Archives

Photo by Kevin Harber

What Do You Call it?

· Dharma Discourses, Open Access · ,

by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi


LISTEN TO THIS TALK>

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.

Read more

Wordless Words

· Editorial, Open Access · ,

Editorial: by Suzanne Taikyo Gilman

In creative work, facing a blank page or canvas calls for patience as we attune and express ourselves—a patience much like the receptive stillness of zazen. In zazen itself, we renounce our storytelling and let contact with mind deepen. The instructions to “let thoughts go” seem to defy the impulse to create, to narrate, to write the next line. And yet, language can also reveal the universe, our home beyond words.

Read more
Photo by Steve Dorman

The Speech of Beings

· Articles & Essays · ,

by David Abram

The blades of my paddle slice the smooth skin of the water, first on one side and then on the other: klishhh…kloshhh…klooshhh…kloshhh… The rhythm matches the quiet pace of my breathing as I rock gently from side to side, gliding over the gleaming expanse of sky; the luminous vault overhead mirrored perfectly in the glassy surface. Tall, snowcapped mountains rise from the perimeter of this broad sea, and also seem to descend into it. In front of me, to the west, are the peaks of the Alexander Archipelago, the long cluster of islands off the southeast coast of Alaska; behind me are the glacier-hung peaks of the coast range. The liquid speech of the paddle sounds against the backdrop of a silence so vast it rings in my ears. The sky arcs over this world like the interior of a huge unstruck bell; the hanging sun is its tongue.

Read more
Photo by John Daido Loori, Roshi

Miraculous Communication

· Articles & Essays, Open Access · ,

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.

Read more
Photo by Barbara Mazz

Word Problems

· Articles & Essays · ,

by Cormac McCarthy


call it the Kekulé Problem because among the myriad instances of scientific problems solved in the sleep of the inquirer Kekulé’s is probably the best known. He was trying to arrive at the configuration of the benzene molecule and not making much progress when he fell asleep in front of the fire and had his famous dream of a snake coiled in a hoop with its tail in its mouth—the ouroboros of mythology—and woke exclaiming to himself: “It’s a ring. The molecule is in the form of a ring.” Well. The problem of course—not Kekulé’s but ours—is that since the unconscious understands language perfectly well or it would not understand the problem in the first place, why doesn’t it simply answer Kekulé’s question with something like: “Kekulé, it’s a bloody ring.” To which our scientist might respond: “Okay. Got it. Thanks.”

Read more
Photo by Matthew

This Page Ripped Out and Rolled into a Ball

· Poems · ,

by Brendan Constantine


A rose by any other name     could be Miguel     or Tiffany     Could be

David or Vashti     Why not Aya      which means beautiful flower    but

also verse and miracle     and a bird     that flies away quickly    You see

where this is going       That is     you could look at a rose      and call it

You See Where This Is Going     or I Knew This Would Happen     or even

Why Wasn’t I Told      I’m told of a man      who does portraits for money

on the beach      He paints them with one arm     the other he left behind

in a war      and so he tucks a rose into his cuff      always yellow     and people

stare at it      pinned to his shoulder      while he works      Call the rose

Panos       because I think that’s his name      or call it      A Chair By The Sea

Point from the window     to the garden     and say    Look a bed

of Painter’s Hands     And this is a good place     to remember the rose

already has many names     because     language is old and can’t agree

with itself      In Albania you say Trëndafil      In Somalia say Kacay

In American poetry      it’s the flower you must never name     And now

you see where this is going      out the window      across water

to a rose shaped island      that can’t exist      but you’re counting on

to be there     unmapped       unmentioned till now     The green place

you imagine hiding      when the world finds out     you’re not

who you’ve said


Copyright © 2018 by Brendan Constantine. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 25, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Read more
Photo by Matthew

The Language of Trees

· Articles & Essays · ,

by Peter Wohlleben

According to the dictionary definition, language is what people use when we talk to each other. Looked at this way, we are the only beings who can use language, because the concept is limited to our species. But wouldn’t it be interesting to know whether trees can also talk to each other? But how? They definitely don’t produce sounds, so there’s nothing we can hear. Branches creak as they rub against one another and leaves rustle, but these sounds are caused by the wind and the tree has no control over them. Trees, it turns out, have a completely different way of communicating: they use scent.

Read more
Photo by Chizen Brown, MRO

Opening the Hand of Thought

· Articles & Essays · ,

by Kosho Uchiyama, Roshi

Study and practice the buddhadharma only for the sake of the buddhadharma, not for the sake of human emotions or worldly ideas.

This is the most important point for us as students of Dogen Zenji. No one emphasized practicing buddhadharma only for the sake of the buddhadharma more than he. I think the most important expression in his teaching is buddhadharma. Despite that, we’ve become so familiar with the expression that we often pass over it without considering what it really means.

Read more
Photo by CBS Fan

Words and Phrases

· Dharma Discourses, Open Access · ,

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?

Read more

According to the Gospel of Yes

· Poems · ,

by Dana Levin


It’s a thrill to say No.

The way it smothers

everything that beckons—

Any baby in a crib

will meet No’s palm

on its mouth.

And nothing sweet

can ever happen

to No—

who holds your tongue captive

behind your teeth, whose breath

whets the edge

of the guillotine—

N, head of Team Nothing,

and anti-ovum O.

And so the pit can never

engender

the cherry—

in No, who has drilled a hole

inside your body—

No.

Say it out loud.

Why do you love the hole

No makes.


Copyright ©2017 by Dana Levin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day by the Academy of American Poets.

Read more