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Thread: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 76

  1. #1

    BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 76

    In a few weeks, our "Now Words" Book Club will begin "What Is Zen?" by NORMAN FISCHER and SUSAN MOON ...

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...and-SUSAN-MOON

    ,,, but before that, we will spend a few weeks with some more Koans from the wonderful commentary Shishin Wick Roshi on the Book of Equanimity Koan Collection (Partly available from p. 238 here).

    https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=...sembly&f=false

    This week, Koan 76 - Shuzan's Three Stages.

    This is a tricky Koan. The Main Case seems to be very much related to the perspectives we encountered in Okamura Roshi's book in discussion of the Heart Sutra and the Identity of Relative and Absolute, about experiencing the world in various ways of the relative/phenomana and absolute/emptiness (and also both at once as one).

    I have to tell you, I am not so sure of Shishin's way of explaining it this time. According to Shishin's commentary, the first phase is to encounter one's true self beyond divisions. In the second phase, however, let the true self go. The third phase is to let even that go, i.e., to let go of even letting go.

    However, I have to say that, this time, more than Shishin Wick's comments, I resonate with comments on this Koan by another Teacher, Yamada Koun. The two explanations seem a little different [are they?] I quote Yamada Roshi as follows with an interesting mathematical description:

    What is the [first phrase]? In terms of [a] fraction it means everything in the phenomenal world [all the separate things], it is the numerator. It could be this stick here (Roshi holds up his stick). ... The [second phrase, the denominator] negates this stick and says, “this stick is not a stick.” The [first phrase] speaks about the phenomenal stick. But viewing things from the essential [absolute/emptiness] standpoint you say, “this stick is not a stick. The [third phrase] is saying, “thus it is called a stick [again].” ... [Thus] Finally there is the whole, the faction itself, which is known as the [third phrase]. ... This matter is described in the section known as the syllogism in the Diamond Sutra. For example: Sentient beings are not sentient beings, therefore they are called sentient beings. Buddha is not Buddha, therefore it is called Buddha. A stick is not a stick, therefore it is called a stick.
    This seems very close to the famous Zen saying:

    "Before a man studies Zen, to him mountains are mountains and waters are waters; after he gets an insight into the truth of Zen through the instruction of a good master, mountains to him are not mountains and waters are not waters; but after this when he really attains to the abode of rest, mountains are once more mountains and waters are waters."
    First there are individual phenomena, then emptiness, then all is not apart and the phenomena are shining here in all their glory yet not here too.

    I feel that the three do not need to be in order 1-2-3, and I think you can jump in anywhere, or switch the order, and also that all are one. As Yamada Roshi explains, this is the meaning of the "Preface" where it says "tell me, which phrase is first?" ...

    To say “three phrases make one phrase clear” means that, although it might seem that there are three phrases, in the end they are there to make one phrase clear. You can say that one is three or three is one, but three and one are definitely not the same. ... Although each phrase of the three is separate, in the final analysis they are one. ...
    The Koan also sounds like one is going down in rank, at first a teacher of Buddhas and Ancestors, then of men and gods, then one cannot even save oneself. However, one comes down from a glorified Buddha, to the wonder of the most ordinary and worldly (gods and men are below Buddhas and Ancestors, yet they are the same, and maybe higher too), and finally there is not even a separate "I" in need of saving. In other words, the meaning "can't even save yourself" is actually a good thing because one realizes from the enlightened view that there is no one in need of saving!

    At the end, Shuzan advises us to even leap beyond all that, perhaps meaning that one should actually experience this, not get caught in the mere idea of "3 phrases" and all this theory and mathematical models one is talking about. One actually needs to live this. I take that as the meaning of "after the third watch" and the vanishing of the moon to mean "the darkness which makes all things one" (as we saw in the Sandokai) gives one now total freedom to move through all the phenomena of the city (the busy, chaotic world).

