November 2021 Sesshin, Day 7: Mumonkan #16, "The Sound of the Bell"
8:46PM Nov 16, 2021
This is the seventh day the last day of this November 2021, seven day sesshin. And this morning I'm going to take up a koan from the Mumonkan, The Gateless Gate. It's number 16, the sound of the bell. And we'll start out just reading the case. And it's short and simple. Uman said, actually, this is Yunmen, that's his Chinese name, Yunmen said, The world is vast and wide. Why do you put on your robe at the sound of the bell? So let's begin by just taking a little look at this Master Zen master Yunmen.
You may remember from yesterday when we were reading from Ta Hui that when Ta Hui was first beginning his Zen career, he felt an uncanny familiarity with Yunmen. When you read in the records, what Yunmen said
Yunmen is one of the most maybe the most koans at least at the moment con are are about you and men, usually usually addressing his his assembly of monks. So he was born in 1864. He died in 949. I'm reading now from Zen's Chinese heritage by Andy Ferguson. The subtitle is the masters and their teachings. He was a disciple of both Mu Zhao, Tao Ming, and che Fung each eat Sona. Although he first attained realization under Mu Zhao is generally recognized as a Dharma heir of Shui Fung.
came from a ancient city midway between the modern cities of Shanghai and Hong Xiao. And as a young man, he first entered monastic life under a video master named G Chan. After serving is that teachers attended for many years, young men exhausted the teachings of the Vineya and set off to study elsewhere. We said this before but just to mention again the Vinaya is the was the school of Buddhism is quite quite large at the time that emphasize the precepts for monastics for monks and nuns.
He went off to study elsewhere. Eventually he studied with Mu Zhao Yao Ming. And this is an account of his enlightenment under that Zen master. When Mu Zhao heard young men coming, he closed the door to his room. You and men knocked on the door. Well, Joe said, Who is it? You had men said it's me. Well, Joe said what do you want? Your men said I'm not clear about my life. I'd like the master to give me some instruction. Wu Zhao then opened the door and taking a look at young men closed it again. Young men knocked on the door in this manner three days in a row. On the third day when Mu Zhao opened the door, young men stuck his foot in the doorway. Mojo grabbed you and men and sealed speak speak. When you and men began to speak with Joe give him a shove and said too late. Would y'all then slam the door catching and breaking humans foot that moment you and men experienced enlightenment?
Mu Zhao directed you and men to go see Schley Fung. When you and men arrived at a village at the foot of the mountain, where should they Fung was he encountered a monk and young men asked him Are you ready? Going back up the mountain today. monk said yes. You and men said, please take a question to ask the abbot. But you mustn't tell them it's from somebody else, someone else. And the monk said, Okay. You mentioned when you go to the temple, wait until the moment when all the monks have assembled and the abbot has ascended the Dharma seat, then stepped forward, grasp your hands and say, there's an Iron King on this old fellows had, why not remove it? The monk did, as young men instructed him. When shave, shave, find the saw the monk act this way, he got down from the seat, grabbed the monk and said, Speak, speak. The monk couldn't answer. Should we fund pushed him away and said, It wasn't your speech? The monk said it was mine. Should a phone call to his attendant, bring a rope in a stick? The monk said, it wasn't my question. It was from a monk in the village. Sway, Fung said everyone. Go to the village and welcome the worthy who will have 500 disciples. The next day you and men came up to the monastery. Which way Fung saw him? He said, How is it that you've reached this place? You and men then bowed his head. In this manner did the affinity between shockwave fun and young men come about?
