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Thread: LIVING by VOW: Sandokai - pp 231-235

  1. #1

    LIVING by VOW: Sandokai - pp 231-235

    Hi Relative Beings,

    We continue our reflections on the Relative and Absolute on pages 231-235 (pausing at "Roots and Leaves").

    This week, more ways to encounter this difference-yet-identity of the relative as absolute absolute that is relative. I sometimes describe it as "two sides of the no sided coin."

    Just a few things to point out this week that may be helpful:

    We can easily understand that the living human hand contains each cell and atom of the hand. But, in Mahayana Buddhism, each atom contains and embodies the whole living hand too! (We usually don't see things so, but it is true). Now, expand that out to the universe, and one might understand that it is the same for all things in the universe down to the smallest atom, you too.

    The description of "dark" and "light" is a bit tricky for people to get sometimes, because it is the opposite of what we might expect in English. "Light" sounds like enlightenment, and "dark" sounds bad. However, that is not so in Chinese culture and in this poem. Here, neither is bad, and both just the same. Here, "dark" is what makes all things blend into one, like how all the furniture and people vanish and merge into one when you turn off the lights in a windowless room. However, turn the light back on again, and all the separate things reappear.

    For example, here is a picture of a room containing Donald Trump and 15 Pink Circus Elephants with the lights turned off:





    This week's passages also say that everything in the universe has its own qualities, and they all contribute to the Great Soup Stew which is this universe, both the sweet and sour (and you too).

    The part about fire, water, wind, earth is not so mysterious as Okumura Roshi makes it. In classic times, East and West, these were thought of as the building blocks of material reality, much as we might think of the Periodic Table today. You can substitute "Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen" or "Electrons, Neutron, Protons" and make about the same point, each has it own qualities and properties, and all come together to make the whole.

    A corollary of all this, much appreciated by Dogen, is that there are "no separate things" from one angle but, from another angle, there are separate things (you are one, and so is every atom of your hand), and each and all shine as their own shining jewel. You are the shining precious jewel that is you and you alone (even if you could lose a few pounds and need a haircut!)

    From the Genjo Koan, where the Moon represents the Wholeness of the Absolute manifesting in all the separate things, the water ... both moon and separate drops together forming "enlightenment":

    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.


    Another point made is that some folks only see separation or a bunch of connected separate things. They only see the individual candles, icing, bits of flour, grains of sugar, drops of water, but don't see the Whole Cake. They don't get the radical wholeness in which all separation vanishes. However, then there is the opposite problem when some folks see this dropping away of separation into Wholeness and think that they are now "enlightened," a fully baked cake (and often run around the internet like "God's gift to Buddhakind" proclaiming themself so!) They are blinded by the moon, do not see the water. That is not enlightenment.

    Rather, "enlightenment" is more about realizing that the dewdrops are the moon and the moon is the single dewdrops ... and then to figure out how to live gracefully now knowing so.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-07-2018 at 11:43 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    Aug 2016
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    La Croix-Avranchin, Basse Normandie, France
    Still lagging a little behind with this chapter but hoping to catch folk up in the coming week. That's the absolute plan, reality may intervene, sometime no time.


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  3. #3
    Thank you Jundo. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH

  4. #4
    Member Seishin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    La Croix-Avranchin, Basse Normandie, France
    I strangely found this section somewhat motivational. Whether its down to the circumstances I found myself returning to this part of the book but also the realization that all the negative aspects of my return to the UK were down to my world view. Ironic as I spent most of the time there lecturing my brother on letting go, breathing and not allowing himself to be so wound up by everything.

    The other element touched on here and one I'd not consider before, is the mind seeming so/more busy when sitting and that observation actually being down to the mind calming and not just "bad" zazen - yes no good or bad just asitisness. Be interesting to explore that further, as I frequently see posts in our Insight Timer group where folks relate to a mind full of thoughts, giving the impression its a bad thing but Okumura Roshi implies the opposite. OK letting go and not getting tangled up in them is the trick but I found this comforting observation and one that suggests I'm doing this right although no right and wrong.

