The Timeless

"The Timeless" 8 of 200 from Robert Aitken's book Miniature of a Zen Master.

In this miniature, Aitken Roshi kicks it up a notch. In just 63 words, he point out the timeless nature of life, describes how we wake up in that timelessness, then explodes it all by pointing out that 'timelessness' and 'waking up' are just thoughts and here is the part that I love, Aitken Roshi admonishes us to "dismiss all concepts" and "dismiss all thoughts".

Don't know why this type of teaching resonates with me?

Uchiyama Roshi described thoughts as secretions of the mind. It is just what minds do, minds secrete thoughts. This fits my experience. Some minds are huge secretors (new word) and some not. Even an individual mind, like mine, sometimes has a diarrhea of secretions and sometime is dry of secretions. If we realize we control the secretions (thoughts) of the mind the same way we control our heart beating, then we have a chance.

By exercise and proper diet, the heart develops strength and capacity to ramp up to any exertion I throw at it. Low cholesterol keeps the pipes clear, cardio training slows the resting pulse. Indirectly these work together to act on the beating heart yet I still don't control it. In this same way we can only exert tiny bit of external pressure on the minds secretions. A sitting practice helps. Working with a teacher helps. Friends can help. What else helps?

Thich Nhat Hanh is in Old Path, White Clouds, said "This is because that is. This is not because that is not. This is born because that is born. This dies because that dies. This is the wonderful law of dependent co-arising that I have discovered in my mediation." So it is with the secreting mind.

Aitken Roshi encourages us to dismiss thoughts with "not this, not this, not this" over and over without end.

Don't pick your minds secretions and play with them. This is no more healthy or helpful than picking up your bowels secretions and playing with them. (Aitken Roshi didn't say this, I did. He wouldn't be so crude.)

If you are reading here, you really should consider getting Robert Aitken's book Miniatures of a Zen Master. It is a sweet book, each chapter or 'miniature' is only a paragraph yet is packed with how-to and encouragement. I bet you'd see different things than I do. It is a bit funny that he writes 63 words and I create this with 412 words. Thanks Roshi.