Life affirming non-duality / Moving effortlessly as the flow of mindfulness becomes us as we begin to live as our true selves… It’s no secret. We are to live our lives as if we have already arrived.

At first capturing and then becoming one with the universal flow of nature and energy as expressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his famous quote that urged on the transformation to transcendental thought.

“That law of nature whereby everything climbs to higher platforms, and bodily vigor becomes mental and moral vigor. The bread he eats is first strength and animal spirits; it becomes, in higher laboratories, imagery and thought, and in still higher results, courage and endurance. This is the right compound interest; this is capital doubled, quadrupled, centupled; man raised to his highest power. The true thrift is always to spend on the higher plane; to invest and invest, with keener avarice, that he may spend in spiritual creation and not in augmenting animal existence.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life

One of the interesting similarities and differences between Emerson, Zen and Advaita Vedanta is how we look at mindfulness. While mindfulness, a Zen practice, is seen as simply the practice to witness our thoughts, feelings & emotions during life situations, this can be limited based on the tradition of Advaita Vedanta. It’s like seeing different sides to the same coin with the destinations now the same. In zen enlightenment it’s about coming to see reality just as it is, with perfect clarity. For myself, that  clarity comes with a sense of flowing with what the outcome will be.

Advaita Vedanta, literally, “non-duality” is a school of Hindu philosophy and “spiritual experience.” The term Advaita refers to the idea that Brahman alone, pure consciousness, is ultimately real, the phenomenal transient world is an illusory appearance (maya) of Brahman, and the true self, atman, which is self-luminous pure awareness, is identical with Brahman. In this view, our individual self, is a mere reflection of singular Atman in a multitude of apparent individual bodies.

And in Advaita Vedanta it’s about knowing who you are in the absolute sense, self-realization or knowing yourself as the supreme identity. The reason that self-realization and zen enlightenment are one is because the very moment you know who you are, is the exact moment you see reality just as it is with perfect clarity… as non-duality. With consciousness, or the way the  human mind is constructed, you will see that it’s made up of grasping, analyzing, interpreting, and doing. How to move past this to assurances of the outcome moves us to thoughts of being “beyond the beyond”.  To places we cannot see or intrinsically know.

Not making waves as we enter the universal flow of things content to simply add to the waves already present. To be content in/or as the flow we are creating. Satisfied in a world with no contention present.  To simply “do by being”. Looking to mindfulness, our mind will naturally wonder as we ask, “What can I get from enlightenment or self-realization?” If you look throughout history a common mind-set has been the law of cause and effect. If I just ‘do’ mindfulness enough, I will receive on the other end. This self-actualizing paradigm of analyzing how life will look if I just do A B C long enough. Of course, it’s not that simple.

With practice, the most natural, most effortless watching of our thoughts will arise. It will almost feel to some degree that you as a person with a history, a past or sense of separate self will no longer exist. Will no longer be aware of having a body, or a mind, or any reference point of existing. All that will be aware to you, is awareness itself. There are things that we do that feel effortless, but until we have grounded in true effortlessness will we have a real reference point for what that even means. As if we are “following in our own footsteps”.

You will see without looking at a peripheral view of your immediate surroundings. This is also known as the screen of consciousness. It is arising formlessness, which is without borders, without division, without grasping, analyzing, interpreting, thinking, or reference point of anything learned. And on a human level the brain will enter its most effortless state. A release throughout the body will be a relaxed cellular aliveness beyond your wildest imagination. The deepest relaxed intensity of this cellular aliveness, because of knowing who you are, seeing reality just as it is with perfect clarity is Nirvana. Understanding that there is no place to go because you are already present.

As stated earlier we begin with our conduct as an expression of our motivation. This idea has been the thread of the King of Meditation Sutra we have been following. What is the circle of life, but what moves us beyond where we now sit that further defines our presence? Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, Lao Tzu, and others continues below in Chapter Ten, representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together.

In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Buddhist teachings on the essence of Meditation / Chapter 10 Victorious Meditation… a continuing commentary.

In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Chapter 10 Victorious Meditation

Key thoughts: Letting go and living with victorious/virtuous behavior – or following in the footsteps of our own highest selves.

  1. Letting go and living through virtuous behavior as you cast away conceptions, as you let go of definitions and characteristics of objects you learn freedom. To what Confucius would refer to as living as intent with  benevolence and virtue.

Offerings at the Confucius Temple in Qingdao.

  1. Your conduct and virtuous nature always come first in dealings with others and serves as what defines you. Just as you emulate and mirror the conduct, cultivation, and effort of the bodhisattvas with both internal and external conditions that support a meditative practice.
  2. The three pillars of practice are 1) emptiness, 2) absence of characteristics, and 3) wishlessness that serve to move us beyond mere inconsequential life or existence to what may be referred to as calm abiding.
  3. Emptiness takes us past the four extremes of: 1) existence, 2) nonexistence, 3) both, and 4) emptiness transcends conceptual grasping altogether. It is the first step that takes us to fulfillment, enlightenment, and transcendence. 
  4. The Buddha tells us that to sustain the view of emptiness is to become free of the effort of maintaining samadhi (the highest form of meditation and mindfulness), yet to remain in samadhi. To what is known as effortless sustaining by freeing our mind of the confusion of the mundane world. Thus, finding contentment as we let anger and confusion pass us by.
  5. We do this by focusing on the teachings of the Buddha and for myself Lao Tzu. Buddhist meditation is naturally centered on the Buddha, and for many that begins with the image of the Buddha. That he radiates love and wisdom and that he directs his gaze at you. He is free of judgment, compassionate, and omniscient (having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding, perceiving all things). His wisdom and light radiate out to you and all beings. In all your activities visualize that the Buddha is looking down on you.
  6. Those who are compassionate and inquire about things with wisdom know all past and present phenomenon to be empty and that we are to abide with things as they are without clinging.
  7. Visualizing that the blissful nature of the Buddha is not separate from ourselves, is unconditional and causeless, and the same as our own. With this we dissolve into nothing important outside of own innate nature as all that remains is emptiness. This allows us to simply live within what we already know as virtue.
  8. We are to abide in contentment letting any perceived anger not get a foothold on our thoughts letting them pass through us. Practice seeing your mind as an observer with the absence of characteristics. With this wishlessness naturally comes forward, seeing this, you have no desire, no anger, and no ignorance. We learn not to cling to an inconsequential lifestyle and existence.

In The Way of Complete Perfection, the Taoist Anthology, a commentary on the Qingjing jing, discusses finding the flow of the universe and staying within its realm as follows: Heaven attains unified clarity; earth attains unified serenity; and humans attain unified numinosity. (What I would refer to as superior power of discernment; even enlightened intelligence). All of this is unified spirit. The source of numinosity is then completely penetrated as what is known as the sacred Tao that circulates through us and becomes pervasive. Even to referencing Chapter Ten in my own version of the Tao Te Ching leading the way to stillness as the knowing sage.

  1. We live as if a reflection of the moon on a clear lake as the mirror of our own reality. The reflection we see nothing but an illusion of our real selves. (Reference to chapter 9 King of Meditation Sutra.) There is a story about a famous poet of ancient China named Li Bai, who was drunk after drinking too much plum wine who fell out of a boat in the middle of a lake. He saw the moon’s reflection in the lake and tried to reach out and touch the illusion. He drowns.
  2. Desiring to attain samadhi, one observes how the three poisons of attachment, aversion, and ignorance are dependent on the six objects of the senses. When you encounter these objects: form, sound, smell, taste, feeling, and phenomenal experience, you engage in the continuity of karma. If you understand they are but an illusion, you will not become attached to them, and most importantly you will not continue the cycle of samsara.
  3. How is it that the aspiring bodhisattva masters the essential wisdom of the insubstantiality of all phenomena?

