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Thread: LIVING by VOW: The Heart Sutra - pp 164-170 (Stopping at Dongshan’s Nose)

  1. #1
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    LIVING by VOW: The Heart Sutra - pp 164-170 (Stopping at Dongshan’s Nose)

    Time to pick up where we left off (and pick up the pace)

    Shohaku continues our dance with emptiness, bringing us beyond the idea that there is something “other”, something beyond phenomenal existence.

    “When we hear ‘since all dharmas are marked with emptiness, they do not appear or disappear’ we might imagine there is ‘something’ beyond the phenomenal... We might believe this something is noumenon which does not either appear or disappear, something that is permanent.”

    (In metaphysics, the noumenon is a posited object or event that exists independently of human sense and/or perception. Wikipedia)

    Looking back on it now, that search for ‘something’, that permanent base to build ‘I am’ upon, was what brought me to practice in the first place. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it all shifting sand!

    Can you think of a time when the sand shifted under your feet? How did it feel? Was there fear? Was there joy? Something else?

    The Heart Sutra does not leave us immobile on that shifting sand though, it also shows us another way to navigate. Shohaku references Genjokoan again and reminds us that rather than try and build sandcastles, the key is to embrace the changing patterns of our lives to become ‘free from our yardstick and see things from a broader perspective’. More than just sandcastles can be built...

    ‘This is the way we transform ourselves, transform ourselves, transform our way of life, enabling us to be flexible and see things without attachment. It is not mere insight or wisdom but rather a practice. Practice in the form of zazen is the foundation of our lives.’

    We sit. We watch our thoughts come and go. Sometimes we build sandcastles and watch the sea knock them down...

    Practice can be scary. It can also be wonderful. Have you felt the fear? The joy?



    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday/LAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-22-2018 at 07:52 AM.
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  2. #2
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    Sbugen

    Looking forward to moving on (although I have taken a quick preview of the next few sections). Like the Two Truths, I've struggled at times to get my head around emptiness, which is beyond words and labels. It is indeed a dance as when I feel I've got it, Shohaku describes it from a different perspective and I lose it again, even after reading several times.

    Took the time out to start reading Hardcore Zen which I found helped a little. I guess take mankind out of the equation and you're left with emptiness, figuring how we are or can then be part of that is my next challenge.


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  3. #3
    Thank you Shugen, let's continue the dance. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Seishin-Do View Post
    Sbugen

    Looking forward to moving on (although I have taken a quick preview of the next few sections). Like the Two Truths, I've struggled at times to get my head around emptiness, which is beyond words and labels. It is indeed a dance as when I feel I've got it, Shohaku describes it from a different perspective and I lose it again, even after reading several times.

    Took the time out to start reading Hardcore Zen which I found helped a little. I guess take mankind out of the equation and you're left with emptiness, figuring how we are or can then be part of that is my next challenge.
    It is something to be felt, sensed, experienced. One realizes that one is not only what is going on inside the skin, and there is no hard border of "in" and "out." There is just this Great Interflowing Fullness and Wholeness (sometimes a bit misleadingly called "emptiness") that flows through and as oneself, this world and all things. Keep sitting, and the hard borders of body and mind, self and not self, will soften and sometimes fade away.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    It is something to be felt, sensed, experienced. One realizes that one is not only what is going on inside the skin, and there is no hard border of "in" and "out." There is just this Great Interflowing Fullness and Wholeness (sometimes a bit misleadingly called "emptiness") that flows through and as oneself, this world and all things. Keep sitting, and the hard borders of body and mind, self and not self, will soften and sometimes fade away.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Thank you for this.



    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  6. #6
    My father used to tell me "Life is what happens while we are busy making other plans". Everything just continues on as it does. For many years I tried my best to control it. I don't like uncertainty and so tried my best to account for any eventuality. Problem is that there can be a lot of uncertainty in life and trying to have it all planned led me to feeling stressed, overloaded, and burnt out. The sand does shift and I am learning to shift along with it. Sometimes the castle comes crashing down and that is ok.

    I liked this section.


    Tairin
    Sat today
    Last edited by Tairin; 01-23-2018 at 01:47 AM.

