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Thread: Verse from the Diamond Sutra

  1. #1
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Verse from the Diamond Sutra

    Although sudden and gradual are different,
    Upon completion they are the same.
    Why make divisions of North and South?
    Sagely and common are parts of the one;
    The basic nature is absolutely the same.
    Do not discuss east and west.


    This was a poem that Dhyana Master Hsuan Hua included in the Diamond Sutra. I found it very interesting so I thought I'd share it with you. What is your take on it? I won't state my right off the bat because Hua already pounded into my brain what he was trying to communicate. I actually just finished reading the Diamond Sutra this morning. I immediately went on to type it all out, minus the commentary so that I could absorb it as it is, though the commentary was very helpful. I posted this poem in a Zen group on Facebook and one of the members said, "It would probably be a bad idea to drive with Hua on the New Jersey Turnpike."

    Gassho,
    John

  2. #2
    Hi John,

    It is very much resonating of the first lines of the Sandokai, the "Identity of Relative and Absolute" ...

    The mind of the Great Sage of India [Buddha]

    Is intimately conveyed west and east.

    While human faculties are both wise or dull

    In the Way there are no northern or southern ancestors.


    Historically, there was supposedly a debate in Zen between the "northern" school which said the enlightenment was "gradual", and the "southern" school which said it was sudden. While the "sudden" school is said to have won (all modern Zen folks are descended from them), in reality all Zen folks know that this path is in some ways gradual, some ways sudden, and simultaneously beyond all that, beyond all progress and time.

    It is a bit like saying that we are each "Buddha all along, right from the start, nothing in need of attaining" ... but the guy who has been practicing 30 years might have a better understanding of that than the guy practicing 30 minutes or 30 days. Soto, Rinzai ... no matter ... each sudden-gradual, gradual-sudden and all timeless.

    The Buddha Way is truly beyond all thought of this and that, top/bottom, better/worse, saint/sinner, east/west/north/south ... all while we live in a world of top and bottom, good and bad, saints and sinners and places to go in all directions. Seeing both views as one is piercing the "Identity of Relative and Absolute" and the point of the Diamond Sutra too.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-19-2013 at 02:54 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  3. #3
    Hey John,

    Cool question!

    So? Should someone be proud of heaving hands or feet or a head?

    What I read in this verse is a warning and a call for peace and understanding. Warning against something that addresses an issue much like our own Zen & Catholic thread but then inside the Buddhist community itself. Theravada, Mahayana. Soto, Rinzai. Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan or Indian. Don't put the all together in one room or there will be trouble!

    The lesson I get from this poem is this: Right view, right intention, right speech right action right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

    He is saying: Don’t try to divide what is one whole and can’t be divided. When the top of the mountain is truly reached, it does not matter how you got there anymore. Respectful discussion to understand each other more and to keep learning is just fine. Hot headed quarreling however is always a bad sign.

    The nature of both traditions is the same and its goal, liberation, too. Why quarrel about how and when? Don't lose yourself and precious practice time with fighting and breaking precepts while doing it. Work together. Choose your path and stick to it. One path is hard enough. It's all too much about outward appearances by people who don't get it. Don't listen to them, he says. Don't jump around searching for the next best thing or do damage fighting over things that make no difference in the end. You will find you have been doing the opposite of what is the Way and lose it. Or maybe feel very ashamed later on about things said and done. Be very careful and stay true to the one path.

    Well that’s what I read in this and other places in the Heart Sutra anyway. The depth of these scriptures keeps amazing me!
    Can't wait to see what our teachers say!

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  4. #4
    Hi John,
    I don't know if this article was posted elsewhere on Treeleaf. Here's a bit of a historical background on "North vs South" debate.
    Gassho,
    Andy

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Enkyo View Post
    Hey John,

    Cool question!

    So? Should someone be proud of heaving hands or feet or a head?

    What I read in this verse is a warning and a call for peace and understanding. Warning against something that addresses an issue much like our own Zen & Catholic thread but then inside the Buddhist community itself. Theravada, Mahayana. Soto, Rinzai. Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan or Indian. Don't put the all together in one room or there will be trouble!

    Yes, all precisely the same, though often very different. Each sometimes different, yet just the same. Sometimes they mix well, sometimes like oil and water. All beautiful in their way, all ultimately perfectly blended.


