Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bodhi - desire to steal, defeat an enemy, embrace a beauty

Dogen on, "what practice is to be considered most urgent..."

"As for the description of the essential point to be mindful of, what thing must be concentrated upon, what practice is to be considered most urgent, that is as follows.

First is only that the aspiration of joyful longing be earnest. For example, suppose a person has a conscious desire to steal a precious jewel, a desire to defeat an enemy, or a desire to embrace a distinguished beauty; while travelling, abiding, sitting and reclining, in the midst of affairs as the pass, though various different events come up, he goes along seeking an opening, his mind occupied [with his quest]. With his mind so forcefully earnest, there can be no failure of attainment.

In this way, when the aspiration to seek the Way has become sincere, either during the period of sole concentration on sitting, or when dealing with illustrative example of the people of olden times, or when meeting the teacher, when one acts with true aspiration, though [his aim] be high he can hit it, though it be deep he can fish it out.

Unless you arouse a mind comparable to this, how will you accomplish the great task of the Buddha-Way, which cuts of the turning round of birth and death in a single instant of thought? If someone has such a mind, we do not talk about whether he is a stupid and ignorant evil man; he will definitely attain enlightenment."
Shobogenzo-zuimonki II:14, Thomas Cleary

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At November 01, 2008, Blogger s.c said...

I have heard a friend recently discussing the nature of complacency. Considering these words, here, I think it encourages a person to not be complacent in seeking, pursuing kensho.

I wonder, later, if I have been waiting to find someone who would tell me, "You can be Buddhist!"

Not long do I wonder about it, before I notice that it has been so.

I have lately come to understand that some things are simpler than I had thought them to be. I have lately forgotten this.

I can see no "big idea" in kensho; I can see a rational freedom from attachment to "big ideas". I do not know if I can be consistent, in this. Ideas can still seem "so attractive", in as I have seen it go.

It is not that I have failed, if I am not consistent in it. I feel that I should stop to observe this.

I see that Buddhism can indeed require some effort. It would relate that enlightenment is not reached by outward identity.

At November 04, 2008, Blogger Ted Biringer said...

Hello s.c

Thank you for your comments.

You wrote:"It would relate that enlightenment is not reached by outward identity."

Yes! Thank you!

"Seeing your nature is Zen. If you don't see your nature it's not Zen.
~Bodhidharma (First Zen Ancestor in China) Trans, Red Pine


Ted Biringer

At November 14, 2008, Blogger s.c said...

I think it's important to clear out the drifting seaweed of thought. I'm only lately beginning to notice that I can notice the simplicity of things -- before thought goes about getting it all over-complicated.

I wish I could feel I was being consistently Buddhist, and I wish it looked like it could be easy to resolve, to folks, being not pacifist and Buddhist. I consider that there is precedent to the latter, in the writings of Yagyu Munenori -- that weapons are instruments of ill omen, and as he says, are despised by heaven, but when an evil is complete, it is natural that it be attacked. Perhaps the simple thought of it might offset a person from the zazen cushion, but I consider that it is a clear statement about being, that from Yagyu Munenori.

I digress, and the seaweed is still clinging to my ankle.

In the Rohatsu Exhortations, by Hakuin Zenji (translated, Eido Shimano) Hakuin is recorded as saying as so, following, on the fifth night of the discourses:


The master said to the monks, "In the monstarey there are three different lenth of intensive practice. The longest one is 120 days. The middle one is 90 days, and the shortest is 80 days. During these periods, we are determined to clarify this Great Matter. Therefore no monk is allowed to go out of the gate, not to speak of engaging in frivolous conversation. The practice of Zen requires only one thing; that is a daring spirit.

"I'm sure you know the following story: There was a man called Heishiro, in Ibara. He carved a statue of Fudo Myyoo in stone and placed it int he deep mountains of the Yoshiwara, alongside a waterfall. While he watched the dynamic activity of the waterfall, some bubbles floated along for about a foot and then disappeared. Another bubble went two or three feet and then disappeared. And some of them moved much farther than that, but without fail, all fo them disappeared. Seeing this bubble-phenomenon, due to his accumulated karma, he thoroughly realized that everything in this world is impermanent, like the bubbles on the surface of the water. The impact of this realization deprived him of any peace of mind, and his anxiety became completely unbearable.

"Then it happened that he heard someone reading aloud the Dharma sayings of Master Takusui: 'For sentient beings with a daring spirit, awakening may happen without delay, while for sentient beings with a lazy spirit, attaining nirvana may take three asamkaya kalpas.' Inspiried by this saying, with great determination he entered alone into the bathhouse. He shut the door, locked it from the inside, and sat down. Erecting his spine, he made a tight fist, and kept his eyes open. He did zazen with a fresh, pure spirit. Delusions and hallucinations flew around him like bees. When the battle was over, he had cut his life-root, and he went into deep samadhi, without a single thought. At dawn, when he heard the birds signing outside the bathhouse, he could not find his body. He felt as if his two eyes had left their sockets and were on the ground. An instant later, he felt the pain of his nails digging into his clenched fist. Then his eyes returned to their usual place, and he was able to stand up.

