January 2022 Sesshin, Day 7: Swampland Flowers: The Letters and Lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui
8:59PM Jan 18, 2022
Today is the last day of this seven day 2022 January Rohatsu sesshin and we're going to read again today from the book Swampland Flowers: The Letters and Lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui, translated by JC Cleary.
We're starting with a letter that Cleary has entitled "Enlightenment and Delusion." Ta Hui says in the old days the military commander, Li Wen Ho, studied with the Chan master song of Su Chow at CheMin CheMin I guess and awakened to the essence of the Lin-chi school. That is to the Rinzai sect Rinzai school. He had a verse which said, to study the path one must be an Iron Man - get hold of the mind and settle the issue immediately. Directly seizing supreme enlightenment don't concern yourself at all with right and wrong. It certainly has a spirit of a military commander.
Get hold of the mind and settle the issue immediately. Don't wobble.
Go directly. Don't conceptualize. Don't try to find a technique. It's always simpler and more direct than we think.
Such a limit to our thinking. There was a physicist I think, named Haldane a Brit who said reality is not only stranger than you imagine, Stranger than you can imagine.
Directly seizing supreme enlightenment, don't concern yourself at all with right and wrong. Don't concern yourself with conditions don't concern yourself with good and bad good practice bad practice. How I'm doing how I am
now nothing you're going to fix by thinking it's even harder when when it's emotional. When thoughts come in. So painful. A lot of people have that habit pattern. Maybe more than a lot of people maybe almost most people have that mode. They go into where they think I'm worthless. So much worse than other people
it's hard, hard to step aside from that. But there is no other way
we imagined that if only we could do everything right. Every time eventually we'd be okay. Then I'd like myself but we're overlooking the fact that one off shit wipes out 100 attaboys
Don't concern yourself at all with right and wrong. The call to action is always now here in this moment. It's not what happened a second ago. It's not what you think is going to happen. Is the only place we have any leverage whatsoever. In this moment it's why we say when you do so sheen. Don't think about the past, don't think about the future. But really when you live your life here in this moment right under your nose, that's what you need. That's where your attention should be. Truly we lose our life, when our attention is not right here in this moment.
Away says, How marvelous these words are, they should be considered an aid for making the seeds of illumination unfold their potential. He says Buddha, in quotes Buddha is the medicine for sentient beings. Once the disease of sentient beings is removed, the medicine has no further use. If the disease is removed, but the medicine kept, though you enter the realm of enlightenment, you are unable to enter the realm of delusion.
The disease is removed, we may have some sort of insight we understand. But as long as we cling to it, then we still have Buddha. We haven't discarded what the Buddha called the raft. Once you've reached the other shore, you have no more use for the raft. You instead we still got something special.
Though you enter the realm of enlightenment, you are unable to enter the realm of delusion. We oppose enlightenment to delusion. Pick one over the other, still trapped in duality. He says this disease is equal to the disease of sentient beings before it is removed. Just to explain as Roshi does, when these chon masters refer to sentient beings, they mean to those of us who are still an enlightened, not completely awakened, Buddha's and sentient beings
this disease is equal to the disease of sentient beings before it is removed, sometimes called the Zen sickness, when the disease is cured and the medicine removed, and both Buddhahood and diluting influences are swept away entirely, only then will you have a bit of a chord with the causes and conditions of this great matter.
Something really sort of off putting about the Zen stick. But truly, there's nothing. They say there's nothing that distinguished distinguishes an enlightened man or an enlightened woman. Just normal ordinary. Roshi Kapleau was once walking through the link, and some visitor noticed him go by and ask later, who that was. And when they found out it was Roshi Kapleau. They said, Oh, I thought it was a janitor. said before when Roshi heard that he was very happy. Probably thought he was special. There was another time when everybody hear on staff went off to the Dryden to the theater at the Eastman House. They're on East Avenue, and they were showing us some samurai movie. The next morning, there was a sitting and all these young guys came swaggering into the Zendo in their Hara, right on the edge, ready to respond at once. Then Roshi Kapleau came in just walked in
If you want to attain oneness, just give up both Buddha's and sentient beings at once. Then there is no comprehended or completed or not comprehended and completed. Because we don't have to ponder over all this, we just use the method. The whole reason for these ways of practicing
it an ancient worthy said, just perceive nothingness in the midst of things. When seeing form and hearing sound, don't be blind and deaf. That is, don't take as real, what is not truly real, don't grasp, and what's not real, don't stand apart. Don't separate yourself.
