245.


In the Genjokoan, Master Dogen wrote:

"To carry the self forward to experience the myriad charms is delusion. For the myriad dharmas to come forth and illuminate the self is enlightenment"

'Self' is 'Jiko', which has two meanings. The first is self in the usual sense; the ego, the small, personal self. The second meaning however is the whole of dependent origination. The whole works. The big self.

Dogen switches between the meanings, so we can paraphrase him as saying:

"To sit in zazen and experience everything as my experience, and to be concerned with 'me' is delusion. To unobstruct each thing's illumination of the whole of time, the whole of existence, is enlightenment"

Know this: your practice is not a personal practice. It is entirely unconcerned with your puny needs and wants. It is the whole universe practicing, through this body.

 

 

 

 
244.


The Tibetan word for Samsara (‘khor ba’) literally means circling. Just going round in circles; blown here and there by karma.

Nirvana is not trying to do something to fix our karma, nor trying to perfect the self, nor making ourselves more wise or more compassionate. All of this is just samsara.

It is simply to stop fabricating. To just allow this experience to flood through us.

My first teacher Nancy said that zazen is like a huge underground river in our lives. We can't see it, but it's there. And a river, obviously, is a path, a way. Likewise, the ground above it. Likewise, the space above it. 



 

 
243.


A familiar instruction many of us have received is: keep returning the attention to the body and the breath.

This instruction is helpful providing you don’t imagine it’s your body, your attention, your breath, because to imagine this is simply to reintroduce the self, and the familiar dualities.

Returning the attention to the breath means that we are aware of this dynamic moving space within us. Which is the same space as that around us and beyond us. Hence, Emptiness is actualised.

Returning the attention to this body is to clearly see that this body is part of the great body, the body of everything. Hence, Being is actualised.


 

 
242.


At the end of the Heart Sutra we chant Gya tei Gya tei.... -  which means together we go beyond, across the river, to the far Shore. The far shore in this context means Nirvana.

What we need to understand is that zazen is the entire ground; this shore, the far shore, the ground beneath the river.

Therefore do not stagnate in emptiness. Wear neither the mask of the self nor the mask of false equanimity. Just allow everything to flood through you, like light.

 

 

 
Book of Serenity, Case 91 (adapted)


Book of Serenity, Case 91(adapted)

The Case:

A person said to Master Nansen, “Heaven, Earth and the self have the same root. All things, including the self, are one person”

Nansen pointed to a flower and said, “These days, people see this flower as if in a dream”


Commentary:

In a lot of the koan stories, a person will state what they believe to be Buddhist doctrine, and the Master will respond in an apparently bizarre way: with laughter perhaps, or a non sequitur. Why?

Ordinarily, we start off with a belief, and then try to make our experience correspond with that belief. So, we may believe that everything is empty, and then try to discern that emptiness, as if our actual experience is a dream. Or, we may, idiotically, aspire to personal enlightenment, and then keep checking our experience as it is against what we believe it should be.

But what we need to understand is that Buddhism isn’t a matter of belief, but a matter of experience. The experience when our sense of self, our sense of separation, is cast off. Actual people - people like you - experience something and try to describe it. A picture, not a key, not a dogma.  But over time, the language fossilises into doctrine. We always need to say something from our actual experience. Then, and only then, there is expression.

 

 

 
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