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Thread: Bassui

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Bassui

    Cruising Amazon for some new texts, as I notice that my practice is better when partnered with good texts. I was looking for Living and Dying in Zazen, as mentioned during the retreat by Taigu, when I came across the name Bassui, specifically the book Mud and Water, which sounded very interesting. I do not see him in the recommended text list, so I wonder...

    I am in no hurry, just sitting with that hurry that I have...............

  2. #2

    Re: Bassui

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Cruising Amazon for some new texts, as I notice that my practice is better when partnered with good texts. I was looking for Living and Dying in Zazen, as mentioned during the retreat by Taigu, when I came across the name Bassui, specifically the book Mud and Water, which sounded very interesting. I do not see him in the recommended text list, so I wonder...

    I am in no hurry, just sitting with that hurry that I have...............
    Very very good. Mud and Water will be on the recommended book list ... except I promised not to put anything on there until I had read it or reread it (if I had not read it for several years).

    http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O108-BassuiZenji.html

    http://www.wisdompubs.org/Pages/display ... n=&image=1

    Okay, I will try to reread it within the coming weeks ....

  3. #3

    Re: Bassui

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Cruising Amazon for some new texts, as I notice that my practice is better when partnered with good texts. I was looking for Living and Dying in Zazen, as mentioned during the retreat by Taigu, when I came across the name Bassui, specifically the book Mud and Water, which sounded very interesting. I do not see him in the recommended text list, so I wonder...

    I am in no hurry, just sitting with that hurry that I have...............
    Very very good. Mud and Water will be on the recommended book list ... except I promised not to put anything on there until I had read it or reread it (if I had not read it for several years).

    http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O108-BassuiZenji.html

    http://www.wisdompubs.org/Pages/display ... n=&image=1

    Okay, I will try to reread it within the coming weeks ....
    As promised, I reread this after many years, and have added Bassui to our suggested reading list.

    viewforum.php?f=1

    He was an old curmudgeon ... a bit Soto, a touch of Rinzai, avoiding to join any institution or to live in a temple (until his final years) ... Bassui always purely Bassui.

    http://www.amazon.com/Mud-Water-Teachin ... 527&sr=1-1

    For Bassui, all teaching manifests the One Mind ...

    This One Vehicle is the One Mind. Those who seek the Buddha and dharma outside of mind are all children of rich men who have forgotten where their homes are. When you awaken to the unique and wonderful dharma of your true nature, it is as if the lost child had come home.

    A very similar book by another wonderful teacher is this, although compiled some 500 years earlier ... The Zen Teaching of Huang-Po: On the Transmission of Mind.

    http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Teaching-Huan ... gy_b_img_b

    One reason that the books are so similar is that Truth is Timeless. Another reason is that both represent a style of Zen literature, compilations of teacher's talks and sayings, that took a fairly rigid and standardized form for hundreds of years. Here are the words of Huang-po:

    All the Buddhas and all sentient beings are nothing but the One Mind, beside which nothing exists. This Mind, which is without beginning, is unborn and indestructible. It is not green nor yellow, and has neither form nor appearance. It does not belong to the categories of things which exist or do not exist, nor can it be thought of in terms of new or old. It is neither long nor short, big nor small, for it transcends all limits, measure, names, traces and comparisons. It is that which you see before you – begin to reason about it and you at once fall into error. It is like the boundless void which cannot be fathomed or measured. The One Mind alone is the Buddha, and there is no distinction between the Buddha and sentient things, but that sentient beings are attached to forms and so seek externally for Buddhahood. By their very seeking they lose it, for that is using the Buddha to seek for the Buddha and using mind to grasp Mind. Even though they do their utmost for a full aeon, they will not be able to attain it. They do not know that, if they put a stop to conceptual thought and forget their anxiety, the Buddha will appear before them, for this Mind is the Buddha and the Buddha is all living beings. It is not the less for being manifested in ordinary beings, nor is it greater for being manifest in the Buddhas.

    What a wonderful message of "attaining nothing to attain".

