Our corruption is that we are cut off from the universe

This is Kodo Sawaki, as quoted in Brad Warner’s blog.

People only grow angry because they think of their body as a possession. Yet the Sutras talk about it, all they say is that it is a big bag of stinking skin. When somebody in a rage shouts, “What do you take me for?” or “Who do you think you’re talking to?” I think to myself, “To a big bag of stinking skin.”

Human beings tear each other apart because of their opinions, politicians tear each other apart, husband and wife tear each other apart. The whole world is full of tearing. Why? Just because of the vanity of our egos.

Even monks and nuns and priests tear each other apart. Is there life after death? Is the soul eternal or not? All of that is nothing but trivial jokes, ego stories. If we stop paying attention to the ego, such nonsense as eternity or not eternity ceases to exist, for the soul.

This degenerate world is the reason why professional liars succeed today. But if we observe impermanence, there were no more lies, and where there are no more lies religion appears.

You can see your image in the mirror, but how do you see the mind that not even a mirror can reflect? It’s possible in zazen. Nothing reveals the ego like zazen. The purer the zazen, the more transparent, the better you can see the illusions of your ego.

Our corruption is that we are cut off from the universe, and our illusion is that we confuse the cut-off ego with the one that, originally, is not separate from the cosmic system. The roots of that true ego are the same as those of sky and earth, the same body and same mind as all sentient beings.

This is true religion, which has no right side or wrong side, no inside or outside, is transparent from sky to earth, is the secret of Zen. Everything must become completely transparent, me and you, past and present and future. In terms of reality this means that our life today, our attitude now, gives life to the past.

If our attitude is false and then all those who have fed us and taught us, all those we have met and known, have acted solely in order to produce that falseness. If our attitude is right, whatever they have done they did solely in order to produce that rightness. The limits of the Self are truly beyond any imagining, and fill the sky, earth, and the whole universe.

In terms of religious faith, space and time and have nothing to do with it. It is only right now that we can use this ordinary human body to practice zazen with Shakyamuni, with the Buddhas of the whole universe in ten directions, practice zazen with the mountains, rivers, and trees. That’s why I practice zazen.

Sitting like this is what makes up the self become transparent, makes us able to see without any limits, in harmony with sky and earth, and it is what gives the self a total vision of the whole universe. That is the way of silent sitting and the principle of shikantaza.


A few years ago, I was sitting at my desk in work. It was during the summer, which is a relatively quiet time for us. It was probably round about 11.30 or so, and I was almost certainly just idly browsing the internet. I can’t remember really what I was doing, or what I was specifically looking at online.

I then noticed an odd sensation: a low, but gradually rising feeling of energy or electricity inside me. If it were a sound, it would have been in the distance, but getting closer. As it grew stronger, it felt like it was gathering in my chest/stomach, and gathering energy from the extremities of my body: my limbs and head. It got stronger and stronger. At a certain point it began to feel overwhelming, I could not longer ignore it. I sat back in my chair, gripped the arms of my chair and began to breath heavily. It felt like a big ball of energy was amassing in my torso. I actually began to feel afraid: like a balloon inside me was about to burst.

At a certain point it reach “critical mass”, and felt like it burst out of me.I felt like a massive wave of energy had exploded out of my body and into the world. As soon as this happened, the feeling was released. My breathing gradually returned to normal, and I calmed down.

The Most Beautiful Death.

Letters of Note has a letter from Laura Huxley describing her husband’s death.

“the breathing became slower and slower, and there was absolutely not the slightest indication of contraction, of struggle. it was just that the breathing became slower – and slower – and slower, and at five-twenty the breathing stopped.

I had been warned in the morning that there might be some up-setting convulsions towards the end, or some sort of contraction of the lungs, and noises. People had been trying to prepare me for some horrible physical reaction that would probably occur. None of this happened, actually the ceasing of the breathing was not a drama at all, because it was done so slowly, so gently, like a piece of music just finishing in a sempre piu piano dolcemente. I had the feeling actually that the last hour of breathing was only the conditioned reflex of the body that had been used to doing this for 69 years, millions and millions of times. There was not the feeling that with the last breath, the spirit left. It had just been gently leaving for the last four hours.”

