Calming and Contemplation part 3

by tendo zenji

Instructional Talks Downloads

December 10th, 2022
Non-Abiding: Instructional Talk


While there is reason and value to dwell in emptiness, ever open, the essence of the awakened mind is Non-dwelling. Our normal view is from the self, we dwell in this sense of separateness, that we are this and everything else is that. The awakened mind is not in such a static viewpoint, it is the energetic, generative, continual transformation that is reality. In the midst of thought, no-thought. We can practice this in our sitting, but go beyond this to all our activities. In any action we aren’t attached to any particular view or outcome. Thus we are able to respond freely.

We can see how this is explained in core treatises and sutras below and how to engage in this as a practice in the next section. Do see the recorded talk for a detailed examination of all of this.

The “Treatise on Awakening of Faith” says, “If you would practice cessation, stay in a quiet place, sitting straight with proper attention; do not rely on the breath, do not rely on physical form, do not rely on space, do not rely on earth, water, fire, or air . . . do not rely on perception or discernment—dismiss all conceptions as they come to mind, and also dismiss the conception of dismissing. As all things are fundamentally without conception, instant to instant they are unborn, instant to instant unperishing. Nor should you pursue outside the mind to think about objects. Then dismiss mind by mind. If the mind races and scatters, you should concentrate and bring it back to right mindfulness.”” In the contemplation of there being only mind and consciousness, all delusions will naturally be transcended.” For ordinary people and beginning students false and true are not yet distinguished; the net of delusion enters the mind and fools the practitioner. Without an adept teacher to ask, they have nothing to rely on; they take the effects of the four demons to be the right path:” as days and months pass, over a long period of time, false views become so ingrained that even meeting with good conditions they become difficult to change; sinking in the ocean of suffering, there is no way of escape. You should look into this on your own part; do not allow a moment’s deviation. This teaching is as expounded in the “Treatise on Awakening of Faith.”

Entry Into the Inconceivable p. 164-5

The Diamond Sutra and Platform Sutra

Chapter 10

Therefore, Subhuti, fearless bodhisattvas should thus give birth to a thought that is not attached and not give birth to a thought attached to anything. They should not give birth to a thought attached to a sight. Nor should they give birth to a thought attached to a sound, a smell, a taste, a touch, or a dharma.

The Sixth Patriarch Sutra says, “Once, when the Fifth Patriarch was reading the Diamond Sutra, when he got to ‘They should give birth to a mind that isn’t attached to anything,’ the Sixth Patriarch (Hui-neng) was suddenly enlightened and said, ‘How could I have known my own nature was already pure? How could I have known my own nature was neither created nor destroyed? How could I have known my own nature was already perfect? How could I have known my own nature does not change?’ The Fifth Patriarch said, ‘Not to recognize your own mind is to study the Dharma to no avail. If, as I was speaking, you recognized your own mind and saw your own nature, you are a leader of men and gods.’”

Hui-neng says, “People who dwell on the sights they see and give birth to thoughts about sights are deluded. People who remain detached from the sights they see and do not give birth to thoughts about sights are awake. People who give birth to thoughts about sights are like a cloud-covered sky. People who do not give birth to thoughts about sights are like a cloudless sky where the sun and moon shine.”   

The Diamond Sutra translated by Red Pine(p. 149-151).

Platform Sutra

The scholar-monk Qisong (契嵩) also noted in his foreword of the Platform Sutra:

The formless is the essence. (無相為體 wúxiang wei ti)
Non-thought is the tenet. (無念為宗 wúnian wei zong)
Non-abiding is the fundamental. (無住為本 wúzhù wei ben)

Non-abiding leads to prajñā (wisdom), as it enables one to consider that worldly issues are empty, so there is no point in retaliation or disputes.

from the Wikipedia entry on Non-Abiding

Non-Dwelling practices

Practices success as Silent Illumination or Shikantaza when done correctly are non-dwelling practices. See this article from Dharma Drum on Non-Abiding which gets into Silent Illumination as a non-abiding practice: Non-Abiding

Ocean Seal Samadhi

Visualization practice for openness. We use the Ocean Seal Samadhi as a technique toward increasing openness. See part 1 for description and guided meditation in this technique. The essence here is to get a feel for increasing openness and to let go of the words and then the visualization. Once one is able to just allow oneself to open up, then you can move on to

Increasing openness 

We relax ourself, settle into sitting, settle into our breath, move into our bodies and increasingly open up. Any point that we find ourselves resting into a modality we let it go. In the chan understanding of this, we simply ‘put down’ any attempt to rest anywhere: in the breath, in the body, in thoughts, in feelings, eventually in openness itself. Put it down.


Entry Into the Inconceivable
An Introduction to Hua-yen Buddhism
by Thomas Cleary
University of Hawaii Press· Honolulu, 1983
ISBN 0-8248-0824-X

Dewdrops on Stinging Nettles
A Companion for Practice
Dream Mountain Press 2020

Diamond Sutra
translated by Bill Porter (Red Pine)
Counterpoint; Revised ed. edition (November 18, 2002)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1582432562

Platform Sutra
Hui-neng translated by Bill Porter (Red Pine)
Counterpoint (November 28, 2008)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1593761775