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Thread: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 80

  1. #1

    BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 80

    From next time, we will begin our next book, "WHAT IS ZEN?" by NORMAN FISCHER and SUSAN MOON ...

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

    Today, Case 79 never ends, yet now we move on to Case 80 - Ryuge Pass the Chin Rest ...

    The Koan is here ...

    https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=...20rest&f=false

    And most pages of Shishin's comments are here ...

    https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=...0tozam&f=false

    The traditional Zen question "What is the meaning of Bodhidharma's coming from the west" seems to refer to the travels of Bodhidharma, the fellow who is said to have first brought Zen from India in the west to China in the east. However, the real meaning of the question in Zen circles is usually taken to be "what is is the essential truth of the Buddha Dharma, what is the real meaning of Zen" and the like. That is what is really being asked.

    He gets struck twice, once by a Zafu and once by a traditional chin rest used by monks in retreats or other intensive sittings in which they wished to sleep in the sitting position. Here is a picture. They also tied ropes to themself and to a hook hanging from the ceiling so that they would not fall over. Kinda cheating if you ask me! :-) It is called a Zenpan ...



    About the Zenpan ...

    https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=...0zazen&f=false

    Striking someone is usually a way to impress on the person, "Wake up, don't you know it is this here. Feel it like the sting on a slapped cheek."

    In any case, as Shishin points out, some folks think that Ryuge was just a clod who did not get the teachings, so deserved to be hit. Others (I am one) think he got the point, and was just being very modest, not needing to impress anyone in his confidence. It shows that even Zen folks can't agree on these things, and read these Koans differently. A bit "eye of the beholder."

    I take his "no meaning" as very profound. You see, Bodhidharma did not "come from" or "go to" anywhere in the absolute, so what meaning? Further, saying "no meaning" is a meaning so big and boundless that no "meaning" can hold it. For example, if you are asked the "meaning" of the flower that the Buddha upheld in the famous Koan, how could one begin to describe some "meaning" for that which represent everything?

    I take the preface and closing verse to both be pointing to Ryuge's modesty and lack of showing off his understanding. He roams free through space and the vast sky, no obstacles.

    Do you think Ryuge got it or did not? Is there a meaning or no meaning?

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Why does Bodhidharma coming from the West have to mean anything?

    Why does life have to have a meaning?

    In this case I equate "meaning" and "purpose ". It implies some greater power that is bestowing some sort of cosmic cause and effect. Maybe things just are what they are? Maybe Bodhidharma was just looking to escape the heat of India. Maybe he just wanted to travel.

    I don't believe that there is a higher calling or purpose to life. We are here. Don't do bad things. Do only good things. Do good for the benefit of others.


    Tairin
    Sat today

  3. #3
    It shows that even Zen folks can't agree on these things, and read these Koans differently. A bit "eye of the beholder."
    I've understood that to be the entire point of Koans, that every individual must come to their own unique understanding? Otherwise, it would be like Gutei raising a finger?


    No merit. Vast emptiness; nothing holy. I don't know.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Tairin View Post
    Why does Bodhidharma coming from the West have to mean anything?

    Why does life have to have a meaning?

    In this case I equate "meaning" and "purpose ". It implies some greater power that is bestowing some sort of cosmic cause and effect. Maybe things just are what they are? Maybe Bodhidharma was just looking to escape the heat of India. Maybe he just wanted to travel.

    I don't believe that there is a higher calling or purpose to life. We are here. Don't do bad things. Do only good things. Do good for the benefit of others.


    Tairin
    Sat today
    Well, but do not assume that there is not a higher purpose or cosmic meaning either. Furthermore, our life, how we live it, makes a purpose. If we live with greed, anger and ignorance, then life has a bad purpose. If we live with generosity, peace and wholeness, then life has a good purpose.

    Zen masters of the past did sense that there is rather a cosmic flow, harmony, wholeness, life force or reason, and maybe direction or purpose to the universe which is sometimes called the "Dao" or "Buddha" or "Karmic Flow" or the like, and a subtly positive aspect to existence too. When one sits Shikantaza, dropping all thoughts of either "purpose" or "no purpose," one might sense this overall something. There is some sense in Buddhism that we did not just pop up here alive for no reason, but have some value in being born as human beings in life. Our way is certainly not nihilism and cold meaninglessness.

    I also tend to feel that there is this harmony, flow and direction to the universe somehow, like a river. Zen masters and Daoists spoke of the river: We too are like drops of water of the river. Of course, as drops of the river, that flow does not always go our personal desired way, but we always must go the river's way. We must just flow along with that rivers flow and direction as best we can.

    Thus, I might say ...

    If there is a higher purpose and cosmic meaning ... chop wood and fetch water, live gently. Chopping and fetching and living gently is also life's rich purpose and meaning.

    If there is no higher purpose nor cosmic meaning ... chop wood and fetch water, live gently. Chopping and fetching and living gently is also life's rich purpose and meaning.


