Not Following Words

Master Dogen said, “Cease from the practice of intellectual understanding, pursuing words and following after speech, and learn the backwards step that turns your light inward to illuminate yourself. Body and mind of themselves will drop away and your original face will be manifested. If you want to attain suchness, you should practice suchness without delay. Cease all movements of the conscious mind, the gauging of all thoughts and views. Have no design on becoming a buddha. Zazen has nothing whatsoever to do with sitting or lying down. The zazen that I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the Dharma gate of repose and bliss—the practice-realization of total accumulated enlightenment. It is the manifestation of ultimate reality.”

I’m not exactly certain what “practicing suchness” means, let alone how to practice it immediately and urgently. What I can relate to is the futility of words. They don’t change anything.

I’ve heard of meditation as a form of “bringing the mind home.” I understand that concept. It’s all about not seeking gratification out there somewhere. There is no “out there” anyhow. Any experience we have is simply our perception and interpretation of sensations.

Meditation is bringing awareness to our mental activities and letting them settle down like sand in a pond. Surface waves are drama. When the surface is calm, other can see their own reflections and behavior more clearly. The flipside is that, if you are too “blank,” people simply project their own weirdness onto you and their response to you is all about their feelings about themselves.

Regardless of response, the idea Dogen emphasizes is non-attachment to one’s own thought and feelings. We are not to be attached even to the idea of becoming a Buddha. It’s fine to have thoughts. We just don’t need to chase them down.

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About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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