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Thread: One Robe, One Bowl

  1. #1

    One Robe, One Bowl

    Hi everyone,

    It's late here in Maryland, and due to a large amount of driving and adrenaline rushes for the upcoming school year, sleep just isn't happening. So I thought I'd share some thoughts on the above phrase:

    The phrase "One Robe, One Bowl" is normally associated with our lovely poet-friend Ryokan

    Returning to my native village after many years’ absence:
    Ill, I put up at a country inn and listen to the rain.
    One robe, one bowl is all I have.
    I light incense and strain to sit in meditation;
    All night a steady drizzle outside the dark window --
    Inside, poignant memories of these long years of pilgrimage.
    Something like that. Anyhow, for me, the teaching of one robe one bowl is incredibly, indescribably broad. For those sewing, we can't ever have more than one robe. Yes, technically speaking we can sew until our fingers fall off and pile up 50 kesa of various stripes and 300 Rakusu to keep all that bad karma from spilling on our shirt, but one robe is all we have. It includes everything - the sunsets, mountain sky-lines, forests, rain, birdsongs, and all those nice things. But it also includes the divorce, the addiction, the piss and s**t stained walls, the cancer, the AIDS, the trash, filth, and all those nice things. The problem I think we run into is wanting the scenic robe, the "Zen" robe with all the fancy Japanese and Chinese architecture, the foggy mountain tops, the serenity. We don't want to wear the robe of South Central Los Angeles, the robe of drug dealers and prostitues. Give me the idealism but please, for Christ's sake, don't give me real life!

    Only when we can wear both on the same shoulder will we be ready to make peace with the world and with ourselves, suddenly being at ease in all OUR ills (because really, ours and the prostitues aren't that different, not one not two). To do so we have to bring our bowl into the world empty, ready and waiting to receive. If it's full of something (money, food, what have you) for the "just in case", we've already lost. What we put in our bowl to bring into the world in unnecessary, it implies that somehow we know better when we couldn't have less of a clue. I think it goes in line with our previous discussion on unknowing. If we stop trying so damn hard to know everything, maybe we might be able to learn something.

    But anyways, just a few thoughts. My bowl's empty now, please do me a favor and fill it with the contents of yours.

  2. #2

    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    One robe, one bowl
    is just what
    I am



    Taigu

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    Thanks Taylor. I appreciate your post.

    What happens when even that one robe and bowl are taken away?

    Gassho

    Soen

  4. #4

    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    Quote Originally Posted by soendoshin
    What happens when even that one robe and bowl are taken away?

    Gassho

    Soen
    Can they be taken away?

    We see look carefully the trees, the busy cities, life itself is our robe,

    our bowl is our practice, open to whatever life gives us without any discrimination between good and bad...

  5. #5

    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    To answer both questions posed:

    I don't know. And that's ok

  6. #6
    Senior Member Shujin's Avatar
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    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    From me, no questions & no answers.

    Only gassho.

    -Shujin

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    I don't know either. Just questions from me too.

    Deep bows
    Soen

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    soendoshin wrote:What happens when even that one robe and bowl are taken away?
    I don't know either; perhaps you clap with one hand

  9. #9

    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    soendoshin wrote:What happens when even that one robe and bowl are taken away?
    I don't know either; perhaps you clap with one hand
    Perhaps you clap with none...

  10. #10
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    I turned my bowl over some months ago... some rotten stuff is still draining out. Soon it will be empty and I can wash it.

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    All is growth and decay, Hey, I did not not want the clap anyway :roll:

  12. #12
    Junior Member lucech's Avatar
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    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    One bore, one blow
    is just what
    I am.


    :lol:

  13. #13

    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    Quote Originally Posted by lucech
    One bore, one blow
    is just what
    I am.


    :lol:
    Could be a wonderful shakuhachi poem! :twisted:

    s

  14. #14

    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    Thank you, Taylor. Lovely.

    Gassho, Jundo

  15. #15

    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    Quote Originally Posted by soendoshin
    Thanks Taylor. I appreciate your post.

    What happens when even that one robe and bowl are taken away?

    Gassho

    Soen
    What happens when the one robe and one bowl are taken away? I don’t think they can be. You cannot take from me that which isn’t mine, and if I see the ‘self’ as empty then how can I own anything? One robe, one bowl. One robe to envelope all peoples, all beings; one bowl to hold the sustenance of all who are hungry, the aqua vitae of all who thirst.

    If you try to take the bowl and robe from me, I will foil your plans by giving them to you freely since they belong to all beings, and perhaps I too will wish I could also give you the moon.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    Quote Originally Posted by soendoshin
    Thanks Taylor. I appreciate your post.

    What happens when even that one robe and bowl are taken away?

    Gassho

    Soen
    What happens when the one robe and one bowl are taken away? I don’t think they can be. You cannot take from me that which isn’t mine, and if I see the ‘self’ as empty then how can I own anything? One robe, one bowl. One robe to envelope all peoples, all beings; one bowl to hold the sustenance of all who are hungry, the aqua vitae of all who thirst.

    If you try to take the bowl and robe from me, I will foil your plans by giving them to you freely since they belong to all beings, and perhaps I too will wish I could also give you the moon.
    Beautiful _/_

  17. #17

    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    What happens when the one robe and one bowl are taken away? I don’t think they can be. You cannot take from me that which isn’t mine, and if I see the ‘self’ as empty then how can I own anything? One robe, one bowl. One robe to envelope all peoples, all beings; one bowl to hold the sustenance of all who are hungry, the aqua vitae of all who thirst.

