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Rest and unrest derive from illusions;
With enlightenment there is no liking and disliking.
All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams of flowers in air:
Foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong;
Such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.

If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things
are as they are, of single essence.
To understand the mystery of this one-essence
is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen equally,
the timeless self-essence is reached.
No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state.[1]

Yet illusions are all around us, they come in the night when the room gets dark and we see shadows and sometimes think there might even be a person in the room. But if we quickly turn the light on we will see there is no one there. Yet our heart may be pounding and we may even believe we heard sounds.

Jamgon Mipham in his commentary of Chandrakirti’s Madhyamakavatara makes many remarks about illusion. He writes:

Some believe that appearance proves existence: if a thing appears, it must exist. Phenomena appear, but they do not exist; the hallucinatory objects [i.e. hallucinations of a drug addict] do not exist, yet they appear.

Being nonexistent, they are beyond assessment as being good or bad (page 373).[2]

Or as our sutra says, “They are like dreams of flowers in air: Foolish to try to grasp them.”

Still we spend our day creating a life filled with illusions of life and death, relationships, good jobs and bad, and on and on we go choosing and not choosing. We even spend time wishing those illusions were other than they are, hoping to see the “illusion” of the perfect mate, job, home, or child appear before us and enter magically into our lives. We create illusions of gaining something and illusions of losing something and neither are something we can grasp with our hands—yet they are so real in our minds and sometimes even in our hearts that we convince ourselves that they can and will exist.

These illusions thus bring rest and unrest, liking and disliking—dualities. Choosing and not choosing. And so we are back to the Buddhist principle of not choosing…“to be released from all entanglements. When all things are seen equally, the timeless self-essence is reached.”

Jamgon Mipham goes on to write:

Ordinary people already put themselves to so much trouble, imprisoned as they are in the cocoon of their own thoughts. Why entangle them even more in webs of philosophical speculation. This is something that one should rather avoid (page 309).[3]

And yet we do engage in “philosophical speculation.”

And yet we dream…

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Osho (2014) Hsin Hsin Ming, The Zen Understanding of Mind and Consciousness. Osho International Foundation

[2] Chandrakirti, (2002) Introduction to the Middle Way: Candrakirti’s Madhyamakavatara; with Commentary by Jamgon Miphan—1st ed. Shambhala Publications, Boston: MA

[3] Ibid.

If you wish to move in the one way
do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully is identical with true enlightenment.
The wise man strives to no goals
but the foolish man fetters himself.
There is one dharma, truth, law, not many;
distinctions arise
from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek mind with the discriminating mind
is the greatest of all mistakes.[1]

Well, if one thing is true about the Buddhist sutras it is that they are a mystery and a puzzle and an enigma all rolled into one. They challenge our logical rational mind to the nth degree and make us wonder sometimes if this path is worth the work?!

First we are being told that if we “wish to move in the one way do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.” Next we’re told that “to seek mind with the discriminating mind” is a great mistake. In order to move in “one way” rather than another—to choose whether we are to “dislike” something—is required to determine whether we even “dislike” something. Yikes!

These verses are much like the koans which we study in our branch of Buddhism. I am working on one right now and have been for the past 6 months to no avail…” Two men walking in the rain, one gets wet the other does not.” The only thing I am sure of is that life is a koan and an enigma and that is why this sutra also says, “To seek mind with the discriminating mind is the greatest of all mistakes.”

There have been hundreds of times in my life, both personal and professional when I thought through a problem with care, research, help from a therapist or a friend, decided upon the solution and the action and then BAM it all blew up in my face. And there have been other times that I quickly went with my gut, no research, no contemplation, no therapist, and it worked out GREAT! No discriminating mind.

I have lived a life where there were goals written down, organized, prioritized, and achieved and then there were times I set goals that fettered me to something that was not good for me and caused pain and suffering in my life and in the lives of those around me. I have been on all sides and the 10 directions that are described in the verses of this sutra.

And so…what do I do. Simply sit! Yes, I sit each day and calm the body, mind, and spirit. It is to look for nothing and when something appears in the mind and body I simply breathe into it and let it go. The universe is a wonderful thing and the right and perfect outcome will appear on its own. It may come from a friend, co-worker, or family member. It can come from an email or something you saw on the internet or TV or read in a book, but come it will on its own terms and in its own time—not yours. Accept what is—as it is and as it comes—that is what Buddhism is all about for me.

I simply let go of the clinging and wait and watch to see what the universe brings me! How awesome is that!

