Categories
Zen

Three Approaches of Zen

The Three Divisions of Ch’an Buddhism by Zen Master Zongmi (Tsung-mi)
There are various schools of Ch’an mutually conflicting with each other. The doctrines preached by these established sects are contradictory and obstructive to each other.
Some of them

  • Regard Emptiness (sunyata) as the foundation
  • Some regard Wisdom (prajna) as the source.
  • Some say that only Silence is true;
  • Some that [all actions such as] walking and sitting are right.
  • Some claim that from morning to evening all actions arising from the view (drsti) of discrimination (vikalpa) are false
  • Some say all discriminate doings are real.
  • Some preserve all the myriad practices;
  • Some suppress even Buddhas.
  • Some give free course to their will;
  • Some restrain their mind.
  • Some respect the sutras and the vinayas as authorities to rely on;
  • Others regard both of them as obstacles to the Tao…

Essentially speaking, when these doctrines are viewed in a limited perspective, each of them is wrong; while looking at them from a comprehensive perspective, all of them are right
One has to use the words of Buddha, to show the meaning and the advantages of each school, and thus to classify these teachings into three divisions corresponding with the three teachings [of Buddhism]. Unless this is done, how can one become a skilful teacher of the age and make all the schools important and wonderful entrances to the law (Dharma)?
The Sect Which Taught the Cessation of Falsity and the Cultivation of Mind
Firstly, the sect which taught the stopping of falsity and the cultivation of mind.
Although it is said that all sentient beings innately possess the Buddha-nature (buddhata), yet the Nature cannot be seen as it is covered up by the beginningless ignorance (avidya), and they are, therefore, dragged within the wheel of birth and death (samsara).
When Buddhas have eliminated false thought, they see their Nature in its fullest extension; they are freed from the bondage of birth and death and acquire super-natural powers and independence.
One should be aware of the different functions of common men and saints, and this difference exists both in their treatment of external objects and in their mind within.
It is, therefore, necessary for [disciples to]

  • rely on the spoken teaching of a master,
  • to detach themselves from outward objects and
  • contemplate their mind,
  • thus to extinguish false thoughts.

When thoughts are completely extinguished, one immediately attains Enlightenment (bodhi), which is omniscient.
It is like a mirror obscured by dust; one has to cleanse it diligently; only when the dust is wiped out completely, does the mirror become bright and able to reflect all things.
One should also have a clear understanding about skillful means to enter into the realm of Dhyana: to keep oneself far away from confusion and noise, to stay in a quiet place, to harmonize one’s body and breath, and sit cross-legged in silence, putting the tongue upward against the palate and concentrating the mind on one point.
Zongmi explains that the Buddha has seen that the Six Ways of sentient beings (the six conditions of transmigration) in the Three Worlds (of Desire, of Matter and Immaterial) are all Characters of the True Nature itself. They originate from the sentient beings being deluded about the True Nature substance in itself; and do not have any substance of their own; therefore their nature is said to be Dependent (paratantra).
For those whose faculties are dull, it is impossible to be awakened (from the delusion). So the Buddha discourses on the Law according to the Characters which they see, in order to ferry them over gradually. Therefore it is called discourse on Characters. As Ultimate Truth is not expressly revealed in this teaching it is called esoteric (mi-i – having a hidden meaning)
Scholar Jan Yün-Hua mentions that, “This sect destroys the attachment to external objects by the theory of Consciousness-only. When people understand that external objects are merely projections of subjective consciousness, they will not attach themselves to phenomena. They will then devote themselves to the cultivation of consciousness. This is what he calls cessation of falsity and cultivation of Mind.
The Sect of Emptiness
Secondly, the sect which taught absolute annihilation (cessation), this is to say that everything, both profane and sacred is dreamlike illusion and entirely non-existent. Original non-existence does not begin from the present. Even the knowledge which leads one to attain to nothingness is unobtainable.
In the Dharmadhtu which is all identity (samata) there are no Buddhas nor sentient beings; the Dharmadhatu itself is merely a borrowed name.
If the mind is non-existent, who will talk about Dharnadhatu?
As the cultivation itself is non-existent, one should not cultivate; and as Buddhas are non-existent, so their worship is unnecessary.
If one claims that there is a Dharma which is better than Nirvana, I would still say that it is a dreamlike illusion.
There is no Law to follow, nor a Buddhahood for one to attain.
Whatever the effort, all is deluding and false. To avoid going against truth, the only way is thus to understand thoroughly that originally nothing exists, and that one should not attach his mind to any thing.
Only after this is one called liberated. From Shih-t’ou and Ox-head down to Ching-shan, all preached this doctrine.
They consequently asked their disciples to practice mentally in accordance with this doctrine, and not to let their feelings be hindered by any single Dharma.
In course of time the defiled habits would be eliminated by themselves, and one would be without any obstacles from hate or affection, sorrow or happiness.
Because of this doctrine, there were a kind of Taoist priests, Confucian scholars and idle Buddhist monks who had some vague knowledge of Ch’an and liked to speak such words and regard them as the highest.
These people are, however, not aware of the fact that this sect does not regard only these words as being its law.
The disciples of Ho-tse, Chiang-hsi and T’ien-t’ai are also preaching this teaching, though they did not regard it as their principal doctrine.
Zongmi clarifies this as follows:
According to the ultimate meaning of Truth, the false tenets are originally empty, so there is nothing to negate. All pure Dharmas are originally the True Nature, and have forever their wonderful functions in accordance with circumstances. Therefore, they are also not to be negated. However, there is a kind of sentient beings who are unable to awake, as their vision is obstructed by attachment to empty Characters. So the Buddha negates all Characters without distinction of good and evil or pure and impure. He considers both the True (Buddha) Nature and its wonderful functions as not non-existent; but he cannot discuss it explicity and he says they are non-existent. That is what is called esoteric teaching. It also means that the intention of the teaching is to reveal the True Nature, but its linguistic expression only negates Characters. Since the intention is not explicitly expressed, that is why it is called esoteric (secret).
(This is also the teaching of inference. Where the nature isn’t directly pointed to but can be stumbled upon. This is characterized by the Zen stories featuring Masters lifting fingers, raising eyebrows, shouting, hitting, Joshu’s MU)
The Sect of the Direct Discovery of Mind-Nature
Thirdly, the sect which taught direct revelation of the Mind-nature: this is to say that all Dharmas, whether existent or empty, are nothing but the absolute Nature (Buddha Nature).
The absolute Nature is characterless and nonactive, and its substance differs from all phenomena; it is neither profane nor sacred, neither cause nor effect, neither good nor evil.
Nevertheless, the functioning of the substance is able to create all kinds of manifestations, meaning that it is capable of manifesting itself as profane or sacred, as material forms or other characters.
Here, one may point out two kinds of manifestations of Mind-Nature.
First, things such as language and action, desire and hatred, compassion and patience, good and evil deeds, suffering and enjoyment, all these are the Buddha-nature in yourselves; they are the original Buddha [in you] apart from which there is no other Buddha.
When one understands that this natural reality is spontaneous (svayambhu), the longing for cultivation of the Tao does not arise in one’s mind. The Tao is the Mind itself; one cannot use the Mind to cultivate the Mind.
Evil also is the Mind itself; one cannot cut off the Mind with the Mind itself. Non-cutting and noncultivating, following one’s self-nature freely, may be called liberation (vimoksa).
The (Mind-) Nature resembles emptiness; nothing can be added to it nor taken away from it.
What necessity is there for completing it?
The only thing one has to do is to stop one’s own Karma and to nourish one’s own spiritual power, at all times and places where one lives, thus to strengthen the womb of holiness and to manifest the wonder of spontaneity.
This is the true awakening. the true cultivation and the true realization.
Second, they say, all Dharmas are dreamlike illusions, and this has been taught by all saints.
Originally, therefore, false thought is calm, worldly phenomena are empty, and the empty and calm Mind is self-knowing and never obscured.
This empty and calm knowledge is your own real Nature; whether deluded or enlightened, the Mind is always self-knowing.
It does not depend on other conditions for birth, nor does it arise from external objects.
The one word (awareness) is the gate to all wonders.
Being deluded by the beginningless ignorance, one wrongly grasps his physical body (rupa) and mental elements (nama) as the Self, from which thoughts of desire, hatred and so forth arise.
If one has a good and learned friend to open and indicate the empty and calm knowledge of Sudden Enlightenment, and [to indicate] that the knowledge itself is thoughtless and formless, then who will make a distinction between self and others ?
When one realizes that all characters are empty, thoughts will naturally not remain in his mind.
When a thought arises, one is immediately aware of it; and with this awareness, thought becomes nothing.
The wonderful gate of religious cultivation is here and not elsewhere.
Although a myriad ways of cultivation are available, yet the Absence of Thought is the principal.
Only when one becomes aware of the Absence of Thought, do love (raga) and hatred (dvesa) naturally become calm; compassion (karuna) and wisdom (prajna) naturally become brighter; evil karmic effects are naturally cut off, and meritorious actions naturally advance.
After one thoroughly understands that all characters are no characters, one naturally cultivates without cultivation.
When passions are ended, one is freed from the bondage of birth and death.
When birth and death are annihilated, one is confronted with Nirvana-illumination, whose responses to the needs are inexhaustible; and this is called Buddha-hood.
[Despite their differences] these two views are both aimed at the unity of all characters and the return to (Buddha-) Nature. They are, therefore, to be considered as having the same principle.
The third type of Buddhist thought is termed by Tsung-mi as “the exoteric teaching revealing that the True Mind itself is the (Buddha) Nature”.
He comments this formula as follows,

