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The Essential Nature of Mind


“Buddhist teachings make a distinction between what is called Big Mind, or Natural Mind, and “small mind,” or ordinary, deluded mind. Small mind, or deluded mind, is the buzzing, unpredictable, frequently out-of-control ordinary mind.

This is our finite mind, our limited conceptual mind; our ordinary, rational, discursive, thinking mind. The deluded mind has so many impulses and needs; it wants so many things. It’s frequently confused; it’s subject to mood swings; it’s restless. It gets angry; it gets depressed; it becomes hyper.

Some ancient traditional texts refer to this small mind as “monkey mind,” where it is pictured as a chaotic little monkey jumping from tree to tree, looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places.

What is meant by Big Mind is the essential nature of mind itself. This is what we call Buddha-nature, or natural mind. This is our true nature – the pure boundless awareness that is at the heart, and part, of us all. The Buddha described it as still, clear, lucid, empty, profound, simple (uncomplicated), and at peace.

It’s not really what we usually think of as our mind at all. It is the luminous, most fundamental clear light nature of our ground of being. This is Rigpa, the heart of enlightenment.

Dzogchen teaches that all we have to do to become enlightened is to recognize and rest in this natural state of mind. In Zen they call this original mind. This is raw, naked awareness, not something we’ve learned or fabricated.

This is the Buddha within – the perfect presence that we can all rely on. Waking up to this natural mind, this Buddha-nature, is what meditation is all about.”

~ Lama Surya Das ~
Awakening the Buddha Within

If everything is one whole

If everything is one whole, then words can no longer make sense. Yet other than silence we only have words.

Bradley Ross Coutts

Causes and Conditions

Source: Causes & Conditions | Great Middle Way

imagesThe Dharma teaches that the manifestation of a consequence requires the confluence of multiple causes and conditions. Wrong views, afflicted emotions (attachment, aversion, and indifference), and the habits and tendencies that impel us to act in ways that are unskillful or undesirable constitute the fundamental causes of unbeneficial actions. The conditions that favor such conducts include material circumstances, similarly-inclined company, and situations.

If we desire to avoid those habitual tendencies, it is essential that we avoid conducive conditions for its manifestation. A well-known example is that of a person with alcoholic tendencies, who must avoid proximity and access to alcohol (material circumstances), persons with similar conducts (company), and those events in which this behavior is normative (situations).

We can successfully apply this strategy to all unskillful tendencies, identifying and avoiding the triggers that favor the repetition of any conduct we may wish to eliminate.

Finding yourself in an endless maze

If you go the way of your thoughts, you will be carried away by them, and you will find yourself in an endless maze.

~ Ramana Maharshi ~

Source: Tao & Zen

Zen humor

Tao & Zen

The religion before religion

“Zen has been called the “religion before religion,” which is to say that anyone can practice, including those committed to another faith. And that phrase evokes that natural religion of our early childhood, when heaven and a splendorous earth were one.

But soon the child’s clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions and abstractions. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn.

The sun glints through the pines, and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day, at the bottom of each breath, there is a hollow place filled with longing.

We become seekers without knowing that we seek, and at first, we long for something “greater” than ourselves, something apart and far away.

It is not a return to childhood, for childhood is not a truly enlightened state. Yet to seek one’s own true nature is “a way to lead you to your long lost home.”

To practice Zen means to realize one’s existence moment after moment, rather than letting life unravel in regret of the past and daydreaming of the future.

To “rest in the present” is a state of magical simplicity… out of the emptiness can come a true insight into our natural harmony all creation.

To travel this path, one need not be a ‘Zen Buddhist’, which is only another idea to be discarded like ‘enlightenment,’ and like ‘the Buddha’ and like ‘God.”

― Peter Matthiessen,
Nine-Headed Dragon River: Zen Journals, 1969-1982

Tao & Zen