Friday, February 29, 2008

1st March

A student was caught stealing and his fellows asked master
Bankei to expel him from the community. The master
ignored the request, but the student stole again.
The others drew up a petition demanding expulsion,
stating that otherwise they would all leave. Bankei called
them together and said, "You are wise, my friends. You know
right from wrong. You can go somewhere else to study,
but this poor fellow - who will teach him if I do not?
I must keep him as my student even if the rest of you leave."
The student who had stolen was overcome with tears and
never stole again.

There are 2 lessons here.
One is that the students had not heard Zen and placed value judgements on their
fellow student judging his actions as bad.
The master had seen that the student who had stolen had also not heard Zen, and
again through value judgement felt the need to steal.
Each occupied opposite sides of the pendulum. The still point between the two was to
unconditionally continue teaching all the students.
This was revealed to the student who stole and through the action of the
master thus caused him to find balance.

29th February

One day master Keichu's assistant presented him with a
calling card from a guest which read, "Kitagaki, Govenor of Kyoto."
"I dont want to see him," yelled the master, so the assistant returned the card
to the distinguished visitor. The visitor realising his error, took a pencil and
scribbled out the words, "Govenor of Kyoto" and asked the assistant to represent his card
to the master who said, "Oh it's Kitagaki - show him in."

The master did not wish to see a person who had embodied an identity created by
mind, by value judgement. On removing this created, illusory label, the man became
just a man once again and as such was acceptable to the master.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

28th February

When master Hui-neng was questioned about his training
sytem he replied, "I would not be straight with you
if I claimed to have a system. I just do what I can to
free my students from their own bondage, by any means
their individual case may require."

The human mind requires that teachings are enclosed within
a recognisable framework we term a system. For me this is
another instance of taking spontaneous action and repeating it
as earlier described, and by doing so one looses the vitality and
freshness of that which has been generated by the
spontaneous manifestation of Life.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

27th February

It is nonsense to insist that we cannot achieve
enlightenment without learned and pious teachers.
because wisdom is innate, we can all enlighten ourselves.

No comment needed

26th February

It is right to spare the lives of all conscious beings,
such as animals, and even insects. But what about killing time?
And wasting wealth? There are many ways of killing.
Preaching without being enlightened for example.
This is killing Buddhism.

Killing, as here described, is defined as shutting down the natural flow,
of shutting down life. To teach without the knowledge of Zen, of
knowing and living in the natural flow of life, would be a denial of
living in that flow.

Monday, February 25, 2008

25th February

Zen abhors repetition or imitation of any kind, for it kills.
D. T. Suzuki.

To repeat or imitate something is to place a value upon it. To judge it as worthy of re-creation because one has pronounced it to be worthy of repeating.
Nature unfolds spontaneously in perfection. Another name for this is Zen. To take a past moment based on a value judgement and repeat it stops this flow. It shuts down Life.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

24th February

I have no secrets to teach you, and if I tried you may well make fun of me. Anyway, how could any understanding that I have become your understanding.

To use the mind to form opinions and judgements about life, and then pass these to others in the guise of teachings is the opposite of Zen.
Life is manifesting all around us in it's purity, without the intervention of mind. To use my mind to interpret this purity is a manifestation of my mind. How could it become your interpretation?
Secterts are a creation of mind. Nature is revealed to us in all its bare glory.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

23rd February

Frequently the Zen masters refered to each other as
"Old rice bags" and with other uncomplimentary terms,
not out of any proffessional jealousy, but because it amused
them to think that they and their wise and venerated brothers
were supposed by ordinary standards to be so
especially holy, whereas they had all realised that everything was holy,
even cooking pots and odd leaves blown by the wind, and that there
was nothing particularly venerable about themselves.

No comment needed!

Friday, February 22, 2008

22nd February

When you boil rice,
know that the water is your own life.
Zen saying.

Your daily existence here is the rice. See how we contantly boil it?

21st February

When asked how he discilined himself in Zen, a master answered, "When I am hungry I eat, when I am tired I sleep." "But that is what everybody does," said his questioner.
"Not at all," replied the master. "When most people eat they do not eat, but think of other things; when they sleep, they do not sleep, but dream all sorts of nonsense. This is the difference."

This is the same as the previous post. We create drama around the simplist of actions which blocks the beauty of nature and the purity of the action.

20th February

You fools? What are you running after so intently?
Why are you trying to put a head on top of your head?
Your head is already exactly where it needs to be.

This indicates to me that we have a perfectly functioning recognition system within our own head, our own minds, but we question it's wisdom and so invent new ideas, new concepts etc to challenge the simplicity of what is already there.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

19th February

"Enlightenment" and "Nirvana"? They are dead trees
to fasten a donkey to. The scriptures? They are bits of paper
to wipe mud from your face. The four merits and ten steps?
They are ghosts in their graves. What can these things have to do with you becoming free?

As before, definitions of enlightenment, nirvana, scripture, lock-up Life.

Monday, February 18, 2008

18th February

Heroes become Buddhas with one thought,
but lazy people are given the three collections of scriptures
to work through.
Zen saying.

To be Buddha is to Be; to have one thought only. All others need scriptures, definitions, opinions, judgements to define who they are.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

17th February

What was your original face
before your parents were born?
Zen Koan.

This koan challenges your definition of self.

