When are you ?

Isn’t this a peculiar question ! ? Just three words – each of them a simple and obvious word. How can anyone spend an  entire week trying to do nothing but ask this question and observe what happens?

Well that’s what I did and Chapter 7 is about my struggles and confusions over “When are you?”

I must apologise. I had it in mind that I would put up a new chapter (shortened version of each) towards the end of each month. I did quite well until last month. I was sure I had done it but looking now I see I missed July. Ah well, perhaps it was because my birthday is at the end of July (pathetic excuse).  I have no excuse.  But here is Chapter 7 . I look forward to hearing how you get on with this question.

Meanwhile I am off on retreat again. This time I’m going to Gaia House for a week of Zen practice with master Reb Anderson. The retreat is called “Dharma flower turning Dharma flower” (???).  As ever I am part looking forward to it and part dreading it. I’ve so much work to do, the garden is lovely and needs work on it, I don’t want to sit indoors for a week and meditate all day ……

I’ll report back.

23 Responses to “When are you ?”

  1. luisnunesalberto Says:


    There is nothing more to say about it

    Enjoy your retreat

    Luis Nunes Alberto

  2. tenzenbookblog Says:

    I didn’t find it that simple.
    Now ?

  3. luisnunesalberto Says:


    The question is a trap, if you let yourself fall in it it gets difficult.

  4. luisnunesalberto Says:

    I’ve been looking for your books but I can’t find them here in the south of Portugal. I can read in three languages, portuguese, french or english but I can’t find any.

  5. tenzenbookblog Says:

    You can buy them in many languages from Amazon. There is a complete list, with Amazon links, at http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/publicat.htm#Books
    there is a list of translations at
    I hope this helps.

  6. tenzenbookblog Says:

    I think I fell in the trap – but it was quite a fun and instructive trap!

  7. jacques79 Says:

    Ha ha ha, all these questions sound like jokes! 🙂

    Who? When?

    Look at your hand – it’s empty! 🙂

  8. jacques79 Says:

    Are the thoughts diffrent from things?

    Is the mind diffrent from matter?

    Isn’t it obvious? 🙂

  9. tenzenbookblog Says:

    Yes, it’s obvious intellectually but perhaps you can see directly more clearly than I. For now I keep struggling even though I know there is nothing to struggle for.
    Jokes indeed 🙂

  10. thigles Says:

    I have some quotes by Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. Maybe you’re interested:

    “Mental phenomena are experienced by the mind. Is a moment of experience single or multiple? If it is neither it cannot exist. If it where single, it would not to be able to have any duration. Duration means there is a beginning, middle and end. If you say there is a beginning, middle and end to a moment, then the moment is three moments and the original moment has disappeard. Therefore it cannot be either single or multiple. However minutely you analyse you never find a smallest possible truly existent moment of experience of which all other existent experience could be made up. Consciousness or experience is empty of self-nature, because ultimately there is no truly existing moment of consciousness or experience.”

    Thx for your book,

  11. groozles Says:

    I have some questions for Susan. What is a Retreat? What is it a retreat from? Is it a club?

  12. groozles Says:

    For Mart and his/her quote re; “you analyse”. Who or what analyses? For example…. I don’t analyse. I dont feel. I dont think. However, there is process. There is the process of analysis and there is the process of feeling things supported by the process of the analysis of the things felt. It is problematic to then further analize the feeler, or the “I”, and the analizer. There is just experience. No “self” or “I” is required. It seems that the only necessity for the use of “I” is to let an other know that there is some apparently seperate being communicating with “you”. But even that is unnecessary as it is surely obvious. The mental creation of an “I” must only be a convention of language and as we tend to think in language we also create some “I” that experiences. But in reality “I” does not experience anything. “I” is experience. The “I” experience is mental. And as it is mental it is also emotional. If it remains as purely mental and emotional then it must remain as a limited experience. Self limiting due to the mentally (or believed in) created self. True self, or Reality, is more than just mental. More than just mental, mental interpretations of emotion and emotion itself. Outer Body Experiences provides a further clue (and i look at OBE’s as merely more 3d symbolism) to how “Human” Consciousness does not only have to be experienced from inside the skull of an “I”. An OBE implies the contrary. Selfhood is the sensation of conscious experience from that point of view. The reality seems to be that there is NO POINT (or skull) to view anything from. The POINT that things are viewed from is just experience itself. Consciousness ITself. IT.
    (Sorry Mart. As i rambled on this ceased to be just a response to your post)

  13. groozles Says:

    And with my previous post I was getting AT the problematic “Self Analysis” and the institutions that is created from such a believed in non necessity, be it conventional religion or conventional schools of psychiatry and psychology.

  14. groozles Says:

    So my answer to “When are you?” is Process. The same answer applies to “What?” and “Where?” (In Reality there is no when, what and where). A bigger question is “Why all this?’. And the answer to that maybe about “you” or “I” getting out of the way of Process. Getting out of the way requires understanding as opposed to knowledge I would suggest.

  15. tenzenbookblog Says:

    In case you are serious even Wikipedia does quite well on this one.
    Everyone retreats from something different. perhaps from oneself? For me it is usually retreating from email and the countless responsibilities and self-imposed pressures of my ordinary life. On retreat I can concentrate on meditation (typically between 6 and 8 hours a day), Zen instruction (unless I’m on a solitary retreat) and mindfulness while washing, cooking, gardening or whatever I am supposed to be doing.
    Club? No. You can go on solitary retreat – completely alone, no one else involved; personal retreat – usually in a monastic or group setting but working on your own; or the most common type, a group retreat – lots of people with a teacher and formal routine. Some people create kind of clubs afterwards but there’s no need to join them.
    I have sometimes worried about the cult-like aspects of some retreats – subservience, lack of sleep, strict rules, loss of identity, and isolation – but then the benefits often stem clearly from some of these aspects. Tricky!

