Ordinary Mind is the Way, Case 19 in the Mumonkan
9:56AM Jun 27, 2021
This is June, 27 2021, and going to take up a koan this morning. It's number 19 in the Mu mon con gateless barrier, ordinary mind isn't the way.
Hope it's not too hot here this morning for everyone. Sorry about the fans getting turned off but you'll never hear me if they're on a happier note. The work retreat that starts up on Tuesday evening runs through Saturday. Lunchtime. Next week, when I look at the forecast, it looks like it's going to be a lot more pleasant. So if you haven't made that decision to come on out. You can think about.
Yes. Would you bring me that koan. Sure.
Let's say practice makes perfect. And we're going in here with zero practice, which is good. Good.
There must be a koan book around here somewhere. Where I would have guessed. Thank you.
All right. Just plunging right in and reading through it. Again, the title is ordinary mind is the way, this is number 19 in the womankind. And this is the case, Josue asked Nonsan. What is the way Nonsan answered, ordinary mind is the way. Josue asked. Shall I try to seek after it. If you try to seek after it you go away from it answered nonsense. Joshi. If I do not try for it. How can I know the way Nonsan. The way is not a matter of knowing or not knowing knowing is illusion. Not knowing is blankness. If you attained to this way of no doubt it is as boundless as vast space. So how can there be right or wrong in the way these words, Joshua was suddenly enlightened.
So, these two, these two guys, Joshua and Nonsan figure in in ordinate number of the koans especially Josue and want to say a little bit about him.
Know Roshi has read from. Then, Chinese heritage, quite often with these masters, but I found something elsewhere. bout Josue.
It's an abort book by Robert Aiken Roshi Aiken, Robert Aiken, was a teacher at the diamond Sangha in Hawaii. And he wrote a really excellent book, just going through the move on Khan, entitled The gateless barrier. And he says this about Joe shoe. This is from his commentary on the koan Mu which of course involves Joe shoe as well, said he had the longest, and one of the most unusual careers of any Zen master, born in 1770, excuse me in 778. He came to study with Nonsan when he was only 18 years old, and remained until his old teacher died 40 years later, after two years of mourning. He said on a pilgrimage to visit the many eminent teachers of his time on his departure he is said to have vowed. If I meet 100 year old person who seeks my guidance, I will offer the best teaching I can to that venerable person. If I meet a seven year old child who can teach me. I will become an ardent disciple of that child. And he can comment. Contrast this vow with Confucian attitudes toward age and youth that prevailed in Jojos time and Joseph's time. At age 60 He had freed himself of cultural constrictions as much as anyone can and had regained his beginner's mind. Joshi went off on this pilgrimage and he says he maintained his vow for the next 20 years wandering from teacher, the teacher invited them to probe his mind checking them as well, deepening and clarifying understanding
through the Zen world. Finally at 80, he settled down in a small temple, and for the next 40 years, guided disciples from his wonderfully seasoned understanding passing away in his 100 and 20th years.
More about him. Throughout his long career, Josue taught in a simple matter manner, with just a few quiet words. It is said that a light seemed to play about his mouth as he spoke, Dogan freely criticized many of his ancestors in the Dharma could only murmur with our Josue, the Old Buddha
seems incredible that somebody could live to 120 years but we do have cases even here in the West. Ordinary people living that long and Zen master Sujana, who died in the 1900s, late in the 1900s. Also when it's reported to have lived to the age of 120
and then turning to Andy Ferguson, Zen his Chinese heritage, just a little bit about nonsense. Non Schwann.
He was a disciple of Matsu and the teacher of the famous, Joe, Joe, or Joseph is Les surname was Wong, and he came from. The Zhang Zhang province. Please forgive my pronunciation. You know for some of these Chinese words you can go on the, on the internet and you can hear it pronounced by native Chinese speakers. And if you click more than one of those pronunciations, there'll be different, could look even before he became an old Zen teacher. His students referred to him as old teacher one before meeting Matsu he was already widely versed in the various schools and scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism, and at their first meeting is said to have instantly forgotten the net of delusions and delighted in Samadhi.
