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Thread: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

  1. #1

    BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Case 1 never ends, yet now comes ...

    CASE 2 - Bodhidharma's Vast Emptiness

    In a further conversation during this case, Emperor Wu asked, "I have built and endowed hundreds of temples and monasteries, and sponsored the ordination of thousands of monks and nuns; what is my merit?" Bodhidharma replied, "No merit." :shock: (Good thing the emperor didn't toss this rude guy in the dungeon!)

    "No merit" to earn ... "Vast emptiness, no holiness" as Buddhism's holy truth ...

    Yet Bodhidharma then headed straight down to holy Shaolin Temple (a place probably supported by Imperial cash), sitting Zazen diligently for nine years!

    Why? It would seem like there is no point if "no merit" and "no holiness", just "vast emptiness". Why bother ... why sit? Likewise, was he actually telling the Emperor not to do these good works, and that they really had no worth or merit?

    Or, perhaps that "no merit ... emptiness no holiness" is the very reason to sit and donate ... and the greatest Holy Merit Fullness!?

    Then, when Bodhidharma was asked "who stands before me," he replied "I don't know!"

    Did that mean that Old B'dharma actually "just didn't have a clue", or ... for he already was surely a Great Master whose reputation proceeded him ... did this "I don't know" manifest a most profound Knowing? Maybe a Knowing, but without some pesky "I" in the way, no separate things to be known, no names and labels and other outside facts to hammer down ... just Not Knowing Knowing?

    But then, if there was already actually Knowing ... why sit??If no 'I', why sit his ass down?

    Added Suggested Question:

    Can you think of some activities in your life that would be/are richer when undertaken dropping completely all thought of reason or merit or goal or holiness/specialness to it?

    Could/can you still manage to diligently and sincerely pursue the activities nonetheless (like Bodhidharma so diligently sitting for so long) working toward its successful accomplishment?

    How would you accomplish (or "non-accomplish") such a thing? What's such accomplishing-non-accomplishing like?


    Gassho, I Don't Know

    PS - If you haven't had a chance, please hear Taigu's wonderful advice on Koans and such (part of his series on the 10 Oxherding pictures) ...

    "The way to live with a question is not to answer it. The way to live with a question is actually to let it bloom."

    [youtube] [/youtube]

  2. #2
    Member Thane's Avatar
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    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Hi folks

    Just a general comment i thought i'd throw in. I have found the first week of studying this book really interesting. Before we began i wondered how we would go about the study. Would we study one koan a day, or perhaps more than one a day. I was pleasantly surprised to find we spent almost a week discussing case 1. I have found this very beneficial. Why? I'm sure if i had bought this book to read on my own i would have charged in and read several koans per night, not giving enough time to really sit with them. I have found reading the same koan for several days has allowed it to permeate my life more than if i had read many of them quickly.

    I am also pleased the Reverend Jundo asked us to think about how we can apply this koan to an experience in our own lives. Again i had not really applied koans to my every day experience but had seen them as some abstract mystical puzzle. I am enjoying now seeing them as teachings that can be applied to my every day experience.

    I will write some thoughts on case 2 once i return from a Scout camp i am running this weekend. Wish me luck, i might need it!

    In gassho

    Thane

  3. #3

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Thane

    I will write some thoughts on case 2 once i return from a Scout camp i am running this weekend. Wish me luck, i might need it!
    Remember: No merit no goal, nor holiness or specialness .... yet BE PREPARED & HELP OLD LADIES CROSS THE STREET!

    That's how to earn a "No Merit Badge". :wink:

    Gassho, J (former Cub Scout)

  4. #4

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Having read this case, comments and Jundo's comment, here is take on

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    But then, if there was already actually Knowing ... why sit??If no 'I', why sit his ass down?
    Actually; I dont know. The "I" in I dont know is just a good old habbit, the way of speaking,
    the way of thinking we're all more or less used to. So its more Not Knowing.

    Why sit down, now that there is no merrit ? Why not ? There are times when the why's and how's have their
    place and there are times when we just do. ( I again write "we", just because I dont get a sentence without it).
    So I see that Why's as pure intellectual habbit, not of much use at some point. The Why is just a reaching out
    for some model, some simplification of reality.

    Too many words to describe that there is nothing to describe and to explain,
    sit down and see all that I, Why, Holy, Merrit, 9 Years vanish.

    _()_
    Peter Myoku

  5. #5

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Could/can you still manage to diligently and sincerely pursue the activities nonetheless (like Bodhidharma so diligently sitting for so long) working toward its successful accomplishment?
    There is a doing anyway.. like the way a tree grows and the world turns. I have heard (though this may be incorrect) that the word "sinister" comes from the old German word "widdershins", meaning contrary to the movement of the sun. When I am 'sinister", due to confusion and a knotted up sense of self.. there are hellish states and crazy worlds created . The "movement of the sun" is toward resolving that knot.. unbinding, and sweeping away those worlds. When I am unbound and acting spontaneously... I move with/as the movement of the sun, world. and trees growing. For instance if someone trips in front of me, without a thought my hands reach out to steady him. That unselfconscious goodness (with no notion of goodness) is natural doing anyway.... and it is why consciously doing good feels good and doing bad feels bad (conventionally speaking). So the effort to awaken, and to clarify awakening.. is the world's awakening and clarifying. it is, on a relative "level", good work. It feels right.

    That's my take on it anyway.

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2


  7. #7

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Emperor Wu reminds me of someone (me!) as well as these couple lines from T.S Eliot:

    "We think of the key, each in his prison
    Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison"
    -The Waste Land


    How long will I be Emperor Wu,
    asking for the key,
    staring at the lock and grasping at the bars,
    when there is no key,
    no lock and no bars,
    no one even,
    sitting at Shorin all along?

    Gassho,
    Alan

  8. #8

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Vast emptiness is like the ground zero of existence. With practice you find it and return to it over and over. You experience good feelings, bad feelings, big problems, little problems - they all arise from and return to vast emptiness.

