117. The Zen Doctrine of No Self

One of D. T. Suzuki’s most famous books is ‘The Zen Doctrine of No-Self’. It’s a very seductive title. Once we’ve got the theory clear, we can start to practice. Once we’ve got the map, we can make our way to the territory. It’s a completely erroneous perspective.

My first teacher said, “you cannot break the mirror of the self with the head”. Denying the self is also asserting the self because – just like atheism – what is denied remains there in outline. A god shaped space, a self shaped space. We need to understand that Buddhism is the relinquishing of all views. The relinquishing of all views and discovering in the midst of practice that territory in which the karmic mind is not sovereign.

And in this place there are maps. Some are incomprehensible to us, some are like a dream and some are like daybreak.