First ferry before dawn, with tea

//First ferry before dawn, with tea

First ferry before dawn, with tea

Leaving before sunrise on the first ferry on the final day of retreat, someone asks me, What does it mean to be stuck in the absolute?
First, I am surprised by the question, in the darkness and chill.
I take a sip of tea.
Then, the answer is obvious:
To be stuck in the absolute is to be stuck where you are not. And to be stuck in the relative is to be stuck where you are.
I take another sip of tea.

By | 2015-10-02T14:40:00+01:00 janvier 24th, 2009|Textes|10 Comments

About the Author:

Enseignante Zen et poète, Sensei Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell est née et a grandi à Minneapolis, aux Etats-Unis. Arrivée en France en 1981 pour étudier la littérature et l’histoire, elle y est restée, s’installant à Paris, où elle élève ses deux enfants et gagne sa vie en tant que journaliste. The Zen teacher and poet Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell Sensei was born and raised in Minneapolis, but came to France in 1981 to study literature and history and has lived in Paris ever since, raising her two children and making a living as a journalist.


  1. little lake 29 janvier 2009 at 17 h 25 min - Reply

    Simple and humble is the naked heart.

  2. Tu es cela 28 janvier 2009 at 11 h 15 min - Reply

    I am grateful to you all for your comments.
    I could say "Yes" to all. Or "Is that so?" Or I could sip my tea.

  3. Ting 27 janvier 2009 at 18 h 13 min - Reply

    Primula, my feeling is that none of us really disagrees with anyone else, but of course we can discuss the meaning of words. Do you really want to let your tea get cold over that?

    As to meditation; mindfulness and concentration go hand in hand. If we develop one, we get the other for free.
    That’s not just my opinion. I know of Ajahn Brahm making this point in his talks on internet.

    There can be an unbalanced focus on meditation in Buddhist practice though, I suppose. But maybe not in Zen?
    In my experience even “tough” sesshins are pretty balanced and contain enough time for sleep, for walking meditation, for physical work or exercise, for a bath and so on.

  4. wild primula 27 janvier 2009 at 9 h 12 min - Reply

    What is meant by the Absolute if it is the oposite of the Relative?
    One-ness has no oposite, no? It is the vieuw of both sides of the same coin, no?
    So what can be an Absolute outside of the Relative? As if it is "something"?
    Catholics, they have a god that is the creator – outside of everything –
    The concept of the Absolute is a projection of an goaldirected mind, no? Indeed never there.

    There is an other pespective to aproach it: what about concentration-meditation?
    The difference between concentrationmeditation and mindfullnessmeditation.

  5. Ting 27 janvier 2009 at 6 h 13 min - Reply

    “By detachment from appearances – abiding in Real Truth. – So I tell you – Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
    A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
    A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
    A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream. “

    I suppose if a person crosses the street “abiding in Real Truth” too much, he will get hit by a truck.
    And this phantom truck will really kill him.

    To be so detached, and out of touch with the conventional/ relative truth, is unbalanced and dangerous.

    “If you say it is a stick, I will take it away from you.”
    “If you say it is not a stick, I will give it to you”.

    To be stuck in the absolute, is to deny the stick and to receive a beating.

  6. wild primula 27 janvier 2009 at 0 h 15 min - Reply

    someone asks me, what does it mean :
    "To be stuck in the absolute is to be stuck where you are not"

  7. Juan 26 janvier 2009 at 13 h 23 min - Reply

    sometimes I got stuck in the relative;
    sometimes I got stuck in a rut… and thought I was progressing;
    sometimes I got stuck in my construct relative absolute, and was overwhelmed;
    but managed to come back to the beginners mind.
    I’ll take the obvious answer and the sip of tea.

  8. wild primula 26 janvier 2009 at 0 h 16 min - Reply

    "To be stuck in the absolute is to be stuck where you are not."
    How can anyone experience oneness without being "there/present/open/naked" "in the moment"?
    All senses are involved in this/awareness, no? (Even fysical pain)
    And they belong to someone, no?

  9. little lake 25 janvier 2009 at 11 h 58 min - Reply

    how "on earth" can anyone get stuck in the absolute?
    Contradictio in terminis?

  10. Ting 25 janvier 2009 at 10 h 42 min - Reply

    A good thing you didn’t let your tea get cold.
    Not being stuck in a question.

    What do you think of this?
    Freedom is to be in harmony with the Tao.
    To be in the moment, acting as an individual and to represent the universal and eternal at the same time; in seamless cohesion.
    Simple and Chinese, like sipping tea.

    To be stuck is to be without this cohesion and harmony with the context.
    Definitions get us stuck.
    Oneness sets us free.

    By the way: If you don’t like my comments, just delete them. I don’t mind.

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