    If you try to take the bowl and robe from me, I will foil your plans by giving them to you freely since they belong to all beings, and perhaps I too will wish I could also give you the moon.
    Thank you, Chris, for this lovely expression ... nothing that can be taken away here too.

    What you wrote reminds me of the famous story from the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. In that tale, many of the monks in the monastery were so upset that their teacher had bestowed the robe and bowl as Zen Patriarch upon lowly and illiterate Hui-Neng, that they came chasing after to steal them back ... I think Taylor, Chris, Seiryu and so many others here have expressed much the same ... perhaps even more clearly than old Hui-neng in this old parable ...

    As was said, that robe covers both Taylor's car thieves in South Central LA and robe thieves in the Dayu Mountains ... cannot be stolen and is sewn all along ... thus we sew ...

    Here is how they expressed such things in the style of 1000 years ago, give or take ...

    “The [Fifth] patriarch [Hongren] said [to Hui-neng], ‘So it is, so it is. In the future, Buddhism will flourish greatly because of you. Three years after you go, I will depart this world. You should go now. Make an effort to go south, and don’t be in a hurry to preach [the Dharma]. It is difficult to propagate Buddhism!’ [Then he transmitted to me the Dharma of Sudden Enlightenment and the robe, saying] “After I [Hui-neng] left the patriarch, I started out walking toward the south. In the second month [of traveling] I reached the Dayu Mountains. (Hongren returned [to the monastery] and for several days did not go into the hall. The assembly [of followers] was in doubt about this and proceeded to him to ask, “Is Your Reverence ill or discomforted in some small way?” He said, “I am not ill. The robe and Dharma are in the south.” They asked, “To whom have you transmitted them?” He said, “One who is able has received them.” Thus did the assembly learn of it.)

    “Coming after me were several hundred people, who wanted to take away the robe and bowl. One monk, [previously] of the lay surname Chen and [now] named Huiming, had previously been a general of the fourth rank. He was coarse and excitable by nature, and he really wanted to find me. He reached me before the rest of the group chasing me. I threw the robe and bowl down on a rock and said, ‘This robe emblematizes reliance [upon the patriarchs]. How can you struggle for it?’ I hid in the underbrush, and Huiming tried to lift it without success. Then he called to me, saying, ‘O practitioner, O practitioner! I have come for the Dharma, not for the robe.’ I then came out and sat on the rock.

    “Huiming bowed to me and said, ‘I wish that you would preach the Dharma for me.’ I said, ‘You say you’ve come for the Dharma. [If so], you must eliminate the various conditions and not generate a single thought. [If you do], I will preach the Dharma for you.’ Huiming was quiet for a time. I said, ‘Do not think of good, and do not think of evil. At just such a time, what is Elder Huiming’s original face?’ At these words, Huiming [experienced] a great enlightenment. He then questioned me again, saying, ‘Other than the secret words and secret intention [you expressed] just now, is there any other secret intention?’ I said, ‘What I have preached to you is not secret. If you counter-illuminate [your own original face you will realize that] the secret was on your side.’

    “Huiming said, ‘Although I was at [Hongren’s monastery in] Huangmei, I actually never thought about my own [original] face. To receive your instructions now is like a man who drinks water knowing [immediately] whether it is cold or warm. Now you are my teacher.’

    “I said, ‘If this is the case, then we share the same teacher of Huangmei. Well should you protect and maintain [the teaching]!’ Huiming asked further, ‘Where should I go now?’ I said, ‘When you encounter ampleness you should stop, when you come upon munificence you should reside.’Huiming bowed and left. (Huiming returned to the foot of the mountain. He addressed the group that had come after me, saying “I just climbed this mountain of boulders, and there was no trace of him. We should try searching by another road.” The group of those chasing [Huineng] all did as he said. Huiming later changed [his name] to Daoming, in order to avoid the first character of his teacher’s name.)

  18. #18

    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    Heitetsu,

    Thank you for this teaching. Your eyes are open.

    gassho

    Taigu

  19. #19
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    What you wrote Heitetsu also reminds me of an Aikido demonstration. If you have ever seen one you will know how they display Ki power. Though it does not rely on muscle, from the untrained eye it looks a lot like a display of physical feats of strength. Anyway, after demonstrating the Aikido guy draws a line on the floor and issues a challenge to the audience. He says that no one can pull or push him across the line and if anyone thinks they can to come up and he will prove it to be impossible. One big guy accepts the challenge and comes up. The Aikido guy, when the time is right, simply steps across the line on his own! He then explains the philosophy of Aikido. You cannot push or pull him to because there is never any resisance to begin with. It is impossible to be defeated when you do not engage another as their opponent.
    I don't know if my retelling does justice but it made quite the impact on everyone!

    Gassho,
    John

  20. #20
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    What I was talking about too was non-attachment. Even to the teachings. Nothing can be possessed. Not even a robe, a bowl. Not even a self. Not even non-attachment!
    Thank you all for your wisdom.
    Gassho
    Soen

  21. #21

    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    Often the reason I do not reply to a thread on the forum is because I read what is already written and just think, "Well, I don't think I can add to what has been said."

    People seem to "bring their A game" to Treeleaf, I think.

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: One Robe, One Bowl

    Gassho!

    Shohei

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