I have passed on the Way
of the Western Ancestor
to the East
Catching the moon,
ploughing the clouds,
yearning for the Ancient.
Tonight no worldly dust
whirls with the snow
to my mountain hut of straw
Ploughing clouds, one of the pet sentences to calligraphy of Sogaku Taizen.
One of my favorites too.
What does it mean? Clouds represent thoughts, natural mind activity. Whatever you do, thoughts arise, good, bad, nice, not so nice, nasty, holy, sexy, boring, lots of thoughts. Thoughts is what comes up. Bubbles up. Beginning of a retreat, many. End of a retreat, less. Nothing wrong here. It shows you are alive. Mushin, no mind, does not mean no thoughts. It means no attachment to thoughts. Monkey mind, Gorilla mind, you should not mind. If you look at the poem above in which moon, means Dharma essence, original clarity, awaken activity and clouds stand for confusion, illusions, delusions, desires and the likes...one cannot be without the other. The ploughing will upset and stir lots of stuff and that stuff shows you intimately what the Dharma is about. Without thoughts, no Dharma.
First common misunderstanding : nothing wrong with monkey mind.
You want to be in control? You want to calm down the beast? Get less involved in mental rubbish? Well, welcome to the followers of the first yana as Chogyam Trungpa puts it: you may now get yourself as a wonder Arhat, a spiritual champion, an athlete of the mind, a solitary impeccable and detached sitter. An emaciated ascetic drunk with visions and promises. Totally stunned with the ideas of good versus bad. Well done, a few drinks, the company of a nice looking sexy boy or a great lady in your arms, and your twenty years of sitting in the forest are in the gutter, down the drain. Welcome to the party!!!
Needless to say that as soon as you realize the second yana, Mahayana, the field of confusion, the screaming hords of Mara are instantly embraced by the power of compassion. At the third yana, Tantrayana, they are turned into clarity right on the spot.
Second problem here , you might be stuck in the first step, first yana, seeking for calm and equanimity, using Dharma as a good medecine. And yet Dharma is here to really make a big mess, put the fire to your house of beliefs, totally put things upside down.
So ploughing clouds...digging the dirt as peter Gabriel would say. And realizing that this is really The Dharma field, and dirt is another form of light.
The gorilla i am is going to share a very personal story with you. i was young, young in the dharma, maybe two or three years old ( years after Tokudo). I was sitting in the evening with a local Sangha and the whole show never looked more messy, thoughts, whirling pictures and movies, physical pain, willing to get out of this, out of this mess asap, asap...and just, cutting through all, clarity. Nothing disappeared, the pain, the emotions, the thoughts and all of show was there, and yet everything was OK. In the center of the wheel, resting place in the midst of confusion, not separated from it as many belief systems sell you ( get out and you ll find Heaven), RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF CONFUSION MONKEY BUSINESS was the real place.
So when we have people loosing their time measuring the monkey mind levels...
PS: check this old gorilla prose and words, if you have the time: http://shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=16874