We need to fully understand and know that all phenomena are substanceless, essenceless, uncharacterized, undefined, unborn, unceasing, unwritten, empty, primordially peaceful, and naturally pure. (From Chapter 8 King of Meditation Sutra.)

  1. We begin by residing in our innate nature by letting go of extremes, recalling that our true nature is empty, and that a buddha has let go of all extremes.
  2. It is insight meditation that maintains our conduct and wisdom, with this we follow the Dharma and tame our mind in the correct way. The true nature is empty, it is peaceful, and is stainless. In the realization of emptiness, there is no conceptual thought as there are no concepts to cling to. If appearances cannot be established, then there can only be illusion. Those who attain the realization and essence of this understanding are considered a buddha.

For comparison’s sake, I like the reference to the Advaita Vedanta, “non-duality”, and a school of Hindu philosophy and “spiritual experience.” What can or does this mean to us? For those following this… God is the one who creates the universe when he wishes, maintains the universe till he wishes, and the universe dies only with his wish only. Everything in the universe, even the non-living things and mass celestial bodies like the planets, galaxies, solar systems are created by the god and are in existence through him and his permission only. The supreme god is the source of all beings, they are born through him and his desire. God is also their destiny and ultimate resting point as they will be returning to God himself. Dharma is the duty and the right that one needs to do for their own betterment as well as the betterment of other people. It is the right act not from the individual – but from the universal point of view.

  1. It is while in meditation with the absence of clinging we realize this nature for the benefit of all beings as any conceit of the meditator falls away. This is samadhi, where our fearlessness resides, where conceit and grasping ends in truth with ultimate freedom found to rest in meditation without believing in anything beyond the teachings of the Buddha, and for myself, Taoism and Lao Tzu.
  2. It is in abandoning conceit that we understand that realization depends on first thinking that my view is better than your view and becoming inflated by the purity of our own conduct is not appropriate to the path we are choosing to follow. Selflessness resides in emulating and following our innate empty nature.
  3. The key to moving beyond conceit and ego is the Dharma where our essential nature is tied to the stars, the universe, and the cosmos. We are everywhere because we have been everywhere. We are to become and speak for the Dharma. While the words of the Buddha are sacred, even more sacred are the words of enlightened beings as they move through the world with words and actions that are perfectly suited to fit our environment and current situation. By connecting with the radiance and realization of the Buddha – you become the Buddha. Ultimately with training, your role is to speak for the universe, to abide in what is known as dharmakaya.
  4. Training in our buddha-nature means coming to rest as if returning to the stars in the sky like dharmakaya. To return to our natural self, as if returning to what is known as nonmeditation, to where right and wrong do not exist, good and bad – the whole approach to dualism does not exist. As simple as sitting in emptiness as our essential nature. Here we can abandon samsara as our mind becomes luminous.
  5. When we realize the empty nature of the mind, this is when wisdom comes forth as an awakened state indivisible from Shakyamuni Buddha that is the essence of all phenomena. When our persona precedes us, we can then eliminate attachment, liberate aversion, and move beyond ignorance.
  6. Unfolding our innate wisdom we have always known, but seemingly forgotten remains the key to our eternal presence we are here to acknowledge and return to. To practice nonmeditation means we accede to our highest self. Placing our mind on the form of the Buddha. To rest in calm abiding and knowing that we are never separate from the Buddha’s nature. It is here that great understanding becomes us as we live as if we have already arrived at our final destination.



By 1dandecarlo

Living in Zen – Reflecting thoughts of the cosmos and eternity with a joyful spiritual presence and mindfulness as we gain an appreciation of samadhi. While taking others to places they might not otherwise go…

The key is remembrance. Whether it’s remembering to come back to the present moment, recalling the truth of impermanence, or who we have always been and are still yet to become. We are reminded of images of our past as our continuing presence and what is yet to be determined.

Picture of Dan in Qufu standing next to place known as “Confucius Hill” along the Xiaoyi River where Confucius is said to have taught his students more that 2500 years ago. Confucius romanticized name is Kong. Because I was a teacher in Qufu and my respect for Confucius, in China I became known as Kongdan. Hence… the Kongdan Foundation.

Our practice (the Buddhist word for how we live moment to moment) is living in transparency. Having a mindful presence. Becoming fearless in both life and death. We all know that we’re going to die, but we don’t know it in our guts. If we did, we would practice, i.e., live as if our hair were on fire. One way to swallow the bitter truth of mortality and impermanence—and get it into our guts—is to consider the four reminders. That we are not here under the auspicious of legitimizing our path, while de-legitimizing the path of another. The ultimate meaning of becoming transparent. The four reminders, joined with mindfulness meditation, instill a strength of mind that benefits both self and others.

The four reminders, or the four thoughts that turn the mind, are an important preparation for death because they turn the mind from constantly looking outward to finally looking within.

These reminders, also called the four reversals, were composed by Padmasambhava, the master who brought Buddhism from India to Tibet. They can be viewed as representing the trips Siddhartha took outside his palace that eventually transformed him into the Buddha. During these trips, Siddhartha encountered old age, sickness and death, and developed the renunciation that turned his mind away from the distractions and deceptions of the outer world and in toward silence and truth. They help us keep moving more and more in line with what’s real and true, as opposed to getting continually sidetracked and distracted by what’s easy, convenient, or what we think we want based on external influences.

As with mindfulness itself, the four reminders provide another way to work with distraction. They bring the key instruction from The Tibetan Book of the Dead to not be distracted to a more comprehensive level. The four reminders show us that it’s not just momentary distraction that’s problematic but distraction at the level of an entire life. If we’re not reminded, we can waste our whole life. The Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche presented them this way:

FIRST Contemplate the preciousness of being so free and well favored. This is difficult to gain and easy to lose. Now I must do something meaningful.

SECOND The whole world and its inhabitants are impermanent. In particular, the life of beings is like a bubble. Death comes without warning; this body will be a corpse. At that time, the dharma will be my only help. I must practice it with exertion.

THIRD When death comes, I will be helpless. Because I create karma, I must abandon evil deeds and  always devote myself to virtuous actions. Thinking this, every day I will examine myself.

FOURTH The homes, friends, wealth, and comforts of samsara are the constant torment of the three sufferings, just like a feast before the executioner leads you to your death. I must cut desire and attachment and attain enlightenment through exertion.

How long should we contemplate these reminders? Until our mind turns. Until we give up hope for samsara (the worldly cycle of birth and death) and realize the folly of finding happiness outside of ourselves. Most of us spend our lives looking out at the world, chasing after thoughts and things. We’re distracted by all kinds of objects and rarely investigate the mind that is the ultimate source of these objects. If we turn our mind and look in the right direction, however, we will find our way to a good life… and a good death. Instead of being carried along with the external constructs of mind, we finally examine the internal blueprints of mind itself. How is it we are to live – as we become fearless.

As stated earlier we begin with our conduct as an expression of our motivation. This idea has been the thread of the King of Meditation Sutra we have been following. What is the circle of life, but what moves us beyond where we now sit that further defines our presence? Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, Lao Tzu, and others continues below in Chapter Nine, representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together.

In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Buddhist teachings on the essence of Meditation / Chapter 9 Finding joy in samadhi… a continuing commentary.

Key thought: To cultivate awakening with a joyful presence.

  1. The King of Meditation Sutra stresses our focus should be on joyful effort with an emphasis on awakening within the context of samadhi. The bodhisattvas are to cultivate this samadhi to see and act beyond themselves.
  2. How do we define samadhi for our own growth and change? (The term ‘samādhi’ derives from the roots ‘sam-ā-dhā’, which means ‘to collect’ or ‘bring together’, and thus it is often translated as ‘concentration’ or ‘unification of mind’.)  How do we create the perfect union of the individualized soul with infinite spirit, a state of oneness, complete absorption? Samadhi means many things to many people.

