May 2009 Archives

Whattsa Who'sa Bodhisattva?

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Over the next few weeks, we'll be looking at several of the famous "Greats" among the Bodhisattvas.


The "Greats" include Kannon, Maitreya, Manjusri, Jizo, Samantabhadra and many others. We'll look at a few Buddhas too ...


Especially in Mahayana Buddhism, a "Bodhisattva" is an enlightened being, or one bound for enlightenment, who ... motivated by great compassion, and even postponing her own attainment of ultimate Buddhahood ... vows to use her wisdom to aid other human beings to attain liberation.


But, ya know, that may be YOU on both the receiving and giving end of that.





(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

Urban Meditation: On The Train

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Continuing our series on Sitting in the City ...

... on a commuter train today, lots of tired folks heading home from work ...

... lost the netcast signal though after a couple of stations (oh well)

But a crowded train or bus is a great place to sit (or stand) Zazen ...

... if you remember that good Buddhists give up their seat to little old ladies and the like, even if during Zazen.

This particular train circles Tokyo in a big loop, round and round ... back to where it starts ...

No opening or closing bells for today ... nothing to say ... no particular time either, just a bit of Zazen between getting on and getting off ...

Even if a working person, there are countless places and opportunities suitable for a moment of Zazen ... even if hanging from a strap or on the move.





(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

More City View

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Sitting again in the busy streets of downtown Tokyo ... the noise and hussle, traffic and distractions ...

... But are there "distractions" if all resistance to the distractions is dropped from mind?

Then everything is just there, as it is ... no problem!

The cars and crowds are then just passing by, no more intrusive than the smoke from a stick of incense or the flickering light of an altar candle.

 Many Buddhist Masters, Master Dogen among them, advise us to sit in a "quiet room". That is how I usually sit too.

Yet, is not the true "quiet room" to be found when the mind is roomy and quiet?

Thus, it is good from time to time to take our sitting "on the road", to busy and noisy places ...

... like the streets of the Big City.




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

City View

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In Tokyo today ... looking at the skyline ..amazingly complicated city ... tangled streets ...

... millions of people, millions of lives ... yet, from a Buddhist perspective, all One beyond One.

Just a silent sitting today, not even a bell.




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)
Hi,

To commemorate the visit of our Sangha Member Hans (from Germany) to Treeleaf Japan ...

... today is a  special 2-hour Hans-Zenkai Zazenkai (Zazen sitting)  ...

recorded in "real time" and available at the following link:



We start with 3 floor prostrations (or deep Gassho), then chant the Heart Sutra (in GERMAN today!!), and sit as follows:

00:00 - 00:50 CEREMONY & ZAZEN
00:50 - 01:00 KINHIN
01:00 - 01:10 TALK BY HANS
01:10 - 01:50 ZAZEN
01:50 - 02:00 KINHIN, VERSE OF ATONEMENT, FOUR VOWS, & CLOSING


I SUGGEST THAT YOU POSITION YOUR ZAFU ON THE FLOOR IN A PLACE WHERE YOU ARE NOT STARING DIRECTLY AT THE COMPUTER SCREEN, BUT CAN GLANCE OVER AND SEE THE SCREEN WHEN NECESSARY. YOUR ZAFU SHOULD ALSO BE IN A POSITION WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE COMPUTER SCREEN WHILE STANDING IN FRONT OF THE ZAFU FOR THE CEREMONIES.

ALSO, REMEMBER TO SET YOUR COMPUTER (& SCREEN SAVER) SO THAT IT DOES NOT SHUT OFF DURING THE 4 HOURS.


Please join in, one and all.

Gassho, Jundo

Like Croaking Frogs

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(BENDOWA XXXI)

Old Dogen sounds pretty critical here about some other Buddhist practices, such as chanting Nembutsu (chants of praise to a Buddha) and reading Sutras.

But what is he really saying? 

He is certainly not against all study of Buddhist Sutras and other great writings, but is against reading to the exclusion of practice .

He is not against all chanting, but only chanting seeking favors from Buddha or to gain merit for oneself.