    Not knowing is before thinking and as Yasutani Roshi was quoted in the commentary 'it does not break into consciousness. If you know it, at a single stroke its's gone'

    This is probably my number 1 koan story of all time. But that may change. What with 98 more to go.

  9. #9

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    :|

  10. #10

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Bodhidharma
    Vast emptiness
    I read: where there is nothing, everything can exist and everything is possible.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bodhidharma
    No holiness
    I read: when nothing is sacred, everything can be equally worshiped and respected.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bodhidharma
    I don't know
    I read: Emperor Wu is asking Bodhidharma for his authority or title or justification. Rather than engage in the argument of authority, Bodhidharma simply acknowledges the fact that he does not know what answer Emperor Wu wishes to hear, and thereby does not pretend to be what Emperor Wu wants him to be. By saying he does not know, Bodhidharma is challenging Emperor Wu to accept things as they truly are and not as the Emperor has been hoping them to be; which means that the single secret answer from a Buddha-on-the-mountaintop the Emperor seeks does not actually exist.

    In general, I think this is a Koan of perspective. I can easily be trapped by my own expectations. The "if only" syndrome. If I approach life with the curiosity of a child, then I am able to see life as it is. If I dismiss my need to prioritize one object over another, then it is in that space that I create a place where all is holy. It is important for me to know these things, but not to cling to their authority or to my own. Bodhidarma's final statement reminds me to know myself and disregard the need to explain myself to others.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Marek's Avatar
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    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    _/_

  12. #12
    Friend of Treeleaf Daido's Avatar
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    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Some things are just to be done.

    Can you think of some activities in your life that would be/are richer when undertaken dropping completely all thought of reason or merit or goal or holiness/specialness to it?

    For me any act of kindness. Any giving of gifts. A difficult task but wondrous. Like the picture of the flower in the above picture. It bloomed with no strings attached.

    Daido

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    It took Bodhidharma nine years to convince the Chinese of the merit/value of Zen, when all one need do is sit and realize within an instant; "I" don't know.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Shujin's Avatar
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    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Can you think of some activities in your life that would be/are richer when undertaken dropping completely all thought of reason or merit or goal or holiness/specialness to it?

    As someone who tends to take things a bit too seriously, I think almost anything in my life would be more rich with this dropping-off.

    While reading Dogen's Points to Watch in Practicing the Way, one comes across the phrase "practice without gaining-mind". It strikes me as both motivating and a cautionary tale. I try to unwrap its meaning, grasping at various implications, and simplicity explodes in an epic mess. I should be more in the habit of heeding warnings.

    gassho,
    Shujin

  15. #15

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Appreciatory verse

    'loss is to drop the pot and not look back'

    ... not sure why that line is grabbing my attention.

    .... something about not looking back when we act with good intention - it's easier to grasp
    emptiness when the ego goes into the pot, along with needs, desires, attachment to outcomes,
    prejudices, beliefs'.

    .... dropping the pot - the loss isn't negative - the gain's spontaneous action.

    .. but not looking back - not so easy :roll:

    Gassho

    Willow

  16. #16

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    I like this. "Vast emptiness. No holiness."
    Everything encompassed just as it is. No holiness. No unholiness.
    I tend to want to look for holiness. Next time, I'll say this to myself--vast emptiness, no holiness.

  17. #17

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    In Shobogenzo Gyoji, Master Dogen tells it this way [Tanahashi translation] ...


    On the first day of the tenth month Emperor Wu sent a messenger to Bodhidharma to invite him to the palace.

    Bodhidarma went to the city of Jinling and met with Wu, who said, "Ever since I ascended the throne, I have built temples, copied sutras, approved the ordination of more monks than I can count. What is the merit of having done all this?"

    Bodhidharma said, "There is no merit."

    The Emperor said, "Why is that so?"

    Bodhidharma said, "These are minor achievements of humans and devas, which become the causes of desire. They are like shadows of forms and are not real."

    The Emperor said, "What is real merit?"

    Bodhidharma said, "When pure wisdom is complete, the essence is empty and serene. Such merit cannot be attained through worldly actions."

    The Emperor said, "What is the foremost sacred truth?"

    Bodhidharma said, "Vast emptiness, nothing sacred."

    The Emperor said, "Who is it that faces me?" Bodhidharma said, "I don't know."

    The Emperor did not understand. Bodhidharma knew that there was no merging and that the time was not ripe. Thus without a word he left on the nineteenth day of the tenth month and he traveled north to the River Yangzi.
    Was Bodhidharma telling Wu to give up on his charity? I don't believe so. However, when desiring and doing good deeds to fix what's lacking in the world, pierce that ever empty and serene, without desire and goal, never lacking.

    Was Bodhidharma telling Wu that there is just endless nothingness, nothing holy? Certainly not! Vast emptiness is everythingness, each and all wholly-holy-whole.

    Was Bodhidharma telling Wu "I don't know"? No! The whole holy and serene, sacred empty-everything knows for sure!

    Gassho, Jundo

  18. #18

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    I'm thinking about emptiness and intention and gaining.

    Sawaki roshi said "Zazen is good for nothing", which I think is a boiled down paraphrase of this koan.

    Sawaki's nothing feels like vast emptiness and no holiness to me. If zazen life is approached with hands out, stalked like a cat ready to pounce, I have entirely missed the space in which I sit, this interdependent, vast, empty network.

  19. #19

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Jundo's words reminded me of a time once when I complained about painting a big room in an old craftsman-style house (with lots of complex trim). It was taking forever to get done. Then a friend suggested that I just focus on the next brushstroke, over and over. It did not change the work, but it changed everything. I remember that now when i am faced with a similar big project. Maybe all of life's experiences could be like that?

    That phrase "vast emptiness. no holiness" strikes me as both terrifying and comforting.

  20. #20
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Can you think of some activities in your life that would be/are richer when undertaken dropping completely all thought of reason or merit or goal or holiness/specialness to it?
    Yes, a lot of situations and actions come to mind. As of late I have been thinking on how my life has been subject to my own judgement and attachments. Sometimes I think "if only I had know this a that time", but then I sit and realize that the past is perfect

    However from a few years to the present I have done a lot of things that I have never accomplished in the past. I have drop all over thinking and even planning. I simply do things one day a at a time and before I know it I have a business, became a runner, lost weight and became a Treeleaf member.

