This is the second day of this September 2023, seven day sesshin. And we're going to continue with exploring the teachings of early Chan masters. And I'll be using the same two texts as yesterday. Andy Ferguson's Zen Chinese heritage and Thomas Clarys Zen essence. Yesterday we read from the teachings of Yuanwu. And today look at another master of the Song Dynasty, for yon, who, like Yuanwu was a disciple of Wufu flans years are 1067 to 1120. And Ferguson says he came from a city near the modern city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province. He is one of three illustrious students of woods do who were known as the three Buddhists. And there's a footnote that says Yuanwu and flan are two of the three. And then the third is why yen.
Hard to say.
Ferguson goes on to recount a story, though from for yawns early years. He says, at the age of 14, flyin accepted the Buddhist precepts. He then proceeded to study the Buddhist scriptures and practice the tenets of the Vinaya. In the Lotus Sutra, he read a passage that said, it is the Dharma that cannot be discerned by thinking that can be attained. It is the Dharma that cannot be discerned by thinking that can be attained. Here he asked his vinyasa Teacher, teacher for an explanation of the passage, but received no answer. For yawn, sighed and said doctrinal study can't resolve the great matter of life and death. So this echoes what Yuanwu early experiences were in relying on the study and recitation of sutras cannot resolve the great matter through words. And that's why we're here in sesshin. Doing this vital work
Foy on then traveled self and began training at the Dharma seat of a Zen master named master Yan. One day, as he was begging for arms during a rainstorm, for eons slipped and fell to the ground. In the midst of this predicament, he overheard two men arguing fiercely nearby. One of them said, you're still defiling yourself and that these words, for Yan had an insight. He returned to the temple to Question Master Yan about it. But Yan would only say I'm not you. You can do it yourself. Or I don't understand. I can't compare to you. This merely increased For yawns uncertainty, so we went to the head monk, and tried to pose his question
by the way, and taking some Liberty here and not specifying all the individual people's names that appear in the story. It makes it kind of difficult to follow along.
So again, FOIA went to the head monk for help with understanding this insight. He said he had upon hearing an argument between two men, with the one guy yelling aloud, you're still defiling yourself. And it's difficult to read between the lines here because there aren't any other details. But as the story continues, it is clear that foie Yan was caught up in playing over in his mind, this exchange that he had overheard.
The head monk responded by grabbing for yawns ear and pulling him in a circle around the stove, saying you already understand. But foi on demanded, I wanted you to help me. Why are you playing a game? The head monk said later, you'll be enlightened and then you'll know why. Today's song bends your ears
so what was that head monk indicating by grabbing and dragging foil on by the year?
What might seem like a crazy antic, a game from one point is actually a teaching tool from another.
Perhaps the head monk intuited that the only way to get foinavon out of his head to stop wasting his time, ruminating was to grab them by the years
but at the time, for Yan wasn't ready to understand the head monks actions
and, as the story continues, one cold night as he sat up alone, for yawn, poked deep in the ashes of a dwindled fire and saw the embers flare up. He suddenly exclaimed, poke deeply, and you'll find it. Life is like this
and then next for Yan picked up and read some lamp records about a former teacher. And then suddenly, he penetrated the bottom of the stove. In other words, in an instant, he opened up. He saw things simply as they are. Life is like this
and notice that he was doing an ordinary chore at the time he was simply tending to the fire on a cold night. Could have been any chore though. He could have been mopping the floor, preparing a meal or setting the table
flan then composed a verse In the forest of knives, a bird sings out
wrapped in a cloak and sitting up late, poking the fire and awakening to ordinary life. The great gods are overturned and smashed in the glistening world or the self deluded, who will sing a colorless song realized once it is not forgotten, the gate is open, but few pass through it.
