A Totally Ordinary Buddha

A Totally Ordinary Buddha

Zazen cultivates clarity and in time, the illusory nature of phenomena breakdown, allowing an experience of limitless, boundless peace. There is no other, no me or you, no being or non-being. Enlightenment has unfolded. Congratulations. What now?

Dissolve into infinity, and continue.

Realise the True Self, and continue.

Become One, and continue.

End, and continue.


The Enlightening process shouldn’t end in the World of one colour, the unified field, Oneness. To even consider this would be a mighty shame. To come back into the world of observances, and go on, continue, is the imperfect perfection of a totally ordinary Buddha.



On the 12th Day of Christmas…

On the 12th Day of Christmas…

On the twelve day of Christmas, my True Self gave to me;

12 Interdependent Links of Co-Arising

(11 Virtuous Mental Factors; 10 Realms of Existence; 9 Points of Death Meditation; 8 Great Tenets of Mahayana; 7 Factors of Awakening; 6 Paramitas; 5 Indriyana; 4 Noble Truths; 3 Dharma Seals; 2 Satyas; and a Buddha by the Bodhi Tree)

The Twelve Interdependent Links of Co-Arising

There has been a theme in these series of posts; in one the rest remain. And this is precisely the message of the twelve interdependent links of co-arising (pratitya samutpadd). Sure we all know what cause-effect entails, do we not? That there is a cause and then an effect? Because the Cosmos is rides on the tracks of time right? The teaching of pratitya samutpadd is the teaching that cause and effect co-arise; the cultivation of the clarity to see that what came first is not the chicken or the egg. The answer is obvious- they are but one. The egg is in the chicken and the chicken in the egg. They inter-be.

There is a simple, yet profound, way to view this link or association; this is such because that is such. Both exist. One did not come before and is now completely eliminated from the Cosmos. It is settling to see things in this way; the wisdom of interdependency shines through, and this feels like a mother’s calming embrace- completely supportive. Everything that has ever existed/happened has lead up to this moment- where you are- and everything that could ever exist or happen is present here too, as pure potentiality. If something has yet to manifest, that is very different from absence. Can we ever really be sure that anything is absent? What would that mean in actuality?

These are the twelve pratitya samutpadd:

  1. Ignorance
  2. Volitional actions
  3. Consciousness
  4. Mind-Body
  5. Six Sense Organs (and corresponding objects)
  6. Contact
  7. Feeling
  8. Craving
  9. Grasping
  10. Coming to be
  11. Birth
  12. Old Age and Death

These needn’t be in that order; the interdependency at the heart of this teaching of course points to a more supportive structure than a linear relationship. These twelve are often taught from the perspective of a deluded mind, but of course there is the flip side. So let us ignite the bodhichitta, the Great Aspiration, and be motivated by Love, looking to future with more peace.

In this way, the twelve links are reframed here, as presented by Thich Nhat Hanh:

  1. Clear Understanding

  2. Great Aspiration

  3. Four Wisdoms

  4. Transformation Body

  5. Result Body

  6. Mindfulness of contact

  7. Mindfulness of feeling

  8. Four Immeasurable Minds

  9. Freedom

  10. Wondrous Being

  11. Wisdom of no-birth

  12. Wisdom of no-death

It is possible you are ignorant in a particular situation, but it is also possible for the clear understanding to emerge also, if one is practising the Dharma. And ignorance (avidya) settles into clear understanding (vidya). Just as the darkness of night recedes for the dawn of the day. And within this of course the others flourish. For example, a clear understanding of situations includes a clear understanding of birth and death (11 & 12). And in this way the wisdom of no-birth and no-death flourishes. Birth and death are not ignored, but we are no longer flittering away energy and power into them. This wisdom is not one of transcending beingness and accomplishing non-beingness; this the Buddha made clear in his first Dharma talk. The path is not one of escapism. But rather no-birth and no-death is to say a complete redefinition of what it means. Birth is okay, and so is death; simply the waves upon which it is completely necessary for a Boddhisatva to ride upon. With clear understanding this is known and will come to be embodied. Thus, from one side birth and death- it is, but the equivalent, made of the exactly the same substance, just viewed with absolute clarity, nirvana- it is.

Just as we can say, for example, clear understanding enables the realisation of the wisdom of no-birth and no-death; we can also say that clear understanding is not clear understanding unless accompanied by this wisdom of no-birth and no-death, since it will be ignorant of this wisdom at least. They co-arise.

