Friday, December 19, 2008

Zen Not Seeing Not Seeing

Not Seeing Not Seeing

Case 94 of the Blue Cliff Record consists of a quote from the Surangama Sutra which says:

When I do not see, why do you not see my not-seeing? If you did see my not-seeing, that would obviously not be a characteristic of not-seeing. Since you do not see my not-seeing, obviously it is not an outside object—how could it not be you?

This saying from the Surangama Sutra is a Dragon hiding inside a tortoise shell. When people first meet with it they smile and nod, thinking it is an ordinary tortoise. However, everyone that takes it up and looks inside, dies instantly. Beware! This saying is subtle. Because it is perfectly logical and philosophically satisfying, it is easy to understand. Realizing it is an entirely different matter.

Here, the Surangama Sutra expresses a fraction of what is expressible concerning seeing and not-seeing. A fraction of what is expressible concerning seeing and not-seeing that is not expressed here is this: When I see, why do you see my seeing? If you did not see my seeing, that would obviously not be a characteristic of seeing. Since you see my seeing, obviously it is not an outside object—how could it not be you? Even saying this much, we are not expressing all that is expressible concerning seeing and not-seeing. How much more is there concerning seeing and not-seeing that is inexpressible?

To take up this saying forward and backward and turn it upside down and inside out is to study what is “not an outside object.” When we study what is “not an outside object,” what is “not an outside object” casts off its objectivity. When what is “not an outside object” casts off its objectivity—how could it not be you?

At One Being Time, seeing is without light or dark.
At One Being Time, seeing is light and dark.
At One Being Time, seeing is neither light nor dark.
At One Being Time, seeing is the storeroom, the gate.

Although the Surangama Sutra says that seeing not-seeing would not be a characteristic of not-seeing, it does not mean that seeing not-seeing is without charachteristics. Seeing not-seeing possesses the charachteristics of seeing not-seeing.

When Shakyamuni Buddha saw the morning star, he was greatly enlightened. He exclaimed, “How wonderful, how wonderful! All beings are the Tathagata, it is only their delusions and preoccupations that keep them from testifying to the fact.”

What happened when Shakyamuni Buddha saw the morning star? He had been sitting in the same spot for six years; did he not-see the morning star before? For six years, the morning star was not-seen. Seeing the morning star at One Being Time, Shakyamuni Buddha sees what at One Being Time is not-seen. At the One Being Time of seeing the morning star, Shakyamuni Buddha sees the One Being Time of not-seeing the morning star. At the One Being Time of Shakyamuni Buddha’s seeing the morning star, and seeing the One Being Time of not-seeing the morning star, all beings are the Tathagata. All beings are not only all sentient beings; all beings are All Being, and are One Being Time. Shakyamuni Buddha is One Being Time, the Tathagata is One Being Time, the morning star is One Being Time, seeing is One Being Time, and not-seeing is One Being Time. Seeing is smoke over a hill and horns over a hedge; not-seeing is a fire and an ox.

What is the “I” and “you” of seeing and not-seeing? How could it not be I? How could it not be you? Although you do not see my not-seeing, my not-seeing not being seen by you depends on you not seeing my not-seeing. If not for you not seeing my not-seeing, my not-seeing not being seen by you would obviously not be characteristic of you not seeing my not-seeing. Therefore the “I” that does not see and the “you” that does not see my not-seeing are One Being Time. That is why it is said, “Officially not even a needle can pass through; privately, horses cross, donkeys cross.

Peace,
Ted Biringer

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4 Comments:

At December 19, 2008, Blogger Uku said...

"I see dead people."
The Sixth Sense (1999)

Thank you, Ted! Great post!

With palms together,
Uku

 
At December 21, 2008, Blogger Ted Biringer said...

Ha, ha! Thanks Uku!

"When you look closely, you see that people of the present are none other than people of yore."
Foyan (12th century)

Peace,
Ted Biringer

 
At December 26, 2008, Blogger s.c said...

Observing an absence, the absence is itself a presence -- simply a presence of absence, indeed.

In what I would like to say: The presence of not-seeing, on being presented with the presence of this thought, it is clearly a matter of profound significance. One sees that another sees, but does one see when another does not see? What does one see of what, and that the other does not see? What is the significance of not seeing?

What is the significance of the insignificance of not seeing? and what is the significance of the insignificance of not being?

It's a lot easier to just look at the stars in the sky, I think. Gassho.

 
At December 30, 2008, Blogger Ted Biringer said...

Hello s.c,

Thank you for your comments.

Ah yes, the stars in the sky! Thank you!

Do you remember Carl Sagan's comment on that? "We are star stuff gazing at star stuff."

While he may have had a different perspective than did the Zen ancestors in singling out this lovely koan (Blue Cliff Record - Case 94), his comments still seems apt to me.

The Rinzai Zen master, Hakuin, commented on this koan in part:

“Because it is not a thing, it must be your own awakened mind. The realm that is not a thing is your true vision; true vision is your essential nature. That’s the message.”
Cleary, Thomas, Secrets of The Blue Cliff Record, p. 328

The Soto Zen master, Tenkei, commented in part on the same case:

“The point is that, of all the myriad things, none is not you. You are you, I am I. One can only know oneself. That’s what this means.”
ibid., p. 328

Yes, lovely...

Thanks again!

Peace,
Ted Biringer

 

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