Sitting #6

The tunnel stretches forward, and sitting happens as one walks. Cold and clammy. Wet sounds underfoot. I cannot feel breath of my own. Life of my own. Cannot feel the footsteps, bringing me closer to oblivion.

I've walked through the tunnel at least one hundred times, and yet, I've never experienced the walking or the tunnel.

A realm of the senses, beyond the interference of self.

Sitting happens as one walks. Life and death, the constant companion.

Self-Portrait

I love to watch faces. To see them cry in the sun, or smile in the moonlight. I am truly fascinated by the human form, but it is the face that steals my focus. To listen to every expression of the face is something I love to do. And many times, when talking with someone, I may miss the words completely, but their face makes the meaning clear as day.

Many cannot listen with their ears, which is bad enough. But most are incapable of listening with their eyes. That is a shame. Listening to the lines running deep, shades of skin, glistening eyes staring back. It is all there to see.

Part of me wishes it were possible to poke into the senses of other people through their eyes, and fully feel what they are experiencing. To feel the love, hate, anger, happiness, and see what it is so many billions of people suffer over. But none of that ever comes to me. It is only ever human beings. Sitting. Talking. Listening. Looking. Lines running deep.

Takuin's Face

I take many photos of my face (although I never post them). I do not know why I do this. I am not particularly fascinated with it, and I cannot say there is anything at all I hope to find there.

Yet I keep doing it.

Whenever I see myself in the mirror, or in a photo, it is in some way like looking at a newly made map of a continent surveyed and explored for the very first time. Excitement and possibility. Unknown and dangerous. There are no memories or experiences of the thing.

This face is always with me, and carries absolutely nothing along with it.

And that never seems to change

 

A Question on Speaking

This question came from James through Skype.

'What was it like for you to meet with people after you had the 'accident' of your liberation?'

Thank you for the question, James.

I remember people having the most interesting questions. And I honestly had no answer for them and cannot say I knew anything at all about what they asked. But I wanted to come together with them, and we would walk together, step by step, as if holding hands, and we would find out - or not - together.

I felt they were instructing me, as I often moved like a blind man with newly given sight. But that may be what they came to me for; to hear the discoveries of the newly sighted man. And I didn't mind at all.

But if they came to be taught, then I failed them completely.

Takuin's mind may be a giving mind, whatever that means, but it is not giving of answers. And this is confusing to so many who have come to see him. There is no end goal, and nothing to be attained at the end. There is only the moment by moment functioning of the organism.

But they wanted Liberation so badly, you see, and they hoped that through an answer, or even just through physical closeness to the speaker, they would be imparted with a wonderful gift, or the end state they had hoped to find.

Inside Yoyogi Koen

Liberation is not in an end, nor is it in a beginning. It is life, as it is lived. Nothing more, and nothing less.

I have said this kind of thing before, and invariably someone comes back with, "Well, I live my life everyday, and still it is not like yours," but I question that. Not the bit about Takuin's life, as that is insignificant here. No, I question whether they have ever truly lived even one moment of their lives.

And there is nothing wrong with that, really, for they must see the reality of their functioning and fully understand the thing they are, and not the person they someday hope to be.

Life is not a matter of finding the answer to an exalted state, but more a matter of shutting the mouth-mind and simply living.

There is no state to live in, only living. No end to find, only the exploration. There is not even anyone else to light your candle. You'll have to do that for yourself.

If you come to me for answers, you'll only find discomfort. That is the only teaching I can offer.

Sitting #5

I watch an old lady as she slowly makes her way through the various stalls at the antique fair. And although she drifts through the line, she can't resist the Siren's call of one particular merchant. At least seven times she approaches, then walks away. Approaches and walks away. Approaches...walks away. Like Daruma; seven times down, eight times up. I feel the wind, and hear the sound of traffic. It is only that, along with the old lady. The three move in concert, one never more overpowering than the others. She is bent deeply at the waist, as if unfathomable amounts of heavy loads have been carried across her back.

I lower my head and bow to her effort. By the time I raise my head, she is gone.

Then it is just wind and sound.

Nothing is as constant as the wind, the sound, and the old lady. Not even Takuin, as he is not present as thought, but present only as the sensation of the cold metal seat he sits upon.

That is the way of life. For a brief, brilliant moment, we will be seen, and that moment is beautifully fleeting. Sometime soon, we will all disappear, never to be seen again. Then it is just wind and sound.

Equally as beautiful.

On Quitting Smoking

This question comes from Janice through gmail:

Do you have any advice or suggestions for someone (me) who is going through addiction withdrawal? I am in nicotine withdraw and it is not pretty. I am receiving acupuncture therapy and it helps more than someone would believe. I am attempting to "sit with" the craving episodes but the cravings seem relentless at this point. I cannot fight this. I will not win. Breathing helps. I would appreciate any suggestions. Thank you, Janice

Thank you for the question, Janice.

