Saturday, March 22, 2014

UnQualified Investigation

Hello All,
Over the years of practice I have been asked to investigate my walking practice, my eating practice, my work practice and sitting practice. Dogen, a distant great-nephew to Hongzhi, asked us to investigate not only our own forward and backward walking and sitting but the walking of both Green and Blue Mountains. He also encouraged us to investigate the East Mountains movement on water. Dogen intimates that if we think this type of investigation isn’t possible or we do not understand the walking of Blue Mountains and the flowing of East Mountains, it isn’t because the mountains do not walk and flow but that our investigation isn’t clear or precise. If we aren’t able to investigate successfully, it is because our means of investigation aren’t yet fully developed because the mountains indeed are walking and flowing in this very moment. One reason we have difficulties investigating accurately is because we assign values to what is before us. We think in the paradigm of subject and object, male and female, sentient and insentient etc.. Hongzhi furthers his investigative parameters by asking us to not even give value to being or non-being, born or unborn, dead or undying, time or no-time. If there is any Buddhism in your investigation, the investigation will not be successful—you will just end up meeting yourself, your own ideas. Shih-t’ou, a distant but direct relative of Hong-zhi and Dogen said, “When you hear words, you should understand their true reality and not set up any rules of your own.” I take words to mean your own (thoughts in the head) or someone else’s. Be careful, do not make things into something…let them be what they actually are.

When we ‘empty’ ourselves of thoughts, feeling and sensations; when we do not grasp at or push away thoughts, feelings or sensations and sit in the open space of Mu, of Who Hears, of Shikantaza, we are wandering in our investigation of wonder. We wander because there are no boundaries to hold or contain us other than the form of our practice. We wander meeting ourselves in the call of the lone loon, in the sob of our friend at midnight, in the soft plaintive woof of a white dog turning to snow.  In this wandering within wonder we do not yet need any signs, symbols or fingers pointing. We just move within the natural rhythms or rising and falling although Hongzhi would never concur with the thought of that much activity. He would imagine no arising but the constant glow of the sun even at midnight. When we leave discriminating conditioning, although a child hoots, a horse whinnies or a carp splashes, there is only light—bright and forevermore. When we let go of discriminating conditioning, although there are still birth, sickness, old age and death, there is constantly radiance, bright and beginningless. This does not mean we are not active and engaged in the hoots, cries or yells. This wandering in wonder does not absolve us from full participation in the unfolding world but actually invites us into a more intimate level of participation and response. We are no longer held back by or to our ideas and conditioning, thus narrowing our range of responses. The circle of wider includes each and everything including our complete involvement.

So we investigate wonder with open hands, warm hearts and an upright posture whether we are sitting, standing, walking or laying down. We are upright, which means honest of heart, in our conditions which allows us to see through our conditions to the one who truly sees…&

 I leave you with this to wonder about…who is it who sees through the one who sees?




  1. Wandering in the investigation of wonder, I wonder about the boundaries that create the form of our practice. At first, it seems some boundaries are helpful; the counting of breaths etc., but later it seems the practice becomes practiceless, the boundaries of practice evaporate and we are left with just wondering and wandering, in a new place, forever uncharted, fully unknowable. And of course, the question, "who is wondering, where is wandering?" The One who sees is no person at all, no one home here, open and undivided, flowing without control, eyes watching Oneself unfold in Onetime, no time at all.

  2. Heavy eyelids,
    Chaotic sounds of children at play downstairs,
    Smells of simmering onions and garlic,
    Full heart.

    That's who.

  3. Attendees

    We talked of juriki, the result of the hard work of Zen. We talked of impermanence, ha ha - look at how pretty! So soon to be gone.

    We talked of cultivating suffering and boredom. There is a character in Catch 22 that does this and time slows when we are suffering so this may be a way to extend life by cultivating suffering.

    Will talked some about his list making compulsion. This is a way to tract the things important to us by seeing the thing that get crossed off and the things that don’t. Things that don’t are less important to us. If they were important we’d do them. The thing on the list are of three categories. Things we want to do. Things we have to do. Things expected of us. Without making a list how can we see and learn from the things we do?

    We questioned the notion of 'invoke' in the reading. Is this referring to being accident prone?

    We talked quite a bit about naming things. This can separate us from the experience. But doesn’t have to.

    We talked about how to carry the quiet space throughout the day and how sometimes so of us use our ‘bad moods’ to get us through our ‘bad moods’.

    We are both moon mind and cloud body at the same time. What is it to be in wonder? Balance and noticing. Investigating wonder. This sets up a dichotomy between the notion of investigating which some think of ‘arms length’ and ‘science’ and ‘education’ and ‘naming’ on the one hand and wonder which points to a direct experience on the other.

    Not investigating our wonder keeps us dumb.


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