Posted inHenry's Messages

Message from Henry: Trust

November 7, 2017

There is nothing “to trust.” And that “nothing” is wondrously trustworthy.

Having been skeptical and having trusted very little – having had very little trust – this practice can lead us to a position where there is simply no doubt left, and nothing left to doubt. It could be called a “position-less position.” It might also be called universal trust. It could also be called “happiness.”

What can we trust? Can we trust Zen? Zen itself prefers not to have doctrinal content. It doesn’t make ontological claims about reality. To end conscious experience and find oneself in or as a new kind of experience, the better question is not: what does this mean about reality? but rather: is this helpful? In other words, to ask not whether this is a map of reality that can be trusted, but rather whether the training itself is trustworthy. Is it pragmatically helpful?

Zen training shows us that various deeply held assumptions which form the bedrock of our sense of reality may not be trustworthy. Rather than replacing them, simply dismantling them and leaving us more open to a wider sense of things, can foster more appreciation and a welling up of desire to be kinder, to care for others a little more. On top of that, if it tends to make us think more rationally and clearly, not less so – it’s easy to argue that it is trustworthy. It’s basically good, but only because of its practice, its method, not because of any doctrine or supposed knowledge it imparts.

Trust matters in another sense too. The earliest Zen poem dates from the late 500’s, and is said to have been written by the third ancestor, Master Sosan, who called it: verses on the heart-mind of faith (or trust). Which points to the way the practice can lead us to trust less in the content of our experience and what kind of reality it might reference, but rather simply in the fact that conscious experience is going on at all. And more so, in the wondrous void that accompanies all experience, and from which all experience is made. There is nothing “to trust.” And that “nothing” is wondrously trustworthy.


Message from Henry is from our November 6, 2017 Newsletter.
Image: Hands by Cocoparisienne, Public Domain CC0 from
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