking any of this personally allows us to see that we are all in the same boat. We can take responsibility for ending suffering, but we don't have to blame ourselves for being born into it.

- Photo contributed to NDS by Al Larus

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Saturday, January 31, 2004

The Wisdom of Solitude. Twenty years ago this month, as a 25-year-old student of Zen Buddhism, (Joan) Dobisz -- today a teacher and financial planner from Waltham -- began a solitary, 100-day retreat in a cabin in the woods of Western Massachusetts. In a regimen so disciplined it would have been military but for her pacific intent, Dobisz awoke every morning at 3:15 and immediately did 300 bows, and did 700 more at various points throughout the day. Existing largely on rice and beans, she passed the weeks bowing, walking, sitting, chanting, and doing chores.
"The whole idea of being alone had always intrigued me," Dobisz recounts in her slim new memoir, "The Wisdom of Solitude" (HarperSanFrancisco). "Who would I find there, underneath all the layers of social conditioning, obligations, rules, and cultural filters?"

~ ~ ~

Maybe the way to a man's soul is through his stomach. Breakfast is over, the men are gone. This morning's menu featured scrambled eggs, sausage patties, plus doughnuts donated by Krispy Kreme and Safeway. Then the bedraggled men salted by life ponder cups of coffee, keeping their thoughts to themselves. Then, for some, it's back to the unforgiving streets. "It's normally quiet," says Donny Braninburg, who runs the busy kitchen at the Union Gospel Mission. "In the evenings, we have this guy who plays the flute. That makes for a spiritual overtone. It's always mellow."
Lunch draws near. A kitchen prep slices up onions. A delivery van pulls up in back. Donny sticks his nose in the walk-in cooler. Makes sure everything is kosher. "You can't drop the ball here," he says, looking around. Then, grateful, amazed, he says, "This mission, this kitchen, has saved my life and my soul."

~ ~ ~

Mel Gibson surprised. Gibson said the movie had been "incubating" in his head for 12 years. "I was spiritually bankrupt, and when that happens, it's like a spiritual cancer afflicts you," he said of the period when he first began delving into the film's subject matter.

He credits his wife of 24 years, Robyn, with helping renew his sense of religious faith, as well as many people he feels were "sent" to him. "Even people who have been hostile to me have been beneficial," Gibson said.

Gibson said "Passion" is about "faith, hope, love and forgiveness," which he hopes can be something of a remedy for the current state of affairs in the world -- war and genocide being two tragedies he mentions.

"My detractors would say that it (the movie) is going to promote hatred. I disagree. I think that's utter nonsense. The absurdity of that staggers me," Gibson said.

~ ~ ~

A fortune picking grapes. The Lama H.E. Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, as he is known by his followers, is a revered teacher who studied under the 14th Dalai Lama and has dedicated his life to teaching Buddhism.

But we still want to know, can a Tibetan lama hang on to his serenity while schmoozing with celebrities and producers at film festivals? ''Well, I have to get up an hour and a half before everyone else and do my meditation,'' he says affably when we finally locate him for this interview in Honolulu. But this is not an ordinary monk.
Adapted from a Buddhist fable, his latest film, Travellers and Magicians, is more philosophical and more somber than his previous offering. ''I don't want to claim there's a profound spiritual teaching in the film but I can always learn something out of anything that involves life,'' he says.
The film tells the tale of a young man fed up with life in his Bhutanese village who decides to head for the United States, where he has heard he can make a fortune picking grapes. ''You always think that the grass is going to be greener on the other side, but that is a fantasy and hope becomes pain,'' says the third incarnation of the Khyentse lineage. He adds that the movie is really about Bhutan, ``its serenity, its culture, its tradition.''

~ ~ ~

Wootten said he thinks the movie (Cold Mountain) will expose more people to Sacred Harp.
It gets its name from "The Sacred Harp," an oblong songbook published in 1844 by B.F. White and E.J. King. The pair lived in western Georgia, though the book was printed in Philadelphia.

Despite the name, no harps or other musical instruments are used in Sacred Harp singing. It's all done a cappella.

The title is symbolic, probably because harps are mentioned frequently in the Psalms and are associated with King David. Others consider the "sacred harp" the human voice itself.

