How To Philosophize With a Bamboo Flute
I call the open space within which all sensations (& supposed perceived things, which are really ab-originally sensations) appear my awareness. What do you call yours?
Buddhism is the contemplation of death. There is nothing else to it.
The mind maintains a continuity of experience. We are all taught that the mind is just meat -- body and brain. So, death will be a total annihilation of experiencing. Scary!
If it is, well then it is.
A person can spontaneously enter the state of true Suchness (Tathata). In ancient Zen, such spontaneous enlightenment was highly regarded.
While you are in this state of Suchness, you feel no interest in describing it. Once you're out of it again, there is no confidence in even making the attempt.
If you read through the "records" (lu) of the various ancient Zen teachers, you find that they tended to disparage all machinations, schemes & ruses designed to try to gain enlightenment. But they did NOT shy away from using ad hoc methods or "expedient means" within the teaching situation just as the mood struck them.
Contradiction? No! You gain enlightenment at the instant body & mind fall away. So how do you cause body & mind to fall away? You put on the strain of the Great Doubt. All Zen methods are deployed to arouse the whole body & mind "doubt" sensation & so push the student right to the wall -- and beyond.
This is why "gradualist" methods do not work -- or, if they do work, they work suddenly. It is not like grains of sand running through the neck of an hour glass, but like a clump of fresh snow falling from a branch of a pine tree. Woosh! Hisssss!
Nobody can enter Suchness by design. It has to be a spontaneous happening. So the old Zen teachers would trust only their own spontaneous responses to students' questions, even when these made no "sense."This is why you have Yunmen shouting "Sesame flatcake!"
What is the state of Suchness like? It is highly alert. It is joyful. It is relaxed. It is devoid of dullness, emotional conflicts and worked out ideas. Doesn't this sound good? Wouldn't you like to experience this?
What's experiential is by definition mystical.
You are always in it, you always are it, so wake up to it instantly. Right now. What's the problem? Shake the snow out of your hair & we'll build a snow Zendo.
Relax your mind. Drop your thinking. Let your breath settle & deepen, going from coarse to subtle.
Relax your shoulders. Sit in a firm upright posture. What is it like to be right here now?
All day long, gaze only at sights appearing to you right here and now. No past, no future, and no idea of the present.
Taste what there is to be tasted without thinking about it. Smell what there is to be smelled, &c. When you hear a sound, let it sink into the space both outside and inside you. What is this space like? Indescribable. So don't describe it. Unthinkable. So don't think about it.
When you walk, keep a relaxed but straight posture. Let your arms swing naturally. Put most of your awareness in your feet & knees. Let your breathing sink down. Keep your gaze open & alert but don't fix it on anything.
There are many other refinements to Shibumi Ki Do Zen but this is the basic way to go about freeing yourself from all forms of mental anguish.
As for death, either death is nothing or it is something. If it is nothing, what's the problem? You won't know anything at all about it. If it is something, then you'll only have more of the same. Tell me this, though: If it is nothing, how & why did you [not to mention the whole universe!] ever emerge from it, quick as the sound of a clap? [One hand clapping!]
Does something ever come from nothing? If you say yes, then you have admitted to the fact of the miraculous. So why shouldn't there be another miracle when you die, projecting your body & mind into a different life?
Everything (in the realm of the senses) naturally appears & disappears. It is all changing faster than images in a dream. Try looking into your intrinsic awareness throughout the day and night. See that although it perceives all "things," & is alert to all changes, in itself it remains pure, totally still, immobile, clear, unchanging. But that does not mean it is stagnant. No -- it always has the feeling of being reborn fresh at every instant. It is alert like a leopard in fog. Isn't this wonderful?