“This teaching directly points to the Mind as being the True (Buddha) Nature. The revelation of Truth is limited neither by phenomenal nor by mental Characters, so it is said that Mind itself is the (Buddha) Nature. As this teaching is not through the skillful means of esotericism, it is called exoteric revelation.”

Scholar Jan Yün-Hua mentions that,

“These passages show that Tsung-mi considers all the doctrines and practices of Ch’an Buddhism as devices only. In other words, while he recognizes that the fundamental problems of the phenomenal world are basically the same, yet the spiritual needs may be different from man to man. Therefore, there is no dispute about the painful aspect of worldly life, but there do exist differences about the means or the ways helpful to each individual.

The three divisions mentioned above are further divided by their attitudes towards traditional “teaching”: either looking up to it or looking down on it, either following its characters or destroying them. Their methods for the refutation of external challenge, their skillful means towards the lay community, their modes and manners of teaching disciples, are varied and different. All these differences, however, are modes of action beneficial to and adapted to circumstances. There is no loss therein. The principle which they respect is non-dual. This is why they should be understood comprehensively in accordance with the words spoken by Buddha.

Each of these devices are useful and helpful only to certain groups of people to which the device is suitable and adopted. As far as these people are concerned, it is correct and productive; however, if one proclaims the device to be the only absolute or ultimate way to salvation, and imposes it upon other people, then the device becomes an obstacle rather than a help. After all, there is no single medical formula that is capable of curing all kinds of diseases.

This recognition of the individual need is one of the most distinct contributions of Ch’an Buddhism. Ch’an Buddhists pointed out that if any religious man chose an unsuitable device for spiritual cultivation, it would be impossible for him to attain the expected fruit. In that case, religious practice may become a source of suffering, rather than of liberation from suffering. Ch’an therefore laid stress on the freedom of choice as to the means adopted to reach the religious goal.”

 

Categories
Podcasts

Where Do I Start?