First I want to say that I tried replying to you through email, but it was rejected by your domain repeatedly for some reason. We may have these problems in the future, and if we do, you may want to contact me through Twitter if it keeps happening.

Thanks for your message...

I smoked for about 10 years or so, but I doubt the story of how I quit would be very useful to you. When I stopped, it was probably around 1999, and it took nothing more than a serious decision to quit. For me, it was as if I turned off a light switch. It was off.

I can clearly remember only one time when I wanted a cigarette, meaning, had a serious craving for one, and that was probably a few weeks after I stopped. But really, the only difficulty I discovered was I felt something was missing from between my fingers.

It was strange...I didn't need a cigarette, but I needed something between my fingers, haha. I would carry a pen and twiddle it from time to time...

Shinjyuku Park

Withdrawal from quitting smoking is really a minor thing. You probably do not believe that, as you may be within that feeling right now. But the urge, the physical urge itself, is rather minor. The problem arises from your thoughts of the urges, and not necessarily the urge itself.

That is not to diminish the urge, because that is very real. But what you want to sit with is your thinking of the urge, and how it arises. If you can see the urge as it is, without your commentary, it will lose its power.

Cravings are not relentless; only your thought is relentless. You may not believe any of this, but that is not necessary anyway. You are doing the right thing looking within, but you may trust yourself too much as the judge of observation.

I cannot fight this. I will not win.

Then you will not. It is that simple.

Thank you for your time, Janice. If you have any more questions, or if you'd just like to give an update in the near future, please don't hesitate.

Takuin

***************

If any of you have advice for Janice on how you quit smoking, please post it here in the comments. I am interested in hearing those stories, as well.  ;)

Faces

A short note to a friend incapable of seeing her true face... Where is your face? Not the physical bit of stuff facing out from your head, but the face you've described...

In your words, that face is not merely what you see in the mirror. It is the keeper of all the stories; the tales of ugliness, failure, whorish behavior. But where is this face? I ask because I cannot see the face you point to with your words.

This face of despair and loneliness...where is it?

I see eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and they are all pointed in the right direction, and all with the proper orientation. I see the beauty in your smile. The way you turn your head when listening for something off in the distance. The little wrinkles that pile up at the top of your nose when you laugh. And your eyes...the angels marvel at the little turn your eyes make when you're up to something clever. I clearly see all of this...

But where is the face you speak of?

Faces

It must be a deficiency in my functioning, because the sight of the creature you describe so confidently through your stories, I have never once seen.

When I look at you, I see none of what you've described. I see the flower, blooming for all, never begging, never lacking, always giving...

Why do you not see this?

Quick Thoughts: Advice to Takuin

November Project: Question #28 This question comes from @peaceinfreedom on Twitter.

Question...What advice would you give to Takuin who once appeared as a seeker? What would you say to him?

I was never a spiritual seeker, although I did seek in many other ways. And one search is the same as any other.

Hmm...I would say this:

"Look at this picture...look at the flower. Can you see how it lives?"

Yellow Flowers

"You'll never seek again, when you live the life of a flower."

That is what I would say to him...but I doubt he would listen.

Chasing the Memory

November Project: Question #27 This short exchange comes from Facebook, and it references the previous post, What Do You Believe?

I have tried to envision the world from your perspective. And your perspective from my perspective is:

You see that people see glimpses of enlightenment, and they "know" it. But we are so fondly attached to our human-ness that we can't, don't want to, or just decide to not "let go" of that part of ourselves.

Well, not only that, but when one catches the glimpse, it is impossible to hang onto it.

There is a certain recurring tendency; one has the experience and immediately wants it to continue, so one remembers the feeling and starts chasing the memory of the thing, which is not the actual thing one might have experienced.

It is just one of those strange things...it is for the best to not care if that feeling continues or not. Once you chase the memory, you are out of it, and one just goes from feeling to feeling trying to capture the original.

If you really look at this, you can see the issue. The original feeling was beyond memory. In other words, you did not have to do anything to experience it, and you didn't even know whether or not it might be important at all. But once you hope to capture it, you are out of it.

Liberation is not about recapturing the 'right' feeling, or following a specific set of rules or regulations. It is beyond all of that.

Bridge

Maybe for you it wasn't a choice? You see how beautiful human beings are from the outside. I feel like I see how beautiful being human is from the inside.

Not a choice, yes...

On the one hand, it is like walking a rickety wooden bridge and one of the slats breaks. You can hop over it with no problem. You can even go back. Nothing has really changed, apart from being able to see the ground a bit easier.