    If one pops up alive, for some mysterious reason, in the middle of time and space, with air to breath and a life to live ... well, if there is a "grand reason," perhaps that reason for it all has to do with living that life, and living it in a constructive way. If one finds oneself, for whatever reason, born into a row boat with oars in one's hands, perhaps the thing to do is row and avoid the shoals.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-04-2018 at 01:29 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Todd View Post
    I've understood that to be the entire point of Koans, that every individual must come to their own unique understanding? Otherwise, it would be like Gutei raising a finger?
    I would agree with this to an extent. It is not only about everyone's own unique understanding.

    There is a certain Truth to Zen Practice and Mahayana Buddhism regarding the "Absolute" that we have encountered in recent Koans: that which transcends yet somehow embodies all the different things, this and that and me and you. It also has that "cosmic flow, harmony, wholeness" that I posted about just above. All of us are supposed to realize this and, given that it is beyond all differences, it is pretty much the same "non-destination" ("non-destination" because never apart from here at all).

    So, that is shared and all the same.

    However, it is true that we cannot just mouth others' words or go through the motions of expressing this (also the meaning of several of the Koans we have danced in the last few weeks). That is why we cut the finger or hit with a stick. We must find our own experience, not just my or somebody else's understanding. Further, this Truth is also all the differences, not only the sameness. So, Todd Truth is uniquely Todd Truth too, as if you and I were walking the same mountain (which mountain is just Todd and Jundo, by the way), and there is only one mountain to realize, yet Todd's experience of the mountain and Jundo's experience of the mountain are not the same either. One might say that each has his own mountain too. (Another Koan).

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-04-2018 at 01:32 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Well, but do not assume that there is not a higher purpose or cosmic meaning either.
    Fair enough

    When I say purpose I mean in a "I was put on this Earth at this time to do <blah>". That sort of deterministic view that largely presumes a God-like entity with a master plan. I don't know one way or the other if there is a god or God. If there is it seems unlikely she is micromanaging. Either way chop wood and carry water.


    Tairin
    Sat today
    Last edited by Tairin; 07-04-2018 at 01:09 PM.

  7. #7
    Thank you for this Jundo.

    It feels like for me to try an talk about this Koan, it is already a step in the opposite direction of it's teaching.

    In answer to the question: I do feel that Ryuge got it. I am not sure that his teachers got that he got it. But he also had the patience and perseverance to keep on keeping on - whether his teachers acknowledged his knowing or not.

    I did like the commentary section about how to really know Zen you have to actually experience your own suffering, not hide it in the dark. By bringing light to those things you keep hidden they will begin to dissipate on their own.

    And while I spent time with this and read about hiding an Elephant in the in short grass I was brought back to being a kid. I loved Elephant jokes.

    "Why do Elephants paint their toenails red?"
    No
    "To hide in the Strawberry patch"

    "Every seen an Elephant in a Strawberry patch"?
    No
    "They hide pretty good, don't they".

    Last edited by Shinshi; 07-05-2018 at 01:02 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.

  8. #8
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Shinshi View Post
    Why do Elephants paint their toenails red?"
    No
    "To hide in the Strawberry patch"

    "Every seen an Elephant in a Strawberry patch"?
    No
    "They hide pretty good, don't they".



    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    She/her.
    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 those who have been participating in our Book of Equanimity readings, my talk this week during our July Zazenkai danced with these five Koans, 76 thru 89, that we basked in the past few weeks. Please have a listen.

    It begins from about 01:53:00, and is about 30 minutes ... Also, don't miss the Sacred Hokey Cokey at 02:37:40 ...



    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    For lots of reasons, I have never much cared for this "why" question koan.To start with, answering such a question requires an abstraction, and as the commentary points out, even if the correct answer is given and insight (not enlightenment) is attained, it still might not be very helpful. In other words, "why" questions can be kind of meaningless, which is ironic here, huh. But on spending all morning contemplating it along with the commentaries here and some zazen, I think I have found a new way to approach it; I changed the subject of the sentence and made it about me:

    What is the meaning of the buddha dharma coming into my life?

    I turn 60 years old next month. I never expected to live this long. The average life expectancy for someone with my condition is 60 years. My health is not good. I'm at that twilight time in life where you start asking yourself if you lived a good, meaningful, life. I would like to think so. Some who know me will agree, others might not, and others could care less. Regardless, I feel I have done everything I could to lead a meaningful life, so I am quite at peace. But in the grand scheme of things, where does meaningfulness start or end? It depends on who is looking; it depends on their perspective, or even their lack of perspective. I like to look at the stars while walking my dog at night. When I look up here I see only a few stars or planets, so I got a star map app to help me identify those stars, but when I look at the app it shows me so many other stars that it gets confusing. From where I sit, my life has been meaningful, but the further removed from me the more meaninglessness appears, until I am nothing compared to the Milky Way. But who ever said the Milky Way had any meaning or, more importantly, was even supposed to be meaningful anyway? And at what level of meaning? If you put all the meaning of the universe together it adds up to no meaning at all, which makes it all very meaningful because you can't leave anything out. That's my life, that's Zen, and Ryuge got it!
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

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