This man knew the truth that the contrivances of the worldly are empty, false and unreal. When he was faced with situations and circumstances, as they suddenly popped up in front of him, he didn't go along with them. So they were taken under control by him. Not only going along with situations and circumstances, didn't go along with thoughts, evaluations.
Just open, responding. This is how we live this is how we can live. Even short of enlightenment. We drop our continual identity with our separate self. When we let the world in, we open our heart. Gradually, we become lighter, more available, more able to enjoy what's there. More able to suffer what must be suffered.
He goes on in general, since time without beginning, you have overdone the familiar and left undone, the unfamiliar. Even though you may see through it all for a moment, in the end, your power in the path cannot overcome the power of your acts. That is your karma. Your habits, your habitual ways of doing and thinking.
You've overdone the familiar, everything you think you know. And left undone, the unfamiliar. The familiar is the call the default mode network. Stat Been there done that flavor to our lives. No need to pay attention. I've done this before. No need to take that person in. I know him. I know what he's like I know what she's like. When we do when we do wake up, then the familiar becomes unfamiliar. We see what we haven't seen.
Then he makes the point that even an initial opening does not overcome the power of your habits of your karma. says what is the power of x? It is what's familiar and stale. What is the power of the path? It is what's unfamiliar and fresh. Basically, there is no fixed measure to the power of the path and the power of x. Just observe whether or not you are befuddled in the conduct of your daily activities. When you be cloud the power of the path, then it is overcome by the power of x. When the power of x prevails, then you get stuck wherever you go. If we're honest with ourselves, all of us are stuck a lot
But in this moment, there is no need to be stuck. says when you get stuck everywhere you go, then you become attached everywhere. When you get attached everywhere you consider misery to be happiness. Normal way happiness is getting what I want. Happiness is arranging things so they're comfortable. Happiness is avoiding the things I'm afraid of. I find uncomfortable think we heard plenty from Joko Beck and John Cha, about the shortcomings of that way of pursuing happiness. It's never going to work. Never going to work. When it does work, it's actually a disaster just confirms us in our short sighted way of trying to arrange things to our liking.
Skipping ahead a little bit. Before you've managed to see it through to see through it, excuse me before you've managed to see through it. You're beset with countless difficulties. After you see through it. What difficulty or ease is there. As Lehmann Pang said, the capacity of ordinary people's will is meager, falsely they say there is difficulty and he's detached from form, empty his space, you reach a complete accord with the wisdom of the Buddha it's the form of discipline to is empty a space. Deluded people considering them consider themselves as upholding it. Unwilling to pull out the root of the sickness, they just fool with the flowery branches.
form of discipline to is empty of space
want to read something that I've read before from our good friend, Anthony de Mello? Jesuit priest died a while back. He says, When I say disciplined, I'm not talking about effort. I'm talking about something else. If you ever studied an athlete, his or her whole life is sports. But what a disciplined life he or she leads and look at a river as it moves toward the sea. It creates its own banks that contain it. When there's something within you, that moves in the right direction, it creates its own discipline. The moment you get bitten by the bug of awareness, oh, it's so delightful. It's the most delightful thing in the world. The most important, the most delightful, nothing so important in the world is awakening. Nothing and of course, is also a discipline in its own way.
Go away goes on. Do you want to know the root of the sickness is nothing else just this clinging to difficulty and ease, arbitrarily giving rise to grasping and rejection. If this root of disease is not utterly extirpated, you will float and sink in the sea of birth and death without ever getting out
the great way is not difficult for those who do not pick and choose when preferences are like cast aside, the waves clearer and undisguised.
Back in the days when we were chatting before the advent of the Rona used to chant this every every, I guess two or three times a week. Verses on the faith mind written by The third Zen patriarch ancestor ancient ancient text
it seems so so normal to have preferences and and it is it is normal to have preferences there's no reason why we don't like you know, chocolate better than strawberry or whatever. But our attachment or concern our DIS ease when things don't match up to what we want is the problem so as a favorite, saying that Josue Chan master Chao Jo Jo Jo said there's a lot of koans a deal with this
even to have our preferences fade a little bit, not be quite so attached, and it makes a huge change in our lives and in the lives of everybody around us. So much more that we can do. We're not continually being thrown by not getting what we want.
That way goes on, as soon as the source of the sickness was pointed out to him by an old apt, John Joe, the famous scholar in the old days understood enough to say, trying to eliminate passion aggravates the disease, rushing towards true suchness is also wrong. There is no obstruction in worldly circumstances according to one's a lot. Nirvana and birth and death are equally illusions
trying to get from here to there aggravates the disease
when one person ceases oppressive, another person can just roll with.