But the other hand is like crossing the bridge successfully, then it breaks behind you, completely destroyed. There is no going back...

This doesn't change the beauty inherent in all living things, but you will see it without question. It removes the interference once keeping you blind.

…but I know the world you see is the one I will ultimately know … and I guess I’m just holding on as long as I can, because once I am there, I will not be here anymore.

I suppose you can put it that way. You will not be there any longer. But that does not mean you'll be careless, or devoid of anything apart from your own 'interference' with life, if that is the right way to put it.

Most of us will live somewhat long lives before death arrives. It is probably for the best that we keep moving forward, and not hide ourselves in old, pleasing memories of what once was.

Thanks for your interaction and your seriousness...

What Do You Believe?

November Project: Question #26 This question arrived in my Skype Voicemail.

If Takuin is 'beyond the image', then probably, there is nothing he believes. I don't know if this is true, but I wonder how he sees belief, or how it occurs to him?

Thank you for your question.

Belief is cumbersome. Very heavy. A massive amount of energy is spent holding up that illusion day after day.

If I may be free with the words...

When there was a believing "I", HE sank to the bottom from the burden's heavy weight. But when HE died, the being was free to move, free to fly.

HE is sunk, gone, a shadowy memory. And yet the organism still goes on and on.

HE used to blame others for his stupidity. HE would live in awful situations but never take responsibility. And even with the facts before HIM, it was never clear, because of what HE believed.

The ideals, the beliefs, were so comforting yet dangerous. HE could stay there, because that is all HE knew. Even though HE wasn't living. It was a life lived on referral.

Walking

The reference point was always there, you see. Something would happen, and the manual of the mind, the beliefs, the shoulds and should nots, would rise up before HIM, and using that palette of dull color, HE would paint.

The fact would be before HIM, but all HE could see was the choice. "Based on this, I choose this!"

But after death, HE became it. There were no longer any choices; no longer any grays, charcoals, or ashes on the palette.

Only timelessness.

Being.

Breathe in, breathe out.

It still has friends, but there is really no way to know. People seem to arrive and leave. Then the cycle repeats.

It sees other beings moving gracefully through the streets. Their faces have a timeless quality. So beautiful. They are all liberated. Do they know? The answer is in the question.

Last night it felt the rain on its face, but it was never cold.

***************

I don't know if this answers your question, but I kind of like the answer. ;)

In Dialogue: Real or Illusion?

November Project: Question #25 This exchange comes from a conversation on Google Chat (hence, the lack of punctuation). ;)

Questioner: I have a question that's been bugging me for a while now...I don't know whether you can answer this, but I thought I'd ask anyway...

what if someone has some sort of intrinsic condition, like a neurological condition...could that keep someone from getting in touch with who they truly are? How would one know?

How can one discern the difference between treating something that needs to be healed and seeking outward in search of a "shortcut"...if that makes sense? Maybe I'm just confusing myself again...

Takuin: If the body cannot function properly, then certainly, any result could be possible. If one is 'broken', if I can use that word, then it might be possible to be stuck within whatever problem might arise. But most people are not exceptional in that way.

If part of your brain is shut down, or if it is physically damaged, that is one thing...but if thought is the problem...if essentially, what one has is a problem of thought, then there is no real excuse to shift the responsibility to a 'condition'.

i dont know if i have answered your question.

Questioner: Yes, you did answer my question. Thank you :-)

Takuin: but if you go to a specialist, and find out for sure that something is not properly functioning, do your best to learn everything you can about it, from whatever reputable source available. stay involved

Questioner: yes, definitely...but sometimes it can be difficult to know whether i'm doing everything i can...or whether more should be done...so that i don't just stay stuck forever (ok, maybe not forever...)

Takuin: don't worry too much about what you can get from this, or what the future might hold. Just move forward as you live everyday.

Do you spend much time outside?

In Shinagawa Station

Questioner: not enough, unfortunately...i always tell myself i should...and now that the weather is getting chillier here, it's even less tempting...haha

but when i do, i enjoy it...although the mind has a tendency to interfere...

Takuin: it is probably better for the mind to interfere in nature than to interfere when sitting alone in your room

it doesn't necessarily need to be a walk in the woods during a blizzard...but it is good to have physical space...especially when confronting the mind....having walls so close to you may tend to make you feel even more trapped...it is good to get out

Questioner: yes, that's true...i do sometimes feel more open when i'm outside. i will do that...and enjoy the autumn leaves...while the weather is still relatively mild. thank you :-)

Takuin: you're welcome...dont let the cold stop you! when I lived in Boston, there were many places to feel space. even if you're in a city and not the countryside. even now in Tokyo, there is vast space...

