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#1707 - Friday, February 13, 2004 - Editor: Gloria

I am the ocean.
All the worlds are like waves.

This is the truth.

Nothing to hold on to,
Nothing to let go of,
Nothing to dissolve.

-Ashtavakra Gita 6:2

From "The Heart of Awareness: A Translation of the Ashtavakra Gita," by Thomas Byrom, 1990. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston.

as is the sea marvelous
from god's
hands which sent her forth
to sleep upon the world
  and the earth withers
the moon crumbles
one by one
stars flutter into dust
  but the sea
does not change
and she goes forth out of hands and
she returns into hands
  and is with sleep....   love,
     the breaking
of your
my lips

~ e. e. cummings ~
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Daily Dharma

"It is not the circumstances which arise as one's karmic vision that condition a person into the dualistic state; it's a person's own attachment that enables what arises to condition him." ~Sangy   From the book, “The Crystal and The Way of Light,” by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, published by Snow Lion.  

Every time a problem arises, the essential thing is to immediately become aware that the problem comes from our selfish mind, that it is created by self-cherishing thoughts. As long as you put the blame outside yourself, there can be no happiness.

-Lama Zopa Rinpoche, "Transforming Problems into Happiness"

Copyright Wisdom Publications 2001. Reprinted from "Daily Wisdom: 365 Buddhist Inspirations," edited by Josh Bartok,

TaoDeJing Calligraphy

A page from the manuscript by Chao MengFu, Ming Dynasty.
In the collection of National Palace Museum, Taiwan

Tao Te Ching ~~ Dao De Jing

41. What the Way is Like

When the wise hear the Way, they practice it diligently.
When the mediocre hear of the Way, they doubt it.
When the foolish hear of the Way, they laugh out loud.
If it were not laughed at, it would not be the Way.

Therefore it is said,
"The enlightenment of the Way seems like dullness;
progression in the Way seem like regression;
the even path of the Way seems to go up and down."

Great power appears like a valley.
Great purity appears tarnished.
Great character appears insufficient.
Solid character appears weak.
True integrity appears changeable.
Great space has no corners.
Great ability takes time to mature.
Great music has the subtlest sound.
Great form has no shape.

The Way is hidden and indescribable.
Yet the Way alone is adept
at providing for all and bringing fulfillment.


49 The Power of Goodness

The sage has no fixed mind,
She takes the mind of the people as her mind.

I treat the good as good, I also treat the evil as good.
This is true goodness.
I trust the trustworthy, I also trust the untrustworthy.
This is real trust.

When the sage lives with people, she harmonizes with them
And conceals her mind for them.
The sages treat them as their little children.

The Pivot - Chuang-tzu

Tao is obscured when men understand only one of a pair of opposites, or concentrate only on a partial aspect of being. Then clear expression also becomes muddled by mere wordplay, affirming this one aspect and denying the rest. Hence the wrangling of Confucians and Mohists; each denies what the other affirms, and affirms what the other denies. What use is this struggle to set up "No" against "Yes," and "Yes" against "No"? Better to abandon this hopeless effort and seek true light!

There is nothing that cannot be seen from the standpoint of the "Not-I." And there is nothing which cannot be seen from the standpoint of the "I." If I begin by looking at anything from the viewpoint of the "Not-I," then I do not really see it, since it is "not I" that sees it. If I begin from where I am and see it as I see it, then it may also become possible for me to see it as another sees it. Hence the theory of reversal that opposites produce each other, depend on each other, and complement each other.

However this may be, life is followed by death; death is followed by life. The possible becomes impossible; the impossible becomes possible. Right turns into wrong and wrong into right - the flow of life alters circumstances and thus things themselves are altered in their turn. But disputants continue to affirm and deny the same things they have always affirmed and denied, ignoring the new aspects of reality presented by the change in conditions.

The wise man therefore, instead of trying to prove this or that point by logical disputation, sees all things in the light of direct intuition. He is not imprisoned by the limitations of the "I," for the viewpoint of direct intuition is that of both "I" and "Not-I." Hence he sees that on both sides of every argument there is both right and wrong. He also sees that in the end they are reducible to the same thing, once they are related to the pivot of the Tao.