    If I might offer one caution for both books and others which speak with such terms as "One Mind" "True Nature" "Buddha Nature" and the like, it is the tendency to perhaps too easily look at these things as "things" ... like "The Cosmic Spirit" "Universal Consciousness" or merely "The Force" from Star Wars! The message is actually much more subtle, and if you read closely, you will see time and time again both teachers emphasizing that, for example, "do not think of 'One Mind' as a something called 'One Mind' ... neither is it nothing ... (That is one reason I spoke in another post of Emptiness as a great 'Dancing') ...

    viewtopic.php?p=31957#p31957

    As Huang-po says ...

    What sort of THING do you suppose the Way to be, that you should wish to FOLLOW it? ... Words used to attract the dull of wit are not to be relied on. ... Who called it nothing? Who was this fellow? But you wanted to SEEK for something.

    As Bassui writes ...

    Thus the sutra says, "Give life to the mind that has no dwelling place." The tens of thousands of phrases uttered by the Buddhas and ancestors are just this one phrase. This mind is one's true nature distinct from all forms. Nature is the Way, the Way is Buddha, and Buddha is mind. This mind is not inside, it is not outside and it is not in the middle. It is neither existence nor is it nothingness. It is neither non-existence nor non-nothingness. It isn't mind, Buddha or object. That's why it is called the mind that has no dwelling place

    Gassho, Jundo

  4. #4
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Bassui

    I finally got around to finishing the Bassui's Mud and Water and felt moved by it so much to post a comment/review. It's divided into four parts, and the first three parts get exceedingly difficult as you go on. He seems totally fixated on the idea that the whole point of practice, regardless of what practice you are doing (Rinzai or Soto), is that you need to find your True Nature (i.e., your mind). The structure is questions monks ask him about reciting sutras or various other common practices, and his standard answer is that the point of all those practices is to discover your True Nature. He seems very fixated on an the koanic "who are you?" idea, yet he also very much acknowledges that there is no who in that equation.

    On a personal note, I very much appreciated and benefitted from his internal focus. My practice has often focused on the external (what is perceived) rather than the internal (who perceives it?), and in this way it very much influenced my practice. Yet I realize that in zazen I also need to drop the perceiver (the watcher), and in this way I realize the need to also drop Bassui. So now I am more aware of the who so that I can also drop that who, if that makes sense. In a very profound way he has moved my practice beyond words, and so I struggle to describe that here.

    The fourth section of the book is his letters to various people. This was great! Each letter was incredibly in depth in describing the Way, and I often could only read each one to three page letter at a time, as they were so profound. His descriptions of the stages of realization were the best road map of the Way I have ever read. Basically, he said the whole point is to get LOST, and there are many levels of being LOST, but in accepting that feeling of LOST you will find the redemption of nirvana. Embrace the darkness you find. As a counselor, this truly hit home with me. It very much motivated me to keep looking into my True Nature and not anywhere else for any answers.

    One line he wrote, one question, really rung my bell, and so I end this review with that. "Where do life, death, and nirvana came from?"

  5. #5
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Bassui

    Hi,
    "Jizo stands for the mind-nature of ordinary people. Ji (the character for earth) is the foundation of the mind. Zo (the character for storehouse) is the storehouse of Buddha nature. It is in this Buddha nature that all the virtue of ordinary people is contained. Hence it is called the storehouse of the Tathagata. When the mind is deluded, as many ignorant thoughts as sands of the Ganges arise; when enlightened, this mind gives birth to infinite wonderful meanings. Being the source of good and evil, this mind is called earth (Ji). The earth gives birth to trees and grasses, hence it is used as an exemple here. Nature, the place where all the jeweled Dharmas return, is referred to as the storehouse (zo). That is why Jizo (earth-storehouse) is another name for mind-nature. Originally mind and nature were not separate. They were the one center where ordinary people in the six realms observed and perceived, and where they were masters of the six senses. It is here that they were teachers of those in the six realms. Since the four activities (walking, standing, sitting, and lying) of Buddhas and ordinary people throughout the day and night are the wonderful work of this mind-nature, it is referred to in the sutra as 'each day'. As for 'early morning', it refers to the period before the distinction between black and white. Early morning means original nature - where there is no division between Buddhas and ordinary people."