Just going to read one little short little talk that non said that Nonsan gave roughly reflects a little bit on this koan that we're taking up the master entered the hall and address the monks saying Dipankar Buddha said, the arising in mind of a single thought gives birth to the myriad things. Then he goes on, why is it that phenomenal existence is empty. If there is nothing within mind. And how does one explain how the myriad things arise. Isn't it as if shadowy forums differentiate emptiness. This question is like someone grasping sound and placing it in a box, or blowing into a net to fill it with air. Therefore some old worthy said, it's not mind. It's not Buddha. It's not a thing. Incidentally, that old worthy was his own teacher Matsu das we must teach you, brethren, to go on a journey. It said the bodhisattvas who have passed through the 10 stages of development, and attained the Srirangam of Samadhi, and the profound Dharma storehouse of all Buddha's naturally realize the pervasive wondrous liberation of Zen Samadhi. Throughout all worlds the form body is revealed, and the highest awakening is manifested. The great wheel of Dharma is turned nirvana is entered, entered and limitless space can be placed in the hole on the point on the feather. Although a single phrase of Scripture is recited for endless aeons. Its meaning is never exhausted its teaching transports countless billions of beings to the attainment of the unborn and enduring dharma, that which is called knowledge or ignorance, even in the smallest amount is completely contrary to the way so difficult, so difficult. Take care.
So coming back to our koan. This word way ordinary mind is the way, This is the Chinese word doubt. And of course when Buddhism came to China. The Chinese changed it, you know, they added their own flavor. And that's the way that it's come to us here in the Zen tradition. This word Tao, was used to translate the Indian Buddhist terms, Dharma, as well as Bodhi both those words were rendered as Tao in Chinese when the sutras were translated. Zen is really in a sense an amalgam of Indian Buddhism and Taoism, as well as Confucianism, the tremendous respect in China and Japan, Korea, for our elders, it's one aspect of Confucianism. And for an upright mind for morality, doing the right thing for harmony, getting along with others.
So Josue asked Nonsan, what is the way, non send replies, ordinary mind is the way. Right there, ordinary mind what's right here. right here without going anywhere without an effort.
This is this is so hard to wrap our minds around that it's not something special. Our life seems so humdrum and Riven with dissension and anxiety and bad vibes, our ordinary mind seems like a disaster. And many people come to practice, wanting to get out of that disaster and that's not that's not a mistake. But it's too easy to reject what's right in front of us and fastened on some image that we've created or that's been created for us of a state. somewhere out there somewhere far away from where we are right now. Nonsense says ordinary mind is the way
goes against our natural understanding. We're always looking to get from here to there. Leave the humdrum and the tedious, get to something miraculous. But what Nonsan is pointing out is that right here is miraculous. This ordinary life is Nirvana, put it in Indian Buddhist terms. Just chanted the Hakuin verse says there, It's like one and water crying I thirst.
When this begins to sink in. And it does. The more we do, the more we sit, The more we let go of thoughts. More while we rest in our natural awareness. The more we begin to realize that what we're looking for is right here. And when we do it can galvanize us. We see that we're living in truth, that the way the Dow is intimate and immediate. It's ordinary, it's nothing special, yet it's what we long for so long lost home
in the more we see that the more if we're working on a koan, the more that strengthens our, our dump mass, you realize it's so near. Why can't we see it. This really gets in deep. There's a, there's a corresponding deep interest in the practice. Want to put our attention there to bat with what's here, and not to go flying off into our speculation, and ideas and worries and desires.
Can't talk to everyone without dragging Anthony de Mello in, make the short. I've read this before so I'll just summarize. He brings up the example of a scientist studying the behavior of ants. And he points out unlike someone who's training a dog. He's not interested in making the ants do anything. He just wants to know all about them interested in them for their own sake, doesn't have an agenda.
Really, our practice is our own personal experiment. And we're totally in charge of this experiment, how we proceed. Looking into our own mind.
Well Joshi lets that sink in and then he says, Shall I try to seek it. So I tried to seek after it nonsense says, if you try to seek after it. You go away from it. So Joshua wants to know How do I basically begin someone and say how do I practice. How am I okay the ordinary mind is the way. What do I do. And that's it doesn't bite you doesn't tell him what to do. If you seek after it, you go away from it. Robert akin has a story. When he was practicing he and his wife in Tokyo in Japan says late 1961, early 1962 They were living on the outskirts of Tokyo and practicing with the US Attorney Roshi ocean Campos, primary teacher. He says we communicated with him surprisingly well. Though he spoke no English. I spoke only broken Japanese and and spoke no Japanese at all. Still some of our subtle questions went unanswered. When NACA God was so in Roshi wrote us that he will be coming to Tokyo from his temple and Mishima, both of us looked forward to the chance to ask about our practice in detail. But I was sick when the day came, so and went by ourself and asked my question. Should I use effort or not. This question preoccupies many students, and is essentially what Joshua asks, Should I direct myself toward it or not, and came back late in the day exhilarated as one always was after being with so in Roshi, full of stories of her encounter, finally I was able to ask about my question. She laughed and replied. he said. That is a very difficult question.
