Posted inDogen, Henry's Messages, Meditations

Message from Henry: Thoughts

February 10, 2016

If the mind can get it, it’s not the “unborn.” So what is it?


“Empty your thoughts,” says Daio Kokushi. This could be taken two ways:

  1. Have quiet meditation periods, fairly empty of thought. Let your mind be quiet. Allow your thinking to go quiet.
  2. Or:Let go of deep assumptions, opinions, views, conditioning that we don’t even know we have. Let those go.

* * *

We are all children of our time and place. To encounter the Dharma is to break free of time and place. But then to be of service, it’s useful that we once again are of our time and place.

* * *

The point about this practice of always being pushed to go deeper and deeper – it’s the fist of the masters gripping our worldview tighter and tighter. It’s not meant to be simply a matter of being brow-beaten and cowed. The gate may be narrow but it leads somewhere that is not narrow, or where narrowness fills the universe. As Dogen said, “The principle of Zen is complete freedom.”

At some point, there is a good chance we will come to agree that “Zen works,” that the promises of the ancestors were not idle or vain. Their long years of hard sitting were a gift to us – as our sitting will one day in turn be a gift to others.

* * *

True lineage? Being more concerned with our ancestors than our successors. Treating the teachings with care, passing them on as accurately as we are able.

Therefore let’s not be impatient or greedy in our practice. Let’s just do the practice: that is, pay attention to what is, not to what we imagine might be. Let’s not forget the countless long hours our ancestors spent in sitting, slowly, slowly wearing down their greed, their aversion, their self-importance. Without their long hours of practice, this Way might not have been sustained till now.

* * *

The “unborn” is not a category…

If the mind can get it, it’s not the “unborn.” So what is it?

Message from Henry is from our February 10, 2016 Newsletter.

Image: Zen Garden, by Thomas Quine, CC by 2.0, from

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