In gassho,

ingassho
Shokai

[1]Osho (2014) Hsin Hsin Ming, The Zen Understanding of Mind and Consciousness. Osho International Foundation

Obey the nature of things (your own nature),
And you will walk freely and undisturbed.
When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden,
For everything is murky and unclear,
And the burdensome practice of judging
Brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefit can be derived
From distinctions and separations? [1]

Take a moment to think about the first line of this sutra. “Obey the nature of things (your own nature), and you will walk freely and undisturbed.” What is your nature and what is your TRUE nature. The dictionary says nature is the particular combination of qualities belonging to a person it is our native or inherent character our temperament. Or when used as an idiom “She is by nature a kindhearted person.” So what is your own nature? What is your own TRUE nature?

Once you have identified your nature good and bad then ask yourself “am I in bondage to it?” In reality your TRUE nature is identical to every Buddha that has ever been born. The Dalai Lama says:

“Every sentient being—even insects—have Buddha nature. The seed of Buddha means consciousness, the cognitive power—the seed of enlightenment. That’s from Buddha’s viewpoint. All these destructive things can be removed from the mind, so therefore there’s no reason to believe some sentient being cannot become Buddha.”[2]

And if the Dalai Lama says it must be true!

The essential teaching of Mahayana Buddhism is that we are already enlightened beings that is our true nature. But as it says in the sutra “When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden, for everything is murky and unclear and the burdensome practice of judging brings annoyance and weariness.” We are so bogged down in this negative thinking, this judgmental thinking, this fear thinking, that our true Buddha nature is hidden deep down in the recesses of our minds, bodies and spirits. Our ego does not give us the opportunity to see ourselves as the Buddha the enlightened being. We are plagued with negative images and negative self-talk—Who do you think you are someone special? You have fears, anger, jealousy, and you say mean and angry things. You’re surly not enlightened. Or are you?

“What benefit can be derived from distinctions and separations?” Our thoughts are like the clouds that hide the sun sometimes so much that they bring mental and emotional rain showers and even thunder and lightning storms into our lives. Our thoughts obscure the sun and our Buddha nature and yet we know intellectually that the sun has not gone away. Once we calm ourselves and sit in mindful meditation for a few minutes we will be able to calm that judgmental thinking, ego, and id and turn annoyance and weariness into calmness and peace.

Next time you catch this happening to you simply remind yourself that you are Buddha nature and move into that place of peace, love, and compassion. Ask yourself “What benefit can be derived from distinctions and separations in this situation?” I’ll bet the answer will be “no benefit at all.” If I can remind myself that I am Buddha nature I will be able to slip into a place of peace, love, and compassion for myself and all concerned.

Image what wonderful relationships you could have, what a great life you could have–a life filled with peace, love, and happiness—if you believed about yourself and everyone you meet what the Dalai Lama believes: That everyone has Buddha nature right here and right now! That your TRUE nature is Buddha nature. So let’s try to act like it right here and right now and watch what will happen our your life!

In gassho

ingassho
Shokai

[1] Osho, Hsin Hsin Ming, (2014) The Zen Understanding of Mind and Consciousness Attributed to: Seng’tsan, 3rd Chinese (Sosan, Zen) Patriarch

[2] March 9, 2010 http://www.pbs.org/thebuddha/blog/2010/Mar/9/dalai-lama-buddhanature/

To live in the great way
is neither easy nor difficult,
but those with limited views
are fearful and irresolute:
the faster they hurry, the slower they go,
and clinging cannot be limited;
even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment
is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way
And there will be neither coming nor going.[1]

Several years ago I was watching a video recording of a Ken Blanchard book The One Minute Manager preparing to teach the principles for a training that I was doing for one of my corporate clients and I heard him say “the faster you go—the slower you go.” Having not been a Zen Buddhist student at the time I thought that was a brilliant management philosophy to take to heart. I recalled the many times that I’d hurried through an assignment in college or a project at work and in my rush I ended up making lots of mistakes and writing things that made little or no sense. Thus the negative feedback was not good—but it was well deserved.

When I began studying Buddhism I often read and heard this phrase and discovered that Ken had gotten the idea from some wonderful Buddhist or Eastern philosophy.

When was the last time you rushed through something and it ended up being not your best work, or incorrect, or even harmful? Hopefully you learned something from the experience that has helped you in your life.

