Sometimes in my talks I emphasise the no-self especially because most of us are more stuck in the concept of a solid, separate self than vice versa. However, the idea of no self can be easily misconstrued. Shakyamuni Buddha himself commented on this and he described two broad areas of possible misunderstanding. On the one hand there are folk who see the ‘self’ as something more solid than it is and on the other (less common) are folk who see it more empty than it really is. Consequently Shakyamuni taught that:
‘Being apart from these two extremes (e.g. views based on existence or non existence) I teach the Dharma of the Middle Way.’
In the Middle Way the ‘self’ is recognised not as something of solid existence, nor is it non existent. It is rather, moment by moment, continually changing into something new.
On the same subject Uchiyama (in ‘Opening the Hand of Thought’) says the following about the apparent paradox of form (existence) is emptiness (non existence), and emptiness is form:
‘The Middle Way does not mean taking some in between position that has been conjured up in our heads, nor acting in a compromising way. Rather, despite the fact that we latch on to our ideas of being or non being, taking the Middle Way means to demolish all concepts set up in our minds and, without fixing on reality as any particular thing, to open the hand of life, allowing life to be life. Zazen is the actualisation of this Middle Way that lives at the very quick of life; it is life as life – that is interdependence. In short Zazen enables life to be life by letting it be…Zazen is practicing the Middle Way with our bodies.’
I look forward to seeing you at Crosby or one of our other 2014 retreats or at the Zendo in Liverpool, where you are welcome at any time and to any of our scheduled practice times.
With good wishes,