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Jundo
10-24-2016, 06:04 AM
Case 69 never ends, and so we question Case 70, Shinzan Questions the Nature of Life ...

The central metaphor of the Koan is that a "bamboo" shoot is not yet mature as a grown bamboo, and until maturity there is an obstacle to the sheath of the bamboo being used in the making of bamboo rope. Yet, all is unborn as well, and there are no obstacles from the start. Bamboo is just bamboo all along, young or old. Nonetheless, there are obstacles and differences.

In Master Dogen's Teachings of 'Practice-Enlightenment', one progresses down the road, gathering experience and mastery, yet each step is the whole thing, complete unto itself with no place to go, no progress and no goal.

This is not our usual way of approaching life and thinking about "getting somewhere".

It is a bit like saying that one is "Buddha" already when a mess of a human being before undertaking Practice, "Buddha" when first starting practice or a few years in, "Buddha" when well seasoned 30 years down the road, Buddha when someday finally becoming a perfect Buddha. In other words, the mess and the "newish fellow" and the fellow 30 years down the road are all "Buddha", but hopefully the latter fellow is 30 years more seasoned at living and acting as "Buddha"!

Or, one might say that in climbing the mountain of Shikantaza, the bottom of the mountain is Buddha, the top of the mountain is Buddha, and the point is not just to finish the hike or get to the top. Rather, the point of the hike is the hiking, and eventually the realization that all steps top to bottom are Buddha all along. Also, we are Buddha when we stay on the Path or fall in the mud (or off the cliff!), yet perhaps with experience we get better at falling less! Ultimately, although there is "no place to fall" that is not Buddha and even the mud holes and brambles are just Buddha through and through, nonetheless best to avoid the mud, poison ivy and cliff drops! [scared] (In fact we realize that we are just the mountain all along, and as we walk the mountain thus the mountain has been climbing us, and all is just mountain mountaining mountain, climb climbing without top or bottom to measure. Nonetheless, we keep walking so as to bring the mountain climbing to life!)

In this way, we do make "progress" step by step up the mountain, yet each step by step is itself the "finish line" and total arrival.

This from Master Dogen's Shobogenzo Gyoji:

On the great road of buddhas and ancestors there is always unsurpassable practice,
continuous and sustained. It forms the circle of the way and is never cut off. Between
aspiration [to begin], practice, enlightenment, and nirvana, there is not a moment’s gap; continuous
practice is the circle of the way.

Also, Shobogenzo Hotsubodaishin

Shakyamuni Buddha said, “When the morning star appeared, I attained the way
simultaneously with all sentient beings and the great earth.” Thus, aspiration [to begin], practice,
enlightenment, and nirvana must be the simultaneity of aspiration, practice, enlightenment,
and nirvana with all sentient beings

There is the sense in today's Koan that, perhaps, neither the perspective of Shinzan or Shuzan is truly wrong, but that one or the other way of seeing the Path is lacking. There is no growth, and yet there is. And each step and stage is just what it is, much as the monastery kitchen is just the kitchen, the rectory just the rectory, the toilets just the toilets, the sacred Zendo just the Zendo ... yet each and all is just thoroughly the monastery at once. Each and all thoroughly the Sacred Monastery through and through, without separation or distinction. Nonetheless, one does not cook in the Zendo or pee in the kitchen.

As to the elephant/river image in the Preface, this may refer to a passage from the Nirvana Sutra and implies that even one of some attainment (hearing the elephant) still needs to deal with the rough currents and turns of life and Practice. One may hear that "the nature of life is unborn" and free of obstacles from the start, yet still have to deal with life's obstacles on the road of Practice.

Wick Roshi relates the story of the soldier who looked for his lost sword in the river by marking the side of the boat, thus looking in all the wrong places.

Through this Practice, have you gotten better over the months and years at making progress with no progress to attain?

Gassho, J

SatToday

Kokuu
10-24-2016, 11:00 AM
Thank you, Jundo.

Through this Practice, have you gotten better over the months and years at making progress with no progress to attain?

No better, no worse, but I keep sitting. Some of us are just too stupid to know when to quit!