Going to read a couple of you and men's talks in front of the assembly. Get a little flavor for this guy. On the Day when you and men first entered the hall is Abbot, the governor of guang zhao attended in person and said to the Master, your disciple asks for your value teaching. You and men said there is nothing special to say is better if I don't speak and thereby deceive you all. I'm sorry that I've already played the part of a wily old fox for all of you. If a man of clear vision were to suddenly see me now I'd be the object of laughter. But if I can avoid it, then I'll just ask you all from the beginning. What's the big deal? What are you lacking? I don't have anything to say. There's nothing to be seen. You have to break through to this on your own. And don't ask silly questions. In my mind, there's just a dark fog. Tomorrow morning and the day after there are a lot of affairs going on here. If your disposition is to tarry here, and not to return to your usual lives, to look here and there at the gates and gardens built by the ancients, what point is there and all that you want to understand? That's just due to your own quagmire of delusion accumulated for endless eons. You hear someone expound on something, and it puts a doubt in your mind. So you ask about Buddha, and you ask about the ancestors looking high and low, searching for a solution. Getting caught up in things. This scheming mind is wide of the mark. It's always caught up in words and phrases, isn't what you require the non intention to mind. Don't be mistaken about this. There's nothing more to say Take care. So and we're off to a good start. One more here, you and men entered the hall to address the monks saying, Why are you all aimlessly coming here looking for something? I only know how to eat and shit. What use is there in explaining anything else? You've taken pilgrimages everywhere, studying Zen and inquiring about the Dao. But I asked you, What have you learned in those places? Let's see it and check it out. In the midst of all this, what's the master of your own house attained? You've trailed behind some old fellows grabbing something they've already chewed on and spit out and then call it your own. Then you say I understand Zen, or I understand Tao. Even if you can recite the whole Buddhist canon, what will you do with it? The ancients didn't know when enough was enough. They saw you scurrying around and when they said Bodhi and Nirvana, they covered you up and staked you down. Then when they saw you didn't understand they said no Bodie and no nirvana. It should have been made clear from the start that this just goes around. Then around. Now you just keep looking for commentaries and explanations. You who act like this destroy our school. You've been going on like this endlessly and where has it brought you to today? Back when I was making pilgrimages, there was a group of people who gave me explanations. They were well intentioned. But one day I saw through what they were saying, there are a bunch of laughing stocks. If I live a few more years, I'll break the legs of those people who destroy our school. Nowadays, there are plenty of things to get mixed up with, why don't you go do them? What piece of dried shit are you looking for here? Your man then got down from the seat and drove the monks from the hall with his staff.
One more short interchange between you and men and a monk. A monk asked, How should one act during every hour of the day, such that the ancestors are not betrayed you and men said Give up your effort. The monk said How should I give up my effort? Your admin said give up the words you just ordered.
So coming back, going back to the case. Young men said the world is vast and wide. Why do you put on your robe at the sound of the bell?
Apparently after he said that it's not part of the koan. But when no one answered he said on a short stretch of riverbank, there are a lot of clams. So the world is vast and wide. How do we miss this?
The world of complete freedom, expansive pervasive world of complete freedom
actually, we ourselves, you yourself are this world vast and wide? Said master Hakuin said, I am the sun and the moon and the stars and the wide wide earth
so even men asked, Why do you put on your robe at the sound of the bell? Why questions are always a trap. reminded of what Roshi Kapleau said, the reasons people give for the things they do are never the real reasons.
I always took that to mean, people just don't want to tell the truth. But really, how can we know? How can we know why we do anything in the deepest sense?
How can it be fully known? We say I don't know. There are a lot of different kinds of I don't know. There's the normal conventional i don't know i haven't got the facts. Nobody told me there's the I don't know that it's unanswerable. No one can say there is Bodhidharma is I don't know the I don't know of someone who's completely empty. Or the I don't know of someone who's completely one with whatever it is
What is the nature of this freedom? The wide, vast world
to most people freedom is is the ability to do whatever you want. And as most people who are sitting here in the Zendo know, that kind of follow your bliss, Freedom doesn't pan out
a lot of us have, have had a certain freedom. During the pandemic, at least we haven't had to answer the sound of the bell, whether it's the alarm clock or phone at work. Gone through now, a year and a half, where for many people life has been largely unstructured. And many people at first thought, Oh, this is great. Now finally getting my bookshelf arranged for you to do everything that the previous life didn't allow me, but most people have been found themselves not so enamored of this strange unstructured time
the freedom of no responsibilities is not really freedom. There's a saying in Zen. Zen is not doing what you like, but liking what you do. Not even liking, just doing without thought of whether you like it or not. This freedom of becoming one with whatever it is, that presents itself
in sesshin, we run up against the struggle to find freedom in this regimented, structured setting.
That structure is the is the wonder of sesshin that's why it works. Within the structure that we find freedom Branford Marsalis Roshi is quoted this a million times. jazz saxophonist said there's only freedom in structure there's no freedom and freedom he actually said there is no free only freedom in structure, my man. But if I say that I'll embarrass my children
the French existentialist John Paul Sartre said there are two ways to go to the gas chamber free and not free. And that's saying it in the extreme our freedom depends on us and not on circumstances.
