In this video, John talks about the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment. This describes three approaches to meditation: Samatha, Samapatti and Dhyana. We can look at these as three different practices. We can also look at them as being three aspects, although not the only aspects, of our own practice.
In this video, John talks about Dogen’s view on attaining the Buddha’s truth. Dogen says that since this truth is reality, in order to avoid it one has to resolve not to attain it. Without this intention not to pursue the Buddha’s truth then
everything is your ally
In this video John talks about non-separation and what Dogen describes as ‘taking the backward step’. This can be described as ungrasping in terms of each of the five skandhas.
In this video John explains what we need to understand about the purpose of a teacher: it is to wake us up from the dream of the self. And that our teachers’ incompleteness and our incompleteness and the incompleteness of all things is the hand that opens and reaches out to all things.
In this video John talks about Dogen’s Shobogenzo Dotoku. With this he was recasting Buddhist practice by changing what we think our idea of practice is. Rather than struggling through a storm to an imagined tranquillity, we are to see ourselves and all beings as ‘expression’.
But Dogen’s idea of ‘expression’ is not to view it as an attribute of the self. If we ungrasp from the grip of the self, even what we understand to be delusion, is in itself expression.
In this video John talks about vitality – the aliveness of the body – and its central role in meditation. If we ignore it then we may end up just thinking of meditation in terms of consciousness, what we will give attention to is the ‘contents’ of consciousness, primarily thoughts and emotions.Aliveness shows itself at the level of sensation, which goes ‘upwards’, becoming emotions, becoming thoughts. It will also show itself as an energetic patterning underneath our emotions. If we’re not aware of that, then what we’ll see is simply the top layers.
In this video John looks at the fantastical content and structure of many of the Mahayana sutras. What’s going on? In the Pali sutras, the language is simply faithfully recording what the Buddha said.
In the Mahayana sutras by contrast, the language is expressive and performative, so the teaching isn’t, as it were, set out in the sutra. The sutra is like a teacher who will change you.
In this video John talks about Nagarjuna’s metaphor of a magician who conjures up an imaginary person. We can look at this in a personal way: that we have created this phantom of self, this imaginary person from our beauty and pain. A Bodhisattva sees the creator as well as the conjured person.
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.
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?