    The appreciatory verse seems to be symbols of separate things united as one (skulls of Buddhas and Ancestors on one skewer, one clock moving by individual ticks, one catapult shooting a great load. These are poetic symbols for the three phrases, but maybe out of order again. At the end, low is again high and high is low in rank. Yamada Roshi says ...

    To say “the skulls of the buddhas and ancestors are penetrated with one single skewer” is to express how all concepts have fallen away. So only the “skulls” are remaining, with no flesh or sinews ... If you ask me, this Verse takes the reverse order. In the former part it was the third phrase, and now it is the first phrase in which the outside of the fraction is surrounded by a circle. It is the thing itself, before there is a division into numerator and denominator. This is what is being described in the first line. That means it’s slightly different from before. If you attain this first phrase, “The skulls of the buddhas and ancestors are penetrated with one single skewer.” ...
    The image of the water clock is an image of movement and change in time somehow combined with a certain stillness.

    Neither Yamada Roshi nor Shishin (nor me) seem entirely sure about the catapults and lighting, so I will leave that to your interpretation. (Even Zen teachers scratch their heads sometimes).

    The reference to a jewel or pearl is a story from China:

    Once Emperor Yellow, going on an outing to the north, lost his pearl. He had a wise man search for it, but he could not find it. Next, he sent a clairvoyant man, but he could not find it either. At last he sent a blind man, and he found the pearl.

    [Yamada Roshi Comments:] It will not do to search for it intellectually. You have to empty your head. Just like the blind man was the one to find the pearl, it is only when you empty your mind that you can meet up with your true self.
    The butcher's knife:

    A master chef used his knife to serve up dishes. He was a true master of the kitchen knife. His knife seemed to dance over what he was cutting. The reason was because the knife was so sharp and thin. It could cut the meat with no resistance, as if it were dancing. As long as something is forced, it’s no good, the master chef explained. This story is cited here to express this free activity. The words “there is nothing but the true heart” are pointing to Shuzan’s statement in the koan: “The moon is set at midnight; one walks alone through the market place.” This is so free of guile, so free and natural. This verse is referring to this freedom in the lines here.
    So, what do you think? Does this tough Koan make sense to you? Do you think Shinshi or Yamada (or both or neither) have it? Do you have some other interpretations for any of it?

    A tricky one.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-04-2018 at 12:46 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    "Before a man studies Zen, to him mountains are mountains and waters are waters; after he gets an insight into the truth of Zen through the instruction of a good master, mountains to him are not mountains and waters are not waters; but after this when he really attains to the abode of rest, mountains are once more mountains and waters are waters."
    This was this first thing that came to mind after reading this Koan and Wick’s commentary.

    First phrase, we already have Buddha nature but we can’t see it due to our delusions
    Second phrase, we get a glimpse of our true nature but try to rationalize and intellectualize it - we fumble around trying to “teach” others what we understand
    Third phrase, we get it, we “grok” it, we don’t need to focus on it because it pervades our existence, to use Jundo’s expression - we feel it right to our marrow. There is no self to save.

    At least that was my first take but then who am I to comment when I am at best stuck on the “second phrase”.

    I look forward to reading what others thought

    Jundo, where can I find more of Yamada Roshi’s commentary on this book?


    Tairin
    Sat today & LAH
    Last edited by Tairin; 06-03-2018 at 09:47 PM.
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  3. #3
    A monk asked,
    "Which verse did Your Reverence attain?"
    Shuzan said,
    "The moon is set at midnight; I walk alone through the market place of
    the city."
    http://www.buddhism.org/Sutras/2/100koans.htm#76
    My first impression is that Shuzan is either saying "It doesn't matter" or "None of your business"
    SAT/LAH

    Kyousui - strong waters 強 水

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Tairin View Post

    Jundo, where can I find more of Yamada Roshi’s commentary on this book?


    Tairin
    Sat today & LAH
    Yes, forgot the link ...

    https://web.archive.org/web/20151022...oyoroku_76.pdf
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Jundo, as you know, I can make things more complicated than necessary -- so I will endeavor not to do so hear. I work on this same issue with my kids:

    Take any system or complex process. As a child, we marvel at a beautiful cathedral without thinking about it's lines, or its distribution of weight, or its symbolic history. As a student of architecture, all we can see is the design principals and the building technique. But there is a third phase that some push through and arrive at, where the sense of wonder returns and the design can be appreciated simultaneously.

