Book Of Serenity, Case 23 (adapted)

 

Book Of Serenity, Case 23 (adapted)

 

The case:

When students came to see Master Luzu, he simply turned to face the wall in zazen.

Hearing this Master Nansen said - “this will carry on until the year of the donkey”

Nansen then said “when students come to me, I tell them to experience the state before discrimination. However I don't even have half a student”

Commentary: 

This koan is about teaching.

In Chinese astrology there isn't a year of the donkey.

Nansen is saying that zazen is eternal but also that this way of teaching is eternally deficient.

It is not just a matter of gestures.

But then Nansen, although a great teacher himself, seems to suggest that his verbal teaching was also deficient.

It is not just a matter of words.

We need to understand that neither Luzu or Nansen, or anyone else, are teachers; because the true teacher is a momentary person.

Sometimes he conceals himself within the teacher. Sometimes within the student.

Sometimes partially in one and partially in the other. Sometimes in brightness. Sometimes in memory.

The true teacher always manifests only in this relational space. Because this relational space is without limit, likewise their manifestations.

 

 

 
255.


The most important thing when we start to practice is to have faith.

Not faith in Buddhism or a set of ideas, but faith in our own sincerity, in our sincere practice.

When we start it's often as if everything which arises within experience is like a smoke or fog or noise; obscuring reality, choking, deafening or distracting us; and we wish rid of it.

But what we need to understand is that everything is reality, all of it. Give each thing space and see it so.

Our task is not to empty the mind, but to make it vast.

 

 

 

 
254.


In the Lotus Sutra the Buddha says all living beings will become Buddhas.

This may be the source of our belief that we practice, not to become Buddha, but from the perspective of Buddha.

Not to make the person into a Buddha, but to displace the person.

Dogen radicalises this further by declaring seemingly humble objects Buddhas. Drum Buddha. Stick Buddha, Broken Ladle Buddha, and so on.

It's not affectation.  It is pointing to something important and real.

The Lotus Sutra also says that only a Buddha, together with a Buddha, can see how things are.

Usually on our window ledge there are two ceramic buddhas. We bought them in a junk shop 30 years ago.

On Saturday a gust of wind blew these two Buddhas over, damaging them. 

A Buddha, together with a Buddha, fell to the ground.

When we saw this we were upset. But we didn’t see this activity as part of the limitless expression of apparently humble objects. It is not that through our brilliance we impose multiple teachings on humble objects, nor that they express these teachings themselves. But together. Together.

 

 

 

 
253.


If we just see impermanence from the perspective of the self there is only suffering.

If we put the self to one side, the ground of this time being extends in all directions.

It flows from the past to the present, from the present to the present, from the present to the past.

Likewise the Dharma

 

 

 

 
252.

 

It is useless to start from a general picture of Buddhism and try to match our experience to that picture. Both will be fakes. We have to start from where we are.

From where we are, in this room, twelve feet square.

So, for example, when we chant the first vow “Beings, numberless, I vow to free them”, we should not create an imaginary multitude of beings, we should start from our actual experience. This Being when the bell first rang. This Being now. This Being a child. This Being at death. This Being seen by each person within time’s scattering, in love, or hate, or indifference. This Being in the heart of those now gone. This Being in the heart of those not yet come. I vow to free them.

And from these Beings, like encroaching daybreak, to all Beings.

 

 

 

 
More Articles...
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>