This is day four of this July 2023, seven day sesshin. And I'm going to switch texts today and go to an anthology above a Chinese Masters teachings. This one is called "Zen Essence" it's translated and edited by Thomas Cleary. It's one of my very favorite texts I've used quite a few times and in teisho. It has such a variety of teaching expressions -- I mean, that is a variety of ways in which teaching Zen teaching can be articulated.
It starts off with one of the all time great greats Mazu, who lived in the seven hundreds. He he is supposed to have brought 139 people to enlightenment. He, he and his is a contemporary shirt dough. There was a saying at the time that the mod zoo and shirt dough divided the world between them the world of Zen
he starts off the way does not require cultivation. Just don't pollute it. It is polluted Of course with thoughts that are original nature. Whether or not we practice, our original original nature is pure and sound with us all the time. But then there's that second part, just don't pollute it. That's where of course the sitting comes in. That's where Zen practice comes in. is to learn to train the mind not to polluted by cleaning the thoughts.
Master even before this mod Xu sung sod in our affirming faith in mind begins a great ways not difficult, just great ways that difficult, just do not well polluted.
He asks, he asks rhetorically, what is pollution as long as you have a fluctuating mind, fabricating artificial realities and contrivances all of this is pollution fabricating artificial realities and contrivances.
Artificial realities would be thoughts, complication complications
if you want to understand the way directly the normal mind is the way.
What I mean by the normal mind is the mind without artificiality, without subjective judgments without grasping or rejection
subjective judgments might might ask what judgments are not subjective in some way because we're bringing our all of our conditioning To our judgments
without grasping it's a very rich and important Buddhist word grasping, grasping at the thought of enlightenment. It's very different from this the pure practice of the koan, or the breath or shikantaza, it's not grasping. Grasping implies reaching out and wanting something that we think is outside ourselves
I want Kensho for sure who who wouldn't? But that thought is the problem.
The founders of Zen said that one's own essence is inherently complete. Just don't linger over good or bad things. That is called the practice of the way to grasp the good and reject the bad, to contemplate emptiness is all in the province of contrivance. And if you go on seeking externals, you get further and further estranged.
To contemplate emptiness, this is not what we're doing here. We may we may experience the emptiness that is really the essence of the mind as it is the essence of all phenomena. But we're not trying to concentrate on emptiness
it's much it's always it's always safer to to express what we're what we're doing here in the negative non doing non grasping
Something like a koan or breath practice is not grasping it's not clinging, it's, it's what is happening. The breath is a living function. We're always breathing. So we're not me, I suppose, closest thing to to try to hold on or grasp the breath is to hold one's breath. But just we're just wanting to be aware of our practices the breath, we want to be aware of the breath of the inhalation and the inhaling the exhaling, the inhaling exhaling. It's not really holding on to anything. We're just going with what is what's happening
and even with a column we're not we're not we're not clinging to something that's static. It's it's a it's an ongoing, it's a working process of questioning.
Just enter the mental objectification of the world. A single thought of the wandering mind is the route of birth and death in the world. Just don't have a single thought and you'll get rid of the route of birth and death
as another child Is master for katsu put it this way, if a particle of dust is raised, the nation is established, if no particle of dust is raised, the nation perishes. Particle with dust course referring to a thought a single thought, and we've created this whole world of duality
with no thought, when we're dwelling in Samadhi, there's no world out there. There's just this just Mu just the questioning just the breath
this becomes so sharply obvious as sesshin goes on, when we get into place where we have relatively few thoughts in the mind, even even short of Samadhi and then a thought can be just just kind of feel like such a violation of that purity of mind. Suddenly a thought crosses the mind. And then, when that happens, what do we do? We don't make a federal case out of it. We just, we just see it. Okay. There's that thought, Okay, another thought. Just back to the practice. We don't want to oppose our thoughts. We don't want to make opposing it as making something of our thoughts. making a big deal of them. No, they don't deserve that is nothing to them. We see the thought, back to the practice. No, no damage, no harm done. Just to have thought flip through the mind. It's when we when we cling to the thought and then start embroidering on that thought with more thoughts and and then we're off and running. Even then, okay, let's say we're take off in some sequence of thoughts and we find ourselves way too far afield. And it's still same thing when we notice that there really isn't any harm done, we just go back to the practice.
He goes on human delusions of time immemorial, have conglomerated into one body. This is the understanding that it is because of our karmic weight are our body of karma that we continue to be reborn human delusions of time immemorial and he itemizes a few of them deceit, pride, deviousness conceit most people during the shooting will see all of these things at some point. And then he says that is why the sutras say that this body is just made of elements and its appearance and disappearance is just that of elements which have no identity.
In an old, the old terminology was Four Elements, fire, earth, air and water.
