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Thread: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 74

  1. #1

    BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 74

    Case 73 never ends, and so we arise to Case 74, Hogen's Substance and Name ...

    The word "Dharma" can be confusing to folks because it carries a couple of rather different meanings in Buddhist lingo. One is something like "phenomena", which means the things and events which happen in the universe and all reality. Each is a "dharma." One is the Buddha's Teachings about how those phenomena, the universe and reality works (for example, in the phrase "We study Buddha Dharma" or "practice the Dharma"). In the Koan, the use of "dharmas" is probably the former meaning of things, events, phenomena.

    So, a monk asks Hogen, "I've heard it said in a sutra that all dharmas arise from a nondwelling base. What is this non-dwelling base?"

    As Shishin Wick points out, sometimes we call this "non-dwelling base" as "Emptiness", although the monk seems to make the mistake of trying to stick a label on it, and turn it into some frozen and fixed thing.

    Hogen responds to the monk, saying that "form arises before substance. Name occurs before naming." It is a tricky statement, but I take it to mean something like "all the things and events of the universe somehow are present in the wonderful potential of Emptiness before they actually seem to happen, and before they then have a name and interpretation stuck on them by our mind."

    Shishin relates a conversation from the Vimalakirti Sutra that seems to express aspects of the Buddha's traditional Teaching on "Dependent Origination". In the conversation, it is described how the body (a Dharma phenomena of form) is arising from our craving/desire, which comes from our inner discrimination and inverted thinking, which all arises from the "Non-abiding" sourceless source. Shishin points out that this "non-abiding" sourceless source is also what we might sometimes call "Emptiness" (it is a "sourceless source," because we should avoid to think of it as a fixed thing). It is not nihilism either, as in "nicht nada zero," because this "non-abiding" Emptiness is also some wondrous, fertile potential and home for all things.

    The Preface to the Assembly seems to describe some "Traceless" without a speck of dust and free of appearances, which is nonetheless the source of all myriad dharmas and ten-thousand virtues (myriad things) of the world. When we leap from the top of a hundred-foot pole (i.e., awaken as this) we too are this and fill the ten directions (everywhere) of the world.

    The Appreciatory Verse seems to describe this beyond traces and words (footprints and communications), rootless and colorless like the pure wind, which nonetheless is the whole earth, all the ages of time, all the shapes of things, all nations and the smallest speck of dust. Realize this and you too are like great Bodhisattvas and Buddhas.

    Yamada Roshi commented ...

    There is also the saying “actual form as no form” (jiss˘-mus˘). If we speak in order about the matters here, we can say that Mu [Emptiness] is true form. Although there is not a single thing, the phenomenal world extends out clearly.
    Although the phenomenal world extends out clearly, the content is completely empty. ... Life possesses limitless capabilities. But nevertheless I cannot show or produce life for perusal. I can only show my body, which has form or color. That is the element of form. But life is empty. We should not however assume that they are two different things. When we say “form is emptiness,” we are apt to think that there are two different things that somehow equal each other, as if joined with an equal sign. But they are truly one and the same. This is our true reality.

    ...

    [A] monk came to call on this H˘gen Osh˘ and posed the following question: “I hear that a sutra says, 'From the basis of non-abiding all dharmas are established.'” ... In the present case, “all dharmas” means all phenomena. The “basis of non-abiding” (mujűhon) means that there is no place where it abides. This is the basis. This is the same as the matter of mind I mentioned above, or the matter of life. There is nothing at all. It means that there is no place where mind abides. You can say the same thing about life. This is known as “non-abiding.” ... Masaharu Taniguchi, the founder of the religious organization Seich˘-No-Ie, says that all things arise out of nothing. If we say it like that, you might think there are two things: nothingness and that which arises from it. But that is not the case. All things have two aspects. From one standpoint they are empty, and from another standpoint they have form. But because that is difficult to understand, for the sake of explanation he says that all things arise from nothing. [JUNDO NOTE: The "nothingness" here is certainly not "nothing" in the nihilistic sense, but "Emptiness"]

    ...

    H˘gen said, “Form arises from what has no substance yet; name comes from what has no name yet.” ... To say “from what has no substance yet” means emptiness. ... I would prefer to say, “form is no other than no-substance, name is no other than no-name.” Everything has a name, but actually there is nothing you can attach a name to, because it is empty. It is attaching a name to where there is nothing. Your original self is empty and has no name. For the sake of convenience we attach a name, such as my name Yamada Ky˘z˘. But my true essence is empty ...

    ... [O]ur true nature is empty and cannot be named. It is for the sake of convenience that we attach a name. I would like you all to realize this empty self. In the saying “form is emptiness, emptiness is form” we find the essence of Buddhism. Most people do not concretely grasp this world of emptiness. Although they might think they can do it intellectually, they do not grasp it concretely. There is no other way than to experience the pain in your legs from sitting and to eliminate your false self.
    Yamada Roshi's comments on the Appreciatory Verse are also quite lovely ...