To say that the gate is open, but few pass through it is to say that our true nature is hiding in plain sight. It's completely ordinary, it's this right here. And yet we think it's got to be something momentous
because we're thinking that we don't see that the gate is wide open. It's been open all along
and as for Foix, on he would go on to become one of the great Chan masters in the Linji school. A couple of paragraphs later. There's a passage taken from the text, the record of the venerable ancients and it's a famous Zen story about two types of sickness
for Yan said, I say there are but two types of sickness. One is to ride a donkey to look for the donkey. One is to ride a donkey to look for the donkey the other is riding the donkey and not letting yourself get off it don't you see? That riding a donkey to find a donkey is a fatal disease this old mountain monk is telling you don't seek it. clever people understand right where they are. They give up the seeking disease and the crazy thought pursuing mind
so the first kind of sickness is attachment to attainment or goal seeking. riding a donkey while looking for a donkey is seeking enlightenment by looking outside yourself
not realizing that it's not other than who you are
you're already a donkey we try so hard. We put so much exertion into our practice. Not aware that we're straining that we're trying to get something trying to make something happen
try not trying instead. Try just being
Being as you are in this one moment that doesn't mean we should sit here passively and allow ourselves to drift off into thoughts we still need to actively give give our attention to our practice. But at the same time
relax into the moment
relax into our body if we have tension in our body, it shows up as tension in her mind and vice versa
then four Yan says, once you've seen the donkey, not allowing yourself to get off now that's most hard to cure. This old mountain monk is telling you don't ride it so the second kind of sickness is an it's an attachment to enlightenment as an experience. And it's another form of dwelling on attainment when once you've had any kind of insight, whatever it is, it's over. Gone
what uses it to live in the past?
When continues, you are the donkey? The great Earth is the donkey. How are you going to ride it? If you continue to ride it, you will never cure this disease. If you don't ride it, then all the worlds in the 10 directions are open to you. If you can get rid of both of these diseases at once, then there's nothing left in your mind and you're a person of the way what could trouble you
so the cure to these two sicknesses is not to seek and not to dwell
just be present here
there's a another passage from for Yan. And it gets out another way in which we cling to duality. And that's creating imaginary dramas.
Flan says, Have you heard the old story of the Vinaya monk. He upheld all the precepts all of his life. When he was walking at night, he stepped on something that made a loud noise. He thought it was a toad. And inside of this Toad, were countless Toad eggs. The monk was scared out of his wits, and passed out from fright. He dreamed that hundreds of Toads were coming after him, demanding their lives. The monk was utterly terrified. When dawn came around, he saw that he had just stepped on. Wait for it. A dry I'd out eggplant. The monk, realizing the unreliable, the unreliable nature of his thoughts, then ceased such thinking and realize the empty nature of the three realms. And after this, he could begin doing genuine practice. And then fly on says, Now I asked you all, was the thing the monk stepped on in the night a toad, or was it an eggplant? And if it was an eggplant, there still seem to be toads who demanded their lives. Have you rid yourself of these visions? I'll check to see if you understand. If you've gotten rid of the fear of the toads, do you still have the eggplant there? You must have no eggplant either.
This story captures the oneness of mind and world there is no world outside of Mind
Mind is all that we are all that we experience
things are things because of mind as mind is mind because of things.
I'm now going to shift to the other text Zen essence. This edited collection by Thomas Cleary that includes translations of a flam among other Zen masters.
The first one is titled inherent Zen for an says Why do you not understand your nature when it is inherently there? There is not much to Buddhism or we can say there is not much to practice. It just requires getting to the essential we do not teach you to annihilate random thoughts suppress body and mind. Shut your eyes and say this is then Zen is not like this. You should observe your present state
it's true there's not much to practice. It's incredibly simple. Just keep returning our attention
back to our practice over and over
and in doing that, we're not shutting out the world or rejecting our thoughts
everything is mind.
In another blurb for Yan says you should step back and investigate how do you step back? It is not a matter of sitting there ignoring everything. stiffly, repressing body and mind so that they are like Earth or wood that will never do any good
in other words we're not trying to become robots devoid of feeling and sis sensation
practice makes us alive in tune with what we're experiencing
just through this simple method
of giving our attention to Mu who this
or whatever practice we're working on
this next segment is titled just you
an ancient Zen master, seeing a monk don't go down a staircase call to him, reverend. This this title Reverend is like the equivalent of venerable, referring to, to an ordained monastic. So in ancient Zen master, seeing a monk go down a staircase call to him, Reverend, the monk turned around and then the Zen master said from birth to old age, it's just you Why turn your head and revolve your brains from birth to old age, it's just you tell me who is this? As soon as you arouse the intention of seeing who you are, you don't see yourself it is hard to see yourself very difficult
it's like a donkey seeking a donkey or human trying to become a human
Why don't we see it
when we hear
there's just the sound
in and of itself but who's hearing it?