    Could/can you still manage to diligently and sincerely pursue the activities nonetheless (like Bodhidharma so diligently sitting for so long) working toward its successful accomplishment?
    Yes, I think so. Sometimes it's hard not to think too much. I have noticed that when I think too much or talk too much of a goal, I tend not to accomplish it. So I just do things quietly and most of the time I try not to over think.

    How would you accomplish (or "non-accomplish") such a thing? What's such accomplishing-non-accomplishing like?
    Hard to explain. I take my running as an example. All I knew is that I was spending too much time sitting in front of my computer, but I had no money to pay for a gym or return to martial arts. But the streets are free. So one day I simple went out for a walk, with no goal whatsoever.

    In a couple of months the walk became a brisk walk and then I started to jog for a minute. Then I was slowly running for 5 minutes. Then I thought "if I can run for 5 minutes, I surely can run for 6"... and so on.

    One and a half year later I am running 10K races, but still I have no goal. I just do it, without thinking.

    Accomplishing-non-accomplishing feels different from everything. When I cross the finishing line I just cross it. It doesn't feel like a victory or like an achievement, nor I celebrate like the other runners. If anything I feel hungry

    And the same accomplishing-non-accomplishing feeling goes to a lot of my recent activities. That's why this koan means a lot.

  21. #21

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Bodhidharma's 'don't know' is the expression of vast emptiness, nothing holy. I believe Buddhism had been in China for several hundred years before Bodhidharma came but the essence had been lost to Sutra study and the worship of Buddhist deities. While this may have worked for the emperor and his society, the heart of sitting practice was re-established by Bodhidharma. That's my recollection of the historical context.

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    What is meant by the word 'holiness' Imo, Bodhidharma meant emptiness is nothing special; yet special enough that your whole life depends on it!!
    Thank you all for sharing and explaining;

    and simplicity explodes in an epic mess. :shock: :lol:

  23. #23

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    When I read this sentence "I don't know" I was looking my legs, my arms and wondered Where is the limit of me? It was not intellectual, but as the commentator says it snatches everything, so I felt empty, but an emptiness who made me scared, because I understood there is no control in my life (even there are choices, and liberty to act).

  24. #24

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    When I read this......

    Bodhidharma knew that there was no merging
    .....it brings to mind the "wild fox koan" ... which really rings a bell for me. ....kind of at the edge of it.

    Is he talking about merging with "nothing holy great space"..? How can we merge with that...? or is he talking about merging with the karma of giving.. of doing? Isn't "great space, nothing holy" realized in living when we merge with our karma.. are nothing but our karma 100% ..? with no holding back.. on even the most subtle level? It just seems to me that the notion of "great space, nothing holy" can also be the sneakiest way of holding back... of not going over 100%....... to 100% form.. 100% emptiness.

  25. #25

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Kojip,

    I have "Blue Cliff Record" book where this koan also appears. It's a bit longer there and it actually talks about the question that the emperor asked. So the question was about the two truths conventional and ultimate (relative and absolute). And the "holly truth of Buddhism" was that the relative and the absolute are not two. So that's what the emperor wanted to ask Bodhidharma about. The "vast emptiness" is the absolute and the "I don't know" is the relative. I think in that sense Dogen's comment about "not merging" makes perfect sense.

  26. #26

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    "The Emperor did not understand. Bodhidharma knew that there was no merging and that the time was not ripe. Thus without a word he left on the nineteenth day of the tenth month and he traveled north to the River Yangzi."

    If your understanding and my understanding is the same then there is merging. But if we have totally different ideas about Buddhism or whatever, we are separated. That's what I thought Dogen meant.

  27. #27

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Why? It would seem like there is no point if "no merit" and "no holiness", just "vast emptiness". Why bother ... why sit? Likewise, was he actually telling the Emperor not to do these good works, and that they really had no worth or merit?
    If we sit to attain something, that is not sitting. All of us sit to attain something at some point; it's how we come to this practice in the first place. The search is part of the path. But when we get on the path, we realize that we don't have to grasp at stuff (and then I forget, and then I come back, and then I forget, and then I come back; it's like a macrocosm of Shikantaza). This grasping is what gets us in this mess of Dukha in the first place. This question seems like the same question that Dogen asked himself. Why practice if we are already Buddha's? Referencing the koan at the end of Genjokoan, why fan yourself if the nature of wind is ever present?

    You may be Buddha, but being Buddha and realizing it are different. When we realize our Buddha-nature, true compassion unfolds. True compassion (again to paraphrase Dogen) is to grasp a pillow in the dark, natural action in response to our knowledge that we are not inseparably linked with other beings in the universe. But we don't live like that. We live like we want to get there before anyone else so they can't take what's mine, and when I say we I mean me. I catch myself doing this, but thanks to practice I'm catching myself and observing that merit driven (merit-thirsty) mind.

    To paraphrase Jundo, when we sit to sit, without thought of attainment, we are attaining something, something incredible. It's a transformation in terms of the way we live, but it takes practice. I'm 36 years old, and I'm very competitive, and I'm driven. Those aren't bad things at all, but the way in which I have approached them is exclusive to others. I need practice because those habits are so ingrained, my habitual response is not going to change overnight. Rather, it will take time. Who knows how long? I don't care how long; that's why the vows are important. They take us away from some visible end point that we can reach and measure. By wholeheartedly practicing that which is unattainable, we continue our way. That is the most important thing.... consistency and continual practice. All the other shit with practice, how good do you look doing it? Are you feeling better? It doesnt really matter; practice is for a lifetime, so by getting rid of the goals, we get our heads out of our asses and just sit.

    This is from Zazen for Beginners Part V; here Jundo talks about this wonderful path of non-attainment... which is really attainment of something vast and profound.