Or we could say what used to oppress us what used to throw us comes to be no big deal.
If you want to cut directly through, don't entertain doubts about Buddhas and ancestral teachers, or doubts about birth and death. Just always let go and make your heart empty and open. When things come up, then deal with them according to the occasion. Be like the stillness of water, like the clarity of a mirror so that whether good or bad, beautiful or ugly approach, you don't make the slightest move to avoid them. Then you will truly know that the mindless world of spontaneity is inconceivable.
Moving on to next letter. This one is has been titled dealing with situations. Since we parted I don't know whether or not you can avoid being carried away by external objects in your daily activities as you respond to circumstances. Whether or not you can put aside your heap of legal documents as you look through them. Whether or not you can act freely when you meet with people. Whether or not you engage in vain thinking when you're where it's peaceful and quiet. Whether or not you are thoroughly investigating this matter, without any distracted thoughts whether or not you engage in vain thinking when you were as peaceful and quiet so easy to lose the appreciation of when it's peaceful and quiet
people are so busy worrying playing with thoughts. They don't get relief and go out into the country. Sit alone in a cottage Your hearts still on fire was driving back once from this machine in Madison. And there were a bunch of us all speeding together. And the sky was just astounding clouds, blue sky, heaps of clouds, it was just amazing. Of course, this was after a four days machine. So maybe that explains part of it. But I remember catching a glimpse of another driver. And they were, you know, furrowed brow and dealing with whatever. And thinking here we are in the middle of this. Nobody sees it. And then about a half an hour later, I woke up and realized I was thinking about things and totally missing it
is whether or not you are thoroughly investigating this matter without any distracted thoughts. It reminds me of something we read from Dawei in November, it's gonna go back and short and sweet
the obstruction of the path by the mind and its conceptual discrimination is worse than poisonous snakes are fierce tigers. Why? Because poisonous snakes and fierce tigers can still be avoided, whereas intelligent people and that's all of us, make the minds conceptual discrimination their home so that there's never a single instance whether they're walking, standing, sitting or lying down, that they're not having dealings with it. As time goes on, unknowing and unawares, they become one piece with it, and not because they want to either, but because since beginningless time they have followed this one little road until it's become set and familiar. Though they may see through it for a moment, and wish to detach from it they still can't. Thus it is said that poisonous snakes and fierce tigers can still be avoided. But the minds conceptual discrimination truly has no place for you to escape.
That's why practice real Zen practice is so valuable. So the one way to get beyond thinking about everything living in separation
goes on, thus old yellow face. And here he's referring to the Buddha has said when the mind is not vainly grasp past things, does not long for things in the future. And does not drought dwell on anything in the present. Then you realize fully that the three times are all empty and still. Dawei says you shouldn't think about past events, whether good or bad. If you think about them that obstructs the path, you shouldn't consider future events to consider them as crazy confusion. Present events are right in front of you. Whether they're pleasant or unpleasant. Don't fix your mind on them. If you do fix your mind on them, it will disturb your heart. Just take everything in its time responding according to circumstances and you will naturally accord with this principle
goes on. unpleasant situations are easy to handle. Pleasant situations are hard to handle. For that which goes against one's will. It boils down to one word patience. Settle down and reflect a moment and in a little while it's gone. This is if we're serious about adapting to unpleasant situations. realize there's no point in complaining. Have the ability to settle down and reflect. He says it's pleasant situations that truly give you no way to escape. Like pairing magnets and iron. Unconsciously this and that come together in one place. If even inanimate inanimate objects that is iron and magnet are thus How much more so for those acting in ignorance with their whole beings making a living within it. In this world, if you have no wisdom, you will be dragged unknowing and unawares by that ignorance into a net. Once inside the net won't to be difficult to look for a way out. This is why an early stage said, Having entered the world leave the world completely. This is the same principle
there's a good point that he makes about the difficulty of handling, getting what we like, so easy to get carried away.
It helps to reflect everything is temporary. Nothing is fixed. And as John Shaw says, it's all uncertain.
Dawei says in recent generations that there's been a type who lose track of expedient means in their practice, they always consider acting in ignorance to be, quote, entering the world. So then they think of a forced pushing away, as the act of leaving the world completely, are they not to be pitied? The only exceptions are those who have pledged their commitment, who can see through situations immediately, as act the master and not be dragged in by others.
