Friday, January 4, 2013

Practice This Practice

Sections 24-25 #9

Hello All,  Again, we should not skip past Hui-neng's initial teaching in Section 24. Please clarify your mind, he says, before I continue my talk. I ask you to please investigate this 'clarify the mind'. As you move into your zazen, wonder for a moment--what is zazen and who is it that moves into it? What moves?
 We are in the winter season, a time to move more slowly thus a time to pay attention to subtlety and nuance. The flowers are not bright and colorful. The birds aren't continually calling. The sky here in the northwest is low and monochromatic in timbre, pitch and tone. It is an easy time to sleep even when you are rising from bed into dawn's still dark. Yet, for all these reasons and more, it is a lovely time to investigate each step, each quiet sound coming from the woods, each slight shift of movement in the world of shadows. It is a time to settle in, to settle into this place here, into this moment now, into your one and only life. And the first step into this settling is 'clarify your mind'. The first step in truly listening is 'clarify the mind'.

Maha means great and this 'great' stands by itself. It is not in opposition to subtle or small but actually includes them. It is beyond, beyond comparison and limitations. It is great and next to it the sun appears dim and the heavens rather insignificant. It is not subject to knowing or not-knowing. It is not subject to dying or not dying, born or not born, being or not being. Our practice, our zazen is certainly not about sitting on the cushion thinking but it is, also, not about stopping our thoughts. It is jumping clear of these perceived dualities and sitting (standing, walking, lying) right here in the bottomless ocean of what we call the present. This is how we clarify the mind. This is the gate of ease and joy.

It is the gate of joy because nothing, ever is left out. There is no way to create separation. At times, this may intellectually seem problematic because no separation means there are endless tears, horrifying pain and devastating events that we are involved in. Yet this very involvement opens us up again and again to the bottomless ground that we are always walking on and it opens us to the depths of our humanity. These bottomless depths crack us open to a compassion and love beyond understanding or rational thinking. "Our nature contains the 10000 things... the 10000 things are our nature."  Thich Nhat Hahn wrote in his breathtaking book, Call Me by My True Names,
"Since the moon is full tonight,
let us call upon the stars in prayer.
The power of concentration,
seen through the bright, one-pointed mind,
is shaking the universe.
All living beings are present tonight
to witness the ocean of fear
flooding the earth.
Upon the sound of the midnight bell,
everyone in the ten directions joins hands
and enters the meditation on MahaKaruna.
Compassion springs from the heart,
as pure, refreshing water,
healing the wounds of life.
From the highest peak of the Mind Mountain,
the blessed water streams down,
penetrating rice fields and orange groves.
The poisonous snake drinks
a drop of this nectar
from the tip of a blade of grass,
and the poison on its tongue vanishes.
Mara's arrows
are transformed
into fragrant flowers.
The wondrous action of the healing water--
a mysterious transformation!
A child now holds the snake in her innocent arms.
Leaves are still green in the ancient garden.
The shimmering sunlight smiles on the snow,
and the sacred spring still flows toward the East.
On Avalokita's willow branch,
or in my heart,
the healing water is the same.
Tonight all weapons
fall at our feet
and turn to dust.
One flower,
two flowers,
millions of little flowers
appear in the green fields.
The gate of deliverance opens..."

Please practice this practice. And I
hope you and yours have a very good new year.

1 comment :

  1. Clarifying the an investigation into who or what this activity is. It is the gift of having the time to lounge with this mind, and this is the gift of this life. This lounging is the wonderful wondering that we had as a child, but were taught to disregard. We love to wonder, yet we became afraid to accept this gift, the gift of our birthright. Thus clarifying the mind is not a chore, rather it is a receiving of the gift of wonderful clarity that has always been standing by, waiting for us to return.


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