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Thread: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 88

  1. #1

    BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 88


    This week, we look-non-look at Case 88, "The Shurangama's Unseen."

    We usually think of ourselves subjectively as people who look out through our eyes, from inside our heads, at objects outside us. We are so on a day to day basis, which is very handy ... because it would be impossible to function if we did not have senses that objectified the rest of the world apart from our sense of self. How would we put on our pants and make toast in the morning if there were no pants or toast apart from some hungry guy late for work?

    So, the basic joke in the Koan is that, when subject vs. object drop away, how can there be a seen object or, for that matter, a personal seer who sees such a thing?" ("I see it" usually requires a person who sees a separate object). What if that is replaced with nothing but flowing wholeness and all lack of divisions and separation? It is something like noting that an eye cannot see itself. If the whole universe were the eye, without separation of seer and seen, there would be nothing outside to be seen and no viewer "behind the eye and between the ears" to see it either. Without seer or seen, can we even speak of "seeing"? Without seer and seeing can we even speak of "seen"? Without seeing and seen can we even speak of "seer."

    Yes ... what is then? (Reality is not a blind and empty void either!)

    In fact, in that case, the person cannot even say that "I" see the "unseen" ... because how is one "unseeing" what is not a thing to start with, and exactly who is capable of unseeing? Thus, to speak of "unseeing" is also wrong.

    You cannot even say "I see" the point, or "I see what you mean," because even that turns this into something to see ... or something to unsee. This dropped "beyond subject/object" must be "grocked" somehow ... a word meaning beyond known, seen, tasted, sensed, all of which imply some separation of sentient being and sensed.

    It reminds me of the kids' word game that goes, "I see that you see that I see that you see that I see that you see ... "

    In this case, maybe, "no see no see no see no see ... "

    In Zazen and Zen practice, this self/other divide of subject vs. object drops away into the wholeness of emptiness. Beyond this divide is the true self ... but, again, don't objectify this into an idea or object that is known, seen, tasted, sensed.

    And somehow, from this wondrous whatever, there emerges our rich world of subjects and objects, seeing and seen, me and you, all the colors and flavors of the rainbow.

    Can you see my point?

    The Preface to the Assembly seems to mean that speaking of either "seeing" or "unseeing" or "not seeing" or "not unseeing" are all missing the mark (because not "unseeing" what? In fact, what "not not not not unseeing" what? The "what" or "no what" is the problem! ). In fact, any word would seem to miss the mark, because any word makes an object to think about. Our world appears from this chaos, no more real than illusions of flowers dancing in the sky ... yet what a glorious world! (Master Dogen said that "flowers in the sky" may be like a dream, but it is the dream of life so dream it well.)

    The Appreciatory Verse speaks of the "great space utterly dried up" in which are mental ideas of divisions, categories, names, me and you, yesterday and tomorrow, ups and downs and all the rest utterly vanish, and yet in this "emptiness" is a fertile wholeness filled up with all the things of the universe.

    I think the "Zen monks with long noses" might refer to monks who are too curious and nosey in their search for the "it" which they imagine their "true self" to be, but the "Buddhas with short tongues" wordlessly teach this lesson beyond words. The oneness of the silken thread and the loom that "barely rotates once" point to some amazing creative property to create all the images of things and complex patterns of life's tapestry, but now somehow reduced to the "thread the needle" simplicity before the separate patterns emerge. You encounter thus your "True Self" ... but how can a "you" "meet" a "him"?

    Question: What would life be like, and how would we express sentences, if we eliminated subjects and objects and subject/object linking verbs from sentences? Try it.

    "I hang my hat" would become ... ... ... Even just "hanging" fails to hit the mark! Then, even the adjectives and adverbs and all the rest have no place to hang their hats! Nonetheless, the reality in which we somehow find ourselves alive is speaking this wordless language with a clear tongue.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-06-2020 at 11:27 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Ow, my head!

    This is definitely one to chew on for a long time.

    After a first couple or readings it made me think of how everything is a delicate interplay between absolute and relative. A constant dance that leads into delusion if you stray too far one way or the other.

    Despite having no background in the subject it also made me think of reality as mathematics or quantum physics and reality as an endless field of matter reacting through equations.

