Septober 2022 Sesshin, Day 2: Zen Master Foyan from Instant Zen: Waking Up In the Present (trans. by Thomas Cleary)
2:20PM Oct 12, 2022
Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede
This is day two of this Septober 2022 seven day sesshin. We'll pick up where we left off yesterday reading the words of the Song Dynasty, Master Foyan. I think it's spelled F-O-Y-A-N, which I think is pronounced Foyan
We left off yesterday, this is from the book "Instant Zen" translated by Thomas Clary. We left off yesterday where the saying when when knowledge and principle merge, environment and mind unite. It is like when drinking water once spontaneously knows whether it is cool or warm. And said yesterday, this is sort of a hallmark of the Zen school direct experience. But then he goes on now my teacher thought it may be cool or warm, all right. But what is this business of spontaneous knowing? He wondered and questioned very deeply. He asked the lecturer about the principle of spontaneous knowing, but the lecturer couldn't answer. Instead, he said, If you want to clarify this principle, I cannot explain it. But in the south, there are adults who have found out the source of the enlightened mind. They know about this matter, you will have to journey for it. Again, the South is shorthand for talking about the Zen school. So my teacher went traveling, he went to the capital city and all around the Eastern Riverlands asking every Zen adept. Let's call a teacher, every Zen teacher he could find about this matter. And every one he asked gave him a reply. Spot, some explained some spoken aphorisms. In any case, his feeling of doubt remained unbroken. So this thing about knowing yourself whether water is warm or cold and drink it really bit into him. Obviously there's so many stories of these early masters who had a similar experience with another saying another occurrence that they had read about that just didn't make sense, but they knew that there was something to it
of course, the prime most famous is Joshua's response to the monk when he asked does even a dog have Buddha nature? And he said Mu Matt has bitten into many of us for centuries. So has what is this? And who am I?
Later he came to full Shawn, this is still for ya. I'm talking about his teachers journey. Seeing that everything. Seeing that everything poof Shawn said in lectures and interviews, alright, it's called teisho and ducks on was relevant to what was in his mind. He wound up staying for a year. Full Shawn had him work on the phrase. Buddha had a secret saying Kashyapa didn't conceal it. This is of course a reference to the famous incident where the Buddha held up a flower before the assembly of monks. And the only cachaca smiled and that told the Buddha that he was to be his successor. Buddha had a secret saying Kashyapa didn't conceal it. One day for Shawn said to this would zoo the Teach share of the forehead. Why didn't you come earlier? You should go call on by Yun Diwan. So my teacher went to by noon, one day when he went into the teaching auditorium, it's called the Buddha Hall. All of a sudden he realized great enlightenment. Buddha has a secret saying, catch up, I didn't conceal it. Of course, of course. When knowledge and principle emerge, environment and mind unite, it is like when one drinks water one spontaneously knows whether it's warm or cool. How true these words are.
It's a it's many of us are confronted by some kind of contradiction of our own natural one being before taking a koan in dualistic terms this or that, is it freewill or is it determinism that old old philosophical argument is it nature or nurture? Here it's phrased in terms of knowledge in principle
but more more clearly, mind and environment. Now we say in affirming faith in mind for things are things things are environment same thing and things are thing things are things because of mind. Its mind is mind because of things. Who can separate them who can tease them apart? Word is mind so called Word is mind and an environment begin.
Now for you picks up in the next section, he says, Consider the case of Grandmaster Ma, Ma. It says this is the great Matsu.
swatter the very most illustrious of the Tang Dynasty masters, said to have had 139 enlightened disciples seeing a monk going downstairs the master called damn Oh worthy. It says, conventional way of addressing a monk. Oh worthy. When the monk turned his head, the master said, from birth to death, it's just this person. Why turn your head and revolve your brains that monk understood the essential message at these words from birth to death, it's just this one
why turn your head and revolve your brains. Why do anything
for young continues, what is the logic of this? From birth to death? It's just this one. Tell me what person is it? As soon as you arouse the intention to see this person then you do not see this person. This person in quotation marks or let's say this one. This one is hard to see you very, very hard. People today simply say, this is this one who else is there? There couldn't be any other 99 out of 100 understand in this way, what grasp have they? If you interpret in this way, how can you understand the matter of from birth to death? And how can you immediately see it as just this one?
In the Mumonkan there's a short koan. The Master says, Shaka in Miroku, that's Shakyamuni and Maitreya Buddha. So the Buddha, the Buddha of this world cycle and the Buddha of the next world, Saiga, Chaka and Miroku, are servants of another, who is this other
Who is this one?
