Dogzen Email Newsletter
Reprints of the Dogzen Email Newsletters
Number 6 - November, 2004
With Dogzen, there isn't a big focus on scheduled daily practices. That doesn't mean that you won't profit with a certain amount of personal discipline, or that you shouldn't do your daily meditations. You know when your other practices help you, and, if they do, by all means continue. However, the practice of Dogzen doesn't take place in a special set-aside time or place. It occurs in the broadest context of your daily life. The things we do at our evening and one-day practices are just launching points. It's important to not only wake up when you are in a formal meditation, but to wake up spontaneously throughout the day (otherwise, what good would it be?). By increasingly becoming familiar with pure awareness and the base, it becomes easier and easier to make that step any time and in any situation. Over time, it will just blend in with the way you are and you won't even have to think about it. That's what we are going for.
Dogzen starts with the easy things first. You try to become familiar with the nature of awareness in small incremental steps. There isn't any expectation, at least in the beginning, of having pure awareness immediately available to you when there is a big crisis. That will come with time, but we work on these understandings in the small motions, small thoughts, and small events first. Over time, the benefits of pure awareness will be available to you during more significant events in your life.
With Dogzen, you do small, subtle things to handle the grossest aspect of your samsaric/karmic condition. You start not with creating a big effect, but creating a small effect. You just taste the essence of awareness a little bit. You just touch the base momentarily to realize its nature. You don't try to get a big, deep, Oscar-winning spiritual experience. For example, in our preliminary meditation (Nekashum, stillness, silence, non-conceptual mind), you set out to get just a little taste of the pure states. If you can't get the actual things, you just imagine getting them. You relax into emptiness, not struggle for it.
Dogzen stays focused on the direct experience of the essence of mind. We keep doing more or less the same thing, going for awareness of awareness and the base. We learn as much as we can about that core topic, becoming more and more familiar with it. We don't chase after things that come up in the mind as a result of these efforts. We don't chase after memories. We don't get into all of the philosophical or speculative issues that it brings up. You can still do that, but the practice of Dogzen, when you are doing that in particular, is just a one-pointed exploration of the deep essence, what is called in the literature "primordial awareness." We steadily keep that focus.
Becoming familiar with pure awareness and the base is best accomplished by relaxing rather than willfully trying to achieve something. That is why there is a general recommendation to not "chase after" experiences. In the Bon tradition, one reads that Bonpo take a vow to give up moving, speaking, and thinking. This doesn't mean that you sit like a stone, silently, with a blank look on your face! It means that when you try to directly experience pure awareness you do not chase after experiences of the body, speech, or mind. You let all of that go.
Fond regards from the world of Dogzen,
Dogzen Evening Practices
7:30 PM to 9:30 PM at Edrid's house in Menlo Park. (Usually scheduled for alternate weeks.)
We've just completed an evening practice series. We will be announcing a new schedule in December for meetings in January 2005.
The next ODP is Saturday, November 13, 2004, 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM. (By the time you read this, it will have already happened!)
Hope you can attend the next one. We'll announce a date sometime in January, 2005
Contact info: email Edrid at email@example.com