Reading Katagiri Roshi’s book ‘Return to Silence’ recently, I was struck by the following passage:
“Whatever question you want to study, you cannot study it from your own shallow viewpoint. Finally, you will come to a vastness that is like spring water endelessly coming up out of the earth. The more you study something seriously, the more you will realize that everything is boundless.
From where does this spring water come? Not from anyone’s small, individual territory. The water that comes from your territory is limited, not deep. The original nature of your life, or of your study, or of your personality or character is the spring water that comes up from the vastness of the earth.”
Although Buddhism does deal with issues such as what happens after death and cosmology, it differs from many other religions in placing the observation of experience and what we can actually perceive at the centre of its spiritual curriculum. Meditation is the primary method for observing experience and while shamatha (calm abiding meditation), such as breath awareness, aims to still the mind, vipassana (insight) techniques build on that stillness of mind to look directly at the nature of what we see, feel, hear and think.