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Issan: The first question you must ask yourself is when are you going to make friends with your own mind?
Zenho: Good luck finding that. I’m making friends with an eggnog latte.
Zenho’s now famous eggnog latte teisho!
The realization that eventually settled upon me when I experienced this teaching is this: The spontaneous manifestation of all non-objectified phenomena is the play of ornamentation of primordial consciousness.
Pretending your mind doesn’t exist (for some, no pretending is necessary!) is your mind pretending your mind doesn’t exist. Confusion. Eggnog latte is simply the arising ornamentation of creativity. A manifestation from the basic space of timeless awareness. Subsumed in mind.
There is this idea in Dzogchen, (Tantric Buddhism), of magical display. It’s the manifestation of all things as the result of mind itself. Expounded upon by Longchen Rabjam:
“Just as all light is subsumed within the sun as its source, all phenomena are subsumed within awakened mind as their source, even the impurity and confusion in the universe of appearances and possibilities. Whatever occurs, by examining basic space as its matrix and abode you find that it has no foundation, but is subsumed within the timeless freedom of mind. Beyond labels and their meanings, confusion and its absence are subsumed within the true nature of phenomena- the timeless expanse, a supremely spacious state.”*
Soooooo… eggnog latte, you, me, Zenho, all phenomenon in fact, are by nature free of any objective frame of reference, subsumed within the basic space of timeless awareness, which is not the ordinary seeking mind.
Great realization awakened by an eggnog latte, a Dzogchen master and one great teacher!
Groovy how this stuff works!
*A Treasure Trove of Spiritual Transmission: A Commentary on The Precious Treasury of the Basic Space of Phenomena by Longchen Rabjam Padma Publishing, 2001, ISBN 1-881847-30-6
MONDAY, 6:30AM: ZAZEN AT THE TEA HOUSE, someone will need to open
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)
There’s a lot of noisy chatter about Authenticity in the pop-psycho-business world. I think they’ve got it all wrong. Just my opinion, as Bernie Glassman Roshi says.
I spent a lot of time my first year as a Prep-school teacher working on a “groundbreaking” authenticity program. It was led by a brilliant and creative mentor of mine named Patricia Work (Sublette). Most of it was really intriguing and effective.
We think of Authenticity as that which is genuine, not fake. There are many socio-cognitive theories these days about what it means to be Authentic, and if one can actually be so. There’s the idea of recognizing “my true self”, but how can we do so when that so-called “true self” is something that is always in flux, constantly changing, both situationally and internally? I don’t buy it, because then it becomes “situational authenticity”, which is, well, calculated, fabricated. Seems like they’re trying drive a nail into an ocean wave.
Considering thisbrought up the 23rd Case in the Wumen-kuan (Gateless Gate) entitled “Think Neither Good Nor Evil”. There’s a good back-story as well, which I won’t get into now, but check it out sometime…please. As you probably know, the sixth Patriarch was being pursued by monk Myō ( an illiterate and lowly kitchen worker) who was after the robe and the bowl that signified transmission of leadership in the monastery. The patriarch laid the bowl and robe on a rock and said “This robe represents the faith. How can it be competed for by force? I will allow you to take it away.” Myō tried to lift it but was as immovable as a mountain. Terrified, he said “I came for the Dharma, not the robe. I beg you please reveal it to me.” The patriarch said; “At the very moment you were chasing after me without thinking good or evil, what was the primal face of Monk Myō?” At that instant Myō attained great realization. He said; “Besides the secret words and secret meaning you have revealed to me is there anything deeper yet?” The patriarch said; “What I have now preached to you is no secret at all. If you reflect on your own true face, the secret will be found within yourself.”
Easy, right? Not so much!
Perhaps what the patriarch was saying is “reflect on your own true nature, your Original (primal) Face.
Walking in a snowstorm during a Rohatsu sesshin, I asked my dharma brother Ryushin, “What does it really mean to practice the way? He said to me; “Shit like a monk! When it’s cold, be cold. When it’s hot, be hot. When you’re mad, be mad. When you’re happy be happy.” He was telling me; be authentic. No worrying about stuff, no analyzing the thinking (stinking-thinking!), just walking, eating, sleeping, shitting. I figured he was referring to “the observer” in my head finally going away. That wasn’t it! I somehow knew it was something else, deeper than that. I sat zazen with his words for that week and ultimately saw; What you reveal can only be revealed by you. What he said brought me to the realization of Maha (no outside, no inside), the all encompassing-ness of the Dharmahatu. The Primordial Ground of Being. It cannot be made hotter, or colder, happier or sadder, or made to stink less, even by enlightenment. It can’t be altered in any way, not even by practice or realization. Knowing it, what I saw when I looked in the mirror; my original face.
Rohatsu Zazen Scheduleat 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.c
I really like The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse, translated by Red Pine. Jitsudo Roshi turned me on him. I have an old and beautiful hand-bound copy published in 1962 (second edition) by Empty Bowl. Stonehouse, 1272-1352, was a zen monk, poet, whom abandoned the monastic life and the “red dust of society” to become a hermit in the Tien Mu Mountains. When he arrived in the mountains he met Master Kao-feng. The master asked his reason for coming and Stonehouse replied, “I’m looking for the Dharma.” The master said, “The Dharma isn’t that easy to find. Your’ve got to burn your fingers for incense!”. Stonehouse responded, “I see the master with my own eyes. How could the Dharma be hidden?” The master nodded his approval.
There are a few wonderful stories about Stonehouse who became greatly respected as a master, though he refuted all accolades. Stonehouse “passed-by all places where there’s a buddha and he passed-by all places where there was no buddha.” He lived freely, unencumbered, simply on his own labors, and breathed in the mountains, birds, rocks, clear streams, hunger, the clouds, storms, tigers and monkeys, taro, pine, moss and cliffs as Dharma. He realized the Dharma by not approaching it but by being approached by it.
The Dharma indeed seeks us. Quiet down and be one with it as it is. No recognition, no practice, no sutras, no Buddhas, no temples, no religions, no gurus…MU. Exactly like zazen, just sitting. Stonehouse abandoned it all, all the teachings and trappings of spiritual materialism and just lived. His just living was an expression of the, always- Dharma. Thank goodness he left us a book of poems!