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Thread: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - III (The One)

  1. #1

    Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - III (The One)

    Hi,

    Some more 'BIG" questions from that wonderful list ...

    [Is] reality one, everything one? ... Zen says that Zazen leads to the direct realisation of the oneness of reality/the universe.

    ... from my perspective human beings grasping reality is just God understanding God, Being understanding Being... The One waking up. ... For me, Zen practice seemed to be the finest way to re-gain direct awareness of The Source.
    There is an old Koan that has a couple of versions ...

    If all things return to the 'One' (or the 'Source'), to what does the One/Source return?'

    Most human beings have an inner need to place a label and image on everything (together with imposing their small human ideas, judgments, prejudicies, ignorances, demands and the like on whatever is being so labeled, limited and defined). Thus, many people feel a need to call ultimate reality "God" or "Brahma" or "Allah", "Cosmic Buddha""The Universe" "The One" "The Source" or you name it! They demand that "He/She/It/Whatever" be 'Harmonious and Peaceful and Good, Just and Whole' to their liking.

    But please understand the following distinction:

    There is a vital difference between a vague idea that "All Reality is One" and experiencing "being At One with All Reality". In the latter case, one (you) feels no separation between oneself and reality (also you), and knows total harmony with reality, no matter what that reality should be ... be it One, Three, Seven, Infinity, Minus Gazillion or something altogether beyond count. No personal demands or petty expectations are placed upon reality. One can even feel "at peace", "in harmony" and "in union" with a world that is (to human eyes) anything but peaceful, united and harmonious all the time ... even pleased with a world that is (to human sensibilities) filled with both the pleasing and the displeasing.

    Instead of demanding that "God" be "Fair & Just" to your liking (or even "God"), how about embracing "God" as "'just' the way things are" free of your demands? That is truly accepting God on God's terms! Instead of requiring that the universe be "whole" to your little liking, just be at peace with a universe that is wholly the universe. Do the rocks and mountains long for a world "Fair" to their standards? Does a tree think "This is where I, the tree, end and the earth and air begin"? Does the fish, snatched up by a hungry hawk, thus think that nature is "Just" or that nature is terribly "Cruel"? (Or, more likely, does the fish not think about nature at all, thus living out True Nature)? Yes, as the abundant nature imagery in 'Zen Art' attests: rocks, trees, birds and fish profess some things that humans (for all our so-called intelligence, and great analytical minds that divide up the world) so easily forget.

    Do this, and the world is more fantastic than dreamed in your philosophy, Horatio.

    To further understand this, let's return to that river I mentioned last time:

    You wrote:

    The river and boat analogy is beautiful and moving... So Zen lets you know that you are the river, but not what the nature of the river is, why it's there, or where it's going?? It shows you directly the oneness of reality, but not anything of the nature of that One??
    The river analogy was this:

    Our life is very mysterious, and to be born as a sentient being is very much like waking up suddenly & sentient, for no known reason, in a row boat in the middle of a unknown river. An oar is in your hand. No idea how you got there, but there you are. You may not know who (if any "who") made the boat, the river, you, the mosquitoes, the surrounding shore that stretches to the horizon. But, here you find yourself, in life's little boat, with a paddle, heading down that river. River runs before you, seems like it came from somewhere behind. You do not know why (if any "why"). What to do?

    Just paddle paddle, sometimes drift drift.

    And what's more, our Zen Practice allows us to see that we are the river, the boat, the mosquitoes ... In this way, we realize that where the river flows, is where we flow. What's more, the river's flowing is just our flowing. In other words, we may not know where (if anywhere) the river is going, or where (if anywhere) the river arose ... but we go with the flow! We ARE the flowing! Don't resist.

    Shoot, that river's gonna take you where its going anyway!
    Now, sometimes folks like to call that river by names like "The Tao", "The Way" ... 'The Source" and such. One is just paddling and paddling, sometimes drifting (sometimes falling in!). One (meaning you) can be in "perfect harmony" with River Tao just by knowing the very waters of the river where one is paddling. In fact, we might say that the "source" of the river is right where you are ... the river is right where you are here and now. It is not a matter of saying that the true river is located back up at its headwaters (somewhere up in the distant foothills) or down at its mouth in the Gulf. It is where your oar dips into the water.

    In fact, where do the waters "go" when the water eventually returns to the waters, pouring into the sea? Where was the river before its headwaters, or even before the first rain?

    If you want to know the river, just dip your hand into the cool and wet waters right here. It is here (and, if you experience it as such) is you too. Taste it here and now too. Taste its sweetness or saltiness right here, know for yourself its coolness on your own fingers and tongue. If you want to know "God", then that taste and touch is no other (and the tasting and touching is no other).

    One version of that Koan goes like this ...

    Ho ” If all things return to the one, to what does the one return?”

    Basho “I will tell you after you have drunk up all the waters of the West river in one gulp.”