Hence, double occurred, he said, For those with the conceit of superiority, falsely claiming attainment. The Buddha just says that detachment from lust, hatred and ignorance is liberation. For those with no conceit of superiority, the Buddha says that the inherent nature of lust, hatred and ignorance is identical to liberation. This is a difficult thing. There is no enlightenment outside of delusion. There is no Nirvana outside of birth and death. But when people think they understand this, and then act unconventional ways, and basically are satisfying their own, unexamined desires. It's a disaster. Like concept of Crazy Wisdom, I think comes from the Tibetan tradition. truly enlightened can do things that look deluded. But it's for the benefit of others. Well, maybe, maybe so. But if we look at the track record, of so called enlightened teachers like I say, it's a disaster
the conceit of superiority reminds me of that phrase. attainment is the jackals the help. No attainment is a lion's roar.
Think also of just self conscious virtue.
For some people, their morality makes them rigid and unavailable. Like I say, it's a delicate thing to tease apart when you try to think about it.
He says, if you can avoid this fault, so that in the midst of situations favorable or adverse, there is no aspect of origination or demise only then can you get away from the name, conceit of superiority applied to one of the things he has attained, but hasn't only this way can you be considered to have entered the world and be called a man of power? What I have been talking about thus far is all my personal life experience. Even right now I practice Just like this, I hope that you will take advantage of your physical strength and health and also enter this stable equilibrium
as Roshi likes to say, this mind of stabilized awareness
we have time for one more letter. This one is entitled stillness and commotion. Having read your letter carefully, I have come to know that you are unremitting in your conduct, that you are not carried away by the press of official duties. That in the midst of Swift flowing streams, you vigorously Examine yourself far from being lacks. Your aspiration to the path grows ever more firm as time goes on. You have fulfilled my humble wishes solidly and profoundly.
So, that's the Attaboy. Nevertheless, worldly passions are like a blazing fire. When will they ever end? Right in the midst of the hubbub, you mustn't forget the business of the bamboo chair and read cushion. This is referring to Zen, evidently, they had some sort of setup sounds kind of cool, bamboo chair and read cushion that people used to sit in. Usually, to meditate you set your mind on a still concentration point. But you must be able to use it right in the midst of the hubbub. If you have no strength admits to commotion, then after all, it's as if you never made any effort in stillness. I have heard that there was some complicated situation in the past. And now you are experiencing the sadness of the outcome alone. You do not dare to hear your fate. This is not an uncommon occurrence, I think in in the China of the 1100s especially for government officials. All the machinations of court politics. People could go from a very comfortable position to poverty in exile. He says if you arouse this thought it will obstruct the path. An ancient worthy said, if you can recognize the inherent nature while going along with the flow, there is neither joy nor sorrow. That will occur to you said it's like this. The high plateau does not produce lotus flowers. It is in the mire of the low swamp lands that these flowers are produced. The old barbarian. Here he's talking about the Buddha said true lessness does not keep to its own nature, but according to circumstances brings about all phenomenal things. He also said proceeding to effect according to circumstances, it extends everywhere, always here upon this seat of enlightenment. That way we could put it as going and returning we never leave home to quote Hacohen.
Often it is the difficult things that bring us the most benefit. The buyer of the lowland swamp plant below swamp lands, these flowers are produced. It's probably the reason for the title of the book swamp land flowers.
The Buddha also said proceeding to effect according to circumstances it extends everywhere while always here upon the seat of enlightenment. Would they deceive people? If you consider quietude right and commotion wrong, then this is seeking the real aspect by destroying the worldly aspect, seeking Nirvana, the peace of extinction apart from birth and death. When you like the quiet and hate the hubbub, this is just the time to apply effort. Suddenly, when in the midst of hubbub, you topple the scene of quietude that power surpasses the meditation seat and cushion by a million billion times
It's easy to feel that the only place I can really get into my practice is when I'm in the Zendo on my cushion. How can I do it when everything is crashing down around me? But we can. It's harder, because it's harder. What is gained is greater all of us when the session is over, we'll go out into the hubbub. One of the real challenges of assess Sheen is being able to take what we've done all the really hard work that we've done and put it to practice in what is really our life. course we're not going to be able to keep the kind of jury key that kind of concentrated energy that we have from sitting nine or 10 hours a day when we're not doing that. But still, things can open up
Find the discipline and doing what we love.
Think of who was it? an NBA player, Dr. J. Julius Erving said discipline is doing what you love, even when you don't want to.
Okay, our time is up. We'll stop now and recite the four vows