Kusen
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Monday, 15 April 2019 16:09


If we practice from the perspective of the self, there are always two persons: the person who experiences and the person who judges and assesses that experience. The sense is of incompleteness, frustration and disappointment. It is as if the Master always wishes the Servant to go through a door to a new world, but the Servant is useless, and either wanders off to nowhere in particular, or is immobile. And the door is nowhere to be seen.

If we practice from the perspective of buddha, likewise there are two persons: self and buddha, but the sense is entirely different. There is nothing to get. There is nowhere to go. The sense is of spaciousness, warmth and intimacy.

I described this as like a parent holding their sleeping baby's head, but it's important not to fixate on any particular image. It is the function of these images to pierce the heart, not to gather in the head. The needle goes in first time, or not at all.

 

Last Updated on Monday, 15 April 2019 16:11
 
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Monday, 15 April 2019 16:05


Zazen is the Dharma Gate of ease and joy.

It is not effortful. We entrust our body and mind to zazen and let everything be.

Whether the mind is turbulent or peaceful we hold it like the earth under the ocean holds the weight of the water, maintaining it so it will not seep into nothingness. We hold it like we would hold a sleeping baby's head, whatever the baby is dreaming.

If you listen carefully when the bell is rung you hear two noises.

The first, very brief, is a dull sound, the striker hitting the bell.

The second is the bell's full expression.

If we thought the striking required to continue until it matched our idea of perfection, the expression of the bell would never be realised.

We need to understand perfection is a chimera.

Because all expression is a miracle.

 

Last Updated on Monday, 15 April 2019 16:07
 
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Monday, 15 April 2019 15:50


A monk asked Master Jisai - "How is the moon when not yet round?"

The master said, "swallowing three or four moons"

The monk said, "And when the moon is round?"

The master said, "vomiting seven or eight moons".

In this story the moon is a symbol of enlightenment, so the monk's question really is: what is the person like before and after enlightenment?

The Master's answer seems to be that before enlightenment the person is primarily conceptual. So, the various concrete moons the person experiences - the harvest moon, the waxing moon, the present moon and so on - all arise within [swallowed] the concept of 'moon', whereas for the enlightened person, the actual limitless manifestations of moon are - as it were-  liberated [vomited] from the concept of moon.

This interpretation isn't wrong but it can lead to a terrible literal Zen, where there is an unbalanced emphasis is on concrete reality and  a lot of banal and formulaic talk about the Here and Now. And in this block of concrete Zen, delusion is considered as the other: thoughts, dreams, imaginings, visions and so on.

In his commentary on this koan, Dogen says that the whole world is expressed in the act of swallowing and the whole world is expressed in the act of vomiting. We should swallow the self and the whole world. We should vomit the self and the whole world

Or, to put it slightly differently  - there is a dynamic folding and re-folding between wholeness-ising everything [swallowing], and releasing everything in its own vivid expression-ing [vomiting]

Which is our practice.

 

Last Updated on Monday, 15 April 2019 15:59
 
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Monday, 15 April 2019 15:24

Bowing is a modification of prostration.

When we prostrate, we de-centre the head, throwing it forward into the world, throwing it down on the ground of all being.

Our body is open and vulnerable. Our hands are without all the things of the self.

On entering the dojo we bow to the altar: to Buddha and to the flowers of emptiness. We bow to the incense that perfumes the space. We bow to our cushion. We bow to our fellow practitioners. 

It is not that our cushion is a small person and you are great person or that Buddha is a great person and you are a small person. No. When we put our hands together and bow, a great person appears - not just in front of our hands, not just behind our hands. Not just in the hands themselves:

Everywhere

 

Last Updated on Monday, 15 April 2019 15:25
 
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Monday, 15 April 2019 15:18

Our lives do not exist in time. But in our lives, time exists. It is not that we have been living these thirty years, these sixty years. They are living through us.

This person is the pillar of the world. This person is like the ground beneath the ocean, holding the water in his open palm, so it does not cascade into nothingness.

 

Last Updated on Monday, 15 April 2019 15:20
 
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