He goes on, if you have just now understood, where is that what you couldn't understand before. If you can't understand now, when will you understand? Just examine over and over in this way, and you should come to understand. That is why it is said, what you misunderstood before is what you now understand. What you now understand is what you misunderstood before
it is also said, When light comes, darkness vanishes. When knowledge comes into play, confusion is forgotten. This is quoting I think he's quoting a popular saying not A, not a Zen saying when when light comes darkness, panic when knowledge comes into play, confusion is forgotten. He says, but can it actually be so? How can it be so, that would mean there is darkness to be destroyed? And there is confusion to be removed? Have you not read the ancient saying don't change the former person just change the former behavior what what person is there? Apart from the behavior thoughts, ideas, memories, associations, images.
Zen is so so utterly practical.
If our behavior is to dwell in our thoughts, that's going to be one outcome. If our behavior is to not dwell in our thoughts and feelings and emotions, but to be fully present and responsive, that's going to be another outcome there's no person to change that's the problem with this with this idea don't when he says don't change the former person it it presupposes that there's a selfie in here that needs to be changed. Same thing with this light and darkness So that's why he says the mistake to think that there's there's a darkness to be destroyed some thing called darkness some static state called darkness and the same with confusion that there's some some thing that has to be removed
use Zen followers say what is the difficulty misunderstanding is just this person and understanding is just this person there can be no other but then when asked what this person is you are helpless or else you talk at random this is because of not having attained truly genuine realization This is a disease that has entered your bones and marrow
Zen master once said just get rid of this small mind called self there's nothing that can hinder you get rid of the concept of self and and and by the way, we don't need to get rid of it really strictly speaking, we just have to stop feeding it stop feeding the self with thoughts about it thoughts of I me and my and then what was never there in the first place will not be a problem the so called self.
One of the most most often quoted passages by the Japanese Zen master Dogan is to learn the Buddhist way is to learn about oneself. To learn about oneself is to forget oneself. To forget oneself is to perceive oneself as all things. To realize this is to cast off the body and mind of self and others. When you have reached the stage, you will be detached even from enlightenment. But we'll practice it continually without thinking about it.
This word self is such a it's right at the right at the core of almost everything that people say and do.
In Zen practice, we want to keep bringing our attention back to that which is no self which can be a koan. It can be a breath, the breath practice can be shikantaza. Again to to avoid feeding this small self what's what's so fascinating is that in doing that, and just returning our attention to the practice that is no self. We come to see things about ourselves. We uncover things about our character and personality Anyone who's done even half a sesshin knows this. We don't have to sit and intentionally think about our personality and character. We just have to take our mind off it. And it, it is revealed. Once revealed, we don't want to hold on to that. But it is there it does come up, we see things. And we tend to see often the same things over and over again. Same ways that each one of us individually tends to hold on, instead of letting go. Our particular insecurities or afflictions or fears or anxieties, our pride. This is this is a big part of the pain of sesshin. It's not just the legs, the body, it's the pain of seeing these features of ourself that we somehow managed to remain in the dark about most of the time because we're so busy in our regular lives. And then we come in in the silence. And there's nowhere to run.
So terrible mistake, though, when we see something like that, to linger there, it's enough to see it. And then better the practice.
People can waste days of a session, just gawking at something about themselves. Usually something painful.
One of the most common in early years of practice is to see how one just reflexively judges others. We're not doing all this sitting, this stays underneath our consciousness. But when we are in this very stripped down environment, it just is right in our face how how habitually, we pass these little judgments on the people around us. And then, having seen that that's a big revelation for many of us. But then to realize that we're doing this and to ourself, we're judging ourselves all the time.
Such a waste of time. We do have a choice. We don't have to do that. As as as habitual as it is. We can we develop the awareness, the mindfulness to notice it, notice it and return our attention to the practice.
He goes on, people in error attach recognition to a lifetime of cessation. Indeed, they stop not only for one lifetime, but for 1000 lifetimes, myriad lifetimes. As for the spiritually sharp, they should know how to experientially investigate who this person is directly seeking an insight.
I don't actually know quite what the translator had in mind here and indeed they stop not only from one lifetime for 1000 lifetimes. The the connotation is that it's something undesirable one gets stuck for 1000 lifetimes by dwelling in thoughts He goes on before I had understood. Of course he means before I came to awakening, I was totally helpless. So I asked my teacher as soon as I'd asked a question my teacher would just say, I don't understand. I don't know. I'm not as good as you think that was one of his early is first teacher who maybe wasn't wasn't practicing Zen. Not a Zen teacher. I also asked if Zen is ultimately easy to learn or hard to learn. He just told me you're all right. Why are you asking about difficulty and ease? Learning Zen is called a gold and dung phenomenon before you understand it, it's like gold when understood, it's like dung it's it's what most is the opposite of what most people would think it's it's it's counterintuitive
before you understand it, it's all so special. Oh, if only when understood, it's the simplest most down to earth thing
I didn't accept this at the time but now that I've thought it over although the words are course the message in them is not shallow
notice he says not shallow rather than deep. And it's as I said in my recent teisho at Arnold park it's it's this appreciation in in Zen of the negative Zen it's also the Chinese have indirect style the message in them is not shallow.