They love that.
It's maddening. Because as soon as you grasp after anything, you lose it. I remember not I think this is in the three pillars of Zen somewhere. When Roshi Kapleau is first beginning to do Zen probably at NACA gala so in Roshi his place which is where he started out some Zen teacher or an appt told him I think I'm getting this right. There's a blind Buddha in your belly. He's very shy, make him see
think Sheng yen does the most grandmotherly take on this, this whole issue with his image from the book, titled The same catching a feather on a fan, just want to read through this. He says stilling the mind is like catching a feather on a fan or with a fan, because he's talking about the kind of fan that you open up and you can wave your face and cool off. People probably wish they had such a fan right now. He says, Every time you move the fan, the feather is likely to be blown away. It's a delicate business to catch the Feather. Feather you have to hold the fan quite still just under the space through which the feather is thinking of its own motion. The Feather then comes to rest on the top of the fan. You can imagine how difficult or how easy this may be any use of force and the feather is lost. Yet once you grasp the principle is something very easy to do. It needs patience and persistence. When practicing Do not be afraid of a distracting thought. If the body has a problem, do not be concerned with it. If the mind is worrying. Put the worry down. Keep the mind on the method, waiting for the feather to sink onto the fan. Think that's about as good a job as you can describe it but even that. What are you going to do with that. Going to sit on the mat, thinking about the fan and the feather. So many times in my own practice where I've hit on how to practice. Very exciting. And I know that things are gonna go so much more smoothly. Usually last maybe at most a block of sesshin.
There's another instruction, sort of, this is much, much more to the point. much more spare from the phenomenal Indian master teacher Ramana Maharshi. Most people don't know who he is, which drives me crazy, someday maybe I'll do a show on him. He died in 1950. He says this. Your duty is to be. And not to be this or that. I Am that I Am, sums up the whole truth. The method is summed up in the words, be still. What does stillness mean. It means destroy yourself, because any form or shape is the cause for trouble. Give up the notion that I am so and so. All that is required to realize itself is to be still. What can be easier than that. Notice here, Ramana Maharshi is saying what can be easier. And when we read from nonsense, he said, Difficult, difficult.
Most people understand that they're both right
way, it's not a matter of knowing or not knowing knowing is illusion. Not knowing is blankness.
We have a deep habit of mind to want to move from uncertainty to clarity. We want resolution. It's not only a habit. It's probably genetically programmed into us.
We're built to take shortcuts to overlook what isn't a threat or isn't a reward. So we look for a symbol or some sort of shorthand, instead of the thing itself.
But that knowing that we're looking for is an illusion. It's not the thing itself. And if we just go duh. That's not it either. Reminds me of my first dog, This is not Archie This is Nora. Another wonderful dog. She was. She wanted people food. She wanted a pretty bad. And this was our first dog and we hadn't learned our lesson yet and so we would from time to time, share a scrap under the table. And it was, it was quite surprising. You put a piece of food down she'd be so excited. Here comes the food here comes the food drop it on the floor, and she couldn't find it. Looking just so keyed up that she couldn't see what was right in front of her,
chasing after design desire.
We don't need someone to give us the answer. Need a little bit of instruction. And we need to open our mind, see what's there. Something else I want to read. I found this. I can't remember how I ran into this, this is the, the guy speaking is not a spiritual teacher or student, so far as I know, he's somebody who got a PhD in physics in June of 2019 So two years ago. And he must have written this in a blog or something. He said, Every part of teaching is challenging, and that extends beyond the lecture component. For example, my philosophy about Office Hours has always been ironically enough to be as useless as possible. If a student comes and asked me how do you do problem number one. I asked them, How do you think we should do problem number one. And it's absolutely infuriating. But by the end of office hours, they are so thankful that they struggled through it. My favorite physics Author David Morin wrote in his recent book, green eyed dragons and other mathematical monsters that the one piece of advice he can offer about solving problems, is not to look at the solutions too early. Once you see the answer you can't undo that and come up with it yourself. So don't be afraid to just sit and get stuck, and ponder, because that's when you're really figuring out what to do. We could say that's when something deeper in the mind, figuring out what to do. That is the learning process takes so much patience and so much faith to be stuck, and not to spin off into an easy answer, not to play with images, just to sit in that deep not knowing. Not knowing that's blindness is nonsense pointing out. And then there's the not knowing of Bodhidharma, I don't know.