Where Do I Start? Transcribed

Okay, so we’re doing live Dharma talks.
So is there any insights, revelations, challenges, frustrations since the last time I’ve seen you guys?
Come on – I know all of the above?
Yeah go ahead? Let’s do it.
Student: I just want to know where to start?
Zen Master E: You already did – you already started.
Student: Okay.
Zen Master E: But – clarify. What do you mean? Why do you feel like you haven’t started? And What is it starting mean to you? Yeah.
Student: I guess – what does starting mean? I think I have a thing in my mind of what it looks like and I’m not like doing that.
I’m like not good.
Zen Master E: You’re a terrible person. You’re a terrible practitioner. A terrible human being.
Well, you gotta let that shit go. You carried that all the way here. You okay?
Student: Yeah
Students husband: We drove
Zen Master E: You drove? Of course – that was heavy (to carry that burden) the car must have been leaning.
What does it look like for you?
Student tries to answer: Ummmm…
No! From your heart. Not from your head.
What does practice mean for you? Right? You need to clarify that because I mean, like, you feel like you want to sit more?
Student: Yeah.
Zen Master E: Okay. So do it. But what does that look like then? Right. Is it a morning sit? An afternoon sit? An evening sit?
You’re busy lady.
Student: Yeah, I’m like bogged down by all of that. Yeah. And then I just don’t do it.
Zen Master E: Oh, that’s, that’s terrible. You’re a terrible person.
But this is our story. All of our story, right?
Yeah. Raise your hands if this is your story. (All the people there emphatically raised their hands)
Right? And I’m not hard enough. Not long enough. Not frequent enough. Everything. Right?
So we have to see. And that’s why for us in our tradition, we use multiple…
Okay, so couple things. Okay.
You know, that fundamental presence that you guys experienced in meditation right there?
Students: Yeah
Zen Master E: That’s your fundamental natural state – available to you at all times.
Doesn’t matter.
You’re running, sleeping, having sex, everything.
It’s always there, permeates and penetrates everything.
No matter what you do – sinner or saint.
It doesn’t matter.
It’s always there. Right?
We believe that it’s not.
These practices do not generate awakening, enlightenment, whatever you want to call it. actualize Buddha. No. They remove all the obscurations, so that you can see what’s naturally present.
So that natural presence is your natural state,
Always available to you.
Right now it’s listening to me. It’s seeing me, You don’t have to do – sinner or saint it doesn’t matter.
It’s always there.
We believe that it’s not.
These practices DO NOT generate awakening, enlightenment, whatever you want to call it – actualized Buddha.
No.
They remove all the obscurations so you can see what’s naturally present.
So that natural presence is your natural state.
Always available to us.
Now it’s listening to me. It’s seeing me.
You don’t have to do anything right now for all of this to arise for you.
In moments throughout the day – we call it snap back right?
Notice it aright?
And it’s good, when you’re having an emotional charge, the moment that you notice that you’re off your throne, getting whipped around by karma, by emotions, whatever it is, that noticing, who is it that’s noticing?
Who’s that?
Hmm…
So cool, just snap back into that presence, into that spaciousness.
The energy and the patterns and whatever is still going to be rolling through the body – but boom there it is.
(Zen Master E gives other upaya for those who are having trouble with the Resting in the Radiance)
Even the single breath, the breath is the medicine. Right? The breath is with you everywhere. Right?
This body, Right?
Come back to the breath.
We have to let go of our fixed concepts of what practice is.
In the Zen tradition we say there’s multiple gates.
Are you a meditation gate?
Chanting gate?
Bowing gate?
What’s your gate?
Maybe in one day, you’ve gone in and out of 62 different gates.
Who cares?
For us – so a lot of things right – so we have a lot of (upaya) skillful means at our disposal. Right? And we are all lay practitioners. All very busy. Right?
So we need – we have different medicines for different environments, Right? Yeah.
When I’m in the car, I play the mantras. I play Mantra practice all the time, Right?
Sometimes I give myself a target, Right? I want to do X for – say we’re doing a teaching – when we’re in a series, right?
Because we’re going to do OM MANI PADME HUM.
So for us – to bring that power and blessings I did 100,000 of those for us. Right. So that when you guys get the empowerment for OM Mani Padme Hum, you get the power.
BOOM!
I did that for you guys. Right?
Boom, they get a kickstart, you know to get you going. Right. Yeah. Again, right.
You have to get clear, right?
Clear motivation (Bodhicitta) right.
Your practice right now is just for you.
This is part of the problem, too. Right?
When it’s just for us, then it’s easy for us to call in sick.
Right? Yeah, You know, this as a mom.
I never realized how much power this body has until I hadn’t slept for four days and the kid cried in the middle of the night and next thing I know, I’m up – I’m not fully awake, but I’m there.
Talks in sweet voice – “Hey there – it’s OK. You want the bottle? (Knocks the bottle to the floor) You don’t want the bottle. OK – I’ll pick that up later.”
It’s amazing, right?
As parents, we need to see that too. Right?
You already have it innate within you. Right?
When “the practice” is just for us then – no.
When my practice switched to like, “Yeah – why can’t we all be free?” and “I’m going to, I’m going to do it! I’m going to awaken and then I’m going to awaken all of us.”
My life, in that moment, was no longer my own.
I made a promise right then and there, I’d taken the Bodhisattva Vow a couple times by that time – didn’t matter – that’s when I really took the Bodhisattva Vow – it was four or five in the morning in the middle of a grocery store I was working nights. Right? No more of this (a life of pleasure and selfishness) As I was getting clearer and clearer and clearer on the true purpose of my life. And it hit me – at that time was delirious, exhausted. I was listening to a Dharma podcast at that time period.
I had already been steering my life that way. Steering I knew it – or getting back on track to that.
Because at a certain point, I started to believe in the “should’s”
Terrible. That guy’s terrible. This guy’s way better.
So – my practice was already pretty good. Right? Because I’m, I’m a meditator. Right? But then it just like, (makes explosion sound).
Then it’s no longer my practice.
Why do I do this?
For you.
He’s hurting… (points to one of the students) And – of course I need to do this now.
There’s no question.
So when we move it out of us, for the benefit of all beings.
Why do I do that? Why do I wake up at five in the morning to do this?
Go upstairs, start the coffee and go over and you guys saw my the altar right?
I start, I start every day I offer incense to the Buddha, to my personal teacher on the physical realm (Zen Master Hwasun Yangil) Padmasambhava on the Sambhogakaya, the energy realm let’s say, then the Dharmakaya, well, and the lineage – you see that little blue book that’s the lineage book. So my name’s in there and I’m part of that lineage and I thank all of those people for all that they’ve done for us, because they’ve done tons. Sacrificed way more than I can ever imagine. To make sure the Dharma got to us here. I thank those people. I thank the fundamental nature of mind, Right?
I pray for you guys.
I do prostrations.
I ask for things, right. Blessings, wisdom, compassion, whatever the thing is for that day, usually it’s a certain things, I thank and I accept.
By that time coffee’s done.
Then I go fill up the coffee’s for me and Andy. And then by that time period she’s usually finishing the shower. And I know I have a little coffee cup for her. I bring the coffee cup downstairs for her. That’s how she likes it. There you go. And then I get in the shower.
I don’t have time to sit in the morning.
And I don’t beat myself up for that. I’ve adapted my practice. Right?
Then I hop in the car and mantras come on. I do the mantras, whatever the mantra is for that time period or whatever I’m working on or teaching that we’re going to come to right?
Oh, then I get to work.
At work I got a mobile practice.
What’s my mobile practice? ATHA – I chew on the Koan – Alllllll day long.
When I’m not engaged as Ian manager guy, people need me, I need to do stuff, I’m chewing on the Koan.
There’s that.
Then again, my job is my temple too, you need to start to look at this too. I was telling the kids this this weekend. I was like guys, we need to – the house is the temple.
