Friday, June 22, 2018

When 6/17/18

Friday, June 1, 2018


Elihu Genmyo Smith

Being awake - there is no need to say “being awake”, to make anything of being awake, much less about how to awaken - just being awake.

Immediacy – this universe is our life, this universe intimacy, this Awakened life. However, when dreaming and suffering, then please discover being awake, clarify being awake. When dreaming, because of dreams and inaccurate perceptions which we take as reality and as a basis for beliefs, feelings and acting, we do inappropriate harmful things. We miss this, miss life, this very Buddha moment. In the midst of troubling dreaming, when fearful and confused or in some other way struggling, we bump into things physically, emotionally, missing this moment – noticing this, we know something is necessary. Noticing this, there are practice efforts and actions to awaken, come out of the suffering dream, to cease holding to dreaming.

Believing being asleep is dreaming, believing dreaming is dreaming, believing being awake is dreaming.

I may find myself struggling and doing things to get away from what is painful, unpleasant and suffering. Body-mind efforts, ways of breathing and concentrations are intended to “encourage awakening”, to assist coming awake “from” troubling dreams of self-centeredness - self-other dreams manifested in like-dislike-hate, mine-not mine, and as greed, anger and fundamental delusion. Yet, even if we “have” a glimmer of awakening, are “partially” awake, some of what we do may not be skillful.

When fully asleep and comfortable, there is no effort to awake – we just sleep and dream. When troubled and noticing dreaming, noticing we are “caught up”, we want to do “something” to not be troubled by this dream and cease causing trouble; sometimes we even want to “go back to” sleep and dream comfortably. Even when troubled dreaming, I may not see practice that is skillful, or which I am willing to undertake, so as to awaken, to “end” troubles and difficulties.

It requires great courage and bravery to undertake a practice clarifying or challenging fundamental self-centeredness; this is especially so if many times during the day in the midst of troubling self-centered behavior I insist that I am not asleep, that I am not dreaming. Self-centeredness is strongly engrained and enticing. Holding on to likes and dislikes, want and do-not want, mine and not-mine, this insistence of “not-dreaming” is re-enforced; nevertheless, in holding to self-centered functioning troubling dreams and harming occurs.

The Buddha’s teaching is of awakening, of being Buddha, Awakened - which is truly who each of us is, who all that we meet are. When troubled by delusionary dreams we may need encouragement and assistance to clarify the sources of troubling, suffering, and to skillfully reveal this awakened life and the practice supports of how to awaken and stay awake.

Sila (Precepts), Samadhi (Meditation), Prajna (Wisdom) [Kai, Jo, E in Japanese] are 3 facets of Buddha Teaching Practice. They are our Awakened life. And they nurture each other as ongoing interrelated facets of this life - if this is not so for you then please work with them skillfully. They are united in zazen, in zazening, all manifested in zazen Buddha life.

As the 6th Ancestor clarifies, “without any wrong is the precepts of one's own nature…without disturbance is the meditation of one's own nature… without ignorance is the wisdom of one's own nature.”

Samadhi is experiencing without self-managing experiencing - bodily experiencing, being the Samadhi presence-ing without holding to self-centeredness directing and judging experiencing. Just this, abiding as non-abiding– this moment body-mind-universe functioning. Not sticking to habits of thoughts, likes-dislikes, wanting-not-wanting, self-other or mentally directing experiencing. If need be, we use various expedients like breath, centering, to enter and enable being this moment; enable and nurture zazen, being enabled and nurtured in zazen. This is not adding or special, it is ceasing the extra, the clinging, that we habitually believe – this is zazen.

This is not a thing, much less some extra thing, some special thing other than this life. Because it is so, we need not stick to such words – except as that might be skillful and useful. The 6th Ancestor clarifies that our life zazening is “without obstacle, without hindrance.”

Dualistic functioning misses this not-two, misses this life – even the concept “practice” misses, if we believe it as other than a provisional description.

Ok to miss, except that missing sometimes is an aspect of troubling suffering or harming – and therefore we must do our best in the midst of the opportunities life offers.

As reactive bodily habits arise, when we find that we are following them, then noticing emotion thought, noticing resistance to Sila Precepts guidelines, is called for.

Sila/Kai/precepts are the supports and reminders when habit reactions, such as greed, anger or delusions, arise; this is nurturing Samadhi zazening when samskara habits, karmic habits of body-mind, arise. At the same time, the support of our Sila life is zazen, this moment Samadhi experiencing which is zazening.

The intermingling of Sila and Samadhi manifests as Prajna, wisdom of clear seeing, experiencing, this moment life as is – which is Buddha Dharma. Each facet interpenetrates the others, is another side and name of the “others.”

The above words are intended as a support when in the midst of the troubling dreaming. Supporting awakening when we misconstrue life, the Tathagata reminds us (Diamond Sutra), “like a dewdrop, a bubble, a dream, a flash of lightening, thus should we consider this.”

