Tuesday, July 24, 2018


Elihu Genmyo Smith

Immediacy - this is the whole of our life. Immediacy is natural intimacy, the Buddha teaching – this joyous life. And yet we may find all sorts ways this is not so for us.

We might find that we are acting out clinging of habits and beliefs that seem to get in the way of living joyously. Are we this moment, ongoing-changing, or do we hold to self-centeredness and reactions, to fixedness of self-other, and miss this? Do we abide non-clinging, abide non-abiding? Please notice what is so for you; this noticing enables practice effort, supports and nurtures this immediacy right here life.
Shakyamuni Buddha was asked, “In what way, Lord, can it be briefly explained how a monk becomes liberated by the elimination of craving?” The Buddha replied “…..Here, Moggallāna, a monk has learned this: ‘Nothing is fit to be clung to!’ When a monk has learnt that nothing is fit to be clung to, he directly knows everything… whatever feeling he experiences, be it pleasant, painful, or neutral, he abides contemplating impermanence in these feelings, contemplating dispassion, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. When thus abiding, he does not cling to anything in the world; without clinging he is not agitated; and without agitation he personally attains the complete extinction of defilements. (AnguttaraNikiya 7:58)

Despite being this immediacy, we avoid this. Despite listening to someone - even as they speak - we may not be hearing, listening, being that person speaking to me. We are interpreting what they say, reacting to it, thinking about what we need to say or not say - our reasons, excuses, explanations, responses. We cling. Even if we know cognitively, conceptually, that nothing is fit to be clung to, even if we decided not to cling, we find clinging occurring for us. And thus we miss the immediacy of hearing, of opening to words, thoughts, feelings, life of the universe. This is all the more so when we hold to and feed anger, greed or delusions.

Though we may know that all things are impermanent, we may “get” conceptually that nothing is fit to be clung to, most of us much of the time for-get this. We cling to things, emotion-thought, beliefs about things and circumstances, often as a result of various forms of self-centeredness arising.

Moment, moment, we must respond to clinging in a skillful way – this is our practice effort; our practice effort when we note that clinging arises, occurs, entangles. Of course, clinging, attachment, being caught, is the indulging arising reactions of greed, anger and delusions. And this reactiveness clinging arises not just “with” people. Even while eating we may be not-tasting, not-feeling, not-chewing; eating without experiencing. This moment walking - and because we already know and are caught up in where we are going or have been, what needs to be done, we may miss this step, this breeze, these blowing branches and leaves, the birds and insects singing the sutras.

Notice that the Buddha begins with “Nothing is fit to be clung to!” and only later states, “When a monk has learnt that nothing is fit to be clung to, he directly knows everything… whatever feeling he experiences, be it pleasant, painful, or neutral, he abides contemplating impermanence in these feelings.” It might seem that one should ponder and clarify impermanence and from that knowledge one would know to cease to cling. Unfortunately, though we might “know” impermanence cognitively, the habits of clinging, attaching, reacting, are much deeper than that. It is only when we notice self-centered thinking and attaching, self-centered reacting, and opening-shifting from the “holding, attaching and reacting” to experiencing, to this moment experiencing, that this “knowing impermanence” may be so for us. We do practice, “noticing” over and over as is skillful - and at some point we get this in our bones and marrow, bones marrow body-mind gets the clarification, experiencing “Nothing is fit to be clung to”- and thereby “abide contemplating impermanence.”

Zazen, zazening, is the immediacy of being upright Buddha - being breathing, being thoughts coming-going, feelings coming-going. Unfortunately, often we miss this moment, we refuse the immediacy of coming-going. Instead, we build on thoughts, feelings, entangle in them, react to them. When noticing this, we can use various forms of practice effort such as to clarify “is this belief so?”, clarify “not fit for clinging”, looking “who” is clinging, noting the believed emotion-thought or do other skillful practice which supports and nurtures this moment experiencing, this moment as is – clarifying for our self that “whatever feeling he experiences, be it pleasant, painful, or neutral, he abides contemplating impermanence in these feelings.” So please release this refusing to be present, notice this held emotion-thought, this reactiveness, and do what is skillful - be right here.
Immediacy is form, immediacy is emptiness. Shiki Soku Ze Ku Ku Soku Ze Shiki in the Japanese version of the Heart Sutra - form immediacy is emptiness, emptiness immediacy is form. Soku Shin Ze Butsu, this immediacy mind-heart is Buddha; this immediacy mind-heart-life, immediacy Buddha.

Life “as is” the only teacher, the only expression, the only revelation - the awakened life, this universe moment. Life “as is” Buddha, this encountering intimacy. “Being just this moment, compassion’s way” - immediacy is compassion's way. Immediacy - nothing extra needed. Immediacy is birthright, this unborn face, not-dying face - just this. Saying this is extra, especially if we think and plan immediacy, how do I get to immediacy - we miss this un-miss-able. It is not a basis for judgment or thinking about, this is your face, your name, your life, your universe, this moment.

“Studying the Buddha Way is studying self; studying self is forgetting self; forgetting self is being awakened by myriad-things universe; being awakened by myriad-things universe is being freed from body-mind and that of others; no trace of awakening remains, and traceless awakening continues endlessly.” (Eihei Dogen, Genjokoan).

© 2018 Elihu Genmyo Smith