I started feeling into this post a few days ago. I had some great things to write yesterday and did not get around to the writing. We should all be thankful.

Question: Why did you come to Zen practice, or any spiritual practice for that matter? I would bet that for most of you, the reasons were similar to the reasons that I came to Zen practice. Something was wrong in my life. I felt suffering within my own body. I saw suffering all around me. It hurt and wasn’t fair and I wanted to change this. Past tense does not capture this. Future tense does not capture this. Present tense does not capture this. I want a way to fix these problems. I wanted POTENCY. Some call it authenticity when I believe that they are actually referring to potency.

Potency. Do we need to add a fifth Noble Truth? This is not rhetorical!

Our nirmanakaya Universe is potency. Energy/matter coalescing and blowing asunder and giving life and taking away life. Having emerged from…….     …… This That but what is in between?

I had read Zen stories about masters and sages who seemed completely free and non-plussed. Able to act in ways that seemed to exactly meet the moment. Have an effect upon their students lives. Changing them. Potency. I wanted to be like them. Get me some of that potency and then I’ll show you some changes changing. 

HaHa I sometimes think Trungpa Rinpoche had a picture of me on his altar when he wrote Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism.

These sages all made mention of emptiness as the wellspring of their potency. Emptiness is therefore something that draws our attention. As a spiritual materialist, how do I approach emptiness? How am I going to get a handle on this to get me some potency? Do I sit shikantaza? Do I practice koans? Do I perform liturgical service? Do I perform 10,000 prostrations? Is there a common thread amongst these practices?

I will start the ball rolling by asserting that emptiness is not the same as dharmakaya. Although dharmakaya is not excluded. It is not a feeling of oneness, nor interconnectedness. Although oneness and interconnectedness are not excluded.

Emptiness is calling for my attention. For your attention. 

Is there a relationship between potency and emptiness? Is there a common thread through our Zen practices? I have found that there is a direct throughline emptiness—–potency—–emptiness——practice——-potency——emptiness . I will not tell you what it is, because you will not like what you hear. Truly, you will fight against it. It is better that you discover for yourself. Then we will be hearing the same thing, sharing the one taste, sharing impossible to share.

Dobby hurtles headlong after rabbit into

Dried spiky remnants of last summer’s exuberant greening

Now dessicate perfect home for rabbit mouse weasel

Returning with left front paw held six inches above everything

Except my searching fingers

Thorn plucked, he lunges once again into this unknown

Hours later grinning at the door guarding clean rugs

With mud caked paws and cries in protest

At the warm bath for his moon dancing feet

8 Deep Bows

Zenho (auteur) & Issan

See if Mugen Milazzo is pointing in the same direction in his writing below.

Tokudo Continues 

I’ve been stalling in writing about tokudo, waiting for something concrete to fall out of feelings of loneliness and fear that have been arising lately.  I had a dream that I brought to the dream group recently that evoked those feelings strongly. In the dream, my dog leapt from the cliff of a mountain into a body of water below, leaving me to look over the edge with deep feelings of sorrow, fear, and lingering loneliness, and anxiety too over what was to be done.  I was supported in this dream by a second dog I held in my arms.  The dog who went over the cliff swam around in the water below, asking me to follow.   

Sitting with these feelings of loneliness and fear, I’ve wanted to pin them in place and try to know them by fully ascribing them to something.  I’ve found that I’m heavily invested and attached to the belief that to be alone without anyone to share my life with would be invalidating to my identity and would be a crisis for me.  It’s painful to be with the knot I feel when I sit with these feelings and this idea, I feel desperate to avoid it and not look at it, but I’m also feeling some relief in seeing this belief laid out in front of me for the first time.  Dare I say catching a glimpse of its emptiness?  I can see how my feelings of fear and loneliness have led me to act meanly and stingily so that I’m actively working to manifest being alone, an irony in which I’m also finding a lot of humor.   

I’ve been bearing down on these feelings and allowing them no chance to get air or see the light of day, but I’m hopeful that will change with the help of the sangha and dream practice in particular.  I have really come to love and cherish the dream group. I appreciate all of you in the sangha and your support, this practice is invaluable to me and I hope I honor it in my life.    

I read Dune when I was about 10 and I didn’t understand any of it, but I loved it and I’ve read it numerous times since.  One of the lines from that book came up a few times this past week, “Proper teaching is recognized with ease. You can know it without fail because it awakens within you that sensation which tells you this is something you have always known.”  I don’t know what “proper” means for anyone else, but for me right here and right now, it feels proper to go over the edge of the cliff to explore these things and stay with them; I always knew that too, but didn’t want to look at them.   

Russell Mugen Milazzo

Noah’s Poem of the week

The streetlamp 

lands delicately on my bed in the evening

and I wait once again for 

deliverance into the particularities of my life

into the texture of my lips 

as they sing on my balcony

into my hand

as it holds the vacuum that cleans my rug

what would exhaustion feel like

if I too loved

its particular breath 

as the weekend prepared to rest

Noah Seltzer

SCHEDULE 1/29/2023 – 2/5/2023





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