Showing posts from June, 2011

Great Doubt

If you do not get it from yourself, Where will you go for it?
~ Dogen
We have a fear of facing ourselves. That is the obstacle.
~ Chogyam Trungpa

The masters talk about Great Doubt. It is one of the three jewels of Zen training, the others being Great Faith and Great Effort. What kind of doubt could this be? It could not be the intellectual disbelief of a skeptic as that would annul faith. Nor could it be the apathetic disposition of the uninspired as that would annul effort. No. It must be something that drives inquiry, a burning doubt, an inquisitiveness that is not easily sated.

There is a voracity to doubt that is like fire, refining the quest down to its core. As K. von Durkheim says in The Way of Transformation, “Only to the extent that a person exposes himself over and over again to annihilation, can that which is indestructible be found within.”

Students are inclined to think that the spiritual path can be learned from books or by emulating their teachers, by following some i…


strive to maintain a spirit of joy and magnanimity, along with the caring attitude of a parent~Dogen
In his Tenzo Kyukun (Instructions for the Zen Cook), Dogen emphasizes the importance of the Parental Mind (roshin) which is an attitude of caring and concern, the heart of compassion. It is one of the so-called Three Minds or sanshin, the other two being Big Mind (daishin) and Joyful Mind (kishin).The spirit of Zen is the inclusiveness of One Heart/Mind, and Parental Mind conveys this most aptly. An old saying describes it as “seeing the pot as your own head and the water as your lifeblood” (quoted by Uchiyama in his commentary of Dogen's Instructions, p. 53). In modern day Japan, it is conveyed by the popular expression minna no kimochi de (see this article).But one must be careful not to confuse the One of parental mind with the identification of oneself with another self or some larger body. For example, as a first-time nursing mother, I felt that my head had been screwed on…
Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.
~ TS Eliot; Little Gidding
Lately, I have met many women aged 40 to 50 who are suffering from hairshirt syndrome. This is a condition where life becomes so unbearable that you simply want to rip it off and stuff it in the garbage.These women are not suicidal. Menopausal? Perhaps. They tend to have children, too many, though they do not live out of a shoe. In fact, they are often emotionally and financially autonomous and they usually work out too. But they're still bored. And how they suffer! The slightest glitch in their lives causes them unbearable distress. Their husbands, if they still have them, get the brunt of their dissatisfaction because they are desperate to pin the blame somewhere.Why? Why are they so angry? And what is the cure?Toni Packer suggests in thi…