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Thread: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 28

  1. #1

    BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 28

    Gokoku's Three Shames



    We often find ourselves to be much less convincing, grand or perfect than the idealised pictures of ourselves we create in our imagination. But to not engage with what is, to hide although we can truly never hide, that is truly a waste of time and will lead to nothing but a senseless death, the result of a senseless life, a life that never truly engaged the open perception of what is, and what oneself is.

    It says in the preface "The person who doesn't chew a grain of rice is for sure the burned-face demon king."

    If you feel around with your tongue of unfettered buddha-sight, you will discover that you have a grain of rice in the jaws of your life as well.

    Nobody can tell you what will happen, but if you don't start properly chewing soon, you will choke on that one grain for sure. Whether it is just a hair's breadth, or a tiny grain of rice, if you don't face the music, even the smallest atom will lock the gate of your own life.

    If it's bitter, chew. If it's sweet, chew. Bitterness will bring sweetness in due time, and sweetness will be followed by bitterness.

    Chew, chew, chew. Different taste for sure, yet the taste of chewing itself is.....well, you know already, or you will find out if you work them teeth properly.



    In the main case we are reminded that suchness is ever active, ever changing in dynamic ways. Since we are THIS as well, and not apart, resting in the sunshine will not cut it in the long run. We "think" we know best, we like to judge the merit of situations, but sometimes the harshest winters bring the most lovely spring....and the might of volcanic eruptions becomes the nourishing ground for the most wonderful crocus flower the earth has ever seen.


    QUESTION:

    Do you remember a time in your life where everything screamed pain and suffering, yet now when you look back you can see that without this episode, some current insight and/or happiness would not have arisen?

    Can you recall an instance where your own pride and self-satisfied view of a situation kept you from seeing what was really going on, and kept you from acting in an appropriate way?




    Gassho,

    and don't stop practising. That would be a shame.

    Deep bows,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  2. #2
    Hi!


    Do you remember a time in your life where everything screamed pain and suffering, yet now when you look back you can see that without this episode, some current insight and/or happiness would not have arisen?


    Absolutely! When my brother died suddenly the shock it sent through my life, body soul I couldn't have fathomed and at the time couldn't see the end or way to end such suffering (my own or my family's) Some folks come to this practice with a burning question or so its represented. I got the answer to a question I never asked and then was left to figure out what to do with it... it was scary as hell, draining and engulfed my every thought and move.
    I learned, as we all do, it passes and changes as all things do. The benefit of this event was ...well I am here I wouldn't have stumbled into this practice (debatable i am sure)
    made changes in my life that allow me to be here now with all you wonderful folks. My eyes would have remained shut to the oneness (and sometimes I still forget). I could fill a book with what great things have come from an unfortunate event. The best part is I remember the best of a great fellow and the less he taught me.

    Can you recall an instance where your own pride and self-satisfied view of a situation kept you from seeing what was really going on, and kept you from acting in an appropriate way?

    No. not me, I'm freaking great!

    Of course I am kidding. One of many "for examples" i could give is a recent one.
    At our work as part of a larger improvement process for work, we did a survey of folks that used our services where i work (I manage a print shop at the local university here so I deal with all kinds of folks). After the survey I was pleased to share we had lots of positive points and a 96% satisfaction rate, not bad. In reviewing the data we had a section that gathered any comments to a negative effect and one was glaring directly at me. ME. My name was not used but i remember the incident where a customer was "not seeing things right" and I explained a few different ways trying to get through to them. Thing was I though and remember being sure they were glad I helped and educated them on what was wrong with the job they provided. We did the job and that was it. Until 4 years later it bit me in the but.
    The rough phrasing was " the technical guy was a Technocrat who thought he knew all the answers and yet couldn't in clear terms provide me with a solution - I will not be back"

    Ouch right. Truth is he was right. I didnt see it then, but I was treating this poor gent like a fellow geek and trying to "school him" in something, my pride getting in the way of common sense. The customer wanted a job done, didnt need the history of printing or Why RGB was wrong for CMYk printing... he just wanted me to say, no worries sir, your job will be ready shortly.