    As I have mentioned before, in sitting, we drop from mind all judgments of the world, all resistance… all thought that life “should be” or “had better be” some other way than just as we find it all. No matter how it is going, or the direction it takes, we drop –to the marrow – all thought that the race should be turning out some other way. In other words, we learn to go totally with the race’s flow.

    And thus, the goal is constantly crossed underfoot even as we keep on running forward… yet we persist in running until we cross the line of thoroughly realizing that fact of the line’s true location in each step, then keep on running more steps after steps because all of life turns out to be “Practice.” The very act of running brings the race — and the Buddha’s teachings — to life. So, we keep on running despite no need to”get.”

    Radically dropping, to the marrow, all need to attain, add or remove, or change circumstances in order to make life right and complete IS A WONDROUS ATTAINMENT, ADDITION, and CHANGE TO LIFE! Dropping all need to “get somewhere” is truly finally GETTING SOMEWHERE!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Did that mean that Old B'dharma actually "just didn't have a clue", or ... for he already was surely a Great Master whose reputation proceeded him ... did this "I don't know" manifest a most profound Knowing? Maybe a Knowing, but without some pesky "I" in the way, no separate things to be known, no names and labels and other outside facts to hammer down ... just Not Knowing Knowing?
    He had a clue. lol But he knew that he didn't know what he was. There is an "I". You and me are separate, but we are also connected, and my existence is dependent upon everything else's existence. The only way to differentiate among things is by comparing them to what they are not. The word differentiated, itself, contains the very fact of our interdependence.

    On a superficial level, we "know" who we are. Fathers, Mothers, workers, etc. But Bodhidharma didn't give a shit about that question. He wasn't going to say he was some zen master. That is just an attribute... a changing attribute. He was answering what we truly are, constantly changing; he was giving a teaching. So I think in all his years of practice he was genuinely answering I don't know..> Knowledge doesn't reach this place, only practice and direct realization does... but that doesn't mean we ever know in the sense of dualistic understanding.

    I mean who are you? I look at myself, and there is very little I have to actually do to stay alive. I am composed of countless systems that keep me living. I somehow know how to chew food and my body takes care of absorbing it. It's amazing. On a larger level, that's what the universe is..> it's made up of interdependencies that we can't even begin to imagine yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    But then, if there was already actually Knowing ... why sit? If no 'I', why sit his ass down?
    I ask myself this a lot... I don't have an answer always. Lots of times it is to realize myself. To really understand Dukha and to understand how to live in my life... When I say in my life, I mean it. Live by being engulfed in my life.. doing fully what I'm doing, not trying to do something to escape to some other place where I believe all my problems will be solved. I sit to help other people by what the practice gives to me. Hopefully that helps me to help others on some level, perhaps by being less self-interested.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Added Suggested Question:

    Can you think of some activities in your life that would be/are richer when undertaken dropping completely all thought of reason or merit or goal or holiness/specialness to it?



    I think every activity is better when dropping these grasping thoughts. I remember a work situation where we were a new team and we had to prove ourselves, so every day was literally like "swimming with sharks". I got to a point where I couldn't do that anymore, so instead of trying to one up everyone I thought I'd start listening more and contribute more naturally when I was needed. It was like a breath of fresh air... lots of unnecessary pressure and stress were lifted.

    I also think of working out. Working out and eating right usually are doomed from the start because everyone starts with the end goal of looking good in mind. In order to be consistent with that or anything really, the small minded goals need to be dropped and an appreciation of just doing what you are doing needs to take place. Otherwise, no amount of willpower in the world will sustain the disicipline required to continue.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Could/can you still manage to diligently and sincerely pursue the activities nonetheless (like Bodhidharma so diligently sitting for so long) working toward its successful accomplishment?
    Absolutely. By focusing on the activity at hand, wholeheartedly. Although there may be a goal, I think the goal will come about naturally if what you do, you do completely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    How would you accomplish (or "non-accomplish") such a thing? What's such accomplishing-non-accomplishing like?
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I think it's much more fun doing activities like this without worrying so much about an abstract goal. Fully doing something just for the sake of doing it is very freeing.. it's almost like you are a child again playing during recess. You don't know what goals you have, you just want to play with the kids. I really feel that's how work is, and other things in life are when we let go of the grasping and just do the things we are doing. Although this is easier said than done; grasping mind is pervasive, and that's why I practice.

    ###########################################
    Edit:

    But dropping all thoughts of attainment does not give us license to complacently sit like a bump on a log or to live our life passively. It means that we have realized a responsibility to give our all to whatever we are doing. In fact, the only way to give our all and do all we can do is by completely doing it, and not splitting our focus on what we would like to happen.

    So we do put forth great effort and we still try and do our best at whatever it is, but we lose the thoughts of having to get something. So this isn't passive bs. This is an active practice

    Gassho,

    Risho

  28. #28

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    "The Emperor did not understand. Bodhidharma knew that there was no merging and that the time was not ripe. Thus without a word he left on the nineteenth day of the tenth month and he traveled north to the River Yangzi."

    If your understanding and my understanding is the same then there is merging. But if we have totally different ideas about Buddhism or whatever, we are separated. That's what I thought Dogen meant.
    Yes, this is really interesting, mainly because that "no merging" part is a bit difficult to decipher. What or Who is the "no merging" referencing, I keep asking myself? Kojip has one take, Andy has another, and Rich gives us a third.

    Again, who is the "no merging" referencing? This questions leads me to three more:

    1. Is it Emperor Wu alone?
    2. Is it between Wu and Bodhi-D?
    3. Is this "no merging" speaking more generally, of all things, no-merging-as-in-things-are-already-merged, no separation from the beginning and thus no such thing as merging?

    I really don't know.

    All three questions at once, plus the first? I think possibly Rich and Andy's interpretations can be "merged" (I'm sorry, I know, I know, I had to) together.

    Okay I'm done, I'm gone.

