Posted inHenry's Messages

Message from Henry: Mu ichi motsu

August 23, 2016

Misery tends to be simplistic. Well being tends to be open to complexity, pluralism, uncertainty.


People naturally interpret the term “emptiness” in the light of what they have experienced. Some say it means there are no boundaries; others that all things exist but without “self-existence”; relatively few go the whole hog and say: mu ichi motsu: “there is not one thing, there is nothing at all.” This variety is likely attributable to what people have seen or tasted themselves; or perhaps what they have read or studied.

Mu ichi motsu. The first great mystery is that for real, this whole business, human beings, the universe, stars, life-forms, is nothing at all.

But: Muju zo: “an inexhaustible treasure-house.” The second great mystery is that somehow, against all logic, this nothingness has the capacity to be anything at all, all things that are, and infinitely more besides.


Misery tends to be simplistic. Well being tends to be open to complexity, pluralism, uncertainty.


Pre-zen: it’s like a puppet that has refused to recognize that it’s a puppet.

Post-zen: hmmm….


Zen training: it can be a bit like this: no sooner have we raced across the pitch in order to field one question than a new one is already hurtling in from a different angle, and we run off to field that one too. Then another, and another, all coming in every which way. It’s like life accelerated. And in such a way that life seemingly refuses to let us doze. We must keep paying attention.


What if hidden in each of us there is a master of life, someone who knows how to live, who is not taken in by the apparent vicissitudes of life, whose basic orientation is founded on love – that this experience is illusory, not entirely what it seems, and brief, so while it’s happening the only way to proceed is out of kindness? And Zen is a system by which the master gets woken from the chamber where we locked them away and left them – we thought – slumbering, though in fact they were never asleep?

Well, I guess that’s a rhetorical question, and maybe not the best metaphor, rather elaborate… but anyway, something to consider…


Message from Henry taken from our August 23, 2016 Newsletter
Image: Windows, by Skeeze, CCo Public Domain, from

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