    Gassho
    Shohei "technocrat"

  3. #3
    Do you remember a time in your life where everything screamed pain and suffering, yet now when you look back you can see that without this episode, some current insight and/or happiness would not have arisen?

    Absolutely! There's been a few experiences like that. The most recent occurrence actually brought me to start taking my practice more seriously. I look back on that experience and I'm grateful for it but at the time I felt overwhelmed and exhausted. I felt like I was having a mid-twenties crisis. That explosion of suffering was the catalyst to find The Way.

    Gassho
    Kia

  4. #4
    My current insight is that life screams pain and suffering but I put up with it until something better comes along.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  5. #5
    Hi guys ,

    I hate to be the one to cast a fly in the soup here, but is this case really only about suffering and how to deal with it? Holding on and waiting for a reward or for things to get better? I’m still missing something.

    Reading the case and the explanation ( gassho Hans) something is still bothering me. Maybe this case is about feeling better then the world around us, because we think or suggest we know something others don't and are not subject to life as it is ( although it's an illusion)? If you reach the peak and decide to stay up there, that's a shame because you will miss the point of being alive in the world we live in. Being all aloft and untouchable, denying reality, is not the true Way. The death of the two guardians is a shame because they died in vain protecting people who also sat on top of the withered pine?

    Who will not chew a grain of rice if you feel it your mouth? Walking around with it because you think should just ignore it, is a demon of the mind. Chewing is the normal thing to do, the human thing to do. Acting like you don't have to chew the grain of rice is ridiculous and a true shame. I think maybe Goku is teaching us we should not deny or withdraw from real, daily life and the processes in life and nature? The real practice and goalless goal is the here and right now, on the ground with the other ground troops. It is a shame to hide somewhere, only sit shikantaza, talk about scriptures or insights and act like the world is not there. Buddha’s Midle Way, not all there but not all somewhere else either. Not this and not that. Two sides of the side less coin.

    So, living our lives and seize the great opportunity that it is, it is the attitude we have towards it that makes the difference between delusion and the enlightened ones we already are. So chew the rice grain in a gratefull way, like it is all there is to life and let it be perfect, just the way it is.

    If you hit a wall you will get a lump on your head and maybe even bleed. Talking and acting like this is not so but avoiding any walls, is the shame Goku is talking about.
    What do you guys think? Anywhere in the ball park or not?

    Gassho

  6. #6
    Hello Enkyo,

    thank you for your comments. We'd have to ask Gokoku about what he meant with this Koan, but for what it is worth, I personally don't think that this Koan is about how to deal with suffering in particular, but how to engage with and enact this dynamic activity called life. Because whatever IT is, it is never stale.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  7. #7
    Hi Hans,

    You are right of course . I want to thank you for your thoughts on this one. Posting in reaction to something ( like I did) is easy. Starting with the first thoughts or teaching and composing a short but clear text about it, is not easy and I think what you wrote about case 28 is very well done!

  8. #8
    Hi Enkyo, I agree in general with most of what you wrote. Your question 'Holding on and waiting for a reward or for things to get better? ' prompts me to respond no holding on or waiting for reward, more like a tree bending with the wind until it subsides. Something better coming along or things to get better, while a relative expression does indicate a positive outlook.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    Do you remember a time in your life where everything screamed pain and suffering, yet now when you look back you can see that without this episode, some current insight and/or happiness would not have arisen?
    Yes, but at the same time a lot of it seems needless, but that's only looking back. It happened.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    Can you recall an instance where your own pride and self-satisfied view of a situation kept you from seeing what was really going on, and kept you from acting in an appropriate way?
    Are we talking about today? It would be impossible to count over months and years. It is diminishing in frequency, and in the depth that my heels get dug in.


