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Thread: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

  1. #1

    7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Wouldn't the "direction of the universal" be every way, an no way at all?

    Gassho, Jundo

  2. #2

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Uchiyama says in this chapter
    The nurturing mind is natural functioning of the magnanimous mind, with which we work to enable the flower of life to bloom in every encounter.
    Yet enabling the flower to bloom is not a goal.

    This seems to suggest that you are living every moment of your life with care and attention without trying to make it something that it is not. Instructions for the Tenzo is very much about care and attention to every detail whether you are cooking a feast or putting together a meal with meager resources.

    I find that living with care and attention a beautiful notion but very difficult to do. I was out in the garden this morning weeding and there were a lot of earthworms. I found it difficult to slow down my weeding (so many weeds and so little time) to carefully put the worms out of harms way. If I don't have a nurturing mind in the small actions, how will I have it in the big ones. Now I know why Dogen gave the job of Tenzo only to advanced practitioners.

    Gassho,

    Linda

  3. #3

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiyama
    As long as we base our lives on distinguishing between the better way and the worse way, we can never find absolute peace such that whatever happens is all right.
    He keeps saying this, and I've read it in lots of other places:



    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=W4gZ ... t#PPA68,M1

    But as Linda says, it sure is difficult to put into practice. I don't think I've got very far with experiencing this kind of peaceful reality in my life. I guess all I can do is keep practising....

    Gassho,
    John

  4. #4

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Hey John

    I have the questionable habit of marking my books, and I marked the same stuff you just quoted as the most relevant part of this chapter. Now I must say that if indeed you want the "absolute peace" he mentions, well it will be kind of impossible in the place where we are. But that is the direction we aim for. The way I practice this particular aspect of dropping good/bad, best way / worse way, is just trying to observe when I make those distinctions. If I am making them for my personal benefit, I try to abandon those distinctions as much as possible, adn while I acquire no "absolute peace" my life certainly becomes less of a struggle. If the distinctions are made for the benefit of others I do not hesitate to keep them; in other words, I don't want any peace of mind that requires being careless toward others. Anyways, I guess my point is that we apply these teachings the best we can instead of lamenting how far we are from an ideal state.

    The other part I love in this chapter is one that also condenses much of what he says over and over. Before this, I thought it was impossible to do zazen with no gaining mind. But assimilating this teaching helped me do it:

    A delineated goal does not exist for universal life.
    ...If in our practice we try to achieve some goal by means of zazen, even the goal of satori, then we have become completely separated from zazen and practice, Precisely because we live the life of the universal self, we just practice and manifest that life force... (Our attitude) should be an attitude of purely manifesting life.
    There. Now that's pretty religious stuff, but it happens to be the only religious stuff that has ever resonated with me. Zazen is just manifesting life. That is why you don't need lofty kenshos, pleasant waves of samadhi-feeling nor any of that: zazen is just manifesting life, and the little knee hurt and the bird outside and the thought that I watch passing like a sailboat without getting on board are all the enlightenment I can ever get. Dogen's "resolving the great matter of life and death" resides right there, in manifesting life as it is in this very moment. This moment has no room for fantasy and nonsense.

    The part I just quoted is dear to me: it turned me from a "zennist" into a real student of the Buddha.

    Gassho

  5. #5

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Good points Alberto. So I guess we should give up having ideals and goals, on a personal level anyway. Just manifest our lives the way they are. Just live our lives out fully and wholeheartedly,

    Gassho,
    John

  6. #6

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Linda, thanks for starting this discussion by elaborating on the metaphor of nurturing that Uchiyama employs in this section. I made a note in the book of what you said: live every moment with care and attention without trying to make it something it is not.

    "Making it something it is not" - that seems to offer some insight into Uchiyama's characterization of how we tend to analyze the now (p. 133):
    We place ourselves within the illusive flow of time from past to future and become bound by our relationships with others, bound by the force of habit of the past, and bound by our goals for the future. Being totally tied up, we are dragged around by the expectations ..."
    Expectations grow out of our past experiences and seem woven into our roles and responsibilities at work. It's difficult to function without expectation of others or of ourselves. It's such a habit, that I don't even notice it most of the time. But maybe when I catch myself making an assumption about what someone should have done, I could ask is this freeing?

