You cannot describe it or draw it
You cannot praise it enough or perceive it.
No place can be found in which
To put the Original Face;
It will not disappear even
When the universe is destroyed.
As I have been studying the Bendowa and particularly, this past month, the Jijuyu Zanmai, Self-fulfillment Right Acceptance Samadhi, the metaphor of the “original face or
the original person” runs through Dogen’s writing.
“Therefore, it enables
Buddha-tathagatas to increase the dharma joy of their own original grounds and
renew the adornment of the way of awakening. Simultaneously, all living beings of the dharma world in the
ten directions and six realms become clear and pure in body and mind, realize
great emancipation, and their own original face appears………..At the same time,
they turn the incomparable, great dharma wheel and begin expressing ultimate
and unfabricated profound prajna.”
This paragraph is so chuck full of all we need to know! Firstly, he talks about increasing the dharma joy of their original
grounds. We need the
refreshment of the joy of detaching from our stories. Whenever I use the word “detachment” I cringe, however. It’s
so easy to misunderstand that phrase.
Better is the phrase: detachment in the field of unconditional
love. With this new context of
detachment, detachment doesn’t become indifference or coldness. It is a way to find equanimity within
the actual conditions of our life with no escape and turns us around to face
our karmic life from a new standpoint – the standpoint of the original
grounds. Dogen also emphasizes
that practice is deporting oneself freely
in this Samadhi. Disporting is
a translation of two characters that both mean to play or transform. To
frolic, to be free. In Daigo, he
writes that we should play freely with
the mudballs of life. This is to realize
great emancipation and because of our vast perception of interdependance,
we can still tenderly with compassion and precision attend to the details of
our karmic life. Then the dharma
joy can arise.
Let’s look at the phrase to
turn the dharma wheel. This is
the oneness of giving and receiving and doing and non-doing. There is a great wheel of cause and
effect. If we do nothing, the
wheel doesn’t have any inspiration to spin. It is a flat tire on the side of the road. But if we put a little energy into
moving the wheel, the wheel will start to move and the front part of the wheel
will come back to us and be the back part of the wheel and on and on. We practice and work on our lives but
then we have to let go, and see what returns from that effort we have
made. This is called call and
response. We call out and see how
the karmic forces answer us back.
They will answer us. This
is also the practice of making effort without holding on to the results of our
actions. It is doing but fully
knowing that we are not in control.
The whole dynamic of interdependence is the driving force. Dogen often suggests that it is the
power of zazen that makes our transformations happen. They do not happen from our own will-power. For those of us who sit a lot, we know
that we don’t understand AT ALL what happens in zazen.
Earlier in the Bendowa, Dogen writes:
oneself freely in this Samadhi, practicing zazen in an upright posture is the true
gate. Although this dharma is
abundantly inherent in each person, it is not manifested without practice, it
is not attained without realization.
When you let go, the dharma fills your hands; it is not within the
boundary of one or many. When you
try to speak, it fills your mouth; it is not limited to time or space.”
One word, unfabricated, is of great interest to me,
sometimes translated as unconditioned, non-conceived, or going back to the
original ground. Unfabricated is
translated from mu-e; mu meaning no or negation, and e meaning human
action. This is activity that is
not tainted or stained by human desire, greed, anger and ignorance. This does not arise from the sense of
being an isolated “self” or does it arise from our thoughts, ideas, and conceptions. It is what Katagiri Roshi would call
“pure activity” and Dogen says, “realization
that is not deluded with human sentiment and is not associated with
Uchiyama Roshi’s very simply practice of letting go of the hand of thought, is very helpful in realizing unfabricated life. Or Pema Chodron’s instructions to let go of the
storyline and drop into the energy of the moment. These practices can help us find the pure activity of the
moment that goes beyond our intellectual or conceptual idea about the moment.
This is living life without an agenda. We deeply penetrate each moment as the source and as the
phenomena completely intertwined.
In order to begin to
express ultimate and unfabricated profound prajna, we have to learn to
completely let go of control which we think is legitimized by our concept and
ideas about life. In order to let
go of control by the so-called self, we have to trust in a way we perhaps have
never entered before. In this deep
understanding of letting go and our deep understanding of effort/and
effortlessness, of turning the dharma wheel and the dharma wheel turning us, we
begin to have Buddhist Faith. Faith
is this deep belief in the turning of the wheel and our deep belief in the
transformative but not comprehensible power of zazen.
“Continue to live in
such a way, and you will be such a person. The treasure store will open of itself, and you may enjoy it
Labels: Bendowa, buddhist Faith, call and response, dharma joy, Dogen, jijuyu zanmai, letting go, Original face, prajna, Ragir, Self-fulfillment Samadhi, turning the dharma wheel, unfabricated