Gonna move on to the commentary. Mine says this. In practicing Zen, you should avoid being swayed by sounds and forms. Even though you may attain insight by hearing a sound or seeing a form. This is simply the ordinary way of things. Nor is it anything to talk about when the Zen person is able to master sounds and control forums and thus clearly see the reality of everything and be wonderfully free in everything he does. Though this is so just tell me. Does the sound come to the ear? Or does the ear go to the sound? Even if you are able to transcend both sound and silence? How do you speak of that fact? If you listen with your ear, it is hard to hear truly. If you hear with your eye, then you are intimated last
So to avoid being swayed by sounds and forms he means to avoid being caught up in me hear sound there the duality of a form form and sound Zen we say no sound and no form
and when you come on this it's amazing but muon says even though you may entail attain inside by hearing a sound or seeing a form this is simply the ordinary way of things that's hard to see when when you hear that sound completely empty sound No, no separation whatsoever just echoing in your own being it's amazing how can you say this is simply the ordinary way of things. But it is it's our nature is who we are. It's wonderful. And it's ordinary. In Zen, we never make we try not to make too big a deal about any experience. See this and all the Masters when Master said wash your mouth out with soap, if you utter the word Buddha
why is that? Why Why make so little of it not only because it is ordinary, because it is just things as they are. But also because the goal of practice is so lofty. If you want to continue along this path, you can't stop. You can't abide anywhere. And experience is just that. Then we're on to the next thing to the next moment
it's always someone comes into the dockside room and something has opened up for them
I find myself really excited for them. And then remembering Okay, okay, put it down. Put it down. This is only the beginning.
The more we become used to this world of oneness, the more normal and ordinary it is. Move on says nor is it anything to talk about. One of the Zen person is able to master sounds and control forums and thus, clearly see the reality of everything and be wonderfully free and everything he does. I read something once. From Suzuki Roshi, the the teacher at the San Francisco Zen Center began. Practice of Westerners studying Zen there in San Francisco. He talked about when he was a monk. He had left the temple. I can't remember any of the details, but he'd been gone for a while. And he came back. And during the chanting service, tears just started to run down his face. He said when he was there practicing every day. It was just he just did it. There wasn't that huge emotional outflow that it's nothing special. It's wonderful. Coming back, he was affected
When asked Does the sound come to the ear? Or does the ear go to the sound? Actually, I think in, in Buddhist teaching, there's the year the sense Oregon, there's the sound. And then there is the hearing. So you've got three things. And you've got six senses, which makes 18 sense realms. But actually
he says, even if you're able to transcend both sound and silence, how do you speak of that fact. That's what you and men was railing against.
If you listen with your ear, it is hard to tear truly. If you hear with your eye, then you are intermitted last hear without hearing.
New mines, verse with realization, all things are one great family. Without it, everything is different and separate. Without realization, all things are one great family. With realization, everything is different and separate.
First two lines we can understand. We wake to our true true nature. We realize we're one with the whole universe. We come into one great family, World of oneness. And before it seems like everything is different and separate, like there's some sort of screen between us and everything outside. So much of our practice is trying to find our way grope our way into intimacy with whatever we're working on blue or the breath any koan
to reclaim our birthright.
can be painful. We see how we wall ourselves off from other people circumstances when we run up again and again against our resistance when you don't want to put on your robe at the sound of the bell
then he says, without realization, all things are one great family. And with realization everything is different and separate. Working on this koan student has to show what move on means.
It's not too hard to understand
This experience of sesshin to come here together to answer the bell to follow along without thinking the schedule such a valuable experience so much that we learn that we can take into our life
learn about ourselves learn not to believe the first thing we think oh this is gonna be horrible. I hate that do I have to
we find what we truly value if we're lucky
of course that's not the answer to this koan to say well, you put on your robot the sound of the bell because it's good for you. You can present that if you wish.
I want to I want to finish up with a short thing from Zen master Mian.
says when you are totally alive and cannot be trapped or caged, only then you have some independence. Then you can be in the ordinary world all day without it affecting you.
world where the phone rings, the baby cries. Got to put dinner on the table. Move along with things and you're free. We'll stop here and recite the four vows