When you look closely you see that people of the present are none other than people of your and the functions of the present are none other than the functions of the past. Even going through 1000 changes and myriad transformations here it is just necessary for you to recognize it firsthand before you can attain it
people of the present are none other than people of the past human nature
the more we read about the people of ancient China and Japan Korea the more we work our way through koans the more we realize that people are people that the some some details are different now from ancient China but essentially we're all facing the same things being same things related to self and other pain Joy
right continues whoa what is it Buddhism today is lackluster even in large groups it's hard to find suitable people as long as you people are here following the path in this school you should not waste the 24 hours of the day focus on attaining insight realisation
you people are still not far off so firstly says it's hard to find any any anyone have any real ability that he says but you're not far off Have you not read how Master Lin-chi said there is a true person of no rank in the naked mass of flesh always going out and coming in the doors of your senses those who haven't witnessed it look of course he's talking about our true self no rank would have been a big point in the very hierarchical society of of China no rank at all. And at that time, a monk came forward and asked what is the true person of no rank then she got out of his chair grabbed the student and said speak speak the mark hesitated trying to think of something so Lin-chi pushed him away
what is this true self this true person capital P just same as what is Mu who am I? What is it whatever we think it is can't be it but then what is it
as foriegn said yesterday isn't to be found in thought.
Here I only require you to study the path I just can never get used to that word study in reference to practice just sounds too much like book learning to me. About this one here I only require you to walk the path your first priority 24 hours a day should be to get rid of egotism toward others why egotism toward others is the business of mediocrities.
egotism toward others, even in the very restricted environment of sesshin there are little ways that we can be if not egotistical, thoughtless toward others
being noisy or careless in the bedrooms hoarding cushions you're not using them very often. I'm not I have this. These are just sort of ideas. I don't think anyone here I don't know of anyone doing these things. This is shame. Always leaving dividers for others to manage
doing things during the work period where you're not doing your share, finding little ways to cut corners or cheat
fill in the blank. The further we go in practice, the more painful it is to be egotistical toward others. We still might do it. But it's harder to accept it say it's embarrassing. Why are we doing this?
You're skipping to another passage here. People on the path clearly know there is such a thing. I would say what he means is awakening. Why do they fail to get the message and go on doubting? It is because their faith is not complete enough. Their doubt is not deep enough. Only with depth and completeness. Be it faith or doubt. Is it really Zen. If you are incapable of introspection like this, you will eventually get lost in confusion and lose the thread wearing out and stumbling halfway along the road. But if you can look into yourself, I would say See yourself there is no one else. This is what the Buddha meant when he said above the heavens and below the heavens, I alone. The World Honored One no other scanning apart
it is because their faith is not complete enough and their doubt is not deep enough. Well there's two sides of one coin. If we if we have to. To whatever measure we have faith in this essential True Self that is no self. We will be beset with questioning as to how why it is we still act the way we do and think the way we do.
Lin-chi also said Lynne she's Rinzai also said what ails you? Lack of faith in yourself is what ails you
lack of faith that you have anything that lack of faith that you're absolutely equal in every way to everyone else. Back have faith that every one of us is endowed with this pure luminous nature without exception. I know what some of you are thinking. Yeah, yeah, we've heard that. Yeah, I get that. No, you don't get it. Cuz stumped. Somewhere in the mind, you still harbor skepticism. You're not so sure that you have this enlightened nature. You still think that's some something out there that you have to get to? Still don't have complete faith, that it is your nature to lack nothing.
And then I can hear some people say, Yeah, I know. I know. I know. I know. I know what you mean, I've got. I've learned that I've heard that so many times. Okay, but then what do you do about it? To develop that faith? Well, you came to the right place. This is where we deepen, develop, refine our faith. Every time we return our attention to the practice we're working on. We are developing our faith strengthening our faith as even as it is confirmation of our faith. We wouldn't be returning our attention to the practice. If we didn't have this faith. We just go on lingering in our thoughts chewing on them forever if we didn't have faith, there's something beyond this mind of thoughts.
As another Zen teacher, I think Suzuki Roshi said, it is wisdom that is seeking wisdom.
Because the path of Buddhahood just means enlightenment of course, the path of enlightenment is eternal. Only after long endurance of hard work, can it then be realized he's speaking about full enlightenment? It is continuous throughout past present and future, the ordinary and the holy are one suchness This is his way it is said that the path of enlightenment is eternal. If you do not produce differing views, like opinions, you never leave it. This is the point of long endurance of hard work. Ultimately, there is no separate reality. Thus it is said that it can then be realized.
This is a matter for strong people. People who do not discern what is being asked, give replies depending on what comes up. They do not know it is something you ask yourself to whom would you answer when people do not understand an answer, they produce views based on words. They don't know it is something you answer for yourself. What truth Have you found and where does it lead? Therefore it is said it's all you look look
look not outside yourself. You have it all you know it all. Step to uncover it. See it