    Gassho
    Daizan
    Last edited by Daizan; 03-28-2013 at 01:07 PM. Reason: missed word due to inattention
    大山

  10. #10
    Hello everyone,

    reading through the Koan again and reading your answers somehow makes me remember a story (which I have heard a few times as part of different cultural traditions...so who knows where it came from )

    It goes something like this:

    Once upon a time a farmer's son broke his leg and was thus unable to help his family for some time. The neighbours said "What a pity that such ill luck should befall his family". The father just commented "maybe so." A few days later a band of warriors passed the village where the farmer lived and started taking all the able bodied young men with them...except for the farmer's son. Once again, the villagers commented "What a great blessing it is that the farmer's son broke his leg. How lucky they are." The farmer, a wise man schooled in the way things are just replied "Maybe."

    That farmer's "maybe" and also Hakuin's "is that so" (see Wikipedia for reading that particular anecdote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakuin_Ekaku) are not expressions of stoicism or signs of endurance....they are expressions of the unbounded and unlimited openness that does not hinder the ever born, ever dying Buddha nature from being ever active, ever changing...without ever crystallising into a permanent form. Without ever becoming stale.

    Awakening never stops, we arrive right here through dropping all notions of goal, not by reaching goal posts which we think permanent and which are of our own making

    Shrinking the vastness of the cosmos or limiting the number of hairs in Buddha Vairocana's moustache, that really is a shame.


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  11. #11
    Hans, I just wanted to say this right on and beautiful and thanks. It's been with me since I read it.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  12. #12
    One thing is certain in life - winds will blow and we will topple from high poles. The crane will flap its wings and fly away and we find that we're more crane than withered pine. Water freezes but we are also the sun that brings about the thaw. Every thing changes and brings change - 'good or bad we might ponder' - but it's all relative and it all simply 'is'.

    If we do not actualize our realisation that a positive may come from a negative - (and negatives can come from perceived positives) our lives, and our practice, is static.

    But it's important not to be contrived - don't try and force a positive from a negative - it won't feel authentic. If we try to force positives from dark situations we lose empathy and our humanity.

    This is where trust and faith come in - there is an ebb and flow to life - maybe many kalpas before the winds of karma bring a positive from a negative - perhaps we won't even live to see it - but we need to trust it may happen.

    Just live life freely and openly and try not to freeze in any one position.

    Thank you for your teaching Hans,

    Gassho

    Willow

  13. #13
    Always wanting bad things to change and good things to stay the same.

    What a shame.


    I am caught in rough seas and the moment and constantly willing them to change rather than just watching the waves.
    Time to chew on the rice.


    Thank you, Hans.

    Gassho
    Andy

  14. #14
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Do you remember a time in your life where everything screamed pain and suffering, yet now when you look back you can see that without this episode, some current insight and/or happiness would not have arisen?

    Can you recall an instance where your own pride and self-satisfied view of a situation kept you from seeing what was really going on, and kept you from acting in an appropriate way?
    It's a cliche' but I always learn the most from situations that I perceive as negative or difficult. If I can just keep an open attitude and not become defensive.... Something I need to work on every day.

    Gassho
    As a priest in training, please take everything I say with a pinch of salt

    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  15. #15
    After reading this case the main point for me is that being stuck is a real shame. This practice is kind of a process of becoming unstuck.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    speaking of flies in the soup-

    I guess I don't get this one at all-

    gomen nasai
    Last edited by Oheso; 03-30-2013 at 03:19 AM. Reason: pessimism
    only saps buy vowels

  17. #17
    Thank you Hans and everyone contributing,
    I think getting stuck is a shame, yes. But what is getting stuck ? I guess its assuming to know something. If i know it, i killed it - its not vibrant, living anymore, but a dead picture in my brain. It might be needed at times, to survive in our daily lives, e.g. to know that a knife will cut your finger badly if you not take care. But it would be a shame not to be open for the change that life is.
    Gassho
    Myoku

  18. #18
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Getting stuck, being unstuck, enjoying the ride, not enjoying the ride, staying, going, standing still, do not remain there!!!!! A great lesson from Shishin Wick and Chudo Mongen! Gassho.
    Heisoku
    平 息