    Gassho,
    Alan

  29. #29

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by andyZ
    Kojip,

    I have "Blue Cliff Record" book where this koan also appears. It's a bit longer there and it actually talks about the question that the emperor asked. So the question was about the two truths conventional and ultimate (relative and absolute). And the "holly truth of Buddhism" was that the relative and the absolute are not two. So that's what the emperor wanted to ask Bodhidharma about. The "vast emptiness" is the absolute and the "I don't know" is the relative. I think in that sense Dogen's comment about "not merging" makes perfect sense.

    Hi Andy... could you expand a bit on how "I don't know" is the relative? Thanks.

    Gassho, kojip.

  30. #30

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich

    Yes, this is really interesting, mainly because that "no merging" part is a bit difficult to decipher. What or Who is the "no merging" referencing, I keep asking myself? Kojip has one take, Andy has another, and Rich gives us a third.
    Hi Alan. I think Andy and I are talking around the same point. Form and emptiness are one..not-two. Realizing 100% form is realizing 100% emptiness.. 99% form is not emptiness... that is what I mean by holding back .. not "going over", or not moving completely.

    But whether this is what is referenced in the koan I'm not sure.

  31. #31

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    Quote Originally Posted by andyZ
    Kojip,

    I have "Blue Cliff Record" book where this koan also appears. It's a bit longer there and it actually talks about the question that the emperor asked. So the question was about the two truths conventional and ultimate (relative and absolute). And the "holly truth of Buddhism" was that the relative and the absolute are not two. So that's what the emperor wanted to ask Bodhidharma about. The "vast emptiness" is the absolute and the "I don't know" is the relative. I think in that sense Dogen's comment about "not merging" makes perfect sense.

    Hi Andy... could you expand a bit on how "I don't know" is the relative? Thanks.

    Gassho, kojip.
    Kojip,

    I may be full of BS, but here it goes
    Each one of us is a manifestation of the absolute, so when emperor asked to describe that "relative" self - the person who was standing in front of him - Bodhidharma also said - "I don't know". In a way these two responses "merged" b/c they both came from the same place of emptiness.

  32. #32

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Yes I agree with Rich, his explanation makes sense.

    I'm not sure if we can get all these details correct though. As Jundo mentioned in his introduction to koan studies talk a lot of language and all the details that preceded these encounters may be lost to us. For me the important question is why Bodhidharma spent 9 years facing the wall after this encounter?
    Supposedly, he was already enlightened. I guess Dogen here gives us a clue that China of that time "wasn't ripe" to receive this teaching or even perhaps Bodhidharma himself wasn't skilful enough in transmitting his teaching and he realized that. So he sat for 9 years perfecting his skill/waiting for the right moment.

  33. #33

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by andyZ
    Yes I agree with Rich, his explanation makes sense.

    I'm not sure if we can get all these details correct though. As Jundo mentioned in his introduction to koan studies talk a lot of language and all the details that preceded these encounters may be lost to us. For me the important question is why Bodhidharma spent 9 years facing the wall after this encounter?
    Supposedly, he was already enlightened. I guess Dogen here gives us a clue that China of that time "wasn't ripe" to receive this teaching or even perhaps Bodhidharma himself wasn't skilful enough in transmitting his teaching and he realized that. So he sat for 9 years perfecting his skill/waiting for the right moment.

    I was wondering what Benka's three offerings was in reference to. I found one link that talks about him with this koan: http://www.conceptos.net/cafebuda/shoyoroku/i02.htm

    I couldn't even find anything in A Concise Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen

    Gassho,

    Risho

  34. #34

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich

    Yes, this is really interesting, mainly because that "no merging" part is a bit difficult to decipher. What or Who is the "no merging" referencing, I keep asking myself? Kojip has one take, Andy has another, and Rich gives us a third.
    Hi Alan. I think Andy and I are talking around the same point. Form and emptiness are one..not-two. Realizing 100% form is realizing 100% emptiness.. 99% form is not emptiness... that is what I mean by holding back .. not "going over", or not moving completely.

    But whether this is what is referenced in the koan I'm not sure.
    A translator's choice of wording is just a person's heartfelt opinion, yet for reference, here are how two other translations handled this phrase which Tanahashi expressed "no merging" ...

    Nishijima-Cross:

    The emperor did not understand. The master knew that the time was not right. So, on that nineteenth day of the tenth lunar month [the master] quietly left, traveling north up the [Yangzi] River.

    Shasta Abbey:

    The emperor had failed to awaken to what Bodhidharma was pointing to, and the Master realized that the occasion was not opportune. So, on the nineteenth day of the tenth lunar month (November 27), he snuck away to north of the Yangtze River

    So, the emperor was all "I don't know" about "I don't know". :P

    Gassho, J

  35. #35

    Question to Shishin's commentary to Case 2

    NOTE FROM JUNDO: HOPE YOU DON'T MIND, I MOVED THIS OVER HERE ...

    Hi all,
    I not want to disturb the main Case 2 discussion, thus a separate thread: I stumbled over a sentence in Gerry Shishin Wicks wonderful commentary:

    "There is no fixed thing that is the self - nothing to grasp onto, no firm ground
    upon which to stand, no right understanding to attain"

    I can relate pretty good to almost all of that, but the very last. The right understanding to me seems just to understand that there is no fixed self, that there is no safe ground and even that our understanding is always incomplete. To me right understanding is basically the same as the right view, which the buddha said to be essential. No ?

    Glad about any comments that get me the "right understanding" of "there is no right understanding" ;-)
    Gassho and thanks for reading,
    Myoku

  36. #36

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    I was wondering what Benka's three offerings was in reference to. I found one link that talks about him with this koan: http://www.conceptos.net/cafebuda/shoyoroku/i02.htm
    Hi Risho,

    Thank you for the link.

    That is really a wonderful resource on some of the puns, stories and poems that might be referenced in the Preface and Appreciatory Verse. (I say "might be", because the source and its meaning is sometimes clear and sometimes open to opinions). There is also no information or link to who is the author of that webpage (I don't think it is Cleary), which adds to the mystery.

    I would just add on the reference to "host" and "guest" that these are also traditional Chan/Zen code words for "the absolute" and "the relative".

