Newsletter of the Dogzen Group

Number 7, April 2004


Once you see the way your mind overlays each experience with its images and judgments, you can also understand Buddhist emptiness. Without the overlays, life has a wonderful simplicity - pure here-and-now suchness.

Overlays projected inwardly create the ego, personality, and sense of a separated self. Overlays projected outwardly give us all the reasons we have for being dissatisfied and unhappy. All interpersonal problems come from interlocking overlays and the misunderstandings they cause.

With overlays stripped off, there is a freshness to experience. In its silence, there is direct understanding of the true nature of things.

To strip off overlays, detach awareness from what it is aware of and be aware of awareness itself. Go toward the experience of pure awareness aware only of itself. Then let awareness turn back towards life events, but without losing the pure awareness base. What emerges from this practice is naked awareness. Overlays become obvious immediately, and they are left behind with no effort on your part. 

Even when an overlay persists (because you can't quite get all the way back to the base), the practice of awareness of awareness helps you see a little beyond it. It is like knowing something is there, but not yet going there. That's OK. You can leave the overlay in place. Just learn about what is under it, the essence that is beyond all overlays. Peek around the edges, so to speak.

That is what we are doing with Dogzen - developing awareness of awareness, experiencing the world from that place, and harvesting its great rewards.

Principles of Dogzen  

This is a summary of the basic principles of Dogzen. There isn't a lot to say, actually, because the whole thing is based on a simple practice that doesn't have a lot of ideas attached to it. The principles, once understood, are the whole thing (and then I should just shut up). Its simplicity should not fool you though. It goes very deep. Maybe all the way.

The principles appear in stages, so they are presented in four steps:

First Step 

The focus is on awareness itself, so the first thing you have to understand is awareness. You must understand it not as an intellectual idea, but as your own on-going experience. Suppose someone asked you, "Are you aware?" Can you turn your attention to your own awareness, experience it directly, and confidently say, "Why, of course!"? If someone asked you, "How do you know?" can you experience your own awareness and know directly how you know? Can you see that the answer is self-evident? 

This initial clarity is the first step. Fortunately, it doesn't take much inner searching to get to this point.

Second Step

The next step is to get really, really clear about awareness itself, until you experience pure awareness of awareness with nothing in the experience but awareness itself. (You might have to read that sentence a few times to untangle your brain!) You discover that awareness can be in the state of being aware only of itself, and you need to experience this, if only for a brief time. Awareness aware only of itself is "pure awareness."  

We do this in the dyad. It generally takes only a dyad or two to begin to experience pure awareness.

Third Step

After being able to stabilize for minutes at a time in pure awareness, one turns awareness outward again, but without losing any awareness of awareness. This is a little tricky, but if you have a good stable state of pure awareness, you can do it. Awareness of awareness becomes the base from which one experiences life events. You could call this, "living from the base."

At first, you are easily distracted and lose it, but after some practice, you can do simple things and stay in the base. There are some practices from Bon that are helpful here, but it is best to do a lot of it in your ordinary day-to-day activities. You slowly graduate out of doing formal practices and just live from the base. 

This "practice," if you could call it that, just slowly gets better. There is really no end to it. 

Fourth Step

The next step isn't exactly a step, but a natural outflow from Step Three. You begin to break through into something really wild. Step Three is good. It makes you present, conscious, not so reactive, sweeter over all. Most of your unnecessary suffering disappears. Step Four takes you into "Ingression of Novelty*" states. This is Bliss, Divine Vision, Pure Beauty, Ecstatic Contact, and so forth. This is when you go truly non-dual like they talk about in all the ecstatic spiritual practices. The self dissolves, leaving no residue. Everything just LETS LOOSE. You are liberated. At first, just a little, then more and more. (I can't speak from having completed this journey, but I can "testify" from my own experience that this is the natural result.)

I can't predict when you will get to this place. Depends on a lot of things, I guess. When you practice Dogzen, you just move in this direction.

Check it out. And go with confidence.

*A term coined by the late Terrence McKenna.

About the Dogzen Group

Do the Dogzen

We are in the midst of the next cycle of Dogzen evening practices. Want to try it? It is free and also free-ing. We hold them at my house in Menlo Park (call for directions). They start at 7:30 PM and last until a little after 9:00 PM. As of this writing, there are two more, then we will hold an All-Day-Practice (which really doesn't last all day, actually, but sometimes seems like it!).

  • Tuesday, April 6: core practices and a new Bon practice
  • Tuesday, April 20: more of the same, plus some new Bon body-energy practices
  • Saturday, May 1: All-Day-Practice. Lasts from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM, pot-luck lunch. After 2 PM, a celebration until 6 or 7 PM with live music

 Beyond the fond,


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