Our basic nature, our natural state, is awareness; emptiness and cognizance, indivisible.
No matter if we are a deluded sentient being or a buddha our essential nature is the same. The difference is knowing. When we first begin our practice, we are deep in conditioned thinking, assumptions, cleverness, ego and intellect. This is actually an enlightened state as it is the part of the whole, the beginning of the journey. This is where and how we begin to recognize our conditioning and resolve to enact change through practice.
At some point in our practice, maybe through an interaction with a teacher or another sangha member maybe when we’re in deep zazen or working with a dream/koan, we experience a small kensho (realization). Could be anything, really, and right there we catch a glimpse of our natural state. “What’s THAT?!” we wonder. It may be delicious, scary, boundless, relaxed. Like a huge, totally relaxing exhalation.
But as the Sandokai says, “Encountering the absolute is not yet enlightenment.” Merely recognizing our natural state is not enough. Each of us must practice, slowly gaining stability in our recognition of our natural state, and slowly, like good habit, we recognize it more frequently, more readily. It’s always there but we are habitually distracting ourselves with our thoughts, assumptions, grasping, aversions, opinions, in short, our delusional thinking.
How do we practice realizing our natural state of Emptiness and Cognizance? This is not the result of using the mind to purse a result. Doing so will only result in more cleverness, more conditioned thinking, more assumptions and ultimately, greater delusion. Remarkably enough, there is a liminal yet numinous thread, that need not, cannot be grasped at, but only gently noticed. Ah ha! We sense it. We practice recognizing it, we become aware of it as our natural state, thoughtless and perfectly at ease. Aware of it! Like a light warm breeze on your cheek, the caress of a leaf as you walk in the forest, the fleeting scent of Earth’s perfume on the wind, something barely noticed, ephemeral. It appears. That’s it! When we notice this, just notice it, it becomes slightly stronger each time, gaining stability in us. Little by little we begin to realize through practicing that it’s always there. We begin to be able to rest into it. Abiding in naturalness, dwelling in awareness. We are experiencing our natural state, Empty Cognizance.
As this stability increases so too does our experience and realization of Oneness. The connectedness of all being, sentient and insentient and our essential Buddha nature.
Padmasambhava said in the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo:
“Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state.
When not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present.”
MONDAY, 6:30AM: ZAZEN AT THE TEA HOUSE
MONDAY, 7PM, DREAM KOAN AT THE TEA HOUSE OR ZOOM
WEDNESDAY, 6:30AM: ZAZEN AT THE TEA HOUSE OR ZOOM
THURSDAY, 6:30AM: SADHANA AT THE TEA HOUSE OR ZOOM
DOKUSAN WITH ISSAN SENSEI
FRIDAY, 6:30AM: ZAZEN AT THE TEA HOUSE
DOKUSAN WITH ZENHO SENSEI
What a wonderful Cosmic Union ceremony for our sangha members Sebastiaan and Madison! Congratulations! We are so happy for you and wish you expansive joy and unfathomable love in your union!
Deep Peace, Great Love,
Issan and Zenho