It is an experience of divine ecstasy as well as of superconscious perception where the soul perceives the entire universe. In other words, human consciousness becomes one with cosmic consciousness. The soul realizes that it is much more than the conditioned body. Christian saints have previously described this experience as “mystical marriage,” in which the soul merges into God, soul, and spirit and becomes one with Him. Mystical marriage or spiritual marriage (also espousal to Christ) is a figure used to denote the state of a human soul living intimately united to God through grace and love.

  1. Throughout history people have tried to realize the ultimate meaning of samadhi and live within the trajectory of what nourishes our highest aspirations. Understanding that whatever can be the truth can be our teacher. The ancient shaman taught our connection to the stars, nature, and our surroundings would be what defined our own history as we live within the constraints of this wisdom.
  2. It begins with our merit for all fear to melt away and the realization of our commitment to dawn from within. Therefore, wisdom from the teachings of the Buddha and others we have studied and gained insight from is critical. The Buddhist always recognizes that what is left undone in this life will/can be done in the next life. This assurance allows us to work on merit that moves us to a higher realm of consciousness and to become emblematic of transcendence. To rest assured with who we have always been and will always be.
  3. It is walking the path without doubt that enables us to know what we need to do and live in the world with this understanding. It is this that guides our meditation practice with clarity and sincerity towards our own life and the lives of others. With this we learn the impermanence of all phenomena in nature, the laws of cause and effect, and reasons why staying in samsara is not for us.
  4. It is as if we are trading what we think we know, for the comfort found in what we do not but would if we could. We inspire ourselves through a practice that takes us beyond anything we can imagine. It is here we consider the Tibetan word for diligence as joyful effort that results in pure insight as the ultimate expression of our own divinity.
  1. Ultimately, the question becomes “what is our mindset and where are we doing it from, who are we and where do we go from here?” There is a transformation of consciousness that we look to at some point with exertion becoming necessary if we are to be transformed. The King of Meditation Sutra tells us that if we are to stabilize samadhi, we must remain committed to the process. What we then find is joy by integrating instructions we receive into a meditative and mindful practice.
  2. Is it as Ram Dass says, that if you are happily ignorant in the present perhaps enlightenment is not something you are interested in pursuing knowing you are embraced by the buddhas. Since this is about Buddhism, Taoism, and Zen, the diligence needed or spoken here may not for everyone. In “following the bodhisattva path where we gain their blessings and qualities”, we not only help others along the way, but also help ourselves develop towards attaining enlightenment. If this is not fitting with our life choices and they lead elsewhere, then we should look elsewhere.
  3. Taking the path of meditation and mindfulness is not one for the fainthearted. It requires work. For many it is referred to as a practice. It is not something we do… it becomes who we are. It is how we live with structure and compassion encompassing all those that have been discussed in the chapters preceding this one. It is about persistence, training, and learning about ourselves.
  4. We look to the benefits of following the King of Meditation Sutras and other teachings over the centuries that show us the way. What are the values of the sutras? They provide a description of advantages of practice gained over thousands of years, along with accounts of those who have made the Dharmic journey. I have been to numerous Buddhist Temples and Monasteries, museums with artifacts dating thousands of years, the Longman grottoes, Giant Leshan Buddha, throughout China, plus Lhasa, Tibet, and more, as inspired and illustrated throughout this endeavor. Telling the story that was a purpose in my travels.
  5. Traveling with Lieh, Chuang, and Lao Tzu and writing books about the I Ching, Taoism, and the role of the sage, has given me a perspective to become re-acquainted with my peers as if becoming a sage is simply not enough. Studying the ways of bodhisattvas is essential as well… knowing our place and what we do when we arrive.
  6. What is important is being guided by both aspiration and inspiration. I am reminding of how over the centuries Buddhism and Taoism came together in China. In a famous commentary of Chapter 16 of the Tao Te Ching by Te Ch’ing, a Buddhist monk, who lived in the 15th that century reads:

“To know what truly endures is to know that Heaven and Earth share the same root, that the ten thousand things share the same body, and there is no difference between self and others. Those who cultivate this within themselves become sages, while those who practice this in the world become rulers. Rules become rulers by following the Way of Heaven. And Heaven becomes Heaven by following the Tao. And the Tao becomes the Tao by lasting forever.”  

Te Ch’ing established a monastery in the 1500’s at Mount Lao, or Laoshan, on the coast of the Shandong Peninsula where I visited in 2017. (Pictured here) Laoshan is known as one of the birthplaces of Taoism. It is the place where the Complete Perfection School of Taoism developed that is often referred to in these pages.

  1. Chapter 38 of the King of Meditation Sutra says that the bodhisattvas should focus on three areas. First, the exhaustion of afflictive emotions; second, becoming a field of merit; and third, generating roots of virtue with the wish to obtain the wisdom of the buddhas. Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching became the benchmark, with Buddhism’s teachings the fulcrum, and Confucius the overriding structure that made it work over the centuries.

This idea of virtue was the connection between the three competing philosophies in China (Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism). Over the centuries, they merged into a workable framework that allowed each to flourish. A famous picture of Lao Tzu, the Buddha, and Confucius over a vat of vinegar from the Song Dynasty in 1000 BC tells the story.  

  1. It is becoming a field of merit as we rise above negative thoughts and emotions in the mundane world with the teachings of the Buddha that remains the key through virtue and wisdom. In doing so it is important that we accept our own greatness through our power of awareness.
  2. Observing our actions is a central focus of self-awareness, how we control our emotions, how much our thought creates new thoughts, and how much attachment you have considering your own merit. It is from here that we continually focus of the attainment of wisdom. With this we vanquish the negative and ascend the positive through diligence.
  3. To go beyond is to embody both wisdom and virtue. That the teachings of the Buddha, samadhi, and Lao Tzu form the underpinnings of our journey with both our heart and soul fully entrusted to the outcome. When you see yourself on the path rejoice in the power of your vision and ultimate destination.
  4. We are to be active for others sake and our actions reflecting a higher good as we engage in positive activity. Focusing and setting our mind to the thoughts of our mentors. In addition to the Buddha, others come to mind including Lao and Chuang Tzu from Eastern thought and philosophy, as well as Emerson, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in the West. Emulating the thoughts of our mentors should be reflected by our actions. Garnering or gathering merit as we re-discover the flow of the cosmos we have always known.
  5. Set your mind on awakening and loving-kindness through diligence as you gain the quality of your mentors through merit. It is here that we come to know unrelenting joy as we refine diligence by 1) continuously recalling impermanence, 2) tame negative emotions, 3) become a field of merit, and 4) by attaining wisdom.

Living in Zen – Reflecting thoughts of the cosmos and eternity with the essence of joyful spiritual presence, mindfulness, and gaining an appreciation of samadhi while taking others to places they might not otherwise go… as we live and follow in the footsteps of Bodhisattvas.



By 1dandecarlo

We should only see life as it should be with memories and actions that help to shape our identity. Reminded of that old fable about how virtue and patience and the underappreciated tortoise wins the race in the end.  

With trusting in our eternal growth as the key to transformation and transcendence we come to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty our deeper knowing, even when it has not emerged to the top level of our consciousness. It is in knowing who we have always been and are yet to become that defines our eternal presence with goals we may as yet be unaware. As we refrain from anger and self-absorption that can cloud both our virtue and vision.

Moving to places that inner chi and breath can take us with mindfulness defining our presence.