    Thank you AlanLa. Yes!!! This book is just great. The teachings of Bassui are amazingly close to what I discovered in a very clumsy way. What he has to say about the real nature of Jizo, Kannon is right to the point. Bassui presents the esoteric understanding of the path as opposed to the traditional exoteric interpretation that takes everything literally. Yes This world is the Pure Land and the full description of it is a metaphor of our mind.

    May all Treeleafers read this!


    gassho


    Taigu

  6. #6

    Re: Bassui

    Alan, terrific, thank you for this thread.

    I haven’t read Bassui’s book, but I resonate with the view, “the whole point of practice, regardless of what practice you are doing (Rinzai or Soto), is that you need to find your True Nature”. (Some like to argue that practice is pointless, and that’s fine, that’s just another “point”.)

    Furthermore, after many years of shikantaza, I have become very attracted to the question “who am I?”, as I have grown to be more interested in the perceiver, rather than the perceived.

    Having said this, the question occurs within the context of shikantaza. Sitting quietly, watching, allowing, a sense of ‘I’ appears……….. “who is this ‘I’, and where has it come from?”

    Very interesting question. Seems to have the power to untangle.

  7. #7

    Re: Bassui

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterE
    Alan, terrific, thank you for this thread.

    I haven’t read Bassui’s book, but I resonate with the view, “the whole point of practice, regardless of what practice you are doing (Rinzai or Soto), is that you need to find your True Nature”. (Some like to argue that practice is pointless, and that’s fine, that’s just another “point”.)

    Furthermore, after many years of shikantaza, I have become very attracted to the question “who am I?”, as I have grown to be more interested in the perceiver, rather than the perceived.

    Having said this, the question occurs within the context of shikantaza. Sitting quietly, watching, allowing, a sense of ‘I’ appears……….. “who is this ‘I’, and where has it come from?”

    Very interesting question. Seems to have the power to untangle.
    Might one best "find" True Nature by dropping the search for True Nature's "point" ("point" meaning "a reason justifying True Naturing in your little judgments and opinion" as well as "point" meaning "it's specific location on a map") ??

    Perhaps "perceiver" cannot exist apart from "perceived"? What then? Where then? Where not then? That's the 'Whole Point'! Do you think that one is true but one a lie? Or do you think that only their dropping is true, only when both "perceiver" and "perceived" are fully forgotten? Do you think that only the mirror is true, while that which the mirror reflects is not? Do you think that only the moon is true, but not its reflection in the water?

    What is a mirror without reflection? What is the moon without a world to light? Are they one or apart!? SPEAK!

    In Shikantaza .... watching, allowing, a sense of "I" appears ... and drifts from mind. WHO is I? WHO is not? Where is there to come from? To Where is there for "I" to drift? What are you looking to find and where will you find it?

    At what "point" will you stop?

    Gassho, J

  8. #8
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Bassui

    Taigu, Jizo as earth storehouse is a bit new to me, as I was only familiar with Jizo statues, but with a little help from wikipedia I find they are the same.
    Ksitigarbha (Sanskrit: ?????????? K?itigarbha) is a bodhisattva primarily revered in East Asian Buddhism, usually depicted as a Buddhist monk in the Orient. The name may be translated as "Earth Treasury", "Earth Store", "Earth Matrix", or "Earth Womb." Ksitigarbha is known for his vow to take responsibility for the instruction of all beings in the six worlds between the death of Gautama (Sakyamuni) Buddha and the rise of Maitreya Buddha, as well as his vow not to achieve Buddhahood until all hells are emptied. He is therefore often regarded as the bodhisattva of hell beings. Usually depicted as a monk with a nimbus around his shaved head, he carries a staff to force open the gates of hell and a wish-fulfilling jewel to light up the darkness.
    Jundo, your post hits home. The same mind that perceives what's going on in my head and skin bag is the same mind that perceives what's going on outside my head and skin bag. Therefore there is no in or out except in mind. Perceiver and perceived are one. All is included in what Glassman called the infinite circle. It's all one mind, Buddha.

    Same with the part of the bodhisattva vow to perceive reality though reality is boundless. To me this means no boundaries between that which I perceive to be me and that which I perceive to be not me. The only thing in between those two is the delusion that they are two.

    So the answer to the question "who am I?" is buddha mind, because this is where life, death, and nirvana come from.

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