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Thread: behind the obvious

  1. #1

    behind the obvious

    The thief left it behind:
    the moon
    at my window.
    Reading these three lines, most people and myself, would be touched by the gentle heart and compassion of the monk-poet and find this very cute and kind and...

    Yes, of course, it is about a night where Ryokan woke up very cold as his blanket was stolen by a thief.

    And yet, it is an extraordinary poem about the consciousness during Zazen and the relatioship between sitting and living. Let me explain. The thief is the ego, willing to make use of Zazen, to milk practice, to take something from shikantaza into the life out there. Meanwhile , it misses the selfless brightness of the moon which stands for awakening, original and open shikantaza, which shine on phenomenas too. When zazen, zazen.When life, life. And of course, nothing but zazen for life is fully embraced. Do and create a bound or separation, a river to cross, some stuff and goods to smuggle, one shore to the next and... you end up with a blanket when you own the whole brightness of the universe...Attached to a single experience, we end up being the thief of a few rags . The moon, the window and and the fool waking up are always possible, always available every single moment of our life.

    gassho

    Taigu

  2. #2

    Re: behind the obvious

    I've been thinking about the pointlessness of zazen a lot. I catch myself doing practice sometimes in the hope of attaining something better. Sometimes I whisper to myself before sitting that this is pointless just as a reminder. The ego is powerful, and I find it challenging to just let go to let the zazen take care of itself.

    Thank you for this Taigu sensei

    Gassho

    Risho

  3. #3

    Re: behind the obvious

    Very cute indeed :P

    I appreciate the new perspective. Sometimes I forget the profoundness of Ryokan's poems. And sometimes I forget the simplicity.

    Thanks for the moon,
    Myoken

  4. #4

    Re: behind the obvious

    Thank you Taigu Sensei!
    I have a small collection of blankets, rags really, myself. I will put them down now. Next time I'll just sit with the moon shine.

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  5. #5

    Re: behind the obvious

    Pontus,

    You can make a kesa out of these rags and blankets...That's what we do...

    gassho

    Taigu

  6. #6

    Re: behind the obvious

    Taigu, on this cold evening,

    as I am about to prepare my hotwater bottle for my feetzies tonight you turn my thoughts to Ryokan, a thief, a window and the moon.

    Could I convince a would-be thief to join me under Ryokan's covers? I think I have--and they took the roof, the floor, the walls and the window!

  7. #7

    Re: behind the obvious

    the thief left her behind
    Keishin
    in the moonlight


    gassho


    Taigu

  8. #8

    Re: behind the obvious

    Can't find any words now...

    Dep bow

  9. #9

    Re: behind the obvious

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    You can make a kesa out of these rags and blankets...That's what we do...
    The thief
    In threads of moonlight
    left behind

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  10. #10
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: behind the obvious

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Pontus,

    You can make a kesa out of these rags and blankets...That's what we do...

    gassho

    Taigu
    This is gonna sound like a kid's question, but why make anything?

    Chet

  11. #11

    Re: behind the obvious

    Sawaki Roshi said:

    "When somebody asks me what zazen is good for, I say that zazen isn’t good for anything at all. And then some say that in that case they’d rather stop doing zazen. But what’s running around satisfying your desires good for? What is gambling good for? And dancing? What is it good for to get worked up over winning or losing in baseball? It’s all good for absolutely nothing! That’s why nothing is as sensible as sitting silently in zazen. In the world, “good for nothing” just means that you can’t make money out of it."

    Making a Kesa can be Zazen, wouldn't you say? What would be more sensible than making a Kesa? Maybe sitting Zazen, I don't know.
    One could perhaps put it all down instead, but if that seems impossible, making a Kesa may seem more feasible?

    Kid's questions are sometimes the hardest... :wink:

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  12. #12

    Re: behind the obvious


    This is gonna sound like a kid's question, but why make anything?

    Chet

    Hello Chet,

    although I'm not a qualified teacher, please allow me to offer you my two cents worth.

    Making something is the perfect conscious expression of things as they are. Form is not just emptiness, but emptiness is the perfectly expressed form as well. Once we are beginning to see through the "looseness" of a reality previously considered firm and definite, it seems odd to see any worth in the "relative". But to stop there would mean to miss the mark. We affirm the deep truth of Sunyata, the marrow of the Prajna Paramita through actively expressing it, through e.g. making something.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  13. #13
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: behind the obvious

    Kesas into rags, rags into kesas - each moment is it's action.

