May 2010 Archives

Rev. Taigu reflects:

The self is a trembling dewdrop, its imperfection make it possible for the moon to shine and be reflected. Practice-realization is not about shining forth, dazzling everything, it is the backward step of turning the light and reflecting it (Fukanzazengi, Nishijima-Cross translation). In the process, our imperfections and flaws are greatly perceived, clearly and vividly revealed, deeply redeemed. There is no more room for pride or self importance, the work is to take this delusion and through practice-realization, turn it into awakening. In Dogen's words: Bonno soku bodai (illusions become enlightenment). When an idea arises, just wake up. Just in the waking up to it, it vanishes (Fukanzazengi Shinpintsu-Bon, Cross translation).

(Click through for today's talk and "sit-a-long" video.)

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

The mind creates walls. Knock down the walls.

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

In one of his talks published under the title "Not Always So," Shunryu Suzuki Roshi said, "The secret of Soto Zen is just in the words 'Not always so.' ...This is the secret of the teaching. It may be so, but it is not always so."

Yet if one visits a Zen monastery, one will often be taught to behave in ways that might seem like they should always be "so":  "Bow this way, wear your robes that way, walk precisely this way." Zen can often be surprisingly rigid and formal, for a practice thought to be about "freedom from all restrictions" and "spontaneity." Its teachings, often described as "beyond words and letters" and expressed in mysterious koans, can also often be very definite, clear and precise.

But the funny thing is that the form and rigidity can be a gateway to teachings of true freedom... being free from restrictions even amid seeming restrictions. [Click through for more and to hear more and "sit-a-long" with today's video.]

Its often very clear and unchanging philosophy offers freedom and "unboundedness" in a life that is constantly changing, and "not always so." Suzuki Roshi said, "Real freedom is to not feel limited when wearing the Zen robe, this troublesome formal robe. Similarly in our busy life, we should wear this [life] without being bothered by it... without being caught by it. Without going anywhere, without escaping it, we can find composure in this busy life."

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

Here is a very short passage from the journals of the wandering monkSantoka, translated in Mountain Tasting by John Stevens (a book I really recommend; that is an image of Santoka at left):

Again, I've departed on a journey. There is nothing you can say about me except that I am a foolish pilgrim who spends his entire life wandering like the drifting water plants that float from shore to shore. It appears pitiful, but I find happiness in this destitute, quiet life. Water flows, clouds shift ceaselessly. When the wind blows, leaves fall. Like the fish swimming in the water or the birds flying, I walk and walk, going on and on. In my travels, I touch people and things, letting my heart freely reflect events, recording events just as they occur. The Record of a Beggar Monk will tell the story of my life.

(Click through to read more, and for today's talk and "sit-a-long" video.) 

.
The freedom expressed and unfolded by Santoka, his ability to experience poetry, begging, wandering and sitting as not two, is very remarkable. In fact, he refers to Genjokoan in this fragment of his journal:

A fish swims in the ocean, and no matter how far it swims there is no end to the water. A bird flies in the sky, and no matter how far it flies there is no end to the air. However, the fish and the bird have never left their elements. When their activity is large their field is large. When their need is small their field is small. Thus, each of them totally covers its full range, and each of them totally experiences its realm. If the bird leaves the air it will die at once. If the fish leaves the water it will die at once.

Know that water is life and air is life. The bird is life and the fish is life. Life must be the bird and life must be the fish. You can go further. There is practice-enlightenment which encompasses limited and unlimited life. (Dogen, Genjokoan, translated by Tanahashi)

Zazen gets up and walks, eats, sleeps, drinks, gets involved in ten thousand activities... In this way, the bird or the fish do experience the vast expanse of sky and sea, there is no bound to sitting as it goes into the world and radiates. Going on, walking, working, doing things is for us the daily manifestation of Genjokoan. Buddhist sutras have to be understood in our bones and flesh, experienced in the very core of our being and acted freely. This is the way to study, not with our brain, but in doing.

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

The seventh branch of the Eightfold Path is "Right Mindfulness."

