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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.