Dogzen Email Newsletter
Reprints of the Dogzen Email Newsletters
Number 1 - August, 2004
The first thing about Dogzen is "awareness of awareness." The first thing you do is see if you can become a little more aware of your own awareness.
A lot of people I've talked to don't quite get what it means to be aware, at least at first. When I asked them, "Are you aware?", some were not sure of what I was asking. So it is up to me to be very clear about this.
I don't mean some high super-cosmic state or anything like that. I mean your ordinary awareness that you have right now and use every day to do regular things.
We are aware when we are awake, aware when we are day-dreaming, and also aware when we are asleep and dreaming. When we are awake, we are aware of the information from our senses. We are also aware of our thoughts and feelings. When we are day-dreaming, we are aware of pictures in our minds (and aren't very aware of the world around us). When we are asleep, we are aware of the dream, as if we are in a different world.
If you are in the 4th stage of sleep (called "oblivion"), then maybe you aren't aware. Or if you are really zonked with anesthetic during an operation and you have no sense of what is happening around you and have no recollection after you wake up, then that is generally thought of as "not being aware." It's like a piece of the movie was cut out and the ends spliced together.
If you sit with your eyes closed and think about what you had for dinner, you are being aware of the memory of your dinner. When you are watching TV, you are being aware. If your eyes are closed and you just see black, then you are still aware - you are aware of the black. Not being aware doesn't even have black.
If you sit there and decide that you are not aware and you know you thought that thought, then you really are aware and so your thought is just wrong.
Some people think that if you aren't in touch with important things, then you aren't aware. Like if you aren't concerned about ecology or poverty or someone in trouble. Or maybe you think that if you aren't in some high, cosmic consciousness state, you aren't aware. But what that says is that you aren't being aware of something in particular. That doesn't mean you aren't aware.
In Dogzen, though, awareness is not defined by what you are aware of, but by the nature of awareness itself.
The common denominator of all your experience is awareness. It is that basic faculty that gives you sensory information and information about your inner states
So now, do you know what I mean by awareness or being aware? If you read this, and know you read this, that is you being aware.
So the next big question is, "How do you know you are aware?" One simple answer is that you can tell by just noticing. It is self-evident. Noticing your own awareness is called "awareness of awareness."
That is the starting point of Dogzen. You just become a little more aware of your own awareness. You do this by just directly experiencing it.
Now I know that a certain number of you are very clear about awareness already and are quite aware of your own awareness and this probably seems pretty redundant or tedious or simple minded or something like that. But just wait. I'll get into some things that are really interesting pretty soon. However, we have to start somewhere, and Dogzen starts with awareness of awareness.
Awareness of awareness is like a muscle, in that you can exercise it and it gets bigger or stronger. If you become aware of your awareness a little bit now and then every day for a while, it becomes more apparent. It's like it gets bigger, or thicker, or more solid or more apparent. Instead of being just a fleeting wisp of an experience, it gets "more there." These descriptions aren't literal, but some change does occur in your ability to be aware of your own awareness and something builds up. Dogzenners work on building this up (in their spare time).
So, to recapitulate:
You might ask, why bother? I'll speak to that in some of these newsletters. I'm planning a series of these emails, and they may take you to some very interesting places. In the process, hopefully, they will bring more enlightenment into your life.
Until next time, fond regards to everyone!
Dogzen Evening Practices
7:30 PM to 9:00 PM at Edrid's house in Menlo Park.
After that, we will have a One-Day-Practice. We haven't decided on a date yet.
Hope you can attend,
Contact info: email Edrid at firstname.lastname@example.org