 As we are reminded of impermanence and illusion found in the mundane world. We are to be viewed as engaging in truth with meditation expanding that truth and our conduct as expressing that truth. 

The principles of growth and change found in the Tao providing satisfying conditions that remind us of the journey we are here to resume and continue. For myself, it becomes the ultimate strength of the marriage between Buddhism and Taoism. With sustaining merit found bringing Confucius along for the ride reminding us of what’s found with the eternal underpinnings that steadies and keeps us grounded in the present.

Simply finding the vehicle that propels, or takes us there, as we strive to bring others into liberation as well. While coming to know the principles of merit the essence of how and why we continue. Only our lack of forbearance – patient self-control; restraint and tolerance seeming to keep us from advancing. Moving forward we become one with conditions the prevail rather than resisting against them, while not resigning ourselves to conditions that are not satisfying. It is as if we are here to find solace that gives comfort or consolation and the right starting point with ambitions that match our continuing journey. Endeavoring to find contentment in what makes us content.

To like Paul from the Bible who tells us, I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.”

Our lives appearing as stages that meld and yield wisdom from the past upon which the next  stage is built and the foundation we each build upon. The visible symbol of our realization that who we are represents living in mindfulness; instead of merely a life lived. To see into the divine heart of others and their true nature. Regardless of what people say is right and wrong. Understanding the contradictions keeping us from reality and exploring the meaning of there being more to our purpose than experiencing freedom. Just as our spirit craves longevity, diversity, and nature that supports beneficial growth that takes us and others there as well.

That we are to cease resisting and struggling that define our needless suffering and accept our innate divinity and abundance of resources the universe provides and envelop them as our own presence. What the sage, saint, and shaman have long relayed as our eventual path, or way. Acknowledging our mentors as we go and that there can be no separation because we are all one.

As stated earlier we begin with our conduct as an expression of our motivation. This idea has been the thread of the King of Meditation Sutra we have been following. What is the circle of life, but what moves us beyond where we now sit that further defines our presence?

Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, Lao Tzu, and others continues below in Chapter Eight, representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together. The chapter is divided as with previous chapters into 8A and 8B. Chapter 8B that follows includes numbers 16 through 30. Numbers 1 through 15 preceding this here on my website.

In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Buddhist teachings on the essence of Meditation. Chapter 8 continued: Sixteen through thirty / Bringing others to liberation.

  1. This understanding is what defines the ultimate bodhisattvas vow and that which is useful for bringing others to liberation. To teach only what takes others beyond affliction in accordance with their own unique karma and capacity. As you teach what brought you to your own realization.
  2. One normally begins with looking back at the Four Noble Truths and contemplating what it is that brings us here. They explain the basic orientation of Buddhism. They are the truths understood by those who have attained enlightenment or nirvana. The four truths are dukkha(the truth of suffering); the arising of dukkha (the causes of suffering); the stopping of dukkha (the end of suffering); and the path leading to the stopping of dukkha (the path to freedom from suffering). Dukka is an innate characteristic of existence in the realm of samsara. The final truth, (the path to freedom from suffering), is often associated to what is called the Noble Eightfold Path and is the path leading to renouncement and cessation of dukkha.
  3. Those who know of this refinement and practice, know that it involves cultivating innate nature and life-destiny so that one may fully penetrate principle and pervade the mysterious, what is the unknown, with the Three Teachings referred to as the awakening to the Tao. The Three Teachings refer to Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. (page 196 of The Way of Complete Perfection).

As we acknowledge that what we are trained in is the realization of what we teach. My classroom at Jining University in Qufu.

  1. It is moving beyond the source of affliction that defines if we are truly ready to follow the Buddha. When we can declare victory over doubt, afflictions, incorrect views, and concepts so that we can understand the true meaning of patience.
  2. Meditation is not only how we sit, but continuous, and how we bring samadhi to our lives. Chapter 7 of the King of Meditation Sutra conveys the importance of being free of doubt and having confidence in the Dharma as being the first type of patience. Chapter 7 of the Sutra also relays that with continuous meditation any agitation vanishes and cannot disturb us as the second level of patience.
  3. This leads us to what is known as “calm-abiding” practice helping us to become more stable aiding in watching the weaknesses of others who could use the strength of samadhi in their own lives. Helping us to visualize seeing beyond the mind, to the place where all hope has almost vanished and all expectation ceases. Living in this freedom liberation becomes us as we become the benchmark for others to follow. With this our essence our virtue and the Tao becomes us and all things.

I like to think of the symbol of the ancient dragon that serves to connect all things under and with heaven. Man, simply one of the ten thousand things. To a consciousness connected with all things in the cosmos, or universe, with none more important than the other – nature always having the final say. Our own divine nature having responsibility to and for it all as the ultimate protector. All living and dying in nature’s sway. The ancient shaman and sage following a course of events through eternity that we continue to this day.

  1. It becomes how we move as a mediator for the benefit of others. This highlights for many the difficulty in embracing Buddhism. How is it we are to define moving ourselves to the point where hope vanishes and expectations cease? Where whatever we see appears to be transparent. Ultimately it is like being in the boat or raft crossing the river. Do we continue to the unknown shore unsure of what lies ahead, or return to the shore of what we know and take for granted? Even with observing The Parable of the Raft that is probably one of the most famous parables taught by the Buddha. He compared his own teachings to a raft that could be used to cross the river but should be discarded when one made it safely to the other shore. We are to proceed with what we have learned through our own insight and study.
  2. This is what following in the bodhisattva’s footsteps means. We are to gain wisdom as we cross over so that we land safely on the new shore prepared to take the next step with the goal of furthering our own enlightenment as we guide others as well. We take steps learning the terrain, showing others how to get to a certain point that they can then continue themselves as we give them what they need at the moment. Then move forward again in a continuous cycle. This calm biding practice, often referred to as shamatha, is used to keep us focused.
  3. Attainment of shamatha gives us confidence and strength granting us the ability to bring other sentient beings onto the path. It brings insight to our path, steadiness, and most important, it moves us to understand that the mind is no longer a thing to be influenced – as we move to wisdom and to ultimate transparency. To the place of having the clarity of a mountain-like mind.
  4. Abiding with transparency with others present, it is often difficult to move a person beyond their comprehension with only words. Our focus becomes how our actions move them with what they need at that moment. It is through our patience we learn to act and speak with clarity, intention, and insight. The same Chapter 7 of the Sutra mentioned above says that we must always act with “a mountainlike mind”. These are the qualities of the third level of patience.
  5. Speaking with a “mountainlike mind” one need looks no further than the sage. The sage acts to benefit all under heaven and with virtue found on earth. In Taoism, when we refer to the above it is often as the Tao in the Tao Te Ching. Verse 64 is relayed in the teachings of the sage as Ho Shang Kung who lived in 100AD provides what is called the “first evidence for Taoist meditation” and “proposed concentrative focus on the breath for harmonization with the Tao.”

Continuing… we are to contemplate the context adding from Kung, “Others seek the ornamental. The sage seeks the simple. Others seek form. The sage seeks virtue. Others seek facts and skills. The sage studies what is natural. Others study how to govern the world. The sage studies how to govern himself and how to uphold the truth of the Way.”  (page 129 of Lao Tzu’s Taoteching translated by Red Pine with selected commentaries of the past 2000 years) 

  1. Over time the direction of our lives takes on a life of its own. Doors open and close that move us to our highest endeavor when we stop pushing things in the mundane world letting the flow of the universe just take us there. Finding and following the attributes we already possess is the key to our awakening.

Living in meditation and our essential mindfulness or capturing this flow and attuning our nature with this – is our life’s ultimate endeavor. What we consider as wealth has no meaning until we find our purpose. When we do so, the universe is here to help guide our way. The great vehicle identified in the King of Meditation Sutra outlined here is simply a guide to help open the door.

