‘In the Zen tradition they say there is no such thing as “spiritual growth” anyway. In this moment you are exactly where you are at this moment. This moment is the only real moment. The only way you can talk about “spiritual growth” is to compare this real moment with memories of the past (which are often muddled and mistaken) or anticipation of the future (which is always muddled and mistaken). Comparing this real moment with memories of the past or anticipation of the future makes no sense.’ (from Hardcore Zen)
Recently, in a conversation among meditation teachers, I was glad to hear that no-one wanted to provide ‘advanced’ courses in meditation. There is just sitting; you can instruct people how to array themselves, techniques they can use, and what they might expect. That’s about it.
‘Suppose someone asks me, “How is it when a person of great enlightenment returns to delusion?” I would simply say to him: If the great ocean knew it was full, the hundred rivers would flow backward.’ (Extensive Record, 513)
Which I take to mean: what ideas do you have about enlightenment and delusion? Rivers flow into the ocean, and the ocean accepts all the water; thus is the nature of things.
‘No matter how cleverly we might manipulate ideas, coming right down to it, our real motive is to pamper our own precious selves. Unless we practice to overcome the obstinate attachment to looking out for our own dear person first, we cannot open our mind’s eye.’ (From Novice to Master)
Always a salutary reminder.
‘Coming to the realization of Buddha Mind, to Buddha Nature, is understanding once and for all, we lack nothing. There is nothing else we have to be; there is nothing else we can be actually. This is it. There is nothing lacking in existence. We are spiritually incorrect when we think that we lack anything at all. It is an affront to the Dharma to think that we lack something. It is the same about any kind of claim that we make about existence. There is nothing missing.’ (Receiving the Marrow)
Flicking through this book of Dogen commentaries, and finding this passage, I felt the familiar stirring of the blood and energy that is my sense of affirmation of the truth of these statements, such as I have experienced through practice. And, at the same time, while I was typing it out, I could not help but think that many people in less privileged parts of society would read this and shake their heads. In the world, much is missing. And this is still true.
‘A monastery is not some particular place. Whether you can make Tassajara a monastery or not is up to you. It may be even worse than city life even though you are in Tassajara. But when you have the wisdom of the Prajnaparamita Sutra, even though you are in San Francisco, that is the perfect monastery. This point should be fully understood.’ (from the Shunryu Suzuki Archives)
As with the other recent post, wise words from Suzuki Roshi during the first sesshin at Tassajara. I remember, and I may have recounted here before, a former monk saying that he felt okay leaving Tassajara when he could find Tassajara walking the streets of Manhattan. I did not understand it then, but I see it better now.
‘The truth of Buddhism is realized through practice; it is attained through the body. The way we govern the muscles and bones of our bodies must be an expression of zazen. With zazen as the basis, seeing that everything we encounter is the self, our attitude toward life is transformed. This is practice. It is within this practice that we discover true peace of mind.’ (The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo)
Everyone bound by karma,
speaking of a Buddha-mind “within”.
Tied up by this
I couldn’t find it.
Finally tracked it down,
showing itself as me.
‘Whichever way we go, we just live the self which is only the self, and there is no direction forbidden to us. We had better stride finely wherever we go, without becoming nervous and with peace of mind. But, in the middle of emptiness, which demands no particular direction, there must be a decisive aim. No matter what we do, it expands through the ten directions; eternity exists in a moment.’ (The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo)
I would add that the decisive aim is not unchanging, but responding to conditions.
‘This kind of integration arises from intimacy with our emotions and our bodies, as well as with our thoughts. It arises from holding all that we know and want and fear and feel in a space of awareness and self-compassion. If we reject or resent our feelings we won’t have access to that kind of intimacy and integration. And if we define ourselves by each of the ever-changing feelings that cascade through us, how will we ever feel at home in our own bodies and minds?’ (True Love)
Echoing Lama Rod’s post from Monday.
‘Whereas the things of experience and our thoughts about them can become objects of reflection – we can get them in front of our mind’s eye in order to contemplate them – the one who does this cannot be similarly objectified. This is so because every time you attempt to look back at yourself or your current engagement in any activity, the one who steps back is the one at whom you hope to look. I cannot see myself as subject – my subjectivity as such – in any direct way because I am always the one doing the seeing.
Furthermore, the more “I” understand “myself” in deeper and deeper self-awareness, the more I realize that, in Buddhist terms, there is “no self.” To say that there is “no self” is not to say, absurdly, that I do not exist. It is instead to say that the more profound my self-understanding becomes, the more aware I am of the kind of existence I live. GIven deep enough meditation, my existence reveals itself as impermanent and interdependent with a wide variety of other beings, all set within frameworks that are metaphysical, physical, and social.’ (The Six Perfections)
Following along from Shohaku’s post yesterday. As always, I find his expositions crystal clear.