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…and this was the point where this senseless, unworthy, non-meritorious, melancholy, brooding, but all the while sweet-as-honey and vividly convincing prophetic proclamation began to dissolve into a sound of an entirely different order, the words, sentences, voice, speech, morphing into slow gossamer-light increments into a so-called eternal sound of running water… a flurry of words began to whirl again, that the Whole exists in its wholeness, the Parts in their own particularity, and the Whole and the Parts cannot be lumped together, they don’t follow from one another, since the waterfall for example is not composed of individual drops, for single drops would never constitute a waterfall, but drops nonetheless do exist, and how heartrendingly beautiful they can be when they sparkle in the sunlight, indeed how long do they exist? a flash, and they are gone, but they still have time in this almost timeless flash to sparkle…

…perhaps there really is no other day, only this single one, or not even this, which amounts to the same thing now in his quivering brain, and the same holds true in this brain regarding the stories, those too had given his brain a good scare, for in vain there might be ten, a hundred, a thousand million stories day after day in this insane inferno, on that one and only day, or not even then, in vain does this or that happen and keep happening ten, a hundred, a thousand million times in the alleys and major intersections, on this one and only day, or not even then, it’s as if among all those stories only a single one were true, or not even one, so that the succession of days one after another, or the stack of stories mounting up one on top of the other: neither of them holds up, neither exists, one cannot rely on them, cannot rely on anything, here everything operates under the aegis of a raving madness, albeit not at a command from above or below but because each and every element of existence is insane in its own right.”

-László Krasznahorkai
The World Goes On

Mix

Ambiguity is the warp of life, not something to be eliminated. Learning to savor the vertigo of doing without answers or making shifts and making do with fragmentary ones opens up the pleasures of recognizing and playing with pattern, finding coherence within complexity, sharing within multiplicity.”

– Catherine Bateson
Peripheral Visions: Learning Along the Way

You & I

The self is the way we organize reality. It is mutable. Ephemeral. It’s an organizing structure that arises and is always completely embedded in relational reality. It’s never apart from that relational reality. That’s it. It’s pretty simple.

Oftentimes when people hear the teachings of no-self, they think that no self exists, or that no self should exist. But that’s not what it means. The teachings of no-self mean that we are not fixed, we are not permanent, separate, isolated. We are this dynamic reality. We are as Dōgen says: a flower of emptiness. A mutable articulation of reality.

So the teachings of no-self are not aimed at erasing ordinary personality or diminishing our worth, our needs, our vitality.

The self is not a problem to be solved or an obstacle to be obliterated. Quite the opposite. The teachings are about liberation from constricted states of suffering. Liberation from the delusions that we have about the self. They aim for our full participation, with kindness and clear thinking. 

It’s also true that when we let these teachings sink in, when we allow them to touch us, they are deeply, deeply challenging. Because they ask us to risk a new way of being…

Releasing the hold on the self is a necessary and radical event that is liberating. It is also a process that leaves the practitioner to the edge of the known and beyond. The practice requires a willingness to allow everything on which one has relied and what is most intimately known — the self and one’s notions about the nature of reality — to shift and change.

If we look closely at this process, we find the ability to allow it is intimately linked with our experience of trust. And it requires an encounter with trust. Ultimately, it requires trust in life itself.

-Rev. Dr. Daijaku Judith Kinst
SF Zen Center