~ ~ ~

Being afraid of being yourself. The culture tells us: "You're nothing - unless the plaque on your desk says 'Vice President.' You're nothing, unless you jump into bed with this rich and powerful guy. You're nothing, unless people will pay to buy a magazine that has your naked photos in it."
Of all the fears that currently plague our lives - from the fear of terror and death, to aging and illness, to professional setbacks and public humiliation, perhaps none is more tragic that the simple fear of being yourself. Wow - just take a moment to think about that and to fully grasp how serious that is: You're afraid just to be.

~ ~ ~

The Big Buddha of Lantau Island is one of Hong Kong's main attractions. At 26.4m high, it is the world's largest seated bronze Buddha. Superlatives aside, the perfect proportions of the Buddha exude a powerful spiritual pull on devottees and tourists alike.

-contributed to NDS by Jerry Katz

To those of us who have children in our lives, whether they are our own, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or is something to make you chuckle.

Whenever your children are out of control, you can take comfort from the thought that even God's omnipotence did not extend to His own children.

After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam and Eve. And the first thing he said was "DON'T!"

"Don't what?" Adam replied.

"Don't eat the forbidden fruit." God said.

"Forbidden fruit? We have forbidden fruit? Hey Eve...we have forbidden fruit!!!!!"

"No Way!"

"Yes way!"

"Do NOT eat the fruit!" said God.


"Because I am your Father and I said so!" God replied, wondering why He hadn't stopped creation after making the elephants. A few minutes later, God saw His children having an apple break and He was ticked!

"Didn't I tell you not to eat the fruit?" God asked.

"Uh huh," Adam replied.

"Then why did you?" said the Father.

"I don't know," said Eve.

"She started it!" Adam said

"Did not!"

"Did too!"


Having had it with the two of them, God's punishment was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own. Thus the pattern was set and it has never changed.


If you have persistently and lovingly tried to give children wisdom and they haven't taken it, don't be hard on yourself. If God had trouble raising children, what makes you think it would be a piece of cake for you?


1. You spend the first two years of their life teaching them to walk and talk. Then you spend the next sixteen telling them to sit down and shut up.

2. Grandchildren are God's reward for not killing your own children.

3. Mothers of teens now know why some animals eat their young.

4. Children seldom misquote you. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said.

5. The main purpose of holding children's parties is to remind yourself that there are children more awful than your own.

6. We childproofed our homes, but they are still getting in.

ADVICE FOR THE DAY: Be nice to your kids. They will choose your nursing home one day.



- Photo contributed to NDS by Al Larus

A Relationship

I seldom write about the personal relationship between my husband and I. It is no different than anyone else's; yet it is a snowflake relationship like all others are, too. He claims to have fallen in love with me when he saw me coming down the steps of our grammar school. I was wearing a red skirt and a white blouse and he said I looked like an angel. I paid him no notice and it was not until high school that we began dating. He went away to school and I stayed home and went to our local college. We married right after he graduated from college and that was a while ago.

I have always depended on him. He taught me how to drive, which was a big mistake, as I never became a good driver. But that is not the point of this piece. I started out to talk about our relationship. It is complicated and simple, like all relationships are. Since he has been sick, the relationship has been thrown into reverse. I have to experience my strengths and he his weaknesses. Before, it was the other way around.

Today we sat in the silence for almost an hour (we were meditating). It felt so good we did it again later in the day. In between we went out to eat. When we came back, we watched part of Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth. "You know," I said to Bob, "our sitting in silence is what he was talking about....experiencing the transcendence." Yes.

Our hearts are vulnerable from the daily pain of his cancer. We admit that, but he tends to the stoic and I to the emotional. We have reminisced a lot the past couple of years, since we grew up in the same neighborhood. We talk about what we liked to eat and where, for instance. Memories of Krystal hamburgers on the train to Jackson, Mississippi to visit his grandmother come to his mind. I talk about the way my grandmother fried chicken.

Our relationship is sacred space. We squabble and nag each other like everybody else. I say too much and he says too little. He is loveable and I am quiet and aloof. I used to be a dancer and he used to play basketball. These days he can barely walk and yet he never complains. It is the relationship that must have the wings.

He never tells me I look nice on any given day and yet he is proud of me overall. I respect him totally, but he gets on my nerves from time to time. That is not what matters. What matters is the transcendence that Joe Campbell speaks about. It is capable of turning the marriage into an instrument capable of making music when it could have made only noise.

