Being ready for the thunderbolt


If your mind is clear, true knowledge is already yours. When you listen to our teaching with a pure, clear mind, you can accept it as if you were hearing something which you already knew. This is called emptiness, or omnipotent self, or knowing everything. When you know everything, you are like a dark sky. Sometimes a flashing will come through the dark sky. After it passes, you forget all about it, and there is nothing left but the dark sky. The sky is never surprised when all of a sudden a thunderbolt breaks through. And when the lightning does flash, a wonderful sight may be seen. When we have emptiness we are always prepared for watching the flashing.

— Shunryu Suzuki (in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind)



7 responses

  1. This is a beautiful passage – and the image of the lightening flash through the dark, cloudy sky is very powerful.

    Life does bring us thunderbolts, doesn’t it? And mostly I’m surprised when they rattle through my dream. At the same time, the flash can illuminate my dream in interesting ways – the startle has its own function. I just have to look into the brightness.

  2. Only Breath

    not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu,
    Buddhist, Sufi or Zen. not any religion
    or cultural system. I am not from the east
    or the west, not out of the ocean or up
    from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
    composed of elements at all. I do not exist,
    am not an entity in this world or the next,
    did not descend form Adam and Eve or any
    origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
    of the traceless. Neither body or soul.
    I belong to the beloved, have seen the two worlds
    as one and that one call to and know.
    first, last, outer, inner, only that
    breath breathing human being.

    Jellaudin Rumi
    transalation by Coleman Barks

  3. I first read Suzuki-roshi’s book a few years ago, and I just read it again this past week. I need to read it every day. Thanks for posting this.

  4. form is form. emptiness is emptiness.

    form is emptiness. emptiness is form.

    no form. no emptiness.

    which is correct?


    good luck.