Monsters to Madness. All Sorts of Foul Play

Monsters by Fly 2019


Let’s begin with a chant – albeit a silent chant but one worth reading and yes, one worth memorizing. Before I share it, I want to give a speed ball pitch to memorization.

Everyone has a particular level of aptitude and ability to memorize – but even those of us who struggle with memorization can find a few lines or even a phrase from ancient texts of wisdom to remember. I encourage all of us to take up the practice of memorization no matter how small or big it is. If it is difficult to memorize, post up parts of wisdom texts where the teachings are easily seen. Put them up in every room, if need be.


Now the chant. As mentioned, if you are unable to memorize the whole chant, select a phrase or sentence that speaks to you – jumps out at you. Write it down. Memorize it. Post it up. It’s a guardian for your practice.



Little thoughts, subtle thoughts when followed, stir up the heart.

Not comprehending the thoughts of the heart, one runs here & there,

The mind out of control.


Comprehending the thoughts of the heart,

One who is ardent, mindful, restrains them.

When followed, they stir up the heart.


One who is awakened, lets them go…without trace.



Our minds are full of thoughts already. Many of us have had 12 years of compensatory education, have families where ‘family’ propaganda is passed down and of course, there are all the various inputs from books, online networks and contact with others.

It is an endless array of information that is in the library of the mind. Spiritual adepts need to be able to sort through the mess and organize it in such a way that it supports our spiritual journey.

When we don’t sort out our thoughts, we are easily out of control over every little thing that comes into our life.

But…when we focus and sort the thoughts out in such a way that we don’t go along with the story, we strengthen our ability to restrain the thoughts that become monsters. This ability requires a keen interest in what shows up in the light of our brain pan. We have to watch for the monsters to pop up.

We have two habits that we need to be alert to…

  1.  Our habit to go along with the monsters that show up in our mind over and over again and
  2.  Our habit of not watching for the monsters in the first place.

Many of us just go along with what thoughts, images, ideas, imaginings that come up the moment we wake up from a night’s sleep. Whatever monster comes, we go along with it. This happens because we have relied on the monsters to rule the mind. This reliance has made us limp and flaccid making us easy prey for the monsters.

The very first step is to begin to see the content of the mind as monsters. To look at each thought, idea, imagining, image as a trap popping up to distract, upset, jumble, and stir up something that either happened in the past, a wish for something to happen in the future or a loss or fear of something that has not yet happened.

It is worth a clarification. The stuff of the mind is an array of monsters.  When we acknowledge this truth, we restrain the monsters. Restraint prepares us to renounce what we once were loyal to and are at last able to



turn without grasping for and against, without stopping to glue your view into a peg hole, without marvels of wordiness[1] – all of which is for our awakening.



We recognize the monster of for & against, the leaking of fixed positions and marvels of wordiness as the mind taken captive to foul play of those very monsters. Our views of for & against, our fixed positions and our wordiness (repetitions of  pontification) may be directed to the inner world of ourselves and directed toward the outer world of things (people, places and things). In either case, we do well to bring our attention to the monsters that arrive like popcorn in the head in such a way we are eager to comprehend the foul play they bring upon us and others.  We must turn away without grasping them, pegging them or pontificating them. We let them go without regret or worry or any entanglement.

We need to build strengths that protect the mind from the monsters that lead us into misery and suffering. We need to be able to discern which thoughts will stir up the mind and which thoughts strengthen our efforts on this spiritual path. A strengthening aide to seeing the monsters is memorizing wisdom texts. We replace the old habitual texts in our mental library with wisdom texts – and we do this without being for and against, without thinking we are right or wrong and without posturing a dogmatic speech to ourselves or others. We settle in “don’t know” mind as a strength of Truth and we continue our spiritual practice.

Dongshan’s teaching leads to the path of silence. When we recognize the stuff of the mind, for the most part, is the palace of the monsters, we let go of our thoughts and views and ideas as we would the fleeting wind. We note the breeze but don’t get blown by it.

Humming Bird

Author: FaShi Lao Yue


Image credits: Fly, 2019

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at:


[1] Dongshan, Caodong. Go to link: Leakage


Below is a link that I wholeheartedly recommend watching;

especially for advanced students.

It is both brilliant in its execution and spiritually illuminating.

It may take some illumination to see the wisdom –

but the wisdom is there.







Humming Bird

Author: FaShi Lao Yue

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at:

A personal note from Fashi Lao Yue.


The video link was sent to me by a dear friend in the UK.