    There's a chapter in Dean Sluyter's book The Zen Commandments: Ten Suggestions for a life of Inner Freedom called "No Appointment, No Disappointment." His words seem to echo Uchiyama's message that I quoted above
    If you don't build your wold on expectations, it doesn't collapse when things turn out different. This is not resignation but liberation. It's disillusionment in the best sense: cutting free from the illusions that have bound us. And since all our expectations are based on what has gone before, it's opening up to amazing possibilities, to that which we don't know how to expect."
    Later he says
    And to the degree that we're open to the richness of the moment, whether it meets our expectations or not, sometimes the flat tire turns out to be the most interesting part of the evening. All this applies as well to the criteria we expect others to fulfill. Your criteria are part of you. Everyone else is someone else. The two will never correspond. Encountering that simple fact again and again is what makes having other people in your life an adventure, a challenge, and an exhilarating opportunity to see your expectations shattered and scattered.
    There's much more from Sluyter's chapter and book that's worth sharing, but I'll just share just one thing more about expectations that he points out (and makes clear in his book Cinema Nirvana with illustrations from movies like "A Night at the Opera"): notice the connection between you laughter and when your expectations are shattered.

    Near the end chapter 7 (p. 136), Uchiyama writes of "becoming a bodhisattva, where we see every encounter as our child." There's the aspect of our parental nurturing in every encounter. But I wonder if he also means that we can see every encounter as a child would -- with openness, without expectation.

    Janice

  7. #7

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Quote Originally Posted by John
    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiyama
    As long as we base our lives on distinguishing between the better way and the worse way, we can never find absolute peace such that whatever happens is all right.
    He keeps saying this, and I've read it in lots of other places:



    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=W4gZ ... t#PPA68,M1

    But as Linda says, it sure is difficult to put into practice. I don't think I've got very far with experiencing this kind of peaceful reality in my life. I guess all I can do is keep practising....

    Gassho,
    John
    Hi.
    The question remains, WHAT IS the "better way and the worse way"?

    May the force be with You
    Tb

  8. #8

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Quote Originally Posted by John
    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiyama
    As long as we base our lives on distinguishing between the better way and the worse way, we can never find absolute peace such that whatever happens is all right.
    He keeps saying this, and I've read it in lots of other places:



    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=W4gZ ... t#PPA68,M1

    But as Linda says, it sure is difficult to put into practice. I don't think I've got very far with experiencing this kind of peaceful reality in my life. I guess all I can do is keep practising....

    Gassho,
    John
    Hi.
    He also says (on p.132)
    The important point here in terms of the truth of the universal self is not to run away from the worse way and run toward some better way by discriminating between better or worse in our heads. Rather, what is crucial is magnamious mind, with which we take the attitude of living straight through whatever reality of life we are presently faced with.

    A rather important point.

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  9. #9

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Quote Originally Posted by Filur
    Hi.
    He also says (on p.132)
    The important point here in terms of the truth of the universal self is not to run away from the worse way and run toward some better way by discriminating between better or worse in our heads. Rather, what is crucial is magnamious mind, with which we take the attitude of living straight through whatever reality of life we are presently faced with.

    A rather important point.
    Yeah, but the problem of being too passive occurs to me then. I mean, we can't just take everything that life or other people dish out to us without trying to change things for the better, can we ? And an undiscriminating mind seems to me to be just a pretty blank mind. How could we have any conversation with anyone if we can't say that we like this don't like that, or how can we have any opinion about anything ? We can't even say "it's a nice day isn't it" without making a discriminating judgement about the weather

    Gassho,
    John

  10. #10

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Quote Originally Posted by John
    Quote Originally Posted by Filur
    Hi.
    He also says (on p.132)
    The important point here in terms of the truth of the universal self is not to run away from the worse way and run toward some better way by discriminating between better or worse in our heads. Rather, what is crucial is magnamious mind, with which we take the attitude of living straight through whatever reality of life we are presently faced with.