Well, there's a person over here. Who has ears. Eyes, ears, nose, tongue.
body mind. What about that?
yes we have a body and our senses our windows into the world but can we say that there is a little person inside that stands apart
from what it perceives?
Flan says, As soon as you arouse the intention of seeing who you are, you don't see yourself as soon as you arouse the intention of seeing who you are, you don't see yourself
so when there's no intention, no purpose no aim in seeing there's just seeing, hearing just hearing tasting just tasting
direct experience beyond words
this next one is titled fixation. The minute you fixate on the recognition that this is it, you are immediately bound hand and foot and cannot move around anymore. It's like making a boat and outfitting it for 1000 mile journey to a treasure trove. If you drive a stake and tie the boat to it, before you jump into the boat and start rowing, you can row till Kingdom Come and we'll still be on the beach you see the boat waving this way and that and you think you are on the move. But you've never gone a single step
this analogy really brings to life being stuck in thoughts about progress. or wanting to row far out into sea into the open waters where we think we'll find peace and tranquility.
But we're grasping to get there.
Got the boat tied up to the shore
it reminds me of a parable I read about and I don't know the source of it. But there's this guy who's standing on the edge of a lake. And he calls out to someone who's on the opposite side of the lake. And he says, Hey, how do I get to the other shore? And the guy on the other side of the lake said in response you are the other shore
And here's another one titled mis application for Yan says, Zen is an easily understood practice that saves energy. But people cause themselves pains. The ancients saw people helpless, and told them to try meditating quietly. This was good advice. But later people didn't understand what the ancients meant. And close their eyes, suppressed body and mind and sat like lumps, waiting for enlightenment. How foolish.
In sesshin, the more Zen we do, the more energy we have. It accumulates with with each passing day, despite any temporary tiredness we might feel it passes and we might start off sesshin with a hailstorm of thoughts. But as we continue to devote ourselves to our practice, returning to it over and over thoughts do lose their hold on us. And we expend much less energy as a consequence
we have to do this work can't dodge it can't maneuver around.
We have to trust the process
Here's another one misperception suppose a bit of filth gets stuck to a man's nose while he is sleeping. When he awakens, unaware of what has happened, he may notice an odor and start smelling his shirt. Thinking his shirt stinks. He takes it off. But then whatever he picks up, smells bad to him. He doesn't realize the smell is on his nose. Someone tells him but he doesn't believe it. told to wipe his nose. He refuses. He'll realize sooner if he wipes off his nose. But when he eventually washes his face, he'll find there is no order. Then he'll find when he smells things that they that they do not stink after all. Zen practice is like this. Those who will not stop and look into themselves go on looking for intellectual understanding. That pursuit of intellectual understanding, seeking rationalizations and making comparisons is all wrong. If people would turn their attention back to the self, they would understand everything.
And of course, when he says, turn your attention back to the self. He's saying back to your practice
you are not other than Moo hoo. What it the breath
who you are
this next one is titled transcending subject and object. Those who realize Zen enlightenment transcend subject and object. There is no other mysterious principle. Besides this, in the course of ordinary daily activities, when you see colors, it is a time of realization. And when you hear sounds, it is a time of realization, when you eat and drink, this too, is a time of realization. This means all these are times of realization when you transcend subject and object in everything. This is not a matter of long practice and doesn't need cultivation. It's right here. So, it is said only with experiential realization Do you know the unfathomable?
Our true nature
is available, accessible to us each and every moment simply by giving our attention to this one moment and recognizing that each moment is a new one just luck just listen
give it your bare attention
each moment is a lifetime
and that's why foil on says realizing our true nature is not a matter of long practice nor short practice. It comes down to where our mind is in this one moment here.
The American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, put it this way. Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in. Forget them as soon as you can. Too, tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
In Zen terms we can say, finish each moment and be done with it.
You've done what you could.
Some thoughts and judgments undoubtedly crept in Forget them as soon as you can