In this video John talks about the phrase Shikantaza used to describe Soto Zen zazen. In English this can be translated as, ‘just sitting’. But it’s not a direction to us as an individual describing a psychological state. It’s a description of the non-separation of self & world when we are sitting.

Video adapted from Kusen No. 341 given on 29th March 2021

The Fabric of Buddhism

In this video John talks about some of the symbolism associated with the meaning of the word sutra. Its literal meaning is thread. But if the thread of the sutra is, as it were, one line of the fabric to be weaved, the vertical say, what is the horizontal line? What or who is woven with it to constantly produce the miraculous fabric of Buddhism?

Video adapted from Kusen No. 336 given on 28th February 2021

Being Held

In this video John talks about the Dharmakaya, the universal body of the Buddha. When we are practising, we are held by this Body of the Buddha. However, being still is not the absence of movement. In this moment of practice, we fall backwards into the depth of the self, and fall forwards into the depth of the world.

Video adapted from Kusen No. 335 given on 20th February 2021

Skilful Means

In this video John considers the Heart sutra. It emphasises: intuitive wisdom, compassion and skillful means. But these are not qualities of us as an individual. Seeing the emptiness of all things dismantles the wall of identity. And then what is there but fellow feeling? And so the means we use comes from us as as one facet of this infinitely faceted diamond of all beings.

Video adapted from Kusen No. 334 given on 6th February 2021


In this video John describes the Mahayana view of non-duality. It is not primarily a mind-body split. Rather, the split between self and world, interior and exterior. And if we see this we can avoid thinking of insight in terms of me acquiring insight. All the things of the world, all the people of the world, in this perspective, are our teachers, are bodhisattvas.

Video adapted from Kusen No. 340 given on 24th March 2021

The Five Eyes of Practice

In this video John talks about what the Diamond Sutra describes as the five eyes, or five ways of seeing. These are the physical, heavenly, prajna, dharma & Buddha eyes. These can be thought of as facets of practice. And the Buddha eye, this non-dual awareness, this non-separation contains the other four.

Video adapted from Kusen No. 339 given on 13th March 2021

Not from the perspective of the self

In this video John explains the important role of our deep postural muscles in correct posture for zazen. Unfortunately, advice about tucking in the chin and pushing up with the top of the head is all too common. In zazen we are not relying on our voluntary muscles. Correctly using deep postural muscles lets the self be, temporarily, displaced.

Video adapted from Kusen No. 330 given on 9th January 2021

Seeing Bodhisattvas

In this video John talks about Bodhisattvas. The first Bodhisattva Vow to save all living beings can leave an impression that it is primarily concerned with doing. But hidden underneath that idea of compassionate doing is a more subtle idea concerned with seeing.

Video adapted from Kusen No. 338 given on 7th March 2021

The Whirlpool

In this video, John considers the analogy of a whirlpool for our unpleasant emotional states. We can make great efforts to try and avoid them out of fear. But in doing this we remain stuck. In zazen we can experience this whirlpool, not as something to keep our distance from, but as surging and constellating life. This is the treasure house.

Video adapted from Kusen No. 337 given on 2nd March 2021

Dropping off ‘Body’

In this video John looks at Master Dogen’s famous formulation of Zazen as, ‘the continuous dropping off of body and mind.’ Dropping off the mind seems more apparent to us. Here, John look at some suggestions for dropping off the body.

Video adapted from Kusen No. 329 given on 7th January 2021