Another way to understand that elements would be the five skandhas, we chant in the Prajnaparamita saw the emptiness of all five skandhas, the five skandhas are the components of identity. And in order to have a self identity, we need all five of them without any of the five. We're not the same. So, the the five, in our simple chatting version of the five, it's form, feeling, thought, choice and consciousness. That's what we the words we use in the chat. That's not the most accurate renditions of the five skandhas. But they flow better than some of the otherwise kind of intellectually unwieldly terms that you more often are likely to see in a glossary of the five skandhas.
And then, he says, When successive thoughts do not await one another, and each thought dies peacefully away, this is called absorption in the oceanic reflection.
When successive thoughts do not await one another, the great Lin-chi known in Japan is Rinzai said just learn to cut off successive thoughts. And this is worth and more than 10 years of pilgrimage. It was a time when it was customary for the monks twice during the year to set off on pilgrimages. And Lin-chi recognized that this going off traveling. Ostensibly traveling to find other masters and learn more about Zen. He wanted to warn the monks that it's nothing compared to just to learn to cut off success of Nan Nan is a very difficult word to translate. When I was in Japan, the American interpreter of the Roshi there asked me how would you translate men, and the closest the closest I can come is a thought form. We use this and not in the condone, Gil, one of our chance. This moment arises from mind. This moment itself is mine. So that's Nan, the Japanese net ninja ninja Shin keen and then new friend Ren. This is the Nan is, is we are translated as moment. It used to be this thought arises from mind the thought itself is mind. So it's, it's hard. It's hard. It's that I think thought form arises in each moment is the best translation for men. It's what we're experiencing all the time when we're sitting, things going coming through the mind. The first man what is called the first man is the direct experience. Immediate, direct experience. The sound of the bird. That's the first man. And then the success of man would be saved. The second man would be sounds like a Robin. And the third would be Oh, yeah, robins in New York State are much bigger than in Michigan. And then, yeah, I remember Michigan when we used to do such and such, and then you're off and running. There, second, third, fourth, fifth, and then you're off on a train of thought and have to rewind as soon as you can. That's the process of successive men. But the original the First Men is no problem. It's just a sound a feeling pain, sound. A trace of shadow on the wall. Even a thought, a thought itself Well, yeah, if thought the first as a first men thought, no lunch, lunch is coming. Okay, that needn't be a problem if we just cut it off right there and not start getting into thoughts and fantasies and so forth. This is the this is the real nuts and bolts of practice this matter of success of men and how quickly the mind can take a ride off into the success of men thoughts.
living brain will generate Nan or generate a second and a third. At least a second Nan, a living brain is those the perception the naked, original direct perception of the sound, or the smell, or the sight or the feeling or the thought so we had to make peace with that, that this stuff these snowflakes will be coming through and the whole, the whole challenge is not to linger in them and let them pile up and take us far away.
Matsu still here he says, delusion means you're not aware of your own fundamental mind. Enlightenment means you realize your own fundamental essence. very succinct distinction between the so called enlightened and the so called unenlightened. It's just a matter of awareness of whether one has experienced that's the key word experienced this original nature we have it, whether or not we experience it, we all are it
if you understand mind and objects, then false conceptions do not arise, when false conceptions do not arise, this is acceptance of the beginning lessness of things you have always had it and you have it now. They're
this distinction between mind and objects is a very basic one, there is this means well subject and object. And the Dharma based on experience recognizes that you can't separate them, how can you separate mind whatever that is, and objects, how do you separate mind from environment where it is mind and an environment begin? And what in what environment? What trees would there be without mind about the experience of the trees and vice versa and so we say in affirming faith in mind, things are things because a mind is mind is mind because of things. These two are merely relative and both at source are emptiness.
They're irrelevant, they're empty because they're relative. They They need each other. This is the doctrine of dependent co arising that environment. Trees and cars and moon, the moon and all manner of things can only exist in in in Colorado. Same with mind. Sounds very philosophical, but it's pretty important
there are these two big divisions of Buddhist teaching. One is called My Jamaica and the other is the yogacharya. yogacharya means mind only. And Zen is usually considered more of a ladder, mind only everything is mind, we can say. There's the mind, our experience of things, and then there are things out there, but it's all mind semantics
when we fall into deep sleep at night, the world disappears
when we wake up in the morning, it reappears.
Again for Ketsu if one particle of dust is raised, the nation is established, if no particle of dust is raised, the nation perishes
Each one of us, is responsible for the crew, each one of us is the creator of the world.
Roshi Kapleau used to say, the universe comes to self consciousness, each one of us
each one of us is the universe. It's only the convention of words, the assignment of words, me and universe that fools us into thinking they're separate.