So what does the first line mean—To live in the great way is neither easy nor difficult, but those with limited views are fearful and irresolute. I know when I was a Unity minister we tried to help our students and congregants to see the world in these terms: Maybe good, maybe bad. You may be wondering how the world could be this way. You may be thinking that you know what good and bad are and how they arrive in your life and what they look and feel like. But I know in my life sometimes what I thought was “definitely bad” turned out to be “good” and what I thought was “definitely good” turned out to be “bad.”

A failed job turned into a brand new adventure in a new and exciting job and a beautiful brand new car turned out to be a lemon! How about you?

The sutra even goes so far as to say we should not be attached to “the idea of enlightenment.” We should just “let things be in their own way and there will be neither coming nor going.” There will be neither striving nor staying put, neither happiness nor sadness, neither expecting the bad nor the good. Our job is to simply take life in each moment as it comes. Dealing with the good, the bad, and the ugly with equal aplomb, not grasping, clinging, rejecting, or ruminating over it. Just this in this moment: maybe good, maybe bad. Who is to tell since none of us have a crystal ball taking the world at face value, living in the moment, and making lemonade out of lemons is a great recipe for a fulfilling life.

How refreshing is that?! Try it, I think you’ll like it and if not, so what! Try making iced latte next time instead!  This is to live in the Great Way!

In Gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Osho, Hsin Hsin Ming, The Zen Understanding of Mind and Consciousness Attributed to: Seng’tsan, 3rd Chinese (Sosan, Zen) Patriarch

When no discriminating thoughts arise,
the old mind ceases to exist.

When thought objects vanish,
the thinking subject vanishes,
and when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.
Things are objects because of the subject;
the mind is such because of things.
Understand the relativity of these two
the basic and the reality: the unity of emptiness.
In this emptiness the two are indistinguishable
and each contains in itself the whole world.
If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine
you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.[1]

Until we are dead we will all have discriminating thoughts, it is part of being human. However, when we practice the principles of Zen Buddhism we can learn to do what Williams and Penman suggest in their wonderful book Mindfulness an Eight-week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World (2011):

You can watch as they appear and disappear, like a soap bubble bursting. You come to the profound understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative ones) are transient. They come and they go, and ultimately, you have a choice about whether to act on them or not (page5).[2]

And when you do this as it says in the Faith in Mind sutra above “the old mind ceases to exist.” I don’t know about you but my old mind is filled with memories of good times and bad times, happy times and sad times and they can bubble up at the most annoying time. A happy thought may appear in my mind about the person and I can see him or her in my mind’s eye in the middle of the funeral and the joy is so overwhelming I burst out in laughter. Others, of course, are looking at me with disdain, and yet I am unable to control myself.

Or I might see someone at a high school reunion that bullied me or caused others to make fun of me and my mind and body will be filled with anger and rage. If I am able to live the truth of the Faith in Mind sutra I do not have to identify with either the subject or the object. I can remember that emptiness is all there is and that the two—joy and anger—are indistinguishable and each contains in itself the whole world.

Yet if we hold on to things and thoughts, especially the fear and anger things, and the things that are harmful to us like drugs, alcohol, and binging, they take control of our lives and can cause physical, mental, and emotional harm. Williams and Penman suggest a way to deal with this.

Mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself. When unhappiness or stress hovers overhead, rather than taking it all personally, you learn to treat them as if they were black clouds in the sky, and to observe them with friendly curiosity as they drift past. In essence, mindfulness allows you to catch negative thought patterns before they tip you into a downward spiral. It begins the process of putting you back in control of your life (page 5).

The basic idea is to follow this process: thought ——-> awareness ——–> response. Instead of what we usually do which is thought ——> response! Learning how to do this will help you decide whether you want to act on the thoughts or not. The choice is up to you only if the “awareness” divides the thought from the response. If the process is thwarted the black cloud will soon be more than an image it will be your life filled with darkness and pain.

Faith in Mind asks us not to “discriminate between coarse and fine” and that will help us to avoid the prejudice and opinion and the darkness and the pain and simply live in the now dealing with what “is” right at this moment—happiness, sadness—Just This. A life of balance. To realize this life take time to meditate each day and to quiet the mind and you will discover “the unity of emptiness.”  And watch what happens in your life.

In gassho,

ingassho
Shokai

[1] Attributed to: Seng’tsan, 3rd Chinese (Sosan, Zen) Patriarch

[2] Williams, M Penman, D (2011) Mindfulness an Eight-week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. Rodale: NY, NY.