    Preface to the Assembly

    Benka’s three offerings did not prevent his being punished (1): If a luminous jewel were thrown at them, few are the men who would not draw their swords. (2) For an impromptu guest there’s not an impromptu host; (3) he’s provisionally acceptable but not absolutely acceptable. If you can grasp rare, valuable treasure, let’s toss in a dead cat’s head and see…(4)



    Notes

    1. In China a man named Benka presented an unpolished jewel to three rulers in succession, but none of them recognized its value. Emperor Wu similarly did not know Bodhidharma’s true worth.

    2. Seeing something strange coming at them and not knowing the jewel’s value, most men would grab for their sword thinking only to protect themselves. Again, this refers to the Emperor’s response to Bodhidharma’s words.

    3. A good guest should announce his coming beforehand; a good host is supposed to be always ready to entertain. Emperor Wu failed to be a ready host for his guest, Bodhidharma.

    4. In Goto Egen, vol. 13, is the following story: A monk asked Sozan what was the most valuable thing in the world. Sozan replied that a dead cat’s head was the most valuable. When the monk asked why, Sozan replied that it was because nobody could put a price on it. A dead cat here points to the main case.


    Appreciatory verse

    Emptiness, no holiness—
    The questioner’s far off.
    Gain is to swing the axe and not harm the nose; (7)
    Loss is to drop the pot and not look back.
    In solitude he sits cool at Shorin;
    In silence the right Decree’s fully revealed.
    The autumn’s lucid and the moon’s a turning frosty wheel;
    The milky way’s pale, and Big Dipper’s handle hangs low.
    In line the robe and bowl handed on to descendents;
    Henceforth are medicine to men and devas. (8)


    7. This couplet refers to two traditional incidents. In olden China a man named Eijin had some mud stuck on the tip of his nose. He had his expert axeman remove it for him. The expert ‘s whistling axe-stroke cleanly removed the dirt without harming his nose in the least.

    In the second incident, while a man named Shoseki lived at Taigen, he once carried an earthenware steampot behind him on a shoulder pole. By accident it slipped off and broke, but even as he heard it crash he kept right on going and never looked back.

    8. Bodhidharma presented his robe and begging bowl to his Dharma heir, Eko, as a Symbol of his approval, and this practice continued through the Sixth Patriarch. Devas are heavenly beings.

    Gassho, J

  37. #37

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by andyZ
    Yes I agree with Rich, his explanation makes sense.
    Yep, especially in light of the other translations. Thanks, Jundo, for those. Simplicity where I was making things more complex than necessary!

  38. #38

    Re: Question to Shishin's commentary to Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Myoku
    NOTE FROM JUNDO: HOPE YOU DON'T MIND, I MOVED THIS OVER HERE ...

    Hi all,
    I not want to disturb the main Case 2 discussion, thus a separate thread: I stumbled over a sentence in Gerry Shishin Wicks wonderful commentary:

    "There is no fixed thing that is the self - nothing to grasp onto, no firm ground
    upon which to stand, no right understanding to attain"

    I can relate pretty good to almost all of that, but the very last. The right understanding to me seems just to understand that there is no fixed self, that there is no safe ground and even that our understanding is always incomplete. To me right understanding is basically the same as the right view, which the buddha said to be essential. No ?

    Glad about any comments that get me the "right understanding" of "there is no right understanding" ;-)
    Gassho and thanks for reading,
    Myoku
    Hi Myoku,

    An attainer's attaining that there is nothing separate to attain, no separate objective to attain by any separate attainer ... is the Great Attainment we attainers all strive for and may hopefully get to, and (in Dogen's way of Practice-Enlightenment expression) the very "nothing to attain" is found right in the very act and diligent effort of attainers to so attain, both before and after we get there! :shock: Kind of a "reverse Catch-22".

    I was recently looking at a passage of the Diamond Sutra in which Buddha states that there is no Buddha to be or become, nor anything for the Buddha to Teach, nor any Supreme Unexcelled Enlightenment (annuttara-samyak-sambodhi) to attain either ... which is the Supreme Unexcelled Enlightenment of a Buddha as he Taught and which we should strive for!

    "What do you think, Subhuti, has the Tathagata arrived at the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind? Does the Tathagata give any teaching?"

    The Venerable Subhuti replied, "As far as I have understood the Lord Buddha's teachings, there is no independently existing object of mind called the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind, nor is there any independently existing teaching that the Tathagata gives. Why? The teachings that the Tathagata has realized and spoken of cannot be conceived of as separate, independent existences and therefore cannot be described ...

    ...

    The Buddha replied, ... "Subhuti, in fact, there is no independently existing object of mind called the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind. What do you think, Subhuti? In ancient times, when the Tathagata was living with Buddha Dipankara, did he attain anything called the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind?"

    "No, World-Honored One. According to what I understand from the teachings of the Buddha, there is no attaining of anything called the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind."

    The Buddha said, "Right you are, Subhuti. In fact, there does not exist the so-called highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind that the Tathagata attains. Because if there had been any such thing, Buddha Dipankara would not have predicted of me, 'In the future, you will come to be a Buddha called Shakyamuni.' This prediction was made because there is, in fact, nothing that can be attained that is called the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind. Why? Tathagata means the suchness of all things (dharmas). Someone would be mistaken to say that the Tathagata has attained the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind since there is not any highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind to be attained. Subhuti, the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind that the Tathagata has attained is neither graspable nor elusive. ...

    http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhi ... mond1.html
    So, perhaps "Right Understanding" is no "Right Understanding" ... which is "RIght Understanding". :shock:

    Gassho, J

  39. #39

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Hi there - some interesting interpretations/responses here.

    Reading over the Main Case again it struck me as pointing to the way in which the human mind
    tries to arrive at knowledge/meaning/understanding.

    Emperor Wu has already made some decisions - firstly, he's decided that the truth of buddhism is a holy truth - and
    secondly that the ultimate meaning of this holy truth can be delivered in words.

    These two assumptions are tainted by delusion.

    Bodhidharma replies 'Vast emptiness. No holiness'

    I agree with Andy - this reply is probably a concise reference/pointing to the absolute and the relative.

