I dreamt I was walking with a group of people near the top of a granite peak. Kobun was there, and he mentioned that I should update the presentation of “The Mudra of Zen”, my original website. I was a little put off, knowing how much work would be involved.
When I woke up, I realized how lucky I was, to be able to give advice to myself in a dream through the figure of a person whose opinion I was bound to respect.
“The Mudra of Zen” has now been revised, not only for the presentation but also for the content. I have added an “About” page to the site to explain the change:
The writings that have been the most useful to me from “The Mudra of Zen” and “Zazen Notes” are now collected on this site as “A Natural Mindfulness”.
“A Natural Mindfulness” is organized in two parts. The first part revolves around “one-pointedness of mind”, a characteristic of concentration mentioned in one of Gautama the Buddha’s lectures:
Making self surrender the object of thought, one lays hold of concentration, one lays hold of one-pointedness of mind.
(SN V 200, Pali Text Society V 176)
I have tried to convey how the experience of one-pointedness of mind takes place, how a person “lays hold” of one-pointedness of mind, and how the elements Gautama made the object of his thought belong to self surrender.
The second part concerns the science that has informed my sitting over the years. Anatomy and kinesthesiology have been helpful to me, but I’m aware that there are other, more traditional ways to convey the same information, and that many people find the traditional ways more to their liking. Nevertheless, for those like me who prefer a Western framework of understanding, I have included the science.
The collection begins here:
I have also added a disclaimer page, to “Zazen Notes” as well as to “The Mudra of Zen”:
Here’s a comment about my writing that I recently received:
I must point out that your writing often carries an authoritative tone, intentional or no, that is not so much questioning as a student would, but of explaining your own interpretations. This can be confusing for new people.
… my point is, in writing to clarify your own thoughts, you’re not being honest with the reader. By taking the position of explaining something (for your own benefit), you are putting yourself out there as an authority that has something to explain (which leads to the confusion of others looking for guidance).
(“Rinzai Zen Discussion”, Facebook public group)
The complaint here is really that I’m not a lineage-holding, authorized teacher in any wisdom tradition, and yet I comment on texts that belong to the Buddhist tradition, and I comment on seated meditation as it is practiced in Zen Buddhism. Apparently the author of the criticism feels that if I am not an authorized teacher, nothing that I write on these topics can be appropriate for a Zen student to read, and he fears that the tone with which I write will cause some Zen students or potential Zen students to think otherwise.
I can only say, that I can’t help the style with which I write. If I did not strive to be beyond doubt in what I have to say, I might not find the words I myself need to hear.
If anyone should be confused by what I have to say or the manner in which I say it, I would recommend the advice given by Gautama the Buddha twenty-five hundred years ago:
Therefore… be ye lamps unto yourselves. Be ye a refuge unto yourselves. Betake yourselves to no external refuge. Hold fast to the Truth as a lamp. Hold fast as a refuge to the Truth. Look not for refuge to any one besides yourselves. And how… is (one) to be a lamp unto (oneself), a refuge unto (oneself), betaking (oneself) to no external refuge, holding fast to the Truth as a lamp, holding fast as a refuge to the Truth, looking not for refuge to any one besides (oneself)?
Herein, … (one) continues, as to the body, so to look upon the body that (one) remains strenuous, self-possessed, and mindful, having overcome both the hankering and the dejection common in the world. [And in the same way] as to feelings… moods… ideas, (one) continues so to look upon each that (one) remains strenuous, self-possessed, and mindful, having overcome both the hankering and the dejection common in the world.
(Digha Nikaya ii 100, Pali Text Society DN Vol. II pg 108)