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Posts Tagged ‘Seng’tsan 3rd Chinese Patriarch’

Emptiness here, emptiness there,
but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small;
no difference, for definitions have vanished
and no boundaries are seen.
So too with being and non-being.
Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments
that have nothing to do with this (page 4).[1]

In the Manual of Zen Buddhism (1960) D.T. Suzuki talks about emptiness when he is sharing his thoughts “On believing in Mind” by Shinjin-no-Mei:

In one Emptiness the two are not distinguished,
And each contains in itself all the ten thousand things;
When no discrimination is made between this and that.
How can a one-sided and prejudiced view arise (pages 78-9).[2]

In the footnote on page 79 he writes: “The Mind=the Way=the One=Emptiness.” He also explains emptiness this way:

This means: When the absolute oneness of things is not properly understood, negation as well as affirmation tends to be a one-sided view of reality. When Buddhists deny the reality of an objective world, they do not mean that they believe in the unconditioned emptiness of things; they know that there is something real which cannot be done away with. When they uphold the doctrine of emptiness this does not mean that all is nothing but an empty hollow, which leads to a self-contradiction. The philosophy of Zen avoids the error of one-sidedness involved in realism as well as in nihilism [i] (page 77).[3]

So if you are under the illusion that studying Buddhism means that you are to make your mind blank and believe in nothing and stop all thoughts completely when sitting you are mistaken. When your mind becomes “blank” you probably will soon be carried out of your house on a gurney by the EMS or the mortician!

Faith in Mind is asking us to stop trying to categorize, alphabetize, and list everything. Get rid of those boundaries, stop wasting time in the doubting and the arguing with self and others. Maybe this–maybe that? Maybe good–maybe bad. Just this! Whatever appears handle it the best you can with peace, love, and compassion. If you cannot hold it in your hand is it real?

Each and everything contains the 10,000 things. That’s just way too many things for me to judge, or compare, or juggle if you ask me! Just this apple, nothing less, nothing more…simply chop wood, carry water…nothing less, nothing more.

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Osho (2014) Hsin Hsin Ming, The Zen Understanding of Mind and Consciousness. Osho International Foundation
[2] Suzuki, D.T. (1960) Manual of Zen Buddhism. Grove Press: NY, NY
[3] Ibid.

[i] Nihilism An extreme form of skepticism: the denial of all real existence or the possibility of an objective basis for truth; nothingness or nonexistence

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Consider movement stationary
and the stationary in motion,
and both the state of movement and the state of rest disappear.

In this world of suchness
there is neither self nor other-than-self

To come directly into harmony with this reality
Just simply say when doubts arise, “Not two.”
In this “not two” nothing is separate,
Nothing is excluded.
No matter when or where,
Enlightenment means entering this truth.
And this truth is beyond extension or
Diminution in time or space;
In it a single thought is ten thousand years.[1]

As a college professor and corporate trainer I have learned that the meaning of the word educate comes from the Latin “educare” which means to lead forth or bring forth from within. It does not mean to find “knowledge” someplace outside of us like a book or a lecture or a video. These words in these verses are a great example of that. We are being told that everything we need comes directly from this “world of suchness” which is neither self nor other-than-self nor separate from self.

Our challenge is to educate ourselves on this principle and when we need to discover something to simply go within to find the “oneself” that knows all and is all. When the universe and all it entails are one and not two all of everything is available to us right here and right now in “just this moment.” Such was discovered by Albert Einstein at the age of 16 when he imagined himself rocketing through space chasing after a beam of light. This is said to have played a role in his “thought experiment” which among other things brought us the famous equation of Mass-energy equivalence E=mc2. What is your challenge?

Once again I turn to my favorite Unity author H. Emily Cady for some words of wisdom on this subject from her book Lessons in Truth: . . .no circumstance, no person or set of persons—can by any possibility interpose between you and the Source of your life, wisdom, or power (page 63)”[2]  Why? Because as the Third Patriarch Seng-ts’an wrote, “To come directly into harmony with this [or any] reality just simply say when doubts arise, ‘not two.’ In this ‘not two’ nothing is separate, nothing is excluded. No matter when or where.”

Thus perfect knowledge and answers and health and healing are already here simply waiting for my acknowledgement, understanding, awakening and faith—Faith in Mind! Faith in “not one” “not two” “neither self, nor other than self.” Just a silent ride through outer space with Einstein on a beam of light! How wonderful is that?!

In gassho,

ingassho
Shokai

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

[1] Cady, H. E. (2003) Lessons in Truth. Unity House, Unity Village: MO

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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/

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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

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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.

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I was wondering what I should blog on next and so I sent a note to my teacher Mitch Doshin Cantor and he suggested that I begin writing on Faith in Mind a sutra (poem) written in the 6th Century because it is a great way to learn about the beliefs and tenants of Buddhism. It is vast and in the version that I will be using it contains over 1,000 words!

This is the longest sutra I have tried to create a workbook from. Needless to say, it will take me a lot of time and energy and many blog posts to do it justice. This will give my readers the opportunity to take as long as they like to quietly focus on one section at a time.

Its opening verse is among the most quoted verses of Buddhism, even so most people do not know its real origin.

The first section reads:

The great way is not difficult
For those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
And heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinion for or against. . .
The struggle of what one likes and what one dislikes is the disease of the mind.

This line “The great way is not difficult for those who have no preferences” has been taught and shared by spiritual leaders, seekers, philosophers, psychologists, therapists, and clergy for centuries. I first came across it as a Unity minister when reading a wonderful book by Ken Keyes, Jr., The Handbook to Higher Consciousness. It has influenced my life ever since. Little did I know at the time that he was a student of Ram Dass, Chogyam Trungpa, and Alan Watts. I guess I was a Buddhist before I was a Buddhist!

In it he talked about giving up our preferences! That having preferences about everything is the path to pain and suffering. And as the sutra says it does not matter whether those preferences are heaven over hell, love over hate, or mint chocolate chip ice cream over vanilla. Well, the ice creams not really in the sutra!

I recall going to Ken Keyes’ College in Coos Bay, Oregon, in the 1980’s for a month long work study program. The very first thing I did was organize a group of people to get the macrobiotic cook to make at least one of the pizzas with “real” mozzarella cheese and not tofu cheese for the non-vegan students! Talk about needing to learn what Ken had to teach! I was the star pupil…

After all these years it is still a lifelong process of learning to live without preferences. I still sometimes “set heaven and earth infinitely apart” and although I still like that mint chocolate chip ice cream I will eat the vanilla if you serve it–no preferences.

It may not be a quick and easy path, but it is an important one. I do “wish to see the truth” and so if you catch me showing off my preferences I hope you’ll remind me because Sosan says, “The struggle of what one likes and what one dislikes is the disease of the mind.” That is one disease I hope to avoid as often as I can! With your help I’m sure I’ll find my way.

Thanks Ken, wherever you are!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

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

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