You cannot wash off blood with blood

In this, my first post on this blog, I would like to introduce an article I published in 2012 the medical journal, Explore. I based the title of the article on an old Zen saying: “You cannot wash off blood with blood”, which is generally taken to mean that it is difficult to control one’s thoughts with other thoughts. I took the subtitle from another old Zen saying: “Enter the mind through the body”. This suggests that the way to control thoughts is with the body. I wrote the article, in part, because I believed then (and still believe now) that much of the literature in on meditation in medical and psychological fields was paying scant attention to the physical dimensions —specifically breathing and posture– as practiced in the tradition of Zen in which I train. The article, then, is a position paper on the importance of physicality in Zen and in it I articulated techniques and concepts—zazen, hara, samadhi, the three nens–on which I will be expanding in future posts how they relate to healing.

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