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Thread: 7/18 - Seven Points of Practice Points 2 3 - p. 149

  1. #1

    7/18 - Seven Points of Practice Points 2 3 - p. 149

    Point 2. Zazen is our truest and most venerable teacher. Or even more drastically, as he puts it a few paragraphs below: the zazen each of us practices is the only true teacher.

    I guess this applies to pretty much anything: practice is the only way to learn. Still, it's good to have sincere Bodhisattvas out there willing to help us out, as they may help us identify the misundertandings of our practice.

    Point 3 is a neat, concrete guide for actual practice, and the part of it that we haven't discussed much is the realization of "Gaining is delusion, losing is enlightenment".

    In our ordinary human life, we are always trying to fulfill our desires.... In Buddhism, though, it's just the opposite: it is important for us to leave our desires alone, without trying to fulfill them. If we push this one step further ... we are talking about active participation in loss. For breaking the ego's grip, nothing is more effective than giving something up
    Now when I heard this kind of talk from during my Catholic upbringing i saw it as empty words. But Uchiyama was the real thing, as his unromanticized, crude stories about begging practice reveal (I posted an interesting link in this regard, titled something like the camel and the needle on the main blog).

    Now THIS is tough practice. He seems to suggest several levels: first, leaving desires alone, then giving something up. Then comes Dogen insisting over and over again in the Shobogenzo zuimonky to give pretty much everything up:

    "To study the Way, first of all, you learn poverty. After having learned poverty and become poor, you will be intimate with the Way"

    "A person of the buddha-dharma should not possess any treasure or property other than robes and a bowl. What is the need for a closet? You should not own things that have to be hidden from others. You try to hide things because you are afraid of thieves; if you abandon them you will be that much more at ease"

    "It is regrettable to spend our days and nights vainly thinking of our livelihood tomorrow without casting aside the world which should be cast aside, without practicing the way that should be practiced. Just make up your mind to learn the Way and die today. If you don't have the materials to keep you alive until tomorrow it doesn't matter if you die of cold or hunger. First of all, arouse such resolution. In doing so you will be able to practice the Way without fail"

    All this makes a lot of sense, and we know it to be true from the times in life in which we realize we are destitute anyways. Janis Joplin would sing : "freedom is just another word for nothing left to loose"

    And yet it is hard to let go. I'm guessing that for most of us all of this translates at best in less greed, less preocupation with promotions, better appreciation of what we have, etc. But not many of us (not me as of this moment) are that ready to die today. It is a good direction to aim.

    Another Zuimonki favorite:

    "I've never heard of anyone who was rich in material wealth who also carried out the buddha-dharma. All sincere practitioners of the buddha-dharma have worn patched rags and have always begged for food"

    OK, guys, who's buying lunch?

  2. #2

    Re: 7/18 - Seven Points of Practice Points 2 3 - p. 149

    Quote Originally Posted by Alberto
    Point 3 is a neat, concrete guide for actual practice, and the part of it that we haven't discussed much is the realization of "Gaining is delusion, losing is enlightenment".

    In our ordinary human life, we are always trying to fulfill our desires.... In Buddhism, though, it's just the opposite: it is important for us to leave our desires alone, without trying to fulfill them. If we push this one step further ... we are talking about active participation in loss. For breaking the ego's grip, nothing is more effective than giving something up
    Hi everybody.

    I feel that "losing" is missing the point. what is there to loose?
    You still have what you had before, and more so, even.
    It's more like peeling an egg, you still have the shell and the "egg" left. before you just had an egg, now you have an eggshell and an "egg".

    As for the egopart, he's right on.
    But you knew that, right?

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  3. #3

    Re: 7/18 - Seven Points of Practice Points 2 3 - p. 149

    Hi all,

    Zazen is our truest and most venerable teacher.
    After all, how else can we convert all this talk into actual experience? Zazen is the only way we can know what is true. And if we don't know it through experience, we really don't know it at all.

    Point 3. This seems as large as the universe to me. After all is stripped away and we discover that balance between our personal self and our universal self (losing is enlightenment); then we practice, following the precepts, knowing we will keep failing (vow and repentance). But instead of this being dismal (I keep thinking of the early Christian monks who mortified the flesh, trying to beat the sin out of themselves) we focus on others with compassion, care, and joy (the three minds). This seems a beautiful and whole practice. What more can one desire in a life?

    Gassho,

    Linda

  4. #4

    Re: 7/18 - Seven Points of Practice Points 2 3 - p. 149

    Hi everybody.

    To me this "losing" part almost seems like adams rib (you know, the dude in the garden of eden), in that case it could also be translated as spirit and something else i forgot...

    And i seem to remember a quote like "no loss, no gain". wonder where that came from... :?

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  5. #5

    Re: 7/18 - Seven Points of Practice Points 2 3 - p. 149

    Quote Originally Posted by Alberto

    And yet it is hard to let go. I'm guessing that for most of us all of this translates at best in less greed, less preocupation with promotions, better appreciation of what we have, etc. But not many of us (not me as of this moment) are that ready to die today. It is a good direction to aim.
    That's deja vu for me all over again, Alberto! When I was an evangelical Christian they used to have endless debates on this topic in bible study groups (with their shiny new Lexuses and BMW's sitting in the car park). And they used to get around the guilt associated with possessing all that wealth (reminds me of a book I once read called 'Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger') by saying 'it's not money that is the root of all evil but the love of money'. Or 'attachment', as they would say in Buddhism. But I do think my Zen practice is helping me see through the conditioning from the media and friends that tries to convince me that happiness and freedom is best obtained through one's wealth - and having plenty of it - 'It's better to be rich and miserable rather than poor and miserable' , as a friend (probably misquotes) a famous saying,

    Gassho,
    John

  6. #6

    Re: 7/18 - Seven Points of Practice Points 2 3 - p. 149

    When I read point 3 in this chapter, I was struck by the connection between the second bodhisattva vow ("cravings are inexhaustible, I vow to extinguish them all") and Uchiyama's description earlier in this chapter of buddhadharma (awakening from illusions; opening the hand of thought; the attitude of refraining from all fabrications). The second vow is sometimes phrased using the word delusions rather than cravings.

    Uchiyama explicitly links the third bodhisattva vow to the second one. How do we cut through cravings/delusions? How can we see them for what they are? Study the dharma teachings to clarify the reality of our self, Uchiyama states.

    Difficult situations in particular can trigger my attention to integrate the dharma teachings. When I recognize a challenging situation, I try to ask "what is my teacher teaching me?" Teachers come in many forms. I'm not sure that I do this as often with "desirable" situations, which is interesting -- It reminds me of a New Yorker cartoon that says something like "the road to enlightenment begins with disillusionment."

    -- Janice

  7. #7

    Re: 7/18 - Seven Points of Practice Points 2 3 - p. 149

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiyama Roshi
    To recognize true zazen, we have to look at our practice from an absolute perspective. If you are caught up in one of the limited kinds of zen of the six realms, you can no longer see the essential point of buddhadharma. And what is that? As I said before, Buddhism teaches impermanence and the quality of non-ego. Letting go and opening the hand of thought is the foundation of Zen based on the buddhadharma.
    I really liked his foregoing discussion of the "zen of six-realms". No fairy tales, but rather a description of the kinds of hell which are very real and which we all have to be careful not to fall into.

    Gassho
    Ken

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