Questioner: yes, and there places like that here too...and too often tend i close myself off to the outside world when i have time to myself...i feel like i have to force myself to stay in touch with friends and people i care about even though i don't want to be like that

Takuin: being alone is not really a problem...lonliness is another thing altogether

do you enjoy being alone?

Questioner: usually i do, although occasionally i find myself carrying a conversation with someone in my head (sad but true...haha), and i realize that i sometimes do miss the company of others...but i rarely do anything about it unless i feel really compelled to for some reason...

often the result is that i end up falling out of touch with people. a little too often, it seems.

Takuin: well, this goes on from time to time. it is ok for this to happen you know

Questioner: yes, i'm sensing that it's okay to allow this phase to happen.

Takuin: I think you will be able to handle this completely. it might not be as fast as you might want it, but your seriousness will win in the end.

really, all you are doing is taking care of yourself

Questioner: yes...thank you :-)

Energy, Ghosts, and Life After Death

November Project: Question #23 These questions come from Naomi on Facebook.

I sense "energy" from inanimate objects sometimes and sometimes feel the presence of "ghosts." I am not sure if this is all just in my mind.

I feel the same way at times, and it is not so odd to feel these sensations as you go about your day, although it is probably infrequent. But they are not ghosts, at least not in the way we think of that term.

If you are able to see clearly when these sensations occur, you will be able to understand their origins. But this has to do with the flowing movements of living things, and not memories of the dead.

I cannot tell precisely what is happening within you, as it is within you. Just do your best to be open, and observant.

You'll have to be patient, and when these feelings come up again, as I am sure they will, open up to the sensations without your definitions getting in the way. The names or ideas are insignificant to the nature of the organism anyway, and it is, most likely, a movement of the organism, touching all things at once (it may sound odd, but it is difficult to put into words).

These sensations might not seem so vast to you, but if you have only seen this with the definitions of what it might be, then the vision will always be limited.

I will tell you a few things about myself if you don't mind, regarding an energy and presence similar to what you mentioned. And please, do not take these words too literally...we need a certain degree of flexibility with words...

When I walk the streets and see the faces of people, I am seeing the faces of all the friends I have ever had. All of the history I have ever had with one person, is a history I share with all human beings. Every face is beauty of the deepest intimacy.

When I see them, I know their entire history. Every thing about them is held out like a timeline, and it is all known in an instant. I feel that I could walk up to any of them, put my hand on their face, and feel all the love I have ever known for any human, to the core of every being. (Of course, we don't go putting our hands on people's faces...it is just not that kind of society.) ;)

Every love, every hate, all the joy, all the suffering is there, and I live it all within a timeless instant.

But let's not get too invested in the words...we might just say that it is a connection beyond control. It has nothing to do with what we might want. Be open to this possibility for yourself, because you are probably not feeling this energy from your vacuum cleaner. ;)

Between the Trees

Do you believe that human souls (whatever that means) can experience past and future lives here on this Earth (whatever that means)?

I know what we have been told about life after death, and I know we hope for something great to happen. But we cannot rely on any of what we've been told to be true.

As far as if there are past or future lives, you'll find the truth of the matter when death is as much of a part of you as life. Really, it is not quite right for me to say there is death and life, as it is all part of the same whole, and cannot be separated.

People do believe in past and future lives, and it is not necessarily wrong. If someone wants to believe it, that is fine. But if someone wants to find the truth of the thing, they might want to prepare themselves...the truth is never as we've been told.

The idea of another life is based on what we desire to have in the future. Screw up this life? You'll have countless others in which to fix it. Or, want a better life? Do good now, and you'll have a better life later. Want to live eternally in everlasting happiness? Do what we tell you to do, in the precise way we tell you, and you are good to go. This is all based on desire and fear.

I am not condemning anyone or anything, and I am not saying I am right and they are wrong. But you'll want to explore all of this for yourself, eventually.

It doesn't shock me that belief of this sort goes on. But it is a bit alarming that people accept it as true without questioning any of it.

I don't know if any of this is helpful to you, Naomi, but I hope it was at least understandable. :)

Quick Thoughts on Eating Meat

November Project: Question #22 This question comes from Mits on Facebook.

I have a question for the November Project, Takuin. After enlightement should you still eat meat?

Thanks for the great question, Mits.

Forget about before or after enlightenment for now. Let's look at it in a slightly different way.

There are several reasons why people decide to stop eating meat. Some think it is more healthy, more peaceful, or whatever it might be.

Is it more healthy? Not necessarily true. More peaceful? Absolutely not true. But this is more of a focus on what a person can get from not eating meat, and it is not out of compassion for animals.

Whether or not you eat meat will be decided by one major factor, and that is your relationship with animals. You can give other reasons, and some of them may be very wise. But ultimately, it will be your relationship to other living things that tips the scales.

