Thursday, November 28, 2013

Who Is the Master of This Awakening?

Zen requires great determination and earnestness, for as soon as you have them, the real "doubt-sensation" will arise. At times you will doubt this and doubt that—the doubt automatically and instinctively arising by itself. From dawn to dusk it sticks to you from your head to your feet. It becomes one whole, continuous piece which will not be dislodged, no matter how hard you attempt to shake it. Even though you try to push it away, it will persist in sticking to you.

At all times it is clearly before you. Now this is when you can progress. On reaching this stage you should keep your mind straight and refrain from having secondary thoughts. When you find yourself not knowing that you are walking while walking or sitting while sitting, and unconscious of cold, heat, hunger—then you are about to reach home—Enlightenment. Henceforth you will be able to catch up and hold on.

You do not have to do anything but wait till the time comes. But do not let this remark influence you to wait idly, nor excite you to exert yourself—striving for such a state with anxious mind. Nor should you just let go and give up. Rather, you should preserve your mindfulness, keeping it steady until you reach Enlightenment. At times you will encounter eighty-four thousand soldier demons waiting their chance before the gate of your six organs. The projections of your mind will appear before you in the guise of good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, strange or astonishing visions.

The slightest clinging to these things will entrap you into enslavement to their commands and directions. You will then talk and act as a devil. Thenceforth the right cause of Prajna will die away forever, and the seed of Bodhi will never sprout. At such a time you should refrain from stirring up your mind, and should make yourself like a living corpse. Then as you hold on and on, suddenly and abruptly you will feel as though you were being crushed to pieces. You will then reach a state which will frighten the heavens and shake the earth.

I entered a monastery at fifteen and was ordained at twenty, staying at Chin Tzu. I vowed to learn Zen within three years. First I worked under Master Tuan Chiao. He taught me to work at the hua-tou, "Where was I before birth, and where will I be after death?" I followed his instructions and practiced, but could not concentrate my mind because of the dichotomy in this very hua-tou. My mind was also scattered.

Later I saw Master Hsueh Yen. He taught me to observe the word Wu. He also requested me to report to him each day. Explaining that this was like setting out on a journey, he said one should find out every day what progress one had made. Because his explanations were so systematic and understandable, I became so dependent on him that I did not make any effort in my own work.

One day, when I had just entered his room, he said to me, "Who has dragged this corpse here for you?" He hardly finished this sentence when he chased me out of his room.

Later I followed the example of Chin Shan and stayed in his meditation hall. One day in a dream I suddenly remembered the koan, "All things are reducible to one, but to what is the one reducible?"

At that moment a "doubt-sensation" suddenly arose in me, so that I did not know east from west or north from south. During the sixth day in this state, while I was chanting prayers with the assembly, I lifted my head and saw the two sentences of the stanza composed by the Ch'an Master Fa Yen:

Oh, it is you, the fellow 
I have known all the time, 
Who goes and returns
In the thirty thousand days of one hundred years!

Immediately I understood the sentence: "Who has dragged this corpse here for you?" For it had stuck in my mind since the day Master Hsueh Yen had put it before me. I felt as if my spirit had been extinguished and my mind blown away and then revived again from death itself.

It was like dropping the burden of a carrying pole weighing forty pounds! I was then twenty-four years old, and so had achieved my original wish to realize Zen within three years.

Afterwards I was asked, "Can you master yourself in the day time?" I answered, "Yes, I can."

"Can you master yourself while dreaming?" Again, I answered, "Yes, I can."

"Where, in dreamless sleep is the Master?"

To this question I had no answer or explanation.

The Master said to me, "From now on I do not want you to study Buddhism or learn the Dharma, nor to study anything, either old or new. I just want you to eat when you are hungry and to sleep when you are tired. As soon as you wake from sleep, alert your mind and ask yourself, "Who is the Master of this awakening, and where does he rest his body and lead his life?"

I then made up my mind that I would understand this thing in one way or another even though it meant that I should appear to be an idiot for the rest of my life. Five years passed. One day, when I was questioning this matter while sleeping, my brother monk who slept beside me in the dormitory pushed his elbow so that it fell with a heavy thud to the floor. At that moment my doubts were suddenly broken up.

