The non-dual nature = the true nature = The Essence of Mind = the Tao.

Every single thing can only claim to exist as a function of its opposite; therefore they cannot claim to be two things: they can only be two ways of looking at one thing.

Every so-called pair of opposites (or complementaries) are really one.

Being cannot exist except as a function of Non-being, Self as a function of Not-self (but for the existence of Non-being and Not-self neither Being nor Self could so be). 'I am Not-I, therefore I am I.'

Therefore everything that is or could be is both itself and its opposite (or complementary).
Each of every pair of opposites is the reciprocal cause of the other; all opposites are the reciprocal cause of one another.

We have heard about that before somewhere? Assuredly. But have we understood it?

'Like an image seen in a mirror, which is not real, the Mind is seen by the ignorant in a dualistic form in the mirror of habit-energy' (Lanka, LXXIV). 'Habit-energy' appears to be a wholly admirable way of describing memory.

This may mean that we perceive everything non-dualistically (that all pure perceptions are in unicity), but that when our perceptions become conscious, being then interpretations of a memory, they appear dualistically.

If that be so we have only to perceive directly in order to realise unicity. But can our perceptions ever have the necessary instantaneity for that?

* * *

The limited consciousness is subject to, perhaps feeds on, continual attraction and repulsion. That may be the heart of the matter.

Reality and the Ego...3

It is only the artificial ego that suffers. The man who has transcended his false 'me' no longer identifies himself with his suffering.

The constituents of the 'me' exist as evaluations, interpretations: it is the notion, by means of identification, that this constitutes an entity, that is illusory.

Pride and Humility are functions of the false ego. Humility which is conscious is an aspect of Pride and affirms the false ego. When the false ego is reduced the absence of pride (which was reduced pro rata with that of which it was merely a manifestation) may have the appearance of humility, but the subject is unconscious thereof, it is not really present, its appearance is an effect of contrast with past Pride. The subject is now merely himself.

'In utter stillness (of the mind) the ego does not exist' (Hui Hai, p. 39).*

The Only Truth

If we try to interpret the concept whereby there is nothing but Mind (Mind-only, Universal-Mind, etc.) as a primary substance underlying the atom - as pure energy, for instance, we may be looking diametrically in the wrong direction. For such a way of looking is objective and dualistic, involving observer and observed. Mind (of Mind-only, Universal-Mind) is consciousness rather - the ultimate Within. We are not either Without or Within Mind-only: it is within us only because it is us and we are it.

'The world which is mind-manifested,' as the Lankavatara Sutra puts it, 'is stirred up by the wind of objectivity, it evolves and dissolves,' i.e. it is of us and we are of it.

Words could never express what that is: they can only suggest. It may not be possible to get nearer.

Comment on the Essential Doctrine of the Lankavatara Sutra

'...recognition of the truth that an external world is nothing but the Mind itself.' (Lanka, LVIII)

'As they are tenaciously clinging to the thought of an ego-soul and all that belongs to it, they are really unable to understand what is meant by the doctrine of Mind-only.' (Lanka LXXI)

The full concept involves a combination of what has just been said, i.e. that nothing exists outside the Mind, with the non-entity of any kind of ego. Since the act of conceiving such a concept implies an entity to perform such an act of conceiving, such act would appear to be impossible. Therefore it cannot be a concept but an abstract and inexpressible state of pure knowledge.

'There is an exalted state of inner attainment which does not fall into the dualism of oneness and otherness ... which has nothing to do with logic, reasoning, theorising, and illustrating ... this I call self-realisation.' (The Buddha in Lanka, LXXII)

* * *

Therefore the Sutras, the doctrines, all teachings, are only a means.

'I have two forms of teaching the truth: self-realisation and discoursing. I discourse with the ignorant and disclose self-realisation to the yogins (the wise).' (the Buddha in Lanka, LXXII)

'Where perfect knowledge is, there is nothing (dualistically) existent.' (Lanka, LV)

'And when he thus recognises the non-existence of the external world, which is no more than his own mind, he is said to have the will-body.' (Lanka, LVII)

Or, as we would put it - Nothing exists outside the Mind. When so plainly stated it is worth extracting.

* * *

'The ignorant are delighted with discoursing ... discoursing is a source of suffering in the triple world.' (Lanka, LXXIV)
Indeed one has suspected that.

The primary trouble with us, particularly those of us who write, is that we know too much and understand too little.

Perhaps we think too much, read too much, talk too much, write too much - and are still too rarely? The only opportunity we leave ourselves of understanding may be when we are asleep?

* * *

The mind seems to be a machine for the production of phenomena, which it projects from within itself much as does a cinamatograph projector.

