Sunday, June 30, 2013

Self Receive Use Oneness

“Self Receive Use Oneness” is one translation of the characters that make Jijuyu Zanmai.  It is sometimes translated as “Self-fulfillment Samadhi” or “self-fulfillment and enjoyment Samadhi” or “Samadhi of receiving and using the self”.  This is the middle section of the Bendowa by Dogen in Shobogenzo.

This section is an incredibly poetic expansive description of interdependence.  It is really an intoxicating section of what it feels like in human consciousness to know giving and receiving as one gesture and to know inside and outside as one continuous seamless reality.  It is interesting to note that this fascicle was written when Dogen was young, 31 years old.  It is seen as a companion piece to the Fukanzazengi which he wrote when he was 28 years old.  In his later years, it would be very unusual to find such an expansive piece.  I think, as he got older, Dogen’s spirituality became very down-to-earth.  His main writing centers on how our understanding is expressed through the moments and events of daily life.  He died at 53.  What would his writing have become if he had lived to 80, I wonder?

The implication of this translation is that we have to use, employ or put to work our spiritual life in terms of our everyday, historic life.  There is a oneness of subject and object and of the absolute and relative which can be used through our work and by life itself.  In the Tenzo Kyokun, Dogen writes ”Put your awakened mind to work…..The Way-seeking Mind of a tenzo is actualized by rolling up your sleeves.”  What good to the world is transcendence or a spirituality that is regarded as an escape from reality?

Dogen’s Way is to receive your self as a Whole.  You receive your historic, karmic self in this 24 hours, intimately coordinated with the universal source, eternity. They exist simultaneously together.  This Oneness of the sacred and ordinary is how we find self-fulfillment and enjoyment.  As long as we live in this human body, we can never escape Samsara, the endless arising of greed, anger and ignorance.  BUT, if we can knead each moment with the understanding that this very moment is ALSO the eternal source point, complete unto itself, then we begin to understand that samsara and nirvana are in an intimate dance with each other.  Within this dance, we find self-fulfillment and enjoyment that goes beyond the ups and downs of our ordinary lives.  In this understanding, we find spiritual stability.  It seems pretty clear to me now that without this spiritual perspective on life, I am constantly riding the roll-a-coaster of my samsaric life.  Self-fulfillment can come only through the spiritual perspective in life.  The material world of desire is constantly dissatisfying.

I really appreciated Uchiyama Roshi translating Samadhi as Right Acceptance.  Wow!  It has such a different slant than the word “concentration”.  It means at every moment, we are accepting this moment as whole and complete.  We accept this moment as the only moment. This very moment is received regardless of our likes and dislikes. With this type of acceptance, we can find true Samadhi.  It excludes nothing and we are present for it.

So this Samadhi of oneness is not a “state” that we can find and hold on to.  It is not simply a peak experience, though we have peak experiences.  This Samadhi of Right Acceptance is a continuous seamless practice and realization.  Perhaps at some moments deep in sesshin, deep in the mountains, we fully realize this oneness but that is not the whole of it.  That is a wonderful and inspirational peak experience.  What I find is true practice is trying to understand every moment, high or low, as a part of this seamless continuum of sacredness.  It is as Dogen writes in Jijuyu Zanmai:

“The melodious sound continues to resonate as it echoes, not only during sitting practice, but before and after the fall of the hammer.”


Sometimes, we can hit emptiness right on its head.  That is the fall of the hammer.  But this melodious sound is always resonating.  Before our experience, after our experience, whether we know it or not, the sound of oneness is continuing forever.  If we are conscious with this understanding, we can actualize this awareness in “the enlightenment at hand”.  This enlightenment is right in front of our noses or at hand, it is the opening of this very moment.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Make use of your one precious life

As I drove down to Hokyoji Zen Monastery to lead sesshin, I was filled with gratitude for Zen practice in my life and for this particular monastery.  I have been coming to Hokyoji since it started around 1977.  It has been a place of many 7-day sesshins and practice periods.  It is a beautiful environment for practice, in the bluffs of the Mississippi River and very intimate with nature, the weather, the birds, trees, tiles and pebbles.  We are studying Dogen’s Jijiyu Zanmai here and you can really feel all the dharmas intimately and imperceptibly assisting each other.

Grasses and trees, fences and walls demonstrate and exalt the deep, wondrous dharma for the sake of living beings, both ordinary and sage;
And in turn, living beings, both ordinary and sage, express and unfold it for the sake of grasses and trees, fences and walls.

This brings up for me how lucky I am to have had an opportunity to study Zen and Buddhism and to practice in these special places.  They have taught me how to seize the day and seize my life.  As I am getting older and as my children are leaving the nest, I look over my life and see how much Zen teaching and practice has allowed me to live with vitality and without too much regret.  Zen practice has continuously brought forward for me the fragility and impermanence of my life span.  We have many admonitions to understand this fragility and therefore to take great care of our life, our specific karmic life with its ups and downs, its beauty and difficulties.  We take equal care of both sides of the coin, success and failure.