When you’re at the temple – because they’ve been coming to temple with me more and more now because they’re older. Thursdays I go and I train with my teacher. But then every so often I go for the big ceremonies when my teacher wants me there. So “hey guys”, when they’re with me, I bring them with me.
And so yeah, so when we’re at Temple it’s so easy, right? When you guys go to clean this (points to the tea set), you don’t even think about it you just do it. Right? But when you go to clean the dishes at home, “Oh my god – the dishes – why doesn’t anybody ever help me with the dishes?” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah dishes story. Story. Whoa is me, Right?
Notice. Listen to that. You just created suffering world for yourself.
(Make poof sound like a magician creating something)
It just arose.
Shut up.
Do the dishes.Because the dishes are the practice then right? And then Okay, no problem. So then I got a stereo in the kitchen now and I played the mantras and I got the whole family into the mantras now.
But if it’s just me I just feel and see the soap and the bubbles and everything. There’s no “Ian” doing the dishes there’s dishes getting done. There’s no “Ian” “doing” “the” “dishes”. There’s just the dishes getting done. I’m just watching it all happen. Look at this.
You walked from the car into the place – how many steps did you take?
How many steps go up and down your house?
Right. It’s interesting, right?
Do you remember putting on your shoes this morning?
Interesting, Right?
Our whole life is the practice – if we drop what we believe the practice is.
Everything is the practice.
Everything that you’re doing is the practice. Every conversation that you have is the practice, right?
I like it within the Christian tradition where Jesus is like, “Hey, yeah, yeah yeah you love me? That’s great. But now see everybody like me.”
Can you do that? Can you see the Buddha in everybody?
They showing up – they’re being a jerk to you, that’s the Buddha, “Oh yeah you said earlier that you want to be more compassionate and patient eh?”
Baka Baka Baka Baka (person being annoying)
Thank you Buddha.
Right.
That’s the Buddha just showing up there. You think it’s Henry or whoever but no – the Buddha went into that person and made that guy a puppet for you to show you.
So drop what you think it is – drop this pressure that you have on yourself.
Yeah, man.
Even to just distill it simply that’s why I love Maitreya’s practice. Maitreya, the coming Buddha, they say that he did one practice to awaken – loving kindness.
He was just loving and kind to everybody, everything and himself.
Maybe that’s your practice.
Because it looks like you need some love and kindness for yourself.
Too hard for yourself. Okay?
(student starts to cry)
Good. It’s good.
Feel that hurt.
That’s the thing, right? We’re messy practitioners. Okay. Life is messy. And we love the shit out of it. That’s what we do. We just love. And we see and we know, “Oh god why are you holding this? Stop holding it. Give me it. Put it here, I can carry it. Okay?
That’s why in the Buddhist tradition, we remember refuge, right?
I can’t hold it – I give it to Buddha.
I give it to my teachers I give it to the lineage, I can’t hold – this little tiny (holds heart), trying to hold all the sorrow of the world in this little heart.
I can’t do that. I need to increase my capacity and the only way I can do that is to surrender myself. Completely.
That’s The beautiful thing about the Christian tradition – give it up.
The hell man.
Why are you holding all this stuff?
Just let it go.
Just release it. Right?
Because if not, look at all those hell worlds that you created for yourself.
That’s why in the Zen tradition they just point right back at your mind. Right?
Just look, you’re creating all these different realms.
The human realm is the best. It’s the sweet spot. Because it’s the Goldilocks. You’re not like a god. Right? But we see even see it right? People with money and money and money.
They can just build a giant moats right around themselves and they never even need to know that the world exists. Right.
But that can only last so long.
‘Till the money runs out. Fortune favor and then next thing you know, one moment it’s here, one moment it’s gone.
The practice is important.
But we have to lose what we believe “the practice” is.
You’ll see different different people “No this is the practice. This is the practice. And this is the practice.”
Here, how many practices have given us already tons, right? Even just in this talk right here. There’s tons, you just ride one of those to the end. Right. And that’s the thing, right? We pick this up and you pick this up.
You resonate with something, some sort of practice – just pour yourself into it.
The best practice, is to Rest in the Radiance. That’s the best. But sometimes it’s hard. Because it’s so simple. That can’t it – Come on Ian. That can’t be it.
Okay, All right, then do some mantras and do that thing. Alright alright – I’m tricking you, you know,
Resting in that presence in the radiance – that’s the practice because that’s the great remembering.
When we’re in that space, like the word I used, familiar, used to it, such that when life comes crashing at you, “Oh look at that! It’s like watching a picture show.”
Sometimes even still, the body will have reactions, “Wow – look at that – that’s interesting.”
Just to be staying on the throne, Right?
So this – when we’re in this posture, whatever the comfy, stable posture is, what we’re doing isn’t meditation.
It’s actualizing your Buddha nature. Period.
So until we get familiar completely, then yeah, we do these other things, too.
But we have to see we are so busy, right? We have to remember we’re lay practitioners, Right? We we have jobs, kids, bills, commitments, all this stuff.
Right?
So we need an adaptive and fluid practice. Right?
The fundamental is the great remembering.
Always there ever present.
Nothing you can do can make it any better, or any worse. Yeah.
Sometimes we got to work the energy through.
Prostrations are great for that. Anybody done prostrations work? You’ve done it some? Little bit.
Prostrations right where you do bowing.
Yeah. And full right out. Oh, you haven’t done the full one. Yeah.
It’s really good. Right?
Like, if you feel like you have a lot of kinetic or a lot of emotion, or a lot of things trapped in here that you’re working through?
Do some full on bows, man, you’re going work that stuff out. Yeah, give it over. Right?
If it’s not the Buddha, then give it to wisdom, to compassion, to the universe, whatever the word is, put whatever you want in there, I don’t care.
Give it up, give it away. It’s too much for you to hold on to.
It’s obvious. It’s too much – our limited capacity.
Just adapt, adapt, tweak, tweak your practice. And if it’s no longer, You know, it’s no longer the mantra work, then it’s no longer the mantra then.
Thank you mantra.
We just move on.
Yeah. Well, that’s a good thing about our tradition is that we’re not fixed.
Right? It’s not a fixed form. We have a messy form.
Why though?
Because we trust the innate Buddha Nature in each and every one of us.
This is the trick.
I trust the innate wisdom within you. Right?
When you show up here, that’s all I keep magnetizing out of you. That’s it.
Right.
You come – bring problems, whatever I don’t care about those.
Yeah, you think – problems are infinite. Just when you think one finishes another, and another and then another, another another.
OK. So the problem is not the problem. Right?
The problem is, you can’t see your own potential.
I can see it.
That’s why I cry for you guys.
I pray for you guys.
I beseech all the Buddha’s, my teachers, the lineage and the fundamental nature of mind itself.
“Please watch over them, care for them, guide them. Help them swiftly and easily awaken.
This is a big thing lately: Give up the hard lessons.
Stop asking for it to be hard.
Just smooth. Easy.
“Please bring me the support, the guidance and the wisdom that I need. The grace and the understanding the patience. Thank you.”
It’s one thing to ask. But we have to thank, Right? You need to own that stuff. Right? You’re gonna suck at it. Yeah, come on.
Come on, you’re not that good. Come on, right.
Just be real man. This is the this is the other thing with our practice, Right? Like people, some people that are caught in, like, what the practice looks like, are going to have trouble with our group and our style and everything like this. Right?
We fundamentally believe in the fundamental good in each and every one of us.
Sometimes it’s really hard to see. Right?
But we, we see it in them. Which means guess what? We see it in ourselves.
