Zhaozhou’s Dog (Part 1)

Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 04/23/2020

Book of Serenity, Case 18

In part one of this classic koan, Shugen Roshi uses the Buddha’s famous chariot simile to lay out how we construct ideas of things in our minds—sankharas, or reactive formations—which give a sense of solidity to all we encounter. Although no thing has intrinsic solidity or permanence, our “impulsive consciousness” is fueling our suffering if we neglect mindfulness. On the path of awakening, Shugen says, “We can’t realize our buddha nature apart from our karmic impulses, but we also can’t be driven around by them. That middle path is alive and takes our full attention.”

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