    I just got back from 5 days at John Crook’s house where I did less meditation than usual because I spent a lot of time cutting down enormous climbers (clematis mixed with wisteria, honeysuckle and enough roses to draw blood many times) that the rats were using to gain access to his loft. Good fun!

  16. tenzenbookblog Says:

    If you are seeking answers then this is a reasonable one, but alternatively you might think of these questions as koans.

    In this case the point of working with the question is not to find an answer but to allow the question to effect change or lead to insight. When an answer is reached the koan stops having this mind-changing effect.

  17. groozles Says:

    Aye Susan. However, I propose that retreating from “oneself” is also retreating from the “self-imposed pressures”. “Oneself” is an interesting noise to use with regard to this conversation. When you use it I guess you are really talking about the “false-self” (ego) rather than the One (“with every-thing) Self. The “oneself” that is indeed an imposition, or an (apparently) independent and individual self that takes a position on life itself. I have an alternative idea to retreating (and by voicing this is not to suggest that I believe you are not already aware of it. I just don’t know you). The idea is to “get out of the way of oneself”. And with that is to understand that all self imposed “countless responsibilities” and relationships are also this emotional “self-imposition”.

    “On retreat I can concentrate on meditation”
    Who is “I” that concentrates? Is it not, while meditation is “succeeding”, just that the “I” (or “oneself”) has finally given up concentrating on itself? And then there is effectively a treat of “selflessness”? I think that this particular form of practice has the tendency to formalize and institutionalize “selflessness” to the point that it merely becomes a “sense” of freedom due to a ritual of timeframes and timezones (for practice). It has the tendency to “make sacred” places and times for momentary “selflessness” (gives the ego yet another “treat”). The ego will (being sneeky little clever bastards) attach itself to anything it recognizes as also being seperate from the “stream” of life and, may therefore, effectively turn selflessness from real freedom to sensory freedom and a mere (and self-perpetuating) form of “spiritual masturbation”. This condition is very much to the fore in the Eastern, right-brained dominant (therefore also unbalanced), mind. A mind as conflicted with it’s left as the conventional Western is conflicted with it’s right. The conventionally “mastered” Eastern whos psychic experiences ignores the anylitical capabilities of its neighbour.
    Is the object of the “Zen” game not to also be “mindful” when, not only while “washing, cooking, gardening”, having “countless responsibilities and self-imposed pressures”? If this is can be the case “you” could be on permanent retreat.

  18. groozles Says:

    As you may well have noticed Susan, due to my cultured Western influence, I am more prone to intellectual masturbation. But then everything is just masturbation in various cultural forms until our individual minds are complete in relationship with itself (“Mindfullness”) in all apparent circumstances.

  19. groozles Says:

    Further, re; “self-imposed pressures of my ordinary life”, I am regarding ritualized meditation, re-treats (other varieties of treat), my own intellectual masturbation (because as long as its “my own” it must be masturbation…. for now) as also “ordinary”. Our tendency (yes, yours and mine Susan) , due to Western cultural influence/sexual disturbance (which therefore tends to see the East as exotic/erotic forgetting the East’s own sexual disturbance), is to “work hard” (not smart) in order to feel deserving and so re-Treat our selves over and over. “You” meditate, “I” caffiene medicate.

  20. groozles Says:

    And why would we “selfishly” impose pressure on our “self”? Because “Self” is that pressure. It is contraction (on life). It is the creation of time. When we contract our gut we live in time. Time between an ungraspable now and an uncertain future so that the “now” becomes a grasp amidst wishing for a future that “might be” happy. Therefore a “doubtful” (not Mindful) future. Doubtful only because the “happy” future is merely being regarded in emotional terms. Emotional happiness is merely a retreat, or release, from emotional unhappiness. The type of “happiness” that only knows itself dualistically. Only knows itself as contrast to other. But knowing itself as, or to, other is merely process. Duality is merely process. And process is Love but while still being “experienced” as process it is merely being felt as process.
    Process Yet to “Be” Love.
    Yet to Be Love AS Experience Itself.

  21. tenzenbookblog Says:

    Thanks. I agree in principle but in practice mindfulness is just very, very much harder when fighting with book proofs (as now) dealing with phone calls, battling with waves of email ….. with more practice ??? 🙂

  22. groozles Says:

    “Harder” is just something you are doing. Its not mindfulness that is hard. Hard is merely the limitation imposed on mind. The “Practice” is the observation of the “Hardness”. “Practice” is the observation of the ego. That is how the ego is recognized. If it is hard then there it is. It is now observable. Not analysed. Observed (without words. Without judgement.) The Harsh and “Hard” words, or analysis, or things that are felt as hard, are observed. To Observe is to notice “Hard” without concern. No concern with its current form (felt with any variety of sense and emotion) and no emotional investment (expectation) in an outcome from the Observation. “Expectation” is merely an object that is felt. All objects felt are contractions or limitations on “Feeling”.

  23. groozles Says:

    A favourite book “Scientific Proof of the Existence of God Will Soon Be Announced by the White House”

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