So we keep trusting it, seeing it.
When we come here we get more and more familiar.
Confident is good word in it, Right?
Doubt is the mind killer, is the heart killer really, as the awakening killer, Right?
And the teacher, the teachers, biggest job is to give you confidence again, in yourself and the fundamental goodness of each person.
Right? We were talking about this last week, where where did the Buddha come from?
What is the fundamental ground of Buddha’s?
Sentient beings.
Where do they come from?
Everyone you’re looking at is Buddha’s.
That’s why in one of the pieces that I wrote down as “It’s so funny to see Buddha’s looking for Buddha’s.”
This is crazy.
This is nuts.
And when we’re resting in the radiance, when we’re deep within that practice, when we continue to soften, letting go right in that state – come on – are you gonna do anything, anything bad? You gonna hurt anybody? You gonna say any crazy shit that’s gonna wound somebody deeply? No!
So that’s why we just get familiar here.
Here.
At the seat of Buddhahood, which is your Buddha hood, Right?
The fundamental nature is the same for each and every one of us. Right?
When we go on a retreat, I’m probably going to try to do an experiment where when we’re in the meditate, we’re gonna describe the meditation.
And you’ll see, we’ll write it down somewhere and I’ll be like, “You just described Buddha.”
You think you’re not. It’s crazy.
But when Buddha gets off this chair to go out into the world – Protibha Buddha, Sally Buddha, Mary Buddha, Christina Buddha, Greg Buddha.
So then the practice is to be authentically and fully you. To allow the Buddha juice to flow through you. As you. Is you.
I don’t have your life.
So just live your life for me.
Fully, freely. Right? And that’s what the teacher wants for you to be open and free and to laugh and to love again to dance as well.
To dance again.
Mary posted a videos and she was dancing in the middle of the house.
Just to be free to be freely ourselves. Oh my god. What is that like?
Right? That’s the thing with my kids, man. I just keep telling them, “This is your dad guys. I’m gonna pretend to be somebody else.”
A dad.
Like they screwed up the other day somethin bad amd I was like, “Hey! Okay. I don’t want to be that guy. So this is practice time. And I said, in the world, people are going to lose their minds if you did this to them. Right? Because they didn’t come home.So I had to go out and find them. Right. I said you had one job – you made a promise to me. This is practice, Okay. This is Practice. There was no remorse? None nothing. I said why are you guys beings asshole right now. Come on, lead with your heart. You feelin bad? Yea we’re feeling bad. Then why didn’t you just lead with that? I said, this is practice for the “real world”. Because you come up showing up like that and the “real world” is going to hack you down. Because the real world is suffering. They’re gonna want to get vengeance on you because you’ve spurned them and you’ve done them wrong, whatever the story is, right? And they got to dominate you with power. So I was like this is practice you guys. Okay. Alright? So we just lead with our heart next time okay? You screwed up. We’re all gonna screw up. I was like Daddy screws up all the time. Let’s just be authentic. Natural.”
What does that look like?
Vulnerable.
We think we need to be something else.
Drop it. Just put it down.
So much better.
Student: So much better.
Put it down.
Because once you do that, then you’re free.
You can see again, hear again, feel again.
Everything just flowing free.
And this is the practice too right?
Because everything is locked. In certain traditions they say like the biggest thing that happens is there’s like this giant heart knot and we just keep unraveling it.
Unraveling it.
And then again, there’s like a big BOOM but then there’s still – just when you think it’s over.
Holy jeez.
Because you don’t even know how much you’ve stuffed down deep in there. This life, let alone whatever else you brought into this life.
So just give up the ghost man. You know?
Put it all down.
What you think the practice is supposed to be. What you think awakening is supposed to be. Right? What you think all of it is supposed to be.
What you think being a mom, being a dad is supposed to be like, Just keep showing up and be naturally you.
That’s the practice.
Right?
That’s the practice.
That’s why I gave you that name (taps one of the students whose Dharma name starts with Sahaja which means natural)
Because once that clicks – oh my god!
(Makes the sound of being in awe)
It’s the whole universe. Right there.
Everything makes so much sense.
It’s just easy then.
Because it’s always been.
But we believe we’re a sentient being.
And we bear down on it.
To open it up. To keep keep unfolding it. And just when you think – there’s more and more and more.
People don’t even understand
It’s crazy.
It’s nuts.
And honestly it just gets easier.
We mess it up man.
It’s so crazy, right?
We mess it up.
But like the fundamental practice is just look at yourself.
Just look.
Look at what you’re creating for yourself.
You’re getting angry, you’re creating anger world.
Sad, sad, world.
Frustrated, frustration world.
When rest in the radiance then you create Buddha world all around you.
At first it’s just tiny and small. Just keep it right here (close to your chest).
Keep it safe.
Create Buddha world for yourself.
I remember one time I was carrying something, I was being stupid and carrying something in my heart, oh my god, it was crazy. I called the Buddha, right? Just call – whatever – you guys maybe resonate with Jesus, maybe more than than Buddha – call Jesus, man. Who cares? So he comes down (the Buddha) and (now Ian demonstrates – the Buddha looked lovingly at Ian – tapped him on the chest and said, “Give this to me.” and the Buddha just went off into the sun and then Ian just describes being free of it and crying with release)
It was amazing.
Why am I holding this?
I don’t know what to do with this.
Why do I keep thinking I know what to do with this.
No. You don’t. You don’t.
That’s why we go for refuge. Right? You guys took the precepts.
You don’t understand the power of refuge.
Give it up. Just give it up.
Go to the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha.
Remember we give our squishy and tender hearts over.
Give it to the teacher.
that’s it. Give it up.
You don’t know how to take care of it.
Not yet.
So give it to somebody that knows.
Because when you get it back, you’re gonna be like, “That’s how it works???”
Wow.
It’s all spit shined and tuned up.
Yeah.
You don’t even know.
So what was the question?
But it started practice something.
So out of all of that, blah blah blah – whatever stuck for you. Okay.
But maybe it’s loving kindness.
Maybe that’s the practice.
Just to be loving and kind.
You don’t need to be formal about it. May I be loving and kind to myself. May be loving and kind to this moment, to this person, the situation.
What does that even look like?
Imagine the world just doing that (loving-kindness) not even a full blown awakening.
But supposedly that’s what Maitreya did, he just poured himself into that practice.
Poof! Awwwwww (like a choir of angels)
Just took it all the way to the end.
Just find the Dharma gate that you go through and then it opens up, right?
I didn’t know I’d be so devotional like we talked about until like, until I met my teacher and had my breakthroughs.
Now I’m just a fuckinig gusher like Oh, my God. Life is so! Thank you soooooo much!!!
Mary’s a Bhakti type (devotional).
Reverence and love and all “Come on, guys. We can do this!”
They just keep loving the shit outta everybody.
But the difference is with wisdom and compassion and understanding and insight.
That’s the difference, right?
The hippies they had a pretty good, right.
Like, Almost there.
Almost.
What needs to be they need to mesh together – wisdom and compassion – on the bedrock of stability,
But we’ve already seen the fundamental nature of your mind is immovable
Everything rises in it.
See the mirror like – you can see it right now right?
It’s almost like a mirror like. There’s a mirror. Right?
The mirror is unaffected by what arises within it.
That’s The pointing out instructions.
That fundamental nature is always there and always been there.
You can go run around the block – you look, it’s still the same thing. When you walk down the stairs is still the same thing.
Always there, you’re never separate from it. Okay.
As you become more and more familiar in that space, boundaries start to dissolve, and then you tell me what happens after that you’ve come to tell me. Okay?
Oh, looks like it worked.
What should we call this Dharma talk?
Student: Where dp I start?
Oh, yeah.
Where do I start?