“The gate to oneness of cause and effect opens;

neither two nor three, the path runs straight.” -Hakuin Zenji

So what is done, is done with all else is done. This moment is precious because it is where infinity resides– not as some abstract symbol, but in a very literal sense. All is here, the unblemished complete manifest, and not-yet-manifest Cosmos. This is rather good news.

“A beginner’s meditation is the complete expression of perfect enlightenment.” -Dōgen Zenji

Take a seat with me and let us now sit with earnest; allowing Buddhahood to permeate throughout space and time, everywhere in all times is the realm of Buddha.


Thank You for visiting Only Yoking,

Your visiting and my writing co-arise!


On the 7th Day of Christmas…

On the 7th Day of Christmas…

On the seventh day of Christmas, my True Self gave to me;

7 Factors of Awakening;

(6 Paramitas; 5 Indriyana; 4 Noble Truths; 3 Dharma Seals; 2 Satyas; and the Buddha by the Bodhi Tree)

Within the store consciousness there is a seed of Awakening, of Buddhahood, waiting patiently to be watered. This seed has already been watered in you, and has now began to sprout. A sapling of awakening, with seven tiny limbs, branches, each representing one of the factors of awakening- that support the integrity of the growing Tree.

The Seven Factors of Awakening are:

  1. Mindfulness (smriti)

  2. Investigation of phenomena (dharma pravichaya)

  3. Diligence (virya)

  4. Ease (prashrabdhih)

  5. Joy (priti)

  6. Concentration (samadhi)

  7. Equanimity (upeksha)

Developing these factors in daily practice, we help nurture the Bodhi Tree within, whose figs of pure perfection once fruited will nourish our very being in all that we do and all that we don’t do.

I have already mentioned a little on some of these factors in relation to there appearing in other Dharmic lists, so will focus on those not yet explored. The constant message though is that looking deeply into and touching the essence of one, the others become apparent.

Mindfulness is the energy by which I cultivate through the aid of the breath, it anchors body and mind within whatever is happening. It feels as though their is limitless capacity in this space; it’s the only space where I feel I can ever truly make a decision. And equally, the only space any of the other limbs can be respectfully cultivated. I can investigate truths, I can look upon something with the openness to truly learn, to let whatever it may be speak to me, in whatever voice it may have. To let those who are suffering speak to me, without ever having to open their mouths.

I am an optimist but not at the expense of denying the aspects which the pessimists focus on. Because in the present moment, submerged in the subtleties of mindfulness and investigating whatever is there, with a gentle ease and diligence, so that I don’t give one thing any more power than anything else, it is clear that even when there are things that cause suffering, there are so many beautiful and joyful aspects of being. Falling in love with being. Widening one’s perspective like this, made easier, natural in fact, with mindful energy activated one can generate joyful energy, and it’s this that will birth creativity in situations where one may otherwise feel trapped between a rock and a hard place.

This is where we see flowering on the Tree of Awakening, four huge flowers where one can sit and abide in for meditation, of the Four Brahmaviharas, one of which is joy, another equanimity. Again, this is best practiced by being able to widen one’s perspective, upeksha means “to look over”, to look over a situation, to look over a person’s harsh words and see something else, or rather to see yourself. Equanimity relies on a non-discriminating mind- how would you react to offensive words if you didn’t take this concept of “other” very seriously at all? With the energy of mindfulness, having practiced diligently, and cultivating joy in seemingly sad times and seemingly content times, having an ease of being, investigating and dissolving into experience, the quality of equanimity is just second nature.

Until your Mum has a right good go at you…

I jest. Of course certain situations are easier than others to let the fruits of the practice shine through, and often it is with those we are most intimately related to where we may find it most difficult in practice. But I find if I diligently keep the momentum going, with a sense of ease of course, the Tree of Awakening within consciousness fruits more often.  

Thank you once again for visiting Only Yoking



On the 6th Day of Christmas

On the 6th Day of Christmas

On the sixth day of Christmas, my True Self gave to me;

6 Paramitas

(5 Indriyana; 4 Noble Truths; 3 Dharma Seals; 2 Satyas; and a Buddha by the Bodhi Tree)

The 6 Paramitas

It is often said there are two shores; one is full of torment, anger easily unleashed, anxiety hiding in every bit of bramble, fear in even the shadow of your own body; the other is stable, peaceful, and smiling- genuinely- is the natural way the face sits. How does one get from the shore of suffering to the shore of peace? Not by putting one’s faith in teleportation, but by putting the effort in to pass from one shore to the other, to build a raft and use it well. Paramitas can be translated as perfection, and if we use the 6 Paramitas in order to cross over into peace, we are practicing perfection. Perfection it seems, is a gift we can offer ourselves daily. Not an abstract ladder with no stiles making it impossible to climb up.