    A rather important point.
    Yeah, but the problem of being too passive occurs to me then. I mean, we can't just take everything that life or other people dish out to us without trying to change things for the better, can we ? And an undiscriminating mind seems to me to be just a pretty blank mind. How could we have any conversation with anyone if we can't say that we like this don't like that, or how can we have any opinion about anything ? We can't even say "it's a nice day isn't it" without making a discriminating judgement about the weather

    Gassho,
    John
    Yes. we must learn to have an "impassive passiveness".
    to live out whatever life dishes out for us in this moment at ths moment, intensely.

    As for the weather, what is "bad weather"?

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  11. #11

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Quote Originally Posted by Filur
    As for the weather, what is "bad weather"?
    Hurricanes, droughts?

    Yes, sure, from an enlightened point of view these are just weather doing it's normal thing, but for ordinary conversational communication, especially with my non Buddhist friends, I find it better to use conventional modes of speaking, even if I don't think that way any longer. I noticed a long time before I started Buddhist practice that people often prefer to preserve their illusions and that it isn't always wise to point out the reality of situations to them. They might not be ready to deal with that,

    Gassho,
    John

  12. #12

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Quote Originally Posted by John
    I noticed a long time before I started Buddhist practice that people often prefer to preserve their illusions and that it isn't always wise to point out the reality of situations to them. They might not be ready to deal with that,

    Gassho,
    John
    Hi everybody.
    Quite so.
    But the question is not ready or not willing?

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  13. #13

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    .

  14. #14

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC
    Regarding the issue of non-discrimination in every day life, I found this interesting. From the final section of the chapter "The True Form of the Self" in "How to Cook Your Life" by our man Uchiyama Roshi:

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiyama


    The problem that arises here obviously concerns the meaning of not discriminating. In our day-to-day lives, it is impossible to live without discriminating between good and evil, likes and dislikes. To say that giving is important does not mean we go around giving our house key to a burglar, or a rifle to someone who is crazy. If a woman is willing to make love to anyone, regardless of who the man might be, she is nothing but a whore. We cannot act without selecting or discriminating.
    Yes, thanks Charles, that's the point I was trying to make

    Gassho,
    John

  15. #15

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiyama Roshi
    The reality of life that zazen wakes us up to is actually a life attitude of working and living out a self that is only self, a now that is only now.
    There are times when I get so caught up in my thoughts during zazen that when I finally 'wake up' I'm almost startled to find that I am actually [supposed to be] doing zazen. Of course, that isn't 'good' zazen, however it's an experience which clearly illustrates just how powerful our illusions can be. All there is is the self, here and now, and yet due to our entanglements we fail to see it.

    Gassho
    Ken

  16. #16

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Quote Originally Posted by John

    ... the problem of being too passive occurs to me then. I mean, we can't just take everything that life or other people dish out to us without trying to change things for the better, can we ? And an undiscriminating mind seems to me to be just a pretty blank mind. How could we have any conversation with anyone if we can't say that we like this don't like that, or how can we have any opinion about anything ? We can't even say "it's a nice day isn't it" without making a discriminating judgement about the weather
    ...
    Hurricanes, droughts?

    Yes, sure, from an enlightened point of view these are just weather doing it's normal thing, but for ordinary conversational communication, especially with my non Buddhist friends, I find it better to use conventional modes of speaking, even if I don't think that way any longer.
    Hi John,

    I have told you this before: Stop viewing these matters as an either/or choice.

    Dropping all preferences and judgments through and through, and (from another perspective) having some preferences and judgments ... we can be both these ways at once, hand in hand without the slightest conflict. Some preferences and judgments we may drop for all time as a result of our practice (for example, the need to hang our self worth on fame or material success), while other preferences and judgments we can maintain as necessary for life ... EVEN AS we drop, through and through, each and all preferences and judgments from other angles!

