Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Dialogues in a Dream"

An internet Zen monk friend, Thomas Yuho Kirchner, sent me a review copy of his latest translation efforts -- an absolutely gorgeous volume, which, on a quick skim, is absolutely up my alley. I just opened the book tonight.

Mind you, I don't generally read books about Zen Buddhism any more, but this ... well, on a quick skim, "Dialogues in a Dream: Muchu Mondo"  is like entering a warm room on a cold night and finding a dear friend there to greet you. The heart fills up with ... with what? Well perhaps a whispered but heart-felt, "Thank God!"

The book is not for everyone, I imagine. But for Zen students, perhaps it is a must ... or anyway a must for me.

Muso Soseki (1275-1351) was, to quote the introduction (which is written in clear English), "one of the most influential Japanese Zen masters of his time." Since I only skimmed the introduction and skimmed the text, I hesitate to add more. But within the text, I found several straight-forward, serious-without-being-solemn observations, as for example:

In any event, it is not necessary to eliminate worldly feelings before beginning practice toward the realization of Original Nature. Those who have realized the fruit of arhatship do not have thoughts of aversion or attachment regardless of circumstances they find themselves in, but such people cannot be said to have truly realized the Dharma. Ordinary people pressed by the passions who enter enlightenment even though their feelings of joy and anger are not yet extinguished -- such people have truly realized the Dharma. Thus it cannot be said that one must first eliminate worldly feelings and only then attain enlightenment. Even as one remembers to lessen deluded feelings when they arise, one must not neglect practice toward the realization of Original Nature.

Talk about a mother's kiss!


  1. To that I would have to say it really depends on the person .To some positive and negative emotions are indeed a hindrance that should be avoided at all costs . To assume one band-aid fits all is foolish . Anita

  2. Correction ...Or maybe a better word to have used would be foolhardy. For me emotional distraction is tantamount to trying to meditate in a crowded bar amongst blaring music and stumbling drunks . Might as well give up before you start . Anita