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Posts Tagged ‘John Daido Loori’

Whip, rope, person, and bull—   all merge in NO Thing. Oxherding_pictures,_No._8

This heaven is so vast,   no message can stain it.

How may a snowflake exist in a raging fire.
Here are the footprints of  the ancestors
I have abandoned the whip and ropes.

The eighth picture tells us that when the duality of self and reality has been overcome not only is reality (the ox) forgotten, but so is the self (the oxherd); the circle symbolizes the all-encompassing emptiness that constitutes the ground of all things. Now in the awareness of unceasing transformation and total interconnectedness in every experience one is freed from all craving and hatred for the other.  In this freedom there is a sense of the wholeness and perfection of ordinary things (page 6).[1]

Roshi Kennedy writes about this idea by saying, “An anonymous Zen poet sums up patriarch’s teachings saying that it is forbidden to search for the absolute apart from the self. Actually it is forbidden to search for the absolute apart from the self because it is impossible. There is no path to the Buddha, to the truth of our lives but through the dust of every day existence (page 95).[2]

Thus, the poem says, “all merge in NO Thing.”  NO Thing is probably something that is impossible to understand and even frightening to think about.  And yet we search, we go from “god to no god,” “religion to no religion,” “theory to no theory” and still we find NO answer to the emptiness. Unless of course we enter it as Koeller describes through interconnectedness in every experience, thought, feeling, movement, and desire. He says, do not “try” to do anything, just be one with the moment, the things, the experience till there is no separation between you and it.”

Many years ago, I had a friend that could do it.  Sometimes he scared me especially when he was driving and all of sudden he was “one with the car” sometimes he was outside of the car watching himself driving.  And he was not high or drunk. His focus on a long drive on a lonely highway was so powerful he became one with the elements of the universe.

I don’t suggest you try it, but for me it was a graphic example of the “all-encompassing” interconnectedness of all things.  I’ve described my personal experience with it in other blogs when I was participating in a Cherokee Indian fire walk with Rev. Edwine Gaines. There was no separation between me and the blade of grass, the stars in the sky, and the trees in the forest. Just an interconnectedness with all things or in actuality NO thing…

That is why you see the picture as an empty circle.  Everything is interconnected so much so there is no way to see  it, touch it, or feel it. Everything is “all encompassing-emptiness.” “True freedom, or true creativity, shines out only when we break through this barrier (page 257).”[3]

Remember that the next time you hit your shin on the coffee table or stub your toe when stepping up onto the sidewalk in your bare feet!

Let me know how that goes!

In Gassho, Shokai

[1]  http://www.columbia.edu/cu/weai/exeas/resources/pdf/oxherding.pdf

[2] Kennedy, R. (2004) Zen Gifts to Christians. NY: Continuum

[3] Shibayama, Z. (1970) A Flower Does Not Talk Zen Essays. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Co

 

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This week in Paris, France, over 150 countries have come together at the World Climate Summit 2015 to make plans to save the planet from destruction by the humans who habitat it. One of my favorite writers and teachers is John Daido Loori and in his book Teachings of the Earth: Zen and the Environment he writes:

In engaging Zen training with an eye on its relationship to ecological concerns, we ask the question, “Where does the earth end and where do I begin (page 3)?”[1]

He goes on to ask us to follow the teachings of the Buddha and to “not kill life” and admonishes us to “not steal” which means not to rape the earth by deforestation. He writes, “The mountain suffers when you clear cut it. Clear cutting is stealing the habitat of the animals that live on the mountain (page 91).”[2]

Our voices need to be heard in our Zen centers, our churches, our mosques, our synagogues, our schools, and our town halls. We need to pray for the earth and the people in it who wish to take what it has for profits and personal greed. It is our job to be a voice for the voiceless through prayers, and petitions, and rallies and sitting, and rescuing, and supporting environmental organizations with our time, talents and treasures. There is only one Earth and we need to leave it habitable for our children and grandchildren and theirs.

Unity has an entire pamphlet “Earth Blessings Prayers for Our Planet.” I hope you will take the time to go to this link and check it out. I’ve shared the section on “Stewardship” with you below.

We are good to Earth, our home, and Earth blesses us with good. [Affirmation]

We are caregivers of this wondrous planet. In awe of the sapphires of the sky, the emeralds and sienna’s of the ground, the sunlit horizons at dawn and dusk, we know God is present within our radiant world. With reverence, we are committed to its stewardship. As residents of Earth, we care for its components—the air, the soil, the water. We respect our plant life—the rooted, the floating, the climbing. We wisely use abundant gifts—yields of crops and vegetation, products of minerals. We give thanks for present and future resources of Earth as they are discovered, maintained, and utilized with care. We bless this precious place, for it is also the home of generations to come. We are good to Earth, our home, and Earth blesses us with good (page 6).[3]

Ask yourself these questions: Where does the earth end and where do I begin? What can I do to help? When will I start?

Let me know how you are doing with your answers!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

 

[1] John Daido Loori (2007) Teachings of the Earth: Zen and the Environment. Shambala: Boston & London

[2] Ibid.

[3] Earth Blessings Prayers for Our Planet, Unity: Unity Village, MO http://www.unity.org

 

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John Daido Loori has written the most wonderful book on Teachings of the Earth: Zen and the Environment.  I am sharing with you two paragraphs from it on this Earth Day 2015.  I hope that his words will encourage you to be a proactive practitioner supporting the environment and this little blue dot in the universe on which we live, play, and love.  In gassho, Shokai

The Buddhist precepts are a teaching on how to live our lives in harmony with the totality of the universe.  When we look at the precepts, we normally think of them in terms of people.  Indeed, most of the moral and ethical teachings of the great religions address relationships among people.  But these precepts do not exclusively pertain to the human realm.  They are talking about the whole universe, and we need to see them from that perspective if we are to benefit from what they have to offer and begin healing the rift between ourselves and the universe.

The Three Pure Precepts, Not creating evil, Practicing good, and Actualizing good for others, are a definition of harmony in an inherently perfect universe, a universe that is totally interpenetrated, codependent, and mutually arising.  But the question is: How do we accomplish that perfection? The Ten Grave Precepts point that out.  Looking at the Ten Grave Precepts in terms of how we relate to our environment is a step in the direction of appreciating the continuous, subtle, and vital role we play in the well-being of this planet–a beginning of taking responsibility for the whole catastrophe (pages 89-90).

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