Saturday, December 12, 2009


"Pay attention!" my mother used to say. It is good advice for us in our zazen. Attention! Everything is dark and quiet. There is no sound of a passing vehicle, no chatter of birds on the lawn, no laughter of children playing volleyball. There is nothing in the whole universe. Dōgen Zenji would heartily approve.


  1. In great moments of panic, I find myself telling myself this chant, No fixed self, no problem. It helps me somehow. Also thanks! I appreciate your teachings..

  2. To say there is nothing is not correct. To say there is something is not correct.

    Sounds like a funeral is in progress.

  3. Identity turns the key. The self divides all things into components. When that self dissolves there is no thing, no division...utter stillness. Birdsong returns to birdsong, childrens calls are purely childrens calls, the rumble of the car engine vibrates the whole universe.

  4. attend, the main prerequisite in passing a class. Just to show up! How does one show up for life? Remembering what's real and what are distractions. Those distractions seem so potent! But as to the real...the children calling in the distance, the chirping of birds, the rumble of a truck just outside sesshin doors. These entrances through the gateless gate all the way to no one and nothing...who shows up there? Is anything real?

  5. Hi Robert Aitken! It's nice to read your blog :)

    Anyway, is it true that there is nothing in the whole universe? Once I heard a Buddhist's statement, "things are present, but not real." Is it one and the same with what you mean?

    Anyway, I'm just a learning young man, I would love to hear more from you :)


  6. Namaste' Robert,
    Beautiful website :)

  7. Dear Aitken Roshi,

    Thank you for not-teaching.

    It is certainly a relief to find that no-sound rings out through space and time.


  8. Hi Uncle Bob,

    It's really nice to read your blog! I didn't know you were a blogger.

    Best wishes,
    Your niece,

  9. Hi Roshi - Yes, my mothers wisdom equally useful: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Now, so good to have this venue to communicate with you, got to it as a link from Florence Caplow's blog. I've been wanting to pass on to you an essay I've been writing called "The Sound of Water," my take on Basho's Old Pond. A good deal of the inspiration for it came from Zen Wave. email me at and I'll send a copy.
    Gassho, Patrick McMahon

  10. Gassho Roshi,

    Yes, pay attention, pay attention, pay attention!