Deep bows
Kokuu
#sattoday

Jishin
10-24-2016, 11:04 AM
Through this Practice, have you gotten better over the months and years at making progress with no progress to attain?


Sometimes I express this to an alcoholic who is trying to become clean and sober:

"I have been clean and sober for 17 years. Yet you and I have not taken a drink today and therefore are the same rank. One day at a time and you get there."

Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

Myosha
10-24-2016, 01:18 PM
Hello,

"Through this Practice, have you gotten better over the months and years at making progress with no progress to attain?"

It depends.


Gassho
Myosha
sat today

Onkai
10-28-2016, 06:43 PM
Through this Practice, have you gotten better over the months and years at making progress with no progress to attain?

I noticed the biggest difference when I first started sitting. I suddenly felt more conscious of what was around and within me. Now each time I sit, I become more aware of what emotions and energies are rising and my storylines. I don't see so much in the bigger picture, but the practice is a matter of allowing the energies within myself, and I think it has a cumulative effect.

Gassho
Onkai
Sat yesterday and will sit this evening

Tairin
10-30-2016, 11:56 PM
Through this Practice, have you gotten better over the months and years at making progress with no progress to attain?



At times yes and at other times no.

----

I like this Koan. It speaks to me.


The bamboo shoot eventually becomes bamboo. Right now, can you use it as a bamboo sheath, instead

The bamboo shoot is bamboo. It is bamboo and yet it persistently and patiently needs progress towards becoming bamboo.


You will be enlightened on your own later on

Matches up very well with something Jundo recently wrote on another thread "So, I advise you to just hike your hike along the Buddhist Path (http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showthread.php?14851-Have-you-ever-questioned-yourself-if-all-you-think-makes-of-you-just-another-parrot&p=188576&viewfull=1#post188576)."

I will be making progress at my own pace and my own way. I need to hike my own path.


This is the administrator's quarters. That is the cook's quarters.

Regardless of the progress I make. I need to drop the need to make progress at attaining and just see that things are at they are.


At least that's how I see it.

Gassho
Warren
Sat today

Jakuden
10-31-2016, 12:24 AM
At my business, I am strong mature bamboo that can serve in many ways, ripened by learning and experience.
At the Monastery, I am a little bamboo shoot that has a lot of growing to do, but can still serve some important functions.
So it seems we are all stages of bamboo at once, all dependent on each other yet independent too. Amazing!

I love the story of the soldier that notched the boat... isn't that what we all do, carry our views around with us all the time and expect the world to conform!

Gassho,
Jakuden
SatToday

Kyotai
10-31-2016, 12:55 AM
At my business, I am strong mature bamboo that can serve in many ways, ripened by learning and experience.
At the Monastery, I am a little bamboo shoot that has a lot of growing to do, but can still serve some important functions.
So it seems we are all stages of bamboo at once, all dependent on each other yet independent too. Amazing!

I love the story of the soldier that notched the boat... isn't that what we all do, carry our views around with us all the time and expect the world to conform!

Gassho,
Jakuden
SatToday
I like that. Thank you.

Gassho, Kyotai
ST

Risho
10-31-2016, 04:52 PM
Boom Jakuden!!!! gassho2

First, I remind myself that although I notice things, I also make sure not to expect them or set up goals for this practice. Of course, I have goals, but zazen sits me, not vice versa, even though I conventionally say I sit zazen. Further, even though I may have a goal to be a better person, at the same time, when sitting, drop all goals, anything to attain, etc.

That's important to me; I conventionally go into things expecting some outcome, so that is an important practice point I remind myself of and need to remind myself of quite often because I can be a very egotistical person. From one perspective, it's great that I practice consistently bla bla bla, but from another, practice is like brushing my teeth, completely ordinary.

That all being said, I have observed changes in my self. For example, I'm much, much less reactive sometimes, or at times when I do blow up (which come on I'm human of course) I catch it pretty much immediately, and I feel how draining anger is. I also feel how damaging it is. So I try to nip it in the bud immediately.

