Sunday, August 31, 2008

Zen 10 Ox-herding pictures: 3- In Harness

Traditional Poem:

Under constant training, the buffalo stops dashing,
following the boy across streams and through clouds.
Not daring to loosen the rope in his hand,
the boy tends the buffalo all day in spite of his fatigue.

My words:

A glimpse of your real face,
do not let go the rope and the whip!
Follow the stream of the lineage,
and the bull will become your friend.

At this stage, our discipline has borne out some fruit, and he have reached a good level of Shamata.

Now it´s easier to pacify the mind, we don´t need to struggle continously with it, but we still need to be VIGILANT, and use the rope of concentration and the whip of mindfulness so the bull follows us gently.

During our meditation, we have reached some INSIGHT into the nature of the Mind, and that is why the head of the bull is white; but it has been only a glimpse of it, that has to transform into full realization.

Using Zen vocabulary, we can say that the SATORI experience has appeared, but it has to be polished. Many practitioners can reach this stage, but if they untie the bull, thinking that they have reached enlightenment, then they will drown in the river of arrogance and self-conceit.

That is why it is very important to have a master who can help you not going astray.

Zen 10 Ox-herding pictures: 2- Initial training

Traditional Poem:

Controlled by a rope through it´s nose,
The buffalo runs swiftly under the whip.
It is no easy thing to overcome a willful temper,
as the boy struggles hard to lead the buffalo.

My words:

Right now, not later,
sit down your mind.
Look closely at the bull:
Is it white or is black?

This is the initial stage of the practice, when we become in touch with the confused mind.

With the ROPE of CONCENTRATION, we observe the mind.

With the WHIP of MINDFULNESS, we keep placing our attention on the mind,
and don´t get distracted.

This is the stage of learning to pacify our mind, what is also known as Shamata meditation.

It is not easy at this stage to pacify the mind, because it has roamed for so long.
But with the Whip of diligence and mindfulness, and the rope of concentration we will finally calm the mind down.

This is the stage where more of the practitioners give up, not being really COMPROMISED with the path of Liberation.

If we don´t take the path seriously, we will never be able to go beyond this stage, because
without DISCIPLINE it is not possible to TAME the MIND.

So, my friend, are you taking the path seriously, or is it just another of your hobbies?

Zen 10 Ox-herding pictures: 1-In the wild

Traditional Poem:

Displaying its horns, the buffalo bellows aloud,
Running along the mountain path into the distance.
A patch of black clouds overhangs the valley,
the buffalo tramples wheat seedlings wherever it goes.

My words:

Confusion and suffering,
all over the valley.
Look for the root,
and you will find the black bull.

These 10 stages are not real, but they are useful for the practitioner in order to know where he is on his way along the path.

In fact, this picture describes the usual state of mind of most of us: CONFUSED.

Most of the time we spend our life dispersed, without paying attention to what is going on: we just get carried away by our thoughts and emotions, without a clear objective, rambling up and down, getting trapped by our distorted perceptions of what comes across our consciousness, and we trample on the situations we find ouselves in, pushing and pulling like a wild buffalo, rejecting and avoiding some situations, and wishing and clinging to other ones.

This is Samsaric existence, the existence of sentient beings immersed in suffering.

This first picture of the set of ten, depicts the stage of the man or woman who wakes up to his or her real situation, and determines his/her mind to TAME the Buffalo.

From now on, he will be conscious of his sad situation, and will concentrate on capturing the wild buffalo, that is to say, getting to know his own mind.

From now on, he or she will become a PRACTITIONER.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Zen of Takuan

I´m a samurai
disguised as a monk.

I never liked protocol,
but I had to pay the tribute.

I´m calling you from afar,
so you can hear my no-voice.

Listen brother,
listen with your eyes.

Watch brother,
watch with your tongue.

Smell brother,
smell with your hands.

Taste brother,
taste with your ears.

Touch brother,
touch with your nose.

If you can do that,
I´ll call you friend.

If you can do that,
I´ll bow down to you.

If you can do that,
buddha will vanish.

If you can do that,
you will know who I am.

If you can do that,
you and I are not two.

Friday, August 29, 2008




Neither no-mind nor mind,
neither no-sword nor sword,
neither no-enemy nor enemy.

Just luminous emptiness.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


You don´t have to renounce to your present way of living, your job or posessions.

You ONLY have to renounce to your CLINGING to those things.

If you can do that, then your ordinary life will become PRACTICE.

That means that progressively, you will find out that everything that happens has its own reasons, and you won´t need to change anything. You will be comfortable with whatever happens. That is the real MUSHOTOKU.

If you are able to SIT DOWN (pacify your mind), face your wall (skandas also known as Ego), and crack it, then you will stop liking and disliking. Then you will be Mushotoku. Mushotoku is like the automatic pilot: whatever happens, is all right, provided that you have cracked the wall.

Mushotoku is not becoming like a zombie. Whatever happens is ok, but you ACT according to the situation, and that is also ok. If you have to run, you run. If you have to shout, you shout. If you have to cut, you cut.

In fact, once you crack the wall, there is NOBODY running or shouting or cutting. There is only RUNNING, SHOUTING, CUTTING.

