Ordinary men hate solitude

But the master makes use of it,

Embracing his aloneness, realizing

he is one with the whole universe

–Lao Tzu


To learn the Buddhist way is to learn about oneself. To learn about oneself is to forget oneself. To forget oneself is to perceive oneself as all things. To realize this is to cast off the body and mind of self and others. When you have reached this stage you will be detached even from enlightenment but will practice it continually without thinking about it.

When people seek the Dharma [outside themselves] they are immediately far removed from its true location. When the Dharma has been received through the right transmission, one’s real self immediately appears.

If you are in a boat, and you only look at the riverbank, you will think that the riverbank is moving; but if you look at the boat, you will discover that the boat itself is actually moving. Similarly, if you try to understand the nature of phenomena only through your own confused perception you will mistakenly think that your nature is eternal. Furthermore, if you have the right practice and return to your origin then you will see that all things have no permanent self.

Once firewood is reduced to ashes, it cannot return to firewood; but we should not think of ashes as the potential stare of firewood or vice-versa. Ash is completely ash and firewood is firewood. They have their own past, future, and independent existence.

Similarly, when human beings die, they cannot return to life; but in Buddhist teaching we never say that life changes into death. This is an established teaching of the Buddhist Dharma. We call it “non-becoming.” Likewise, death cannot change into life. This is another principle of Buddha’s Law. This is called “non-destruction”. Life and death have absolute existence, like the relationship of winter and spring. But do not think of winter changing into spring or spring to summer.

When human beings attain enlightenment, it is like the moon reflected in the water. The moon appears in the water but does not get wet nor is the water disturbed by the moon. Furthermore the light of the moon covers the earth and yet it can be contained in small pool of water, a tiny dewdrop, or even one minuscule drop of water.

Just as the moon does not trouble the water in any way, do not think enlightenment causes people difficulty. Do not consider enlightenment an obstacle in your life. The depths of the dewdrop cannot contain the heights of the moon and the sky.

–Dogen http://essenes.net/new/dogenGenjokoan.html


“The real function of discipline is not to provide us with maps but to
sharpen our own sense of direction so that when we really get going we
can travel without maps.”

–Thomas Merton 

 My commentary (you may not agree)

rituals are like training wheels

too often it is too easy to get fixed into thinking you have to have a ritual.

Take the rosary, we chant the rosary, the hail mary’s our fathers..contemplate the mysteries etc etc etc.  Okay this IS a good way to “learn the bible.”  But it is also akin to :

“read the special magic words, and invoke the magic green demon of cheese who has special ears”

What is ritual? what is mantra?

A way of centering..of getting back to that source.  Mantra and ritual become like giving a lover flowers, chocolate a nice evening out…gift giving with an agenda of reward at the end.

It is far better to be free of agenda and just to interact with your lover…without agenda of reward…

The word kabbalah means to receive
It doesnt mean grab
it doesnt mean take
it doesnt mean gimme gimme
it doesnt mean summon pink goblins from venus to help me have better toe nails

it means receive.

When one is making apple crumble, one gets the dish, the ingredients and waits until the apples are ripe.  It is far better for the ripe apples to fall from the tree than to take partially ripe apples from the tree.  This is the folly of man, taking instead of receiving.

There is nothing wrong with ritual, but as Merton says, it should thrown away eventually.
I personally view ascetiscism and fasting etc. similiarly.  Fasting for the sake of fasting is pointless imo. but I realize tradition is big thing