Zen is ordinary, dead ordinary. Don't expect 'bells and whistles' enlightenment. To find clarity or freedom get to know your self and see what you make of the world.On these pages you see my offer to help you in this process, and a bit about me and my experience.
Our esteemed teacher, Zen master David Ferguson, retired in 2007. He asked me to take over some of his work. So I'm on duty now as Zen master.
For more information on groups, sessions, retreats...., e-mail me

I have had some experiences of clarity or freedom before, but they were temporary, and the search for answers to weighty problems such as the human condition, the nature of suffering and freedom from it drove me half way round the world.
Like so many others, you might say. I have been influenced by several spiritual teachers / masters but the most intense work I did with David Ferguson, a Zen Buddhist in rural Devon, England. The focal point of our work was always the question 'Who am I'.
It was a long time, several years, of working with him. You might have heard about Kensho or Satori. This is not about an intellectual understanding, it's about experiencing no separation, and I can tell you now, it's the start. This experience opens the door for getting to know yourself like nothing before. And here I am in dodgy territory already, because how can I describe an experience without feeding the hopes of separate selves.
But it might just be that this account is helping someone else. That's a reason to publish it here. And another reason is that it focuses the writer, and highlights the link between identity creation and social interaction.

It's all about ego

To say it right in the beginning:
There is no escape from ego.
Any people saying so (that it's possible to kill or transcend the ego) have only defined it away. So in an attempt to clarify this tricky point, lets look at some things:
It is in social interaction we use the term ego, so we have to refer to the socially accepted understanding of what the ego is:
ego is the latin word for "I", and further:
"ego - 1metaphysics-a conscious thinking subject. 2psychol.-the part of the mind that reacts to reality and has a sense of individuality. 3 a sense of self esteem." from the Oxford Compact English Dictionary

Another, more extensive definition from -A Dictionary Of Philosophy- (Pan Books):
"ego The experienced I not coextensive with either mind or body, but the centre of organization of attitudes towards the the body, the physical and social world, and all experience that determines identity and individuality. It is the personal point of reference, providing continuity and consistency in thinking, perceiving, planning actions, and relating past, present, and future experiences through memory, imagination, and anticipation."

I have no problems with these definitions (apart from the "..not coextensive with ....mind...."but that's not so important right now), and they make it quite clear that you have an ego, as soon, or as long, as you have a thought or an observation. Never mind telling other people about it or giving advice.

Why am I going on about ego and identity so much?

Because it is the core of the whole problematic. Perceiving anything and/or anyone gives you the sense of I, gives you an ego, and the fact that you communicate about it and the way how you do it gives you identity.
Does that mean I will always be separate?
Yes, "I" will always be separate. But it doesn't mean there is no experience of -no separation-. In fact, identification with the "I" is what keeps you from the experience. I try to explain what I mean: the "I", the ego, the sense of self, is the product of thought, and a thought is an image of something, not the thing itself. The "I", the ego, the self, is separate.
But there is no need to belabour that point, because it is the separation that is the driving force to solve this riddle, it is from the perceived separation, the I wants to have unity, wants -to be one with everything-, or whatever the name of the desire.
Not to be separate - it's a desire, a thought, and so it creates ego, and gives it identity. - sorry, no way out.
Whatever I come up with, it's not it,
-I can't have it.
All I can do, is get to know myself - observe the mind with the mind.
And get clear that this separation has to be an illusion, how can anything be separate, except through thought, which creates the illusion that there is actually a seer apart from the seen, a listener apart from the sound, a feeler apart from the felt,....and of course, a watcher apart from the watched....

There you are, I'm creating a nice identity with all this writing!

As I said - no escape-

I wont be writing much about experience, because it makes egos greedy - it feeds their desire to get it, which is a hindrance, because "I" can't have it.
And anyway, there is nothing to write about: "mountains are mountains, and rivers are rivers..."

What I can do is describe my struggles with the human condition and how it resolved itself.
(By my ego being stopped insisting that it is. I know this is a terrible sentence, but this is it, or what I can say about it) The state that is called experience, or epiphany, or enlightenment, how would I describe it? Only in negatives, the I, the ego, is stunned into silence. Absence?perhaps, because the moment there is a describing focus, an "I", that I is separate, the process of I-dentification creates the abyss of separation.
For example, some years ago there was an experience, life, nature, everything, in stunning clarity. After a few days thoughts started appearing, what does it mean? do I have to change my life now? do I have to tell anyone? everyone? and soon "I" was back in the driving seat. Luckily I noticed, before I started preaching. Without a great clarity about the working of the mind and the nature of "I", ego, and self, I was ill equipped to deal with that stupendous event, and was soon back to my old (separate) self.

The same questions came up after the experience refered to in the following pages, as well as indulgence in states of bliss, fear of loosing it, and more.
I had discussions about who is having the experience and isn't that the same as before, namely a separate self?
Yes, the enquiry into 'who am I' never stopped, if anything it became more intense. It has to be, that's the only thing that prevents you from falling for illusions and delusions.

In time, things become simpler and simpler, any moment of life is just that, a moment of life unfolding.
Will and effort diminish, and a mirrorlike quality takes over -
and it's - just so