    Finally, after three days of samu weeding, toiling and prepping our veg plot and at times being completely engrossed in the work to the exclusion of everything around me but at the same time part of everything around me, this last paragraph jumped out at me this morning and slapped me in the face.

    Thank you

    Our body and mind work together with our environment to create one world. In this sense our mind is very important. A change in our mind could change the whole world. Our practice is important because it is not just the practice of our mind; it influences the whole universe.


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  5. #5
    Finally received this book, haven't gotten to this section yet. Was pleased to learn in the bio that Okumara Roshi is the abbot of a practice place not too far from here. Definitely, have to go there for sesshin one of these days.

    Jundo, I really appeciated your thoughts about darkness here, how it equalizes and merges all things together. Too often we run away from darkness and run towards light. But darkness can be our teacher as well. Light may help us see in the dark, but darkness can help us see light we may have never noticed before. Enlightenment is all good, but we could use some "endarkenment" as well.

    Gassho,
    Matthew
    STLAH
    Peace begins inside

  6. #6
    How far along are you on this book? (I do not have a copy of it) Wondering if to order and join in or wait for the next book study...
    Gassho,
    Sean
    sat, lah

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by sjlabat View Post
    How far along are you on this book? (I do not have a copy of it) Wondering if to order and join in or wait for the next book study...
    Gassho,
    Sean
    sat, lah
    Hello Sean,

    We are coming close to the end, but the great part of it all is, you can join in at anytime. It doesn't matter whether we are actively reading this book or not, you are more welcome to jump in anytime. =)

    This too applies to any other book we may have read and discussed in the past ... you are more then welcome to engage there too.

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Shingen View Post
    Hello Sean,

    We are coming close to the end, but the great part of it all is, you can join in at anytime. It doesn't matter whether we are actively reading this book or not, you are more welcome to jump in anytime. =)

    This too applies to any other book we may have read and discussed in the past ... you are more then welcome to engage there too.

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH
    Actually, Shingen, I do close the threads after a few weeks to keep everyone about on "the same page," as otherwise the discussion was tending to jump all over. However, anyone is free to read the book, and the old comments, any time as it is a wonderful book! We should be done in about two or three weeks.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Actually, Shingen, I do close the threads after a few weeks to keep everyone about on "the same page," as otherwise the discussion was tending to jump all over. However, anyone is free to read the book, and the old comments, any time as it is a wonderful book! We should be done in about two or three weeks.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    Oh, good to know Jundo, thanks for the correction ... so yah Sean, just ignore me.

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by sjlabat View Post
    How far along are you on this book? (I do not have a copy of it) Wondering if to order and join in or wait for the next book study...
    Gassho,
    Sean
    sat, lah
    Hi Sean

    Just my opinion but I think this is a fantastic book and would recommend it even if you aren't reading it with the group. I've gotten far more out of it than I expected. Okumura is a wonderful teacher and expesses things very clearly.

    I will definitely revisit this book again in the future


    Tairin
    Sat today
    Last edited by Tairin; 05-10-2018 at 12:34 AM. Reason: Spelling

  11. #11
    Tairin,
    Thanks for your comments - it will certainly be in my reading list. Okamura, being in the Kodo Sawaki tradition, strikes me as both an interesting and significant figure.
    Gassho,
    Sean
    sat,lah

  12. #12
    Our zazen is not a method to contemplate reality which has lightness and dark. It is a way to manifest both darkness and light. We are not the observer but rather the reality itself.
    This passage really struck me. I don’t think I can say much meaningful to add to it. It’s just clear and concise.


    Tairin
    Sat today
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  13. #13
    I'm still reading, but finding it quite difficult to articulate my thoughts on this section, I'm not sure why, so I'm just continuing to read and absorb and see where it leads me. I do love this part of the verse however, the first time I read it I was really taken by surprise by the perception of dark and light, as you say Jundo, quite the opposite to what we might expect and all the more intriguing for that.

    Gassho
    Meitou
    satwithyoualltoday/lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

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