  7. #7
    I've had the experience of not just the sand shifting under my feet, but entire, huge chasms opening up beneath me, swallowing my conditioned ideas about myself and the truth of the world I live in. And yet, if I can taste those moments before the idea of scary kicks in, there is excitement, joy, homecoming. For me personally these have been moments of awakening, the realisation that there is 'knowing' beyond the usual concept of acquired knowledge, yet trying to put this into words doesn't really explain it at all as it seems to be beyond words too. Yet when I fall back on the idea of 'beyond words' I always remember Okumura's talk in which he refuted this argument. This again caused the ground beneath me to tremble and is why I'm now a little less shy about sharing my inarticulate ramblings, they help me, they may help someone else feel less shy too.
    I thought this was a fabulous section of the book, possibly one of the most important so far in terms of cutting to the very heart of our practice.
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Satwithyoualltoday lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  8. #8
    Eishuu
    Guest
    When I started practising Zazen I had a shifting sand moment and experienced both relief and disappointment, and afterwards a lot of fear. But more recently, since practising Zazen regularly, I had one of those moments which was a much more gentle experience of everything shifting without the sense of shock, fear or disappointment - just flowing with the flowing.

    I read a haiku yesterday that seems to fit with this - Hana no yo no/Hana no yoh naru/Hito bakari, "All beings are blossoms blossoming in a blossoming universe".

    Gassho
    Eishuu
    ST/LAH

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Shugen View Post



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Ahhh you brought me a flower, how nice of you brother. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH

  11. #11
    I really enjoyed this section, but there were some sections which took me a bit by surprise. One passage in particular which caught my attention (it immediately precedes the part selected by Shugen, above):

    "When the Dharma completely pervades this body and mind, we feel something is lacking. Our way of thinking, our yardstick, is not complete or absolute, so we feel inadequate".

    When I read "when Dharma completely pervades this body and mind", I assumed this to refer to a state which is closer to enlightenment than what precedes it ("When we are not filled completely with Dharma, we grasp our self as the center of the world"). So it surprised me that this more enlightened state brings with it a sense of lack or inadequacy.

    Nevertheless, I think I can relate to it, although maybe only on a very basic level, via experiences from my practice. There are times in mediation when there is a sense that the things I can see and hear as I meditate unhinge themselves from my mental representations of them; the rug under my legs is no longer the mental representation I have of it; it is both less than that (it seems unhinged from specific memories, like playing on the rug with my daughter) and more - in a sense that I find very hard to articulate. It seems imbued with possibility somehow (though it's just a rug). The same sense of simultaneous more-ness and less-ness fills everything in my experience at that moment; it lasts a few moments, then I start thinking about something, and the state is broken. But whenever this happens, it's accompanied by a sense of the strangeness of things - I could relate it to something Stephen Batchelor has written about life appearing to us as a question (in Buddhism Without Beliefs). I wonder if something similar is what Shohaku (and Dogen) are referring to when they say that something is lacking. The presence of the self is what's lacking at those moments, and that's both unnerving and fascinating.

    Sat today,

    Peter

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by pthwaites View Post
    I really enjoyed this section, but there were some sections which took me a bit by surprise. One passage in particular which caught my attention (it immediately precedes the part selected by Shugen, above):

    "When the Dharma completely pervades this body and mind, we feel something is lacking. Our way of thinking, our yardstick, is not complete or absolute, so we feel inadequate".

    When I read "when Dharma completely pervades this body and mind", I assumed this to refer to a state which is closer to enlightenment than what precedes it ("When we are not filled completely with Dharma, we grasp our self as the center of the world"). So it surprised me that this more enlightened state brings with it a sense of lack or inadequacy.

    Nevertheless, I think I can relate to it, although maybe only on a very basic level, via experiences from my practice. There are times in mediation when there is a sense that the things I can see and hear as I meditate unhinge themselves from my mental representations of them; the rug under my legs is no longer the mental representation I have of it; it is both less than that (it seems unhinged from specific memories, like playing on the rug with my daughter) and more - in a sense that I find very hard to articulate. It seems imbued with possibility somehow (though it's just a rug). The same sense of simultaneous more-ness and less-ness fills everything in my experience at that moment; it lasts a few moments, then I start thinking about something, and the state is broken. But whenever this happens, it's accompanied by a sense of the strangeness of things - I could relate it to something Stephen Batchelor has written about life appearing to us as a question (in Buddhism Without Beliefs). I wonder if something similar is what Shohaku (and Dogen) are referring to when they say that something is lacking. The presence of the self is what's lacking at those moments, and that's both unnerving and fascinating.