    When Emperor Wu asks who stands before him - Bodhidharma chooses to reply in the absolute,
    but Wu misses the point - so there can be no merging (common undrstanding).

    In Wicks's notes he differentiates between understanding and creating an understanding. Emperor Wu
    falls into the way of creating an understanding when he makes the assumption that buddhism is a holy truth.
    When we create an understanding we live in the realm of dualistic thought. Unknowing - or 'don't know' releases
    us into a more open, intuitive way of understanding.

    I don't know if Bodhidharma sat facing the wall for nine years in a profound state of 'unknowing' but I like
    the appreciatory verse,

    'In solitude he sits cool at Shorin,
    in silence the Right Decree's fully revealed.'

    Gassho

    Willow

  40. #40
    Member Thane's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Newtonhill, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
    Posts
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    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Hi folks

    I have really enjoyed reading your discussions on case 2. Thank you Reverend Jundo for your explanation of the appreciatory verse and preface to the assembly i found that very helpful. The lines referring to a dead cat's head and swing the axe and not harm the nose were confusing me but your explanation really helps bring the meaning of these sentences to light.

    One line that keeps striking me is the final sentence in Gerry Shishin Wick's commentary "when Bodhidharma left the emporer, he spent nine years facing a wall. What was he doing for those nine years? If you understand this koan, you can answer without hesitation". Well what struck me was that Gerry Shishin Wick was challenging the reader here to think deeply about he koan. Still not sure i know this without hesitation but what came to me was that Bodhidharma was doing nothing. just practicing, perhaps leading by example, just following his practice, knowing that people when ready would come to him for teaching? :shock:

    In gassho

    Thane

  41. #41

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Merit of being, with out seeking out merit. Nothing holy(all as-it-is-perfectly-holy), just do it.
    The Don't know tears down what the emperor had built up and what stands out to me is with that Bodhidharma sits his 9 year stint.
    Good idea!

    Gassho
    Shohei

  42. #42

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Considerable legend and myth surrounding Bodhidharma and whenever I hear the name I think of the supposition that he was instrumental in bringing martial arts to China. Many believe China had martial arts well before this was purported to take place. (Of course, as Jundo has pointed out in other posts much about Bodhidharma may be more myth than fact.) Anyway with the following question in mind:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Can you think of some activities in your life that would be/are richer when undertaken dropping completely all thought of reason or merit or goal or holiness/specialness to it?

    Could/can you still manage to diligently and sincerely pursue the activities nonetheless (like Bodhidharma so diligently sitting for so long) working toward its successful accomplishment?

    How would you accomplish (or "non-accomplish") such a thing? What's such accomplishing-non-accomplishing like?
    I think of Chinese Martial Arts, which I have practiced since I was 18 years old. I see this on a number of levels. When you do a form or kata, at best there is not much in the way of thinking about what you are doing….yes you do have flashes of thoughts that come into your head, but at best you are flowing from one move to the next and not evaluating every move. Also Kung Fu makes me think of Jundo’s mentioning of the “dance” in relationship to our practice. At its best doing a form is simply flow with no evaluation, no thoughts of the end, it just is. Below Jackie Chan doing a snake form.

    [youtube] [/youtube]

  43. #43

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    A translator's choice of wording is just a person's heartfelt opinion, yet for reference, here are how two other translations handled this phrase which Tanahashi expressed "no merging" ...

    Nishijima-Cross:

    The emperor did not understand. The master knew that the time was not right. So, on that nineteenth day of the tenth lunar month [the master] quietly left, traveling north up the [Yangzi] River.

    Shasta Abbey:

    The emperor had failed to awaken to what Bodhidharma was pointing to, and the Master realized that the occasion was not opportune. So, on the nineteenth day of the tenth lunar month (November 27), he snuck away to north of the Yangtze River

    So, the emperor was all "I don't know" about "I don't know". :P

    Gassho, J
    ...oh. well, it was a chance talk about the wild fox just the same..

    Gassho, kojip

  44. #44

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Regarding Bodhidharma facing the wall for 9 months... In "Tracing back the radiance, Chinul's Korean way of Zen" by Robert Buswell, Chinul talks at length about "sudden awakening,gradual cultivation" Awakening to the unconditioned/conditioned or emptiness/form.... is by nature sudden. Yet after sudden awakening , there is gradual cultivation... or clarification.. due to beginningless habit energy of body and mind. Facing the wall is clarifying. If there is no final state of awakening..clarification is ongoing.

    This is just a thought...... maybe it is relevant?

  45. #45

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    Regarding Bodhidharma facing the wall for 9 months... In "Tracing back the radiance, Chinul's Korean way of Zen" by Robert Buswell, Chinul talks at length about "sudden awakening,gradual cultivation" Awakening to the unconditioned/conditioned or emptiness/form.... is by nature sudden. Yet after sudden awakening , there is gradual cultivation... or clarification.. due to beginningless habit energy of body and mind. Facing the wall is clarifying. If there is no final state of awakening..clarification is ongoing.

    This is just a thought...... maybe it is relevant?
    Hi Kojip,

    The greet Korean Son (Zen) teacher Chinul's expressions, as I understand, may speak of the Rinzai emphasis on the breakthrough experience of Koan Introspection Zazen, his way as inspired by the founder of Koan Instrospection Zen, Tahui ... but chocolate or vanilla, same sweetness.

    Dogen might be said to have spoken of endless moments of sudden awakening, manifesting myriad flavors and colors great and small, some (in Wisdom) we may realize and some (in ignorance) not ... which sudden awakening is the very path of cultivation itself. In other words, every step of the journey ... from beginner to Buddha (not two) ... is sudden and awakened with each step to those who know it, yet we move forward and ahead ever cultivating and making awakening real. Awakening is not seeing a one time snap shot of a frozen postcard garden, but a living garden which takes constant tending and cultivation to make real ... yet is Buddha all through, spring summer fall winter spring, bare or flowering or strangled with weeds.

