175.


Book of Serenity, Case 48

The case:

Vimalakirti asked Manjusri

'What is a Bodhisattva's method of entering non duality?'

Manjusri said, "according to my mind, in all things, no speech, no explanation, no direction and no representation. Leaving behind all questions and answers. This is the method of entering non duality."

Then Manjusri asked Vimalakirti - 'What is the Bodhisattva's method of entry into non duality?'

Vimalakirti was silent.


There are three senses of Satori, Enlightenment, and this koan deals with the first. It is sometimes called Practice/Realisation, or Practice/Verification.

Both are an abbreviation of a longer phrase, which means hearing, accepting, practicing, verifying. So: we hear the Buddha's teachings on non duality, we accept these teachings, we practice, and through practice those teachings are verified as true.

The story is a representation of the mind and sincere practice of Vimilakirti, although there appears to be two people. But Manjusri of course is not a person, but is the Bodhisattva of Wisdom.

And the two questions are subtly different. 

Vimalakirti asks 'What is the Bodhisattva's method of entering non duality?'
So this refers to the teaching stage. Which is why Manjusri answers.

But Manjusri's question, 'What is the Bodhisattva's method of entry into non duality?' is the practice stage. Which is why it is met with silence.

So neither answer is the right answer, but the story portrays a progression from teaching to practice.

The teachings are the door that we have to go through, but we have to let go of the handle to experience the vast room.


 
174.

 

At our retreat in November we talked about the Mu Koan.  You may recall in that Koan story a monk asked Joshu - does a dog have Buddha Nature?

Joshu says Mu (No).

The basis for the monk's question is a passage in the Nirvana Sutra where it says that 'all living beings without exception have Buddha Nature'.

Joshu's reply was not denying Buddha Nature. He was denying the 'have', that is, that it is a property of the individual.

It is a very common idea in Buddhism that buried within us, like a jewel in mud, is compassion, wisdom, enlightenment and so on; and if our karmic mind would just shut up, these qualities would manifest.

This is a catastrophically mistaken view of practice. It ensures that we continue to suffer.

Master Dogen re-wrote the passage in the Nirvana Sutra, re-rendering it as 'all existence is Buddha Nature'. Not denying Buddha Nature, but locating it somewhere other than the self.

That being so, the activity of the karmic mind is not a barrier, is not an obstacle. And so our practice does not need to be a continual exercise in disappointment.

 
173.


The 93 generations since the Buddha, are like a real person walking through time. All the individual positions are unbalanced, all the individual teachers are unbalanced, and in their imbalance, they are fully expressing themselves.

Because this is so, the whole is a dynamic balance. That being so, we should not be like our teacher, we should be like our selves; balancing our teacher with our fully expressed imbalance.

And so, forward. And so, backward.

 

 
172.


Sekiso said that Enlightenment is like a thief breaking into an empty house. 

Many people talk about practice as the cultivation of something: wisdom say, or compassion.

Is the thief trying to find the gold, or trying to find the light switch? Either way, he's a thief.

We need to understand that practice is not the cultivation of compassion. It's not the cultivation of anything.

It is compassion.

 

 

 
171.


Why do we practice together? 

Practitioner monks in India would often practice on their own in their individual cells. 

So why together?  Because when we sit together we are enacting and making real the alive wholeness of everything. "All beings" is a concept, but we can sit with these beings, and thus all beings. We can't touch "Space", but we can touch this space.

It is not your practice of Zazen using your body.  It is not your practice, it is the whole universe practicing zazen using this body.

 
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