Thursday, November 29, 2018

Vast Emptiness 11/25/18

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Just This

by Elihu Genmyo Smith


This is enough. Nothing more to say.

Yet we need to be reminded. Just this; Being just this.
Dogen begins Fukanzazengi stating, “The Way is originally perfect and all pervading.” Hakuin begins Zazen Wasan by reminding us, “Sentient beings are primarily all Buddhas.”

Dogen’s statement is enough. Hakuin’s statement is enough. Yet, it does not seem so in our life, just as the Buddha saying “All beings are the wisdom and perfection of the Tathagata” (Avatamsaka Sutra) is not enough for us – witness what we do and how we live. As the Buddha continues, “because of delusion and attachment they do not realize this and suffer.”

Yes, we find that throughout the day we are missing this. In fact, much of the time we are missing this, missing being this that we are. What are we doing instead? Are we in conflict or opposition with aspects of life as it is? If so, we need to be reminded that “life as it is” is our ongoing teaching – is our opportunity to be revealed as what is so, to reveal what is so. This is seeing how and where “to practice”, to manifest this.

Unfortunately, we often do not see what practice requires of us, what this universe requires of us. So we must clarify the needs for practice and the forms of practice. And in fact, soon after their introductory statements, both Dogen and Hakuin clarify the need for practice effort and what practice effort is.

Similarly, the Third Chinese Ancestor Sengcan begins the verses of Trust in Mind (Xinxin Ming), “The Perfect Way is not difficult, just refuses picking and choosing…” and then states, “if you are off by a hairsbreadth, heaven and earth are set apart.”

Our almost pervasive habits of self-centeredness mean we must attend to practice, our life practice, at many times in the day, in the week. I want, I do not want, she has, she does not have, he should, he should not, I need, they do not need, he gained, she lost – these and many variations of them, when arising and believed, when attached to rather than simply passing, rather than noticing-experiencing, when caught in, entangled in and acted out, lead to many difficulties, suffering and harming.

We may even fight this moment because it seems to be changing from what we believed it was or should be. We become angry, greedy or simply confused, are overwhelmed by sadness or enraptured by our specialness - and more. What we know cognitively, even emotionally, slips away and reactive habits seem to take over.

This is how and where ongoing zazening is required, this is our practice, this is when the consequences of our formal and informal zazen comes to the fore.

This is why we must do zazen in the many moments of life, despite the truth that from the beginning, there is no need to do zazen, there is nothing lacking this moment, nothing extra right here now.
This extends in many directions. The many directions are past, future, present. The many directions are physical and other realms, self and others, all just this. If we believe that this is more because it “also” extends in many directions, many so called past present future, if we hold onto this extending in many directions, including so-called others, then this holding onto can be a trap. All of this is right here. And this all right here is just this.

If this excludes the myriad directions, myriad beings, then this is a trap. This includes not-this, though not-this is not excludable. If this is not encountered intimacy, if this here is not others, then we have been trapped by “not other.”

This is doing this, being this, arising this, passing this, experiencing this, responding this, excluding this, embracing this, deluding this, liberating this, awakening this. This is beyond this, this is not other than this.

This. Just this.

Though I say this, the word may not be of much use to me or you, not worth much in the face of the moment reactive habits of not being present, in the face of seemingly long-standing tendencies of seeing life only through the lens of the reactive habits of belief and tendencies, and therefore refuse the universe of right now as is, refuse this.

We must notice when greed self-centeredness arises, when anger self-centeredness arises, when delusionary self-centeredness arises. The delusions are the stories about this universe life, just this – yet in holding to delusions as other than stories, the holding justifies and maintains self-centeredness reactive habits, justifies clinging. Then delusions are the stories which generate and justify anger and greed in myriad reactive forms.
Which this do you resist, which this do you deny?

In noticing, we can allow the natural arising-passing; allow the holding to open so that arising can pass in awakening to this as is, in being experiencing life this moment, in compassionately taking care of and responding - and even improving this.

This. Just this.

Each of us gets to embrace the whole universe in our own way, live this in our own way. Therefore, it is for each of us to take care of the universal zazening life we are, as best we can, as compassionately supportive we can make our life circumstances. What do you do?

© 2018 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Bernie Glassman Memorial Sesshin 11/8/18; Not Knowing 11/9/18; Bearing Witness, Loving Action 11/10/18; Closing Remarks 11/11/18