I felt as if I had jumped out of a trap. All the puzzling koans of the Masters and the Buddhas, and all the different issues and events of both present and ancient times became transparently clear to me. Henceforth, all things were settled; nothing under the sun remained but peace.

-Master Kao-feng Yuan-miao from The Practice of Zen by Chang Chen-Chi

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Appearing Now In the Boundless Samadhi Mirror of Magical Concentration

All objects and beings appear in and as the samadhi of magical concentration. Everything in this world is but a puppet show. Nothing is from outside yourself. Laugh as you pull the strings.

Realize that you have devised this illusion perfectly for the thrilling puppet play in which you play an endangered and searching someone named "I" and "me" -- "a stranger roaming in a strange land." Just like a chilling dream. A cold wind blows in the river reeds. Geese crying behind the white mist. Shudder!

The universe is basically a round mirror without dimensions. Anything can, everything does, appear in it, and this whole beautiful, haunting, ghastly illusion is never less than utterly convincing.

Ten Pounds of Iron

What is Zen? Huangbo says, "Sweep out the dung that's been piling up in your head for the last twenty years." Linji says, "Just stop seeking and see what's there." Also, "Wake up to what's pulling the strings. Seeing, hearing, tasting, &c. -- it's only one light, imaginarily differentiated." Joshu says, "Amitabha Buddha." Tsunemoto says, "Zen is just getting rid of the discriminating mind." Rujing said, "Zen study is the shedding of body and mind."  Hakuin says it's waking up to Reality from the pitiful ego-delusion.

The ego-delusion is just that, a delusion. It's the firm belief that everything in phenomena somehow relates to, opposes or favors "me." Or that I know what others don't know, and must convince them. It makes one uneasy. Drop it, and experience great ease!

Or, if you can't drop it in an instant, thoroughly investigate what this I is. Where is it exactly in the body? What color and shape is it? What are the signs that it exists? Does it begin and end? When you walk into a room, do you carry it in, and when you leave do you carry it out? Who is this "you" that's looking for the "I"?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Purity As Is

(some passages from In Praise of the Dharmadhatu, by Arya Nagarjuna, translated by Jim Scott)

38. When eye and form assume their right relation,

Appearances appear without a blur.
Since these neither arise nor cease,
They are the dharmadhatu, though they are imagined to be otherwise.

39. When sound and ear assume their right relation,
A consciousness free of thought occurs.
These three are in essence the dharmadhatu, free of other characteristics,
But they become "hearing" when thought of conceptually.

40. Dependent upon the nose and an odor, one smells.
And as with the example of form there is neither arising nor cessation,
But in dependence upon the nose-consciousness’s experience,
The dharmadhatu is thought to be smell.

41. The tongue’s nature is emptiness.
The sphere of taste is voidness as well.
These are in essence the dharmadhatu
And are not the causes of the taste consciousness.

42. The pure body’s essence,
The characteristics of the object touched,
The tactile consciousness free of conditions—
These are called the dharmadhatu.

43. The phenomena that appear to the mental consciousness, the chief of them all,
Are conceptualized and then superimposed.
When this activity is abandoned, phenomena’s lack of self-essence is known.
Knowing this, meditate on the dharmadhatu.

44. And so is all that is seen or heard or smelled,
Tasted, touched, and imagined,
When yogis [and yoginis]* understand these in this manner,
All their wonderful qualities are brought to consummation.

45. Perception’s doors in eyes and ears and nose,
In tongue and body and the mental gate—
All these six are utterly pure.
These consciousnesses’ purity itself is suchness’ defining characteristic.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Crazy Cloud

I'm just a white cloud
getting blown around crazily
in unfathomable space.
in a past life,
I was Ikkyu Sojun.

Friday, November 1, 2013

If You Ever Get to Zhenzhou, Try the Big Turnips!

Don't get confused! Even if you're having a deluded thought,
your perceiving of the deluded thought is Still, Clear & Bright,
can't be nailed down anywhere in ten directions, isn't born, doesn't die.
It's the One Great No-thing upholding both Heaven & Earth --
unmisted Dark Brilliance, agleam like black lacquer.