In fact, he is against anything that neglects Zazen.



_____________________________

Question Three:


Q: Such reasons as correct transmission by the unexcelled method of the Tathagatas and following in the footsteps of the patriarchs are beyond common sense. To ordinary people, reading the sutras and [chanting] the Nembutsu are the natural means to enlightenment. You just sit cross-legged and do nothing. How is this a means to enlightenment?

 

A: You look on the meditation of the Buddhas and the supreme law as just sitting and doing nothing. You disparage Mahayana Buddhism. Your delusion is deep; you are like someone in the middle of the ocean crying out for water. Fortunately we are already sitting at ease in the self-joyous meditation of the Buddhas. Isn't this a great boon? What a pity that your true-eye remains shut-that your mind remains drunk. The world of the Buddhas eludes ordinary thinking and consciousness. It cannot be known by disbelief and inferior knowledge. To enter one must have right belief. The disbeliever, even if taught, has trouble grasping it. For example, when the Buddha was preaching at Grdhrakuta, the disbelievers were allowed to go away. To bring out the right belief in your mind you must train and study. If you cannot do this, you should quit for awhile, regretting that you lack the influence of the law from a former beneficial relation. What good are such actions as reading the sutras and saying the Nembutsu. How futile to think that Buddhist merits accrue from merely moving the tongue and raising the voice. If you think this covers Buddhism, you are far from the truth. Your only purpose in reading the sutras should be to learn thoroughly that the Buddha taught the rules of gradual and sudden training and that by practicing his teachings you can obtain enlightenment. You should not read the sutras merely to pretend to wisdom through vain intellections. To strive for the goal of Buddhism by reading many sutras is like pointing the hill to the north and heading south. It is like putting a square peg in a round hole. While you look at words and phrases, the path of your training remains dark. This is as worthless as a doctor who forgets his prescription. Constant repetition of the Nembutsu is also worthless-like a frog in a spring field croaking night and day. Those deluded by fame and fortune, find it especially difficult to abandon the nembutsu. Bound by deep roots to a profit-seeking mind, they existed in ages past, and they exist today. They are to be pitied. Understand only this: if enlightened Zen masters and their earnest disciples correctly transmit the supreme law of the seven Buddhas, its essence emerges, and it can be experienced. Those who merely study the letters of the sutras cannot know this. So put a stop to this doubt and delusion. Follow the teachings of a real master and, by zazen; attain to the self-joyous samadhi of the Buddhas.


From: Bendowa - in 'The Soto Approach to Zen'  - by Masunaga Reiho





(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

Pulling Weeds

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Our topic today is 'Samu' ... Work Practice ...

... which is just Zazen working ...

While Zazen is at the heart of our Way, other aspects of traditional Zen Practice also should be introduced and encouraged. I have been meaning to do so more and more around Treeleaf. One of the most vital is the non-doing of 'Samu' (traditional work practice) ...

Samu is well described in this excerpt ...


Samu is manual work done with the same concentration as zazen. All masters of transmission, especially Master Hyakujo (720-814), have insisted on this. Even in his old age, Master Hyakujo worked every day in the field with his students. One day, they hid his tools, thinking that their master should spare himself. Hyakujo declared: "A day without working, a day without eating." And he stopped eating until his disciples gave him back his tools.

In zen, work has great value, because it allows us to practise the Way in action. In the dojo and during retreats (sesshins), zazen is followed by samu, which is when we do the chores to ensure the smooth functioning of communal life. Samu also means putting our efforts at the service of the community, without expecting anything in return. French version of the texts from Zen, by Bovay, Kaltenbach and De Smedt, Albin Michel Publishing, 1993

Yes, Samu is just Zazen in action. It may not look like seated meditation, but it is to be done from the same state of mental balance. Couple this with an attitude of goalless, non-striving, 'just doing', also a hallmark of Zazen. As well, work is to be performed mindfully, as the only action in and of the whole universe : One engaged in Samu should devote to it all care and attention, never wishing for or thinking of anything else.

