Teachings

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What Do You Call it?

· Teachings · , , , , , , , ,

by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi


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Book of Serenity Case 74

Fayan’s Non-Abiding

The Pointer

Plenty has myriad virtues; swept clear, there’s not a mote of dust.
Detached from all forms, identical to all things: taking a step atop a hundred foot pole,
the universe in all directions is one’s whole body—but tell me, where does it come from?

Main Case

A monk asked Fayan, “I hear that in the teachings there is a saying‚
‘From a non-abiding basis are established all things.’
What is the non-abiding basis?”
Fayan said, “Form arises before substantiation,
names arise from before naming.”

Verse

Without tracks, No news
The white clouds are rootless—What color is the pure breeze?
Spreading the canopy of the sky, mindless,
Holding the carriage of the earth, powerful;
Illumining the profound source of a thousand ages,
Making patterns for ten thousand forms.
Meetings for enlightenment in the atoms of all lands
in each place is Samantabhadra:
The door of the tower opens
everywhere is Maitreya.

 

The enlightened path is to practice and awaken to the Buddha mind that each and every one of us possesses. Though it is our very nature—it is never apart even for an instant—to directly realize this truth is both subtle and profound. To engage the teachings that point to self-nature is also a challenge. There are teachings that are challenging and so we need to engage them thoughtfully and carefully, and take time trying to understand what they are saying. This means that in the beginning we are using our rational mind to reflect on and understand conceptually what the dharma is pointing to—something that is itself, beyond all concepts and knowing.

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Photo by John Daido Loori, Roshi

Miraculous Communication

· Open Access, Teachings · , , ,

by Eihei Dogen


The miracles I am speaking of are the daily activities of buddhas, which they do not neglect to practice. There are six miracles [freedom from the six-sense desires], one miracle, going beyond miracles, and unsurpassable miracles. Miracles are practiced three thousand times morning and eight hundred times in the evening. Miracles arise simultaneously with buddhas but are not known by buddhas. Miracles disappear with buddhas but do not overwhelm buddhas.

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Words and Phrases

· Dharma Discourses, Teachings · , , , , , , , , , , , ,

by Vanessa Zuisei Goddard, Sensei


The poet Wallace Stevens wrote:

After the final no there comes a yes
And on that yes the future world depends.
No was the night. Yes is this present sun.

The last line of the poem reads, “It can never be satisfied, the mind, never.” Is this true, that the mind can never be satisfied? From a conventional perspective, from the perspective of desire, we would say, “Yes, it’s true.” The mind always wants more and more, and this endless wanting  keeps the sense of self going. As Annie Dillard once said, the mind wants to live forever. But is it possible for the mind to be satisfied—to know itself as complete and without lack?

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photo by Chizen Brown, MRO

With Nothing to Call My Own

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by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

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Book of Serenity Case 14

Attendant Huo Passes Tea

The Pointer

Probing pole in hand, shadowing grass around him, sometimes he wraps a ball of silk in iron, sometimes he wraps a special stone with silk. To determine the soft by means of the hard is of course right; what about the matter of being weak when meeting strength?

Main Case

Attendant Huo asked Deshan, “Where have all the sages since antiquity gone?”
Deshan said, “What? How’s that?”
Huo said, “The order was for a ‘flying dragon’ horse but a ‘lame tortoise’ shows up.” Deshan let it rest.
The next day when Deshan came out of the bath, Huo passed him some tea.
Deshan patted Huo on the back. Huo said, “This old fellow has finally gotten a glimpse.” Again Deshan let the matter rest

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photo by Andrew Xu

Cultivating Gratitude

· Essays, Teachings · , , , , , , , , ,

by Jan Chozen Bays, Roshi


It is ironic that in countries where food is abundant, disharmony with food and eating is most common. Americans appear to have a particularly unbalanced and often negative relationship with food. In the 1990s, a research team led by an American psychologist and a French sociologist teamed up to do a study of cross-cultural attitudes toward food. They surveyed people in the United States, France, Flemish Belgium, and Japan. They found that Americans associated food with health the most and pleasure the least. For example, when Americans were asked what comes to mind when they hear the words “chocolate cake,” they were more likely to say “guilt,” while the French said “celebration.” The words “heavy cream” elicited “unhealthy” from Americans and “whipped” from the French. The researchers found that Americans worry more about food and derive less pleasure than people in any other nation they surveyed.

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photo by William Carpenter

The Lessons of Gratitude

· Essays, Teachings · , , , ,

by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

These two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful and thankful for a kindness done.”

AN 2.118

In saying that kind and grateful people are rare, the Buddha isn’t simply stating a harsh truth about the human race. He’s advising you to treasure these people when you find them, and—more importantly—showing how you can become a rare person yourself.

Kindness and gratitude are virtues you can cultivate, but they have to be cultivated together. Each needs the other to be genuine —a point that becomes obvious when you think about the three things most likely to make gratitude heartfelt:

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Ask the One Who Knows

· Dharma Discourses, Teachings · , ,

by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Gateless Gate Case 47

Doushuai’s Three Barriers

Main Case

Master Doushuai made three barriers to test his students.
To inquire after the truth, groping your way through the underbrush, is
  for the purpose of seeing your nature.  Here, now, where is your nature,
  Venerable Monk?
If you realize your own nature, you are certainly free from life and death.
  When your eyes are closed, how can you be free from life and death?
If you are free from life and death, you know where you will go. When the
  four elements are decomposed, where do you go?

Commentary

If you can rightly give the three turning words here, you will be the master wherever you may be, and live up to the Dharma no matter how varied the circumstances. If, however, you are unable to give them, I warn you, you will get tired of the food you have bolted, and well-chewed food keeps hunger away.

Verse

This one instant, as it is, is an infinite number of kalpas
An infinite number of kalpas are at the same time this one instant.
If you see into this fact,
The True Self which is seeing has been seen into.

If you’re free from life and death you know where you will go. When the four elements are decomposed, where do you go? This is the question that human beings have likely been asking since the beginning of our creation. Having a life force, what happens when we die? In death, where do we go?

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Right View Comes First

· Teachings · , , , , ,

by The Buddha

Monks, right view comes first. And how does right view come first? One understands wrong view as wrong view and right view as right view: this is one’s right view. And what is wrong view? There is nothing given, nothing sacrificed, nothing offered; there is no fruit or result of good and bad actions; there is no this world, no other world; there is no mother, no father; there are no beings spontaneously reborn; there are in the world no ascetics and brahmins of right conduct and right practice who, having realized this world and the other world for themselves by direct knowledge, make them known to others. This is wrong view. And what is right view? Right view, I say, is twofold: there is right view that is affected by influxes, partaking of merit, ripening in the acquisitions; and there is right view that is noble, free of influxes, supramundane, a factor of the path.

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Why Do Beings Live in Hate?

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by The Buddha


 

Sakka, ruler of the devas, asked the Blessed One: “Beings wish to live without hate, hostility, or enmity; they wish to live in peace. Yet they live in hate, harming one another, hostile, and as enemies. By what fetters are they bound, sir, that they live in such a way?”

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The Perception of Sages

· Teachings · , , ,

by Zen Master Xiatang


To learn to be a Buddha, first you should break through the seeds of habit with great determination, and then be aware of cause and effect so that you fear to do wrong. Transcend all mental objects, stop all rumination. Don’t let either good or bad thoughts enter into your thinking, forget about both Buddhism and things of the world. Let go of body and mind, like letting go over a cliff. Be like space, not producing subjective thoughts of life and death, or any signs of discrimination. If you have any views at all, cut them right off and don’t let them continue.

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