Categories
Zen

Catching the Zen Bird

Catching the Zen Bird
So many people hear of the Zen Mind or Buddha Mind or Truth or Suchness or Enlightenment or the Great Way or the Absolute or the Unborn or the Fundamental Nature – there’s a million different names for it – and they know they want it for themselves.
It’s like hearing of a magical mythical royal bird – like a phoenix.
And theres a story that whoever may catch it will be given great power and riches and the knowledge of the universe.
So we go off searching for it.
Hunting for it
Scheming for it
And maybe we catch sight of it flying high in a certain place
So we go there again and again
And we lay traps for it
Hoping to snatch it for ourselves
And in those traps
We catch all kinds of different birds
Brown birds blue birds red birds
Even a chicken
And we shew them all away
And we wait and wait and wait
Dreaming of the day we catch the phoenix. We fantasize about it. It consumes us.
Then one day we check on the trap and we discover a hurt little baby bird
Our heart breaks open a little bit and we are moved by it’s innocence it’s helplessness and a great remorse comes over us as we watch it struggle to breakfree of the pain that we ourselves have caused it from our own selfishness
And something in us moves us to help it
Then the momma bird comes and attacks us
And we take those attacks
We endure her piercing beak because we know she is only trying to protect her baby and maybe she’s feeling bad too that she couldn’t keep it safe
So we care for that baby bird
We nurture it
We help it
We feed it
We gently love it
We strengthen it
We watch it grow
This whole time we’re still thinking of the royal magical bird
But less and less
We just see the matter at hand and do our best
We start to really see and know that it was because of our own greed hatred and delusion that this little innocent bird has been hurt
We vow to change
To be different
To be better
The baby bird finally gets strong enough to walk and fly on it’s own and we rejoice we celebrate it we clap and dance
In this moment we forgot about ourselves
And finally we bring it back to it’s mother strong and alive
We apologize to the mother and say we will change or ways – we have changed already and promise to do even better
We bow to her and we wish them the best bird life possible
And we realize in that moment that we have forgotten about the royal bird
We’ve forgotten about our goal our dreams our wants
And when we look to the place where we used to lay our trap – right there fast asleep is what we have sought so long ago
The royal bird – the radiant phoenix in all it’s spledour and glory is just sleeping peacefully there
We experience great awe reverence and we stop right there in our tracks our breath caught in our chest
And we sit there in the grass not moving a few feet from the phoenix
Not wanting to disturb this moment and the beauty of it
And we watch with an open heart
And something has changed in us because we don’t chase after it we don’t grasp it at – if this is the closest we get to it then that’s fine – more than fine – it’s the most magical thing we’ve ever experienced
And every day we do this
We tiptoe quietly to the spot hoping not to disturb the royal bird and scare it away with our own blunderings and some days we do and some days we don’t
But we keep going back
And now something else changes
We hear the forest
We feel the breeze
We look around us and somehow start to see the magic of life again
We praise the tree
We dance with the wind
We feed the birds
And care for the land
And easeful joyous heart begins to arise in us
The simplest things become marvellous
How could you have never seen this before
Heard this before
Tasted this before
Smelt this before
Touched this before
You even see the beauty in the “dark” things
In the decay
In the struggle
In the pain of the process
And even in death
You begin to bear witness to it all
The miracle of it
You have a reverence for it
You see that you have a great privilege and rare chance here and you do everything you can to help it
And everything is smooth
Everything is easy
Mountains are no longer mountains
Streams no longer streams
Everything is the great way
Then one day you realize that you haven’t thought of the royal bird in a long time
And you go check in on it’s normal place and it’s not there
And you’re fine
And you sit
And the you that’s sitting disappears
Words cannot get to it
To say you are oneness is not correct
To say anything really is not correct
But everything is correct
All words are silence
All actions are non-actiom
All thoughts are non-thought
All and all
Everything is perfect just as it is
How foolish you were before
Now you’re the greatest of fools
It’s…
Just this
And that’s saying too much
The crickets chirping
The sun setting
The wind blowing
The water softly cresting on the shore
How can you truly describe the great way – to say anything is to miss the mark but to not say anything is to break your hearts vow to help all beings
And right then looking down there’s the discovery
Of the royal bird – the blazingly radiant phoenix sleeping in your lap and you’re not shocked or elated or anything really
It’s just this and nothing else
And though nothing’s been said you hear it’s wisdom nonetheless
And somehow you know that the royal bird, the great beautiful phoenix had been there the whole time
Guiding you
Loving you
Calling you
To awaken
It’s all the great phoenix
And you laugh and laugh
And the royal bird smiles
The crickets chirp
The sun sets
The wind blows
And the water softly crests on the shore
A rumble in your tummy
You getup and cook the rice
Clean the dishes
And sleep when you’re tired
You and the forest are not two – not one either

Mountains are mountains

Streams are streams

The great blazing phoenix soars through the vast open sky unhindered and completely free.
Zen Master e
Please read:
https://zenawakened.com/zen-pointing-out-instructions/
https://zenawakened.com/dont-know-mind/
https://zenawakened.com/mu/
https://zenawakened.com/the-great-light-of-illumination/
Artwork by Louis Dyer – www.louisdyer.com
The amazingly beautiful and transcendent artwork of the Golden Phoenix is by the gifted artist Louis Dyer.
Please checkout his work and support him in his visionary art.
https://www.digitalvisionaryart.co.uk/digital-painting-courses/

Categories
Zen

Find Your Mind Treasure

Transcript: Finding the Treasure in Your Mind is a True Practitioner
Finding the Treasure in Your Mind is a True Practitioner
We think that we should learn and accept while meditating on a daily basis.
But more important than that is you must save yourself.
The enlightenment of a Buddha’s true nature is in your own mind.
We should live Buddha’s life with that Buddha Nature.
Knowing this and putting it into practice.
This is the real practice.
That’s why we are here and practicing because sentient beings are foolish.
Mind and behavior are different.
We have to come to this distant place because we have to retreat according to the shape of the karma.
You better cut off everything – such as desire, anger, ignorance, delusion, worldly matters and family matters.
If I only talked about liberating – do not be attached to it or accept (as a fixed view) with any boundaries
(Pointing Out Your Intrinsic Buddha Nature)
(Look and see for yourself)
It should be a calm mind forever and eternally like the empty sky everywhere.
Therefore in the end it is necessary to take off from all troubles naturally with clear and pure minds (all your troubles disappear in the Buddha Mind)
Isn’t it right?
Seeking vain honors and speaking truth with that mouth do not let your mind be like monkeys.
The difference between words and action is that you deceive yourself if you fall into hellish hell.
Do not pursue vain honors and pleasure living in the world without knowing yourself (first).
Without knowing yourself you will suffer disease for all eternity.
Be diligent (Chris one of Master’s senior students) hardwork and make effort.
You are saving yourself.
The Buddha and I cannot save you – the enlightenment too.
You are just guidance (these are just guides)
We just lead you to be meditators to get into the meditation world.
If the Buddha could save the sentient beings, which are more than the dust of the world, he would have finished saving all sentient beings already
But why are we not leaving samsara and the circle of reincarnation and being Buddha until now?
Therefore sentient beings should save oneself.
Not the Buddha saving.
So you understand that clearly – diligence and effort are meditate yourself and you should not rely on the power of another Buddha from outside.
(Rely on the Buddha within)
What would I like to attach?
We usually see ourselves or those around us living – it’s called “sentient beings”.
The Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng said, “Seeing and looking at the surface, right and wrong and distinguishing minds are called sentient beings. It is not sentient beings that is revealed in all kind of images of the world as the state of life.”
Jealous mind
Anger mind
Dispute mind
and deceived mind
This is called “sentient beings”.
When we live with a mind that we comprehend (small mind/thinking mind).
If you call this kind of mind – sentient beings
If there isn’t that kind of mind – if that mind disappears – then all sentient beings are saved and attain enlightenment at that moment.
When sentient beings disappear then the Buddha’s world will appear.
Thank you
Finding treasuring in your mind is a true practitioner
So Phuon she already found it – Kwan Seum Bosal (Quan Yin/Avalokitesvara)
I asked Elaine to make that frame and I think Phuon gave her some kind of information.
Actually that frame and this picture is Phuons.
Phuon – alway in her mind is Kwan Seum Bosal.
So I would like to give you all of this picture. One each.
Ok?
What is your treasure?
What is in your mind? What is in there? (Master points to his heart)
You better find out.
So – Phuon – she already found – maybe about two years ago.
She always says, “I’m Kwan Seum Bosal.”
Always she’s thinking Kwan Seum Bosal.
Everybody have one of these.
And also – another one is this one. (Master holds up a picture of a statue that’s shaped like a meditator clothed in a black robe and at their heart is the Buddha and their face/mind is golden)
I took this picture from Korea.
With Kelly and Rebecca.
I took this picture in Seol Korea. Then when I come back I asked Elaine to make it like this.
Meditators here – inside – Buddha is inside.
OK?
You can try to find out what is in your mind.
Maybe that is a Buddha or Dharma or Kwan Seum Bosal.
Kwan Seum Bosal is mercy and compassion Bodhisattva.
From now – everybody try and find out what you got in your mind.
Ok?
Thank you.

Categories
Zen

Dharma Transmission

In Zen-Buddhism, Dharma transmission is a custom in which a person is established as a “successor in an unbroken lineage of teachers and disciples, a spiritual ‘bloodline’ (kechimyaku) theoretically traced back to the Buddha himself.”

