“Transmission” by Bart Marshall: The Induction Series #1

What is Zen transmission? Today’s reading is from Bart Marshall’s essay called “Transmission” published in the book Beyond Mind, Beyond Death. Bart has appeared on this podcast and was featured in my film Closer Than Close, so I’m sure many of you are familiar with his work. It’s a brilliant essay, striking a bell that’s at the heart of true Zen transmission, while also serving as a form of transmission itself.

Bodhidharma spoke of Zen transmission as:

A special transmission outside the scriptures,
Not depending on words and letters;
Directly pointing to the mind
Seeing into one’s true nature and attaining Buddhahood.

The aim of The Induction Series is to focus on such “inspired” writings, those that carry the “living word.” Franklin Merrell-Wolff called them “mystic writings” and said “when the ‘Voice of the Silence’ speaks into the relative world, the Meaning lies between the words, as it were, rather than in the direct content of the words themselves.”

Richard Rose said that “If you are interested in looking for Essence, from the point of the Process Observer you can be stimulated only by writings of inspiration rather than reason or direction” and referred students to his poem “Three Books of the Absolute.” While Rose used the term “inspirational,” clearly these are not necessarily inspirational, uplifting writings like one typically finds collected under that banner.

zen transmission
Photo by Clayton Caldwell on Unsplash

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