Being a Dawn Creature

Well here I am at my favourite time of day, the pre-dawn. Outside there is the soft call of owls and Classic FM is wafting over from the cow shed. It is on to keep the cows and their new-born calves calm. The world is otherwise silent and asleep.

They, are always asleep and all one can do is wait for them to wake up. There is a lot of hanging around for others to sense that first tendril of coffee in the air.

That is the problem, when you are awake and see stuff before others. It takes a mighty long time for others to start to rouse themselves and even begin to awaken. And when you say something into their slumber they just want to hit the snooze button. Nobody likes you waking them up.

Time and again, I have said stuff and it has fallen on ears unready. Time and again, people simply do not want to wake up despite that coffee smell. That duvet is so inviting. So tired and desperate for sleep, the invigorating dawn in all her majesty remains largely unknown and perhaps rarely seen. And whilst they sleep, they miss out. Because society does not like dawn, zero dark thirty.

It is on this cusp when the creatures of the night give way to the creatures of the day. And it is at the cusp where I feel most at home.

To see things first and then tell of them, is to evoke. One can feel like an alarm clock flung across the room. And then they go back to sleep, to drift aimless between the worlds, only to rise somnambulant.

That fine edge of awareness is dulled by the common dream. And that common thinking is that dawn is bad, pillow is good. People complain of an early start.

As a dawn creature there is plenty of waiting…

Dawn bad, pillow good…

A weird mantra

Dawn good, pillow bad

A better one…


Robert M. Pirsig Quotes

From :  “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values” 

“What is in mind is a sort of Chautauqua…that’s the only name I can think of for it…like the traveling tent-show Chautauquas that used to move across America, this America, the one that we are now in, an old-time series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to the ears and thoughts of the hearer.”


“And what is good, Phaedrus,

And what is not good—

Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?”


“The pencil is mightier than the pen.”


“Care and Quality are internal and external aspects of the same thing. A person who sees Quality and feels it as he works is a person who cares. A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person who’s bound to have some characteristic of quality.”


When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.”


“We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone.”


“The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of the mountain, or in the petals of a flower. To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha – which is to demean oneself.”


“Your common sense is nothing more than the voices of thousands and thousands of these ghosts from the past.”

Tozan’s Three Pounds

A monk asked Tozan when he was weighing some flax: “What is Buddha?”

Tozan said: “This flax weighs three pounds.”

Mumon’s comment: Old Tozan’s Zen is like a clam. The minute the shell opens you see the whole inside. However, I want to ask you: Do you see the real Tozan?

        Three pounds of flax in front of your nose,

        Close enough, and mind is still closer.

        Whoever talks about affirmation and negation

        Lives in the right and wrong region.


Excerpted from the Gateless Gate

Tight-fist Mind

How much room, how much space, is there in a tight fist?

Sometimes the harder we try to grasp, to make sense of, the tighter our mind becomes. It squeezes. And because of that we get very tired. We can squeeze out the mud through our fingers. In time there is no space left and we are drained by all that effort. We may give ourselves a migraine through all that grasping.

As the Diamond Sutra suggests stop trying so very hard to get your head around something, take a chill pill and relax. Stop grasping. Turn tight-fist mind into empty-palm mind.

Only go straight, do not use tight-fist mind.

Gutei’s Finger

Gutei raised his finger whenever he was asked a question about Zen. A boy attendant began to imitate him in this way. When anyone asked the boy what his master had preached about, the boy would raise his finger.

Gutei heard about the boy’s mischief. He seized him and cut off his finger. The boy cried and ran away. Gutei called and stopped him. When the boy turned his head to Gutei, Gutei raised up his own finger. In that instant the boy was enlightened.

When Gutei was about to pass from this world he gathered his monks around him. “I attained my finger-Zen,” he said, “from my teacher Tenryu, and in my whole life I could not exhaust it.” Then he passed away.


Mumon’s comment: Enlightenment, which Gutei and the boy attained, has nothing to do with a finger. If anyone clings to a finger, Tenryu will be so disappointed that he will annihilate Gutei, the boy, and the clinger all together.


         Gutei cheapens the teaching of Tenryu,

        Emancipating the boy with a knife.

        Compared to the Chinese god who pushed aside a mountain with one hand

        Old Gutei is a poor imitator.


Excerpted from the Gateless Gate