  1. Giving (dana paramita)

  2. Precepts (shila paramita)

  3. Inclusiveness (kshanti paramita)

  4. Diligence (virya paramita)

  5. Meditation (dhyana paramita)

  6. Wisdom (prajña paramita)

I envisage each paramita as a muscle, at first the paramita muscles are weak, feeble, easy to tire, and this makes it difficult to cross over to the other shore. But the more these paramita muscles are exercised, the stronger they become, and at best crossing over to the other shore is as good as effortless.

Recently, in the morning before I leave the house I set the intention to excercise the paramitas whenever possible. I begin with a 20 minute meditation, my dhyana paramita is exercised; I practice mindful steps on my way through town- with each step my virya paramita grows stronger; I remind myself to make ethical and conscientious choices when choices are to made, my shila paramita is moves and warms up; I listen with stillness of mind when someone needs to speak, giving people my total and authentic presence my dana paramita lifts up; when someone snaps at me, firing arrows of anger or suspicion or the like, my kshanti paramita muscle is more able every time to hold these arrows in such a way they are as fresh as flowers; and with all this support, all these muscles working the prajña paramita muscle inevitably strengthens, able to support further the other paramitas, like a Mother muscle, and it’s secretions help lubricate the way to Buddhahood. In fact, prajña paramita when realised and actualised, is non-discriminative wisdom, it may not be a case anymore of crossing over, but may be experienced more like the sea itself has parted.

We can never do enough of these, but that is not defeatism, because the paramitas are not something to beat, but something to cultivate, to use, to exercise.

It’s not always plain-sailing on crossing over from the shore of suffering to the shore of peace, but it does get easier the more we do it.

I’ll see you on the other shore,

– dharmacaterpillar

On the 2nd Day of Christmas…

On the 2nd Day of Christmas…

On the second day of Christmas my True Self gave to me,

Two Satyas

(and a Buddha by the Bodhi Tree)

The Two Satyas

I find this to be a constant, often unavoidable, aspect of Dharma in discussions but also in personal practice. The two satyas (two truths) are; worldly truth (samvriti satya); and absolute truth (paramartha satya). Essentially here we are dealing with a great dialectic between that which is relative and that which is absolute, or at least at first it seems a great dialectic, upon further maturation along the path, I find, these two truths are just that- True.

Wordly truth and absolute truth are both true, and what is more they are equally so, in practice. In other words, I find that the essence, or teaching, of the satyas is that it’s not about transcending the world of samvriti satya where suffering is bound to reach and realise paramartha satya where Buddhahood awaits. It is by working with the samvriti satyas, the 4 noble truths for example, day by day that lubricates the way to paramartha satya- where concepts collapse altogether, and in the words of the great Boddhisatva Avalokiteshvara; there is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no cessation of suffering, and no path. There is of course, on one level, but on another in an absolute sense- all is Done.

I find here it is unavoidable to avoid mentioning inter-dependence; any thing is entirely composed of elements that are not the thing. In the one, all resides. This is true of all things, including the Dharma itself; if one looks deeply into one teaching, all the other teachings can be realised. So one on level, for example, a pebble is a pebble, and on another is the Cosmos, but both are correct, it is precisely so, which is why the pebble is indeed a pebble, genuinely.

Being bogged down, residing in only one of the satyas, is unhelpful, in my experience. For example, taking on only relative truths and dismissing absolute truth, one cannot be liberated, by definition, but dismissing all relative truths and attempting to only reside in absolute truth how can you hope to be a bodhisattva? How can you hope to even feed yourself?

The greatest way is holding both with equal appreciation; we have two hands, one for each truth. I have found it helpful to use this phrase in contemplating the Two Satyas; “I am me; I am also not just me; but that makes me- me.”

If you’re anything like me, then you will hold paradox in high regard! And it will not have gone unnoticed that the Two Satyas is a concept itself. So the authentic Way, perhaps what I’ve been talking around and pointing to, is when ready the Two Satyas as a concept will too collapse.


Human, or not?


or sensory cells of the infinite?

The Cosmos resides as every element,

and every element resides as the Cosmos.

Not just human; not just sensory cells of the infinite.

Not both separately.

(by dharmacatapillar)


The Buddha left us with this from the Ekottara Agama,

All conditioned things are impermanent.

They are phenomena, subject to birth and death.

When birth and death no longer are,

The complete silencing is joy.


Many Thanks once again for visiting Yolking Around,

A lotus for you, a Buddha to be,

– a dharmacaterpillar