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November 13, 2008


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Dogen wrote in Shobogenzo, essay Shunju (translation by Francis Dojun Cook):

"A certain monk asked the great master Tung-shan, 'When the cold or heat arrives, how can one avoid it?' The master answered, 'Why don't you go to a place where there is no cold or heat?' 'Where is this place where there is neither cold nor heat?' asked the monk. Said Tung-shan, 'When it is cold, the cold kills the monk; when it is hot, the heat kills the monk.'"

Later in the same essay Dogen wrotes: "However, even though it is said that when the cold comes, the cold kills, this does not mean you should be trapped by words and think that the heat necessarily kills when it is hot. Therefore, when it is cold, be thoroughly cold, and when it is hot, be thoroughly hot. Though you may try to avoid either one, there is nothing but cold and heat."

I think this is being ordinary in a same way what Mazu and Changsha pointed out. To let go, to get rid of dualistic views, creations and concepts of mind's delusions. And in the end "form is emptiness and emptiness is form."

But these beautiful words and expressions doesn't remove the problem of how do we become ordinary. Therefore, I think, there's only one way to solve that problem. And surprise, surprise, that way is to practice daily in daily life.

Just some thoughts from practitioner.

Great post, Barry. I really enjoy reading your posts. Thank you.

With palms together,

Barry Briggs

Changsha and Tung-shan were contemporaries (Changsha died one year before Tung-shan). This matter of heat and cold must have been "in the air" in Chan circles at that time.

Where do heat and cold come from? For me, that's the point.

Changsha, Tung-shan and Dogen insist that we become intimate with heat and cold. Where is that place?

If we practice daily, in each moment of our day, then we can join these ancestors in the intimacy of heat and cold.

Today in Finland the weather is cool. It's sunny in Seattle. That's the weather report.


"Where do heat and cold come from?" I agree, that is an important question. I would like to say that they come from our minds, from our thoughts; we give them meaning, we call them heat and cold. But they are just heat and cold, nothing more, nothing less. Just empty words for pointing something that means heat and cold. And when I want to say things like those, they're even more emptier words. Therefore, heat and cold are heat and cold and they don't need heat and/or cold to exist.

Right now it's raining in Southern Finland. But behind clouds, sun is shining like in Seattle. Beautiful.


Another great post.

You stated that "Mazu pointed out that our discriminating mind creates defilement." I agree wholeheartedly, but we must not get caught up in words. With no discrimination your liable to put a turd in your mouth for lunch instead of your eggplant parmiganna. To me the question still reamains, how to strike the middle way between positing distinctions were none exists and not eating an e-coli sandwich.


Barry Briggs

Thank you, Uku! Today it's cloudy in Seattle. I stood outside with the clouds for a while today. They didn't need anything from me, I didn't need anything from them. We were both just hanging around.

Thank you, Yamakoa! I have an intimate relationship with e-coli sandwiches. Perhaps someday we'll share them together, along with our tea. Later, the shit will appear in its natural way. What then?

Does letting go of discrimination turn us into dunderheads? Even dogs and cats don't eat poop (well, some dogs do).

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