Saturday, January 26, 2019

Joy and Fear (an article by Elihu Genmyo Smith)

The 6th Ancestor, Huineng, taught, “sitting means not giving rise, not holding, to thoughts regarding whatever objects; zen means seeing, experiencing, our nature without becoming perturbed.” He also said, “Not seeing others and circumstances in terms of right or wrong, good or bad, or shortcoming is imperturbable nature.”

Right here is joy. Right here is intimacy.

If we do see others and circumstances in terms right or wrong, good or bad, noticing this seeing others and circumstances in these terms - experiencing this - right here, in these specifics, is our practice, including doing what is skillfully called for from us.

When believing fear, believing hate, holding and acting out fear and hate, we miss the joy and intimacy right here. We perpetuate separation and suffering. Fear and hate perpetuate self-other dualism - in perceptions, actions and habits, thus causing suffering and harming.

This believing, this holding and acting out of hate and fear keeps us from this life, keep us from manifesting this joyous life – though we can’t be other than this. They cover up luminosity, cover up this luminosity that is joy right here, this intimacy moment. Instead, we stew in the arising fear and hate stories, in greed and anger. We harden them in seeming self-centeredness that we believe as truths, in life habits within which we become trapped. Based on these self-centered habits and confusions, we react to life circumstances in anger and greed. Such suffering! Such harming! Please notice when and how these arise for you.

Often there is little immediate choice in the arising of fear, of hate, the arising of anger and greed. They seem to appear as aspects of this ecology that we call self, this cause effect manifesting in body, feeling, thoughts, discriminatory creations and so forth. This is exactly our practice effort opportunity; as it is appropriate, each of us must skillfully make this practice effort.

Fear may be a whisper or quaking and haunting, hate a tickle or raging. Fear may not be sensed until it has been manifested for a while in various forms. Sometimes we sense fear bodily, sometimes in thoughts, in feelings, in stories, in justification, in reactive habits or even in flight. Hate may be justified in personal, familial, social or political ways, even in bodily raging. Please see how it is for you when these arise, what practice is called for.

Of course, fear and hate are often so mixed that only when we reflect, or even notice and talk about it, that we can sense this. The specifics, your specifics, my specifics, are what is important- important as our life practice. Whatever and how ever it manifests, when we notice this, whether “early” or “late”, that is when we can and must attend to this.

Some people say “they are the problem, I have the solution.” Or even worse, “we are the solution, you are the problem” -such nonsense. Recently, and in the past, variations of this have led to hate, violence, murder and genocide. It has become a theme in current social and political talk, with variations in regular use here in the US, in Europe, throughout the world. Please see when and where this is so in your life, please do what is called for from you when noticing this.

It is in the midst of this moment arising, noticing this, this is where, when, how there is choice; this is the opportunity for each of us.
The practice may be noticing how we are believing and clinging to knowing - this knowing of what is so, what I (and others) are and aren’t, what I should or should not do, what they should or should not do. Zazening is residing as not-knowing, not-holding in the midst of arising knowing. Can you do this? Will you do this? Not some idea, thought or another belief. Experiencing, this moment body-mind, even in the midst of knowing, in the midst of believing – this bodily experiencing right here, not clinging to body-mind, not holding to knowing, not holding to not- knowing. What is not-knowing? This ongoing changing - experiencing universe in many directions, in myriad dimensions. This is cultivating the joy we are.

The Heart Sutra states, “With no hindrance in mind, no hindrance, therefore no fear.” How is this for you? Is there fear for you? Please clarify this fear arising hindrance, please embody hindrance fear, please be this intimacy life in the midst of fear. Only thus can your Heart Sutra continue, “Far beyond deluded thoughts, this is nirvana.” Only thus can right here now be so for you.

Experiencing is zazening, is being this moment; even being what we do not want. Please cultivate this joy. This is non-thinking - which does not exclude thinking, does not attempt not-thinking, does not attempt something, does not even attempt “does not attempt.” This right now -“Vast emptiness, no holiness.” Right here – “don’t know.” This intimacy here.

What helps us, what helps you, inhabit not-knowing, be not-holding, in the midst of the arising habit of knowing and clinging? This is your zazen, this just now practice moment, this ever shifting practice moment, this effort opportunity and skill that is your ongoing practice; experiencing - ongoing zazening in myriad forms; this reveals, nurtures and supports, cultivates and manifests. And this is your bravery – to be this, to do this – rather than entangling and acting out the habits of fear or reactive hate, anger and greed in speech and action; being this rather than the clung to knowing and likes-dislikes. Zazening in the midst of this, zazening in the midst of the clung to knowing and likes-dislikes. Experiencing is the intelligence, effort and willingness to do this moment, being this moment, this zazen, that offers, reveals and nurtures our life, your life. Be the Bodhisattva you are. Be the Buddha you are.

© 2019 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Kōmyōzō zanmai:
The Practice of the Treasury of Luminosity
by Koun Ejō zenji (1198-1282)
translated by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi
And Yasuda Joshu Dainen roshi

From beginninglessness, this samadhi is the seat of Awakening, the Ocean of Awake Awareness. This zazen is the Buddha's own practice, the sitting as Awake Awareness which is transmitted from Buddha to Buddha. You are a child of the Awakened Ones, so sit calmly in his own seat. Don't sit like a hell dweller, a hungry ghost or animal, a human being or jealous beings, or shining beings, those with only hearsay knowledge or those who fabricate enlightenment experiences. Just practice this just sitting of shikan-taza. Do not waste time. This is the practice place of Ordinary Mind. This is the complete practice of the Treasury of Luminosity. This is inconceivable freedom.

Full text available at:
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