Seeing directly

I had a discussion with a great master in Japan, and we were talking about the various people who are working to translate the Zen books into English, and he said, “That’s a waste of time. If you really understand Zen, you can use any book. You could use the Bible. You could use Alice in Wonderland. You could use the dictionary, because the sound of the rain needs no translation.

Alan Watts

A break from ticking the boxes


Summer can be a period  when we feel a bit lighter as the days get warmer and the weather allows us have some down time or we take some holidays or maybe go on retreat. So to reflect this, the blog will have a lighter feel for the next few weeks, as there will be only one posting per day. This will  give those who follow the blog a bit of a break in their in-boxes (!)  as well as some space from the continual stimulation which is a feature of todays life,  even regarding our inner life. It also coincides with some  travel I am doing for lecturing and I am taking some time for refreshing the spirit and going on holidays.

Speaking of retreats, for those of you in Europe who are would like to deepen your practice , I would really recommend the Awakening Joy Workshop, being run by James Baraz  in Austria, on the weekend of July 4-6.  James is one of the kindest teachers I know and has been teaching meditation  since 1978. This workshop is based on his  Awakening Joy Book and Course. It would be an excellent way to nourish the sources of joy which can be found in the present moment and move away from our persistent living in the future.

Further details can be found by clicking on this link :

We have negative mental habits that come up over and over again. One of the most significant negative habits we should be aware of is that of constantly allowing our mind to run off into the future. Perhaps we got this from our parents. Carried away by our worries, we’re unable to live fully and happily in the present. Deep down, we believe we can’t really be happy just yet — that we still have a few more boxes to be checked off before we can really enjoy life. We speculate, dream, strategize, and plan for these “conditions of happiness” we want to have in the future.

Your meditation practice here is to bring your mind back to the present and just recognize the habit every time it pulls you away. You only need to breathe mindfully and smile to your habit energy: “Oh, I got pulled away by that again.” When you can recognize habit energies this way, they lose their hold on you, and you’re free once again to live peacefully and happily in the present.

Thich Nhat Hahn, Peace is Every Step

Letting go of the thinking mind

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You must descend from
your head into your heart.

At present your thoughts of God
are in your head. And God Himself is,
as it were, outside you, and
so your prayer and other spiritual
exercises remain exterior.

Whilst you are still
in your head, thoughts will not easily be subdued but
will always be whirling about, like snow
in winter or clouds of mosquitoes in summer.

Saint Theophan the Recluse, (1815–1894) monk of the Russian Orthodox Church

photo alan Murray-Rust


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Imagine if all the tumult of the body were to quiet down, along with our busy thoughts. 

If the very world should stop, and the mind cease thinking about itself, go beyond itself, and be quite still

Imagine if all things that are perishable grew still. 

 And imagine if that moment were to go on and on, leaving behind all other sights and sounds 

but this one vision which ravishes and absorbs and fixes the beholder in joy, 

so that the rest of eternal life were like that moment of illumination which leaves us breathless. 

St Augustine, Confessions




On the longest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere….

If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness

then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present

Our life has no end in the way in which our visual field has no limits.

Wittgenstein, Tractatus, 6.431