    Sat today,

    Peter
    That phrase always reminded me of the way I feel about Science and medicine—the more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know!

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


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    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).

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    That phrase always reminded me of the way I feel about Science and medicine—the more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know!

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    That's a good way of putting it! Just the nagging sense that we're missing something.

    Sat today
    Peter

    Sent from my SM-G935L using Tapatalk

  14. #14
    There are a couple of sections from the Genjo Koan that touch on this "When the Dharma completely pervades this body and mind, we feel something is lacking." The following is my version, and a comment, from the book I am working on ...

    --------------

    Buddhas are those with such great understanding of the nature of delusion. Alas, confused beings are those who are greatly deluded about the what and where of enlightenment. Moreover, because life is not a stagnant thing, so a Buddha must continue to realize realization upon realization, while ordinary folks just fall into delusion after delusion.

    When you manifest Buddha, it is simply in each Wise and Compassionate thought, word and deed you do in daily life. It is not something fancy and fixed that you have to stick a flag on, make a big show about or hire a marching band to proclaim. It is wondrous, yet quite ordinary. I personally see “Buddha” manifesting all around me, not as Golden Bodies with Shining Halos floating High in the Sky, but in the simple acts of generosity, peace, love, kindness and harmony by ordinary people in this world. Whenever a human being acts in generosity and altruism rather than selfish and excess desire, brings peace where before there was strife, sees though division to the unity of all things, then she is bringing Buddha to life in this world and time, here and now.

    ...

    So, when dharma does not truly fill your whole body and mind, you think it is already sufficient and that you can stop. Rather, when dharma fills your body and mind, you understand that there is always something more and so we keep moving forward.

    Don't be one of those folks who hits some round, empty purity and calls it “Nirvana”. That would be like a sailor in the open sea, only open water all around, thinking that the whole world were just so and he can stop right there forever. Be wise, and welcome all the complexity and diversity, broken edges and impurities of this world as just that same “round empty purity” in different guise. Welcome all of this life, even the hard parts, as if just various rooms in a mansion, shining pearls on a string, varied flowers in a garden, the moon reflected in endless forms in varied pools of water … and that goes for both the parts of life we love, and those we do not.

    ...

    Though there are many features in the dusty world and the world beyond conditions, you see and understand only what your eye of practice can reach. In order to learn the nature of the myriad things, you must know that although they may look round or square, the other features of oceans and mountains are infinite in variety; whole worlds are there. It is so not only around you, but also directly beneath your feet, and in every drop of water. Practice never stops because the features and variety never stop, so practice right here where you come to be.

    In this place and setting, in this facet of the whole, your practice brings life to life. This is the stage upon which we dance, the sea in which we swim, the sky where we fly. We are the life of this earth, and like the fish of the water and birds in the sky who bring water and sky to life, and in turn, all this world is our extension, not merely our location. What is more, this is your place, your life right here, and you cannot be elsewhere than where you find yourself so long as alive. Thus, please live it well, and experience this place wisely. The possibilities, if not quite endless, are greatly up to you. Please swim or fly your course or speak your lines or dance your steps with grace and skill.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
    Thank you Jundo

    Gassho

    MyoHo
    stitch by stitch....

  16. #16
    Please swim or fly your course or speak your lines or dance your steps with grace and skill.
    That's so elegant.

    Gassho
    Meishin
    Sat today LAH

  17. #17
    Thank You, Shugen .

    Yes, the sands shifting .. never settling .
    stepping into mid-air .. never to land .
    being at home in no Home .

    Thank you
    Gassho
    eva

    I sat and lah

  18. #18
    Can you think of a time when the sand shifted under your feet? How did it feel? Was there fear? Was there joy? Something else?
    Our son had a stroke when he was six and for several days was in a coma. During that time we experienced incredible fear alternating with emotional exhaustion. We had been told he could die at any moment. But eventually he opened his eyes and was back with us. Subsequent tests revealed no neurological damage beyond the site of the bleed. The pediatric neurologist said he almost never saw such a positive outcome. Today he's a grown man with children of his own to worry about.

    The way that relates to Shugen's question is that in thinking about that event, the prevalent memory is that there have been few times when I have felt as completely alive as I did while he was in the coma. I was absolutely attentive moment by moment -- the way i suspect someone would feel hanging from a precipice. Yes it was a "bad" event, but my mind was not drifting off to the usual irrelevancies I worried about in those days. It had nothing to do with my hopes for a positive outcome. Truth be told, I was prepared for the worst.

