BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 21
Case 20 never ends, yet now comes ...
Case 21 - Ungan Sweeps The Ground
The Moon, in traditional Zen imagery, symbolizes Reality, Wholeness, Oneness. However, when we look at the moon high in the far off sky, if we feel so distant and apart down here on earth, we create a "second moon" in our eye. That feeling of distance and separation is our making a "second moon". In the Surangama Sutra, for example, the Moon is reality, and the second moon is our perception of reality, one step removed from the first moon as we impose ideas and judgments such as "here" "there", "one" or "two", "beautiful" or "ugly pockmarked wasteland", "full" or "half" or hidden (the moon is always present, even when hidden behind the thickest clouds of our ignorance). There is only One Moon, even when we make it divided.
Ungan is sweeping, working hard. Dogo asks why bother if a Buddha is free of judgments of "clean" or "dirty"? Why work so hard if "nothing to attain"? A Buddha needs no sweeping, is ever free of dust. Ungan has pierced this fact, yet does not remain in a realm where there is no work to do. Rather, holding up the broom he affirms that "no clean or dirty" is found in the very action of constant cleaning, that "no hard at it" is in being "hard at it", and the Buddha is holding the broom, the Buddha is the broom, the Buddha is the sweeping and (when seen with clear eyes) the Buddha is even the dust and filth which must be made clean.
There is only One Moon, even when we make it divided. But to the keen eye, even the divisions are always the One Moon too!
Some folks think that the point of Buddhism is only to realize the "One Moon", free of all dirt and effort. That is something we must realize, but also, we must realize that One Moon and Two Moons are truly Not Two. In Fact, the One Moon is fully two moons, three moons, ten million moons, countless moons. When seen with a Buddha's eye, the Moon shines and illuminates in countless ways and every reflection of the moon is also just the Moon. Dogen has a lovely image of this in Genjo Koan ...
Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water.
Enlightenment does not divide you, just as the moon does not break the water. You cannot hinder enlightenment, just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky. The depth of the drop is the height of the moon. Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky.
Sweeping is the Moon, is Buddha. Our hard effort is the Buddha free of hindrance and striving.
In the comments, Gensha reminds us that even a monk's talk about "One Moon" or "two moons" is also making "two moons" (although, don't forget, even "two moons" are the One Moon too). The butler watches the maid, yet both have their cleaning chores to get on with.
The Preface reminds that, even when we drop away all categories such as "clean" or "dirty" (and likewise, "enlightened" or "deluded", "holy" and "ordinary"), we still need a talent to recognize that clean is not dirty, that enlightenment is not delusion (host and guest are traditional Zen codewords for that), and that what is good is not the same as what is harmful and bad. All things are beyond distinction, yet we must be discerning hosts of good taste!
The references to "same branch" and "Elephant Bone Crag" and "youngsters" seems to refer to Ungan and Dosho being brother students of the same teacher, a bit of rivals and still rather immature and filled with some callow "showiness" and "oneupmanship" in their Zen understanding.
Question: Discuss a fault or failing in your personal life or in this world, and how you might work to make it better ... but how there is no fault to make better, and no effort ... and how that fact of "no fault and no fixing and no effort" is found right in fixing the fault and the hard effort. gassho1