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Thread: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 33

  1. #1

    BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 33



    Case 32 never ends, yet now comes ...

    Case 33: Sansho's Golden Carp

    Shishin Wick explains this as a Zen Teacher going up against a tough customer. There is a time to make a firm response, a time to bend and yield. Sometimes, like carp or salmon pushing upstream, there is a time to swim hard ... a time to drop resistance, letting the water do all the work. Bamboo meets a strong wind by yielding and bending. If it offered too much resistance, standing firm and unbending ... it might snap and break. At other times, like a wall or steel building, it is best to meet the wind by standing firm.

    Sanpo seems to be showing off about his realization of freedom, but Seppo says he is still like a fish caught in a net. When he offers another stinky Zen answer, Seppo says "I am too old and too busy for this silliness."

    The Gate of U (or Yu, the "Dragon's Gate") referred to in the Appreciatory Verse refers to this:

    According to Chinese mythology, the Dragonís Gate is located at the top of a waterfall cascading from a legendary mountain. Many carp swim upstream against the riverís strong current, but few are capable or brave enough for the final leap over the waterfall. If a carp successfully makes the jump, it is transformed into a powerful dragon. ... So too, the student of Zen in lifeís currents.
    Questions (Choose one or both):

    - Describe some difficulty in life you met head on by hard resistance. Describe a problem you solved by softness, or dropping resistance.

    - Describe times in your Zen Practice when it is best to push hard. Describe times in your Practice where it is best to be soft, flexible and drop resistance.


    Gassho, J

    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  2. #2
    Hi Jundo

    It is certainly true that the same approach is not appropriate in all circumstances and this is something I first encountered with my illness. As an ambitious 25 year old I was used to working through problems by tackling them head-on and being proactive. Having an illness which worsened through activity was the antithesis of that and I had to learn, slowly, that sometimes non-doing was better than doing. Also, that putting up resistance to what was happening to my body created more stress and worse symptoms. 18 years on this is still a lesson not fully learned!

    In practice, hard resistance is the best way I have found to get over not wanting to sit. Excuses need to be mentally battled away with a 'just do it' attitude, except in the case when I am genuinely too ill or tired to sit. As Roshi Joan Halifax is fond of saying: 'Just show up'.

    When pain arises in sitting, softness seems a much more skillful way to meet it than hard resistance. This is probably the case with most sensations and experience. A closed heart rarely solves anything.

    Gassho
    Kokuu

  3. #3
    Describe some difficulty in life you met head on by hard resistance. Describe a problem you solved by softness, or dropping resistance.

    When I think of hardness and softness it is about having an open or closed heart, soft and yielding or hard and unyielding. Maybe this isn't the same hardness referred to in the question, because the firmness of direct action, like being firm in a crisis, is not the same as a closed heart, which has a quality of grief and wanting to break things. When the heart is open, stories are forgotten, and there is a fresh encounter. There can be firmness or softness according to whatever presents. Whole new people and possibilities appear. I wish it was always open, never reactive and hard, never pushing away. But it seems to alternate between open and closed.

    Gassho
    Daizan
    大山

  4. #4
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    I hope no one minds me jumping in here as a newbie, and someone who's gradually working through the related posts on the Book of Equanimity. Call it synchronicity, but I ran into the following quote from Jundo that seemed, for me, at least, to speak directly to the notion of resistance and passivity:

    "And realizing that is instantly a solution to all your problems ... because they are not problems when you do not resist them as problems, and when all separation of 'me' from 'them' drops away."

    This puts it much better (and in far fewer words) than I could. It's from the post "How to attain enlightenment," under "Vital points of 'Shikantaza Zen.'" Jundo, I hope I'm not misappropriating the central point you were making and applying it incorrectly.

    For me, resistance has only led to greater conflict -- especially in my marriage, which I'll use as an example. Resistance is often met with resistance, and so arguments spiral out of control, conflict is piled upon conflict, and hurt on hurt. However, when the duality of "me" and "I" and "her" and "I" is erased, so too is the resistance. The very act of resistance, to me, is an attachment that arises out of the ego. What Sanpo fails to realize, I think, is that there is no fish and there is no net. When the carp swims against the current, there is no resistance. For the carp, it is simply following its nature, its carp-ness. Whether it achieves the Dragon's Gate is irrelevant. We impose on the current our belief of good and bad flow, not the carp.

    I also don't see Seppo's final comment as dismissive, nor yielding in order to retreat from the conversation. "For this old monk, as head of temple, affairs do multiply." It's a simple acknowledgement that the longer we walk the Zen path, the greater the number of traps we can fall into -- or nets we can create. It's also an admonishment to Sanpo not to unduly create problems where none exist. Which is nowhere, when the imaginary conceit of a separate "me" and "them" falls away.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by cgcumber View Post
    I hope no one minds me jumping in here as a newbie, and someone who's gradually working through the related posts on the Book of Equanimity. Call it synchronicity, but I ran into the following quote from Jundo that seemed, for me, at least, to speak directly to the notion of resistance and passivity:

    "And realizing that is instantly a solution to all your problems ... because they are not problems when you do not resist them as problems, and when all separation of 'me' from 'them' drops away."
    Yes, yes. The guy who said that is very very Wise.

    And yet, and yet ... our cat was hit by a car this week, and we cried as I buried him. The barn needs fixing, and we are opposing at City Hall a new shopping center development in our town that will cut down trees. I got the norovirus, and almost called an ambulance. War continues in some distant land, and people are suffering. My friend is very sick and I am concerned. Problems remain, and sometimes they are quite vexing, scary, tragic and unpleasant.

    And yet, and yet ... vexing and not vexing at once, problems and "no problems" at once ... "me" and "them" and no "me or them" at once.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-29-2014 at 02:28 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  6. #6
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    Not one, not two?

    Gassho!

    Edited to add that, wow, I'm really sorry about the loss of your cat. Ugh, awful, especially for young children. And I really wish you a swift recovery from the norovirus and for the recovery of your friend. I hope I didn't imply a lack of sympathy or compassion for life's problems with my post. It's hard to be of the moment when you're stomach's cramping and the only sitting you get to do is on the porcelain throne.
    Last edited by cgcumber; 01-29-2014 at 02:32 PM.

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Hard or soft, that is just life. When to yell and when to quietly listen? Daizan's open or closed heart is the thing. Parenting, being "the boss".... "How can I help?"

    Gassho,


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

    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  8. #8
    It's been an interesting past week or so. Work has been nuts, allergies firing up. I've been waiting to post until I had something profound to say. hahhhahah Just the mind theatre. I don't have anything profound. Just sometimes, when things are completely going against my expectations, I need to just let it be. If things become harmful, then I need to push forward.

    For instance with sitting or working out, sometimes I don't' want to do it because I'm lazy. In those cases, time to push forward and not let myself sabotage myself, which I'm really good at. If I'm ill, then maybe it's time to take a rest from working out.

    Gassho,

    Risho

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