  1. It is how we act with the coming and going of creative resources that reflects our mind. Buddhism is not against comfort but is against anything other than Dharma (the universal sustenance of all things) that can create lasting satisfaction. It is impermanence and patience that propel us away from delusion to the clarity of wisdom that follows and the essence of reality.
  2. Chapter 7 of the Sutra conveys that what is good for the Buddha is good for the bodhisattvas as well. Their methods and conduct are all practiced by them. This equates as the third level of patience. What is important is the sincerity of our efforts. As if following the ultimate strand of our DNA that connects our essence and ultimate nature to universal law of cause and effect and our own eternal knowing… that which we have always known.

It is here that research, study, and learning of the path and the travails of those over the centuries contributes to both our practice and especially the fullness of our lives. Not only the narrative of the life of the Buddha, and Lao and Chuang Tzu, but the history of those who have followed in Tibet, China, and elsewhere. It is our story too. At their heart, they were storytellers. We should endeavor to recall and learn from them again. Their stories are the key to our learning patience in finding comfort on the path we are here continue and to follow.

  1. As we are known by our presence, it is our sincerity that opens the door and asks us to stay. The key to sincerity being do we possess the ability to be a witness to our own behavior. Over time it is the fruit of our patience that allow us to see and go beyond the beyond. What do we carry with us? It is that our view is engaging in truth. That meditation is expanding truth that exists from within, and our conduct is expressing that truth as we travel in eternity throughout the cosmos. As we learn for ourselves the true meaning of Zen.

Chapter 9 is next following… The way of living in Zen, mindfulness and joyful purpose as we awaken.

By 1dandecarlo

What is it we give our attention to but our conscious awareness and presence we nurture and have always possessed?

Finding joy with just who we are…

What can conscious thought be, but confidence with attention that later becomes our intention? As our intention permeates the vibrations of our eternal presence. Mindfulness is about understanding who we are and moving to our highest aspirations of endeavor and destiny. When you walk in mindfulness, you are in touch with all the wonders of life within you and around you as if all life is a miracle.  This is the best way to practice, with the appearance of nonpractice. You don’t make any effort, you don’t struggle, you just enjoy walking, but it’s very deep.

“My practice,” the Buddha said, “is the nonpractice, the attainment of nonattainment.” In what the Taoists and Lao Tzu, would call wu wei. As if walking beyond the present moment to both what is known and unknown. Finding joy just the same.

Unconcerned with what final destinations look like. In faith of the unknown we proceed with assurances beyond a practice defined in physical and religious terms. To what I like to call “as if living your life beyond the beyond”. Coming to terms with who we are is essential first. Using wise thinking and counsel from our mentors to decide how to handle life’s events, as you cannot limit yourself to continuously being unaware.

Consciousness may never arise – or simply appear as a spark as the universe demonstrates its own presence through the nature of things. Awareness always seems to entail the ability of gaining confidence and knowing what one knows reflecting divine order and to act accordingly. As the Bodhisattva vow permeates our actions and world.

When we speak of mindfulness we generally infer “conscious thought”, perhaps what some may say is known as “having an institutional memory” of past events that help to guide us or assist in taking us there. It becomes the starting point for our imagination combining real and unknown based on what then becomes possible. To what some may refer to as “moving with or in faith”. This ability forms the basis for what we take to be the most direct indication of awareness to where nothing begins or ends. To a continuum we seek that ultimately defines both us and all things. The answer always lying in understanding contradictions of life’s true nature.

When we observe the absence of this knowledge involved in our decisions, we conclude a decision was based on unconscious knowledge. As something we believe to either be true or not true outside or external from ourselves, even to what is thought to be known, but as yet is unknown. We sometimes direct our attention and thought towards assessing the contents of our experience. The resulting consciousness involves a re-representation of consciousness in which one interprets, describes, or otherwise characterizes the state of one’s mind in the present. If mind connotates spirit or one’s soul, from where does conscious thought derive and this awareness ultimately lead?

Karmic wheel at the Sera Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet. The bhāvacakra is a symbolic representation of samsara (or cyclic existence). It is found on the outside walls of Tibetan Buddhist temples and monasteries in the Indo-Tibetan region to help people understand Buddhist teachings. (I took this picture in October 2018 while in Lhasa).

In studying Zen, and the role of both the sage and Bodhisattvas, why is the above discussion important to an understanding of what is consciousness, but the continuation of spirit, our eternal essence or presence? Timeless and constant we travel through the universe with our entry defined only by “how and where do we go from here”. What is our ultimate role and where does this understanding and path take us. We go forward almost as a pivot. As a commentary of what we know that is important in showing the way for both our own enfoldment and others. Putting things in our own words. What is important must pass through us as we put into context what it means through us. We capture a word, phrase, or sentence as if we have just been waiting for its arrival. Taking nothing for granted until it goes through you to see if it fits your own intrinsic innate eternal nature. What is the circle of life, but what moves us beyond where we now sit that further defines our presence?

Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, Lao Tzu, and others below in Chapter Eight, is representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together. The chapter is divided as with previous chapters into 8A and 8B. Chapter 8 includes numbers 1 through 15. Chapter 8B that follows will include numbers 16 through 30.

In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – 8A Gaining confidence as our conduct must exhibit motivation as our aspirations align with the teachings we choose to emulate and follow.

Key thought: To gain the confidence to live your life correctly and courageously as the teachings of the Buddha and Lao and Chuang Tzu dictate.

  1. Remaining empty with discipline to be filled only with compassion as we endeavor to be free.
  2. Chapter 7 of the Sutra tells us to release all anger and to meet others with compassion with this we begin to learn patience that gives us the confidence to practice correctly. It is as if the Sutra is telling us “If someone is taking you where you want to go, just pick up your feet.”
  3. Our conduct must be an offspring of our motivation endowed with compassion and free from clinging to old ideas that inhibit us on the path to freedom. As we ask ourselves, does our meditation and our aspirations align with the teaching of the Buddha and Lao Tzu?
  4. Our study should be on-going. Our practice is how we live, not just that found on a cushion. Always open to learning something new from the old way’s others lived and what they followed that inspired them to become their highest endeavor. We gain inspiration through their vigor, their patience, and the purity of their motivation. Also, to acknowledge that they too were not perfect. As they strived to move beyond their own human imperfections.
  5. Within the transformative process we are to forgo sentimentality for the present, as if understanding the demeaner of antiquity. As we in-turn acknowledge our past. To something the sage and shaman, and we, have always known. Recalling that both the Tao and Buddhism teach that desire brings both ingenuity and error and with emotions come difficulties.

Embracing virtue, the essentials found in the Tao, protects what is called our life destiny as we are to maintain an unagitated heart/mind in our relationships with others. (page 195 of The Way of Complete Perfection).

  1. This view is essential in recognizing associations we have gained over eons of time as relationships that further our eternal growth and development. That we are not alone in nurturing our endeavors as we are to assist in facilitating the growth of others. Over time this ability to eliminate thoughts of self-interest, as promulgated by Buddhism and other paths have shown thinking and acting only with ourselves in mind, is not the proper path we are here to follow. With this, in practice of samadhi, our presence focuses on meditation and conduct that are interrelated with our view, compassion, and patience.
  2. Focusing on emptiness allows us to be in constant readiness to take the next step to awakening that brings us back to compassion and patience. Remaining empty to be made full again with thoughts and actions of merit our agenda. It seems like the only commonality among people and things found in nature begin with compassion, finding our bliss and knowing with correct understanding what takes us there.
  3. Compassion in Buddhism means everything should be found on the same equal footing. Again, all things found in nature just want to be happy and maintain their place and role in the overall scheme of things. It is this that brings forth the intrinsic sameness found in all things when we have the patience to recognize this truism. Just as our teachers are those who convey and transmit the Dharma, i.e., the intrinsic virtue that connects all to the cosmos.
  4. Finding ourselves on this path leads us to ask what is our next step? Chapter 18 of the Sutra conveys that we must perceive all buddhas and bodhisattvas as our teachers. Also, those who brings or delivers these teachings of the Dharma as our teachers as well. With experience as a teacher, I know that to prepare to teach, you must thoroughly know your subject. As the starting point, we must acknowledge and become comfortable with the equality found in the world of impermanence. That all things change to become something else. It’s not complicated, we only make it so due to ego and who we think we are that in all reality is simply illusion.