Here's just one little tiny entry by a Zen master daju. We've been we've been reading from mod zoo, this is daju where he says, My teacher said to me, that treasure house within you contains everything and you are free to use it. You don't need to seek outside
yet it's the most common thing in the world, among all people in the world, to seek outside to want to acquire something that we imagined to be outside us.
This next section is by Zen Master Lin-chi Rinzai. People who study the dharma should seek real true perception and understanding right now. If you attain real true perception and understanding, birth and death don't affect you. You are free to go or stay stuck in a course about deep enlightenment. You need not seek wonders for wonders come up themselves
yeah, there's there there are some people who are who crave wondrous things and and seek them. But we find through Zen practice that wonder emerges on its own. When the mind is empty, relatively empty. Then all anything, all things can appear. Wonder So
again, as I said yesterday, and Zen practice, we're not trying to trying to create an effect. We're just allowing, we're emptying the mind or exposing, uncovering, we're uncovering that everything that's in the mind and that includes wonder, joy and yes sorrow.
Lin-chi continues, what I point out to you is only that you shouldn't allow yourselves to be confused by others. In other words, confused by the notion of an other apart from oneself. act when you need to without hesitation or doubt
another time Lin-chi said on the outside, cut off all attachments on the inside, make your mind like a mountain and enter the way it's good description of what we are striving to do and so sheen cutting off all attachments on the outside, making the mind like a mountain the mountain that it is and so that we might enter the way
he says people today can't do this. What is their affliction?
And then the answer is lack of faith in yourself is one's basic affliction.
These words are just so simple and brief. But they're just so rich with importance and meaning faith in yourself what another translation is what ails you. Lack of faith in yourself is what ails you. Faith in our true self that which is beyond the diminished images or thoughts we have of ourselves
luckily, if we're whatever we may be lacking in faith, or not in terms of our enlightened nature, it changes with practice. Our faith grows our faith grows every time we choose to place our attention on the practice we're working on. We are nourishing this faith
there is no stability in this world. It is like a house on fire. That's that's the title or more or less of One of the shorter of the Sutras, the Buddha is the Buddhist sutras is fire sutra. And the the gist of it is that it's like everything is burning. This is not a place where you can stay for a long time, that is this life. The murderous demon demon of impermanence is instantaneous. And it does not choose between the upper and lower classes, or between the old and the young.
This statement by Lin-chi The demon of impermanence is instantaneous does not choose between the high and the low, the young and the old. have probably heard it 100 times since I took up Zen practice the age of 22. But it just keeps getting more obvious that we never know how much longer we have. We know statistically that if we're young, then we probably have good many more years ahead of us, statistically. And we know the exceptions to and then we know that statistically, as we get on up into our 60s and 70s. And further that it's ever more likely around the corner and then these words bite in a way they didn't when we were young.
This is something that the an old person could say 1000 times to a young person it doesn't mean this really doesn't enter most young people. I do have to say though, when I was 22 What tormented me more than anything is that I might die before coming to awakening
but for most people, Andy Rooney, the humorous said to the young, death is just a distant rumor.
Here's one more because you grasp labels and slogans. You are hindered by those labels and slogans. Both those used in ordinary life and those considered sacred. Thus, they obstruct your perception of objective truth and you cannot understand clearly. So, we we live in a world of labels and slogans. Let's just stick to labels for a minute.
I'm a liberal. I'm a conservative. I'm a vegan. I'm non binary. And then even within the Dharma, I'm a Buddhist, Monk Zen practitioner. All of these come with the danger of attachment of reifying fortifying the self
to the degree that we cling to identity
we're trapped The
whole problem is the notion of an abiding, unchanging Self. And the more labels we pile on the self, the more we're bound by them.
And finally, if you want to be free, he says, Get to know your true self. It has no form, no appearance, no root, no basis, no abode. But his lively and buoyant. It responds with versatile facility, but its function cannot be located.
So this, this true self of ours, this essential nature of ours has no form. But it's not apart from form. It doesn't exclude form, here's the form. Appearance, yes, but it's not apart from the world of appearances. It's beyond form, does not exclude forms beyond appearance but doesn't exclude appearance. Is there therefore it's lively and buoyant. It's not some kind of ethereal
spirit that's apart from this
just put thoughts to rest and don't seek outwardly anymore. When things come up, then give them your attention. Just trust what is functional in you at present, you have nothing to be concerned about. Okay, so just respond to things as needed. Responding to conditions, which are always changing, responding to conditions in different circumstances
pretty simple, but pretty hard to do that in the purest, cleanest way. Instead of just immediately responding to people on to things we have this cloud of thoughts that gets in the way of our in our responses or to go back to his first entry. It gets in the pollutes