    The sands shifted, and there was complete surprise. Fear, sadness, joy all intermixed. Very little sense of self.

    Gassho
    Meishin
    Sat today LAH

  19. #19
    Te be literal here, because that helps me, "form is emptiness and emptiness is form" is the sandcastle, and "emptiness is not form" is knocking down the sandcastle, thus don't get too comfortable, too fixed in place in your views, because practice will erode them, thus practice leaves you feeling a lack, which is not a bad thing at all because practice is all about letting your "self" open up by dropping borders to everything, including (and maybe especially) your self. Ok, got it, piece of cake

    I've been afraid of some of the rapid changes that life brings, but I don't ever recall being afraid during zazen. Reluctant maybe, hesitant, but that happened mostly early in my practice. These days I am usually fascinated by what I find and sometimes joyous when I see through something going in my life, that new perspective that Okamura talks about. As a paraplegic with a lifetime of disability behind me, I have long felt like I lived in an unstable world, so shifting sands don't bother me too much. I am no good at standing anyway
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  20. #20
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    I found this section and folks comments very insightful, as Meitou said it describes the fundamentals of practice - with my normal caveat of easier said than done. I guess like most folk life's been full of ups and downs just like a desert landscape shaped by the wind, always changing, shifting, never static and frequently not quite as planned or envisioned.

    Thought this seemed fitting.



    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    There are a couple of sections from the Genjo Koan that touch on this "When the Dharma completely pervades this body and mind, we feel something is lacking." The following is my version, and a comment, from the book I am working on ...

    --------------

    Buddhas are those with such great understanding of the nature of delusion. Alas, confused beings are those who are greatly deluded about the what and where of enlightenment. Moreover, because life is not a stagnant thing, so a Buddha must continue to realize realization upon realization, while ordinary folks just fall into delusion after delusion.

    When you manifest Buddha, it is simply in each Wise and Compassionate thought, word and deed you do in daily life. It is not something fancy and fixed that you have to stick a flag on, make a big show about or hire a marching band to proclaim. It is wondrous, yet quite ordinary. I personally see “Buddha” manifesting all around me, not as Golden Bodies with Shining Halos floating High in the Sky, but in the simple acts of generosity, peace, love, kindness and harmony by ordinary people in this world. Whenever a human being acts in generosity and altruism rather than selfish and excess desire, brings peace where before there was strife, sees though division to the unity of all things, then she is bringing Buddha to life in this world and time, here and now.

    ...

    So, when dharma does not truly fill your whole body and mind, you think it is already sufficient and that you can stop. Rather, when dharma fills your body and mind, you understand that there is always something more and so we keep moving forward.

    Don't be one of those folks who hits some round, empty purity and calls it “Nirvana”. That would be like a sailor in the open sea, only open water all around, thinking that the whole world were just so and he can stop right there forever. Be wise, and welcome all the complexity and diversity, broken edges and impurities of this world as just that same “round empty purity” in different guise. Welcome all of this life, even the hard parts, as if just various rooms in a mansion, shining pearls on a string, varied flowers in a garden, the moon reflected in endless forms in varied pools of water … and that goes for both the parts of life we love, and those we do not.

    ...

    Though there are many features in the dusty world and the world beyond conditions, you see and understand only what your eye of practice can reach. In order to learn the nature of the myriad things, you must know that although they may look round or square, the other features of oceans and mountains are infinite in variety; whole worlds are there. It is so not only around you, but also directly beneath your feet, and in every drop of water. Practice never stops because the features and variety never stop, so practice right here where you come to be.

    In this place and setting, in this facet of the whole, your practice brings life to life. This is the stage upon which we dance, the sea in which we swim, the sky where we fly. We are the life of this earth, and like the fish of the water and birds in the sky who bring water and sky to life, and in turn, all this world is our extension, not merely our location. What is more, this is your place, your life right here, and you cannot be elsewhere than where you find yourself so long as alive. Thus, please live it well, and experience this place wisely. The possibilities, if not quite endless, are greatly up to you. Please swim or fly your course or speak your lines or dance your steps with grace and skill.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    I'm just going through the threads on Okumura's chapter on the Heart Sutra, and was struck by this post. It is beautiful. Thank you for sharing it, Jundo. I look forward to the book.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/LAH

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