Posted inDogen, Henry's Messages

Message from Henry: Seize the Jewel

June 13, 2017

We’re not here for us. We’re here to dispel illusion – our own primarily, and then we see where we go from there.


Sometimes we think we like practice, we know what it is and believe it’s good for us.

We have no idea.

The dragon sleeps with the mani-jewel in its jaws. The wish-fulfilling jewel is the dharma: the one fact that is no fact and all facts, and never changes yet is all change.

So what if all of a sudden something happens that makes us not like practice? Are we going to run away, turn our backs on it, because it isn’t behaving the way we want?

Practice is alive. It’s like complaining about the way lightning behaves.

How are we going to seize the jewel if we run away from the dragon at the first whiff of smoke in the air?

We’re not here for us. We’re here to dispel illusion – our own primarily, and then we see where we go from there.

What kind of practitioners are we if we flinch and turn away, get disgruntled, the first time we get a little scald from the dragon’s steam on the back of our hand? It’s all going up in flames. That’s the promise of this practice, not just an unfortunate aspect to it. If we can’t take the heat — well, we have a chance to learn to. Practice knows to be patient with us skittish creatures with our very thin skin.

We may sulk, withdraw, get disappointed. Our old habits of mind kick in. This Zen is no good. The teacher’s no good, the center’s no good.

True enough maybe. But to practice is to call ourselves out, and remember that actually it’s not about the teacher or center but our own continuous growth and maturation as a human being. We get right back in the saddle and keep our studies going. We don’t withdraw – the opposite, we reach out, we revisit the center, see the teacher, speak openly, express ourselves, asap…

Just don’t get tossed away. That’s not practice. Hold yourself to it. Dignified body. Dignified mind. Like Dogen says. Sit like a mountain.

Then maybe the dragon has a chance to do its awesome work on us – the work that sears with a primal creative love-fire that no one will ever know or understand yet is never, ever apart from.

Courage, mes amis! Take heart. Once more unto the breach!… etc.


Message from Henry is from our June 13, 2017 Newsletter.
Image: Jewel by Milan Nykodyne, CC by-SA 2.0, from

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