The result is a job performed diligently and patiently and with certain goals, but with no thought of anything to achieve (of course, not a contradiction in Zen). It may be a continuing job that just needs to be done without end, but we do it with all care moment by moment by moment for the time we have.

I encourage those Treeleaf folks with the time to give a few hours each week to volunteer activities in their community (please consult with me, if you wish, about an appropriate choice of work). However, those with heavy family or employment duties can make that part of that their 'Samu', approaching it with the mindset described above.





(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)


To subscribe to "Treeleaf Zen" click here.

Let's Play! / Taking A Break

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(BENDOWA XXX)

The topic for today is whether it is okay to take a break from Zen Practice sometimes ...

... but before I get to that, I want to return briefly to something I was called on by a comment yesterday.

When I said that our "Zen Practice is like putting down toys" ... I did not mean that life should not be play.

Quite the contrary: We should play this game, kids!



_____________________________

Question Three:


Q: Such reasons as correct transmission by the unexcelled method of the Tathagatas and following in the footsteps of the patriarchs are beyond common sense. To ordinary people, reading the sutras and [chanting] the Nembutsu are the natural means to enlightenment. You just sit cross-legged and do nothing. How is this a means to enlightenment?

 

A: You look on the meditation of the Buddhas and the supreme law as just sitting and doing nothing. You disparage Mahayana Buddhism. Your delusion is deep; you are like someone in the middle of the ocean crying out for water. Fortunately we are already sitting at ease in the self-joyous meditation of the Buddhas. Isn't this a great boon? What a pity that your true-eye remains shut-that your mind remains drunk. The world of the Buddhas eludes ordinary thinking and consciousness. It cannot be known by disbelief and inferior knowledge. To enter one must have right belief. The disbeliever, even if taught, has trouble grasping it. For example, when the Buddha was preaching at Grdhrakuta, the disbelievers were allowed to go away. To bring out the right belief in your mind you must train and study. If you cannot do this, you should quit for awhile, regretting that you lack the influence of the law from a former beneficial relation. What good are such actions as reading the sutras and saying the Nembutsu. How futile to think that Buddhist merits accrue from merely moving the tongue and raising the voice. If you think this covers Buddhism, you are far from the truth. Your only purpose in reading the sutras should be to learn thoroughly that the Buddha taught the rules of gradual and sudden training and that by practicing his teachings you can obtain enlightenment. You should not read the sutras merely to pretend to wisdom through vain intellections. To strive for the goal of Buddhism by reading many sutras is like pointing the hill to the north and heading south. It is like putting a square peg in a round hole. While you look at words and phrases, the path of your training remains dark. This is as worthless as a doctor who forgets his prescription. Constant repetition of the Nembutsu is also worthless-like a frog in a spring field croaking night and day. Those deluded by fame and fortune, find it especially difficult to abandon the nembutsu. Bound by deep roots to a profit-seeking mind, they existed in ages past, and they exist today. They are to be pitied. Understand only this: if enlightened Zen masters and their earnest disciples correctly transmit the supreme law of the seven Buddhas, its essence emerges, and it can be experienced. Those who merely study the letters of the sutras cannot know this. So put a stop to this doubt and delusion. Follow the teachings of a real master and, by zazen; attain to the self-joyous samadhi of the Buddhas.


From: Bendowa - in 'The Soto Approach to Zen'  - by Masunaga Reiho





(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

(BENDOWA XXIX)

Uchiyama Roshi comments on this section:

The meaning of the third question is: Okay. Zazen is good. I understand that it cannot be reached by ordinary thoughts. But it might be possible to become enlightened through various practices, such as reciting sutras and chanting nembutsu. I feel unsatisfied with only sitting silently. In other words, this questioner thinks that to do something is better than to do nothing.

