by Elihu Genmyo Smith
This moment ongoing changing is the perfect manifesting of myriad forces coming together as our life now.
Experiencing is yours right now – no one else’s. This perfection right now is all particular experiencing of this moment, including the “good fortune” to be born human, to encounter and be able to practice.
As we sit, as we practice, we may discover how often and how much we are confused by words. Misunderstanding words (whether our own or that of others), being misused by words or using words to misunderstand life, we can miss this life we are, miss this experiencing moment.
Despite hearing “life is perfect as is,” that this Buddha nature is who we are, we may connect perfection with what I like as opposed to don’t like, what happens in the way that I want it to happen as opposed to don’t want it to happen. We may add other connotations and ideas about perfection or perfect. We may believe that perfection excludes effort right now, activity right now.
Experiencing is intimacy; being intimacy is this moment zazen. Intimacy may be this fear which we want to escape, this comfort, this discomfort, being friends with hard-to-be, grueling and exhausting to be, friends with what want and with what do not want, with what is painful to be. Experiencing is “being friends” intimacy – zazen life intimacy.
Though life is always right here, many of us rarely are this, despite not being able to miss this. We may hold to reacting as habits of like, dislike, good, bad, mine and not-mine - and thereby miss this unmissable moment. Does fear, holding to fear, keep us from experiencing? Believing fear is not experiencing fear – and yet noticing believing fear is exactly the opportunity of experiencing, experiencing visceral intimacy, experiencing this fear. Not easy - but this is ours.
When holding to and reacting from stories, we may be living as if we are a separate self (“somewhat” fixed, permanent), living in opposition to “others” (“somewhat” fixed, permanent, separate). We live “I”, “me” and “mine”- with harmful consequences. We attach to particular positions and, being caught and entangled by these, deny and reject our life experiencing, not seeing or doing what life calls for. Do you see this in your life? We are unable or unwilling to experience what does not fit our positions, refusing this ongoing changing that is life now. Instead, we believe stories, believe theories and dreams, believe reactive habits, and in believing these, we do all sorts of things based on them which results in unsatifactoriness and harm. When you see this in your life, this is your practice effort opportunity.
Seeing “harmful” things that people do may make it difficult to embrace this moment, this life, as perfection. We run from this moment - and sometimes we run into stories and ideas about who is good and bad, what should and shouldn’t happen, or into theories of blame and explanations – judgments of self-other such as “they are communist, capitalist, they are radicals, conservatives, they are white, black, privileged, racist, Muslims, Evangelicals, Jews” - and use these to justify anger, hatred and harming. What judgments do you hold? Based on this what do you do? Who is holding these judgments?
This moment cause-effect is the perfect universe, our opportunity to do our best now. We may hold to blame or anger for the forces coming together as this life now. Believing blame and judgment, we miss this right now. How do you maintain the precepts of the perfection of life, of not elevating self and putting down others, of not speaking of the faults of others? What is living your boundless experiencing?
The perfection that is our life is this moment now exactly as it is. Is this so for you? Is this not so for you?
We are the forces manifesting our life, the life of all beings we encounter: rich, poor; healthy, sick; strong, weak; nice, mean; vicious, angry, kind. It is not necessary to know what they all are - and sometimes looking for these creates difficulties. Everyone, everything, these circumstances now, the very habits and reactions of greed anger and ignorance which we humans manifest and are blinded by, are perfect manifestations of cause-effect life, perfect manifestations of this ongoing change Buddha nature. And in perfection is the opportunity to actualize the wisdom-compassion we are, which is being human, skillful appropriate effort and actions. This is your many hands-and-eyes Bodhisattva life.
This minutely subtle dharma moment of myriad forces includes reacting now – and our capacity of noticing-experiencing, even experiencing problematic consequences. Doing what is called for is manifesting this bodhisattva compassion wisdom that is not-two life, is “improving” perfection, manifesting perfection.
Yours is acting in the midst of caught-up attachments – in the midst of being blinded and hindered by attachment or caught-upness, in the midst of arising theories, blame or justifications. Seeing what is called for right now is in the midst of life reactive habits and hang-ups, all the people and circumstances of this moment. It is not some idealized person. Forgetting self and manifesting this unborn Buddha is this moment opportunity.
“The perfect way knows no difficulty, just avoids picking and choosing,” (Xinxin Ming, “On Believing Mind,” attributed to the Third Ancestor Sēngcàn [Sosan in Japanese]).
This life perfection is only troubled in holding to likes and dislikes, holding to reactions to what is so, despite the perfection of likes and dislikes. Yes, there are reactions to illness that we “don’t want” or “deserve”; the words that we don’t want others to say but they say nevertheless, difficulties and violence locally, nationally or internationally.
We may find that this perfection is not okay with us. OK.
OK if we want it a certain way, if we don’t want it a certain way; if we want it not to change, if we want it to change, fine; and yet holding to those wants, getting entangled in those wants and reacting – right here is dukkha, unsatisfactoriness and suffering. And right here is experiencing hindering, including noticing-experiencing holding and wants. Where is this opportunity in your life? With whom? When? Here is your practice effort, your practice vow.
It is for each of us to notice this, to create and use these supports enabling us to live these particulars moment-moment life - with friends, family, co-workers and strangers.
Perfection is your life, our life. Forgetting this is the perfection of ongoing change, is cause-effect this moment universe. We forget it sometimes by justifying feeling-thoughts such as I don’t like it - and therefore I shouldn’t have it and so I can be angry, sad and so forth. No problems with these, with any attempted changes, no problems with likes and dislikes - except as they blind us, except as we hold to this justification for anger, harm, stress, fear. They are this ongoing change life, this universe which includes liking, not liking; happy about, unhappy about; fearful of what will be, especially fearful given that we fall apart in some ways that we don’t want to, encounter disappointment and what we do not want, illness of self or others, encounter death.
We make difficulty in resisting the perfection of changing circumstances, resist embracing the many aspects of small and big dying. Please use these, experiencing seeing, hearing, feeling. These are our zazen, our practice opportunity, allowing and opening to this nurturing moment, doing what is called for as our life.
We are not opening to something else or elsewhere. The perfect way knows no difficulty – difficulty is not difficulty, closing-up no problem. This moment perfection is not distant for us. This is not-two - exactly who we are; not-two, not separate from this moment. But if we use how I feel and don’t want to feel to miss life, use how I think, use what should or shouldn’t be to justify doing what causes harm, unsatisfactoriness and suffering for us and others, then we lose our life, lose our opportunity of skillfully manifesting the way, skillfully responding as this ongoing change.
So, be this perfection, the perfect way that is not difficult, that releases holding to likes and dislikes. Allow and be this coming-going moment conditions. Allow and manifest this spaciousness that you are – here is experiencing. This moment is the perfection of life way, the perfection of our encounters and actions. This appreciation moment is it. Take good care, serve and enjoy the perfection that you are, this intimacy now.
© 2016 Elihu Genmyo Smith