Kusen
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Thursday, 16 November 2017 11:29

 

Taigen Dan Leighton described the various aspects of our practice as ritual enactment and expression.

It isn't moving slowly towards the Buddha, a speck in the ghost cave of the future. It is the living activity of Buddha now. It isn't forming the thought of gratitude, and then giving form to that thought in the symbolism of bowing. No.

Awake-awareness, compassion, gratitude, generosity: they are not qualities of the self. They are pillars holding up the roof of the world.

 

 

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 November 2017 11:32
 
213. PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 08 November 2017 11:46


The three treasures are Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.

Towards the end of his life, the Buddha said to his disciples "My true body is my teachings"

Out of this arose the idea of the dharmakaya, the Universal Body of the Buddha, and then, later, the Bliss Body. As 'buddha' inflated, 'sangha' shrunk.

But there's another way to look at it.

The Buddha's teachings weren't written down in his lifetime. They were held in the bodies and minds of the disciples who heard them. They were brought out by those disciples. That's where the teachings arose. Without a sangha, there would have been no dharma. That's where the teachings were embodied. And from there, outward, to everywhere.

And it is this body - the Sangha body, both mythical and flesh and blood - which keeps giving birth to new buddhas.


 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 November 2017 11:47
 
212. PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 07 November 2017 17:58


When she was alive, I often thought Nancy Amphoux, who introduced me to zen, was a terrible teacher. It took me a long time to realise that I was a terrible listener.

When I last saw her, a week before she died, she gave me a bird's feather. She explained that years before, when she'd been driving in France, she saw a fox attacking a bird. She stopped the car and got out. The fox ran away, but the bird was already dead. Some of its feathers were scattered on the road, and Nancy took them, and kept them.

As people came to say goodbye to her, she would tell them the story and give them one of the feathers. As she finished telling the story to me she gave me the last feather and said "There, all gone"

Often in the teachings, an apparently humble thing: a cat, a pillow, a broken ladle, a dead bird, symbolises the alive wholeness of everything, but unless we feel it, our understanding is useless.

I lacked even that understanding. And I didn't ask her who the fox was, either


 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 November 2017 17:59
 
211. PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 23 October 2017 17:49


When we chant the lineage, we chant the six primordial mythical buddhas, then the historical Buddha, then the generations of teachers following him, down to the present day.

The superficial problem - aside from the mythical buddhas - is that the lineage is made up. Some of the people named probably didn't exist at all, and others almost certainly didn't say or write what has been attributed to them.

In full knowledge of this, my teacher said that he accepts the lineage completely. How so?

Rinzai said that there is a true person - this person - who has no rank. This person is always going in and out through your face.

When we chant the lineage, all the names are provisional names, for this person.

And in the lineage of your own life, this person appears. All the demons, ghosts and false persons do not obstruct this person. And they don't matter.


 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 23 October 2017 17:59
 
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Thursday, 19 October 2017 16:14


Blue Cliff Record, Case 63

The Case: at Master Nansen's temple, two groups of monks were arguing about a cat. Nansen held up the cat and said "If you can speak then I will not kill it". The monks were silent. Nansen cut the cat in two.

Commentary:

1. Who is the one person within the temple who carries a sword? Manjusri, the bodhisattva of wisdom. He sits on the altar, atop the lion of courage.

1.1. So is it a real sword? Or a real cat? Given that a humble pillow can symbolise dependent origination, what more could a cat signify? What are monks really likely to be arguing about?

2. Dogen, in Zuimonki,  asks his students what they would have said in response to Nansen's demand. And then volunteers that he would have said to Nansen, "Why don't you cut the cat into one?" Wouldn't you be happily cut in two if you could say something this brilliant?

2.1. Isn't Dogen's point that the cat -reality- has already been cut in two? Nansen does not kill it, because it has already been 'killed' by the sword of duality, wielded by the disputatious monks. But Manjusri's sword is different. It cuts into one. How?



 
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