    The words “no traces, no tiding” reveal the world of not a single thing, the world of emptiness. When the poem says, “the white clouds have no roots” it’s talking about phenomena, which means that they are essentially empty. Just like white clouds, they scatter in the wind. The pure wind blows freshly, a gentle breeze that you can feel on your skin. But the wind has no color. To say that it has no color means that it is empty. ... It is holding the earth in the midst of emptiness. It is truly amazing. It might seem that because there is nothing holding it, the earth would fall down, but it does not. What is holding it then? Emptiness is holding it. This is how the poet sees things. ... When you realize satori you also clarify and realize this. What do you realize? You realize that there is only this moment now. There is only this moment. That is the thousand ancient depths. The rest is just intellectualizing. The second line about “models of ten thousand phenomena” is the aspect of space. It means all phenomena in the worlds in the ten directions. It is the rule that sees to their aspect. It arises from the “basis of non-abiding.” Where does it come from? ...

    ... If the gate of the tower is opened, Each head is [Bodhisattva] Maitreya. It means that, everywhere and at all times, it is perfect and complete. ... It means to truly realize and grasp your own true self, the true universe. Then you realize that “each head is Maitreya.” You realize that there is nothing missing.
    http://www.sanbo-zen.org/shoyoroku_74.pdf
    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-05-2017 at 01:54 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2

    BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 74

    Emptiness shouldn't be understood in a nihilistic sense. That's why Yamada Koun Roshi refers to it, too, as the Empty-Infinite. To realize Emptiness "when we experience the pain in our legs from our sitting and eliminate our false self" is to realize our True Self. And to realize our True Self is to be able "to leap from the top of a hundred-foot pole... and fill the ten directions of the world..."

    Thank you, Jundo

    Gassho,
    Matt

    SatToday


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Last edited by themonk614; 01-05-2017 at 09:30 AM.
    "You may wander all over the earth but you have to come back to yourself." --Jiddu Krishnamurti

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    So, a monk asks Hogen, "I've heard it said in a sutra that all dharmas arise from a nondwelling base. What is this non-dwelling base?"
    Beyond names and words. Beyond emptiness and form. Beyond Buddha. No Buddha. No mind. Open you mouth and that's not it. Keep your mouth closed and that's not it. Not nihilism and not no nihilism. All things return to the one. Beyond the one. Don't know.

    Just...

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  4. #4
    Thank you Jundo. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    s@today

  5. #5
    Thank you, Jundo.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    The word "Dharma" can be confusing to folks because it carries a couple of rather different meanings in Buddhist lingo. One is something like "phenomena", which means the things and events which happen in the universe and all reality. Each is a "dharma." One is the Buddha's Teachings about how those phenomena, the universe and reality works (for example, in the phrase "We study Buddha Dharma" or "practice the Dharma"). In the Koan, the use of "dharmas" is probably the former meaning of things, events, phenomena.
    Hi Jundo,

    I've noticed the seemingly multiple meanings of "Dharma" but I always assumed it was on purpose in the sense that there is always some teaching involved in our encounters and experiences with the "phenomena" around us. Also our experience with "phenomena" is affected and tempered by our absorption of the "teachings". Not two. Am I reaching too much?


    As for this Koan, after reading it I felt unsettled as it touches on impermanence. Change is not something I feel comfortable with in life. I am not one who naturally thrives on new experiences or new environments. I'd rather just stay at home in familiar surroundings. I know change is inevitable. My son is no longer a baby. My beard has grown grey with age. The weather was clear and cold this morning. Now it is snowing. On the other hand there is a fascinating sense of awe that comes from the realization that out of the Empty-Infinite all things arise. I struggle to not cling to permanence. At the same time I am learning to see the beauty in the endless potential that can arise.

    I can't quite put my finger on it but something in your commentary (which I read after reading the koan) was comforting.

    EDIT. I read over this koan again today and in retrospect maybe I was just feeling unsettled yesterday and that reflected in my read of the koan.

    Gassho
    Warren
    Sat today
    Last edited by Tairin; 01-08-2017 at 03:26 PM.

  7. #7
    Chiming in.
    Thank you, Jundo!

    Like Warren (and I suspect everyone else on the planet) I struggle with allowing uncertainty to be my teacher.
    Opening up to the unknowing, non-dwelling base is the great challenge of life.
    Most people would rather live in the "comfort" of a "what if" than simply let things play out as they are.
    And yet, writhing around in the "what ifs" is rarely productive.
    Mark Twain said "I've worried about a lot of things in my life, most of which never happened..."

    An anecdote in honor of the closing of the Tower of Terror ride at Disneyland here in California USA:
    This ride is basically an elevator that lifts and drops you multiple times. I hate it.
    I've always had a fear of "drops" on rides and that's pretty much the whole ride in a nutshell.
    Anyway, as part of my efforts to conquer my childhood fear of amusement park rides (it's a thing, ok?) I have ridden this horrible contraption several times along with my wife who, for some inexplicable reason, enjoys it.
    The first few times I grabbed the handholds and glued my butt to the chair the whole time. I just ENDURED it.
    My wife noticed this and made fun of me; said I should "let go and enjoy it". But HOW?!?!?!
    So the last time I went (last November) I took her advice and let go and you know what? There honestly WAS joy in the letting go!
    How does one apply this to other "out of control" aspects of sentience?
    I suspect the answer is: practice, practice, practice. And a good deal of acceptance when one CAN'T let go.

