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Thread: The desire for the Truth

  1. #1

    The desire for the Truth

    Hello all,

    In my readings (such as Gudo Nishijima, among others) I've encountered references and even stressing of the desire to find or know 'the Truth' - with a capital 'T'.. which served as a catalyst to the teachers. It also appears to be quite important to have such a desire, despite the apparent paradox of not having desires in the Buddhist sense, in propelling one on the path. Nishijima and others refer to its importance and guidance. I then reflect on myself and find that I don't have this desire. I don't feel particularly compelled to know the Truth. I don't feel particularly compelled to 'be enlightened' or any such thing. If I can have my tea in the morning and simply have my tea - or if my zazen practice provides me equanimity and clarity of my senses and mind in day by day or moment by moment sense, then that seems more than good enough for me. If I can act compassionately toward others then the Truth may remain hidden. Similarly, arriving at the understanding or sight of no-self is all well and good, but whether a no-self or self is enjoying a glass of hot tea doesn't really matter provided I or not-I is that enjoyment. Am I then an apathetic and tepid practitioner that will fizzle out rather than obtain some greater or more lasting understanding or posture? Or a person that removes the heart of zen and Buddhism via the entrapments of pragmatism? To me, if an inoculation works, I don't need to see or know the formula or the makeup - I'll just enjoy my health.

    Cheers,

    Nate

  2. #2
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: The desire for the Truth

    Ehh, who can say? I figure if you get what you want out of it then why stop or change? Why worry about fitting the mold or what not? If you want to be more compassionate then work on it. If you don't then why bother working on it other than to please someone else?

    I think this understanding of Truth is exactly what I'm in it for. Can't say what I expect or don't expect, or even how it will change me or not change me. I stay realistic about it. It's the goal behind the goal I guess. I'll experience kensho when i experience kensho, i'll be enlightened whenever I become enlightened. So I don't stay too wrapped up in the pursuing. I just sit, read, sit some more. to me just the doing is like a coming home. I'm on the path, i'll get there eventually only to realize there is no there to get to.

    I'm not in it to be happy, that's something everyone has to find within themselves. but I find the more I practice the happier I become, which then spreads to those I encounter.

    I think alot of the values in buddhism are my own values, it helps give me the strength to calm down when angry, to be nicer to people. To realize I don't really wanna hurt anyone in anyway. but if I do hurt someone, or lose my temper or fail to help , I don't kick myself for it. Just a bump in the road.


    Dave _/_

  3. #3
    disastermouse
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    Re: The desire for the Truth

    Bompu Zen.

    A good beginning - but only a beginning. Such complacency is hard to maintain in the light of, say, cancer.

    Chet

  4. #4
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: The desire for the Truth

    Hi Nate,

    Don t worry, your health won t last for ever... :mrgreen: ... And the will to the truth is not a desire, it is a direction, something you deeply experience that arises from the total immersion in suffering. It is not a chocolate fix, a cigarette or some booze. The point is not to enjoy, the enjoyment is still a very materialistic take on the path. The point of Zen practice is not to be happy. It doesn t mean you have to struggle or suffer. Happy or unhappy, it is just not relevant anymore. Moon face, sun face. Both exist. And in both, one can be free.So what is it? What is the point of all this? Ask the question with your guts and full being, and stay with the question. dismiss all ready cooked answers, all easy get away, read Shoji, Life and death, that great chapter of Shobogenzo, I will actually talk about it in a next video, and please, don t make these words yours too soon, refrain from diluting...take it sharp. raw, as it is. And with it consider all these losses, all these frustrations all this feelings that something is lacking, because apparently there is a good cover up here.
    Thank you for listening to these words and beware of reading!!!
    The greatest reading of all is the reading of book made of air, space, birds and cars, fumes and clouds, colors and darkness, sickness and well-being. This life. As one. Not two. Books take you there. And they are not it. Not even the shadow of the shadow.

    gassho

    Taigu

  5. #5

    Re: The desire for the Truth

    Hi Nate,

    "Am I then an apathetic and tepid practitioner that will fizzle out rather than obtain some greater or more lasting understanding or posture?"
    If anyone could say "Yes!" to such a question straight off, then it would probably spell disaster for the zafu industry, but at least we would have some extra time each day to do the gardening, reading or whatever, secure in the knowledge that we were never going to get anywhere with all this sitting mullarkey. But I guess you know already that that isn't really the point.