The Buddha Twirls A Flower

In the Flower Sermon, Shakyamuni Buddha passes something to his disciple, Mahakashyapa.
According to the story, Shakyamuni is on the teaching seat surrounded by his disciples.
But instead of giving the usual kind of lecture, he just holds up a flower and gives it a twirl.
Everyone except Mahakashyapa stared with confusion at the Buddha.
But, Mahakashyapa smiled.
Whereupon the Buddha said, “I possess the true Dharma eye, the marvelous mind of Nirvana, the true form of the formless, the subtle Dharma Gate that does not rely on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures. This I entrust to Mahakashyapa.”
Commentary: There’s nothing to transmit and no-one to transmit it to.
To say a word about it and you break the 4th precept. To not say anything and you break the Bodhisattva vow.
What could be said that would make that moment more beautiful?
Mahakashyapa is still smiling.
The Buddha is still smiling.
The flower is still twirling.
It was such a beautiful day.
How do I know?
I was there.
So were you.
PEH!!!


Categories
Zen

Just This Is It

Ancestor Dongshan Liangjie (807-869).
After some period of practice with Yunyan, just before departing to visit other teachers, Dongshan asked Yunyan,
“Later on, if I am asked to describe your reality, how should I respond?”
After a pause, Yunyan said, “Just this is it.”
Dongshan departed without further comment.
Later while wading across a stream, he looked down, saw his reflection, and awakened to the meaning of the previous exchange.
Comment by Master e
Where else are you going to find it?
Why are you searching for it anyways? How funny to see a Buddha looking for a Buddha.
Dongshan finally saw it in his own face. Right there in an instant.
Not thinking about it and there it was.

Categories
Zen

Everything is the Buddha

When we see the great light through complete enlightenment, we see the non-duality of the eternal and the momentary. Everything we see is Kwanseum Bosal, and everything we hear is the mystical Dharma sound.
There is no truth aside from seeing and hearing. Do you understand? Mountain is mountain. River is river.
Let us respect all forms of life as we respect the Buddha. The true form of everything in the universe is brighter than sunlight, clearer than sky, and immaculate.
Such terms as “evil” or “lowly” are but superficial judgments. Everything is Buddha, everything is magnificent, everything is sublime.
Let us respect not just people, but all forms of life—even the lowly flies and ants, and ferocious wolves and tigers—just as we would the Buddha.
When we respect even the most vile criminal, we come to see life as it really is. We come to live in true fundamentality.
Everything in the infinite universe is Buddha, and every nation is a Buddhafield. If you look into the true nature of reality, you will not find a trace of misery. You will only find eternal happiness everywhere.
Seon Master Songchol

Categories
Zen

Essentials of Cultivating the Mind

Daman Hongren – Essentials of Cultivating the Mind
The essence of cultivating the Way is to discern that one’s own body-mind awareness is inherently pure, not subject to birth or death, and without division.
Perfect and complete in its self-nature, present awareness is the fundamental teacher.
Focusing on it exclusively is superior to reflecting on the awakened ones of the ten directions.
How do you know that one’s own awareness is inherently pure?
To use the bright sun as a metaphor: even if the clouds and mists of the world were to arise together in all directions so that the world became dark, still, how could the sun ever be extinguished?
The sun’s light is not destroyed, but merely deflected by the clouds and mists.
The pure mind possessed by all sentient beings is like this – simply covered by the layered clouds of discriminative thinking, false ideas, and ascriptive views.
If you just distinctly maintain awareness of present clear mind and don’t manufacture false thoughts, then the reality-sun of nirvana will be naturally manifested.
That is how you can experience that your own mind is inherently pure.
How do you know that one’s own awareness is inherently not subject to birth and death?
The Vimalakirti Sutra says: “Suchness is without birth, suchness is without death.”
The term “suchness” refers to the nature of awakened presence, the mind which is the source of all phenomena.
Suchness is fundamentally, originally existent, not conditionally produced.
The sutra also says, “ordinary beings all embody suchness; sages and wise ones also embody suchness.”
Although the names and characteristics of ordinary and awakened beings are different, the essential reality of suchness embodied in each is identical and is not subject to birth or death.
This is how it is realized that one’s own mind is inherently not subject to birth and death.
Why is the mind the fundamental teacher?
The true mind exists of itself and does not come from outside. As a teacher, it does not even require any tuition fee!
If you discern the “suchness” of the mind and maintain awareness of it, you reach the shore of nirvana.
By clearly maintaining awareness of the mind, the false mind (of attachment to ideas) is not activated and you reach the birthless.
Therefore we understand that the mind is the fundamental teacher.
Why is focusing on your own mind superior to reflecting on the awakened ones of the ten directions?
You cannot transcend birth and death by constantly imagining awakened beings divorced from yourself, but you reach the shore of nirvana by maintaining awareness of your own fundamental mind.
The Buddha says in the Diamond Sutra, “Anyone who views me in terms of form and seeks me by sound is practicing a mistaken path and is unable to see the one who is ‘thus-come.’”
Therefore we realize that maintaining awareness of (your own) true mind is superior to reflecting on awakened ones divorced from oneself. (But this word “superior” is only used for encouragement in the context of practice – In reality, the essence of the ultimate fruit of awakening is harmoniously inclusive and without opposing dualities).
If you can maintain awareness of the true mind without generating false thoughts or the illusion of personal possession, then you will automatically be equal to the Awakened Ones.
The nature of true presence is the core of both ordinary beings and awakened ones just the same.
Why, then, are awakened ones liberated, while ordinary beings are deluded?
At this point we enter the inconceivable which cannot be understood by the ordinary mind.
You awaken by discerning the true mind, you become deluded by losing awareness of this true nature. If the conditions (for awakening) come together, then they come together – it cannot be definitively explained.
Simply commit to your conviction of the ultimate truth, and maintain awareness of your own true mind. Do this constantly with focused energy, without fabricating false thoughts or the illusion of personal possession.
Awakening then manifests of itself.
If you ask a lot of questions, the number of conceptual terms will simply become greater and greater.
If you want to understand the essential point of the Awakened Way – then know that maintaining awareness of mind is the fundamental basis of nirvana, the essential gateway for entering the path, the basic principle of all the scriptures, and the teacher of all the awakened ones of the past, present, and future…
The essence of what is called nirvana is serene dissolution.
When one’s mind focuses on the true, false thoughts dissolve.
When false thoughts cease, correct mindfulness arises, generating the wisdom of serene illumination, or the total comprehension of reality-nature, which is also called the experience of nirvana.
All concepts, and all affairs of past, present, and future, should be seen as dust on a mirror – when the dust is gone, true nature naturally becomes clearly visible.
That which is learned by the deluded mind is completely useless.
True learning is what is learned by the unconditioned mind, which never ceases perfect awareness. Although we can call this “true learning,” ultimately there is nothing to be learned.
Why?
Because “self “and “liberation” are both insubstantial, they are neither different nor the same.
Thus, the essential principle of “nothing to be learned” is evident.
All the Awakened Ones of the past, present, and future are born within your own consciousness.
When you do not give birth to false thoughts, when your illusions of personal possession have been relinquished, the awakened one is born within your own consciousness.
You can only experience awakening by maintaining awareness of true mind.
My only desire is that you discern this fundamental mind for yourself.
Therefore, I employ you: Make effort! Make effort!
All the myriad scriptures and treatises say nothing other than that maintaining the true mind is the essential way to awakening.
Do not try to search outside of yourself – this only leads to the suffering of continued conventional patterns.
Just maintain the same mind of awareness in every moment of thought, and in all phases of mental activity.
When you sit…you may experience all kinds of good and bad psychological states…when you perceive such things, concentrate the mind and do not become attached to them. They are all insubstantial manifestations of deluded thinking.
A scripture says, “The triple realm is an empty apparition that is solely the creation of the individual mind.”
Do not worry if you cannot achieve special concentration or do not experience the various states of meditative absorption – just constantly maintain clear awareness of the present mind in all your actions.
If you stop generating delusive ideas and the illusion of personal possession, the you will realize that all the myriad phenomena are nothing other than manifestations of your own mind.
The awakened sages only preach with extensive and verbal teachings because the mental tendencies of sentient beings differ, and require a variety of responses. In actuality, the (present) mind is the basic subject of all the myriad teachings and philosophies.
Make effort and remain humble.
It is rare to get a chance to hear this essential teaching.
Of those that hear it, very few are able to practice it.
With great care keep your self calm, moderate your sensory activity, and attentively view the mind that is the source of all phenomena. Allow it to shine distinctly and clearly at all times, without letting yourself fall into mental blankness.
What is mental blankness?
People who practice special concentration exercises can inhibit the true mind by being dependent on particular sensory activities, dulled states of mind, or restricted breathing.
Although they may practice constantly, they cannot experience true clarity; they cannot reveal the mind which is the source of all phenomena. This is called blankness.
One can have success with minimal exertion by merely donning tattered robes, eating simple food, and clearly maintaining awareness of the present mind.
Deluded people of the world do not understand this truth and put themselves through great anguish in their ignorance.
Hoping to achieve liberation, they cultivate a broad range of superficial practices to gain merit – only to fall into the inevitable discontent of habitual cyclic existence.
(So just) make your body and mind perfectly empty and peaceful, without any discriminative thinking at all.
Sit properly with the body erect.
Regulate the breath and concentrate the mind so it is not within you, not outside of you, and not in any location in between.
Do this carefully but naturally.
View your own consciousness tranquilly and attentively, so you can see how it is always moving, like flowing water or a glittering mirage.
After you have perceived this consciousness, simply continue to observe it gently and naturally, without getting fixed anywhere inside or outside of yourself.
Do this calmly and attentively until its fluctuations dissolve into peaceful stability.
This flowing consciousness will disappear like a gust of wind.
When this consciousness disappears, all illusions disappear along with it…one’s own mind becomes peacefully stable, and pure.
I cannot describe it any further.
Anyone who can keep this mind in sight during all activities and in the face of the desires for forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch, and in the midst of the winds of success and failure, criticism and praise, honor and abuse, suffering and pleasure, has established a pure practice (brahmacarya), and will never again be born into the realm of birth and death.
My disciples have recorded this treatise from my oral teachings so that readers might intuitively resonate with the words and perceive the meaning behind them.
I want everyone to discern their fundamental mind and experience awakening at once.
The basic principle of this teaching is the the manifestation of the one vehicle.
It’s ultimate intention is to lead the deluded to liberation, allowing them to become free from the realm of birth and death themselves, and to help others to cross over to the other shore of nirvana.
But this treatise only speaks of the benefit to oneself, it does not elaborate on how to benefit others.
It should be understood as a gate of direct practice.
Anyone who practices according to these instructions will realize awakening immediately.
From the Xiu Xin Yao Lun (c.700) written by members of the “East Mountain School” (Hongren’s students) as a summary of Master Hongren’s teaching. Based on a translation by John R. McRae.