How do you see this, Mits? If I may ask, do you eat meat, or is this something you have struggled with at all?

On Having Friends

November Project: Question #21 This comes from O through an ongoing email conversation.

Now days I am not sure how many friends I have because I don't see them anymore. It seems when I started to dig deeper or go beyond thought etc., I disconnected from them. Lately, the more I meditate the harder I find it to connect to the normal stuff people talk about...namely simple complaints. I just don't feel it.

Thank you, O, for your interesting observations.

As far as friends are concerned, there are certain people that have continued with me, but not so many. Really - and let's exclude family - I can count real friends on one hand. That number can grow, of course, but it is hard to imagine it going beyond two hands. :)

I have had many friends in my life, and if I were ever re-introduced to those that have gone 'missing,' I am sure it would be fun and friendly, and we might even be able to get on the exact same way as before. But it is true, most people come in and out like the wind.

You know, some will stay with you forever, even if you have not seen them in awhile. If you have not noticed this yet, you will...

Takuin has little hanging friends...probably because most people bring so much of themselves into their interactions with others, and they need others to absorb those parts of their essence, so to speak. Then, they build a history with that person, and they can really only feel comfortable with that history. It is far too difficult to be new for them, at least in that sense.

Seven Buddhas

It is interesting...when someone is going to bail, I can feel it. I know it is coming. It is like two galaxies colliding...it is inevitable in that same way; the friend is going to leave, and nothing is going to stop that. Sometimes they go out with a whimper, and other times with a BANG. I'm not sure which I prefer...

I don't know if you think about this consciously or not. Maybe it is on your mind, maybe it isn't. These kind of thoughts are not really necessary when meeting someone, of course. It is not as if we meet someone and think all the while, "I wonder when or if they'll leave." If you are 'clean', so to speak, in your interactions with others, it won't matter...they'll come when they come, and go when they go...

We will always be social creatures. The quality of this can change in liberation, but it won't necessarily come to a complete end. You may find certain people almost un-lose-able, for better or worse. ;)

The Grace of the Guru

November Project: Question #19 This post comes from an ongoing email conversation.

I am a bit puzzled by some of the stories that we hear in India, those of Guru's Grace. For example, the presence of Ramana Maharishi, in all accounts, have been described as that which radiated peace, and percolated to the people who came around him. Sure, their problems may or may not have gotten solved when they came to him, but they did get the peace, the diminishing of agitation.

Also, those who were interested in enlightenment and came full of questions sometimes found themselves not interested in those questions. I do understand that this peace too may seem to come and go, even as a master's presence could perhaps uncover peace more and more.

It is certainly not my place to speak on the teachings of others, as I am not really interested in those things. The only teaching I have is the moment by moment functioning of this organism. I will never really know if there is anything other than that.

I know of the guru's grace, although I have not heard it called by that name. It is a dangerous thing to play with...

What usually happens is this: a seeker goes to see the guru, and in the 'grace' of that guru he or she has a momentary realization, if we can call it that. But much like the effects of a drug, it does not last. However, the memory of that beauty, that freedom or liberation, stays with them, and they hope for it to continue.

But at this point, what is the seeker to do? They went to the guru, felt something, but now it is gone. So what will they do?

What would you do? Would you chase the memory, hoping for it to be as grand as you remember?

The real trouble is in the chasing. One remembers the grace, and the search begins by running after the memories of the thing, which is not what is experienced in front of the guru.

What one feels with the guru, in that moment, is not a memory, but what one hopes to achieve afterward is merely the past. It is the memory of something once living.

You must see where you are standing in each and every moment. And you do not need anyone else to give this to you.

Tokyo Daibutsu Dark

What Can I Do?

November Project: Question #15 This question comes from 'A' on the original November Project post.

Takuin, when you see a flower, you see a flower. When you see a tree you see a tree. You say all of us have the capacity, the potential to see things totally, that it doesn’t take much, that it’s like breathing. That may be true but how many human beings actually see this possibility turning real in their lives?

'How many people actually see it' is not the right question. That is insignificant. Do you see it? That is of real importance in this life. You are the only ONE.

If you want to understand what it is human beings find important, just look out into the world. It is plain to see. But if you want to know how you are functioning; how to live, how to love, how to die; look to yourself first.

The smallest light can obliterate the darkness.

I don’t see a flower, a tree, nature the way you do, though I really want to.

Do you want to see the flower, or do you want to see the flower like Takuin? Do you understand the difference? (I am not saying you do want to see it in that way...we're just exploring.)

If you see the flower like Takuin, that is no different from how you see the flower now, and it is frustrating to you. Your 'inability' to see the flower is no different from your wanting to see it through the eyes of another.

If you see the flower like Takuin, you'll be blind. If you see the flower on your own, you'll never again ask how to see the flower.

