All Reality Down The Singing Bowl

Have you come to realize that all the words you are reciting,
Matter much less than the quality of your presence as you are reciting them ?
Rituals, mantras, are an occasion to truly abide in your body-mind,
To have your horizontal presence to the world cross the vertical axis of your presence to yourself.

Rituals, mantras, sitting practice,
are the doors opening onto
an occasion to truly be.

Nothing more,
Nothing less.

Wasn’t it what Master Dogen said :

« To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. » ?

©FJ Jan 2022
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5 commentaires

  1. Rituals and mantras…

    I suppose every act, when repeated, becomes a ritual. By this measure, your sitting practice is ritual – perhaps no more or less than my breakfast each morning. The comparison seems at once silly and yet almost undeniably correct.

    Mantras are things I have never really found useful. I can see how they may distract the mind from its distractions, so to speak, but I’ve always found they just get in the way. As I have said elsewhere, to each his or her own.

    But each, the ritual and the mantra (itself, I think, a ritual in its repetition) surely is but a tool? More or less useful according to the skills or preferences of the user.

    Perhaps the breaking of ritual has a power, for some at least, just as great. It can signify reaching beyond routine. And what is routine but a ritual that stifles?

    Dogen, from what little I know of his thought (not least from your own comments), appears to me to understand the continuity of constant becoming. Maybe to study the self is to recognise « what was » is no more, and to know that « what is » merely passes with the evolving moment, whilst having an intelligent enquiry as to « what may never be », in all its uncertainty. A formulation that raises, for me, the question: « Just what is the self? »

    If my very basic understanding of this aspect of Dogen is incorrect no doubt you will point out my error.


    1. Hello Simon
      I believe we are both agreeing on this…
      You’re actually pointing to a translation mistake I did without noticing.
      Most articles in English are translated from the French…
      I must confess I do not have the time necessary to really go through all the details and even sometimes resrot to automate translation which I — in a more or less inspired manner — proofread afterwards so as to make it sand edgy angles and raspy surfaces here and there…for as much as I’d be able to do so…

      Well, in French when when we say : « c’est l’occasion de », this means : « it is AN opportunity for us to… »
      We use a definite article to actually refer to the unspecific…weird, I agree.

      So what I meant here was RItuals are AN occasion,
      As in ‘one in any’,
      As in ‘eating breakfast’…
      This was a way to invite not to pay too muc attention to rituals, as people who see them as the only gateway towards transcendental experience…
      As well as a manner not to discard them as unnecessary,
      as would people who consider rituals as outdated practices for spiritually unevolved disciples.
      Well, I’m applying the correction now
      I do not have any pretension to claim I understand anything in what Dogen meant.
      To study Dogen is to forget Dogen.
      I’ve been told, for instance, that native Japanese, when submitted to Dogen’s text did not have the least idea what the meaning was.

      As for the self, I would answer the Buddhist way, saying that is it a habit we have to wrap up our internal impressions (thoughts, sensations, …) in a bunch we call our self.
      Then we spend a lifetime (or thousands thereof) interacting with this ever fluctuating bunch.
      This is a game of constant positioning..

      I’d like to say there is a very Zen-like attitude in the way you have to never tag your practice as Zen.

      Have a good day, Simon,
      Thanks for allowing me to correct this mistake.
      Many articles ending up posted here have failed the relevance test.
      I post them anyway, believing that, one day, I may turn them into something more complete.
      Everything here is ‘processing’.
      So am I
      The good news is I’m not the programmer.


      1. I do not tag my practice as « Zen » because I see it only as « what I happen to do ». There is nothing involved, often, more than staring vacantly out of the window from my sofa or listening to the wind as I walk. Whilst aware of Zen Buddhism, I have never considered it beyond acknowledging it exists.

        But, I suspect, many a contemplative path leads the same general direction, regardless of intellectual foundation.

        Your English is good – better than some natives, so don’t worry on that score. Oddities of translation will arise (I once read of a speech translated electronically, where the English idiom « out of sight, out of mind » took on a form in French that meant « the invisible idiot » – after that, an errant definite article seems pretty minor!)

        Your Buddhist concept of self deserves more leisurely thought. It seems to be leading back to identification with the observer, connection to a more fundamental consciousness. I must… ponder… Thanks for the thought.


      2. ah oui….I get it : ‘out of mind’ musthave been processed by the translator as ‘out of his mind’…
        that’s fun.


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