Categories
Death

Thich Nhat Hanh on Death

“When you look a cloud… and then later the cloud is not there.
If you look deeply, you can see the cloud in the rain, and that is why it’s impossible for a cloud to die.
A cloud can become rain, or snow, or ice, but a cloud cannot become nothing.
And that is why the notion of death cannot be applied to reality.
There is a transformation, there is a continuation, but you cannot say that there is death.
Because in your mind, to die, means you suddenly become nothing.
From someone, you suddenly become no one…
When you can remove these notions, you are free and you have no fear.

Categories
Death

Zen Teachings on Death

Whenever someone we love departs from this life, our hearts are always touched by the untimeliness, shock and heartache we experience.
We can’t help but ask, “Why did this happen?”
We know that life is only with us for a short time, but we seek a reason for such a young one’s being taken from us.
But, the more we ask this question, the more we suffer.
We cannot explain life and death in this way.
Instead, let us recall the story of the beautiful cherry blossom.
There is an old saying in Japan which compares human life and destiny to this delicate blossom.
Picture a gorgeous cherry tree in full bloom.
It is simply beautiful.
But, when the time comes, the lovely flowers start to be blown away by the wind.
When the spring winds begin to blow, some of the cherry blossoms are quick to go with the breeze. And yet others stay in bloom a little longer.
But, sooner or later, even the very last cherry flower on the tree will someday be blown away by the wind.
We must think of our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, in this manner.
Life is ever-changing and unpredictable.
We never know what it will bring, or how long it will last.
We have this in common with all other people, and with all the rest of existence.
We should not think of ourselves as distinct from the great stream of life, but as part of it.
As the wind blows, so do we go.
The wind in life is death.
The wind can blow in the springtime of life, or in the summer of life, or its autumn or in its winter.
When it blows, it often takes some of the young flowers with it.
When a flower comes into bloom in the spring, we know than it will fade someday.
For this reason, we say that life and death are one.
The flower that opens its petals to the sunshine of the day closes them with the darkness of the night.
And yet, night and day are actually one.
They blend into one another at dawn and at dusk.
Everyone has his dawn at his birth, and each also has his dusk at his death.
Let us think of life and death as a dawn and dusk.
At dusk, we are sorry to see the day fade away, but we should think of the beauty of the day, not the darkness of the approaching night.
When the petals of a flower close at dusk, we should think of the beauty of the blossom that is now taking its rest.
Slightly adapted from the words of Matsuoka-roshi 

Categories
Death

A Zen Master on Death

This Body is Not Me by Thich Nhat Hanh
This body is not me.
I am not limited by this body.
I am life without boundaries.
I have never been born,
and I have never died.
Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars, manifestations from my wondrous true mind.
Since before time, I have been free.
Birth and death are only doors through which we pass, sacred thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are a game of hide- and seek.
So laugh with me,
hold my hand,
let us say good-bye,
say good-bye, to meet again soon.
We meet today.
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.
~By Thich Nhat Hanh, Chanting and Recitations from Plum Village. Page 188.

Categories
Zen

What is the Way?

Joshu asked Nansen, “What is the Way?”
“Ordinary mind is the Way,” Nansen replied.
“Shall I try to seek after it?” Joshu asked.
“If you try for it, you will become separated from it,” responded Nansen.
“How can I know the Way unless I try for it?” persisted Joshu.
Nansen said, “The Way is not a matter of knowing or not knowing. Knowing is delusion; not knowing is confusion. When you have really reached the true Way beyond doubt, you will find it as vast and boundless as space. How can it be talked about on the level of right and wrong?”
With those words, Joshu came to a sudden realization.