Nothing gives me peace.

We are all grateful to you, A, because you are teaching us valuable lessons...

You are quite right. Nothing will give you peace. However, this is not because you are deficient in some way. Have you ever stopped to ask, "Is peace - the kind I hope to have - something that can be given to me?"

We're not talking about the peace of physical security, or the knowledge that your basic needs will be taken care of, at least for some time. We are talking about peace, down to the heart, down to the cell, down to the core, or however one might put it. Is this something that can be given to you?

Is this something you can take?

The Self in Agony

Isn’t it true that you see the way you do because of the accident? Why is there such an unfair balance between people who can see and those who can’t?

'An unfair balance between'...this is interesting to me...

How does this arise within you? The imbalance between those that have, and those that have not...is it the same as rich and poor? Popular and unpopular? Intelligent and stupid? Do you see yourself as someone who has been wronged in some way because other people seem to have what you think you do not?

How does this arise in you? Follow it as best you can, and please describe it to us. I feel there is something very valuable there, for all of us.

It’s as if those who can see came here to truly live. Why indeed should people who live in frustration or misery live?

What are you doing, if not living? Does life seem empty only because you want it to be different from what it is?

There is a very strong center within you, protecting, attacking, wanting to have this, wanting to avoid that, but what is that center?

Why is the center frustrated? Not that he or she should or should not be. But why? And not 'because'. There is something deeper than outward circumstance.

How do you see this?

***************

Please, A, feel free to comment below. There is much we can learn from what you have said, and what you have asked, but it is not enough for Takuin to just speak. We need you here as well.

If the two of us can talk and explore, we might be able to come to something beautiful. An openness others might be able to benefit from.

I look forward to hearing from you...

Do You Still Fast?

November Project: Question #14 This question comes from Jay through Facebook.

I read your fasting series with great interest. I am just wondering if you still perform fasts of any kind, or was that just a one-time thing?

Also, WHY in the world did you do it? :)

Thanks for your question, Jay.

I still fast from time to time, but those fasts are intermittent and usually do not last for very long. And even if I were to perform another prolonged fast, I am not sure I would write much about it on Takuin.com. This is not a site dedicated to fasting, so I would only write about it if it could be useful or interesting for the audience here.

A few weeks ago I performed intermittent fasting for a short time. I only ate every other day, and that probably lasted for 10 to 12 days. I didn't feel any need to go on beyond that.

I have noticed something interesting, however. It is nothing for me to not eat for 24 to 36 hours. It doesn't even phase me. This might be some mental hold-over from the fast back in February 2009. Perhaps if you go without food for 28 days straight, missing a day or two in the future is easy. ;)

Also, WHY in the world did you do it? :)

I was very interested in the physical changes, and was interested to find out about the mental difficulties. This was purely an experiment to find out what might happen when deprived of food. I did succeed, and I am very glad I did it.

I can remember running out of energy throughout the day, and I would have to sleep quite a bit. But I had a couple people looking after me to make sure I didn't pass out or expire entirely. ;)

Thanks for your question, Jay.

Delicious Plates

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For those new readers unaware of these events, you won't have to search through the archives to find the posts written at that time. If you look to the navigation menu above, you'll notice a link called Fasting. On that page you will find every article written during the 28-Day fast.

If I ever decide to fast in any way that is important to the readers here, I will post it there, in addition to writing posts on the blog.

Questions Answered

November Project: Question #13 We're nearly half way through the November Project, and it has been great fun so far. The questions have been interesting, and I have done my best to try and present a unique variety of them.

But for every 'unique' question, I probably receive 10 'common' ones. Now, this is totally fine, but a friend pointed out to me the other night - after showing her the list of questions - that many of them have already been answered or at least explored through the posts on Takuin.com.

So as not to ignore the frequently asked, I present to you a list of  the top 5 common questions, along with the answers already available on this site. But please, never think of these posts as definitive answers. Really, they are nothing more than explorations...had the wind blown differently, I might have traveled in a totally different direction.

Question #1 - What is Enlightenment?

Your Idea of Enlightenment

What is Enlightenment?

The Road to Enlightenment

A Question for My Peers (read the comments!)

The Despair of Enlightenment

Question #2 - Are You Enlightened?/What Happened on Dec. 1st, 2006?

Are You Enlightened?

Audio Interview 'The End of Soul Searching Sounds Like Takuin'

What Did Takuin Do?

The Day After

Question #3 - What Does it Mean to 'See' Within?

A Problem of Seeing

A New Dimension of Silence

What Am I?

Questions on Sitting

Questioning the Common Phrase

Up the Mountain

Question #4 - What, If Anything, Is Beyond the Self?

If There is No Self, Then What is There?

Can the Self Be Free of Suffering?

