zen e-course // day 6 – from shifting to fishing

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in studies, zen

Lesson: This week we will examine thought. In the Fukanzazengi, Dogen Zenji instructs: “Once you have adjusted your posture, take a deep breath, inhale and exhale, rock your body right and left and settle into a steady, unmovable sitting position. Think of not-thinking. How do you think of not-thinking? Non-thinking. This in itself is the essential art of zazen.” In plain English, this means not grasping on to thoughts. Zazen is not a time for thinking. How do you shift away from or cut through the pervasiveness of thinking mind?

Practice for today: Practice recognizing a thought form arising, living out its very brief life, and vanishing. What arises for you when you recognize thought as just a thought? Throughout your day, pause and rest in the space around or between thoughts.

gone fishing

I’m a fish
in a stream.
Thoughts are hooks
with ‘food’ on it.

In the sun’s glare,
through the surface,
shimmering flies
dance, wink
and vanish.
Others come back.

I can watch,
contemplate sometimes.
And kiss the thoughts
goodbye –
with tiny fish lips.

Let’s swim!
Through the rocks!
And go home, where
a wholesome meal

They can’t see ‘me’

In our school of fish,
no one gets caught!


zen e-course // day 5 – shifting again

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in studies, zen

Lesson: A shift is a small movement from one position to another. In Zen practice, we say that you shift from a position to no-position, or you shift from no-position to a position, or you shift from a position to another position. All “positions” are reality; one is not more important than another. Each has its place. The shift to no-position is at the heart of zazen. We often speak of this movement as opening or as awakening. Siddharta’s shifting, your shifting, is a moment of awakening.

Practice for today: Throughout your day, consciously and intentionally shift to openness. Whatever your circumstance, shift to a larger view, a more expanded spaciousness than is comfortable for you. Throughout your weekend, keep shifting to a larger view and then, even larger than that and beyond! Enjoy!

Hello e-sangha

This assignment placed focus on something I was already noticing. The extra practice was that I had to take mental notes, like putting the mind on record… now reporting from the world of little mind, big mind, miserable mind, happy mind and just mind…

On saturday an unusual shift was noticing a jug of lactose-free milk at the grocery store. This inspired me to buy a bottle of “Non-Ultra Joy” (ignorant of the environmental impact of the detergent I will just keep the bottle to look at). Mini-shifts. Funny shifts.

In general bigger and more abundant shifts occur in being in/with the world: personal relationships, technology and everything else.

In personal relationships, shifts happen constantly (hopefully!). Still using quite often the old fashioned way of interacting with others using a conditioned ego-self (until we’re all telepathic) there are many shifts happening depending on the circumstance and the beings involved. The shifts all point to the same mind (again, hopefully!), this natural mind the one that is the constant. It is the higher power, the superintendent, not in an authoritarian way. Very open, very trusted, very kind, like a doctor or a teacher. Sometimes the ego mind is on autopilot because it’s routine interaction or because it’s off, the constant mind being all.

Other times it’s the ER, complete chaos and hurt and screams but the constant mind can be the medicine, the skilled genius surgeon who never sleeps and saves lives by the barrel. Other times it’s kindergarten, the base mind is an adult (who can sometimes get crushed and torched by a kicking and screaming preschool ego-mind). Then there’s action or speech but the shift has occurred already. Because the ego stream is often necessary for interaction the shift occurs when it needs to be recentered or checked or ignored (constant mind taking over). Coming back to the breath is still the best way to voluntarily start a shift when the awareness arises that it needs to happen. I always think that it’s because we are primarily connected to the world through our lungs. Don’t you notice how breathing gets irregular or blocked when the ego-mind runs the show?

Practical example: 5 year old son gets frustrated to tears and anger playing a game. Ego-mind (frowning): “can’t he understand it’s just a game!?” – Self-less mind (smiling): “poor little guy. he needs a hug and a new game at his level”. Action: have a hug and let’s play another game!

Zazen is the source, the original shift. A space where breathing is all its own and quite perfect. The life that spins around it hosts myriads of shifts big and small. I can see how they are modeled after what occurs during sitting.

I guess I’ll take care of the reflections about shifts and technology and everything else some other time. Way too many shifts today. I’m getting shift sick.

Thank you for the opportunity for extra practice. I look forward to reading more of your insightful posts and teachings.



zen e-course // day 4 – luggage

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in studies, zen

Lesson: When you sit on your cushion, chair, or bench and methodically settle yourself in zazen posture, a shift occurs. You are aligning yourself with the wholeness of life; the wholeness of life is mutually responding and shifting you. We may not see this reciprocity for a time. Nevertheless, in taking the zazen posture and settling yourself, you are committing to a larger reality than can be known from the conditioned, ego-centered point of view. A shift is happening. By settling and raising awareness, can you shift from moment to moment?

Practice for today: Reflect on the nature of shifting. What is it that you are shifting from? What are you shifting towards? Are you reluctant to shift to the present moment; do you find yourself carried away by ego-centered thoughts? Practice returning to your body-breath throughout the day.


Zazen is sacred space
Like the mountains
That’s the shift
The ascent

A bow to the cushion
A turn around
Settle in the sacred container
Bouncey around the mountains of pure self
Clouds of ego
Thunderstorms sometimes
Here and there
The pure land is flooded
It will dry
And EVERYTHING will grow

A timid bell
indicates the landing.

Where’s my luggage?
I don’t need it anymore


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