    But every time some seemingly random, unknown event rattles my cage I go through the same OCD, desperate, grasping "need to control this", "need to know how this turns out!" rigmarole in my brain.
    What to do? How to deal?
    Just sit, yes!
    But I find comfort in the not knowing.
    "Form arises from what has no substance yet; name comes from what has no name yet.”
    The same ineffable suchness that creates such consternation can simultaneously be a comfort, I think.
    While I don't know how the situation will turn out I also don't know how the situation will turn out!

    When I really, truly admit to myself that I don't know how the situation will play out there is some comfort in that.
    "Maybe it will go badly!" I think. But at the same time "maybe it will go smoothly!".
    Study the self very carefully and get to the root of why I prefer to see the situation going badly instead of seeing the situation going smoothly.
    Get to the root of why I need to see the situation going in my head in the first place!

    Just some thoughts that rattled through my skull as I read the koan.

    Gassho,
    K2
    #SatToday

  8. #8
    K2,

    The Tower of Terror: me too. I live in CA too, and my friends and everyone loves that ride. Meanwhile, I am also trying desperately to glue myself to tge seat. Been scared since childhood. No amount of rides has helped me, but I just smile and go along.

    I like your analogy!

    Gassho, sat today
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  9. #9
    Me three. I was traumatized by "Free Fall" at six flags (same kind of ride) so would never do Tower of Terror!

    Thank you Jundo and everyone for your comments. Not grasping, not knowing, just sitting and being the Dharma.

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  10. #10
    For kicks, I want to take the opposing view. By naming things we bring them into reality. Stuff doesn't exist until we name it something, and then... voila! A unique example is that the color pink doesn't actually exist in nature, only in our minds. Thus we have the power to turn formlessness into form, non-abiding into abiding. We express emptiness into form. We create the universe and all that's in it. But I don't disagree with Hogen at all. He is right, too
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post
    For kicks, I want to take the opposing view. By naming things we bring them into reality. Stuff doesn't exist until we name it something, and then... voila! A unique example is that the color pink doesn't actually exist in nature, only in our minds. Thus we have the power to turn formlessness into form, non-abiding into abiding. We express emptiness into form. We create the universe and all that's in it. But I don't disagree with Hogen at all. He is right, too
    I wonder if there is anything in what you said that would conflict in any way with what Hogen said.

    I like to think that the something like color arises many places. There is the tree, the vibrating molecules of the tree, the light, the space through which the light travels in time outward in many directions, the eye which catches some light, the neurons of the visual cortex of the brain, the conscious experience of "green", you emotional response to admire the color and appreciation for the tree, the name and description one then gives to the experience and thing "out there" ... all one great loop.

    Where is the green arising? YES! If you think the world is inside or outside you, one finds that "you" and all we experience is a dance looping in and out.

    I see nothing in the Koan to deny any of that.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    You are correct, of course. I posted this, sat zazen, took a shower, and somewhere along the way realized it wasn't an opposing view at all. By the time I came back to edit it, you had already caught it.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  13. #13


    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday

  14. #14
    Dharma is emptiness, and it is "everythingness." Stepping off a hundred foot pole is scary, but we already are doing it together here. It doesn't have to be the loss of everything, just the awareness of how everything extends beyond our senses.

    My earliest memory of what I would label "dukkha," a deep dissatisfaction with being human, was upon realizing that I could not do everything I wanted to do or dreamed of doing in one lifetime. Now, realizing that the rest of humanity and the universe itself are doing it for me is liberating. I can continue being my particular color grain of sand with my own language and labels for things and preferences and strengths and weaknesses and foibles. The Universe will provide all else needed, as I practice to become aware of them and it. Thanks to all of you and to the Universe! You rock!
    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday






    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  15. #15
    In the UK, we had a mobile phone advert wherein a cat did crazy things and the viewers were exhorted to "Be more dog." As a dog owner, I always thought that this would make a good zen aphorism.

    My dog has no awareness that she is a dog; she doesn't know what going on a walk means; doesn't know that I am a human; has no concept of time. To understand emptiness, I think we just need to be more dog.

    Everything was before my dog. Everything is there now. Everything will be there when my dog is no more. She didn't know what a ball was until somebody threw one and encouraged her to bring it back. Now it's fun. Now it's "Fun"...but she doesn't know what fun is.

  16. #16
    "I've heard it said in a sutra that all dharmas arise from a nondwelling base. What is this non-dwelling base?"

    I know this sounds coy, but the only answer I can come up with for this is that no answers are satisfactory. We can point to this, but we really need to practice to experience. Practice while sitting in "the lab" and bringing that into life also.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday

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