Philip K. Dick sees through the scenery.

In this interview, Philip K. Dick describes a breakthrough he had when “probing the phenomenal” world.

I have one search and one search only. Let me preface it by saying that I use to search for personal happiness, fulfillment and joy. Since all those things have been denied me, and it’s obvious that they will never happen, I also hope to make a lot of money, but that’s also been denied me. And yet by default one search which I will never give up on and which I feel is within my power to succeed at and is to determine once and for all, to my own satisfaction – not necessarily to the satisfaction of anyone else, but to my own satisfaction – what is the actual nature of reality around us as compared, as contrasted to the apparent, evident, phenomenological reality that we perceive. I have, as you know, written about this for 27 years, in the form of questions. I’ve probed the phenomenal world looking for something behind it, which is why I took LSD. I only took LSD three times and didn’t find any answers through it, so I gave up on that.

But within the last three and a half years, for reasons which I do not know, I made a fantastic breakthrough to a perception of what appears to me to be, I mean what I construe to be, the actual world, in a sense that Plato distinguished the real world from the merely evident world, or empirical world. But I made a fantastic breakthrough. I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know what caused it. But since then I have done nothing but attempt to develop a coherent explanation of what I saw. That is, it is nothing that I thought, it is not an idea. It is actually a perception. The model would be as follows. Let’s say that we are all sitting in a theater watching a live play. And for some reason, it doesn’t matter what reason, we are all so naïve that we think that the play is factually true, that it’s real, it’s not a play. And we’re sitting there, and we’ve watched maybe two acts, and we believe that the actors are the characters that they’re performing. We believe the characters are real. Let’s say it’s a play about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and there’s an actor with a beard, and he’s playing Lincoln. And we really believe he’s Lincoln, you know, and this other guy is John Wilkes Boothe. And we’re sitting there and we’re watching this, and we believe that it’s all real. And all of a sudden, the whole back scenery falls over flat. And now that we see stagehands, with robes and dice and people half in costume and somebody studying their script. Well, this is a –


Right, right. Exactly. Lights and sandbags to counterweight the curtain. Then immediately about sixteen hundred people rush up and push all the scenery back up on the stage and hope that the audience happened to all be asleep at that moment.

Well, this is what happened to me in regards to the phenomenal world, that for a period of about three and a half days it was as if the scenery had, for some reason, fallen over flat, revealing to me the nature of the reality behind it. But the reality behind it was so different from the phenomenal world, that I couldn’t use language to describe it. That is, I could not find words. I can’t say I saw X, Y, Z – here inserting some semantic associative. And I’ve taken about 300,000 words of notes on it, and done tremendous research. Because I feel if it happened to me it must have happened to somebody else. I can’t be the only person in the entire history of human consciousness to have ever seen the world as it really is. I’ve discovered, for instance, that Plotinus, the neo-Platonist, had this experience. That some of the Sufi have had this experience. And some of the Christian Mystics, like Origen, have had this experience. And Driesch, the German vitalist philosopher, and Bergson. I find indications in India, especially in the Hindu religion, in Brahmanism. Emerson appears to have had this experience. Wordsworth appears to have had this experience. And it doesn’t resemble anything, very closely, that I’ve ever read by even such people as the father of Alexandria. You know, it’s a little like Plato. That is why I gave the image of watching a play. You can say it’s similar to Plato’s image of the pictures shown on the walls of the cave.

In three and a half years of reflecting on my experience and doing research, all I have learned is that it has something to do with time, that apparently time is not what we think it is. It’s something else. There’s a new Soviet theory about time, by Kozyrev, Dr. Nikolai Kozyrev, the great Soviet astrophysicist. His theory is that time has an energy, that it’s the primary energy of the universe. He says time is an energy poured into a material system and the material system is the universe. Well, apparently what happened is I got rephased in terms of linear time in such a way that, instead of linear time flashing by me like the frames in a movie projector flash by, I got past the progressiveness of linear time and saw things outside of their temporal progressions.

Digital Thanka

I saw this image one day in a vision whilst meditating – a giant Amitabha Buddha in a city, with a huge cosmos behind, so I thought i’d mock it up. Turned out well.

