Verses on the Faith Mind by Sengcan

The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood
the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

Continue reading


Golden Calves Grazing the Earth (Civilization, Symbolism, and Zen)

Reprinted from New Old Traditions, who originally posted it for me.

“The roots of today’s globalizing spiritual crisis lie in a movement away from immediacy; this is the hallmark of the symbolic.”
—John Zerzan

“Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation.”
—Guy Debord

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Symbolism is an act of re-presentation, always impoverishing and isolating that which is symbolized by collapsing it into a fragmentary concept, separated from its environment and its dependency on the rest of existence.  As the universe flows on in its relentless dance, a symbol remains the same, and the breath and spirit of what it identifies is forgotten in favor of its name.  “For the Murngin people of northern Australia, name giving and all other such linguistic externalizations are treated as a kind of death, the loss of an original wholeness,” notes John Zerzan in Too Marvelous for Words: Language Briefly Revisited.  How deeply in this pile of deaths might we be buried today, as symbolic culture has grown exceedingly complex and expansive since its inception? Continue reading

Meditations on the Nature of Spirit

The Gaelic or déo, the Sioux Wakan Tanka, the Latin spiritus, the Greek anima mundi, the Christian Holy Spirit, the Taoist qi, the Hindu Atman-Brahman, they all mean the same thing.

“Listen to the air,” says Lame Deer.  “You can hear it, feel it, smell it, taste it.  Woniya waken—the holy air—which renews all by its breath.  Woniya, woniya waken—spirit, life, breath, renewal, it means all that.”  As it does for so many cultures throughout the world.  Breath, life, wind, light, and spirit often congeal into a single word to express the vital force which moves through all life.  This is the ancient source of all the dances of nature, it is the wind which breathes life into the earth.  Continue reading