Contributed to NDS by Vicki Woodyard

I have been posting a monthly calendar with photos I have made and Rumi quotes on the RebelliousSpirit site for more than a year.. check it out .. thanks, Sadananda (NDS)

- Photo submitted to NDS by Al Larus


(The Heart Sutra)

With a selection from Hakuin's commentary -

Avalokita, the Holy Lord and Bodhisattva, was moving in the deep course of the wisdom which has gone beyond. He looked down from on high, and he saw that the five categories of things are all empty of their own-being.

Here, O Sariputra, form is emptiness, and the very emptiness is form, emptiness does not differ from form, nor does form differ from emptiness; whatever is form, that is emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form. The same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses and consciousness.

Here, O Sariputra, all things are empty appearances. They are unborn, undying, neither stained nor immaculate, neither deficient nor complete.

Therefore, O Sariputra, in emptiness there is neither form, nor reception, nor perception, nor conception, nor consciousness, no eye, or ear, nor nose, or tongue, or body, or mind, no form, nor sound, nor smell, nor taste, nor touchable, nor object of mind, no realm of sight, till we come to no realm of consciousness; there is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, till we come to, there is no decay and death, nor extinction of decay and death; there is no suffering, nor causation, nor cessation, nor path; there is no wisdom, no attainment and no non-attainment.

Therefore, O Sariputra, owing to a Bodhisattva's indifference to any kind of personal attainment, and through his having relied on the perfection of wisdom, he dwells without thought-coverings. In the absence of thought-coverings he is clear-minded and fearless, he has overcome what can upset, and in the end is sustained by Nirvana. Through reliance on perfect wisdom all Buddhas of the past, present, and future became fully awake to the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment. Therefore one should know the perfection of wisdom as the great spell, the spell of great knowledge, the utmost spell, the unequalled spell, allayer of all suffering, in truth - for how could it not be so? By the perfection of wisdom has this spell been delivered.


A Selection from Hakuin's Commentary

(The) Heart (Mind)

For untold ages this didn't have a name. Then they blundered and gave it one. When it flies into your eyes, even gold dust will blind you.

This is one sutra they didn't compile

Inside their cave at Pippali.

Kumarajiva had no words to translate it,

Ananda himself couldn't get wind of it.

At the north window, icy drafts whistle through cracks.

At the south pond, wild geese sport in snowy reeds.

Above, the mountain moon seems pinched thin with cold;

Freezing clouds threaten to plunge from the sky.

Buddhas might descend to this world by the thousands,

They couldn't add or subtract one thing.

Avalokita (, the Holy Lord and . . .)

He's the Great Fellow supplied one to every person. Nowhere on earth can you find a single unfree man! You cough. You spit. You move your arms. You don't get others to help you. Who clapped chains on you? Who's holding you back? Lift your left hand up; you just may scratch a Buddha's neck. Raise your right hand; when will you be able to avoid feeling a dog's head?

Fingers clasp and feet walk on without the help of others,

While thoughts and emotions pile up great stocks of Wrong;

But cast out pro and con, and all likes and dislikes,

And I'll call you an Avalokita right there where you stand!

Bodhisattva (, was . . .)

To show his difference from the Shravakas and Private Buddhas, and to set him apart from full-fledged Buddhas as well, he is given the (provisional) name of Bodhisattva. He's on the road but hasn't budged from home; he's away from home constantly, but he's not on the road. I'll snatch from you the practice of the Four Universal Vows - that's the very thing will make you Superior Men, able in both directions.

Moving (in . . .)

What's he saying! He's just making waves. Stirring up trouble. It's sleeping at night and moving around in the daytime. Urinating and passing excrement. Clouds moving and streams flowing. Leaves falling and flowers scattering. But hesitate or stop to think, and Hell rears up in all its hellish forms. Yes, practice is like that all right, but unless you once penetrate by the cold sweat of your own brow and see it for yourself, there is trouble in store for you and plenty of it!

The Deep Course of Wisdom (which has gone beyond. He looked down from on high, and he saw . . . )

Bah! Gouging out healthy flesh and creating an open wound. How strange, this "prajna" of his. Just what is it like? "Deep"? "Shallow"? Like river water? Can you tell me, what kind of prajna has deeps and shallows? I'm afraid it's a case of mistaken identity, confusing the pheasant with the phoenix.

Annulling Form in the quest for Emptiness, is shallow,

Seeing Emptiness in the fullness of Form, is called deep.

He prattles about wisdom with Form and Emptiness in his clutches

Like a lame tortoise in a glass jug clumping after a flying bird.

That the five categories of things are empty of their own being. (Here, O . . .)

