Worldly Activity and Spiritual Practice are Not-Two

Worldly Activity and Spiritual Practice are Not-Two

Delusion arises because of conceptualization, not because of worldly activity. Awakening occurs by ceasing conceptualization, not by ceasing worldly activity. All the myriad things are nothing but the one mind, the unnamable void. In the reality of the one mind, all things are pure and clear, without gain, without loss. Does being deluded in a quiet mountain monastery have some advantage to being deluded anywhere else? What would be the use of that? If you cease dualistic thinking, you will awaken. If you do not, then isolating yourself in a quiet setting and sitting for long periods is just adding delusion to delusion.

Contemporary teachers who proclaim some benefit in this kind of withdrawal from the world are usually the only beneficiaries. Before you pay your membership fees, compare their words to those of the ancient sages that have stood the test of time. Repeatedly, the sages have declared the truth that trying to run away from delusion only adds to delusion.

The Third Ancestor of Zen in China said, “Your effort to suppress activity is just more activity.” It is delusory to discriminate between worldly and spiritual, secular and religious, lay and monastic, the marketplace and a retreat center. Trying to suppress the flow of thought by changing your environment is like trying to make something disappear by closing your eyes.

The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing

6 thoughts on “Worldly Activity and Spiritual Practice are Not-Two”

  1. Hola Amigo,
    We can run and run and run. But where would we run to? If we run, I advocate we run INTO!

    As for Banzan, saying, “In the Tripe World, there are no things. Where will you search for the mind?” Laughingly, I type this on emptiness. On and on, one complete and present whole. Now this. Now that. Where does it end my friend 🙂


  2. Thank you for this.

    I have the XinXin Ming in an mp3… having been listening to it constantly as of late… been blowing [out] my mind. Add that to reading your book and I feel I’m on the verge of something.

    1. Hello Jamie,

      Thank you for your comments.
      Excellent! Don’t let up! I remember something Louie Wing said, something that I have found to be true. He said:

      “…as you move deeper into your practice, you may discover a remarkable sense of impending realization. This is quite an extraordinary experience. An awareness of the brink of some kind of realization sets in solidly, and without doubt. Often a serene sense of joy accompanies this sense of impending realization. You have been working hard, and you are beginning to see the loom of light just over the horizon. It is similar to seeing a familiar face right before remembering who it is or like looking at one of those pictures with a hidden image just before it becomes clear.

      Of course, the ranks are not simply “stages” you pass through, but aspects of practice and enlightenment. What I am calling a “sense of impending realization” will become a common companion on your travels along the ancient Way.”
      ~The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing

      The XinXin Ming is a bottomless well of ambrosia–which translation are you listening to?

      Thanks again brother.


  3. Hi Ted –

    Perhaps we might say that “worldly” activity arises from conceptualization. Perhaps even “activity” arises from conceptualization.

    Then what?

    Thank you for your work!


    1. Hello Barry,

      Thank you for your comments. It is always good to hear from you.

      Yes, that is an excellent way to formulate this issue—I think that any practitioner who took it upon themselves to clarify the point of your, “Then what?” would not be spending time in vain.

      Another formulation that might offer a toe-hold here could be formulated, “From what does conceptualization arise?”

      This reminds me of Case 37 in the Blue Cliff Record: Banzan’s “No Things in the Triple World”

      Banzan gave instruction, saying, “In the Tripe World, there are no things. Where will you search for the mind?”

      Yes, yes…

      When I worked on this koan I offered the “capping phrase”:

      A thousand peaks, ten thousand peaks–without end.
      Fallen flowers, flowing water–on and on without cease.

      ~Zen Sand, 14:394, (Translated by Victor Hori)

      Thanks again!


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