Without attaining the true transmission of the utmost Tao, what is most important will become empty and fleeting and you will lose what is real. If you are only concerned about craving and delusion and do not wake up, you will float and drown in the dream of ephemeral life. Reincarnation will not have a fixed limit. How then can you become free of life and death? Get rid of this and ardently seek out a great person, whose sincerity is extended, whose counsel is penetrating, and whose discernment is liberating.

As soon as one awakens, one returns to the fundamental. One directly leaps beyond the realm of formlessness. Orient yourself towards the great Tao and engage in cultivation. Internally preserve spirit and nourish qi. Externally mix with the ordinary and join with the dust. This is residing in the world while being beyond the world. Then you may join the assemblies of immortals and buddhas (page 216). For myself, its returning home to be with dragons once again. When what was thought to be unknown is nothing more than what you have always known but seemingly forgotten.

  1. Acknowledgement and recollection of our own nature keeps us grounded in the pervasiveness of wisdom, or what should be considered as the transcendence of the cosmos. It is who we are before illusion comes forth to greet us in the mundane world. The ground and path we tread is both pure and illusory. Understanding this purity is what brings us to calmness and patience.
  2. It is to this point of inquiry that most people find challenging because it requires us to make a choice. Seeing everything, all phenomena as limitless, we can begin to see selflessness that contains no afflictions is what leads us to emptiness. It is this concept that the Buddha Siddhartha addresses so well and why additional study is so important in attaining the freedom of patience. It is in the patience gained through meditation we learn freedom and come to truly know ourselves.
  3. It is the complete purity of everything that is the basis of supreme patience. Mahayana Buddhism teaches us that it is in our meditation we learn that the object of meditation is ungraspable and at the same time limitless. From here when we go forth in a post-meditative state, we can see everything as illusion. That as attachment lessens and our wisdom increases, we find patience.
  4. Clearing our mind to get to this point is difficult. It is why a commitment to a Buddhist practice over time becomes essential. The idea of renunciation and relinquishing those things that keep us from awakening become foremost in our mind and actions. What is it we are to give up, or even wish to achieve in following the correct path… to be free of attachment and suffering?
  5. We begin by taking small steps. A sitting meditation practice requires patience. In our actions stop anger and assess where it comes from. Be peaceful, letting silence be our guide. Most things past by us without our input… just let things flow by as they simply take care of themselves. Commit to virtuous deeds as we accumulate the merit that contribute to our growth and awareness. Find what makes you happy that is unobtrusive to others and go there. Take the goodness intended by the teachings of the Buddha as your guidepost into your heart. Reduce pride and ego and let go of anger towards non-Buddhist views.
  6. We continue by practicing the patience of listening to the teachings as we incorporate them into our thoughts and wisdom. Our focus becomes our conduct and our ability to train in meditation. As our insight continues with reflection. This begins with listening and releasing ego that will dispel doubts as to our intended direction and ultimate liberation.

Chapter 8B that follows will include numbers 16 through 30.





By 1dandecarlo

“Breath is the bridge that connects life to consciousness, the bridge that unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh…

As we find ourselves at home again with both awareness and emptiness. Floating away or dispersing as the remnants of a cloud before sunrise over Huashan Mountain in Anhui Province.

It has always been our breath that connects us to the eternal as we learn to embrace selflessness. What in China for thousands of years has been referred to as our chi and to what Li Qin says connects our heart/mind to our spirit. Into something called the mystic… vibrations reminding us of origins, the unknown, and becoming transcendental to what Indigenous peoples the world over have always known. Continuing the thread of what inspired Alan Watts with our relation to the Tao and Mahayana Buddhist it seems each moment becomes a teaching moment. Both for us and those we encounter with whom we leave an indelible or lasting impression. It was this respect for the Tao that Watts used to teach as if we are singing our own song in tune with the universe. To recognize our role with the flow of nature and stay within it and know more about life than people can see. To live the life we sing about in our song that carries the burdens of the day as we are inspired and lifted by those who came before us.

What does it mean for us to use the Tao to reconcile sociability with individuality, except to further define the role we are here to play? To live in spontaneity with divine order as our eternal calling and find unity with diversity as the meaning of life.

Alan Watts died before completing the final two chapter of his last book, Tao – The Watercourse Way. It was completed by his wife Mary Jane Yates Watts and Al Chung-liang Huang. For me, it was one of his best books as it served as a kind of retrospective of Lao Tzu’s continuing imprint, and how he and Taoism were to influence the human story. Creating the path, or way, Buddhism was able to latch onto with Taoist principles the core. The mainstay that enables the flow… with Chuang Tzu’s help history’s take on things that was to become Chan Buddhism in China and assist with what was to become Mahayana we follow here. Why references to the influence of Taoism and Lao Tzu are so essential.

Lao Tzu’s Furnace on Huashan Mountain made famous in the book The Monkey King for its pill of Immortality.

Beyond simply elixirs and “pills of immortality” to a path that would lead to the ultimate freedom of man’s spirit. It was to be Buddhism’s take that was to have the final say.   

Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, Lao Tzu, and others below in completing Chapter Seven, is representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together. Many of Alan Watts thoughts on Mahayana Buddhism that were included in 7A will be added as we proceed with 7B. Alan Watts and Lao Tzu always seem to want to say more on the subject.

In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – 7B and walking with awareness

Key thought: Evaluating ourselves with constant mindfulness of our actions. Alternating between compassion and illusion. Living within a first-person account of patience. With patience motivated by our desire for inward and outward peace and by faith in our ability to accept things as they are. In Buddhism patience has three essential aspects: gentle forbearance, calm endurance of hardship, and acceptance of the truth.

  1. We further define our role by walking with awareness. Regardless of what you have learned, without correct discipline you cannot be protected from stray thoughts and the hypocrisy of others. Walking the walk of enlightenment, not just reading the words, and agreeing that they convey the truth we are to follow but living in the truth of awareness.
  2. With the Tao and the Bodhisattva vow, simply knowing how to be disciplined will not keep you from acting impulsively. We begin to emulate compassion and wisdom by aligning our actions with our highest endeavors. It becomes you as there is no rush. There is confidence in that there is nothing that is stopping you. Keeping to the open road as we gain merit is seen as the only path worth traveling.

I also reflect on Hua-yen Buddhism, a school of Chinese Buddhism based on the Flower Garland Sutra and is a tradition of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy that first flourished in China during the Tang dynasty.

Buddhist carving from Chongqing National Museum

What it says about a small act of giving that has repercussions in an interdependent and interconnected world. According to this tradition, one small act of charity (dana paramita) is said to be equal to countless acts of charity. No one can measure the effects of a single act of giving, for its repercussions are beyond our limited imagination. 

  1. It is the company we keep that helps to determine our path. If we associate with those who possess compassion and wisdom, then we too gain aspirations aligning with our peers. Discipline helps to create divine order that keeps us from veering into delusion, and our keeping commitments in doing so. What could be more important than our awakening to supreme bliss as we refrain from activities that disrupt our mind.