“Without-characteristics (wu-xiang) is being free from characteristics in the midst of characteristics, non-thought (wu-nian) is not-thinking in regard to thoughts, non-abiding (wu-zhu) is a person’s original nature.” The 6th Ancestor further clarifies, “Zuo/Za/sitting is not giving rise to thought externally regarding any object, chan/zen/meditation is seeing nature without perturbation,” or he states elsewhere, “chan as externally free of characteristics, stillness is internally without confusion.”

Please excuse these too many words - being awake, there is truly no such need.

Row, row, row your boat,
gently on the stream,
merrily, joyfully, lovingly, compassionately,
life is just this dream.

© 2018 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Caught 5/20/18

Sesshin Dharma Talks - Opening Remarks 5/23/18; Fukanzazengi 1 5/24/18; Fukanzazengi 2 5/25/18; Fukanzazengi 3 5/26/18; Fukanzazengi 4 5/27/18

Fukan Zazengi

Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen by Dogen Zenji
Soto School Translation

The way is originally perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent on practice and realization? The true vehicle is self-sufficient. What need is there for special effort? Indeed, the whole body is free from dust. Who could believe in a means to brush it clean? It is never apart from this very place; what is the use of traveling around to practice? And yet, if there is a hairsbreadth deviation, it is like the gap between heaven and earth. If the least like or dislike arises, the mind is lost in confusion.

Suppose you are confident in your understanding and rich in enlightenment, gaining the wisdom that knows at a glance, attaining the Way and clarifying the mind, arousing an aspiration to reach for the heavens. You are playing in the entranceway, but you are still short of the vital path of emancipation.

Consider the Buddha: although he was wise at birth, the traces of his six years of upright sitting can yet be seen. As for Bodhidharma, although he had received the mind-seal, his nine years of facing a wall is celebrated still. If even the ancient sages were like this, how can we today dispense with wholehearted practice?

Therefore, putaside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest. If you want to realize such, get to work on such right now.

For practicing Zen, a quiet room is suitable. Eat and drink moderately. Put aside allinvolvements and suspend all affairs. Do not think "good" or "bad." Do not judge true or false. Give up the operations of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop measuring with thoughts, ideas, and views. Have no designs on becoming a buddha. How could that be limited to sitting or lying down?

At your sitting place, spread out a thick mat and put a cushion on it. Sit either in the full-lotus or half-lotus position. In the full-lotus position, first place your right foot on your left thigh, then your left foot on your right thigh. In the half-lotus, simply place your left foot on your right thigh. Tie your robes loosely and arrange them neatly. Then place your right hand on your left leg and your left hand on your right palm, thumb-tips lightly touching. Straighten your body and sit upright, leaning neither left nor right, neither forward nor backward. Align your ears with your shoulders and your nose with your navel. Rest the tip of your tongue against the front of the roof of your mouth, with teeth together and lips shut. Always keep your eyes open and breathe softly through your nose.

Once you have adjusted your posture, take a breath and exhale fully, rock your body right and left, and settle into steady, immovable sitting. Think of not thinking, "Not thinking --what kind of thinking is that?" Nonthinking. This is the essential art of zazen.

The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside.

When you arise from sitting, move slowly and quietly, calmly and deliberately. Do not rise suddenly or abruptly. In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred, and dying while either sitting or standing, have all depended entirely on the power of zazen.

In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout --these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views?

This being the case, intelligence or lack of it is not an issue; make no distinction between the dull and the sharp-witted. If you concentrate your effort single-mindedly, that in itself is wholeheartedly engaging the way.

Practice-realization is naturally undefiled. Going forward is, after all, an everyday affair.

In general, in our world and others, in both India and China, all equally hold the buddha-seal. While each lineage expresses its own style, they are all simply devoted to sitting, totally blocked in resolute stability. Although they say that there are ten thousand distinctions and a thousand variations, they just wholeheartedly engage the way in zazen. Why leave behind the seat in your own home to wander in vain through the dusty realms of other lands? If you make one misstep, you stumble past what is directly in front of you.

You have gained the pivotal opportunity of human form. Do not pass your days and nights in vain. You are taking care of the essential activity of the buddha-way. Who would take wasteful delight in the spark from a flintstone? Besides, form and substance are like the dew on the grass, the fortunes of life like a dart of lightning --emptied in an instant, vanished in a flash.

Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not doubt the true dragon. Devote your energies to the way of direct pointing at the real. Revere the one who has gone beyond learning and is free from effort. Accord with the enlightenment of all the buddhas; succeed to the samadhi of all the ancestors. Continue to live in such a way, and you will be such a person. The treasure store will open of itself, and you may enjoy it freely.

Opening Remarks   5/23/18                 
Fukanzazengi 1   5/24/18
Fukanzazengi 2   5/25/18
Fukanzazengi 3   5/26/18
Fukanzazengi 4   5/27/18