I received this translation of the "gate" mantra from Dan
Brown who is a Tibetan Teacher:
From the end of the Heart Sutra:
Gate, gate – beyond thought
Paragate – beyond personal
Parasamgate- beyond constructions
Bodhi – awakened awareness gone
beyond individual consciousness
Svaha – ohh, ah, wow!
I went to a Dan Brown Retreat about three years. Dan Brown is a Tibetan teacher. That retreat produced a great change in
me and was very clarifying of the teaching and of what I’m trying to do.
The above is an explanation of the classic mantra, “gate,
gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi, svaha.” This meaningful, short unpacking of the famous mantra incorporates
many of the teachings and development of enlightenment in Buddhism.
Going beyond thought.
This is the essence of concentration or Samadhi. We are training the mind to still
itself and be at ease. We want to
interrupt clinging or believing in
a solid sense of story. We learn
that our stories are the mind’s constructions. Even though there is a historic, karmic through line in our
lives, strickly speaking, that through line is a mental construction. The true reality only arises in this
very moment. In order to realize
this, our mind’s have to be quiet and quite clear, like the sky. How do we get a clear mind? We learn to
let go of the unnecessary chatter, and to be at ease with the moment that is
actually happening. In order to succeed at quieting the mind, at first, there
needs to be a great effort to concentrate. Once our minds have learned how to place itself or the mind
has stabilized, then we can begin easing up. We can sit quite relaxed with a quiet mind. This is what our teachers mean by
training the mind and staying with the present moment. Within the present moment the “whole
works” is expressed, both historic and universal perspectives simultaneously. But we can’t stay with the present
moment if our mental constructions are out of control. We are constantly going up into our
heads to evaluate things and figure life out. If we move to a place of an open, restful mind, then we can,
with direct contact, experience our
“Think of not
thinking. How do we think of not-thinking. Non-thinking – what kind of thinking is that? Non-thinking.
Going beyond personal
One very deep and existential koan is “Who am I?” Or what is the self? Consensus reality fosters the belief
that there is a centralized self or even a “soul”. Much of Buddhism is deconstructing this belief and opening
up to the nature of inter-being.
We are not an independent unit; solid and isolated. We are, in fact, as Thich Nhat Hanh so
beautifully puts it, made of non-self elements. The more we investigate the self, we cannot find one solid self. The more we investigate the stories of
“our” life, we realize that the past is gone and the future has not been
produced, so only the influences of our stories remain in the now. It’s ironic that when I think about
“my” past, what I notice is my selective memory. I construct the past or who I am, caused by my history,
through the use of this very limited memory. We see our life through the lens
of what we consider to be our personal identity. Katagiri Roshi used to say, through a very narrow
telescope. We see things always
circulating around or self-centered ideas. What’s good for me? We see things through a system of our
self-centered desires. At a
certain point in practice, that self-identity can drop away and be replaced by
a sense of participating in the whole.
The boundaries of self start to include others like a parent when a child
is born. All of a sudden, the
world swirls around the baby not you.
We begin to go beyond ourselves.
We can begin to act from the big picture and not just through the screen
of our personal desires.
constructions of time.
This has been a wonderful contemplation for me. For the past several years, I have been
studying Uji, Dogen’s fascicle in the
Shobogenzo on Time. I have studied
the commentaries by Katagiri Roshi and Okamura Roshi and then really started to
practice it in my day-to-day life.
Time is a construction of the mind. The present moment is the true reality. All though we have heard this since the
moment we walk through a door of a Buddhist Center, the actualizing of this
understanding has taken me a long time.
It continues to help me release my delusions about life and return to
this very moment. It is a way to
interrupt my habit patterns of worry, anxiety, fear, anger etc, by realizing
that the constructions of the stories can be let go of and a determination on
what to do in this moment is the real practice. How should I react to the karma of this moment.
Awakened awareness is a clear mind that can access the
present moment. It is the true merging
of subject and object; to become the activity itself without evaluation. Katagiri Roshi used to say – without
poking your head into the experience.
Awakened awareness is what Katagiri Roshi would call “just do” or “be
completely the experience. The
present moment is experienced just as it is without the consciousness of a time
line. It is the ability to welcome
each moment exactly as it is, as life itself.
How can we enter the teaching that there is no centralized
self? This is slightly more then
letting go of our individual desire system like the phrase, beyond personal
identity. That is a psychological
realization that we now can see through our desires as just what they are and
not be reactive. Going beyond
individual consciousness is an even deeper level of knowing the universal
perspective. In this level of
wisdom, what I would call the existential level of wisdom, we can discover this
unbounded openness of the universe.
Katagiri roshi had two ways of looking at this.
The first level or degree as he called it, is
knowing the emptiness of an abiding self through studying impermanence and
realizing that our lives are based in transiency.
The second degree of emptiness is the actual
absence of our own being. We need
to taste that emptiness is not produced nor is it stopped. It does not appear nor does it
disappear. It is not understood by
the mind and consciousness. In
order for me to touch this, I have to completely relax my anxiety about being
and producing. Perhaps this is why Dogen says “Don’t have designs on becoming a Buddha” Implicit in the word “design” is an object, the “I”. To get to this level of understanding,
you have to relinquish any designs and any sense of “I” and its accomplishments, both spatially and temporally. It is
a complete letting go of mind and a sense of independent being.
Which leaves us, over and over, with the question, “How can
we live our life, moment-to-moment, with the basis of operation being this
teaching of the true reality? This
is called the great activity of practice that continues endlessly.
Labels: Awakening, awareness, concentration, Dan Brown, Dogen, emptiness, Gate gate, Heart Sutra, impermanence, no-self, non-thinking, samadhi