‘That which is threatening to the ego is liberating to the heart’ (Quoted in Pema Chödrön’s How to Meditate)
‘There is no need to sustain interrelationship, to practice it, to hold it up to see it, or to make it a superior way of thinking. We are in this interrelationship, between life and death, whether we want to recognize it or not. We can be awake to it even as we die. When I see my embodiment as nothing more than nature, nothing more than a flower, nothing to be annihilated, the experience of my life as interrelated allows tenderness to well up, despite the impositions of hatred, whether from without or within. Other may be unable to see me or those that look like me as flowers, but this does not make it any less so.’ (The Way of Tenderness)
I think this pairs very nicely with yesterday’s post.
‘You actually are a person. You do actually depend on everybody else. The one thing you don’t depend on in this whole universe is yourself, but you depend on everything else, and everything else has power in your life. That’s who you really are, and our practice is to be that person. Our practice is to be that unpredictable, unreliable, undependable, impermanent, other-dependent, inconceivably beautiful person. Everybody is, moreover, the same inconceivably beautiful person. In order to be ourselves, we must understand that, and we must understand that we cannot do it on our own. Because, in fact, everybody is helping us be who we are.’ (The Third Turning of the Wheel)
‘Samu: in a Zen dojo it is said,”First is samu, second is zazen, third is reading the sutras.” Samu is physical work, but it is also zazen in action. Samu has a spiritual emphasis and is more than just physical work to the extent that through it you can give life to your Buddha Nature’ (The Path to Bodhidharma)
The order given above is illuminating, but very real – hearing the sutras gives you an idea about Buddha Nature, or Dharma, or the truth of reality; sitting zazen gives you a taste of it in your body; work allows you to manifest it in action. All the great teaching emphasise how you have to embody the practice for yourself in your own life, and if you cannot do that in ‘everyday activity’, then it does not amount to much.
(This post first appeared on my Patreon page)
Staying in mountains, I gradually awaken to mountain sounds and colors
Fruit growing and flowers open,
I question release from this emptiness.
For a while I’ve wondered, what is the original color?
Blue, yellow, red and white are all in the painting. (Extensive Record, poem 104)
Tomorrow I shall be leaving for Tassajara, and I shall take this poem with me.
‘The unshakable sanity that comes from the wellspring of silence returns us to our selves – and in no way is that separate from the ongoing flux of the natural world. In a moment, the universe is both intimate and universal. What could be more quietly subversive?’ (Awake in the World)
I have posted this before, but as with other re-posts, it can come again with freshness each time. I have been gathering material to take to Tassajara, and this one showed up in previous iterations of material. I have also, for whatever reason, found myself thinking about Michael a little more recently, not quite a year on from his death.
‘Enlightened being is not something that you can pick up and put in your purse or knapsack like this book. It is not tangible. You cannot hold it in your hand or pass it around. You cannot put it down. The path to it is just doing. Just being. Just starting. It is action. Action itself is energy and cannot be “seen.” We may see the effects of action or see action performed, but we do not see action. It is not an object. You can’t get it and you can’t get rid of it. So the path, in this way, is unattainable. Not get-able. Yet it is do-able. It is be-able. It is certainly start-able, and we know this because we have already started.’ (Being Black)
‘There is nothing wrong with how we are and so there is also nothing right about it. Since there is no delusion, these is also no enlightenment. This condition of things is what we refer to as “suchness” or being “as it is.” It is not a matter of understanding our condition as it is, but rather of simply assenting to it.’ (Unfathomable Depths)
The problem is, our minds always want to understand, and never feel satisfied with just assenting. So what can we do about it?
‘Whenever we begin to evaluate, deciding that we should or should not do this or that, then we have already associated our practice or our knowledge with categories, one pitted against the other, and that is spiritual materialism, the false spirituality of our spiritual advisor. Whenever we have a dualistic notion such as, “I am doing this because I want to achieve a particular state of consciousness, a particular state of being,” then automatically we separate ourselves from the reality of what we are.’ (Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism)
A friend suggested I read this book, and having never done so, it seemed like a smart idea. I expressed a view about Chögyam Trungpa previously, and will stand by that sentiment still.
‘Middle Way does not mean halfway. Nor does it mean some sort of watered-down, defeated compromise or shallow eclecticism. Rather, Middle Way means to accept this contradiction of impermanence and cause-and-effect within your own life. To accept this contradiction means to forbear and overcome it without trying to resolve it. At its every essence life is contradiction, and the flexibility to forbear and assimilate contradiction without being beaten down by it nor attempting to resolve it is our life force.’ (From The Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment)
Even though my current talks in San Rafael are focused on the Bodhisattva vows, and I am spending this week thinking about what I will be offering as teachings at Tassajara, I have one eye on my forthcoming classes on the Tenzo Kyokun, and I dug out Uchiyama Roshi’s commentary on it. I was only mildly surprised to find that several passages I had noted in the past have already appeared here.