It may be termed a 'mindfulness' of circumstances withinand circumstances without (though truly, within is without, and without just within). Right Mindfulness of circumstances "within" includes being attentive to our inner mental-physical conditions, the causes and workings of the body-mind, emotions and thoughts..

[Click through to hear more and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.]

.
We are aware so as to better understand ourselves by understanding mental origins and effects. By becoming aware of the processes, we may thereby gain a degree of acceptance, understanding and control over the mind.
.
Right Mindfulness of circumstances "without" is an awareness and understanding of the events that surround us in each moment, seeing clearly phenomena as they arise and how we perceive them. We experience how our inner condition, our thoughts and emotions, help create our experience of the world without. We learn to recognize the triggers and effects of greed, anger and ignorance as they arise in others and ourselves.
.
"Within" and "without"' are not apart. We learn to discern the nature of samsara, impermanent, possessing self yet lacking self, so often dissatisfactory to our own inner "self" which judges it. But we also learn how a change to our inner condition, our emotions and thoughts, will change our experience of all that.

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

To view all of Jundo and Taigu's SunSpace posts click here.

Earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, volcanoes, oil spills... the news is filled with many catastrophes, some from nature, some by man. What perspectives might Buddhist teachings offer?

Well, for one, there never was a "disaster," none from the start. No land to shake, no wind to blow, nothing to burn or erupt, no oil to spill into the sea, no sea. No loss, no destruction, no mess to clean up, no place which can be sullied.

And yet, though each is like a dream, each is also true and a fact... and we'd best embrace them all, allow it all, be at one with the terrible situation and impermanency. No resistance. [Click through for more and to hear more and "sit-a-long" with today's video.]

And yet again, though each is but a dream -- and though each is just a fact to unite with -- there is loss to avoid as we can, destruction to prevent, ruin and spills to clean up and resist!

These Truths, seemingly contradictory, are one and whole in a Bodhisattva's eyes.

(Oh, and simple living -- with fewer material needs -- might not be a bad idea either!)

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

The moon in a dewdrop? Yes,  says Rev. Taigu:

A simple, most fragile and imperfect dewdrop may reflect the large moon. A pearl of water can swallow the whole night sky. Dogen points out a finger at a very simple dewdrop, and shows how the self, just as it is, can receive-display-share the brightness of the moon. The moon is the moon, it is also the naked nature of reality, the original face, the perfect form of sitting. The dewdrop is nothing but the self, the limited, deluded, twisted self. And this is the miracle, as a dewdrop, no need to wait or to improve, no need to purify yourself or to get a real miror-like finish or sheen, the almost bursting nature of your body, its flaws and very imperfections are the ideal field of manifestation.

(Click through to read more, and for today's talk and "sit-a-long" video.)

As Dogen wrote in the Genjo Koan:

Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water.

Enlightenment does not divide you, just as the moon does not break the water. You cannot hinder enlightenment, just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky.

The depth of the drop is the height of the moon. Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky.

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

The sixth branch of the Eightfold Path is Right Effort, the effort to put into Practice the links of the Path within our life... to keep on keepin' on. We should be diligent, and stick with it.

We persevere, even those times when we just don't feel like making the effort. Right Intention is the aspiration to do so, while Right Effort is the will to make the day-by-day slog... But we also learn that, as "Just Sitting" Shikantaza, effort can beeffortless,  that we move ahead with nowhere to go... that every step of a steep climb is one step, and one step, andone step... a total arriving...

[Click through to hear more and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.]

.
T
oday's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.
.

To view all of Jundo and Taigu's SunSpace posts click here.

At left is a picture of Master Bodhidharma, the first Chan/Zen Ancestor in China, said to have brought this "Special Transmission" from India. He is said to have sat facing a wall in a cave near Shaolin Monastery for nine years  -- and yet, he probably never really existed. That is, he is a fabrication, a fiction, a made up story (at least, as the "Bodhidharma" we know in legends about him).

