Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Entire being is the buddha-nature"

In the beginning of Dogen’s Bussho fascicle of the Shobogenzo, he quotes a famous passage from the Nirvana Sutra (ch. 27) All sentient beings without exception have the Buddha-nature.   In Dogen’s way, Dogen reinterprets this sentence so that it more explicitedly reads in a non-dualistic style.   In the previous sentence, it’s possible to read it dualistically as:
A subject, “sentient beings” “has” an object, “Buddha-nature”

Dogen reinterprets the sentence as:  Entire being is the Buddha-nature.  He tries to alleviate the duality inherent in the sentence structure.  Entire being becomes the complete network of interdependent co-origination, which has no inside and no outside, no I and no you.  Our being or a sentient being is actually the same as the total dynamic working of the entire network of beings.  We cannot pull out a separated “being”.  Dogen deconstructs the space or place of a “being” as a separate, independent unit.  The entire network of beings, functioning together, is the Buddha-nature.

The Buddha-nature is not seen as a “thing” or an “object” but rather the process of life life-ing itself.  It is the total dynamic working of the machine of life.  Katagiri Roshi deconstructs the “time” of Buddha-nature.  He says :
 “Buddha-nature is impermanence itself.  This real moment is constantly: working, arising, disappearing, and appearing. To say what the present moment is, right here, right now, is to say that this moment has already disappeared.  This is called emptiness.  Both cause and effect are exactly impermanence in themselves.  It means just appearing, that’s all.  This is the basic nature of existence.  That’s why impermanence is Buddha-nature.  Buddha-nature is being preached constantly.  When you manifest yourself right now, right here, becoming one with zazen or with your activity, this is Buddha-nature manifested in the realm of emptiness or impermanence.”  From Returning to Silence, page 9.

Friday, June 17, 2011

To know Buddha-nature, contemplate temporal conditions

Buddha said, “if you wish to know the Buddha-nature’s meaning, you must contemplate temporal conditions.  If the time arrives, the Buddha-nature will manifest itself.  From Bussho,  Shobogenzo, Waddell and Abe translation.

This is it for me!  No more seeking. (thank god, after 40 years I’m so tired of seeking) (Joshu calls us,  “Buddha seeking fools”)  No more intellectualizing on the meaning of Zen or the sutras or thinking we can understand.  No more seeking deep and poo-pooing surface (ordinary things).  No more wishing for sacredness and transcendence,  which discounts our ordinary delusions and the problems of life. This dualistic thinking, separating the absolute and the relative, with our concurrent preferences, just continues all the worldly suffering, confusion and fatigue.  Wishing things were otherwise.

The absolute and the relative,  the sacred and the ordinary, are completely intertwined and completely arise together.  That means that this moment is complete, is the Buddha-nature.  There is no “other”  “thing” to search for.  So our practice should be directed at seeing the inter-related quality, the process of no-solid-objects including me!, the openness and no-story (and the taking care of the story) of what is actually arising, the temporal condition of this moment.  We must ONLY contemplate the temporal condition of this moment, and then the next.  This moment is the nexus of process that brings forth this object and brings forth Buddha-nature.  There is no exception and no abandonment.  We can experience this when we release our concepts of truth and our preferences.

If the nexus of forces that arrive are in alignment, we can see "no form" with integrity and "form" with integrity.  We can also experience that they are not separated but whatever the object of our awareness is, This itself is the arrival of Buddha-nature.  “If the time arrives, the buddha nature will manifest itself.   From Fukanzazengi:  :The treasure store will open of itself, and we will use it at will”

Practice points for opening to the moment

In early May, Greg Kramer came to Clouds and gave a retreat.  His emphasis is on how to bring meditation and mindfulness into activity, relationships and verbal dialogue.  I found it quite powerful.  Since then, I have been working with his practice points, which I would like to share.