    I didn't mean to imply that nothing should ever be done, nonetheless 'nothing' is also an option.

    Not to chant a verse,
    Not to make a kesa,
    Not to post a reply,
    Oops,
    Too late.

  14. #14

    Re: behind the obvious

    Making a kesa is a full expression of what is said to be : bonno soku bodai, illusions become awkening. Rags become kesa. Chet becomes Buddha. Action. Gautama even without a word toys with a flower on Vulture peak. Out of non doing, doing bossoms. If nothing comes to nothing to nothing, this is a sunyata hangover which sticks and traps, It is one of the pitfalls that Nagarjuna points out. So making a kesa which is perfectly rags and yet Buddha's body at the same time is the practice of the guys that follow as much as they possibly can Sawaki 's Zen. Dogen's Zen ( read the shobogenzo and the capters about the kesa, consider the many kesa Dogen sewn). Mongen, deep bows. Chet, deep bows.

    gassho


    Taigu

  15. #15
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: behind the obvious

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Making a kesa is a full expression of what is said to be : bonno soku bodai, illusions become awkening. Rags become kesa. Chet becomes Buddha. Action. Gautama even without a word toys with a flower on Vulture peak. Out of non doing, doing bossoms. If nothing comes to nothing to nothing, this is a sunyata hangover which sticks and traps, It is one of the pitfalls that Nagarjuna points out. So making a kesa which is perfectly rags and yet Buddha's body at the same time is the practice of the guys that follow as much as they possibly can Sawaki 's Zen. Dogen's Zen ( read the shobogenzo and the capters about the kesa, consider the many kesa Dogen sewn). Mongen, deep bows. Chet, deep bows.

    gassho


    Taigu
    My posts were not criticisms. And I have nothing against the kesa, Dogen, or you.

    Is a Buddha's body made or found? A glimpse of a question from Western philosophy.

  16. #16

    Re: behind the obvious

    Chet, that's not what I said. I was explaining why doing a kesa is an expression of our practice. i was also refering to the danger of staying on sunyata.

    Take care and thank you for what you write.

    gassho

    Taigu

  17. #17
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: behind the obvious

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Chet, that's not what I said. I was explaining why doing a kesa is an expression of our practice. i was also refering to the danger of staying on sunyata.

    Take care and thank you for what you write.

    gassho

    Taigu
    What's not what you said?

    I get that you you think I'm hung up on shunyata. You have a point.

    I like your commentary on the story, but I also liked it before the commentary.

    Bows as well.

    Chet

  18. #18

    Re: behind the obvious

    Chet ,

    You ask why make anything, I give you my answer. I am not trying to pick up a fight but doing my very best to put down to words very subtle teachings.

    gassho


    Taigu

  19. #19

    Re: behind the obvious

    Thank you Hans and Taigu for the explanations. I think they complemented each other very well. Thanks for laying out the subtle teachings of the Middle way.
    If I were enlightened, I would probably go get some fabric right away and start sewing!
    In my ignorance, my lazy ego believes it can wait until another day, some time in the future, when it suits me better! :roll: ops: :wink:

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  20. #20
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: behind the obvious

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Chet ,

    You ask why make anything, I give you my answer. I am not trying to pick up a fight but doing my very best to put down to words very subtle teachings.

    gassho


    Taigu
    Re-reading your post, I think I have a better understanding of your intent. I can't find any flaw in it. And yet, the monk from the story did not immediately replace his shirt with even a kesa. Am I misunderstanding the story? Maybe the thief took the kesa too. It must be difficult to face the world naked (at least from the waist up).

    I was confused about that story - I thought it was the Buddha who took the monk's shirt.

    Chet

  21. #21

    Re: behind the obvious

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I was confused about that story - I thought it was the Buddha who took the monk's shirt.
    This is the version of the story that I have seen in a few places, it's from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones:

    One evening a thief visited Ry?kan's hut at the base of the mountain only to discover there was nothing to steal. Ry?kan returned and caught him. "You have come a long way to visit me," he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift." The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away. Ry?kan sat naked, watching the moon. "Poor fellow," he mused, "I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon."

    The story is probably just an interpretation of Ryokan Taigu's Haiku:

    The thief
    Left it behind-
    The moon at the window.