The sacred turtle's tail sweeps away all his tracks. But how can the tail help leaving traces of its own?

You see another's Five and you think that's you,

Then you cling to them, with personal pride or shame,

It's like a bubble that forms on the surface of waves.

Like the lightning that snaps across the sky.


Phuh! What could that puny-fruited Arhat possibly have to offer? Around here, even Buddhas and Patriarchs have to beg for their lives. Where is he going to hide, with this "Hinayana face and Mahayana heart"?

Form is emptiness, and the very emptiness is form (, emptiness does not differ from form, nor does form differ from emptiness; . . .)

A nice hot kettle of stew, and he plops a couple of rat turds in and ruins it. It's no good pushing delicacies at a man with a full belly. Striking aside waves to look for water when the waves are water!

Forms don't hinder emptiness, emptiness is the tissue of form;

Emptiness is not dissolution of form, form is the flesh of emptiness.

Inside the Dharma Gates where form and emptiness are-not-two.

A lame turtle with painted eyebrows stands in the evening breeze.

Whatever is form, that is emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form.

Trash! What a useless collection of junk! Don't be trying to teach apes how to climb trees! These are goods that have been gathering dust on the shelves for two thousand years.

The same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses and consciousness.

Just look at him now wallowing in the sow-grass! When you encounter strange phantoms without alarm, they self-destruct!

Earth wind fire water are tracks left when a bird takes flight;

Forms reception perception conception are sparks in a man's eye;

A stone woman works a shuttle, skinny elbows flying,

A mud cow barrels through the surf, baring her bicuspids.

Here, O Sariputra, all things are empty appearances.

Like rubbing your eyes to make yourself see flowers in the air. If all things don't exist to begin with, then what do we want with "empty appearances"? He is defecating and spraying pee all over the clean yard.

The earth, its rivers and hills, are castles in the air,

Heavens and hells, a bogy bazaar atop the ocean waves;

The "Pure" land and "unpure" World are brushes of turtle hair,

Nirvana and Samsara are hare-horn riding whips.

They are unborn, undying, not stained nor immaculate, neither deficient nor complete.

Real front-page stuff! But is that really the way it is? How did you hit on that part about everything being "unborn and undying"? You'd better not swindle us! An elbow doesn't bend outwards.

Therefore, O Sariputra, in emptiness

A regular jackal's den. A cave of shadowy ghosts. How many pilgrims have fallen in here! A deep black pit. The unutterable darkness of the grave. What a terrifying place!

There is neither form, nor reception, nor perception, nor conception, nor consciousness,

"Dreams, Delusions, Blossoms of air. Why bother to get hold of them? Profit and loss and right and wrong must all be chucked out." This scrupulousness of his only stirs up trouble. What's the good of making everything an empty void?

A boundless unencumbered place, perfect, open, still;

Earth and hills and rivers, are but names, nothing more.

The Mind may be quartered, and Forms lumped into one,

But they're both still just echoes in empty ravines.

No eye, or ear, nor nose, or tongue, or body, or mind, no form, nor sound, nor smell, nor taste, nor touchable, nor object of mind, no realm of sight, till we come to no realm of consciousness;

Well I have eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind! And forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touch, and things do exist!

When the Six Senses slightly stir, Six Fields appear;

When the Mind-Root rests, the Six Dusts as well.

The Roots and Fields and Senses, all Eighteen Realms -

Just a bubble of foam on a great shoreless sea.

There is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, till we come to, there is no decay and death, nor extinction of decay and death;

Pearls scattered inside fine purple curtains. Pearls packed inside filthy beggar-bags; it takes a wise man to know that those are jewels. The water that a cow drinks turns to cream; the water that a snake drinks turns to poison. The twelve-storied mansions where sages dwell are wrapped in perpetual five-colored clouds far beyond man's reach.

There is no suffering, nor causation, nor cessation, nor path;

Shining gems in the dawn light beyond the bamboo blind. The fool goes at them with an upraised sword. The salt in the seawater, the size in the paint. Egrets settling in a field a thousand flakes of snow. A warbler alighting on a bough, a tree branch all in flower.

There is no wisdom, no attainment (, and no non-attainment.)

Setting up house in a grave again! So many misunderstand these words! A dead man peeping bug-eyed from a coffin.

black fire burning with a dark, gem-like brilliance,

Draining vast heaven and earth of their yellows and blacks;

Mountains and rivers are not seen in the mirror of Mind,

A hundred million worlds agonize, all for nothing.