In my review of the Flower Garland Sutra, I found it is not widely known in the West, yet it has had a profound and lasting impact on the way Zen and Chan Buddhism are practiced. The heroic Bodhisattva most prominently featured in the Sutra is Samantabhadra, whose name means “universal virtue.”

Often depicted riding an elephant, Samantabhadra, with his calm dignity, specializes in performing devotional observances and in artistic, aesthetic expressions of the sacred. He also resolutely practices the Bodhisattva vow through accomplishing many varieties of helpful projects, each aimed at benefiting all beings and engaging the societal systems of the world. As a result, Samantabhadra can serve as a great encouragement and resource both for artists and for modern “engaged” Buddhism and its renewal of Buddhist societal ethics. He is often associated with practice and meditation in Buddhism.

  1. There comes a moment when stabilizing our minds ensures that we do not break our vows. When we have focused on mindfulness and meditation, then discipline become the natural outcome as we return to and reflect on the value of emptiness and freedom. With the ultimate freedom the freedom of our minds giving rise to the qualities of virtue and wisdom. It becomes easy to mistake remembrances as imagination when our imagination is the key to our not repeating mistakes and adhering to the correct path.
  2. When we can see our activities as following pure conduct as exemplified in the five aggregates that make up sentient existence and our conscious experiences to be empty and selfless, as described in Chapter 39 of The King of Meditation Sutra, then our vows cannot easily be broken. This becomes the key to understanding selflessness wherein every moment is an opportunity to engage in self-cultivation as we in turn practice releasing negative emotions.
  3. The dharma teaches us that we should not become obstacles to our own practice, inner vision, and enlightenment as we in-turn release these negative emotions and habits. Buddhism refers to negative emotions and habit as mara and the problems associated with clinging to one’s ego and fear. Practicing emptiness and the discipline of maintaining the correct view is how we deal with mara.
  4. Emptiness has always been inexpressible and free from characteristics… something naturally pure. The Mahayana teaches that from the beginning everything is peace, the Bodhisattva who sees this knows the truth. Something we all will come to understand. It is the acceptance of emptiness when we see that phenomena by its nature do not exist. They were never truly born or cease to exist.
  5. They simply take on a different form over time. All things have impermanence without substantial existence. It is the spirit – the mind that continues. Meaning we never truly are born and never truly die as we accept the selfless nature of phenomena. This becomes what can be said of the ultimate freedom.
  6. To know freedom, we must adhere to all the elements of the path focusing on emptiness and wisdom. How is it we realize this through assembling the conditions for proper practice, engaging in generosity, keeping our discipline, clarifying our view, and training in meditation? This becomes the ultimate defining moment of our acceptance of the elements of the path. We soon learn that others not on the path cannot be held to the same account. Why remaining empty to that found in the mundane world becomes essential to our peace of mind.
  7. This is the key to acceptance of selflessness. Where are we… This review of both Buddhism and Taoism with an effort to understand the meaning and purpose of Zen, is both to enlighten and motivate us to become our true selves. Acceptance and acknowledgement of something we do not understand is the first step to wisdom. We are now in Chapter 7 of “In the Footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Buddhist Teachings on the essence of Meditation” and the concept of reincarnation was inevitable.
  8. Three thoughts going forward are consequences, discipline, and merit. The strength of understanding all this is gaining an appreciation for emptiness. Why the concept of meditation and preparing our minds become central to the essence of who we are. It is in this moment we become free. The Bodhisattvas adhering to wisdom loses attachment to those things of little or no consequence. He will not experience aversion, ignorance, be free of objects found in mara, and he maintains the pure world of the Buddha.

That ultimately its not pills or potions depicted at Lao Tzu’s Blast Furnace near the West Peak of Huashan Mountain. Or the scriptures that insure immortality. It is recognizing and acceptance of our own innate divinity. That the realization of emptiness and selflessness is beyond expression as what we see is only an expression of our mind.

  1. When we free ourselves of illusion our ability to look back to beginnings and see all phenomena as if a dream becomes apparent. It becomes the essence of where meditation and mindfulness (samadhi) take us. It is where the discipline found in structure leads us as we leave samsara behind. Discipline will always be the caveat that has the final say in the timing of our ultimate arrival.
  2. It is often said that viewing our disposition of what we see in the mundane world begins to change as well. The perception we have of our own role is that all phenomena become nothing but our own reflection. With judgment and appearance as visual defects we do not see actual substance of mind – but when our disposition changes, we see the external world change. Our disposition determines our view of the world.

26. Chapter 9 of the King of Meditation Sutra relays the many attributes of the Bodhisattvas. By not perceiving phenomena, they have no attachment, anger, ignorance, or wrong view. Meditation is not something simply to do, but who we have become as the natural extension of our presence. Having discipline, wisdom, knowledge, merit, and many other characteristics with our minds liberated by true knowledge. Problems arise when we return to the negative “I or ego”. When the benefit of “no I” is to be free from fear and negative emotion. For many Bodhisattvas, maintaining this discipline becomes the starting point for truly beginning to help others.

  1. Maintaining discipline is the key to enlightenment, thereby making meditation simply the vehicle that opens us to the sky. It becomes how we define suchness, our ultimate connection with the universe.
  2. To natural luminosity transcendent of definition of what may define us. To characteristics beyond description or appearances that can be describe. Beyond doing to being as things simply naturally occur in your presence. Your surroundings only the essence of nothing.


By 1dandecarlo

Alan Watts – Zen, the Bodhisattvas vow, and the art of becoming.

In coming to better understand Alan Watt’s view and his influence, especially his discourses on Zen and take on ancient Hindu scriptures, especially Vedanta that I have earlier referred to, I think his primary concern and disappointment was how the nature of divine reality is lost on man. How complementary opposites represent the method of life and the means of cosmic renewal and human evolution. His writings seemed to focus on our fundamental ignorance of that which rests in Tao, nature, and lack of evolution of man’s ego.

Painting by MARINA SOTIRIOU “no copyright infringement is intended.”

Zen for Watt I think, was how we are to encounter our own divinity, our own transcendence, and eventual longevity. And when we do, then what to do next. In first appreciating Zen, Watt’s book The Way of Zen, is what led me to try to better understand Mahayana Buddhism and my doing this series. He did as much or more, as anyone in the 20th century to connect the West with Eastern thought and philosophy.

In Alan Watts many books and writings, he explores how a person’s identity makes them the center of  the universe, conveying that the universe has meaning only if we place ourselves as its center. How the coming together of Mahayana Buddhism, Lao Tzu and Taoism, Confucius, and Vedanta became a collective wisdom shaping history and philosophy in the East, and what was to become known as Chan or Zen. Just as the I Ching, Lao Tzu and Taoism from the East, and Tolstoy, Emerson, and so many others from the West, have relayed that the separation of the Self from the physical universe has led to the mundane world’s hostile attitude to the environment and that a destructive attitude towards nature should not become what defines us. In coming to understand our place in the universe, Alan Watts legacy helped us in taking the next step.

Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, Lao Tzu, and others below in Chapter Seven, is representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together. Many of Alan Watts thoughts on Mahayana Buddhism will be added as we proceed. 7 becoming 7A and 7B with 7A below and 7B to follow in the next entry. Alan Watts always seems to want to say more on the subject.

In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – 7A Embracing discipline while abandoning hypocrisy…

Key thought: Important to evaluate yourself with constant mindfulness of your actions. Alternating between compassion and illusion. Living within a first-person account of patience. With patience motivated by our desire for inward and outward peace and by faith in our ability to accept things as they are. In Buddhism patience has three essential aspects: gentle forbearance, calm endurance of hardship, and acceptance of the truth.

