‘We all have the clear, wondrously bright field from the beginning. Many lifetimes of misunderstanding come only from distrust, hindrance, and screens of confusion that we create in a scenario of isolation. With boundless wisdom journey beyond this, forgetting accomplishments. Straightforwardly abandon stratagems and take on responsibility. Having turned yourself around, accepting your situation, if you set foot on the path, spiritual energy will marvelously transport you.’ (Cultivating the Empty Field)
‘To practice is not to collect things and put them in your basket, but rather to find something in your sleeve. It’s just that before you study hard, you don’t know what you have in your sleeve.’ (Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness)
‘You can use whatever metaphor comes up for you that will help you spot an unskillful thought and drop it. I had an image once of myself moving a piano and putting it down on my foot. Well, if you don’t want the piano on your foot, don’t put it there. Find whatever kind of image will help you laugh at yourself a bit instead of castigating yourself for having such thoughts. You could congratulate yourself for noticing the thought so that now you can let it go. I can get into criticizing myself a lot. But it’s much more effective if I congratulate myself for doing something right than if I hit myself over the head for doing something wrong.’ (Seeds for a Boundless Life)
I can just hear Blanche’s voice chuckling slightly as she spoke this passage.
‘One day, Zen master Baizhang Niepan spoke to the congregation, saying, “If all of you go and till the field, then I’ll lecture on the great meaning.”
When the monks had finished plowing the field they returned and asked the master to expound on the great meaning.
Niepan held up his hands before the monks.’ (Zen’s Chinese Heritage)
You have to bow to the erudition.
‘Our freedom to love arises from discovering that we can live without the concept of self and other. The joy of this discovery is incomparably greater than many of us have previously known, or even imagined – so much that our entire view of life changes.’ (Lovingkindness)
‘As soon as there’s something considered important, it becomes a nest.’
This line might not strike so deeply, but it reminded me of an exchange at Tassajara, during one of the practice periods I was there with Reb, Tenshin Roshi. As usual, after he gave a talk, people were allowed to ask questions, and one of his ordained students started to say something – I don’t remember the content. I do remember Tenshin Roshi’s response, which I would characterise as insistent: ‘You’re nesting.’
I more or less grasped what he meant by that – that the priest was holding firm to a view when it would be wiser to hold it loosely or let it go. Since then I have heard other stories about Suzuki Roshi responding very differently to similar situations depending on whether he thought the student was being inquisitive or merely stubborn.
Maybe Tenshin Roshi repeated the phrase a few times; it had the effect of stopping the priest in their tracks. A few people raised their voices to express the opinion that Tenshin Roshi had been cruel to the priest, but I didn’t see it that way. It felt clear to me that he knew the priest well enough to use that tactic, and that he wouldn’t have been as firm with me, or one of the other junior students. I also seem to remember that the priest later acknowledged the wisdom of Tenshin Roshi’s response. Sometimes giving, sometimes taking life…
‘Renunciation does not necessarily mean simply running away from something. It means that we will go into the depths of any such reality to find freedom within it. That is very important here. The desire to free ourselves and others must be balanced with the sense of complete trust in our ability to achieve liberation. We do not see samsara as something that consists solely of unfavorable situations; we also see the possibilities for freeing ourselves from suffering right on the spot. We see that freedom, liberation, and enlightenment are possible within this very moment. Once we recognize this, samsara is no longer seen as something to escape. Freedom is not seen as something that exists outside samsara. Therefore, there is nowhere to run. For example, if you are in Manhattan and you run to a Himalayan cave, you will carry Manhattan with you. It may be even worse for you because the case is much smaller than Manhattan. In the cave, you will probably appreciate and long for all the good qualities of Manhattan: there are nice subways and it is easy to get around.’ Wild Awakening)