Xuansha said to the assembly, “Every teacher in the land talks of saving things and delivering humanity. When someone of three disabilities comes to you, how do you deal with that person? A blind person does not see you hold up the hossu; a deaf person does not hear your words; a dumb person will not talk no matter how much you desire it. How do you approach this person? If you cannot, Buddhism can bestow no benefit.” Blue Cliff Record, Case 88.
“Regard all life as a dream.” Diamond Sutra
Why do I bring these two quotes together? What is stirring within me, trying to emerge?
It has to do with Sangha, my friends. And our practice. Perhaps specifically our dream practice. We engage in dream-koan practice individually. And, for me more important, we engage in dream-koan practice as the Sangha. We share in each other’s inner lives. We share our most intimate hopes and fears and shames and joys and surprises and angers and greeds and ignorances. In entering into an embodiment of another’s dream, we not only have the opportunity to find some pearl in the depths of our own being, we also reach out our helping hands and hearts to the dreamer. We practice the wisdom and compassion of generosity. We give ourselves to another in need. The generosity of staying with incredibly difficult and penetrating feelings. This is not disappearing into the ghost cave of dead grasses in sitting meditation – while sitting meditation is truly important, it can be a life-sucking trap. We don’t treat the dream consciousness as a ghost specter, unworthy of attention. Giving ourselves fully into this practice, we enter completely the mystery of our True Face. Giving ourselves fully into this practice, we have the opportunity to enter completely into the mystery of Sangha.
We live within communities of (more than) three disabilities. Hungry people will not see us, even if we hold up a copy of the Lotus Sutra. Homeless people will not hear us, even if we chant the Heart Sutra. Abused people will not talk no matter how much we desire it. How do we approach these people? If we cannot, Buddhism can bestow no benefit.
We practice generosity of Sangha. In dream-koan, we practice helping each other. Helping each other with open, ragged, wounded hearts. Seeing and feeling and speaking our not-separation. We don’t pretend dull same-ness. We honor the no-separation evident even in our differences. Practicing thus, we have the opportunity to extend our generosity. Further and further. Deeper and deeper.
My daughter, who is a Family Medicine physician, called me this week. Her voice was cracking, and then she began sobbing. She had just been first person on scene of a single car accident. Father stumbling outside the car. Wife and daughter still in the car with multiple injuries. Son mangled and dead. She assisted the woman and their daughter until EMT’s arrived. And then tried to offer comfort to the father. My daughter was devastated. I did not suggest “All life is a dream.” I did not talk of “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form.” We stayed on the phone a long time. She cried. I cried. There is still a deep ache in my heart for this family that lost their son. And for my daughter. And for the EMT’s. Disability. Disability completely. Through and through.
Our practice is generosity, even in the most difficult situations. Generosity, even knowing that we share the disability of being unable to change anything. Can we practice allowing our hearts to break in dream consciousness, so that we may be able to open our hearts further in our most-ordinary lives?
8 Deep Bows
Zenho (auteur) & Issan
I had a staring match with a baby on the subway today He started it I said to the parents when they looked at me I sat outside in the cold and watched the sunset reflect off the window of an empty storefront And I sat in my room and caught a glimpse of fear I thought about Discontent And how I want to cry But for now I can only Shout Or sit in silence Or walk Or fight with my mind (and lose again) Or feel a tickle in my chest Last night it was anxiety This morning it was my Heart
MONDAY, 6:30AM: ZAZEN (members with key, [may need to let yourself in)
MONDAY, 7PM, DREAM KOAN AT THE TEA HOUSE OR ZOOM
TUESDAY, 6:30AM, Zazen (members with key, may need to let yourself in)
WEDNESDAY, 6:30AM: ZAZEN AT THE TEA HOUSE OR ZOOM
THURSDAY, 6:30AM: ZAZEN AT THE TEA HOUSE OR ZOOM
DOKUSAN WITH ISSAN SENSEI
FRIDAY, 6:30AM: ZAZEN AT THE TEA HOUSE
DOKUSAN WITH ZENHO SENSEI
Rohatsu Zazen Schedule at the Teahouse
Nov. 30-December 8
Nov. 30, Wednesday, 6:30AM
Dec. 1, Thursday, 6:30AM
Dec. 1, Thursday, 6PM-8PM
Dec. 2, Friday, Dec. 2, 6:30AM
Dec. 2, Friday, 6PM-8PM
Dec. 3, Saturday, 6:30AM-11:30AM
Dec. 4, Sunday, 6:30AM-11:30AM
Dec. 7, Wednesday, 6:30AM
BODHI DAY. Dec. 8, Thursday, 6:30AM
We will interweave Heart Sutra and Identity of Relative and Absolute.