Likewise for the famous Sixth Ancestor, Hui-Neng, and so many of the other characters in the history of Zen Buddhism, and all Buddhism: many are, more or less, made-up stories. But the fact that they may "never have truly existed" does not mean that they do not now "truly exist." For they are realized and made real -- in this Practice, in a moment of Zazen!

[Click through to hear more and "sit-a-long" with today's video.]

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

Sit-a-Long with Taigu: Being-Time

| No Comments


Master Dogen expressed his complete vision of Uji, "Being-Time", in theGenjokoan ...

Firewood becomes ash, and it does not become firewood again. Yet, do not suppose that the ash is future and the firewood past. You should understand that firewood abides in the phenomenal expression of firewood, which fully includes past and future and is independent of past and future. Ash abides in the phenomenal expression of ash, which fully includes future and past. Just as firewood does not become firewood again after it is ash, you do not return to birth after death.

(Click through for more, and to watch today's talk and "sit-a-long.")

The translation continues:

This being so, it is an established way in buddha-dharma to deny that birth turns into death. Accordingly, birth is understood as no-birth. It is an unshakable teaching in Buddha's discourse that death does not turn into birth. Accordingly, death is understood as no-death.

Birth is an expression complete this moment. Death is an expression complete this moment. They are like winter and spring. You do not call winter the beginning of spring, nor summer the end of spring.

( Kazuaki Tanahashi's translation)

Rev. Taigu comments:

.

As we sit, we may experience the world in a very different way. Self dropped, body and mind dropped, the usual way we experience reality is left behind too. In our daily life, duality is important, otherwise we would all end up dead after a few minutes walk in the heart of a city... Time appears linear, things seem to pop up and fade away, discrimination is our daily bread and tool. Nothing wrong with this view, but as Dogen points out, it is very much incomplete. Each reality in this is complete, each reality is a perfect body of reflection of the whole reality. Each reality is time. This idea we are swiming in a pool of time, or involved in a race against time, can be also dropped. In this nowness of now, being and time are experienced as one. Perfect as it is, each moment has no need to become.

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

The fifth branch of the 'Eightfold Path' is "Right Livelihood." Right Livelihood means that, as a life choice, one should earn a living in ways not harmful, and helpful and healthful to the world.
.

Nurse, social worker, and teacher seem obvious choices. In our interconnected economy, so too do bus driver, honest salesman, cheerful office worker, waitress supporting her kids, the engineer or businessman providing goods or services which benefit lives.

[Click through to read more and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.] 
.

Certainly, burgler, heroin pusher, hitman and environmental polluter fall outside the mark.

And for all of us in careers of complexity -- the lawyer, soldier, butcher (traditionally, said banned by Buddha), nuclear scientist -- we must honestly follow our hearts: Are we doing what is really necessary? Are we doing it in the best ways we can? Are we leaving this world a better place?

The workplace (like the home, like every place) is our place of Practice ...

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

To view all of Jundo and Taigu's SunSpace posts click here.

Rev. Taigu continues reflecting on Eihei Dogen's words from theGenjokoan...

"To carry yourself forward and experience myriad things is delusion. That myriad things come forth and experience themselves is awakening... To study the buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly."

(Click through for more, and to watch today's talk and "sit-a-long.")

Taigu writes:

The ten thousand things, the myriad things can be seen as the boundless field of Buddha nature which is this as it is, so as we sit, dropping off body and mind, letting go of the self, the whole universe is also sitting. The brightness of the moon, real moon, symbol of awakening and moon of sitting, are nothing but one. The myriad things are also these then thousand activities and things and people found and met everyday. Dropping body and mind is to fully live and die every time: whatever we do, we do it fully and once it is done, we forget it: in other words we are not carrying things, people, experiences into what comes next. We are not making today with yesterday or looking at Spring being the end of winter. The perception of a continuity, the illusion of a linear time, collapse into this joyful being-time. Every moment is perfect as it is, complete, without any before or after. This wholeness, this beingness, this nownessas Trungpa Rimpoche used to often speak of, is what Dogen points out here.

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.