Kusen
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Thursday, 27 June 2013 14:17

I

 

Nonduality is not a mystical state, but a real one. It is abundantly available to us. We fall backwards into it each time the constructed self temporarily falls away. Our practice is a wobbling between the two poles of Self and nondual.

 

And we should not imagine an unattainable, undifferentiated state. Things continue to exist, but not in the old way. For example, a common metaphor for nonduality in the literature is the mirror. One looks at the mirror and sees apparently separate things, when really they are all part of the whole. But it is not a trick. Differentiation is there also. Differentiation is the face of the world.

 

Nonduality allows each thing its full expression.


II


Nonduality is not mystical, but real. It is not undifferentiated. On the contrary, each thing is fully expressed. Each thing fully exerts itself.


Similarly, our practice is not the pursuit of nonduality, but its expression. And each aspect of our practice is an expression of a different aspect of nonduality. So when we bow, we are not bowing to someone or something, because that would be separation. When we bow, we are affirming feelings which are nondual: gratitude, compassion, dignity, faith.


We bow down our head, and the head of the World is lifted up.


III


Zazen is not the pursuit of nonduality, but its expression. Because nonduality is the complete expression of each thing, each thing is everything. When we say that your zazen penetrates the entire Universe, don’t create a picture of planets and stars, because the Universe which is meant is not this constructed world, but your real experience.


When the constructed world falls away, there is just being. When we fall backwards from this constructed world, we fall into being.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 June 2013 14:19
 
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Thursday, 27 June 2013 14:15

The desire for enlightenment is the root of delusion. It is a project of the heroic ego, and the ego is part of that frozen mass of thought and feeling we call delusion. Zazen is a melting of that mass.

 

It is no use calling on our demons to leave us. Even if they wanted to, they can’t. But we can leave them.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 June 2013 14:15
 
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Thursday, 27 June 2013 14:14

The Heart Sutra begins:

“The Bodhisattva of Compassion, practicing the highest wisdom, realises the five skandas are empty, and thereby relieves all suffereing”

 

In other words:

The Bodhisattva of Compassion, practicing zazen makes real the emptiness of all experience, and so relieves all suffering

 

The passage is a mythical way of talking about practice. When we practice, we are practicing not from the position of self, but from the position of Buddha, Kanzeon. We are not cultivating compassionate awareness, we are compassionate awareness. Practice is the palace of Enlightenment, not the door. Emptiness is the release of all things into their infinite, ungraspable nature.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 June 2013 14:14
 
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Thursday, 27 June 2013 14:11

The final chant after sitting is a dedication that any merit we gain from chanting the Heart Sutra is not retained by us, but is for the benefit of all beings. But really, the dedication is wider than that; it embraces our sitting too. Our sitting is itself a devotional act. The doors of the heart are thrown wide open. And so, zazen is not the cultivation of compassion,, it is its expression.

 

In this context, we can understand the first vow “All living beings, I vow to save them”. Imagine the opposite: “I vow to save myself”. It’s not possible. You can’t save yourself, you can only postpone the catastrophe. We are saved by the vow. It shelters us and all beings. All beings are saved.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 June 2013 14:11
 
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Thursday, 27 June 2013 14:09

Dogen said [in Gyoji] “Master Bodhidharma sat in stillness facing the wall, but he was not learning Zen concentration” and also [in Fukanzazengi] “that zazen is simply the peaceful and joyful gate of dharma”.

 

Stillness is suchness. We fall backwards into it from the discriminating mind. It is always present. The trees are still. The wind is still. It is suchness, not the absence of movement.

 

At great cost, the ego keeps us suspended several inches above the ground. Zazen is not learning concentration. It is learning to fall.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 June 2013 14:10
 
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