Do not remain in the dualistic state;
avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is a trace
of this and that, of right and wrong,
the mind-essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities come from the one,
do not be attached even to this one.
When mind exists undisturbed in the way,
Nothing in the world can offend,
and when a thing can no longer offend,
it ceases to exist in the old way. [1]

My favorite line in these verses is “When mind exists undisturbed in the way, nothing in the world can offend, and when a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way.” How many of us still hold a grudge or negative thoughts about someone that may have “offended” us in the past. The past could be as long ago as yesterday or 20 years—the time span does not matter. What matters is those words or deeds are still controlling our lives.

So we end up living in the past and not in the now moment. Our lives are so fleeting and yet we still spend a significant amount of our short time on planet earth remembering and holding onto the past. Thus what we are NOT doing is living in the present moment with an open mind, clear eyes, and attention to what is going on now. We’ve missed the beauty of the trees in spring, the sound of the snow beneath our feet in the winter, the joy of the sounds of our children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors laughing and living life in the moment.

“Do not remain in the dualistic state” do not hold on to anything the sutra says, the good moment, the bad moment, or the insignificant moment. Let each pass by with a quiet mind accepting what comes, dealing with it in the moment as best you can and then letting go of any expectations for the future—Just this! Be one with the moment—for a time will come when that moment may just save your life, or bring you peace, or help you solve a problem in a future moment. Feel the pain, feel the joy, feel the expectation as you are experiencing it.

Suppressing life only brings physical and mental pain now and often again in a future moment. When you see a sad movie cry, when you hear a funny joke laugh, when you recite an affirmation do it with passion, when you feel like singing, sing! When you feel like sitting in the quiet, sit. When you feel like cursing—curse! Be one with everything and it will help you experience compassion for others both the criminal and the victim. And don’t be attached to anything! Let nothing offend you as it will cease to exist in the very next moment.

Just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free [2]

Just follow these words of wisdom from Paul Simon and set yourself free!
In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Attributed to: Seng’tsan, 3rd Chinese (Sosan, Zen) Patriarch

[2] Paul Simon, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Attributed to: Seng’tsan, 3rd Chinese (Sosan, Zen) Patriarch

To return to the root is to find the meaning,
but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment
there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.
The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.
Do not search for truth;
only cease to hold opinions.

 

I was sitting quietly at home after Zen on Saturday morning and was drawn, once again, to pick up this wonderful book, To Meet the Real Dragon, by Gudo Nishijima and conveniently enough he was talking about the ‘roots” of Buddhism and the many branches/schools that have come since Gautama Buddha walked on earth. He said, “We must always remember that true Buddhism is something real—something active and alive. If our teachings and institutions lose contact with that source of life and vitality, they will become a hindrance rather than a helpful vehicle on the way to the truth (page 122).”[1]

Buddhism is much more than the sutras and the tenants and the rules and the rituals that have been created over these 2500 years, much more!

So what does this phrase imply to “return to the root is to find the meaning.” For me it brings me back to a time when I knew only a little bit about Buddhism—to the reason I came to Buddhism, simply to sit quietly in time and space and to be free. To calm my body, mind, and spirit even in the midst of living a busy active life of teaching, training, writing, volunteering, and housework—to remain one with the source of life—especially in the midst of that long list.

It is an opportunity to allow myself the simple gift of “sitting in the silence” as we used to say at Unity. Unity minister, teacher, and writer Emily Cady in her empowering book Lessons in Truth wrote these words, “You need not worry. You need not be anxious. You need not strive—only let it. Learn how to let it (page 126).”[2]

As you can see Emily Cady agreed wholeheartedly with the Faith in Mind sutra even though she may have never heard of it or read it. “Truth” is eternal and everywhere present. Thus the sutra says, “Do not search for truth; only cease to hold opinions.” Just this. . .

Sitting alone or sitting with a group is a great time to NOT search, to NOT hold opinions of what a great period of sitting you had or what an awful period of sitting you had—to cease naming and labeling. To simply “let it.” We do enough naming and labeling with everything else in our lives why not take a few minutes each day to give yourself a break from it. Wow, that would be a relief wouldn’t it!

To go “beyond appearance and emptiness” to be free of them for just a moment as we sit “in the silence” and become one with it, whatever it is. I hope you’ll try it…I think you’ll like it!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Nishijima, G. (2009) To Meet the Real Dragon, Dogen Sangha Publications www.dogensangha.org

[2] Cady, H. E. (1903) Lessons In Truth, Unity House: Unity Village: MO

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