Solidifying the Questioner

Does the Wind Blow?

Question #5 - How Can I Get What You Apparently Have?

Notions of I AM

The Ghost

Are You More Than Experience?

To The Student

The Nature of the Search

Only You Can Know

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It will probably take you a long time to get through these posts, especially if you also read the comments, which I highly recommend. Many times, the nature of the original articles will go in completely different directions from within the comments. And seeing as how the readers of Takuin.com are all brilliant human beings, it is in your best interest to read what they have to say. ;)

Bookmark this page, and read at your leisure.

Disclaimers

November Project:Question #9 This question comes from Nick through Skype.

I've noticed in your writing you use a lot of disclaimers. You say things like, "It may or may not be this way, I'm not saying it is so, Don't take my word for it," and so on. I'm not complaining because I like the feeling these phrases generate within me. I would just like to ask you why do you do it?

Thanks for your question, Nick. No one has ever asked me this before. ;)

Even though many people might look to me as a teacher, I would never want them to accept anything I say blindly, just because I say it.

In order to investigate one's nature, there must be a great deal of energy available for that exploration. Any blind acceptance of the 'truth' of another ties up that energy in the maintenance of keeping that 'truth' alive. It has the result of living as a shell. A husk. It is not living, at least not in the way I usually use that term.

It might seem easier to accept what someone else has to say and just live forever by those words. But it is not so simple. The structure one creates from those words is a great beast, and it must be fed everyday. There is no rest, no downtime, and no escape.

After some time it becomes almost impossible to pull oneself away from that structure, as it defines who the person believes itself to be. From then on, the structure must be adhered to in order to simply avoid pain.

Such a waste of energy. ;)

The Fear of the Blind

Part of the reason I speak with the uncertainty you mentioned is because of what I wrote above. But also, I can never be sure of how my words are received by the listener. In-person, it is a different matter, but all of this typed, online communication has its limitations.

I just don't want to give away the surprise ending. Too many direct statements about enlightenment pave the way for a new super-structure. A new gorilla one must carry, on top of the old gorilla. We have enough of that sort of thing.

It is enough to just say, "Have a look over there. Go across the street and check that thing out." I don't have to give it all away...where the hell is the fun in that?

I can tell you, "Hey, Nick. There is a great new suspense/thriller playing in the theaters. You should go see it. It is pretty good." That is enough. I don't have to add to that by saying, "By the way, his ex-wife is the killer, and the bomb is inside of her."

Less is generally better. ;)

What Do You Intend to Be?

November Project: Question #7 This is a continuation of the discussion on the post, What Changed You?

I am familiar with this kind of philosophy. To paraphrase, It's like the mind set that : Anything that brings pain or desire is derived from 1) contemplation of the past or 2) anticipation of the future. Acceptance of the NOW (acceptance and harmony of living in the MOMENT) is to be blissful or to live in Nirvana. Bruce Lee said that when water is poured into a bowl, it becomes the bowl: be like water. So let me take your answer and morph it into the next question:

" Again, this is not quite the same as making a plan and seeing it through. -- Takuin"

Correct me if you disagree, but it seems to me that you do have a plan and have made/are making contingencies to see it through. Another way of saying that is: It seems that you have intent that is clearly beyond the physical. I am sure that it is very fluent, liquid, ever changing and difficult to put into a sentence, but what plan are you seeing through? Or...in hindsight, you have arrived at a place in life, intentionally or not, through the chains braking, so where do you intend to go? What do you intend to be?

The idea of the philosophy you have mentioned is accurate, as far as that philosophy goes. But as far as this organism is concerned, there is no philosophy here. Acceptance of the now, as you mentioned, is not quite right, but it is close. It is always difficult to put these things across simply, though....

If there is the acceptance of the now, where is the person that is accepting? And is the Now being accepted because that person, that self, wants to accept it for its own gratification?

Is it even possible to accept the Now?

This is the great spiritual problem. People believe that through their acceptance of the thing they can receive it. You and I may or may not accept that the sun has risen - and it might be true that is has risen - but the sun will rise just fine without us. What we want, really, is irrelevant, in the way we are speaking here.

I am not saying this is the 'right way' or anything. It is something we all must explore if we are serious about these things.

Fishing

Now generally, for the seeker, to follow a philosophy is just fine. They just want to change the curtains in their room, so to speak. But for the 'serious' person, if we can put it that way, or the one truly wanting to see the real, he/she has a suspicion that there is actually no room. Forget about the curtains.

Planning is essential in the physical world, however, and that is a fact we can all agree upon. I must plan and do things to leave Japan, or to buy a car, and so on. And in that planning there is also intention.