    I realise that makes little sense. I really should read that copy of 'surely you're joking Mr Feynman' I've had for years.

    Gassho

    Heiso
    StLah

    Sent from my E5823 using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Heiso View Post
    Ow, my head!

    This is definitely one to chew on for a long time.

    After a first couple or readings it made me think of how everything is a delicate interplay between absolute and relative. A constant dance that leads into delusion if you stray too far one way or the other.

    Despite having no background in the subject it also made me think of reality as mathematics or quantum physics and reality as an endless field of matter reacting through equations.

    I realise that makes little sense. I really should read that copy of 'surely you're joking Mr Feynman' I've had for years.

    Gassho

    Heiso
    StLah

    Sent from my E5823 using Tapatalk
    That does make sense to me Heiso, I took just enough college math to realize how descriptive it can be of the infinite intertwining of all things!

    This Koan makes me think of the Sandokai.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    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).

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    That does make sense to me Heiso, I took just enough college math to realize how descriptive it can be of the infinite intertwining of all things!

    This Koan makes me think of the Sandokai.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Funnily enough I read the sandokai before sitting this morning and read this koan afterwards and thought the same.

    Gassho

    Heiso
    StLah

    Sent from my E5823 using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Thank you, Jundo. This is confusing to me and I'll have to reflect on it, but I love the "Unseeing Eye" by Sonny Boy Williamson that was linked on top.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/LAH
    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)

  6. #6
    just a general question on this book ............
    is it known where Wick got the translation from , as it differs a bit from Cleary's. I assume Wick is not able to translate the Chinese himself ??
    just curiosity ..........
    love the book by the way
    sat today
    gassho
    Hosei
    Mountains are waters and waters are mountains ............

  7. #7
    Hi Hosei,

    The introduction to the book says that the translations "come primarily from Taizan Maezumi Roshi working with Dana Fraser."

    Be cautious with Clearly translations, by the way, which can be very loose.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Onkai View Post
    ... I'll have to reflect on it ...
    Ah, now we can see the problem clearly!

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Member RobD's Avatar
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    Whoa. I'm still processing this one...

    So far, to my very limited understanding, this koan seems to support the idea that language, itself dualistic in nature, can only point us in the right direction, but once the subject/object distinction drops away, traditional language also ceases to function in the usual sense, and we're left to simply experience what is...but wait! There's no separate "seer" to experience what is. Ugh. Clearly, I still need to drop something... I'm going to just go sit.

    Gassho,
    Rob

    SatToday


    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by RobD View Post
    Whoa. I'm still processing this one...

    So far, to my very limited understanding, this koan seems to support the idea that language, itself dualistic in nature, can only point us in the right direction, but once the subject/object distinction drops away, traditional language also ceases to function in the usual sense, and we're left to simply experience what is...but wait! There's no separate "seer" to experience what is. Ugh. Clearly, I still need to drop something... I'm going to just go sit.
    My comment:































































    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Hosei,

    The introduction to the book says that the translations "come primarily from Taizan Maezumi Roshi working with Dana Fraser."

    Be cautious with Clearly translations, by the way, which can be very loose.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Yes, I read that indeed , but Maezumi Roshi has no translation of this book. Probably he did them all in Teisho or koan study.

    I know Cleary can be a bit difficult sometimes but this book is rather to the point it seems
    I read them both next to eachother , a nice exercise for me :-)
    thanks and gassho
    Hosei
    Sat Today
    Mountains are waters and waters are mountains ............

  12. #12
    This is a funny Koan but somehow it makes sense.

    Question: What would life be like, and how would we express sentences, if we eliminated subjects and objects and subject/object linking verbs from sentences? Try it.

    My wife and I had a similar discussion a few weeks ago about “us” and “them”. It is literally impossible to have a conversation in English (and I assume every other language) about people without dividing into “us” and “them”. Who the “us” is and who is “them” is fluid depending on the context. If my wife and I are with another couple then “we” are with “them” but is we start to talk about husbands and wives then suddenly my wife and I are in different groups

    To me this Koan is hitting on the same sort of thing by discussing our need to categorize the world. “seen”, “unseen”, “not seen”, and “not unseen”.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Ah, now we can see the problem clearly!

    Gassho, J

    STLah


    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/LAH
    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)

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