    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    The Buddha Way is truly beyond all thought of this and that, top/bottom, better/worse, saint/sinner, east/west/north/south ... all while we live in a world of top and bottom, good and bad, saints and sinners and places to go in all directions. Seeing both views as one is piercing the "Identity of Relative and Absolute" and the point of the Diamond Sutra too.
    The Diamond Sutra definitely does drive that point home. By the time I got to the end if it I felt like my mind had been extracted, wrung out and then put back in. After reading the Sutra, writing it, and after practicing Zazen the thought occurred to me that all words are empty and illusory. That lead to another thought, that this cold and rigid rationality, logic, and intellectualism I had clung onto for yeeears is also empty, also an illusion. Not saying that I'm going to pretend that I don't understand things like the Law of Gravity for instance. I won't deny that these illusions have a place in this illusory world, but that I cannot be attached to them. When has being a cynical, rational and faithless man ever helped me realize happiness? These thoughts after reading this Sutra, the poem by Hua and just sitting with the flavor it gave me, made me feel like I had died, and was then reborn, all the while knowing that birth/death are also an illusion.

    You definitely got the essence of everything he was expressing in that poem Jundo and Enkyo, you could have written the commentary in the Sutra yourselves. I understood Hua's explanations behind it, but I prefer not to think of the conflict between the two different schools of Zen. Mostly, because I don't care about that at all. I took it more as a general statement. Whether gradual or sudden we all arrive (without departing). Not even in regards to only Enlightenment, but to many things. The North and South reference I like to think of as an example of how perception is relative. What is north when you're north of there? North is south, east is west. Each thing is all things and all things are each thing, and there are no things anyway, and not no things. Just words, just symbols. Through living Zazen, I've seen that suchness is experienced, not deduced.

    He is saying: Don’t try to divide what is one whole and can’t be divided. When the top of the mountain is truly reached, it does not matter how you got there anymore. Respectful discussion to understand each other more and to keep learning is just fine. Hot headed quarreling however is always a bad sign.
    Beautifully said Enkyo! And Jundo, I'm gonna check out that podcast right after posting this.

    Gassho,
    John

  7. #7
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Just a side note:

    I used to sit with a mixed group in Belfast: Catholics and Protestants following the way together. And you know the history of Northern Ireland ... I'm from the south.

    This line always had an extra special meaning in the context, as we sat and chanted:

    "In the Way there are no northern or southern ancestors".

    We were sitting the Sandokai.

    Gassho
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  8. #8
    That is lovely to hear, Myozan. Although not Irish myself, I grew up hearing about the troubles.

    Although not divided by north and south an Israeli friend of mine sits in a mixed Israeli/Palestinian Zen sangha in Jerusalem.


    Gassho
    Andy

  9. #9
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    That is wonderful to hear, Andy. It speaks volumes about our Way.
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  10. #10
    Dear John and friends,
    Somehow I feel a small correction is in order about my contribution in this thread. I say this in the nicest possible way with a warm smile and in gassho:

    Please, don’t mention me in the same breath or sentence as our teacher Jundo ( or Taigu) again, when it comes to teachings. I’m a blind dog that finds a bone by chance, once in a while. This is not false humility. Please don’t.

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  11. #11
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Enkyo,

    Duly noted my friend

    Gassho,
    John

  12. #12

  13. #13
    Actually, the northern and southern ancestors came up today when someone mentioned Yasutani Roshi ...

    There are no "northern and southern ancestors", yet different paths north and south. Some prefer the high road to "no where to go", some prefer the low road to "no where to go".

    Same but sometimes very different. Often quite different, yet always precisely the same. This is the Koan of the relative and absolute, nirvana as just samsara.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post101358

    It is interesting that sometimes folks in Yasutani Roshi's lineage say that they are "sudden" (because they have sudden piercings of Emptiness in Kensho) and Shikantaza is "gradual". On the other hand, many Shikantaza folks insist that we are "sudden" (because we suddenly realize Buddha in each instant by instant), and they are "gradual" (because they slowly climb up a curriculum of Koans). Master Hsuan Hua sometimes says that only his way is the right way.

    But the Truth is that there is "no where to go" and constant instantaneous realization of such fact, so not so important the direction to get there. It is a finish line holding both the rabbit or the hare.


    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

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