Buddha said, “This life is suffering or dissatisfying.” Trungpa Rinpoche said: “The center of our life is unrequited
love.” I don’t know where I got: “Samsara is already broken.” They all point to the same thing. Life as we see it in its appearance is
full of pain, loss, failure or blame.
It’s built in to Life. The
biggest built-in is that we, all of us without exception, will experience old
age, illness and death. But there
are many other losses built in to human life. As I’ve written before - Children leaving the nest, getting
sick at just the wrong time, getting fired, having a failing business, getting
a divorce, someone unexpectedly dying, these are all examples of”dukkha”. “Samsara is already broken” means that
each event has within it; its own destruction or impermanence. In each moment, there is birth and destruction. Nothing in the form world escapes
destruction. So what can we do
with that? Where do we take
In the BOS koan 25, “The rhinoceros fan”, this theme of
brokenness is again explored. The
first part of the koan goes like this:
One day Yanguan called
to his assistant, “Bring me the rhinoceros fan.”
said, “It is broken”
Yanguan said, “In that
case, bring me the rhinoceros.
Oh, I love this!
On the surface of life there is duality -broken and fixed. But so many things in this life cannot be
fixed. Many deep things in life, we
cannot fix. So what can we
do? Where does our spiritual life
lead us with things that cannot be fixed – with broken hearts that cannot be
With our broken, unfixable hearts, we must find the
rhinoceros. We must find the
source that actually made the fan in the first place. This is when I say, we have to dig deeper and deeper in our
selves to find the source of eternal life that doesn’t come and go, that
doesn’t get broken, that is always, irrefutably, present in every moment. We
have to find the “original person” that we are.
Sometimes our deepest suffering is what pushes us to dig
even deeper into life and find that which is immutable. Can a person who has a deep loss recover? I think only if somehow
they can let go of the surface stories of their life, and find the eternal
source present in each moment, the beauty or mystery of life, and go on. This would be a spiritual recovery of
sorts. That is not to say we won’t
have scars. We have to love our
scars as our humanity, and live out this precious human birth with as much
dignity and compassion that we can muster in life’s unrequitedness. This is practice to me.
So how do we practice with this unrequitedness?
In the koan BOS #15 Yangshan
plants his hoe, we are admonished to practice in the Temple of Requited Blessing. The temple of Requited Blessings is
like finding the source, bringing the rhinoceros. It is the temple where the essence and the form of the
moment meet. It is not in
conventional reality that we find this blessing. You must see Buddha-nature in each and every moment of your
life. Somehow, you can stand up in
the dynamic functioning of each moment with awareness of the mystery.
This mystery is that the sacred and the ordinary arise together. Tiantong writes: We must
remember the saying about South Mountain - engraved on the bones, inscribed on the skin, together
requiting the blessing. Together, they can bring us relief.
continues by saying:
how many people past or present know the
virtue of gratitude?” …. That is why since I’ve grown old, I have lived
here in this “Temple of Requiting Blessings”. There is much hard work to do each day. Whom do you do it for?”
lead our life and accept our sorrows for the whole world. We don’t know exactly whom we do it
for. But life is our obligation
and blessing to live and we have to find a way to connect with the source in
order to live in its blessing.
the mud, entering the water
bodhisattva enters this moment of life
attention to the delusion
figuring out what each delusion needs to be taking care of with respect.
moment, each thing, each person
expression of eternity or the source of life
can see and treat them this way.
Labels: Book of Serenity case #25, Book of Sernity case #15, Bring me the rhinoceros fan, dukkha, form and emptiness co-arise, Katagiri Roshi, Ragir, the original face, The Rhinoceros fan, Yangshan plants his hoe