    In other words, I think we may interpret it in any way we want. Clothes, shirt, Kesa, blanket, rags. I haven't heard the interpretation with the Buddha as the thief! :shock: :lol:

    The message is, if I have understood Taigu Sensei correctly, is that we should let Shikantaza be Skikantaza and not become the thief in Ryokan's poem by stealing some rags, not noticing the real treasure, the beautiful moon. In other words, not try to use Zazen, take something from it into our lives, expect some use or reward from it. Instead of defiling it, we should let it be the pure manifestation of reality in this present moment, enlightenment, true nature, universal self or whatever we want to call it. Please correct me if I've misunderstood completely (again)!

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  22. #22

    Re: behind the obvious

    Thank you Chet, and yes Pontus I was refering to this very famous story. I should have mentioned it. I assumed everybody kind of knew it. Mea culpa.
    As to your understanding of what I am pointing at, it seems you are spot on.

    gassho

    Taigu

  23. #23
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: behind the obvious

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I was confused about that story - I thought it was the Buddha who took the monk's shirt.
    This is the version of the story that I have seen in a few places, it's from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones:

    One evening a thief visited Ry?kan's hut at the base of the mountain only to discover there was nothing to steal. Ry?kan returned and caught him. "You have come a long way to visit me," he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift." The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away. Ry?kan sat naked, watching the moon. "Poor fellow," he mused, "I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon."

    The story is probably just an interpretation of Ryokan Taigu's Haiku:

    The thief
    Left it behind-
    The moon at the window.


    In other words, I think we may interpret it in any way we want. Clothes, shirt, Kesa, blanket, rags. I haven't heard the interpretation with the Buddha as the thief! :shock: :lol:

    The message is, if I have understood Taigu Sensei correctly, is that we should let Shikantaza be Skikantaza and not become the thief in Ryokan's poem by stealing some rags, not noticing the real treasure, the beautiful moon. In other words, not try to use Zazen, take something from it into our lives, expect some use or reward from it. Instead of defiling it, we should let it be the pure manifestation of reality in this present moment, enlightenment, true nature, universal self or whatever we want to call it. Please correct me if I've misunderstood completely (again)!

    Gassho,
    Pontus
    First I thought the story was about the thief not seeing the real treasure. Then I thought it was about the imperturbable nature of the monk in the story (as an example worth aspiring to). Then I thought it was an illustration that the enlightenment of the Buddha was like being stripped naked under a full moon in the cold night; if you're not ready, you'll think something important was taken from you. Instead of being grateful, you'll curse when you could just as well be thankful.

    Right now, I'm convinced that the third interpretation is correct - but I also know this: If I was the monk and the thief took my shirt, I wouldn't be able to see the situation clearly. Like a fish on a hook, I would likely try to chase down the thief thinking that something very important had been taken from me. This means that even if I can see the way, surely I haven't finished walking it yet.

    I'd never thought of it as Taigu interpreted it because it never occurred to the monk to stop the thief, nor that the theft occurred because of carelessness.

  24. #24

    Re: behind the obvious

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I'd never thought of it as Taigu interpreted it because it never occurred to the monk to stop the thief, nor that the theft occurred because of carelessness.
    Thanks Chet for sharing your interpretation! I'm glad you have found one that speaks so strongly to you!
    Maybe the thief could be the teacher helping his student to let go by stripping him naked..? (no, i'm not talking about disrobed Zen priests here! :twisted: )


    Or maybe Ryokan was just a very loving, kind and compassionate man, never judging, wanting to give to this poor visitor without expecting anything in return, knowing they are not two, vowing to save all sentient beings before himself.

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  25. #25

    Re: behind the obvious

    The thief
    In the moonlight left behind
    Enlightenment

    (Sorry, I'll stop now! )

  26. #26

    Re: behind the obvious

    Thank you for this Taigu...I had never saw the parallel to ego & shikantaza before. I had always interpreted Ryokan's story from being caught up in temporal/material things that we miss our opportunity to see the limitless right in front of eyes.

    Also great discussion from the sangha, I seem to always learn as much from the discussion and commentary as I do from the inital post!

    Gassho,

    Shawn

  27. #27

    Re: behind the obvious

    Thanks Chet, I never thought about it from so many perspectives.

    I always thought of it from the absolute perspective, as in you don't really own anything.

