An Unauthorized and Incomplete Guide to Zazen–contents

From the Gospel of Thomas

Dragon tiling fractal image

Here is a stanza attributed to Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel of Thomas:

They said to Him: Shall we then, being children,
enter the Kingdom? Jesus said to them:
When you make the two one, and
when you make the inner as the outer
and the outer as the inner and the above
as the below, and when
you make the male and the female into a single one,
so that the male will not be male and
the female (not) be female, when you make
eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand
in the place of a hand, and a foot in the place
of a foot, (and) an image in the place of an image,
then shall you enter [the Kingdom].

(The Gospel According to Thomas, coptic text established and translated by A. Guillaumont, H.-CH. Puech, G. Quispel, W. Till and Yassah ‘Abd Al Masih, pg 18-19 log. 22, ©1959 E. J. Brill)

“When you make the two one”: the location of consciousness in three dimensions and the location of any object of sense generally appear to be independent of one another. In the circumstance where any contact of sense contributes to the generation of stretch and reciprocal activity through the location of consciousness, the two are as one.

“When you make the inner as the outer and the outer as the inner and the above as the below”: where the location of consciousness in three dimensions seems clear with respect to the external objects of sense, the same clarity can be brought to the location of consciousness with respect to the internal objects of sense (including the sense-organs). Where the location of consciousness seems clear with respect to the internal objects of sense, the same clarity can be brought to the location of consciousness with regard to the external sense objects. In making the inner as the outer and then the outer as the inner, the generation of reciprocal activity through the place of occurrence of consciousness is brought forward. As the activity is relaxed, the reciprocal in lower body activity reaches the top of the head through the extensors.

“When you make the male and the female into a single one, so that the male will not be male and the female (not) be female”: consciousness of the stretch and activity behind the lower back and in front of the contents of the lower abdomen can become consciousness of stretch and activity behind the sacrum and tailbone and in the vicinity of the genitalia. Such experience is independent of the sex of the individual, and is offered here as a recurrent condition of practice.

“When you make eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in the place of a hand, and a foot in the place of a foot…”: when consciousness takes place at the extremities, the leverage of the extremities is brought into play with the rhythm of the cranial-sacral fluid. In particular, the leverage of the extremities becomes a part of the stretch of the upright posture, and generates reciprocal innervation in the psoas and extensor muscles that rotates the pelvis on the sacrum.

The eyes are perhaps mentioned because the eye-socket is formed by several different bones, one of which (the sphenoid) flexes and extends readily with the rhythm of the cranial-sacral fluid.

“When you make… an image in the place of an image, then shall you enter…”: the experience of a pleasant, painful, or neutral sensation as consciousness occurs can condition the subsequent place of occurrence of consciousness, yet a witness of consciousness conditioned by sensation frees the occurrence of consciousness; the sense of location in the free occurrence of consciousness leads the balance to generate feeling, and the ability to feel establishes the free occurrence of consciousness.

As Yuanwu said:

If you are equanimous toward everything, including the ultimate ungraspability of mind itself, and your conditioned mind fades away and spontaneously comes to an end, then the perfect illumination of inherent nature appears whole without needing any contrived efforts to make it.

(Ibid, page 88)

The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Luke, 17:20-21 (King James Version)

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