First of all, people in this world like to play with toys. They always feel something lacking if they have no toys at hand. ... Pianos, cameras, golf, and automobiles are all objects of pleasure for such people.... [even] working hard, involvement in social climbing, even studying or research activities can be nothing more than playing with toys.Among all the human activities in the world, there is nothing in which we can live out our own life without amusing ourselves with toys. This is the point where Zazen is wondrous. ... To practice true Zazen is to live being awakened to the reality of the life of the self in its true sense, without playing with toys, without comparison to others, without self-deception or self-amusement. Dogen Zenji's zazen is the only way to straightforwardly live out the reality of the life of the self that is beyond relation to others. We must understand this thoroughly. There is no way to help you if you say you feel something lacking in zazen.


_____________________________

Question Three:


Q: Such reasons as correct transmission by the unexcelled method of the Tathagatas and following in the footsteps of the patriarchs are beyond common sense. To ordinary people, reading the sutras and [chanting] the Nembutsu are the natural means to enlightenment. You just sit cross-legged and do nothing. How is this a means to enlightenment?

 

A: You look on the meditation of the Buddhas and the supreme law as just sitting and doing nothing. You disparage Mahayana Buddhism. Your delusion is deep; you are like someone in the middle of the ocean crying out for water. Fortunately we are already sitting at ease in the self-joyous meditation of the Buddhas. Isn't this a great boon? What a pity that your true-eye remains shut-that your mind remains drunk. The world of the Buddhas eludes ordinary thinking and consciousness. It cannot be known by disbelief and inferior knowledge. To enter one must have right belief. The disbeliever, even if taught, has trouble grasping it. For example, when the Buddha was preaching at Grdhrakuta, the disbelievers were allowed to go away. To bring out the right belief in your mind you must train and study. If you cannot do this, you should quit for awhile, regretting that you lack the influence of the law from a former beneficial relation. What good are such actions as reading the sutras and saying the Nembutsu. How futile to think that Buddhist merits accrue from merely moving the tongue and raising the voice. If you think this covers Buddhism, you are far from the truth. Your only purpose in reading the sutras should be to learn thoroughly that the Buddha taught the rules of gradual and sudden training and that by practicing his teachings you can obtain enlightenment. You should not read the sutras merely to pretend to wisdom through vain intellections. To strive for the goal of Buddhism by reading many sutras is like pointing the hill to the north and heading south. It is like putting a square peg in a round hole. While you look at words and phrases, the path of your training remains dark. This is as worthless as a doctor who forgets his prescription. Constant repetition of the Nembutsu is also worthless-like a frog in a spring field croaking night and day. Those deluded by fame and fortune, find it especially difficult to abandon the nembutsu. Bound by deep roots to a profit-seeking mind, they existed in ages past, and they exist today. They are to be pitied. Understand only this: if enlightened Zen masters and their earnest disciples correctly transmit the supreme law of the seven Buddhas, its essence emerges, and it can be experienced. Those who merely study the letters of the sutras cannot know this. So put a stop to this doubt and delusion. Follow the teachings of a real master and, by zazen; attain to the self-joyous samadhi of the Buddhas.


From: Bendowa - in 'The Soto Approach to Zen'  - by Masunaga Reiho





(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

Like A Buddha Changing a Tire?

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(BENDOWA XXVIII)

In other words ...

Someone asks ... "Hey Dogen, your wild talk of "Zazen as the way of the Buddhas and Ancestors" is tough for ordinary folks to grasp. There are many schools of Buddhism which propose that we should attain enlightenment or salvation by doing something ... studying the Sutras, chanting a Buddha's name or the name of a sacred scripture. Why do you tell us to sit around doing nothing, achieving nothing. "


Dogen responds ... "Don't think that we are 'doing nothing'. We sit right in the middle of enlightenment and just do not recognize the fact. It is just beyond our ordinary thinking. To recognize this fact, part of what is required is to have faith in the method."
_____________________________

Question Three:


Q: Such reasons as correct transmission by the unexcelled method of the Tathagatas and following in the footsteps of the patriarchs are beyond common sense. To ordinary people, reading the sutras and [chanting] the Nembutsu are the natural means to enlightenment. You just sit cross-legged and do nothing. How is this a means to enlightenment?