    Even if one arrives at compassion, equanimity and clarity of senses today, odds are tomorrow will be different. Life will take us up and life will take us down irrespective of how well or badly our sitting is going. Maybe the 'Truth', whatever that is, has more to do with our orientation while we're on this trip?

    gassho,
    Michael

  6. #6
    disastermouse
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    Re: The desire for the Truth

    Rigorous self-honesty cannot help but lead to liberation from suffering.

    IMHO

    Also, once one starts down the road of self-honesty, it is notoriously difficult to turn back.

    Chet

  7. #7

    Re: The desire for the Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Also, once one starts down the road of self-honesty, it is notoriously difficult to turn back.
    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    Totally agree with that.


    But returning to the main point, for me Buddhism functions as a search for Truth as well. I have this habit of being a 'big picture" type guy, missing details and connecting (with mixed results) dots that I can't see. When I practice Buddhism, I acknowledge it as a practice for my well-being only insofar as I am needed to be healthy to solve the larger problems of the world (famine, sickness, war, and death... the four horsemen, ah). What I mean by "solve" is unclear - in particular, I feel solutions lie not within me, but within the ways we allow ourselves to connect with others.

    I'm reverse engineering a machine that was made to grind humanity up in its own infinite nature, figuring out what it means to be a part of that machine (while wondering what it means that this machine can reverse engineer itself :P). The idea being, if I can figure it out, maybe I can make myself into the oil for these gears, getting the infinite grind to be something a little less suffer-tastic for everyone.

    Granted, my motivation comes from purely personal desires for happiness and well-being, but a lot of "Buddhist views" (whatever those are) align with mine, I think.

  8. #8

    Re: The desire for the Truth

    "If you learn a truth during the day, and die that night, it has been a profitable day."

    -Confucius

  9. #9
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: The desire for the Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankiel
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Also, once one starts down the road of self-honesty, it is notoriously difficult to turn back.
    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    Totally agree with that.


    But returning to the main point, for me Buddhism functions as a search for Truth as well. I have this habit of being a 'big picture" type guy, missing details and connecting (with mixed results) dots that I can't see. When I practice Buddhism, I acknowledge it as a practice for my well-being only insofar as I am needed to be healthy to solve the larger problems of the world (famine, sickness, war, and death... the four horsemen, ah). What I mean by "solve" is unclear - in particular, I feel solutions lie not within me, but within the ways we allow ourselves to connect with others.

    I'm reverse engineering a machine that was made to grind humanity up in its own infinite nature, figuring out what it means to be a part of that machine (while wondering what it means that this machine can reverse engineer itself :P). The idea being, if I can figure it out, maybe I can make myself into the oil for these gears, getting the infinite grind to be something a little less suffer-tastic for everyone.

    Granted, my motivation comes from purely personal desires for happiness and well-being, but a lot of "Buddhist views" (whatever those are) align with mine, I think.
    Get out of your head. The truth is not something you will ever figure out. If you truly think the problem is 'out there' somewhere - in 'famine, sickness, war, and death' - you will just be another warrior. There is real work to be done there, but the bigger war is the one going on in your heart and mind. All of these problems will sprout anew, likely in new guises, possibly caused by the 'liberators' who overturned the original causes.

    I rarely say this, because it makes me sick to hear it so often, but sit. You have an idealistic and idea-based sense of what Buddhism is, but you must taste it yourself. Until then, you'll just be another warrior on the 'good' side of a war that will never end.

    We are not here to end war, famine, sickness, or death. These are not just the causes of suffering, they are the symptom of it. They are the effects of delusion - and that delusion is within you. It is you. Like weeds, these things will grow back again and again until we recognize the true causes of suffering at the root.

    Chet

  10. #10

    Re: The desire for the Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    Get out of your head. The truth is not something you will ever figure out. If you truly think the problem is 'out there' somewhere - in 'famine, sickness, war, and death' - you will just be another warrior. There is real work to be done there, but the bigger war is the one going on in your heart and mind. All of these problems will sprout anew, likely in new guises, possibly caused by the 'liberators' who overturned the original causes.

    I rarely say this, because it makes me sick to hear it so often, but sit. You have an idealistic and idea-based sense of what Buddhism is, but you must taste it yourself. Until then, you'll just be another warrior on the 'good' side of a war that will never end.

