Posted inHenry's Messages

Message from Henry: A Center?

May 20, 2015

The center is not tethered any more. The bearings and handholds are gone. And that’s just fine.


Zen  has this fantastic range, all the way from ultra mystical to utterly down to earth. Ultimately it can be both, or neither, or we eventually find the two are the same, or we forget one side, or the other side, and there really is only one side. And it welcomes all that. So what is it, in the end?

Mostly we can just say that some peg on which a lot of things were hung has gone. The center is not tethered any more. The bearings and handholds are gone. And that’s just fine. Because the old kind of fixed center has gone, there is no center and the only home is now. Which is a different kind of center. But what is now? What was that center in the first place? What is left?

Zen has this fantastic range because existence itself does. But what actually is existence? What actually exists?

* * *

We have been caught in a false prison. A spell was cast and entrapped us. Then we dissolve the spell through zazen and wake up from the prison and leave it. Then….. But then we have to wake from a new dream, this one called “libertion” – why?  Because when we know we are liberated there is once again a self that knows it. And that self builds a new prison – that self is the prison.

So hard. Another dream to be dissolved. A new spell to break.

What’s the way out?

The way out is quite simple. Basically it is answered by true awakening itself. The question might be asked: awakening to what exactly? When the answer to that is clear, we couldn’t even ask the question: what is the way out.

* * *

It’s a paradox. If there is any consciousness of having had awakening then there is a self. If it’s a deep awakening, it lasts, and it’s even harder to get free of a self that is conscious of it. But there is no other way than forward. Either we stay stuck in awakening or work to free ourselves from it. Into what? And how?

There seems to be only one way: zazen itself. The practice which allowed the space for awakening to occur now must be the space in which it can dissolve. The medicine healed us then became a disease; now the disease itself must be the cure.

So we settle down to the long work. And we need a teacher for this. Otherwise it’s too easy to get stuck in self-approving self-assessment.

* * *

So this is how Buddhas and ancestors are being Buddhas these days. Sitting in offices, waiting at airports, raising kids, working to earn to pay for food and shelter. This is how it’s happening these days. As Manjusri said to Mayoku.

Image Credit: Zen Monk Candle, by Airguy1988, CC BY-ND 2.0. from
Featured Image Credit: Between Red and White, by Hartwig HKD, CC BY-ND 2.0. from

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