    Ho “I have already drunk up all the waters of the West river in one gulp.”

    Basho “Then I have already answered your question.”


    If one falls in the river right here, drinks the waters right here, allows the river to carry one away, spreads one's arms and yields to the river, merges to the river, willingly drowns in the river ... one is "at one" with the river. One knows the subtle source right here and now.

    OTHERWISE, ONE IS LIKE SOMEONE WHO HAS FALLEN INTO THE RIVER ASKING "WHERE IS THE RIVER" or ONE SOAKING WET AND UP TO HIS NECK IN WATER asking "WHY AM I WET"?

    One other version of that same Koan goes like this:

    Master Mang Gong was asked, 'If all things return to the 'One' (or the 'Source'), to what does the One/Source return?' Master Mang Gong replied, "The spring geese are flying north.''

    It is just the natural way things are.

    For me, Zen practice seemed to be the finest way to re-gain direct awareness of The Source.
    Yes, dip into the cold, flowing waters right here and feel the wetness and current for yourself. All is carrying your boat north.

    Your questions continue ...

    Would Zen agree with a statement such as, ‘There is only the divine, there is nothing else’?

    ...

    I was attracted to Zen because I believed that it trancended 'faith' in the 'ultimate', 'divine', or whatever we call it, and made direct contact. No need for 'faith' after you've made direct contact... In essence, I have believed that Zen realistion is 'to see God', although I have not believed in any external, separate, divine being...
    I believe that Zen Practice can let one perceive that all of life is sacred, from the great mountains to the smallest grain of dust. Whether it is all some "God" or not does not really matter ... for that dust would be sacred merely for being the dust. Each damn mosquito biting you on that river is divine.

    Stop seeing the dust grains and mosquitoes as smaller in size than your image of an infinite "God". Then, what is there to compare them?

    This is to say that one appears in a variety of forms, oneness manifests as diversity, "Look there's Being manifesting as a table, a flower, a computer, all the things Dogen said mind is no other than, you and me!" So why would it be beyond Being to wake up to its Being?
    Yes, you are Being waking up to Being, and "you" are the flowers, table, chairs and Dogen too.

    You are a drop of water of the river asking itself "Hey, buddy, where's the river"?

    One thing I do know is that ever since I've been sitting, more and more often, I've had the sensation of a subtle peace emanating from...somehwere... and sometimes it happens when the circumstances shouldn't (by conventional wisdom) yield inner peace at all. It's kind of like an inner grin And if this is all a big random, unintended don't know what, I wonder where that inexplicable peace is coming from?
    Whether it is coming from within you, or from somewhere without you, is it less a feeling of peace? In fact, where is it arising from when you drop all thought of "in" and "out"?

    And whether this is or is not a "big random, unintended don't know what", cannot you still be "at one" with that, at peace with that?

    Does a sailor demand that the river give him the exact sailing conditions that the sailor demands? Does the sailor tell the weather what to be each day, or how strong the current? Does the sailor demand that the river have a certain source and end? Or does the sailor merely sail the river with what is, where he is, just as it is?

    from my persepctive human beings grasping reality is just God understanding God, Being understanding Being... it's just Being re-gaining awareness of its Being... The One waking up. ... I've been surprised by the general, "Maybe it is all random and unintended / we don't know and Zen practice doesn't let you know" response.
    How dare you tell "God" that he must be "God"! How dare you tell Being that it must wake up as you imagine it must. How dare you tell The One that she cannot be random and unintended! Who are you to tell the universe how to be the universe?

    It is like a child who demands that mommy and daddy be who he wants them to be.

    Zen is for grown ups who can now accept their mother and father as just what they were, with all the blemishes.

    GROW UP! Just sail your boat north.

    Got my point?

    Gassho, Jundo

  2. #2

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - III

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Most human beings have an inner need to place a label and image on everything (together with imposing their small human ideas, judgments, prejudicies, ignorances, demands and the like on whatever is being so labeled, limited and defined). Thus, many people feel a need to call ultimate reality "God" or "Brahma" or "Allah", "Cosmic Buddha""The Universe" "The One" "The Source" or you name it! They demand that "He/She/It/Whatever" be harmonious and peaceful and good, just and whole to their liking.
    Thanks Jundo. Great teaching. The above bit really struck me. I am often noticing lately the way people immediately have to put some kind of label on everything new that comes into their lives. I'm sure I do it too but I always see others' faults better than my own The process kinda closes off any further appreciation of said object, or at least reduces it to a mere shallow stereotype. There must be a powerful fear of uncertainty in us. I have to work more on staying open to all the wonders of life without prejudging them.

    Gassho,
    John

  3. #3

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - III

    Hi.
    looking forward to these "big questions" will they be "found" anywhere else on the site?

