Using the whole body
and mind, simply go forward, focusing
your attention on each moment of each moment. What,
you may ask, is this moment of each moment?
Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we have
thousands and thousands of these nens all the
time. And one thing zazen enables us to do is to slow
down our processes so that what has been taken for
granted or not even been in our awareness becomes accessible.
Nen nen ju-shin ki
Nen nen arises from
Nen nen fu ri shin
nen nen is not separate
from the Kannon Sutra
When we think of
the mind as some possession of ours, we’re missing
the whole point. These moments of mind are what
give rise to consciousness. These moments of mind are
nothing but our life itself. And they are mind.
They don’t occur in the
mind. They are the mind. So where’s the mind?
Whose mind is it?
We know that the teachings tell us there
is no fixed entity we can call the self. We’re
told there is no self; it’s just an illusion.
Does that mean we don’t exist or that it’s
some incredible hallucination? Not really. Our experience
of ourselves from moment to moment, from one nen to
another, is quite real. The experience is real.
But it’s just experience.
Consider, for example, sitting on a sand
dune at the beach.
And so it is with ourselves. You think you were born
on such-and-such date, live in such-and-such cit
or town, have such-and-such history, such-and-such
Sure, it’s "you." "You" are
the one who’s
remembering all "your" life.
But as we think about this more carefully, let’s
consider that we are, like the waves, products
of the ocean. The whole universe is waving me, waving
you. And so you arise and appear to move forward in
time but actually it’s moment by moment by moment
the universe arising and subsiding.
Eventually the energy of the wave
dissipates and returns to the ocean.
Does this metaphor of waves and waving
apply to thoughts?
phenomena arise, have their time, subside and create
the causes for new phenomena
But is there not actually a wave?
Think about what happens when we go to a movie. We
may go in knowing about the technology of film, but
watching the movie we become absorbed in the story
we lose sight of the fact—voluntarily—that
seeing a great number of still pictures (24 per
second) — stilled moments — moving through
time so rapidly, one
after another, that they create the illusion of
continuity and movement. If we slow down the number
of frames per second, they appear jerky, and we then
can actually recognize that what we’re seeing
is a succession of still images. When we speed it
up, the jerkiness goes away and things seem lifelike
and real! And we
can forget about the technology and simply enjoy
And so it is in our lives.
When we’re operating at our normal neurotic
speed, everything seems very convincingly real. It
seems, that is, to have its own trajectory through
time and to be discreet, consistent, coherent.
And what we are, really, is a collection of moments
in which phenomena appear and disappear.
And our thoughts are moments of mind,
a collection of mind moments.