16th February

However much you try through logical reasoning and
definition to know your original face before your birth or
your original home, you are doomed to failure.
Even if you search the core of your being, becoming full
of questioning, you won't find anything that you could call a
personal mind or essence. Yet when someone calls your
name, something in you hears and responds.
Find out who it is! Find out now!
Bassui Tokusho.

At the very core of your being there is no personal mind or essence. If someone calls your name and you respond, ask, “Who is it that hears?”

Friday, February 15, 2008

15th February

Our Buddha nature is there from the very beginning.
It is like the sun emerging from behind clouds.
It is like a mirror which reflects perfectly when
it is wiped clean and returned to its original clarity.

No comment needed.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

14th February

This is the Great Mystery.
You do and do not exist.
Shen T’sing.

To exist and to not exist are opposite swings of the pendulum. The still pendulum embodies both but expresses Buddha-nature.

13th February

A special transmission outside the scriptures;
No dependence upon words and letters;
Direct pointing to the heart of man;
Seeing into one's own nature.
The message of Bodhidharma.

All that is required to embrace one’s own self, one’s own Buddha-nature.

12th February

The confused and somewhat angry Emperor Wu demanded,
"If you say all is nothing, then tell me who are you?"
Bodhidharma replied, "I have no idea." The emperor was completely at a loss, and Bodhidharma, seeing that there was no one ready to appreciate his teaching, took himself off and sat in meditation facing a wall for nine years.

The Emperor Wu lived in a world of definition, opinion, and separation. For Bodhidharma ideas regarding his earthly manifestation did not exist. He therefore taught in silence by sitting in front of a wall for 9 years.

11th February

The astonished Emperor Wu asked Bodhidharma, "What is the holy truth of Buddhism?" Bodhidharma replied, "Limitless emptiness - and nothing holy in it."

Here Bodhidharma defines Buddhism as emptiness, the Absolute. To judge something as holy or unholy is to form an opinion. To form an opinion is to lock-up natural order, to lock up Life.

10th February

Finding the Footprints.

Through contemplating the Buddha's teachings of the essential Oneness of all things, the seeker starts to discover that the bull’s footprints are obvious everywhere. He has not yet found the bull, but he has discovered tracks. He has not yet achieved the Zen vision, but he has perceived the path. He has realised that, in the words of the Buddha, "with our thoughts we create the world." At this stage the student starts to feel enthusiastic and optimistic, as if enlightenment is just around the next corner. Kuo-an Shih-yuan writes:

Footprints -
under trees by the riverbank,
amongst the fragrant grasses,
in the remote mountains.
These tracks are as omnipresent as the sky
and as obvious as my own nose.

Through the guidance of the Buddha's wisdom the oxherd has come to understand something - he has found footprints. He has realised that just as many objects are made from one metal, so all things in the objective world are reflections of the self. However, he cannot discriminate between truth and falsehood. He has found the path but not yet entered the gate.

The great Indian sage Bodhidharma was the 28th Buddhist Patriarch. In the sixth century he visited China and became the first Patriarch of Zen. Buddhism was already well-established in China as a religion, but they had never had an enlightened master, so the Buddhist Emperor Wu was very eager to meet Bodhidharma. He invited the sage to his palace and asked him, "I have built many monasteries, performed countless good deeds, and been a generous patron of Buddhism. What merits have I earned?" Bodhidharma replied, "None whatsoever."

9th February

Zen is life; to chase after Zen is like chasing one’s own
shadow, and all the time one is running away from the Sun.
Alan Watts.

No comment needed.

8th February

Birth and death is a grave event;
how transient is life!
Every minute is to be grasped.
Time waits for nobody.
Inscription on a Zen gong.

It is interesting that these statements are inscribed on a gong, which one hits very hard to produce noise.

7th February

It is a rare privilege to the born human, as we happen to be.
If we do not achieve enlightenment in this life.
When do we expect to achieve it?

Enlightenment is who you are now, in this lifetime. It is in your face.
To say, “I have not achieved enlightenment!” is like looking in the mirror and not seeing your reflection.

6th February

The way to the One are as many as the lives of men.
Zen saying.

Everything, from the largest Universe to the smallest atom is Zen, as are you.

5th February

Zen reveals itself in the most uninteresting and uneventful
life of a plain man in the street, recognizing the fact of living
in the midst of life as it is lived.
D.T. Suzuki.

Life as it unfolds it its myriad of forms is Zen. The act of living life is the purest form of Zen. As you read this text, Zen is forever holding you in it’s embrace.

4th February

This glimpse of the Absolute is to be sought here and now,
not only in the mystical sense of here and now, because
there is naught else, but literally in doing what we are doing
now, be it meditation, earning a living, or washing-up.
Christmas Humphreys.

The Absolute is present with us continuously no matter what pastime we are involved in. Everything that we say, do or think takes place in the Absolute.

3rd February

Delusion and the Awakening -
both can come or go slowly or suddenly.

Delusion or Awakening are transient and therefore not real. As such they may disappear in a flash.

2nd February

When an ignorant person understands -
he becomes a saint.
But when a saint understands -
he becomes an ignorant person.

When an ignorant or un-enlightened person understands that everything is Buddha-nature he becomes a Saint.
When a Saint understands he is an ignorant person because there is nothing to understand. Everything is.

1st February

Before enlightenment, Buddhas are no different than
ordinary people. After enlightenment, ordinary people at
once become Buddhas.

This text shows how before enlightenment one could not tell the difference between a Buddha and an ordinary person.After enlightenment, to the Buddha mind, all people are Buddha.