zen e-course // day 9 – reality

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in studies, zen

Lesson: In practicing with awareness of thought, the important point is not to be dragged around by thoughts. Activate awareness and return to now–just life as it is right now. Bare reality. This is not the “reality” that you think should be here, or that you don’t want to be here, but what actually is. I say, know where your hands and feet are at all times: not where you think they are, but where they actually are. Awareness of thought is like this: thought forms always disappear in an instant (unless, of course, you interfere with them) and you are left with what is, as it is.

Practice for today: Whenever you find yourself dragged away by thought, shift back to now–your very body, feet, hands, breath. Distinguish between the reality of what is and your thoughts about what is.


in my experience pain is reality, suffering isn’t — joy is reality, pleasure isn’t — a work of art is reality, intellectualizing about it isn’t — a mantra is reality, its syllables are not.

reality is a single word translation for dharma!

here’s some pictures! a while back i photographed the sermon panel at the christian science church at the corner of la brea and hollywood in los angeles. i know i should go listen. that would be real.

and if you are interested here is the book (pdf about 11mb):


many bows.


zen e-course // day 8 – nature of thought

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in studies, zen

Lesson: Zazen enables us to see that thoughts are like bubbles, empty comings and goings. These empty thought forms have particular content. You can create a horrible hell realm in zazen and be caught in your thought-created hell. In the midst of tormenting yourself, your awareness activates and brings you back to the present. The hell realm is gone in an instant. I am sure you have had this wonderfully liberating experience, haven’t you? In zazen, you are not trying to get rid of thoughts, including thoughts of hell realms (remember wholeness?). Rather, you are resting in awareness of thoughts and not being dragged around by them.

Practice for today: Continue to examine thought closely. Are you aware of the moment that you grasp and engage a thought, and what kind of realm you are creating? What is your experience of letting go of this engagement? How clearly do you discern the realms you create through thoughts?

Not Doing Anything Today.

Stormy sitting!
Brother is like me.
But he’s sick
Am I his medicine?
Breathe now

Assignment Eight.
Goes deeper.
Yes. What is this?
What is this constant…

Never changes.
No color.
No sound.
No shape.

What am I doing here!
Come back Mister Buddha!

And Brother…
Breathe again.
It extends,
Thousands of miles away
In one pointed direction


Now I can cry.

Bows to all


zen e-course // day 7 – beliefs

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in studies, zen

Lesson: Zazen enables you to see that all thoughts that arise in your mind, without exception and regardless of content, are like clouds in the sky. All thoughts are empty comings and goings without any real or fixed substance and disappear momentarily. Thoughts are a natural function of the brain. Sawaki Roshi loved to say that thoughts are farts of the brain. Just as your heart beats, or your lungs breathe, so your brain produces thoughts. Thoughts are forms of Dharma, regardless of their content. They are natural phenomena.

Practice for today: Notice what beliefs you may be holding regarding thoughts. Identify one or two beliefs you have towards your thoughts. For example, do you believe that thoughts should not arise during zazen and you are, therefore, trying to suppress them? Are you unconsciously seeking thought-free zazen?


Thank you again for the teachings and the practice booster!

From this cushion, thoughts are as diverse as the universe itself and the same as well.

Not grasping the thoughts and turning them into projects, discourse, slicing or dicing or rumination allow for a better awareness of the thoughts themselves. I like thoughts.

I joke to myself sometimes that I give them ratings (well not so literally), there’s a filtration system at work although I’m not quite sure what it is. I know for sure that thoughts can also pass in the light of the precepts sometimes which can show their true colors and bring wisdom. Some of those I blow away because I don’t want them around too much… Creative thoughts (images, ideas, etc) are always treasured and contemplated (not engaged with until later if I remember and I usually don’t), held there for I don’t know how long. Zazen-time puzzles me.

Sitting is a safe place to hold thoughts and be with them. it’s hard concentration work or hard non-concentration at work.

There’s no thought-free anything! The world is all thought. At least what we get of it is all thought and then there’s the essence. The essence isn’t thought because it has no form (thought has form for me, only thought has form, the essence or what is non-thought has no form for me). The essence between the thoughts.

Also the longer the sitting the sparser the thoughts. Leaving more essence or just essence. Occasionally this ‘essence’ has been a lapse of ‘immensity’. Immensity is not even the word, I don’t have a word because ‘immensity’ is usually external this seems to have briefly included me. It has come and gone. It happened while running long distance too. It generated a type of vertigo or small panic then I was back on the breath and the ‘routine’. What is it? Should I really know? Really not-know?

Time. When thoughts become sparser is it really in time that it happens? I don’t know. Why does zazen go by so fast? The bell always too early, plugging the whole experience out of this waking non-dream (essence of dream without the form and happenings and internal logic of dreams).

Fear. That this becomes a spectacle of thought. Fortunately this practice is not just zazen.

Didn’t the Daila Lama say one day “Why go to the movies? you have the mind!” ?

And that brings a picture of an installation I saw at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam:

(1974 – Nam June Paik)



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