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    Do you remember a time in your life where everything screamed pain and suffering, yet now when you look back you can see that without this episode, some current insight and/or happiness would not have arisen?
    Yes, absolutely. Since this is a public area, I don't want to go into details - all I can say is that at that time I could never imagine that something like that could have a positive side.
    However, much later on I realized that without this difficult time I'd probably not be the same person I am now. Everything plays its part to shape us.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    Can you recall an instance where your own pride and self-satisfied view of a situation kept you from seeing what was really going on, and kept you from acting in an appropriate way?
    Yes, of course - I am more prudent now though than in the past (but still stumble now and then).

    Thanks for presenting this case, Hans!

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  20. #20
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    My whole life has been a series of episodes of pain and suffering and self-satisfied views, all of which have lead to my current insight that I am right where all that stuff was supposed to take me. It would be a shame to get stuck here, though, so I move on to new expressions of pain, suffering, and self-satisfied views.

    Zen allows you no place to stand (only sit ). As soon as I think I have something figured out, I can count on Jundo or Taigu to point out otherwise. I remember some time ago I was feeling really deep into the zen-zone, and I was posting some very wonderful zen comments here on the forum, and Jundo poked every single damn one of them. I emailed him and asked what's up with all this poking of my great zen? I don't remember his reply, but it may as well have been, "It's a shame."

    Zen is like a spiritual version of continuous quality improvement (CQI). This business concept of CQI has infiltrated where I work, academia, and it is very frustrating. The concept of you can always get better, learn more, have more or another or further or deeper insight is fine. But the practice is hard. Becoming satisfied really is a shame. Keep moving or die.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

  21. #21
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Zen is like a spiritual version of continuous quality improvement (CQI). This business concept of CQI has infiltrated where I work, academia, and it is very frustrating. The concept of you can always get better, learn more, have more or another or further or deeper insight is fine. But the practice is hard. Becoming satisfied really is a shame. Keep moving or die.
    Hi Al I understand this idea of CQI all too well...BUT...there is a new movement called marginal gains whereby we improve different aspects of our practice by 1% so that the accumulated impact is greater. I think this too can be applied to Buddhist practice.
    See more at http://marginallearninggains.com/
    Gassho.
    Heisoku
    平 息

  22. #22
    Am I a better person than 10 years ago? Maybe. End gaining is risky business. Dogens sitting with joy and ease is really all you need. Have tasted a little of that but am still a beginner.

  23. #23
    Hello Rich,

    sitting with joy and ease indeed. Pain, whether emotional or physical sucks. Joy, whether the self-satisfied kind or the orgasmic variety is very nice, no doubt there. But sitting and truly acting within that borderless field that emanates and contains all of such "movements", now there is something that ain't stale.

    Gosh, I remember a day almost ten years ago when my grandmother fell really ill right before Christmas and my girlfriend at that time had dumped me the same day in a very unkind and tactless way. What a horrible time I had....yet the self-pitying panorama itself back then was all down to my own doing. And that was a shame, since reaity was as vibrant and spontaneous as ever Doubting that splendid activity was a real shame.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  24. #24
    Hans, thanks for perspective and sharing. Read something this morning about having an an attitude of play in all activity including work. Shit does happen but we don't have to sit in it or dwell in it.

  25. #25
    well I just returned from vacation; what a shame!

    QUESTION:

    Do you remember a time in your life where everything screamed pain and suffering, yet now when you look back you can see that without this episode, some current insight and/or happiness would not have arisen?
    Yes, when I was about 21 my girlfriend broke up with me. At that time it seemed horrible. It was the longest relationship I had at that point, at about just under 3 years. It was very very hard; I cried a lot, I missed a lot of work. I was completely heartbroken. But, in some ways I'm more of myself now because of that. I was so self-centered and egotistical. A lot of who I thought I was was wrapped up in superficiality, how I looked, how tough I seemed. I was a real a-hole. That experience taught me how to smile through the hard times. It taught me how to laugh at myself and not take myself or life so seriously. It taught me not to worry about stuff that didn't happen yet (even though I still struggle with it). I stopped caring so much about my physical appearance, and my life seemed to lighten a bit. I think that was when I turned from a young man to a man. At this age I was just getting into the working world from college, and that was a difficult transition for me as well. Ah, the drama of the early 20's

    That time in my life is also when I really started looking into life more deeply. I think that is when the initial inklings of taking up a spiritual path began for me. So in the end, it was a very rich experience.

