Newsletter of the Dogzen Group

Number 5, August 2003

Let's Go Again!

It has been a while since the last newsletter. I began to write one nearly a year ago, but my understanding was changing so fast, I held off. I was having tons of insights, my mind was reorganizing itself, and I wanted to hold off until I had some stability. So here goes.

Recently my wife, Anatta, and I have been going on evening walks together. The other day, during our walk, we were talking about politics or something and she said, "Oh, let's forget it and go to the base." `    

The Bönpo talk about the "base" (kunzhi). This is what a completely silent mind that is aware of itself experiences. Imagine, if you will, a moment in which everything in your mind is temporarily on hold but you are completely aware and present. You have no thoughts or particular feelings, no ideas or views, no intentions, no memories, just silent, luminous presence. What you are experiencing is the base. It is also called the "natural state." It is spacious, full of light, and clear. It is suffused with self-knowing.

If you can't experience this state, you can easily lose connection with the basic ground of being and "wander in samsara (as the Bönpo and Buddhists call it). Samsara is the realm of illusion, and you may find yourself reacting continually to a mental/emotional dream world. The longer you wander, the more the dream seems like THE reality and the base seems to be only an esoteric idea. Unfortunately, this is the normal state of humans on Earth. 

The whole purpose of doing the Dogzen practices is to become reacquainted with the base, improving your access, so that you are able to relate to life from the base. When you do this, the samsaric dream world isn't quite so convincing. It becomes more obvious what is real and what is the dream. Its grip on us and our grip on it relaxes.

The Root Unenlightenment and Its Resolution

All of our unenlightenment rests on the root unenlightenment. The root unenlightenment is believing that the illusion made by the mind is the one reality. 

What is missing is our understanding that each of us experiences differently, that we automatically add a particular coloring to absolute reality when we experience life through our senses and interpret it with our mind. Actually, the light and form we take to be the world is internal and private. What life seems like, what we actually experience, is an inner experience. We give life its meaning. We articulate it. We make it real. We wrap language and logic around it so we can comprehend it.

Reality itself is very simple. It is just the way it is. Sometimes you may hear it called "the void." Our minds make it more complicated and difficult than it really is. Our reactions and our reactions to others' reactions create this world of illusion. It seems real because each sentient being is real and the samsaric illusion is right smack-dab in the middle of our relationships. The Bönpo call these things "obscurations." 

The root unenlightenment is the source of much suffering.

If you go to the base, dropping out of the samsaric world, "reality" begins to dissolve into emptiness. Relationships dissolve into union and we see that the union was already there. Love that was already there emerges. Peace that was already there emerges. Without obscurations, understandings can flow easily between us. Take away the root unenlightenment, let loose of the obscurations, and things go back to normal, they "return home." In this path, normal is also called "Great Perfection."

Going to the base often does not seem easy to do. Our illusions go deep and our egos go deep. Even when you have been introduced to primordial awareness, the base, you still have to decide on it. You may have to decide many times - to go with it rather than the dream.

Good luck with that. Go with confidence.

About the Dogzen Group

The DZ Group is meeting again. New people are welcome. It is free. 

We meet on alternate Wednesday evenings from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM. This is the current schedule of meetings and the planned focus for each evening:

  • September 10 - the basic practice (awareness of awareness)
  • September 24 - interpersonal practice (affinity practice)
  • October 8 - ingression of novelty practice (something new to try)
  • On October 18 October 25, we will hold a Dogzen Great Liberation One-Day Practice (Saturday, 8 AM to 4:30 PM). This is mainly for those who have been attending the Wednesday night sessions or have done them before during our previous series. (Actually, you'd do just fine if you've been to an Enlightenment Intensive or have already done Intensive-type dyads before.). 

It's fun. It is also a pot-luck feast.

DZGL One-Day Schedule

Meet and greet
Opening talk
10-minute break
Snack, 15 min.
10-minute break
Sitting contemplation, 25 min.
Talk, discussion
10-minute break 
Snack, 15 min.
Ending talk, discussion

If you want to attend any of these, just contact Edrid.

Contact info: email Edrid at  
or phone 650 328-4941.


(This schedule is what we did for the first One-Day Practice. The October 25th session will be similar, but not the same.)

Wishing you the best,