To physically sit down, and blank out your mind, that is not Mushotoku. That will prevent you from expressing primordial wisdom. In the long run, you will become an idiot.

If you can crack the wall by yourself, DO IT.

If you can not crack it by yourself, look for someone who can help you.

Zen is very simple.

You don´t have to memorize sutras.

You don´t have to perform rituals, chant mantras or visualize deities.

You only have to sit down, face the wall and look. That´s all.

But you have to know what is meant by sitting, facing and looking.

That´s all.


Now is the time;
Don´t escape again.

Escaping means sleeping.
Facing means Liberation.

Look at your ugly face,
but don´t be scared.

It´s only the shell of ignorance,
empty like a bubble.

Look at Fudo Myo,
but don´t be scared.

It´only the shell of wisdom,
empty like a bubble.

Keep looking,
and you will SEE.


The Rock and the Kesa

¿My friend, what are you looking for?

¿ The Kesa or the Dharma?

¿Are you looking for other people´s recognition or for recognizing your own mind?

The true Kesa is not external: it is BODHICHITTA.

And nobody will ever GIVE it to you.

Your own EFFORT and CORRECT PRACTICE, combined with the RIGHT MOTIVATION, are your real KESA, and the TRUE MASTERS can SEE if you are wearing a KESA or only a cheap imitation of it.

This was the question that the sixth patriarch put to one practitioner who thought that he was not the true heir of the fifth patriarch, and wanted to steal the external kesa from him.

This was the rock where he supposedly left the kesa, and his prosecutor could not take it.
That was because the Kesa of Hui Neng was REAL, heavy like the ROCK where his external kesa was laying on.

He had been practicing for many lives, and he woke up SUDDENLY, because of his karmic predispositions.

It is not a question of if you have been practicing zazen for many years with this or that master,
or cracking koans for a long time.

It is a question of SEEING your MIND.

If you have not seen your mind, then that is not ZEN.

That is the preliminary practices.

If you have seen your mind, then everything you do is ZEN.

This simple fact can not be accepted by the practitioners who are not established on the ZEN MIND, and that is why they always criticize and try to put down the practitioners who HAVE SEEN their MIND, and don´t need to follow the standard methods.

If you try to ritualize and standardize ZEN, then that is not ZEN. It is only the preliminary.

The ZEN master only UNTIES KNOTS.

And each situation is unique, so there is no standard recipe to prescribe for everybody.

You are unique, and you have your own path to liberation.

So, my friend, ¿ What are you looking for, the kesa or the Dharma?

Facing the Wall

Each practitioner has to SIT DOWN, facing his/her personal Wall, and LOOK at it.

Sitting down means STABILIZING YOUR MIND.

FACING THE WALL means to FOCUS on your own mind, as the object of concentration.


If you are skillful enough, you don´t need to physically sit down. You can "SIT" while walking. As long as you are able to keep a peaceful mind, you are SITTING.

Facing the wall means to keep your attention on your own mind.

Mind here means the SKANDAS.

Unless you focus on them, you will never know the root of suffering, and consequently, the wheel will keep turning.

Looking means penetrating, using INSIGHT to SEE the real nature of the wall.

If you don´t know how to Sit down your mind, you better find a master who can teach you. But remember that sitting is not enough.

After sitting, you have to face your wall and look at it.

Analyzing is not looking.

Thinking is not looking.

In fact, in order to SEE, you will have to CRACK your INTELLECTUAL MIND.

When you SEE, that is SATORI.


But SATORI is not enough. You have to familiarizate yourself with it: that is REALIZATION.

Don´t fall asleep, or you will find the Kyoshaku on your back.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Wall within the Cave

Welcome to this virtual Cave.

You are trapped, now.

If you look around, you´ll see nothing but four walls, the floor and the ceiling.

You got in here and now there is no way out...apparently.

Maybe its about time you face this old wall, and find the way out.

This is what all the Zen Patriarchs have done in the past,
and what all the Zen practitioners will have to do at some point,
in order to become Patriarchs.

This is not a gentle and soft way:
it is a tough one.

In fact, you will be pushed, kicked, shouted, beaten... in order
to keep you awake.

You can close your eyes, and imagine that you are not in this cave;
in fact, this is what you have been doing up until today.
Now you are awake, and you know that you have two options:
either you keep sleeping and daydreaming, or
you face this Old Wall in front of you and find a way out of this cave.

There is no standard method to follow.
It all depends on your karma.
My job is to help you out of the cave of ignorance.

By the way, my alias inside this cave is Hui Neng.

Whenever you open your eyes, you´ll see the Wall
of obscurations that you yourself have created
through your own ignorance, and I´ll be there
to kick you, so you don´t fall asleep again and
keep looking.

The rules are very simple:

Face the wall, and LOOK.

If you take it seriously, then you will SEE.

It is not about Thinking, Analyzing and Imagining.

It is only about LOOKING and SEEING.

I´ll be your worst enemy as long as you cling to your EGO.

I´ll be your best friend if you CUT your attachment to your EGO.

Remember: This is a way for warriors.

Good night if you go back to sleep.

Call me Kyoshaku if you want to FACE the WALL.