"Sitting and standing, he repeated this kind of practice for three days and nights. On the morning of the third day, after washing his face, he looked at the trees in the garden. They seemed very different from before. He felt so strange. He visited a priest nearby, but the priest did not understand his experience at all. Heishiro decided to visit me, Kokurin (Hakuin). He rode in a palanquin and climbed Satta Peak. At the peak he saw the panoramic view of Tago no Ura. There, he realized thoroughly that what he had experienced in the bathhouse was none other than 'grasses, trees, the good earth are primarily all Buddha.' He came and immediately entered my dokusan room, and he passed a few important koans.

"How, he was a mere ordinary man. He had never studied or practiced Zen before. Nevertheless, sitting for only three days and nights, he was able to prove what the Buddha had realized. With nothing but his daring spirit, he fought his delusions and defeated them all. You monks, why don't you have this daring spirit? You must arouse your determination!"


I do not know what is the origin of action or reaction. The water breaks on the rocks, flows through and over the seaweed.

Hakuin speaks of such determination. Illustrating such determination -- I do not know it may also demonstrate the strength of the Dharma lineage, through Hakuin.

I'll not throw some more kelp on it. It is there, being as it is.

At November 15, 2008, Blogger Ted Biringer said...

Hello s.c,

Thank you for your comments.

It is interesting how so many Zen records seem to urge students to make heroic effort, and to strive wholeheartedly--yet, many contemporary teachers seem to say the opposite. Saying things like, "Do not have any goals..." and "Just sitting is Zen..." I wonder why there seems to be such a wide discrepency..?

And it was not just Dogen and Hakuin who insisted on striving so... Yuanwu, author of the Blue Cliff Record, said:

"Just be wary that your investigation does not rest on a firm footing, and that you will not be able to penetrate through to realization. You must bravely cut off all entanglements, so there is not the slightest dependence or reliance. Relinquish your body and give up your life and directly accept the suchness that faces you; there is no other."
Yuanwu, Zen Letters, Thomas Cleary p.35-36

The great master, Hui Hai put it like this:

"Once you have lost a human body, you will not obtain another for millions of aeons. Strive on! Strive on! It is absolutely vital that you come to understand."
Hui Hai, The Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening, John Blofeld

And how could we fail to wonder about Bodhidharma's disciple, Hui K’o? He is said to have stood all night in the snow, by morning it reached his knees, and Bodhidharma then took pity on him and asked:

“What are you seeking, standing in the snow for this long time?”

Hui K’o sobbed, and in tears begged him, “Please, Master, have mercy. Open the gate of nectar. Deliver the message that liberates sentient beings!”

Bodhidharma said, “The Supreme, unequalled, spiritual Way of the Buddhas is accessible only after vast aeons of striving to overcome the impossible and to bear the unbearable. How could a man of small virtue, little wisdom, slight interest, and slow mind attain the True Vehicle? Striving for it would be vain effort.”

After listening to this exhortation from the Master, Hui K’o secretly took a sharp knife and cut off his own left arm, placing it in front of the Master.

Realizing that he was a good vessel for the Dharma, the Master said, “All Buddhas in search of the Way have begun by ignoring their own bodies for the sake of the Dharma. Now you have cut off your arm in front of me. You may have the right disposition.”

The Master then renamed him Hui K’o. Hui K’o asked, “May I hear about the dharma-seal of the Buddha?”

The Master said, “The dharma-seal is not something which can be heard about from others.”

Hui K’o said, “My mind is not yet at peace. Pray set it at peace for me, Master!”

The Master said, “Bring me your mind, and I will set it at peace for you.”

Hui K’o answered, “I have searched for it, but in the end it is unobtainable.”

The Master said, “Your mind has been set at peace.”
The Transmission Of The Lamp, Sohaku Ogata, p.68-69

But I do love that 'straight talk' of Hakuin:

What is that “true wind” that has never once fallen to earth over the span of endless kalpas? It is the One Great Matter of human life: striving with fierce and courageous determination to bore through the barrier of kensho.
Hakuin, Wild Ivy, Waddell, p.72

As difficult as it sounds, Hakuin also reveals the fun it can all be:

"As for sitting, sitting is something that should include fits of ecstatic laughter—brayings that make you slump to the ground clutching your belly. And when you struggle to your feet after the first spasm passes, it should send you kneeling to the earth in yet further contortions of joy."
Hakuin, Wild Ivy, Waddell p.65

Thanks again.


Ted Biringer


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