    Can you recall an instance where your own pride and self-satisfied view of a situation kept you from seeing what was really going on, and kept you from acting in an appropriate way?
    Oh yeah, just a couple of weeks ago at work, someone asked me something I didn't know, but I wanted to answer so I could feel important basically. Very dumb, but I did learn

    Gassho,

    Risho

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    QUESTION:

    Do you remember a time in your life where everything screamed pain and suffering, yet now when you look back you can see that without this episode, some current insight and/or happiness would not have arisen?
    My birth, although I don't remember the experience exactly, there are pictures to prove it happened. And I certainly was screaming. Very similar to any other terrible experience I've had. It happened, some time ago, and yet here I am. I am because of all those horrible things, and all those not horrible things. So I guess I'm grateful for them all, good and bad. "Maybe"

    Can you recall an instance where your own pride and self-satisfied view of a situation kept you from seeing what was really going on, and kept you from acting in an appropriate way?
    Funny, but for me it is usually the opposite. My own lack of self-confidence and meekness often distort my view, with the same result of inappropriate reaction. But yes this happens often and I must check this silly behavior repeatedly.

    Thank you, Hans.

    P.S. Sometimes the harshest winter is the loveliest winter!
    Gassho,
    Kaishin

  27. #27
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    I think we are conditioned to find those level areas of self-satisfaction.
    We are taught to achieve such places as good job, good wife/husband, nice kids, etc...
    And then we rest and smile, but we find that...
    The categories of attainment can go on forever, only to discover that ....
    Life is about attainment of whatever we are supposed to attain, culturally speaking, and on we go....

    It is a shame when we believe in the idea that we can stop
    Anywhere.
    It is Zen when we realize we are attaining the unattainable way.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post
    I think we are conditioned to find those level areas of self-satisfaction.
    We are taught to achieve such places as good job, good wife/husband, nice kids, etc...
    And then we rest and smile, but we find that...
    The categories of attainment can go on forever, only to discover that ....
    Life is about attainment of whatever we are supposed to attain, culturally speaking, and on we go....

    It is a shame when we believe in the idea that we can stop
    Anywhere.
    It is Zen when we realize we are attaining the unattainable way.
    Good points! Yeah, it's like we are hardwired for comfort. But I find that the more I gain, the more I'm afraid to lose.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  29. #29
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Hi Risho;
    At least you're still gaining. I've been losing all sorts of stuff but, it's all good

    gassho, Shokai
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    ... But I find that the more I gain, the more I'm afraid to lose
    Same here, and its mad. Its like often we want to gain even though we know its not comforting us. How often do I need to get a bloody nose ?
    _()_
    Myoku

  31. #31
    As I contemplate a new project many end gaining and attaining ideas keep appearing so I have to ask myself how can I do this so it helps myself and others. The subject matter and function of the project must be helpful to others. Once this is determined the actual doing is childs play. I don't know if. This project will find me or if I will find it or neither. But will give it a chance.

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai View Post
    Hi Risho;
    At least you're still gaining. I've been losing all sorts of stuff but, it's all good

    gassho, Shokai
    hahahaah oh I lose... I've totally lost my hair. ok... impromptu poem

    The universe isn't fair,
    I've lost my hair.
    I think I'll go sit,
    I'm not going nowhere.

    ok enough of my feeble attempts at poetry. lol

    Gassho,

    Risho

  33. #33
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Cyril, I love it !! my best new favourite poem, fo sho !!

    gassho,
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

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