'With the birth of the mind every kind of phenomenon is produced. With the destruction of the mind every kind of phenomenon is destroyed.' (Hui Hai, quoting the Lanka)

Could anything be clearer?

Freewill and Reality

Our reactions are our own, and free; our actions are determined - their apparent freedom is illusory.

Owing to our conditioning we have the illusion that our actions are free, that is we are unable to avoid behaving as though we had freedom of choice in our behaviour. But we are not constrained to believe in this apparent liberty in the execution of our will. We observe that we can often do as we will, but we have no reason to suppose that we can influence that will. Presumably that will itself is subject to determination the mechanism of which we are unable to perceive.

Just as we are apt to believe that our actions are free, so we tend to suppose that our reactions are determined, since we feel unable to control them. At most we recognise a power of suppression, but that is not control.

Since the ego is the subject of these processes the ego is unfree. As long as we remain identified with the ego we remain unfree - purely mechanical beings reacting to stimuli, as Gurdjieff said. It follows that in so far as we become detached from the illusory ego to that degree we attain freedom to act as we will.

But such freedom is not the arbitrary exercise of caprice that the term suggests according to our normal manner of reasoning. The Jivan Mukta, the man of satori, he who has transcended his ego, does not act as a result of choice: he acts as he must, intuitively as we call it, without reasoning, in accordance with cosmic necessity, and his action is always correct (or adequate) action.

That alone is Freedom of will in terms of Reality.

* * *

People who cannot make up their minds usually wish to do something that they are unable to will.

They have perhaps a conflict of desires, of wishes of the artificial personality, none of which can they will - for the will can only act in conformity with karmic necessity. Consequently they shilly-shally until the will itself comes into operation - and then they do what they must. On the other hand people who 'know what they want', people of instant decision, are people who are deaf to the clamour of the false 'me' and who accept the dictates of their will at once and do that which has to be done in any case.

It is possible to silence the clamour of the false ego; instead of consulting it, to ignore it, and to let the will speak. (But in common parlance the term 'will' is often used to designate the executive aspect of desire.)

* * *

We ourselves are not an illusory part of Reality; rather are we Reality itself illusorily conceived.

The man of satori does as he must (in accordance with cosmic necessity). So do we. The only difference is that we go through the pantomime, or illusory process, of reasoning about it whereas he just acts.

'What we must do' is not necessarily nor to any recognisable extent coincident with what we desire, with what we regard as advantageous or affirmative of our ego.

If we observe a spin of a roulette-wheel and seek to allow our Mind to tell us what number or colour will turn up we have the idea of utilising for our own benefit (or at least of utilising) any intuition so obtained. But that we are unable to do, and must be unable to do. Between the answer regarding what we must do and the answer regarding what will turn up there is no necessary connection whatever.

We may learn to know what we must do, but we should avoid the error of supposing that such action will have any bearing on what we desire to attain.

* * *


Prajna is the dynamic aspect of Suchness.

* * *

The crucial mystery: the 'me' is unreal, yet Reality is immanent in, and and transcendent to, all manifestation.

When one gains an insight into the reality 'behind' manifestation one should perceive the reality 'behind' the 'me' - one's own and other people's personalities. At the same moment the unreality of the apparent 'me' becomes evident: it is a distorted reflection of the moon in a puddle.

* * *

Is one not everyone in one's dreams? And when one is awake (as it is called) ...?

* * *

All concepts are dualistic, therefore in order to transcend dualism (the opposites and complementaries) we must transcend concepts. That is known as direct cognition.
Not worth writing down? Perhaps.

* * *

A concept is an arrestation of the movement of manifestation; so it is ipso facto a dead thing, without reality. So every concept is dead and unreal. To be seized, Reality must be approached before the formation of a concept, and in movement.

* * *

Suffering is exclusive to the false 'me'. It is therefore self-imposed. What we think is its cause is merely some phenomenon that releases the machinery of self-torture.

* * *

As Jehan Dufresne de Gallier said to me: 'The fictitious 'me' of men who have understood is like a 'ham' actor who by force of habit goes on playing a part to an empty 'house'.'

It is also like a conjuror who performs his tricks in front of an audience that knows how they are done.
The fictitious 'me' of men who have understood is a clown who has lost his 'public'. Poor devil!

* * *

Is birth a beginning rather than an end? Is death an end rather than a beginning?

Appearance as Reflection of Reality

Unreality is every object that we perceive sensorially. Nothing that we perceive can be real, nor any attribute that we may give it. Reality is the thing-in-itself, in its Thusness or Suchness.

What we perceive is something projected by our psycho-somatic apparatus, within ourselves, for nothing apparent exists outside our mind; the immanent or subjacent reality we can know only by intuition or direct cognition. But how may we comprehend that immanent Thusness?

