Monday, January 28, 2013

Getting Nirvana Instantly: Das Suutra vom Lastträger

[Note: In this bold and unexpectedly ruthless Zen talk, the Sugata -- Shakyamuni Buddha -- explained clearly how to get rid of the misery of human existence generated by always wanting to be elsewhere than one is, to have something more or different than one has, and so on. All this "clinging" afflicts the mind and makes life a dirty chore.

Do clear and vivid explanations of the causes of misery suffice? No. One has to put Buddha's instructions to the test of actual practice. 

Here the "practice" is instantaneous -- it's nothing but "laying down the burden." What is the burden? Buddha sketches this out clearly. Who lays down the burden? Whoever happens to be here right now! How is this laying down accomplished? By way of "right concentration," which means letting go simultaneously of objects and of one's "personhood" -- expanding into the bare, energetic space of empty and choiceless awareness.

Can it really be that easy? No, it is not that easy. For many centuries, Zen Masters put intense energy and creativity into finding ways to make their students "lay down the burden" by "cutting off thinking" in an instant and seeing "THIS JUST AS IT IS." Yet even so, as Master Huangbo said, "Of the three to four thousand students in our sect, only two or three will ever attain the goal." Failure is the norm.]

"Monks, I will explain to you the burden, the laying hold of the burden, the holding on to the burden, the laying down of the burden. Listen.

"What, monks, is the burden?

"'The five groups of clinging' is the answer. Which five? They are: the group of clinging to corporeality,... to feelings,... to perceptions,... to mental formations,... to consciousness. This, monks, is called 'the burden.'

"What is the laying hold of the burden? The answer is that it is the person, the Venerable So-and-so, of such-and-such a family. This, monks, is called 'the laying hold of the burden.'

"What is the holding on to the burden? The answer is that it is that craving which gives rise to fresh rebirth and, bound up with lust and greed, now here now there finds ever fresh delight. It is sensual craving, craving for existence, craving for non-existence. This, monks, is called 'the holding on to the burden.'

"What is the laying down of the burden? It is the complete fading away and extinction of this craving, its forsaking and giving up, liberation and detachment from it. This, monks, is called 'the laying down of the burden.'"

Thus said the Blessed One, the Well-gone (Sugata) spoke thus; the Teacher then said:

The five groups are the heavy load, 
The seizing of the load is man.
Holding it is misery, 
Laying down the load is bliss. 
Laying down this heavy load, 
And no other taking up, 
By uprooting all desire, 
Hunger's stilled, Nibbaana's gained.

(trans. from the Pali by Maurice O'Connell Walshe)

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