    Also about being caught by the hook, I always get caught ... every day. Just yesterday, my wife was having a conversation with someone on the phone while I was doing Shikantaza, and I took my wife's "side" and I saw red... And I felt anger. That's my habitual response when I don't like something... anger!!!!

    Going back to this story, I bet this old monk felt that way too; maybe, he's only painted so perfectly in a story to make a point about practice.


    Gassho,

    Risho

  28. #28

    Re: behind the obvious

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Pontus,

    You can make a kesa out of these rags and blankets...That's what we do...

    gassho

    Taigu
    This is gonna sound like a kid's question, but why make anything?

    Chet
    Did you mean making something as in doing or making something with your mind?

  29. #29
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: behind the obvious

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Pontus,

    You can make a kesa out of these rags and blankets...That's what we do...

    gassho

    Taigu
    This is gonna sound like a kid's question, but why make anything?

    Chet
    Did you mean making something as in doing or making something with your mind?
    I meant that refuge in ritual forms, thinking they are more directly an expression of Buddha or dharma than mundane action or non-action - well, that could be the cancer that's killing /z/.

    Avoidance of ritual probably ain't too healthy either though, I guess.

    As always, JMHO, YMMV, no disrespect intended.

    Chet

  30. #30
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: behind the obvious

    What is Linus without his blanket?
    If the blanket isn't Linus what is?
    When we let go of the blanket what is left?
    Just the moon?


    Attached files

  31. #31

    Re: behind the obvious

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    This is gonna sound like a kid's question, but why make anything?

    Chet
    Did you mean making something as in doing or making something with your mind?
    I meant that refuge in ritual forms, thinking they are more directly an expression of Buddha or dharma than mundane action or non-action - well, that could be the cancer that's killing /z/.

    Avoidance of ritual probably ain't too healthy either though, I guess.

    As always, JMHO, YMMV, no disrespect intended.

    Chet
    It's the thinking that makes them different and yet we all have a little cancer so we just try to maintain some kind of balance so the cancer doesn't take over.

  32. #32
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: behind the obvious

    Thank you all. I saw the moon rise last evening. A waning moon, five days after fullness approaching its last quarter, rising up in the southeast; lying on it's back as if holding the cares of the world; a Bodhisattva! This morning's temperature is a bone-chilling -18ºC. As I let the dog out at 4:30, I was compelled to step out onto the deck clad only in pajamas and in bare feet, to gaze up at the same moon high in the sky, flooding the yard with its silver light. Just now, three hours later it struck me as I read Nigel's post, body and mind fall away while experiencing the magic of the universe, to endure the extreme conditions of nature. Fifteen years ago, seated bare foot in Shoukoji doing zazen, warmed only by a very small oil heater, I recall a similar realization. :lol:

  33. #33
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: behind the obvious

    Shokai I wrote the post after reading this from Keizan's Denkoroku.

    Mind's activity smoothly rolling on is the form the mind takes;
    How many times has the self appeared with a different face!
    (p106)

    I don't know what happened but something fell away and I have been in joyous calm state ever since... even through 1 hour of zazen!
    Perhaps I let the blanket slip!
    Where else could Keizan jam with Ryokan jam with Taigu jam with all of us!!!?
    Deep bows to everyone at Treeleaf!!

    Now to make lunch.

  34. #34
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: behind the obvious

    Heisoku, awesome, thank you for the source

  35. #35
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: behind the obvious

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    I meant that refuge in ritual forms, thinking they are more directly an expression of Buddha or dharma than mundane action or non-action - well, that could be the cancer that's killing /z/.

    Avoidance of ritual probably ain't too healthy either though, I guess.

    As always, JMHO, YMMV, no disrespect intended.

    Chet
    It's the thinking that makes them different and yet we all have a little cancer so we just try to maintain some kind of balance so the cancer doesn't take over.
    Yes.

  36. #36
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: behind the obvious

    Thank you Shokai...looks as though we both caught a vibe!

  37. #37
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: behind the obvious

    Nigel;

    Is that you or me in this vid http://<iframe class="restrain" titl...="0"></iframe>

  38. #38
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: behind the obvious

    Wasn't me ...I pearl jammed!!!

    Cool tubes dude!!!

  39. #39

    Re: behind the obvious

    Taigu wrote:
    Making a kesa is a full expression of what is said to be : bonno soku bodai, illusions become awkening. Rags become kesa.
    And as such I look forward very much to sewing a Kesa.

    Gassho

    Joe

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