  1. Writing not in the abstract, but true samadhi following the footsteps of my mentors. Aspiring to become one with my writing in the art of becoming. What can be the illusion? What I encounter in the here and now, what I see on a winter day with snow falling this morning. Or the constancy of the pull that is coming from inside like a flame that shows the impermanence of the snow that is soon to resemble an illusion. What was here for a moment is no more. Writing always only to resemble the next step I am to take. Understanding the complimentary opposites of the I Ching and how things are meant to find the middle way.

With Lao, Chuang, and Lieh inviting me to join them, but staying to the lower clouds as I remember the meaning of having and releasing merit and earning my keep. Knowing the right steps to follow and having the mindful presence to just do so. To embrace the Tao fully, then to go to teach and write stories connecting all. As if only a reminder of images and remembrances I am to now follow.

Recalling time in the countryside with my students in Shandong and traveling throughout China to incorporate the essence of history and meaning of structure and of discipline I seem to yearn for but lack that define why I am here this time. Remaining both the teacher and student. Remembering to heed the words of my mentors. Knowing appearances – now diminished by the hypocrisy of living in illusion every day. Living in Samadhi, in meditation and mindfulness, needing the courage of innate convictions only waiting for discipline and transformation to arrive and take hold. As it seems always my writing that takes me there.

  1. According to Alan Watt, what is important to note, is that early Buddhism that was to become Zen was the expression of Buddhist ideals in secular terms in early China in the arts of every type, in manual labor, and in appreciation of the natural universe. Both Confucians and Taoists would be agreeable to the idea of an awakening which did not involve the extermination of human passions. However, not exterminating the passions does not mean letting them flourish untamed. It means letting go of them, neither repressing passion nor indulging it. Much of early Buddhism in China referred to Taoist parallels, quotations, and phrases. This as much as anything led to a common denominator that fed the beginnings of Chan Buddhism in China and what was to become of Zen. (The Way of Zen page 81)
  2. The duality of self, or lack thereof always present with images of ego being tossed aside. Buddhism teaching that in no self all illusions fade into nothing. What could be important today that becomes nothing tomorrow? Are we who we see in the mirror each day or something more? Does this duality serve a higher purpose just waiting to get our attention? Maybe this becomes the ultimate progression. With change the only constant as we are here to adhere to and take the next step to enlightenment, to becoming genuine ourselves without hypocrisy reflected by our practice and by how we live.
  3. In following Lao and Chuang Tzu as my teachers with Confucius adding structure, the ultimate becomes awakening to what all this could be about. This pull to encounter the seeming unknown, as something seamless waiting to be revealed through meditation, mindfulness, and study of the King of Meditation Sutra, seems to provide the answer for now. As if following the flight of an arrow shot high in the air, will it return or just keep going. Of course, it will like us eventually land… but where? And what was it that influenced its direction along the way. What winds did it encounter that caused a mid-course correcting before returning?
  4. It is as if we are on the path of “practicing pragmatic engagement” as we assess our role with all things interconnected and interdependent. Accordingly, they require systemic solutions. Where all things work together to solve the problems of the whole. A good way to begin is to teach the knowledge of the Buddha and dharma. This begins as discipline without insincerity and pretense transcending into who we have always been.
  5. The Art of Becoming is ultimately simply putting aside illusions and remaining on the path, or way, of eternal peace, tranquility, and authenticity. To step into the next step as if directed by intuitive insight. To something some would call wu wei.
  6. With the track we are following here, our focus is still on the Mahayana. Training ourselves in the three levels of discipline as follows: 1) To physically abstain from harming other beings; 2) To continuously practice the Dharma; and 3) To bring the results of our practice into the world. The challenge is to bring ourselves into the view and cultivation of dharma. Mindfulness is to do all three.
  7. To look back and consider the essence of samadhi with the universe our guide as our responsibilities shows and teach us the equal nature of all things. Of course, as we step out of what may be our comfort zone, we must first pivot and say to ourselves “Do I want to go there, what could this mean, and where will it take me”. Chapter 1 of the Sutra reminds us that it remains the commitments of body, speech, and mind, as pure action beyond any reference point with knowledge of the aggregates that help Buddhism for so many and to guide our way that remains important. Ultimately try as we may – you cannot get away from it. Many have asked this over the centuries and are guided by the following:

The five aggregates are:

  • Form, or rupa. The form is physical matter. It is anything you can perceive with your senses, like a tree, a cup, or a piece of cake.
  • Sensation, or vedana. The sensation is the physical sensory experience of an object, like sight, touch, and taste.
  • Perception, or samjna. Perception is the labeling of sensory experience, like salty, soft, or warm.
  • The mental formation, or samskara. Mental formations are your biases, prejudices, interests, attitudes, and actions.
  • Consciousness, or vijnana. Consciousness is awareness of physical and mental processes, including the other skandhas.

Each person experiences the world through the five aggregates. Together, they make up a conscious experience. Together, they create a sense of “I”, or individualism. It is the combination of the aggregates that we come to know as our own individual selves.

  1. It is that individualism that the interdependence of the cosmos looks to, why it begins with us and paying attention to our mind. History tells us that when our body and speech are under control, our mind becomes stable. Many feel that the mind is the vestige of our spirit, or our soul.

When the Taoist and Lao Tzu refers to the heart/mind as our “inner nature” they refer to spirit. When we are mindful, we do not forget impermanence, suffering, selflessness, or emptiness. In line with an old Buddhist saying, “To see the light of wisdom, you must first empty your cup”.

  1. To become one with our highest selves, to meditate on our presence and where it leads us. To simply remember and go there. Finding discipline is why you are here (speaking for myself). While often mistaking the sense of wanting freedom with the need for discipline needed for the journey as we look to liberate all beings from suffering, this is the way of the Mahayana sutras.
  2. Living in the mundane world it becomes too easy to become hypocritical and insincere towards other sentient beings. The first step to transparency is becoming transparent ourselves. The word seems overused these days. To see through to what our motivations and those of others seems to be the first step to awakening. Some would say in this context that transparency is intentionally baring our soul to the world by showing our true self to others. It becomes the sincerity we express that defines us. For those that follow the Way of Virtue, the Tao, it is our second nature that defines compassion.

Alan Watts impact on understanding our role, especially the Tao and Lao Tzu, is immeasurable. His final book Tao – The Watercourse Way, should be required reading for anyone wanted a better appreciation of history. I especially liked his take on Chuang Tzu.  Living the Tao, what would be called “everything happening as is should or in tse jen”. The man of Tao lives as if a fish in water as a way of life. Recognizing the flow and staying one with it… The key for Watts was his adherence to respect of and for the Tao and its principles. How the Tao reconciles sociability with individuality, order with spontaneity, and unity with diversity.

Finally, Watts dismissed the need for zazen, or what has been referred to as the “aching leg syndrome” as necessary for awakening or enlightenment. He, like many Taoist masters, felt the use of meditative exercises such as sitting as a means of attainment was to be frowned upon. One is to align with wu wei through living in the moment day to day.  

  1. When our compassion becomes our strength this becomes our roadmap to follow. Joined with sincerity and effort…. discipline and merit will inherently follow as well. The key to wisdom is learning to abstain from hypocrisy. Where we learn to use illusion to mask laziness by covering our actions with self-interest.
  2. Discipline means recognizing our hypocrisy and knowing that it hurts others. Knowing how to act and how to change our view of things and our conduct. Having confidence gives us the dignity to overcome our fear. That we can change with wisdom and compassion aligning our actions with love and kindness.

Number 13 through 28 of this chapter to follow as 7B…

By 1dandecarlo