    We are not here to end war, famine, sickness, or death. These are not just the causes of suffering, they are the symptom of it. They are the effects of delusion - and that delusion is within you. It is you. Like weeds, these things will grow back again and again until we recognize the true causes of suffering at the root.

    Chet
    Nice talk, Chet. The weeds and the grass are looking more alike.

    Nate, I think it's 'the will to the truth' which is just sitting, or doing what you do with the greatest care and attention. I read someone call it 'walking on the edge of a sword'

  11. #11

    Re: The desire for the Truth

    Hi Nate,

    I would just like to point everyone again to what Taigu wrote.

    Nate said:

    I then reflect on myself and find that I don't have this desire. I don't feel particularly compelled to know the Truth. I don't feel particularly compelled to 'be enlightened' or any such thing. If I can have my tea in the morning and simply have my tea - or if my zazen practice provides me equanimity and clarity of my senses and mind in day by day or moment by moment sense, then that seems more than good enough for me. If I can act compassionately toward others then the Truth may remain hidden. Similarly, arriving at the understanding or sight of no-self is all well and good, but whether a no-self or self is enjoying a glass of hot tea doesn't really matter provided I or not-I is that enjoyment.
    Just drinking tea, just acting compassionately toward others is a facet of Truth ... all Truth right there.

    I also would not say that this practice has to be about "enjoyment" or being "happy" all the time ... except that we can "Enjoy" and be "Joyous", to the marrow, for a life where sometimes we "enjoy" and feel "happy" and sometimes not at all.

    One may sit for many reasons (or no reason) .... to relax a bit, to just be at one with one's life, more compassionate, to drink tea (much as you describe) ... as well as to attain that Truth which cannot be attained.

    It is good that you know, as you so well describe, that there are great depths to this practice. It is better than just sitting to feel a bit of peace or bliss, with no clue that there is more. Because you seem to be aware that there is more to be aware of ... I am not so worried in your case. You may even encounter some "by accident", despite your plans not to, just in a moment of swallowing tea.

    So, as long as you know that that is here all along ... you might find what cannot be found by having no desire or need "to find", just by keeping on sitting, drinking tea, being compassionate ... just by not looking for it at all. By not looking, you may even be already finding without calling it "finding" (but sensing subtly what's here all along).

    It is like the man who feels little need to visit the moon in a rocket ship, because he can savor its reflection in the cup of tea he is drinking. In our Soto way, the moon is fully present and manifesting in, as and beyond both views ... all just the moon.


    Arrive without travelling
    See all without looking
    Do all without doing

    Without going out of your door
    .
    (Beatles song)

    Gassho, Jundo

  12. #12
    disastermouse
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    Re: The desire for the Truth

    The middle way seems to be one between zealotry ("I will become awakened!") and complacency ("I'm already 'awake', so why bother").

    Intense personal honesty is required here. I see a lot of people content to just hang around Zen centers doing 'Zenny' things. I also see a lot of 'spiritual athletes'. Only rigorous self-honesty will cut through either of them.

    Chet

  13. #13

    Re: The desire for the Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    The middle way seems to be one between zealotry ("I will become awakened!") and complacency ("I'm already 'awake', so why bother").

    Intense personal honesty is required here. I see a lot of people content to just hang around Zen centers doing 'Zenny' things. I also see a lot of 'spiritual athletes'. Only rigorous self-honesty will cut through either of them.

    Chet
    Simply true. Thank you, Chet.

    The Middle Way.

    A moment by moment mountain hike with no where to get to ... yet ever diligently moving forward, and much to be revealed.

  14. #14
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: The desire for the Truth

    Thank you Chet, thank you Jundo. Simply put and so true.

    gassho

    Taigu

  15. #15
    Stephanie
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    Re: The desire for the Truth

    Desire or will to the truth, or self-honesty, whatever one wants to call it--it's the only thing that has pushed me beyond the stuck places I have been in on my path, whether those stuck places were pleasant and easy or brutal and difficult. I adopted so many different cosmologies and conceptualizations along the way, a lot of which felt very good to hold on to, but there was always this niggling feeling that it wasn't true or real, that I was deluding myself, that started out very quiet, subconscious, but got louder and louder and louder until I had to drop whatever fantasy I was tending.

    I used to get stuck on, why do we want to know the truth? There must be some reason, some cosmic picture... we must be meant to know the truth... but these days, I don't know. I just know that this question is what gave birth to my practice and is what sustains it.

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