Owing to a Bodhisattva's indifference to any kind of personal attainment,

Get him out of here! A thief pleading innocence with the stolen goods in his hands.

Acting by circumstances, in response to sentient beings wherever they may be, but still never leaving the Bodhisattva Seat. Unless you're clear about three and eight and nine, you'll have a lot to think about as you confront the world.

Bodhisattva, Great Being!

In Chinese, "Sentient Hero with Great Heart."

He enters the Three Ways, taking men's sufferings on himself;

Unbidden, he proceeds joyfully through every realm;

He vows never to accept the meager fruits of partial truth;

While pursuing higher enlightenment himself, he works to save others.

The vast void of boundless space could cease to be, still he'd

Urge his Vow-Wheel on forever to save the ignorant multitudes.

And through his having relied on the perfection of wisdom, (he dwells without thought coverings.)

What a choke-pear! He's gagging on it! If you catch sight of any thing at all to depend on, spit it out at once! I'm able to endure the northern wastes of Yuchou, but the mildness of Chiangnan is shear agony.

Tell us you've discovered greed and anger in Saints, but don't

Give us that about Bodhisattvas depending on Wisdom.

If you see a single thing around to depend on,

That's not "unhindered" - he's tied in chains.

Bodhisattva and Prajna are essentially the same,

Like beads rolling on a tray, sudden, ready, uninhibited.

He's neither worldly nor saintly, stupid nor wise -

What a shame, when you draw a snake, to add a leg.

In the absence of thought-coverings he is clear-minded and fearless, he has overcome what can upset,

Nothing extraordinary about that. Supernatural powers and wondrous activity are just

drawing water and carrying fuel. Lifting my head, I see the sun setting over my old home in the west.

And in the end is sustained by Nirvana.

This is the hole pilgrims walk into; they fill it up year after year. He's gone off again to flit with the ghosts. It's worse than stinking socks! The upright men of our tribe are not like this; the father conceals for the sake of the son, the son for the sake of the father.

The Mind of Birth-and-Death of all beings

Is as such the Buddhas' Great Nirvana.

A Wooden hen sits upon a coffin brooding on an egg;

An earthen mare follows the wind back home to the barn.

Through reliance on perfect wisdom all Buddhas of the past, present, and future

(became fully awake to the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment.)

By holding a good man down he cheapens him. The bare skin and bones are fine as they are, with a natural elegance and grace, without larding them with paint and powder. There's no cold water in a boiling cauldron.

Therefore one should know the perfection of wisdom as the great spell,

Carrying water to sell by a river. Don't drag that old chipped lacquerware out here!

Transcribe a word three times, and a crow becomes a how, and then ends up a horse. He's trying to palm off shoddy goods again, like some little shopkeeper. When walking at night, don't tread on anything white; if it's not water, it's usually stone.

Cherish the Great Charm of your own nature,

That turns a hot iron ball into finest sweetest manna;

Heaven, Hell, and the floating World of Man -

A snowflake disappearing down a glowing furnace.

The spell of great knowledge,

Don't say "spell of great knowledge"! Break apart the staff that comes rough-formed and

unshapen, and the great earth's Indigenous Black stretches out on every side. Heaven and earth lose all their shapes and colors. The sun and moon swallows all their light. Black ink pouring into a black-lacquer tub.

Spell of great knowledge, round and perfect in every man.

Casts a calm illumination over mountains and rivers of the world;

The vast, barrier-like ocean of our age-long sins vanishes.

Like foam-bubbles atop waves, like sparks within the eyes.

The utmost spell,

And what about down around your toes? Bring me the lowest spell! One feels tender affinity for the autumn leaves falling amidst pattering drops of rain. Yet how can that compare to the intimate richness of sunset clouds glowing over bearded fields of grain?

The Finest, the Noblest, the First,

Enthralling even Sakya and Maitreya,

What we all have with us at birth,

But we each have to die, and be reborn.

The unequalled spell,

Talk! He talks and two stakes appear. What ever happened to that single Stake? Where is it now? Who said, "there is no equal anywhere, above, below, or in the four quarters?" He has broken it all up into little bits, there are pieces strewn all over. That idle old gimlet Teyun, how many times is he going to come down from the Summit of Wonder Peak? He hires a foolish old saint to help him fill up a well with snow.

Last winter the plum was bitter cold;

A dash of rain, a burst of bloom!

