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.

 
170.


The flowers of emptiness have five petals: compassion, expression, gratitude, love and generosity. But where do they open?

My first teacher, Nancy Amphoux, said that zazen was like a huge underground river. I imagined a large river, underneath the desert of the self, pushing up flowers through the bitter earth.

She asked a person, " Is Bodhidharma here, or not?". The person said "not". She struck him. She asked again, "Is Bodhidharma here, or not?". The person said "he is here". She struck him.

The cancer in her bones latterly made sitting impossible, so she would do prostrations instead. We traditionally make prostrations to our teacher, whether our teacher is here or there, here or gone. All our teachers. Even though there are mountains and rivers between us. Even if there is life and death between us. Between us.

Alive or dead? Alive or dead? Answer! Answer!

Where do the flowers open? Answer! Answer!

 
More Articles...
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>