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  4. #4

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - III

    Hi,

    First of all, thank you Jundo for such a rich and deep response. You’ve certainly got me looking at things from a different point of view, and I guess that seeing things in a different way is what Zen is about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    And whether this is or is not a "big random, unintended don't know what", cannot you still be "at one" with that, at peace with that?
    This is the question! Sitting Shikantaza recently has helped me drop the question (at least sometimes) and just be in the moment. It’s funny that these questions have coincided with a period in my life in which peace has been coming all by itself and just because... I can only attribute that to Zazen practice. It seems that when we quieten and dis-identify from the mind, our natural peace begins to spill forth...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Does a sailor demand that the river give him the exact sailing conditions that the sailor demands? Does the sailor tell the weather what to be each day, or how strong the current? Does the sailor demand that the river have a certain source and end? Or does the sailor merely sail the river with what is, where he is, just as it is?
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    How dare you tell "God" that he must be "God"! How dare you tell Being that it must wake up as you imagine it must. How dare you tell The One that she cannot be random and unintended! Who are you to tell the universe how to be the universe?

    It is like a child who demands that mommy and daddy be who he wants them to be.

    Zen is for grown ups who can now accept their mother and father as just what they were, with all the blemishes.

    GROW UP! Just sail your boat north.
    These words had me noticing today how frequent it is that the mind demands that reality be different to suit it. The egoic mind is all about that. I suppose that that kind of conflict creating activity gives the ego existence and identity. It really is so arrogant, childish, and self-centred to resent the universe because it’s not to our liking.

    However, I have to say that, at least on conscious level, I’m not demanding that the universe be not random and unintended. What I am saying is that the thought that the universe might be random and unintended makes me sad. I feel that if this were the case it would have implications for life, implications that I don’t feel I can ignore. Two areas that I feel would be affected by this are the nature of suffering, and the foundation of ethics, but I do not wish to open that Pandora’s Box here...

    So it’s not so such much that I’m demanding that the universe be other than what an atheist might say it is. It’s that the thought that it might be leaves me feeling kind of empty and futile... and not empty in the positive Buddhist sense...

    So yeah, I kind of thought that Zazen might lead to knowing that the universe is ‘divine’ directly. Or rather, I thought Zen might help you to realise what the universe is NOT i.e. not random and not unintended! But perhaps it is true that these kind of questions simply have no answers, or that the answers given are just pretty stories, and that I have to give up this egotistical need for 'answers'. Perhaps the universe is really beyond all descriptions. Beyond the labels ‘intended’ and ‘unintended’, ‘divine’, or ‘random’. After all, if emptiness is anything, it’s surely empty of attributes. Or perhaps I’m really missing the point! I think that’s highly likely, and I thank you for your patience.

    Here is a quote by Shunryu Suzuki from Zen Mind, Beginners Mind:
    ‘So it is absolutely necessary for everyone to believe in nothing. But I do not mean voidness. There is something, but that something is something that is always prepared for taking some particular form, and it has some rules, or theory, or truth in its activity. This is called Buddha nature, or Buddha himself.’

    This seems to express what I mean. I mean, Buddha nature is not just random, without rhyme or reason. I remember Suzuki saying in the same book that whatever is manifesting now is manifesting for some reason, though I can’t find the page right now...
    It seems to me that what is manifesting now is manifesting for some reason. And this question has occurred to me: How could Karma exist in an unintended / random universe?

    My understanding of Karma is something like this: ‘In the Buddhist scheme of things, there are no random events; every meeting is significant whether one realises it at the time or not, the product of innen, the infinitely complex web of karmic relationships.’ (Zen Guide, Martin Roth and John Stevens). Basically, there are no accidents or coincidences and though we might not be able to comprehend the manifesting activity of Buddha Nature, we might say it’s ‘up to something’.

    I guess I’m just trying to follow these questions where they lead. Perhaps they lead nowhere and perhaps that is my teaching but I can only find that out through the lived experience... So thank you Jundo, for your patience, and understanding. Thank you for taking the time to listen to my concerns and meet them head on. It has helped me massively to be able to share these questions with others and receive feeback, and I hope everyone can get something positive from it. Although we are exchanging many words, at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words and you have acted with true quality.

    Gassho,
    David

  5. #5

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - III

    If you want to know the river, just dip your hand into the cool and wet waters right here. It is here (and, if you experience it as such) is you too.
    Thumbs up.

    W

  6. #6
    Member Nandi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John View Post
    Thanks Jundo. Great teaching. The above bit really struck me. I am often noticing lately the way people immediately have to put some kind of label on everything new that comes into their lives. I'm sure I do it too but I always see others' faults better than my own The process kinda closes off any further appreciation of said object, or at least reduces it to a mere shallow stereotype. There must be a powerful fear of uncertainty in us. I have to work more on staying open to all the wonders of life without prejudging them.

    Gassho,
    John
    .....such a good point. I had never considered this, nor I had I considered naming as prejudging and limiting but now I see how that could be.

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