Posted inHenry's Messages

Message from Henry: Random Thoughts

December 30, 2014

Causes and conditions are all quietly and peacefully obeying the natural law of Dharma, without agency and without fretting, resistance or objection. 


Peace: this practice is only in part about managing to find ways to calm ourselves. Rather, we let go of ourselves, we see that we ourselves are a fiction, a fabrication, and when we see that, we see that our worries, concerns and aspirations are also fictions.

As Julian of Norwich said: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” We’re released from it all. Then everlasting peace and energy are revealed. It’s not a cultivation. It’s a fact, it’s reality, and it gets revealed.

At the center of the earth there is a ball of iron one mile in diameter revolving at over a thousand miles an hour. Just imagine the amount of energy and power in that.  The Dharma has the power to make that. And far, far more besides. It has made this whole universe in just one blink of its eye.

And yet the actual atomic mass of one human being – if you assembled all the neutrons and protons of the trillion trillion atoms in a human being, and assembled the whole mass of a human, it would be a very small pile in the palm of a hand. Not only that, it would be so slight that it would fall right through your hand – such is the smallness of the mass, and the space inherent in the make-up of the hand holding it.

Engo, who wrote the commentaries on the Blue Cliff Record, said:

Before passing through, it’s all silver mountains and iron walls; after passing through, the self is intrinsically silver mountains and iron walls.


Korean Zen talks about four possible permutations of sudden and gradual practice: sudden cultivation and sudden awakening; gradual cultivation and gradual awakening; gradual cultivation and sudden awakening; sudden cultivation and gradual awakening.

Chinese and Japanese Zen talk about sudden and gradual too. Since the time of Huineng, all Zen has called itself the “Sudden School” – with the northern “gradual” school having died out in the 8th century.

The idea behind separating “awakening” and “cultivation” is that there is not just the actual illumination, the realization of the vast, infinite, single and totally empty fact which is who we intrinsically are – there is also the process by which this realization comes to be experienced and expressed in everything we do, say and think. The cases of both of these processes happening instantaneously, completely and simultaneously – in other words, where sudden awakening and sudden cultivation happen at once – are so rare that they need not concern us.

In fact, of course, no cases of the process of practice need concern us at all except for this very one we are part of right now – this moment right here and now. As we sit at a desk or in a comfortable chair, or in bed, or at a table, reading this: this is our one and only practice.

Take a moment. Look around. Stop reading….. And recognize that the above descriptions are about nothing other than precisely this experience. The one we are having now. “Sudden” actually means “always here.” Not to be encountered through partial or gradual revelation, but immediately and fully present here and now.

“Gradual” means infinite patience with ourselves and with all beings. Not all the buddhas and ancestors, should they decide they wish to, could make a pear ripen one day quicker than it needs to.

Causes and conditions are all quietly and peacefully obeying the natural law of Dharma, without agency and without fretting, resistance or objection.

Because of that, all things are just as they are, and must be. Including we ourselves. Our practice is merely the cultivation of our ability to allow that to be the case, of learning to allow what is.

There’s a secret and great joy hidden in that process, and we are very fortunate to have stumbled into a way to uncover it. Let’s be grateful for that.

Three Treasures Prison Project Update: Each Thursday Pancho will be in Cabin 4 from 4–6pm sorting through papers connected with his work in the State Penitentiary here in Santa Fe. He would welcome any company. If you’d like to drop in and offer some help with the filing, and at the same time find out more about what he is doing in the prison, please feel free to just go ahead and join him in Cabin 4.

Image: Cabin, by Claude05alleva CC0 Public Domain, from

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