From the Sandokai:  I respectfully urge you who study the mystery,
                                    Do not pass your days and nights in vain.

Or the evening message:
I beg to urge you everyone,
Life and death is a great matter,
All things pass quickly away
awaken, awaken
Take heed, take heed
Make use of your precious life.

I am feeling profound gratitude.  Which leads me to take care of the next sequential issue?  Zen is an unmistakenly handed down tradition. …..This is because each teacher and each disciple has been intimately and correctly transmitting this subtle method and receiving and maintain it true spirit.

Some of the Zen Centers in the twin cities are in a transition with their buildings and teaching, (including Clouds in Water Zen Center where I teach).  Hokyoji is currently running a capitol campaign.  Ryumonji, another monastery in the Katagiri Roshi lineage, has just finished their building project.  There is a great flux and organic urge to allow the next generation of teachers to flourish and the next generation of young people to find the teachings and the dharma.

When I look around the world, when I look at my son’s generation, when I look at our electronic life, I feel more and more that the world needs Zen, meditation and dharma teaching.  There are many of us who have gotten so much from the teaching. Now our job is to turn around and take on the responsibility to provide this for the next generation.  If we take Zen life and temples for granted, if our attitude of service is lackadaisical, then I think, what I have so graciously received in my life from Zen practice will eventually not be available for others.

With this in mind, I have become inspired again.  The work we do for Zen Centers is not in vain.  Teaching, scrubbing the floors, cooking, real estate, mortgages, fundraising; all this is not in vain.  It’s for a very good purpose.  The purpose is to allow the practices and teaching to have a forum for the next generation.  This is our lineage and the world needs it.  The world needs us to continue to make places for people to come and experience this!:

“At this time, because earth, grasses and trees, fences and walls, tiles and pebbles, all things in the dharma realm in ten directions, carry out Buddha work, therefore everyone receives the benefit of wind and water movement caused by this functioning, and all are imperceptibly helped by the wondrous and incomprehensible influence of Buddha to actualize the enlightenment at hand.”



Friday, June 14, 2013

The one mind is always present


Zen practitioners often talk about “Shin” and what is the proper translation for “shin”.  The most common translation is heart-mind, though in the earlier days of translation it was only translated as mind.  The problem being that in the east the discriminative mind resides in the heart and in the west, it resides in the mind.  So if you noticed hand gestures, eastern people point to the heart in speaking of mind and westerners point to the brain.  Interesting!

As Okumura Roshi explains, “Shin is neither heart or mind or both and actually neither.”

Dogen writes a whole fascicle about the meaning of “shin”.  In the Shobogenzo chapter titled Sokushinzebutsu,  Dogen works with the koan from Baso (or Mazu). In a dialogue between Zen master Baso and the monk Daibai in Case 30 of the koan collection, The Gateless Gate:

 Daibai asked Baso, “What is buddha?”
 Baso an­swered, “Mind (shin) here and now is buddha.”

In this Shobogenzo chapter, Dogen rearranges the words to show all the different sides and possibilities of this meaning.  This is a beautiful example of Dogen’s subtle changing of syntax to expound the deeper meaning of traditional Zen phrases.

1.     Soku shin ze butsu – “mind here and now is Buddha”
2.     Shin soku butsu ze – “the mind which is Buddha is this”
3.     Butsu soku ze shin –“Buddha actually is just the mind”
4.     Ze butsu shin soku – “this Buddha-mind is now here”
5.     Soku shin butsu ze – “Mind-and-buddha here and now is true”
6.     Ze butsu soku shin -  “concrete Buddha is mind here and now

In this chapter dogen expounds that the mind or heart or shin is the one mind that means all dharmas in the entire network of interdependent origination.  And this one mind is authentically transmitted by buddhas and ancestors.  All dharmas are one mind.  It is neither in our heart or our mind but it is the total reality of all space and time inter-related.  Okumura Roshi asks with a smile, “so how do you translate that?”

Keizan’s also has a commentary on the meaning of Mind as represented by the phrase, dropping off body and mind.

“What is body and what is mind?
Finally he said:
“What is this principle, would you like to hear it?
That bright and shiny realm has neither inside nor outside
How can there be any body and mind to drop off.”
This is a radical shift in our thinking about body and mind, heart and mind, and what we think we are “trying to do.” 

Each of these variation of syntax, help us to allow our minds to enlarge, to soften, to not hold on to solidity or concreteness and to live in the moment, dropping our conceptualization of what is happening.  To drop off our conceptualization of heart-mind and just to be in “suchness” is extremely important to understanding practice-realization.  We do not hook or link what is expressing itself in the moment to our conceptual projection or imputation of what we think is happening. What we think is usually dualistic.  Instead, we can sink down into the energetic experience of this moment, right in the middle of the paradox of karma and immediacy, history and universality.  This is the wholeness of the present moment where form and emptiness are dancing together in one great melody –heart/mind or the One Mind, not divided or separated out through language.