35.

We can talk of our practice and life in terms of form and emptiness, or delusion and enlightenment. We can also talk of both in terms of ground and space, earth and sky, heaven and earth.

 

In Inmo, Dogen comments on the phrase “Those that fall to the ground get up relying on the ground. To get up without relying on the ground is, in the end, impossible”

 

One of the most difficult things for people to experience when they start zazen is their ungroundedness. They are caught up in a storm of thought and emotion. And through practice, they learn to experience falling back into the feeling, experiencing body, the ground.

 

We can experience this physically. If we sit properly, allowing our weight to drop down through our sit bones, then we can receive a reciprocal push upwards from the earth, up our spine and up through the top of our head.

 

This falling down and getting up is the activity of our lives. And in this activity, we actualise heaven and earth.

 

 
34.

When we chant the Heart Sutra, we’re not just making a noise. But we are making a noise. Seen from the concrete perspective, it’s just noise. Seen from the abstract persective, it’s just meaning. But both these persectives are expressed and transcended by the simple action.

 

If we see zazen as a concrete act, we understand neither zazen or the concrete. If we see it abstractly, it’s lost too.

 

 
33.

Question: If I do a good act, but with a conscious intention of doing good, does that negate the karma?

 

Answer: There are two dualistic assumptions buried in your question. The first is that we can separate ourselves from ‘our’ experience, so there is an ‘I’ acting in ‘The World’. This is counter to our belief that practice is wholehearted action in the present moment, when our ordinary distinctions fall away, vivifying reality. The second is that our actings take place in linear time, and that good or bad actings in the past have good or bad consequences in the future. But we say that the act and the consequence arise at the same time, the flower and the fruit occur at the same time, and this same time is all of time.

 

 
32.

[Commentary on Shinji Shobogenzo, Book 2, Case 47]

 

Master Rinzai said that there was a true human being without rank who went in and out through our face.

 

When we hear ‘face’, we often think of Original face, the face you had before your parents were born.

 

If we pay attention, we can be aware of the musculature of our face; the fixed patterns we hold, the tensions, the habitual moving contours. And if we have this awareness, we can experience our face as a kind of mask. Indeed, we might identify our sense of self with this social face. If we didn’t have a face to present to the world, could we have a self to present to ourself?

 

Rinzai’s person without rank is something in us which is true and alive, and which can never be entirely suppressed by our social face. And so, he emerges. And sometimes, we suppress him. And so, he goes back in. This person without rank is our original face. There is not a true face behind our social face. There is not another self behind the self. There is just life channelled by us, like light falling through windows.

 

 
31.

[Commentary on Shinji Shobogenzo, Book 2, Case 5]

 

In this story, Kanzeon’s hands and eyes are manifold. She does not have 84,000 hands and eyes. She does not have inexhaustibly many hands and eyes. They are manifold. And so, we can equate them with all existence. The whole world is one of the functions of Kanzeon. And these ‘hands and eyes’ suggest an interfolding of doing, being, perceiving and intuitively knowing, within the one vivid whole.

 

It is as if what has been on the butcher’s slab of western rationalism has abruptly risen up, illuminating everything.

 

 
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