Amida Buddha

Richard Baker’s eulogy for Alan Watts

The culmination of the ceremony was the eulogy by Richard Baker. Using the dharma names he’d given Watts and holding Watts’ jangling staff, which he’d inherited from Suzuki, he spoke:

“Alan, Daiyuin Yuzan Myoko, Daizen Jomon, here is your lineage from Buddha through the Buddhas and Patriachs to you. Alan Watts was a philosopher, a poet, a calligrapher, a lover, a friend, a dharma reveller, a revealer, a great founder of the spirit for all of us.

He was the true emptiness of all things. He taught us to be free. To see through the multiplicities and absurdities to the Great Universal Personality and Play. He gave us the Dharma Eye of a new age. Our blessings go with you now.

Wide Mind, Joyous Mind, Careful Loving Mind. For the true life is beyond life and death, origination, and extinction. We are with you in the many paths you opened for us. HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Go! Go! Great Hermit! Great Founder!”

From David Chadwick in the latest issue of Shambhala Sun.

See also: Alan Watts and Trungpa Rinpoche and Suzuki Roshi on Alan Watts.

insignificance is liberating.

I understand that people, melodramatically, may consider life something one has to survive. But you’re alive, that’s what life is, you are surviving. It plays into this idea that people’s lives are narratives – that it’s a film or book and you have to survive all this craziness. I think it’s a disservice, ultimately, because it makes others feel like their lives aren’t crazy enough. In my mind, life is not a war – although human beings create conditions that make it feel that way – and I think that navigation is a fairer term. I see life essentially as an empty field.

This recent Ian Mackaye interview speaks so much to me I don’t know where to begin quoting. It’s wall to wall wisdom. It has the feeling of a Dharma talk – much of what Ian says vibes with my own thoughts as influenced by Buddhism.

We only wake up for a limited number of days. Although, ironically, I would say life is eternal, because I don’t think there’s any comprehension before or after it. So, if all we know is this, then it’s eternal.

He touches on success, life and technology…. Very much worth your time reading.

Alan Watts and the problem of “self-love”

You often hear the idea being bandied about that

“You cannot begin to love others, until you first love yourself”

I’ve never really given it much thought, but have always been vaguely suspicious of it. I guess I can see some logic in it – like the principle of tending to your own oxygen mask before helping others, but was always troubled by the idea of “loving yourself”, which seems self-indulgent and egotistical.

It also solidifies and centralises the self first and foremost, which perversely is what creates the ‘other’ that we must then choose to love or hate. But if we were to remove the self, we could undo the entire equation. No self = no other.

Alan Watts hit upon this towards the end of “The Wisdom of Insecurity”. The entire book is, like most of his work, a treatise on the Eastern concepts of what is the self, and how a solidified “I” is the cause of much of our suffering (Go read it. Now.) When he is talking about the implications for morality of such a world view he begins to untangle the equation.

The undivided mind is aware of experience as a unity, of the world as itself, and that the whole nature of mind and awareness is to be one with what it knows, suggests a state that would usually be called love. For the love that expresses itself in creative action is something much more than an emotion. It is not something which you can “feel” and “know,” remember and define. Love is the organizing and unifying principle which makes the world a universe and the disintegrated mass a community. It is the very essence and character of mind, and becomes manifest in action when the mind is whole.

(By “the undivided mind” or “the mind as whole”, he means when we realise our unity with the present moment and cease trying to fortify an “I” as opposed to reality).

There is no problem of how to love. We love. We are love, and the only problem is the direction of love, whether it is to go straight out like sunlight, or try to turn back on itself like a “candle under a bushel.”

Released from the circle of attempted self-love, the mind of a human draws the whole universe into its own unity as a single dewdrop seems to contain the entire sky.

A mind that is single and sincere is not interested in being good, in conducting relations with other people so as to live up to a rule. Its interest is not in itself, but in the people and problems of which it is aware; there are “itself”.

Everyone has love, but it can only come out when they are convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love themselves.


It comes only in the awareness that one has no self to love.

(Edited slightly to make it gender neutral)