 

A: You look on the meditation of the Buddhas and the supreme law as just sitting and doing nothing. You disparage Mahayana Buddhism. Your delusion is deep; you are like someone in the middle of the ocean crying out for water. Fortunately we are already sitting at ease in the self-joyous meditation of the Buddhas. Isn't this a great boon? What a pity that your true-eye remains shut-that your mind remains drunk. The world of the Buddhas eludes ordinary thinking and consciousness. It cannot be known by disbelief and inferior knowledge. To enter one must have right belief. The disbeliever, even if taught, has trouble grasping it. For example, when the Buddha was preaching at Grdhrakuta, the disbelievers were allowed to go away. To bring out the right belief in your mind you must train and study. If you cannot do this, you should quit for awhile, regretting that you lack the influence of the law from a former beneficial relation. What good are such actions as reading the sutras and saying the Nembutsu. How futile to think that Buddhist merits accrue from merely moving the tongue and raising the voice. If you think this covers Buddhism, you are far from the truth. Your only purpose in reading the sutras should be to learn thoroughly that the Buddha taught the rules of gradual and sudden training and that by practicing his teachings you can obtain enlightenment. You should not read the sutras merely to pretend to wisdom through vain intellections. To strive for the goal of Buddhism by reading many sutras is like pointing the hill to the north and heading south. It is like putting a square peg in a round hole. While you look at words and phrases, the path of your training remains dark. This is as worthless as a doctor who forgets his prescription. Constant repetition of the Nembutsu is also worthless-like a frog in a spring field croaking night and day. Those deluded by fame and fortune, find it especially difficult to abandon the nembutsu. Bound by deep roots to a profit-seeking mind, they existed in ages past, and they exist today. They are to be pitied. Understand only this: if enlightened Zen masters and their earnest disciples correctly transmit the supreme law of the seven Buddhas, its essence emerges, and it can be experienced. Those who merely study the letters of the sutras cannot know this. So put a stop to this doubt and delusion. Follow the teachings of a real master and, by zazen; attain to the self-joyous samadhi of the Buddhas.


From: Bendowa - in 'The Soto Approach to Zen'  - by Masunaga Reiho





(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

Just Sit, Just Live

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This Way of 'Just Sitting' is also our Way of 'Just Living' ...





(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

A Bad Dream

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Man, I just woke up from a pretty bad dream.

I don't remember all the details ... something about getting fired and losing a job  I had years ago.

 (I guess a lot of folks are having ... or living ... that same nightmare these days!)

But it was pretty scary!


So, are Buddhists allowed to be scared sometimes? Sure!

Isn't this Zen thing supposed to put us beyond all human fear? No ...  not so long as we are human!

(although it actually does free us from fear in countless ways too)





(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)
Please join our MAY MONTHLY 4-hour 'Live from Treeleaf' ZAZENKAI, recorded in "real time" and available at the following link:


Remember, when we drop all thought of 'here' 'there' 'now' and 'then' ... we are sitting all together!

Please have a chuckle as my 6 year old son, Leon, turns our chanting today into into a wild dance!  ... He was supposed to be in bed! :-) 

Our Zazenkai consists of our chanting the 'Heart Sutra' and the 'Identity of Relative and Absolute (Sandokai)' in English (please download our Chant Book at the link below), some full floor prostrations (please follow along with me ... or a simple Gassho can be substituted if you wish), a little talk by me ... and we close with the 'Metta Chant', followed at the end with the 'Verse of Atonement' and 'The Four Vows'.

Please download and print out the Chant Book (PDF) at the following link:


The schedule is as follows:

00:00 - 00:50 CEREMONY (HEART SUTRA / SANDOKAI) & ZAZEN
00:50 - 01:00 KINHIN
01:00 - 01:40 ZAZEN
01:40 - 01:50 KINHIN
01:50 - 02:30 DHARMA TALK & ZAZEN
02:30 - 02:40 KINHIN
02:40 - 03:20 ZAZEN
03:20 - 03:30 KINHIN
03:30 - 04:00 METTA CHANT & ZAZEN, VERSE OF ATONEMENT, FOUR VOWS, & CLOSING


I SUGGEST THAT YOU POSITION YOUR ZAFU ON THE FLOOR IN A PLACE WHERE YOU ARE NOT STARING DIRECTLY AT THE COMPUTER SCREEN, BUT CAN GLANCE OVER AND SEE THE SCREEN WHEN NECESSARY. YOUR ZAFU SHOULD ALSO BE IN A POSITION WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE COMPUTER SCREEN WHILE STANDING IN FRONT OF THE ZAFU FOR THE CEREMONIES.