    The same could be applied to painting, or music, or programming, and seems progressive in my mind only in the sense that steps 1 and 2 must be attained separately before the integrative 3rd step can happen.

    Gassho, Michael
    SatToday LAH

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    First there are individual phenomena, then emptiness, then all is not apart and the phenomena are shining here in all their glory yet not here too.

    I feel that the three do not need to be in order 1-2-3, and I think you can jump in anywhere, or switch the order, and also that all are one. As Yamada Roshi explains, this is the meaning of the "Preface" where it says "tell me, which phrase is first?" ...

    The Koan also sounds like one is going down in rank, at first a teacher of Buddhas and Ancestors, then of men and gods, then one cannot even save oneself. However, one comes down from a glorified Buddha, to the wonder of the most ordinary and worldly (gods and men are below Buddhas and Ancestors, yet they are the same, and maybe higher too), and finally there is not even a separate "I" in need of saving. In other words, the meaning "can't even save yourself" is actually a good thing because one realizes from the enlightened view that there is no one in need of saving!

    At the end, Shuzan advises us to even leap beyond all that, perhaps meaning that one should actually experience this, not get caught in the mere idea of "3 phrases" and all this theory and mathematical models one is talking about. One actually needs to live this. I take that as the meaning of "after the third watch" and the vanishing of the moon to mean "the darkness which makes all things one" (as we saw in the Sandokai) gives one now total freedom to move through all the phenomena of the city (the busy, chaotic world).

    I am very struck by your idea of both one and three, with their being no order. You can move from one phase to the other in one step



    A wheel of Phases.

    1 = Teacher of Buddhas and Ancestors
    2 = Teacher of Men and devas
    3 = There is really nothing to save - we are True Nature

    It is both 3 things and one thing at once. It is one interconnected whole - made up of 3 parts. Each which has a place.

    When you need to be a teacher of Buddhas and Ancestors be in Phase 1
    When you need to be a teacher of Men and devas be in Phase 2
    When need to work with yourself be in Phase 3.

    Be in the Phase appropriate to the conditions.

    I was also struck by the moon setting to being in full darkness - just as in the Sandokai. In the darkness no separation/distinction. And so when asked in which Phase he was awakened Shuzan says ""The moon is set at midnight; I walk alone through the market place of the city." Which might mean he moves alone through the darkness ready to manifest the required phase depending on what he encounters.

    Or so I think today. But what the heck do I know.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    Last edited by Shinshi; 06-04-2018 at 09:31 PM.
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.

  7. #7
    Member Getchi's Avatar
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    Hi

    So, im stuck. I like very much what you all have said, and thankyou Jundo for providing these teachings

    Heres some notes I made while reading;

    Its very interesteing to see the idea of Moons in darkness and city markets traversed alone, just as Jundo and Shinshi pointed out above related to Sandokai - ill have to sit with that a while. What I was struck by though was the old phrase "The Moon hangs in a blue sky". It is not supported, and so its highest point is midnight, a time, and not the tallest point of the sky. Time and space are not-seperate. In other words, while not seperate from sky or time, the moon is what can be grasped and so it is "the moon". I cannot point to midnight.

    "Walking alone through a market place" could point to an ability to accept, to be without any planned activity. I once heard a story about the Emperor talking to the butcher, and being told that a master butcher can cut between the bones of the ox, and so one knife can last a life time. I took this to mean that cutting flesh, we hit bone. Knowing bone, we slice Oxen.

    First, the idea of "Three Phases" reminds me of Three Times past, future and present. When we see a mountain, we see our thoughts, when we learn of ecology, geology the vast time frames of creating mountains the abundance of phenomona reliant on them and so forth, we see them as processes not seperate from the Universe itself. Then after that (so ive been told) we can again see them as mountains, only this time its without our attached views - in a asense I suppose they "expand to fill Space". That is just a train of thought I had.

