Sunday, September 20, 2009

Messy Mind

It's hard to do effective work when your desk is a mess. I once worked for a woman who had to pat the papers on her desk. in order to find her glasses to begin her work. Likewise, you can't do zazen with a messy mind. You can't even start. Clean it up, bit by bit, by counting your breaths: "One. . ., two. . ., three." Thus your mind is cleaned—and off you go with Dōgen and Zhaozhou.


  1. I am a big fan of pure and clean mind too and don't like letting it go. I was recently asked by a tibetan teacher to meditate on disturbed mind, I had always gone for pure, clean mind and found it difficult. I wondered what the benefit of such a meditation would be. Then I remembered that in the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra it is written there is a "concentration which is like the lion's yawn." and unconcentrated thought plays a major part. So it seem that messy mind might be fundamental to the Mahayana Way.

  2. Dear Aitken Roshi,

    Thank you for sharing this.

    All at once!/bit by bit...

    Three Full Bows.


  3. Good post. Thank you.

    Anon, London, UK.

  4. Messy mind, messy life; Which one is the culprit? To come to understand that life is pristine corrects the mind immediately! There is no one to do any cleaning...the truth of this pristine life resolves the issue and Dogen comes to life right here!

  5. Omigod, then things look bad. Someone once told me that my "true nature" is on that desk. I'm patting all the piles of papers trying to find my glasses. Is it that with zazen I'd be at peace with my messy desk, or that with a neat desk I wouldn't need zazen?
    My wife just came in.
    "Your glasses are on your nose, silly."