    Something like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thane
    ... "when Bodhidharma left the emporer, he spent nine years facing a wall. What was he doing for those nine years? If you understand this koan, you can answer without hesitation". ... what came to me was that Bodhidharma was doing nothing. just practicing, perhaps leading by example, just following his practice, knowing that people when ready would come to him for teaching?
    On questions like this, you too should "Just Sit" for 9 years, then 9 years more, then 9 years more ... with emphasis not simply on the "sit" of "Just Sit", or the "9 years" of "9 years", but the "Just This" of "Just Sit". Then one may finally reach the reachless-stage of realizing that one was "Ready" all along.

    Something like that.

    Gassho, J

    PS -

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianW
    Considerable legend and myth surrounding Bodhidharma
    Yes, we have discussed before how actually extremely little is historically known of Bodhidharma, and that most all of his story is likely a religious myth and hagiographical legend constructed by later generations of the Zen folks, the Kung fu folks, tea folks about their old hero ...

    viewtopic.php?p=71830#p71830

    No problem, as the stories do express timeless truths, whether the meeting with Emperor Wu, the sitting for 9 years and all the rest, are historical events or not. He is a figure like Moses, also (say the historians) perhaps not a "historical figure"who actually led slaves across the Red Sea in the way told in the legend ... yet standing for Liberation nonetheless.

    In a recent post, Dosho Port discusses a new book that seeks to trace Bodhidharma's steps. Well, I appreciate the sentiment of the book and Andy the author, but if you ask me, any "evidence" for who Bodhidharma was, where he went and what he taught, is mostly wishful religious thinking, "could've been's" and "maybe what if's".

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildfoxzen ... /1037.html

    However, no problem ... for the Truth of Bodhidharma is in one's heart, and in each moment of Sitting.

    Gassho, Jundo

  46. #46

    Re: Question to Shishin's commentary to Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    An attainer's attaining that there is nothing separate to attain, no separate objective to attain by any separate attainer ... is the Great Attainment we attainers all strive for and may hopefully get to,
    Thank very much you Jundo,
    I'm back on track, for the moment
    _()_
    Myoku

  47. #47

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    I really don't know.

    Thank you for your questions, Jundo. I'll ponder about them, holding them in my arms like a small child, and see what happens

    I also wonder: Did the Emperor Wu know that Bodhidharma didn't know?

    Gassho

    Rimon

  48. #48
    Member Thane's Avatar
    Join Date
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    Location
    Newtonhill, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
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    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Reverend Jundo wrote

    On questions like this, you too should "Just Sit" for 9 years, then 9 years more, then 9 years more ... with emphasis not simply on the "sit" of "Just Sit", or the "9 years" of "9 years", but the "Just This" of "Just Sit". Then one may finally reach the reachless-stage of realizing that one was "Ready" all along.

    Something like that.

    Gassho, J


    Many thanks Reverend Jundo _/l_

  49. #49

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Why? It would seem like there is no point if "no merit" and "no holiness", just "vast emptiness". Why bother ... why sit? Likewise, was he actually telling the Emperor not to do these good works, and that they really had no worth or merit?

    Or, perhaps that "no merit ... emptiness no holiness" is the very reason to sit and donate ... and the greatest Holy Merit Fullness!?

    Then, when Bodhidharma was asked "who stands before me," he replied "I don't know!"

    Did that mean that Old B'dharma actually "just didn't have a clue", or ... for he already was surely a Great Master whose reputation proceeded him ... did this "I don't know" manifest a most profound Knowing? Maybe a Knowing, but without some pesky "I" in the way, no separate things to be known, no names and labels and other outside facts to hammer down ... just Not Knowing Knowing?

    But then, if there was already actually Knowing ... why sit??If no 'I', why sit his ass down?
    I've been sitting with and pondering these questions all week and I see a lot of wonderful answers in this thread, but so far every time I sit with these questions and after going through long and detailed explanations in my mind, the only thought that seems to jump out and grab me is this,

    I don't know, back to the cushion.

    Gassho,

    Jeff

  50. #50

    Re: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 2

    Quote Originally Posted by willow
    Hi there - some interesting interpretations/responses here.

    Reading over the Main Case again it struck me as pointing to the way in which the human mind
    tries to arrive at knowledge/meaning/understanding.

    Emperor Wu has already made some decisions - firstly, he's decided that the truth of buddhism is a holy truth - and
    secondly that the ultimate meaning of this holy truth can be delivered in words.

    These two assumptions are tainted by delusion.

    Bodhidharma replies 'Vast emptiness. No holiness'

    I agree with Andy - this reply is probably a concise reference/pointing to the absolute and the relative.

    When Emperor Wu asks who stands before him - Bodhidharma chooses to reply in the absolute,
    but Wu misses the point - so there can be no merging (common undrstanding).

    In Wicks's notes he differentiates between understanding and creating an understanding. Emperor Wu
    falls into the way of creating an understanding when he makes the assumption that buddhism is a holy truth.
    When we create an understanding we live in the realm of dualistic thought. Unknowing - or 'don't know' releases
    us into a more open, intuitive way of understanding.

    I don't know if Bodhidharma sat facing the wall for nine years in a profound state of 'unknowing' but I like
    the appreciatory verse,

    'In solitude he sits cool at Shorin,
    in silence the Right Decree's fully revealed.'

    Gassho

    Willow
    Hi Willow. Yes! This is well said and is what I took from it too and clumsily tried to convey in a little poem. Wu is trying to understand the thing intellectually, but unknowing is open, completely open, boundless, beyond and beyond, the thinking mind not getting in the way and cluttering things up. Wu wants answers, answers, and therefore, he is closed to things as they are. How often I am Wu, though!

    In any case, I wanted to answer Jundo's question as well. Activities that are richer when dropping all thought of reason/merit/goal. It seems to me all things richer when this merit is dropped: just jogging rather than trying to get in perfect shape, just cooking rather than trying to impress the company, just talking with someone rather than forcing a conversation in selfish ways, just being there with someone, just walking the dog, just swimming, just eating, just cleaning, just writing, just treeleafing, just sitting.

    Gassho,
    Alan

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