The Three-Legged Stool

There’s a line in the Diamond Sutra that reads:

Let the mind be present without an abode. (1)

As I wrote in “Four Points of Aikido”:

The emphasis here is on the feeling of place associated with awareness (‘let the mind be present’), a feeling of place that can shift and move (‘without an abode’).

Dogen also emphasizes the feeling of place, but only as one leg of a three-legged stool:

When you find your place where you are, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point. When you find your way at this moment, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point… Although actualized immediately, the inconceivable may not be apparent. (2)

I find my place where I am when I realize the physical location of my awareness in three-dimensional space, and realize it as it occurs from one moment to the next.

I find my way at this moment when I find a counter to centrifugal force at the location of my awareness, a counter originating in the senses and even from what lies outside the conscious range of the senses.

I have written about action that happens when the foreground of bodily activity and the background of autonomic respiration change places. To me, such action is the immediate actualization of the inconceivable, of things outside the range of my senses.

All three legs of the stool are in one place, without abode.


☞ PDF, A Natural Mindfulness


1 Translation Venerable Master Hsing Yun, from “The Rabbit’s Horn: A Commentary on the Platform Sutra”, Buddha’s Light Publishing pg. 60
2 Genjo Koan”, Dogen; tr. Robert Aitken and Kazuaki Tanahashi.