Its shadow is cast by the moon's pale light,

Its secret fragrance carried on the spring breeze.

Yesterday, you were only a snow-covered tree,

Today, your boughs are starred with blossom!

What cold and suffering have you weathered,

Venerable queen of the flower rain!

Allayer of all suffering,

Picking a lily bulb apart to find the center. Shaving a staff of square bamboo to make it

round. Ripping the threads from a Persian carpet. Nine times nine is, now and always,

eighty-one. Nineteen and twenty-nine meet, but neither offers its hand.

When you pass the test of Mind and Emptiness

Your parts are instant ash;

Heavens and Hells are old broken-down furniture,

Buddha-worlds and Demon-worlds smashed into oblivion.

A yellow bird chortles ecstatic strains of "White Snow,"

A black turtle clambers up a lighthouse, sword in belt;

And anyone who wishes to enter their samadhi,

Must once pour down rivers of white-beaded sweat.

In truth - for how could it not be so? ( By the perfection of wisdom has this spell been delivered.)

Liar! He's lying in his teeth right there! We rub elbows with him all day long - How do we resemble him?

It runs like this:

He's at it again! Over and over! What about woodcutters' songs and fishermen's chanteys? Where do they come in? And what about warbling thrushes and twittering swallows? Don't enter the waves and pick bubbles from the surf!

These weed-choked fields with their seven-word furrows

And the castles of verbiage in lines of five

Weren't meant for the eyes of flinty old priests, I wrote only

To help you brothers, cold and hungry in your huts;

For unless you find the Way, and transform your self,

You stay trapped and entangled down a bottomless pit.

And don't try to tell me my poems are too hard -

Face it, the problem is your own Eyeless state.

When you come to a word you don't understand, quick

Bite it at once! Chew it right to the pith!

Once you're soaked to the bone with death's cold sweat,

All the koan Zen has are yanked up, root and stem.

With toil and trouble, I too once glimpsed the Edge -

Smashed the Scale that works with a blind arm;

When that Tool of Unknowing is shattered for good,

You fill with the fierceness and courage of lions.

Zen is blessed with the power to bring this about,

Why not use it to bore through to Perfect Integrity?

People these days turn away as if it were dirt,

Who is there to carry on the life-thread of Wisdom?

Don't think I'm an old man who just likes to make poems,

My motive is one: to rouse men of talent wherever they are.

The superior will know at a glance where the arrow flies.

The mediocre will just prattle about the rhythm and rhyme.

Ssu-ma of the Sung was a true prince among men,

What a shame that eyes of such worth remained unopened!

Whenever he read difficult "hard-to-pass" koan,

He said they were riddles made to vex young monks;

For the gravest crimes man is sure to feel repentance -

Slander of the Dharma is no minor offense!

Crowds of these miscreants are at large in the world,

The Zen landscape is barren beyond belief.

If you have grasped the Mind of the Buddha-patriarchs

How could you possibly be blind to their words?


To serve a Superior Man is easy, to please him an impossible task. A falling shred of mist flies together with a lone white gull; the autumn waters are a single color with the far autumn sky. A rain squall sweeps the sky from the hamlet in the south to the hamlet in the north. A new wife carries boxes of lunch to her mother-in-law in the fields; grandchild is fed with morsels from grandfather's mouth.

- contributed to AdyashantiSatsang by Robert O'Hearn

Many popular psychological and spiritual
approaches addess the matter of self-concept, and
seek to provide a path to an improved self-
concept. I recently came across the following
comment by somone who was using such an approach:

When you see how the self-concept can be changed,
it sort of erodes your idea of the substantiality
of a conceptual self because you see it as a pile
of beliefs.

This is a very important realization.

Taking such a path, once one starts mooshing
around self-concept it is natural to
wonder..."OK, who's doing this?" I.e. who is
making these changes in self-concept. So then
the inquiry goes deeper. It is not about self-
concept now, but about that *deeper process*.

Whatever level you go, the question arises, "Who
is doing this?" Who is going to a deeper level?
Who is performing the inquiry. Or maybe it is not
a "who". Maybe it is just a process. But what is
behind it all? Whereof does the inquiry itself
arise? What is the nature of the inquiry itself?
Is it like a cloud? Is it like a shadow?

Whereof does *anything* "arise"? Are all
"arisings" like a cloud, like a shadow?

This is the essential nature of all koans. It is
a paradox that cannot be resolved except outside
the mind.

- Bill Rishel from AdyashantiSatsang

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