I notice that I try to feel other people's perspectives on things to see, even if they are pissing me off (which really is me pissing myself off), where they are coming from.

I"m more willing to show my vulnerabilities in an effort to make people more comfortable, and feel safe around me.

There's this opening that has occurred over the years for sure.

Another thing I've noticed, is that what I'm doing doesn't really matter to me as much - let me clarify that. Boredom is something that drove my life, and something I do struggle with, but zen practice has opened this part of me that is just content to be where I am, and it doesn't matter if I'm distracted. Sometimes, I feel weird, but I look around, and I just get this overwhelming feeling of gratitude for all that I have; I cannot believe it. For example, I flew to New York a couple of weeks ago, and I'm looking around, flying in this awesome machine, watching news via satellite! It's ridiculous. That being said, some days, slow internet really really pisses me off. hahahahahah Seriously though, I feel a sense of wonder out of nowhere sometimes. I don't like the idea of death and yet, I wonder what happens? Isn't this just fascinating? I mean really inexpressibly, wonderful.

I've really started liking the Beatles more (kidding I've always loved the Beatles. lol; just checking if you are still reading)

I noticed that I try to make sure my actions are less harmful to others.

I mean there is a lot that has changed in my life since I've started practice; I'm not embarrassed to sit or chant or tell people I practice Zen anymore. That actually is a more recent shift, but it's an important change I've noticed, actually at the beginning of this year's Ango. I feel like practice is just something I do now; before I felt like I had to keep it secret because I didn't really understand why I do it.

And while I still don't understand completely, I've asked enough questions about liturgy and bowing and chanting, that I understand why I do these things also from a perspective, so it really doesn't bother me to do them, because I know why I do them. I know this practice is in my bones now, so it's really just something I do.

And when I don't do it, I know I haven't sat; I feel that imbalance in my day.

So here I am, still myself (whoever that is - which is another just amazing question) but also viewing things a little differently, things feel more meaningful in a way, things feel hopeful. I think this practice, with all of its pointing to impermanence is such an optimistic and beautiful perspective on life. It's not like, hey everything dies, what's the meaning, who cares? It's like, "Hey you are only here for an unknown and limited time in this crazy and beautiful world. What can you do with the time you have?"

Anyway just some musings...

Gassho,

Risho
-sattoday

Hoko
11-03-2016, 03:28 PM
I have noticed some progress/non-progress but it's taken nearly a decade of practice. It only becomes clear to me in moments like the past 24 hours. This koan became very appropriate to me over the last day or so. I experienced high highs and low lows. Then the highs turned out to be not so high and the lows not so low. My dog got sick and needed to see the vet. The what if's came and I bowed to them. Then it turned out the dog was constipated and we laughed and I bowed to that. My accountant called me about my taxes and I was scared of the possibilities. I bowed to that. Then later he called me back to say that progress had been made and the numbers weren't so large. I bowed to that. Then I got a job opportunity that sounds terrific and I bowed to that. But at the end of the job opportunity it was made clear that I would be sacrificing short term gain for long term benefit in that I would need to contribute to the company's value without being so concerned about immediate reimbursement. And I bowed to that.
Rather than flip out or be overjoyed with what gets dropped in my begging bowl I have slowly begun to just see it for what it is and let it evolve into what it's evolving into without letting what I think about it color what it actually is (too much). I can't imagine interacting with the world completely free of opinions but if that happens I know I need to bow to that too.
Gassho,
K2
#SatToday

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AlanLa
11-17-2016, 03:46 PM
Through this Practice, have you gotten better over the months and years at making progress with no progress to attain?
Yes

One thing that AA members say to each other about the 12 steps is that "It works if you work it," and this practice is a lot like that. If I were a Buddha-holic [confused] I would have to admit to falling off the wagon occasionally. I mean, I don't have the most consistent zazen practice, but I do my best to live up to the precepts (12 steps [confused]) every day, and when I look back I can clearly see how I have grown over the time I have been practicing, imperfect as it has been and remains. This buddha remains a bamboo shoot who keeps getting better at finding his way between the toilets, admin offices, and kitchen, while doing my best to only pee in the toilets.