Posted inHenry's Messages

Message from Henry: Perfection and Imperfection

February 25, 2015

…the Dharma, the great “fact,” functions flawlessly… It is a “perfect mirror,” as Joshu says.


The best one can reasonably hope for from any system of profound self-enquiry and practice is that for the most part it works. It’s never going to be perfect. The system, the “yoga,” the training, the set of methods and guidance, the tradition and lineage in which we train at Mountain Cloud is surely no exception. There may be better ways out there, who knows. But this one generally seems to work well enough for most people, if followed reasonably diligently.

On the other hand, reality, the Dharma, the great “fact,” functions flawlessly. “The law of cause and effect cannot be obscured,” as Hyakujo says. The Dharma is a “wish-fulfilling jewel.” It is a “perfect mirror,” as Joshu says. “If a foreigner comes, it reveals a foreigner. If a Chinese person comes, it reveals a Chinese person.” It always allows precisely what must arise to arise, as causes and conditions require. The more we discover this reality, the more clearly we allow it, experience it and surrender to it, the more joy, love, energy and peace we will both know, and be able to spread in this world.

At the same time, we can’t help but see the infinite imperfections of this world. Genocide, atrocities of many kinds, flagrant injustices, gross abuses – of people, of animals, of beings of all kinds, and of the earth itself. The world is on fire with the three flames.

From the Zen perspective, the basic reason things are in the mess they are is that we are misled about who we really are. We have these on-board mini-tyrants telling us what we must and must not have, and we believe them. In fact they tend to keep us from getting what we really need, which we already have anyway. It is only the presence of these “inner dictators” that keeps us from knowing our infinite interconnectedness with all beings, and the level of abundance and fulfillment to which we are blessed with in every moment. Therefore from Zen’s point of view, we need to undermine the “reign of terror” imposed by the “misleaders.” Zen offers a path to doing just that. Then, we can live in ways that serve and benefit all beings, in lives of real love and harmony.

That’s the project. Does this mean that once we have clarified ourselves in practice there’s no work to be done? Quite the reverse. Everything may be OK, as Julian of Norwich said (“all shall be well, all manner of thing shall be well”) but because of that, we have all the more work to do, to bring things into line with that fact.

Image: Balance, by realworkhard, CC0 Public Domain photos, from

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