Friday, February 15, 2013

A Gecko Dream

Sections 36-37 #15

Hello All, These will be the last sections of the Platform Sutra that we'll look at together. If you enjoyed Hui-neng at all, please take a look at Red Pine's Diamond Sutra translation. Hui-neng is often quoted there to illuminate or add insight to a chapter or paragraph. I imagine Hui-neng used the words and phrases of those who came before him but it is evident when reading him that Hakuin, Dogen and many others we are familiar with also read and memorized his words. He was, and remains, a giant in our lineage. It is too bad that more in our current crop of teachers did not (do not) take his words seriously; his words to purify or clarify your very own mind before acting. If more had, we would have fewer scandals and fewer hurt and disaffected practitioners. Clearly it doesn't require living in a monastery to practice well. And it is clear that living (hiding?) in a monastery can simply be a defense from truly encountering your self, the other and your true nature. Groping etc. has little to do with intimacy or teaching and much to do with greed, ignorance and even hatred.

If you practice with a straight forward mind (a sincere mind, an honest mind), you can practice anywhere and at any time. It doesn't matter if you are stuck in traffic or in a check-out line. It doesn't matter if you are sick or well. It doesn't even matter if you are happy, sad, discouraged, lost or lonely. Each of those situations are your best place of practice. Simply purify your mind and that will give rise to your unending straight forward mind. If you stumble and fall down, before rising, purify your mind and then stand up and your very own mind will meet you with an openness that is bottomless.

"There must be 10000 ways to explain it but all are based on one rule: in your dark house of afflictions, keep the sun of wisdom shinning..." Sometimes we are overwhelmed by a singular perspective, a singular feeling. We begin to think or feel that that is what and who I am, only. All our normal facets of identity fade, fall away and the singular perspective grows and overwhelms like a tidal wave after an earthquake. You are tumbled and lose sense of right-side up and, in fact, there is no longer a right-side up. The disorientation is vast and there is little, if anything, to hold to. Your normal ways are flooded and washed away. You want, you need to do something and because there is little that can be done, you reach for the one thing quit, to stop practicing, to retreat.
This is a normal and natural phase of practice, at one time or another, for many. Blake said, and I am adding the word 'sometimes', and I'll tell you why in a moment, sometimes you have to walk through hell to get to heaven. About 30 years ago, I was going through a particularly painful time. From waking to sleep and even through whatever part of the night sleep did come, I was in abject misery. One day during an especially stormy and rainy sesshin when the sun was blocked by the clouds through most the hours, I dragged myself into dokusan. I didn't imagine I'd find any relief there but more sitting was beyond my possibilities so I went. My black shirt was wet with tears and sweat. I was racked with fear, doubt and pain but somehow I mumbled, "Why do we have to go through hell to reach heaven?" Without missing a beat, the old man in front of me, jumped up, pulled back the curtains and pointed. My eyes followed his finger to the coconut trees, to the rocks, to the clouds and he said, "Where do you see hell?" I woke from my dreams of hell long enough to feel a moment or two of...encouragement is too strong and positive a feeling...of some very tiny spark. This moment gave me the sustenance to continue walking in my dream of hell for a few more months. Then one day a gecko called from a greater dream and I woke enough to see what he saw when he pointed.

I passed by many things in the dark and I repeatedly passed by myself. I also passed by sunrises and sunsets. I passed by beautiful men and women. I passed by my own greed, hatred and ignorance more times than I care to imagine. I learned the same things over and over and yet I never learned a thing. But I did trust the schedule, the community I was with and my practice of Mu.  I also trusted a man who wanted for me not for him, ever. He did not want me for his pleasure, for his aggrandizement, for his delusion. All he wanted was for me to follow the schedule and to let mu do mu. And it seems all Hui-neng wants for us is to purify the mind and to see then what is always right here before our very eyes. We don't need to do anything more than that but also we can't do any less.

Unfortunately, the night is growing late and I am rather tired. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them or drop me an e-mail and we can arrange to talk on the phone. Also feel free to come to the mountain and sit the Branching Moon sesshin, or come to the 2 week May retreat or come to Ancient Bones. I will be very happy to see you and practice with you...

Enjoy your time together tomorrow & as importantly
enjoy your practice.


1 comment :

  1. I am reminded of Hui Neng's poem about fundamental purity, and the question of practice, the wiping of the mirror to keep it clean. Isn't the point, that we fall into the misconception that there is someone here that must struggle to keep the mirror clean. Isn't this someone simply the dust that clouds the purity we are seeking. Isn't this seeking just the someone who wishes to justify their existence. Isn't Hui Neng simply saying..."no self, no problem"! Who is here to practice? Who is here to think up the dust that seems to be smudging the mirror?


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