Saturday, January 19, 2013

Non-Edited Version

Section 30-31  #12

Hello Will, Louie, Linda, Pat, Matt, Linda et al...
I wonder how your weekly meetings are going?  I've talked to a couple folks this week and it sounds like the 'study' and conversations are intimate and a sense of inquiry abounds. "The Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset said 'inquiry' is our nearest equivalent to the Greek alethia , an activity of mind that initiated all Western philosophizing: 'an place us in contact with the naked reality...concealed behind the robes of falsehood'." (Hillman) So please continue the good work and take pleasure in what you are doing. It is an antidote to some of our culture's more problematic leanings and tendencies.

While reading today's section, I was reminded of the great echo that the Platform Sutra is.  Hakuin said that all beings by nature are buddha, as ice by nature is water. Apart from water, there is no ice; apart from beings, no buddha.  The seed of this image came from section 30 and Hakuin's no-thought also found its inception here. Note: although I am not able to locate it this morning, I found a very similar saying on no-thought in Red Pine's Bodhidharma translation. Many of these images, teachings, thinkings are not new but re-cast and re-invigorated by Hui-neng--kind of like Bob Dylan lyrics which often have early homes in old blues songs. We can also find Dogen's Fugan Zazen-gi wrestling with thought, no-thought & non-thought. Of course, these are perennial themes throughout zen and meditative Buddhism but this sutra seems to hold and describe many of the later wonderings  our ancestors wrestled with.

The 10000 things and the 10000 teachings are all manifestations of our very own minds. Not one of them come from somewhere else. All are simply expressions of our very own selves, just from different locations or vantage points. Each are giving teisho, just in a different key or chord or musical system. This is why we never need look further than our next breath; why we need not look further than our own bodies; why not past what is right before us. It isn't in India or Japan or Tibet anymore or less than it is right here!

In Section 31, Hui-neng said, " When I was with Hung-jen, as soon as I heard his words, I experienced a great realization..." What words, I wonder, did he hear & what did he realize? This is worth inquiring into in your zazen or as Dogen says, please investigate these words thoroughly. If you have trouble seeing through these words, Hui-neng implores us to find a good friend for help, although he says, the best friend is your own insight. But until that in-sight is aroused, a good friend is most valuable. Who is/are your good friend(s). Do you spend enough time with them? Do you spend far too much time with your non-good friends? How come? What, for you, makes a good friend?

I have been fortunate to have had a few good friends. My last good friend taught me about the complementarity of light and dark, of moon and sun, of (dare I say) form and emptiness. (See Blue Cliff Record, Case 1 & Book of Equanimity, Case 1 for two expressions of the same thing.)  He also was very clear that these complementarities always included my behavior and conduct both in and out of the zendo. In the zendo, one was to sit up straight, have only one-thought and to move with poise. Outside the zendo, one was to move with care and kindness towards the self and towards others--all others. In my early days with him, he continually pointed to what was right before me and he demanded my full participation in whatever endeavor we were involved in. He had complete confidence that you could see into your own nature and he was single focused in that 'pursuit'. At times, this felt overly demanding but I am now thankful for his confidence and his unflagging resolve in our mutual endeavour. He was continually attempting to activate the master who sat in your own home. He knew this had very little to do with him personally. It was about waking up--not about him and his wants, needs and sense of importance. He felt the true teacher was MU, was your koan, your shikan-taza, your very own circumstances. He also thought following a schedule was of primary importance as were the precepts, paramitas and the Great Vows. He said on more than one occasion, if you didn't hold the precepts close to your heart, this practice was only a hobby, frail and wind-driven. It needed to be a way of life--lifetime after lifetime after lifetime which is simply MU after Mu after Mu. When he was in his late 80's and couldn't sit zazen in the evenings and I was visiting, something I did 1 or 2 times a year,  after dinner we'd sit in his office-bedroom and listen to Democracy Now and when the broadcast was concluded, he'd tell me about his favorite poets and music. He'd also talk of the most recent 'compost' he was reading and the ideas that might be arising from that reading. And the old worthies were always a part of the conversation, sitting right next to the old man, if not actual participants at times. I find I still often have conversations with him & his dear friends, and I am glad he is as close to me as my next breath, as the next red-wing blackbird call, as my next stumble. He continues to directly influence my 'talks' and I hold my teaching to his level of demand. And I have his confidence, which he received from his teacher and down the line to Hui-neng, that all things are fully present in our very own nature. You do not have to be someone or somewhere else...only as you are; now; here. This confidence is no-thought. When we aren't stuck to any one thing; subject, object and activity are seen as they are--concepts only. This practice isn't about stopping--anything; but allowing--each thing.

take care



  1. The confidence of a different kind of confidence than that which the mind attempts to build. It seems closer to the root word "confide", to entrust, to open within an intimacy. Stopping can't be a practice since it is always already stopped. But confidence here seems to be about a deeper recognition of home, the blessing of no-thought, that belonging is the valid truth.

  2. Jack,
    No need to edit these most intimate words. Nothing to add or take away. You are a very good friend.

  3. Thank you for the teaching from Rocks and Streams. I am befuddled enough with Blog posts to be unable to comment there. My comment is, Precious Words, "The True Teacher is Mu, your koan, your shikan-taza, your very own circumstances".
    Many, many thanks.


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