From “Insight Dialogue, The Interpersonal Path to Freedom”

1.   Pause
2.   Relax the body
3.   Accept your thoughts (accept the storyline)
4.   Open to what is happening in this moment (often noticed through body sensation)
5.   Trust Emergence
6.   Listening deeply
7.   Speak or act from your truth and heart

Monday, June 6, 2011

Zazen is to become one with process itself

This is the quote I read yesterday during my Sunday talk at Clouds in Water Zen Center.

Katagiri Roshi:
Taken from “To live is just to live” from “The art of just sitting” edited by John Daido Loori, page 101

Zazen is just to become present in the process of zazen itself.
It is not something you acquire after you have done zazen.
It is not a concept of the process;
It is to focus on the process itself.
Real Buddhism is to focus completely on the process itself.
Our body and mind is the process itself
There is no gap between us and the process.
The process is you.

All we have to do is do what we are doing, right now, right here
Whatever happens, all we have to do is to be constantly present right in the middle of the process of zazen.
This is the beginning and also the end.
You can do it; it is open to all people, whoever they are.

Trying to be peaceful is no longer to be peaceful.
Just sit down.
We do not have to try or not try or say that we do not care.
Finally we have to do is realize we are Buddha; this is a big koan for us.
This is the root koan.
We take off our conceptual clothes and plunge in.

We have to practice constantly because we have a mind.
A mind that even though it thinks it understands
Cannot settle down in our hearts.
If we give the mind a certain change, the environment, the circumstances, it becomes a monkey mind.  Grabbing onto anything fun and exciting.
That is why we have to take care of our mind.
We have to take care of chances, circumstances, time and occasion.
When we have taken care of the mind, we are not bothered by the workings of the mind; the mind does not touch the core of our existence;  it is just withus, that is all.  When all circumstances are c ompletely peaceful, just our center blooms.  This is our zazen; this is shikantaza.

Shikan is translated wholeheartedness, which seems to be a sort of psychological state or pattern.  But shikan is not a psychological pattern.  Shikan is exactly becoming one with the process itself.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ken McLoed's phrases for the divine abodes

Ken McLoed’s verses for the Divine Abodes

I have been using Ken Mcloed’s verses for the four immeasurables and students have been asking for them.

Here is an email address where you can find them:

"You can't beat samsara"

When Roshi Reb Anderson was at Clouds, the sound byte that stuck in my mind was “You can’t beat samsara”.  Then my husband heard that and amended it by saying “You can’t trump samsara.”  What does that mean?  It is very similar to the first noble truth that human life contains within it; dissatisfaction, anxiety and suffering.  No matter how “good” our spiritual life is, we are not divorced from the swirling ups and downs of samsaric life.

How can you truly find peace amidst the vicissitudes of human life?  We need to have some deep visceral connection with that which is beyond up and down.

The 8 worldly winds are the vicissitudes that constitute the human world.  They are:
Pleasure        Pain
Gain            Loss
Success        Failure
Praise            Criticism

How can we practice when the 8 worldly winds have us caught and gripped?  Sometimes, I feel, I can’t even sit down to do zazen.  My practice at these pressurized points in life, often has to do with Buddhist Prayer, the chanting or saying over and over of certain phrases.  Trying to interrupt my habituated energy and compulsive thinking with more wholesome, dharmic thoughts.

Lately, I have been using phrases from Joan Halifax’ Book:  “Being with dying”.  These phrases were made for people who were dying, caregiving or grieving.  Because of these conditions, I found them particularly poignant and also useful for all the stressful conditions in life.

Here are a few I have been using lately:
May the power of lovingkindness sustain me.
May I offer my care and presence unconditionally, knowing it may be met by gratitude, indifference, anger or anguish.
May I find the inner resources to truly be able to give.
May I remain in peace and let go of expectations.
May I see my limits compassionately, just as I view the suffering of others.
May I accept my anger, fear and sadness, knowing that my vast heart is not limited by them.
May I allow my stress to open my heart of compassion.