“Like an electron”

More from Kusen 268.


Zen documentary with Issho Fujita and Takafumi Kawakami

Are you interested in bodywork, preparation for zazen sitting, or the differences between Japanese and Western mindfulness? In this NHK film Soto zen monk Issho Fujita and Rinzai monk Takafumi Kawakami discuss letting go and listening to the body in the age of information.

Link to the documentary at the NHK website. (No longer available)

Watch Takafumi Kawakami talk on YouTube:


About the Robe Verse Takkesage

The verse for draping on the Okesa (kasaya – dull colour) robe, or the smaller portable robes such as Rakusu. Chanted usually in the morning at the end of the zazen period (slowly). Repeated three times. At some groups practitioners will keep their Rakusu folded during the first zazen and place on their head during the chanting (so that it is higher physically than their body) then put it on.

The robe of ‘freedom’ – gedatsu – can mean the robe of freedom from suffering or illusions – and therefore the robe (puku) of meditation practice which is the way to nirvana. Datsu means undressing or getting rid of – letting go of ego attachments and greed. In zazen we let go of being tightly gripped by distraction and return to open our awareness. The okesa design is based on rice field paddy shapes. It was pieced together by Buddha’s disciples from used rags. In it are teachings of impermanence and ‘form or emptiness’, ‘non material reward’ or ‘no forms/marks’ (musō). With practice and the expression of all things together we cultivate the ‘lucky/virtuous field’. The harvest is enlightenment rather than physical reward.

Wearing it we are wrapped (hibu) in the Tathāgata’s teachings (nyorai kyō). But by draping it on, freedom is not only for the wearer but spreads the robe out widely (kōdo) to embrace all other beings (sho shujō).

Read the verse here, with the English and Japanese/Chinese characters.


Master Nasen Cuts a Cat in Two

Blue cliff record Case 63. Video teach adapted from a Kusen given on 7th April 2020


Zazen as enactment Ritual

Zazen is not a means to something, but rather the expression of something. Here John discusses the point of spiritual practice and ritual in Zazen. Indeed, Zazen itself as an enactment ritual.


Good Posture for Sitting Zazen Joyfully

Zazen is the dharma gate of ease and joy, yet for so many of us it can often feel very different to this, it challenges us both physically and psychologically. In this video John discusses the importance of good posture in Zazen and how the physical position of the body can influence awareness and through this, ease and joy



Video teaching adapted from Kusen given on 4rth April 2020:
A monk asked master Yaoshan,
‘what are you thinking when your sitting in Zazen’?
The master replied ‘I’m thinking not thinking’
the monk, puzzled, replied, ‘how are you thinking not thinking?’
the master replied ‘hishiryō’.
This famous encouter pivots around the final reply of Yaoshan, ‘hishiryō’. However hishiryō does not easily translate into English, and consequenlty it is easily open to mininterpretation. In this video John discusses this Koan and how we can understand thinking, not thinking

All Beings are Your Ancestors (1091-1157)

A short video teaching about a wonderful poem by Master HongZhi (1091-1157). The teaching is adapted from a Kusen given on 31st March 2020


Fragments of momentary being

Our true teacher isn’t a person in the normal sense, but rather a fragment of momentary being. This video teaching is adapted from Kusen no 270 given on 28th March 2020


Let’s foster connection

The essential message of Buddhism is that we are connected, not separate. And, particularly in these extraordinary times, our responsibility as practitioners is to seek to foster connection. 

Accordingly, we have now set up online Zazen meditation sessions twice a week, an online Chanting Group and online Study Group, with more activities planned.

If you would like to know more about our activities, and participate in some or all of them, even if you’re a complete newbie to meditation, we’d really love to hear from you. Just email your name and mobile number to, and we’ll be in touch.