    Right and wrong forgotten ... and thus we put our finger in the wind and choose what we think is right.

    So, as the hurricane heads for our house, we board up the windows, secure the roof times, stock up on food and water. We drop some thoughts forever (such as imaginary "what ifs" and baseless fears about how the future may or may not turn out). And, as it all blows away, we smile in equanimity, even joy ... all while perhaps shedding a tear.

    Please learn that we can do all this at once, Master Dogen's way of leaping over the universe without moving an inch.

    Gassho, Jundo

  17. #17

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Only here can you have your cake and eat it too. The trick however ain't in the cake, but in the you.

  18. #18

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    ..while other preferences and judgments we can maintain as necessary for life ... EVEN AS we drop, through and through, each and all preferences and judgments from other angles!
    Thanks Jundo. I'm trying.... I understand the theory, I think, but I also notice the necessity for using conventional modes of expression in ordinary conversation with non-Buddhist friends.

    Gassho,
    John

  19. #19

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    This chapter particularly resonated with me, probably because I felt Uchiyama was addressing my questions as soon as they came up and it reminded of a dialogue. I really appreciated everyone's comments - there's a lot to catch up on in terms of reading everyone's profound insights.

    Janice, thanks for sharing those bits from Zen Commandments (it doesn't seem to be an easy book to find). The quite from the book made total sense to me but we do form expectations and have all those formal and informal structures to support us in everyday lives, to make it easier for us to navigate in our everyday lives. I was wondering how I could liberate myself from expectations I form about myself and others and the way things should be and then realised I knew the answer already: just living out my self, living in the moment would be enough! As Uchiyama writes:

    ...living straight through whatever reality of life we are presently faced with... (p. 132)
    Sometimes I tend to reduce this idea to more "important" issues, something in line with what Uchiyama calls "heaven" or "hell" (p. 132), like making a decision. Say, the next day I regret the decision and then somehow feel this is not it, the place to be: not only do I have an aversion to my decision but also towards regretting the decision. Now I learn to settle in moments like these too, relax with regretting the decision and accepting this moment. The decision itself is made, that is in the past and what I have now is the regret so I can just be there and regret and be - wholeheartedly - my regretting self. This is truly liberating because I don't have to be tense and make an effort to - as Linda so beautifully put it - "making the moment something that it is not". I see now that a lot of my tension comes from trying to live a different self, not the one that I am in the moment which often results in a sensation of dissatisfaction and a feeling that I am not being true to my self and therefore not entirely honest.

    As to "discriminating between better and worse using our heads" (p. 132), isn't doing zazen not discriminating the choice of not doing zazen? :shock:


    Gassho,

    Irina

  20. #20

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Quoting myself:
    As to "discriminating between better and worse using our heads" (p. 132), isn't doing zazen not discriminating the choice of not doing zazen? :shock:
    And then I read John's post and Jundo's reply to it. ops:

    Thank you John for writing about this. I still can think this way, friends or no friends, hurricanes or my just a rain drop.

    Thank you Jundo:

    I have told you this before: Stop viewing these matters as an either/or choice.
    Gassho,

    Irina

  21. #21

    Re: 7/4 - The Direction of the Universal p. 131

    Thanks Jundo....

    What you've said is right.....

    ....Dropping all preferences and judgments through and through, and (from another perspective) having some preferences and judgments ... we can be both these ways at once, hand in hand without the slightest conflict....
    ....Right and wrong forgotten ... and thus we put our finger in the wind and choose what we think is right......
    What we learn is not to cling to anything. not to cling into right or wrong ways.
    Then, we can use any ways freely...

    In my opinion, let our mind function freely, without clinging to anything.
    Including not to cling to my own opinion.....

    ........................................... :| [silent]

    WAKE UP SHUI DI.....!!!!

    Gassho, Shui Di :wink:

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