Suzuki roshi, Zen mind, Beginners Mind, page
“To live in the realm
of Buddha nature means to die as a small being, moment after moment”
This quote seems to support what we have been studying in
Dogen’s Being-time. Our small
being attaches to the appearance of life, to linear progressive time, to our
stories and the naming of our identities. Through the eyes of our small self, life
is filled with dissatisfaction and fear of our personal annihilation – our
death. A true understanding of
time is to see impermanence; Time as impermanence. Everything is appearing and disappearing and changing from
moment to moment. To see “being”
in reality is to see that a moment is born and dies in 1/62nd of a
finger snap. Our small self’s
perceptions are born and die 6,400,099,090 times in a day. “Superspeed”,
Katagiri-roshi called it. To
understand this is to live in the realm of Buddha-nature.
From Suzuki Roshi, page 28:
“When we lose our
balance we die, but at the same time we also develop ourselves, we grow. Whatever we see is changing, losing its
balance. The reason everything
looks beautiful is because it is out of balance, but its background is always
in perfect harmony.”
Oh, how we struggle to keep our balance and to stay
centered. I said for years that
spirituality meant being grounded.
What a shock when I first heard Pema Chodron say, that Buddhist practice
was about being comfortable with groundlessness. Suzuki Roshi calls this losing our balance in constant change.
How do we live with that? Through
the practice of letting go in all our
various circumstances and trusting the total dynamic working of life, we come
to find a new practice of surfing the groundlessness and change of our
stories. Not attaching to anything
and flowing with Time. Learning to
BE in the flow of change. Being-time.
What is the background
of perfect harmony? As Katagiri-Roshi
repeatedly said, if we see our lives from the universal perspective, we see
that everything is working in peace and harmony. Everything is pumping away using cause and effect, pumping
in total dynamic working, Zenki. There is no solid “I” that is the
center of the universe. There is
“This is how
everything exists in the realm of Buddha-nature, losing its balance against a
background of perfect harmony. So
if you see things without realizing the background of Buddha-nature, everything
appears to be in the form of suffering.
But if you understand the background of existence, you realize that
suffering itself is how we live, and how we extend our life. So in Zen sometimes we emphasize the
imbalance or disorder of life.” Pg. 28
This is very strange.
On the surface, if you enter a zendo, you feel that Zen emphasizes order
and perfection. The room is
completely orderly and neat. The behavior is choreographed and perfect. What could Suzuki Roshi possibly mean
that Zen emphasizes the imbalance or disorder of life? This is why it takes so long to
actually understand Zen. Our first
understanding of Zen is often completely upside down.
As I’m getting ready to go into Rohatsu sesshin, the
question arises, “Why do we do this crazy, sometimes uncomfortable, long
ceremony of sitting and highly choreographed living?” Because of this quiet, settling-the-mind ritual, we can
often taste the universe perspective of peace and harmony regardless of our own
personal circumstances. We can
digest the suffering of the ups and downs of our individualized life. We can let go of our strongly held
beliefs and attachments through quiet, settled being. We can begin to see Suzuki Roshi’s statement “to die as a small being, moment to moment”.
“So if you see things
without realizing the background of Buddha-nature, everything appears to be in
the form of suffering. But if you
understand the background of existence, you realize that suffering itself is how
we live, and how we extend our life.”
Somehow, through the experience of a settled being, Zen
practice can help us reorient ourselves to our life and its stories and the
concomitant suffering. We become
more able to handle the suffering of existence as practice itself. We learn to surf the waves in joy, hard
work, letting go and freedom.
Labels: buddha-nature, Buddhist time, Dogen's Being-time, dukkha, groundlessness, impermanence, letting go, life and death, suffering, Suzuki Roshi, Zen mind Beginners mind, Zenki