German poet Rainer Maria Rilke said, be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms, and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given you, because you would not be able to live them. The point is to live everything live the questions now.
This is the heart exam. The original teaching. The teaching beyond words and letters, pointing directly at the mind.
If you attained to this way of no doubt it is as boundless as vast space. So how can there be right or wrong in the way that these words Joshi was suddenly enlightened in a whole different dimension. This is the tediousness of what we think of as ordinary mind, good and bad, like it and I don't like it.
I know and I don't know, two sides of one coin, possessing and not possessing. So Nonsan says how can there be right and wrong in the way.
I like, I liked the way that the Chinese are the Sheng yen refers to enlightenment is seeing the nature. We see we do don't necessarily have the ability to tell anybody else what we seen phrase somewhere I think in first koan Mu minecon like a new person in Santa's dream. Yet we've seen by it's been compared some ancient Chinese metaphor, it's like coming across your long lost father at a crossroads.
Go to the commentary woman says, questioned by Joe shoe nonsense like melting ice disintegrating tile dissolved, and could not offer a plausible explanation. Even though Josue has come to realization. He must delve into it for another 30 years before he can understand it fully. So just taking that first sentence. How could Nonsan offer a plausible explanation.
This is this is really pretty praise by slander, which is my main specialty. And then he strikes out a Josue WHAT THE HECK issue has come to a realization he must delve into it for another 30 years before he can understand it fully. Such an important point in exam practice, there isn't a finish line. You can't. You can't have some sort of insight and, and for most people. The Insight we're talking about is pretty fate. You can't take that and bottle it. And if you do you're doing damage, doing damage to yourself. Anybody you try to help ordinary mind is the way, not your special experience. So simple. Throw it out everything. See it meet it, be it fully. Let it go.
Another 30 years before he can understand it fully. What do we mean by understand. Joshua Joshi remain as we said with nonsense, until the latter is death, then traveled on pilgrimage for another 20 years. Again teaching at the age of 80
say anything over 70 It's pretty damn old.
The verse. Hundreds of flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, and snow in winter. If your mind is not clouded with unnecessary things. No Season is too much for you. Life just keeps bubbling up. It's wonderful when we're there with it.
Hundreds of flowers. Moon in autumn. Cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. Might be a Zen master who said every day is a good day,
wet and rainy in spring, cloudy sky in autumn baking hot in summer, freezing in winter.
Practice shows us what we learn through repeated practice, is how to move freely with conditions, as they come up, without separation. Not keeping score. Wonderful. Everything lights up. People light up. I can just move with it. I want to finish by reading a little account from Matthew Riccar card. French Frenchman he's the son of a very famous philosopher who became a monk, Tibetan monk in Tibetan Buddhism, and he recounted a conference where a Japanese scientist who was studying the benefits of laughter on diabetes, of all things, made a presentation, and the Dalai Lama was there at this conference, along with some monks and some scientists and other people, other visitors about 100. And he ended with a question to the Dalai Lama said, Your Holiness, can you tell us what was the happiest moment of your life. The silence full of expectation fell in the room, composed of a dozen scientists some Buddhist scholars and meditators and 100 guests. The Dalai Lama paused for a while, looked up in space, as if seeking an answer deep within himself and then suddenly he leaned forward and said to the Japanese scholar and a resounding voice, I think. Now, everyone broke into a joyful laughter, and the meeting was adjourned. The whited, the Japanese scholar was himself laughing heartily.
Alright. Time is up. We'll stop now and recite the four vows.
Without number Y, hash rate, dollar a competitor to penetrate for a good number two. Number eight, brute. Again, measure
to liberate us why having a great dark like a pleasure
to play with
Okay, so we do have the regular sittings next week, Scott Redding will be here running things in the Zendo so please feel free to come to the Zendo if you can't make it to the work retreat. And if at the last minute, you realize who you are available, please don't hesitate, just give us a call. Let us know and show up at chip and Mel for the work retreat, which will be starting this Tuesday night, and we'll end Saturday afternoon after lunch. And is there anything else. Yeah, thank you. There are many room. Thank you everybody. Thank you. Thank you, great rest of your day by accident. You too.