One of my favorite Ryokan poems:
To find the dharma
Drift east and west,
Come and go,
Entrusting yourself to the waves.
Entrustment – to put into the care of and protecting someone
or something. That is from the
dictionary. Is there, in Buddhism,
someone or something to entrust yourself with? Well, certainly it is not a someone. There is no centralized intelligence
that is watching over us as there is in many theistic religions. But there is, in Buddhism, something we
can trust in – Zenki, the total dynamic functioning of the universe. If we understand that we are a cog in a
large system, or that we are a knot in a large network of interdependence, then
we can let go and trust. There is
something, a network of systemic working, that is holding us up. We are, indeed, supported by something
that we cannot see. This is
entrusting ourselves to the waves of life itself.
Usually we think, in a mistaken idea, that the “dharma” is
something outside of our ordinary lives.
It is something that is outside of drifting
east and west, outside of coming and going. We think we have to transcend our karma, or transcend
our historic self and enter into a place that is beyond history. This place is sometimes called the
vermillion towers in Dogen’s work or in the Lotus sutra, the magic city.
What I love about this poem, is the simplicity in which
Ryokan merges the dichotomy of the historic dimension and the transcendent
dimension. He says the waves are
none other than the water. Coming
and going is non other than stillness.
We can entrust ourselves to life itself. We can as Katagiri Roshi used to say, “Just Live!” or
understand the process of coming and going as “life-ing”. The universal transcendent energy is
completely merged with each wave.
So trust really means learning how to let go and become one
with the whole system. Trusting
that the machine of life, or of our family, or of our sangha, is working in
peace and harmony.
There is still the deep belief in cause and effect. It does matter what we do. Letting go or entrustment is not simply
a matter of passivity. I am
battling here with the two sides that I want to bring together. I don’t think Americans or maybe all
humans are that comfortable with non-doing and trust. Part of my practice is very much, moment-to-moment, allowing
myself to be soft, open, flow, and not too aggressive or controlling. On the other hand, I try to understand
that the seeds of the activity that I plant will change the course of the
waves. It is sometimes called the
razor’s edge. When to act, and
when to let go. In the Koan
literature, this is described as putting
down and uplifting, or letting go and
gathering in and many other similar phrases.
Freedom in our practice is that we are free to do either
side without hesitation. We do not
think that one side is superior and the other side is inferior. And we can go with the flow of our
lives, sometimes going east, sometimes west, sometimes not-doing anything,
sometimes acting. Entrusting
ourselves to the waves.
Labels: deep belief in cause and effect, entrusting yourself to the waves, faith, Karma, letting go, planting seeds, Ryokan poem, total dynamic functioning, trust, Zenki