    A stick is not astick - it is the concrete sign of atrees growth, a leaf's root and a roots breath. Because its understood as an expression of process, it can again be called a stick, because eventually words must be used.

    None of what I wrote is particularly original, but for some reason this Koan really stuck in my head for a longtime now.



    Gassho,

    Geoff.

    SatToday
    LaH.
    Nothing to do? Why not Sit?

  8. #8
    Lovely.

    The various ideas above on math and architecture are wonderful. Just a couple of points: While there is obviously some theory and philosophy even to Zen, generally keep it simple and not too intricate. Zen folks have philosophical perspective(s) and formuli to describe reality, as you can tell from the Koan. But the point about "absolute/relative" and its interrelationship and inter-identity is usually fairly simple (the old "ocean and waves" or "sky and clouds" or "mirror and what appears in the mirror" are good examples of images that are actually pretty simple at heart. Sometimes the symbols can be a bit wilder, like the buddha skulls on a skewer, but the point being made is still pretty simple usually, and usually the same "absolute/relative" thingy at heart. I think that Shishin and Yamada both give examples. )

    Also, for all the philosophy and models/formulas of "stages" ... at the end, we toss the intellectualizing away, have it naturally in the bones like breathing or knowing how to walk, and just move through the complex city and the noise of the marketplace freely, illuminated even in the dark.

    Gassho, J

    STLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-05-2018 at 12:12 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Thank you Jundo. Easy to get trapped in interesting mental formations.



    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.

  10. #10
    Still sitting with this, but some initial thoughts:
    When the monk asks, “by which phrase were you enlightened?” We all want to know what stage we are at in our path to enlightenment, but in truth all stages are present and unified, after the moon sets—and all discerning thought is dropped.

    Perhaps the catapult and the lightning are just what it says, “essential actions of men and devas.” Just doing what men and devas do, as the water clock drips and the butcher’s knife finds its way. The blind man finds the jewel, because they are all essential pieces of a whole, trusting blindly in their man and deva-ness.

    I find this Koan more appealing and poetic than most for some reason.

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


    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).

  11. #11
    For some reason this reminded me of Nishijima Roshi's "three perspectives, one reality" quartet from interpretations of Shobogenzo. Idealism, Materialism, Realism and reality itself. Having no reference points enlightenment ceases to be "like" something else. But perhaps I'm putting another head on top of my own...

    Gassho,
    Hōkō
    #SatToday
    LAH

    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
    法 Dharma
    口 Mouth

  12. #12
    This was a head scratcher for me, so I much appreciate the helpful comments above. I read it this morning, sat with it, then came back and read through here and there again. It's hard not to see the phrases as phases, as developmental stages, which puts it in the "stick as a stick" realm of reality where the sun shines bright on the marketplace and i wander most days trying not to chase my shadow. At best, i stumble around the market during dusk when it is just light enough to avoid the biggest objects like "self" and "other," but still with lots of tripping hazards. The more hazards I stumble over the more I learn my way around and the less I stumble on the Path through the market, but phrasing it this way makes it sound developmental again. Nothing wrong with that idea, I suppose, as long as i don't get stuck there, because that would mean I need to put the head of a buddha on a skewer.

    Clearly, I have nothing worthwhile to add here. All versions of dukkha and nirvana are always here, always present in the light as well as the dark. They can be realized/actualized one at a time, in order or not, slowly or quickly, all at once or not at all. What phase or phrase enlightens me matters not at all. It could be the oxen pictures that tell the same story but with more chapters, or the Sandokai with more poetic images, or even a bodhi tree with roots. I am just going to sit as still as I can in the middle of the market without attachment to any of it in particular.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  13. #13
    Member Getchi's Avatar
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    Jigen, I love your post, I'm reading it again bbefore I sit next.

    Gassho,
    Geoff.

    SatToday,
    LaH.
    Nothing to do? Why not Sit?

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