‘Rarely do we reside in no place. We think about what day of the week this is; upon hearign a bird sing, we think about its name; upon seeing a flower, we think about how nice it looks. Instead of residing in no place, we reside in a small self. This is necessary for functioning in the world, but it is not the actual truth. Only when abiding in no place can we experience the direct truth. When we hear the birds chirp from no place, our mind is freshly born in every moment. Because we seek comfort, we feel we have to reside somewhere. Because we are part of society, we feel we have to refer to others by judging them. But that’s not how our mind works when it is functioning at its clearest. If we don’t encounter the sunlight and moonlight and all the ten thousand things exactly as the are, we’ll become lost in our ideas about those things. Only while directly perceiving can we live and work responsibly and creatively.’ (Not One Single Thing)
I was very happy to pick up this book from the Zen Center bookstore a couple of weeks ago. It is a commentary on the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Ancestor, and this paragraph refers to the phrase ‘Abiding nowhere, let the mind shine through’, from the Diamond Sutra, which caused Hui-neng to awaken when he heard it.
This is one of those paragraphs that pretty much encapsulate everything you need to know about practice. I can sometimes look at something like this and wonder if I have anything to add. And I know that what I can add, in normal times is the ability to bring this particular teaching into a particular moment for particular people, to make it alive in the moment, in a way that reading mostly falls short of. So I will keep going.