A devoted Franciscan brother who is steadfast in his work. I thank him for his constancy of devotion and for this hilarious link. My dear, late teacher is laughing with joy.

It is ridiculous to be sucked up into the material world of delusion

Do Not Let the Manifestations of the Material World Obscure the Truth of Being


It is ridiculous to be sucked up into the material world of delusion


Holy Mother of Birth & Death by fly


Life is endless meetings – every day, every moment. A myriad of things come into our life; our challenge is to meet them from a place of calm-abiding. We are able to meet the myriad things when we have sufficiently studied our self-ego to the degree we are able to forget it. That’s the challenge. The outcome is not to be sought by the self-ego – rather the outcome is a traceless life of meeting what comes into your life.

When we react to life circumstances rather than respond to what comes our way, we are in the grip of delusion. The delusion is twofold. We think the self-ego is primary, when in reality it is a delusion. And second, we place our confidence (faith) in the exterior, material world to the degree we lose sight of our true nature. We can see this for ourselves. The test is simple. When we place our hopes and confidence in the exterior world for peace of mind and happiness we are caught in the veil of ignorance. When we seek peace – bliss – purpose in the material goods of life, we suffer. It’s a simple reason. We have entered the delusion of seeing our self-ego as real, permanent and separate and we see other material things with the same ignorance.

The material world is to be met and actualized, not reified as the doorway to liberation. The me-and-mine delusion confuses us and we go after the material thing with a me-and-mine delusion to fulfill us. Be it a job, career, education, money, status, position, prestige stuff, or another person. When we live in this manner, we take what is happening personally. Taking things which are impermanent personally is a significant sign of needing spiritual work. It shows the me-and-mine veil is covering reality.

The Truth is we are not a separate material body and mind and we do not possess (own) a thing even though we play the game of life as though we do.  Our true nature is beyond the body and mind of me-and-mine.

When we meet the conditions that come our way, we either react out of our ignorance, (the veil of ignorance) or respond out of our true nature. It seems most of the time, we react rather than respond.

Our first step is to recognize our reactive side – the side that gets blinded by the manifestations of the material world. When we recognize the reactive side we need to seek and follow spiritual directions.

The first thing to do is calm down. Yes, that’s right. Calm down. All the old platitudes to breathe to the count of ten; go for a walk; or take a shower give us time to calm down enough to see we have been sucked up into a me-and-mine delusion.

When this happens, we need to remove our mind from the circumstances. The reactive mind is confused. We need to calm down.

Don’t react from anger. If you do react, calm down. Let what bugs you go. Be quiet. Get away by yourself. Contemplate.

The material world obscures the truth. It’s true. The material world co-opts the power of actualizing a traceless life. The traceless life is a life where the me-and-mine no longer veils our true nature. It is freedom. And it comes with power to meet what comes into life. Let me say this another way; the myriad things of life come into your life to awaken you – not to fulfill the aspirations of me-and-mine. IT, our true nature, is beyond generosity – beyond any me-and-mine aspiration. YOU, the me-and-mine is not IT – IT, the unborn, undying, eternal is YOU.

There is no doubt that life requires work. When the me-and-mine is in charge it works to get and have – things of every ilk. It sees work as drudgery – dreaded rather than generous and full of the possibility of realizing that all things that come into your life come to awaken you.

Remember. Our first step is to see the veil of me-and-mine. This seeing is no easy task. The habits of me-and-mine are old, rooted in the patterns of daily behavior. Don’t be dismayed. Even a small glimpse of seeing the veil of me-and-mine allows us to see that we are going after liberation and freedom in the wrong direction. When we put our confidence (faith) in the delusions (things) of life we suffer. The suffering of disappointment and disenchantment that follows is the generosity of our Beloved Mother of Birth & Death – showing us we put our confidence (faith) in a passing show and a veil of tears.

I leave you with this teaching by Dogen.[1]


This Dharma Gate is not the Dharma Gate of meditation; it is the Dharma Gate of repose and bliss – practice-realization of culminated enlightenment. It is the manifestation of ultimate enlightenment. Once its heart is grasped you are … like the tiger that enters the mountain. …dullness and distraction are struck aside.

…the bringing about enlightenment … by a finger, a banner, a needle or a mallet….with the effectual aid of a stick, a fist, a staff or a shout cannot be fully understood by your discriminating mind or fully known by supernatural powers….

If you concentrate your efforts single-mindedly….going forward in the Way is a matter of everydayness.

Humming Bird

Author: FaShi Lao Yue

Image credits: Fly, 2019

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at:

[1] Dogen Fukanzazenji