There is meditation; Zen, again…

There is meditation; Zen, again…

In this blog, on November 1, 2013, I referenced Alan Watts’ (The Way of Zen, 1957) story of the fifth Zen patriarch, with the proviso that “I’ll have to tell you that story sometime.” Well, now is that sometime, and here it is:

Hui-neng, the sixth Zen Patriarch, was an illiterate peasant who worked in the kitchen of a monastery presided over by the fifth Zen Patriarch, Hung-jan. When it came time to look for a successor, Hung-jan announced that he would be handing down his office, together with his robe and begging bowl (said to have been handed down from the Buddha, and which were the insignia of his office), to the person who submitted the best poem expressing his understanding of Buddhism. The chief monk of the community was a certain Shen-hsui, and all the others naturally assume that the office would go to him and so made no attempt to compete. Shen-hsui, however, was uncertain of his own understanding, and submitted his poem anonymously, deciding to claim authorship only if the Patriarch approved of it. During the night, then, he posted the following poem:

The body is the Bodhi Tree;

The mind like a bright mirror standing.

Take care to wipe it all the time,

And allow no dust to cling.

The Patriarch allowed that all who put that advice into practice would be able to realize their true nature, but that the understanding which it expressed was still far from perfect.

The following day another poem appeared beside the first, this one written by the monk who worked in the kitchen:

There never was a Bodhi Tree,

Nor bright mirror standing.

Fundamentally, not one thing exists,

So where is the dust to cling?

In time, Hui-neng became the sixth Zen Patriarch.   Interestingly, regarding meditation practice, he noted that “To restrain the body by sitting up for a long time – of what benefit is this towards the Dharma?” (Dharma: essentially, individual conduct in conformity with the laws that govern the universe, such as the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths).

Now, I have just a small touch of enlightenment: I now know who Bill Harris is!  He is the Director and guiding force behind Centerpointe Research Institute ( From when I first retired in 1992 until 2001, when I became involved in teaching children with autism, I was the owner/operator of Bronte Biofeedback, mainly a neurofeedback practice. I had had a long-standing interest in biofeedback because of my late friend and colleague, Doug Quirk, and retirement seemed like a good time to put that interest into practice. However, it wasn’t until I was about to close that business that I became interested in Holosync, Bill Harris’ audio-based brain(wave) training technology that is claimed to produce “Profoundly deep mediatation usually only experienced by those who’ve meditated many hours a day for thirty-odd years…”

I have always wanted to meditate, but I have never made time for it – I am a human doing rather than a human being – and while I had explored Holosync, I never pursued it beyond an introduction. Over the years, I have sought other quick fixes such as Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind Process, meditation and brainwave training apps, Deepak Chopra’s Dream Weaver glasses, the Muse equipment, and Slavinski’s Spiritual Technology, but that is as far as it ever goes. There just isn’t enough time to do all that I want to do! And for the moment, I am stuck in – I choose to stick my self in – teaching children with autism.

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