ALSO, REMEMBER TO SET YOUR COMPUTER (& SCREEN SAVER) SO THAT IT DOES NOT SHUT OFF DURING THE 4 HOURS.


Please join in, one and all.

Gassho, Jundo
(BENDOWA XXVII)


I want to continue and clarify a couple of things mentioned in the last talk ... I asked:


But, in fact, did all the Buddhas and Ancestors practice exactly the form of Zazen we practice?

No ...  and Yes ...


The moment we sit Zazen, we are sitting exactly as the Buddhas and Ancestors sat. What's more, we --are-- the Buddhas and Ancestors sitting.

Some might even say that Zazen is sitting you, me, the Ancestors and Buddhas ... There's just sitting!

In other words, our sitting may be somewhat different from how the Buddhas and Ancestors sat, just as you and I and the Buddhas and Ancestors are all somewhat different, separate people.

Yet our sitting is precisely the same, just as you and I and the Buddhas and Ancestors are precisely the same.
 
ALSO A REMINDER: OUR MAY MONTHLY 4-HOUR ZAZENKAI WILL BE TOMORROW, LIVE FROM SATURDAY 9PM (JAPAN TIME) and AS A REAL TIME RECORDING LATER




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

(BENDOWA XXVI)


In the remaining pages of Bendowa, Master Dogen answers a series of 18 questions about the whys and hows of Zazen ...

First, he starts off by saying that Zazen is the gateway to truth, to what the Buddha realized.

Furthermore, Zazen is what all the Buddhas and Ancestors practiced.

So, if it was good enough for all of them, it is probably good enough for us! :-)

But, in fact, did all the Buddhas and Ancestors practice exactly the form of Zazen we practice?

No ...  and Yes ...


_____________________________

Question One & Two:


Now we have heard how high and great is the merit of this zazen. [But] some stupid person might doubtingly ask, "There are many gates to the Buddha-Dharma. Why do you solely recommend sitting in Zazen?"


I say: Because it is the authentic gate to the Buddha-Dharma.


[Someone] asks, "Why do you see it as the only authentic gate?"


I say: Great Master Sakyamuni exactly transmitted, as the authentic tradition, this subtle method of grasping the state of truth, and the tathagatas of the three times [past, present and future] all attained the truth through Zazen. Thus the fact that [Zazen] is the authentic gate has been transmitted and received [from one person to another]. Furthermore, [all the ancestors of Indian and China] all attained the truth through Zazen. Therefore 1am now preaching [Zazen] to human beings and gods as the authentic gate..


From: Bendowa - A Talk about Pursuing the Truth  - Nishijima-Cross [with some amendments according to Uchiyama]





(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)


Settling The Waters

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The way to settle the ripples in a vessel of agitated water is not by doing something ... not by patting down the ripples with our hand, not by blowing on them or trying to will them down ... but by doing nothing at all, allowing the waters to still and balance of their own accord.

The way to settle the ripples of thought and emotion of the mind is much the same ... not by doing something ... but by doing nothing at all with great focus, letting the mind still and balance of one's own accord by our very sitting still.





(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

Zen At The Movies

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In transit, coming back from a retreat, so no netcast today ...

Instead, a few jotted words on "Enlightenment", and its various interpretations ... doodlings on a train ...

Let me use a "movie theater" parable for the point I wish to present here ...