Objects sensorially perceived, so regarded, may be conceived as reflections of real vision, revealing external aspects only (form and colour) in three dimensions instead of the within (the essence) in four.

But in real vision there is no longer duality: vision and witness of vision are one and identical. Time, being, as we have seen, the tridimensional manner in which the fourth dimension of Space is perceived, disappears automatically and inevitably in quadridimensional vision, and with it the dualism of seer and seen in no-longer-existent Space-time (for seeing and seen imply both Space and Time).

Further, the figure, or even the object, with which we identify ourselves in our dreams is no more nor less ourselves than any other component of such dream, but is merely an element therein. Awake (as we call it) the situation is doubtless the same; i.e. we are neither more nor less ourselves than we are in any other element within the compass of our minds.

The Witness of perception is all equally, and alone is real.

* * *

The act of perceiving (sensorially) is real; that which is perceived is unreal.

This brief statement is more important than it appears.

* * *

The act of every action is real, the action (in its effect) is unreal. This is surely the meaning of the Zen Masters' technique of blows, kicks, gestures, exclamations.

In applied Zen, in archery, in swordsmanship, etc., the technique amounts to a discarding of reasoned actions and the substitution of spontaneous ones, an abandonment of the unreal processes of thought thereby leaving the way open for the real to act directly. Inevitably when that is allowed to happen the time-factor is by-passed and action and reaction become simultaneous. Consequently, without aim (reasoning) and with relaxed muscles, one arrow splits its predecessor in the bull's-eye, and the parry accompanies the thrust - so that the technically efficient (reasoning) swordsman, however swift his reflexes, faces inevitable death or defeat.

But is not this the doctrine of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, the application of the Taoist Wu-Wei?

To use the title Zen Buddhism and never Zen Taoism is surely an historical anomaly.

The Relationship between Reality and Manifestation

My understanding of manifestation or the world of appearances or the ten thousand things is that we perceive, and can only perceive, sensorially, what in our terminology has to be described as the external aspect of reality (although Reality cannot have either outside or inside). That aspect is merely that which perception in three-dimensions-plus-time is able to seize and interpret. Dimensions, however, are only a laboratory apparatus devised for the purpose of analysis and comprehension, and do not exist as things-in-themselves.

It has been demonstrated that the higher animals, though living in what to us is a three-dimensional world, have percepts only and a two-dimensional consciousness, although tridimensional consciousness and vague concepts may occasionally be achieved. If that is so the analogy with ourselves seems to be perfect. We who live in a four-dimensional world have percepts and concepts and a three-dimensional consciousness, although quadridimensional consciousness and intuitional cognition may occasionally supervene. Each category has the higher as a potentiality.

Since Time is known to be the fourth dimension of Space and at the same time a function of our receptive apparatus it automatically disappears on the attainment of quadridimensional perception wherein things are no longer perceived in succession. Moreover, since in tridimensional vision only the external aspect of objects can ever be perceived, so in quadridimensional vision must the further dimension of objects become visible - which is that which to us is 'within'. But this 'within' may merely be that which we normally perceive in succession as externals. Furthermore, motion being a function of time, and so unreal, disappears also in real vision, for non-action is a function of Reality (or of Tao, as the great Sage termed it).

That which is then perceived, in real vision as it is called, is the thusness or suchness of things, the self-nature of things, that which the Zen Masters perceived and sought to render visible to their disciples by forcibly drawing their attention, away from reasoning which is unreal, to things-in-themselves by means of the act of action and of perception which is the only element of reality therein.

But these things perceived are not objects external to ourselves: from a mirage to a mountain their only degree of existence, a relative one, is in our own mind. All duality is unreal, is merely the mode of conception available to us, unicity of vision being divided into perceiver and perceived, into all the unreal opposites and complementaries, for the purpose of interpretation in concepts. In real vision duality must also disappear and the unity of perceiver and perceived be re-established. But that is the vision of the Buddha, the vision of Reality itself, and it would appear likely, to me at any rate, that such vision represented a further stage of cognition than that attained by the satori of the Zen Masters, an increase of perception involving the transcendence of more than four of our dimensional limitations.

To sum up, Reality is the Tao, the Absolute, other than which nothing is, immobile, timeless, spaceless - such attributes being merely imaginary values used by us as a means of arriving at some kind of understanding of what Reality must be but having no validity whatsoever as things-in-themselves. But Reality, being everything, is necessarily immanent, transcendent, subjacent, infused in everything that we can know, think, or imagine, however far from Reality itself such percepts and concepts may be in their duality. Thus everything from a mirage to a mountain is unreal, yet everything from a mirage to a mountain must be a reflection of Reality.

(© RKP, 1958)

* * * * *

*(Ed. note: See 'The Zen Teaching of Hui Hai' by John Blofeld, Rider and Co., 1962)