But we can only plan and intend to do things in the physical world. And this is where it can be confusing, because we consider the self as a 'physical' construct of sorts. It 'exists' in the mind and in thought. So planning can be made to become better, to become enlightened, or whatever.

But if the interpreter is not there; the construct of the self or however we might put it; what happens to the planning and the intent?

I am not saying it should or should not be this way. And that is the point...I cannot tell you what is going on within you. Only you can explore these things to the end. But the construct of the self was destroyed in Takuin, and that makes things difficult here. I am trying to describe something that actually has no physical substance. It actually does not exist.

Liberation or enlightenment only exists in the ideas we hold about it. Real freedom is beyond the ideal...

But please, do not take my word for any of this. Do not put faith into my eyes, for they may be defective. ;)

Thanks again for your participation and your explorations.

No-Self Language and the Individual

November Project: Question #1 The first question comes from Evan at LivingAuthentically.org.

In no-self language is there a way to express our individuality?

He goes into the question a bit more:

Hi Takuin, I am a bit frustrated with no-self language. I’ve read your blog for a while but rarely comment.

I think our individuality is beautiful and worthy. (At the extreme the Buddha was different to his followers and this is good.) Different talents, styles, manners of doing and being . . . all beautiful.

The denial of the reality of ‘self’ (or ego or whatever) seems fair enough – but I don’t see how to express our beauty and uniqueness in this language.

You may not share my judgement (that these things are beautiful and valuable) or my perception (that these things are far more than delusion) I suppose.

Well, that kind of language can be confusing, if not frustrating. I am not really a fan of it myself, as it has just become the newest style to emulate; the current spiritual flavor of the week (although I am sure it has been going on in some form long before many of us can imagine).

In using language for dialogue, writing articles, or whatever, it is sometimes necessary to remove the story, so to speak; to remove everything other that what might be factually present. It is so easy for the mind to fall back on what it believes to be true, and this happens without warning, as it is so deeply carved into the people we believe ourselves to be.

In writing articles, if I may speak of myself for a moment, the great majority have been impersonal. That is because many of the subjects I have covered are not personal. Whomever I believe to be the best Presidential candidate, or the best footballer, or the best god, or that I am smart, or I am a good lover, or I have an answer other people desperately need, none of that is helpful as a base for liberation. It is after all, base-less and beyond pursuit.

But that is not to deny anything about how one might express themselves from moment to moment.

Really, if we can be honest here, the search for enlightenment is a detriment to living. It leaves the seeker floating on a sea of, let's call it, inaction. Everything they do is in reference to what they believe they do not have. So it is a life lived statically, relying on the words of others, the actions of others, the lives of others, to hopefully show one how to live. But if one gets into this, it is clearly nothing more than living in the past masquerading as the present. It is a life based on what someone else has given.

Shoes

This world we live in is the world of the image, built by the image. And until the day we die, we will live here. We did not ask to be put into this world, but we are here. So one might ask, "How is one to live in freedom within this world of the image?" It is a good question, and one every human being should consider.

Some teachers would have you deny the image completely, all the while hoping you never notice they need the image to convey their message. ;) And other teachers can be so human in their messages while denying nothing, it defies description. But there are good teachers in all areas of life, and it is not simply limited to the ones we wish to use for our 'next step,' whatever that might be.

I think our individuality is beautiful and worthy. Different talents, styles, manners of doing and being . . . all beautiful.

Absolutely true. Any teaching worthy of your ear, will not deny human expression. As human beings, we should be interested in all other forms of life. To see how life grows, moves, lives, dies. To live beyond a second-hand story. But human beings are generally not very interested in this. If they were, this world would be transformed.

I think part of the problem - or perhaps, the entirety of the problem - is we think we need to be better, greater, more this, more that, to such an extent, we can not even come close to seeing the truth of our being or the nature of our functioning. But this has more to do with our desire to fill up something we feel is missing, and has little to do with Individuality as you have described it.

The Individual, as you have described it, is to be human. To express ourselves physically, verbally, or however we might do it. It can be a collective and complex expression, as in the various cultures, tribal rituals, and so on, or it can be as simple as the stroke of a brush on blank canvas. It is all a glorious example of what it means to be human.

But generally, human beings can see and appreciate those expressions only in a limited way, because it is viewed from one's own preferred viewpoint and culture. We tend to use cultural differences as a weapon, and it is the rare Individual that can sit with something alien to them, and see the beauty inherent in human expression.

To see, without the desire to change, is transformative action.

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Thanks for your question, Evan. I don't know that I have answered it properly, but we can get deeper into it in the comments, if you like.

That goes for all other readers here, too. Feel free to comment, and give your own insights into Evan's question.

And for those of you that do not know, Evan runs the site, Living Authentically - Living from the core of who you are for lasting satisfaction. Be sure to stop by to his site and say hello!