Imagine our lives are like being born into a movie show, watching a story on a screen, which we do not realize is a fiction with actors and paper scenery, just flickering light projected into an image before our eyes. Because we take the image as real, the movie deceives and imprisons us, and the scary scenes really are scary! That is much the way that we human beings cannot see through this world, and do not see how much (perhaps all) is created as a kind of illusion. This world we live in is a world of mental confusion, false categories and divisions, and thus "Delusion"

"Awakening" though Zen Practice occurs when we come to see clearly that the show is just a show, and we see the wondrous timeless light (sweeping "us" in too) that arises from some half-hidden projector beyond our view, and how the story is largely written by us too (thus change the mind, and radically change the movie script).

Almost all schools of Eastern Philosophy, Buddhism and Zen Buddhism (including Soto Zen and Jundo) are in full accord so far ...

But here is where I think that there are very different views on what "Enlightenment" truly is ...

For some Eastern schools say that the point of "Enlightenment" is to merge with the light, and completely leave the "false" movie behind. That is not the Zen view (at least as far as any teachers, old or new, of whom I know ... and at least not during the period of our human lifetimes).

For some other Eastern schools (including some flavors of Zen Buddhism), the emphasis is on somehow "GETTTING & STAYING AWAKE", as if we are to ALWAYS see that the movie is ALWAYS a lie, that we will not allow ourselves to get suckered into the story EVER, because the false story is somehow ALWAYS harmful in some way. The LIGHT is TRUE while the movie is FALSE, so END OF STORY!

But our Soto Zen view is more this:

False or not, grab some popcorn, fall right into the story, go along with the game and savor the show! 8) Let yourself get suckered in much or most of the time, for what is the point of a movie if you don't get pulled into it (what is the point of life, if not to live life ... with all the drama and comedy, tears and smiles)? That is, HOWEVER, with the proviso that we do not get suckered in TOO MUCH, and can remind ourselves that it is "just a movie" as and when appropriate to do so (for example, we refuse to buy into all the "greed anger and ignorance" themes in the film, and reject those parts. Staring endlessly at the projector is not the point, and those brief "glimpses" when we look back and see the light and the projector are useful, but just a "point of reference" before we redirect our attention to the story. When the movie gets too scary, we can remind ourselves that it is "just a movie, the monster is not real", and can reject the "birth" and "death" part of the picture, experiencing the light when we want). Back and forth, back and forth.

In this way, we see that the movie ... although it is false "Delusion" ... is ABSOLUTELY PRECIOUS AND TRUE TOO (and not merely "as a movie", but as the point of the whole theater and production!)

 The purpose of a movie is not to recall constantly the projector and light, but to experience the story. The story is JUST AS TRUE AS THE LIGHT, and is the light realized! In fact, the purpose of the light might actually be said to be the images on the screen, which are just the light itself (for what is the meaning of naked light from a projector if not the movie????) Thus, live life ... it is TRUE ... for what else is the meaning of being alive? Every scene, camera angle and line of dialogue is REALITY TOO, and JUST OUR LIVES TO BE LIVED!

Who wants to spend a whole wonderful movie that you paid $9 for if all you will do the whole time is remember that it is a lie, or stare into the projector, or criticize the plot????? 8) In fact, FORGET THE LIGHT much of the time, because the point of the light is for you to experience the movie with the light (most of the time) forgotten!

Of course, during some of the "bad patches" (like getting divorced or sick or otherwise encountering suffering), it is perfectly fine practice to remember "this is just a movie, and we are characters in it". But at other times, just grab a bunch of tissues and have a good cry through the sad story on the screen (and a frequent good laugh as well).

 

Sound the Retreat!

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I am off to a Zen Retreat for the next few days, at a Zen temple deep in the mountains, invited by a friend who is the priest there ... which means:

OUR MONTHLY 4-HOUR 'LIVE' ZAZENKAI WILL BE HELD ON Saturday MAY 9th


And our usually 'Live' 1-hour Zazen for tomorrow (Saturday May 2nd) will be pre-recorded ...

Others postings by me may be a bit irregular the next few days, as the internet connection is limited ...

But it is good and necessary to attend a Zazen Retreat from time to time, leaving the world's affairs behind for a period.

Why? 

If just "a moment of Zazen is a moment of enlightenment" ... why even bother?




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)