When the wise man grasps this pivot, he is in the center of the circle, and there he stands while "Yes" and "No" pursue each other around the circumference.

The pivot of Tao passes through the center where all affirmations and denials converge. He who grasps the pivot is at the still-point from which all movements and oppositions can be seen in their right relationship. Hence he sees the limitless possibilities of both "Yes" and "No." Abandoning all thought of imposing a limit or taking sides, he rests in direct intuition. Therefore I said: "Better to abandon disputation and seek the true light!"

Lee Love ~ E-zendo

Tenzo kyokun:

  From ancient times communities of the practice of the Way of Awake Awareness have had six office holders1 who, as disciples of the Buddha, guide the activities of Awakening2 the community. Amongst these, the tenzo bears the responsibility of caring for the community's meals. The Zen Monastic Standards3 states, "The tenzo functions as the one who makes offerings with reverence to the monks."

       Dogen speaks here about the Tenzo as being the person at the monastery who is putting fuel into the monk's engines.   (8^)

       I don't remember which teacher I heard say this, but it has always stuck with me and made me interested in cooking at the monastery.   He said, "Cooking food for another is the most intimate thing you can do for another person, without touching them."    You make them food that they will touch, taking into their body and use for their nourishment and as an aid to their practice.

         In any activity in your life, if you approach it in a devotional manner, done with the mind of consideration for others, it can be transformed into dharma practice.

       In Uchiyama Roshi's commentary on the Tenzo Kyokun, Refining Your Life, he tells this story:

       "One day Wuzhao was working as the tenzo at a monastery in the Wutai Mountains.  When the bodhisattva Manjusri suddenly appeared above the pot where he was cooking, Wuzhao beat him.   Later he said, 'Even if Shakyamuni were to appear above the pot, I would beat him, too!'"

       This relates to the advice that when we are sitting, we should just sit and when we are cooking, we should just cook.     This is called Shikan, from Shikan Taza, meaning "Just sitting."

Venerable Taizan Maezumi Roshi, 1931-1995


Your Zazen Is The Zazen Of The Buddhas

by Taizan Maezumi Roshi

At this time of the passing of the temple seal, we pay tribute to our founding abbot Maezumi Roshi by offering this teisho. On the occasion of this teisho, Maezumi Roshi was ill and was persuaded by his students to spend much of this sesshin in bed, taking care of himself. On the last day of sesshin, January 27, 1989, he came to the zendo, ill and coughing, and delivered these closing remarks.

In our practice, sitting is the key. Zazen is the center activity. How can we sit best? There are different schemes involved in sitting. For example, some of you just sit and some of you work on koans. The key question is how can each of you sit most effectively?

I remember when Yasutani Roshi (and Harada Sogaku Roshi) talked about shikantaza (just sitting). He would say that when you do shikantaza, you should have faith. When you work on koans, you should have faith. This faith has a particular connotation -- faith in the sense that you can do shikantaza. Or working on koans, faith in the fact that you can take care of the koan.

When you do shikantaza, have faith in the fact that your zazen is the same zazen as the zazen of the Buddhas and Patriarchs. Have this kind of faith. Then, just sit. Since your zazen is the same zazen as that of the Buddhas, you don't need to worry about anything: just sit. Appreciate that your zazen is the zazen of the Buddha. The zazen of Shakyamuni Buddha is okay; the zazen of the Buddhas and Patriarchs is okay. In other words, you are not sitting; Buddha is sitting.

In Zen terms we say honsho myoshu. Honsho means intrinsic enlightenment; myoshu, subtle practice. We say practice and enlightenment, or realization, are one. How is it one thing? When you sit, your zazen is the zazen of the Buddhas. Your zazen is sitting Buddha, or Buddha's zazen. So your practice is realization itself, enlightenment itself. Your zazen becomes anuttara samyak sambodhi itself. Have this kind of faith.

Usually when you do zazen, zazen becomes a cause to create some kind of effect, such as enlightenment, frustration, anger, or whatever arises. That is the wrong way to do zazen. Your practice is not something by which you attain some place else or something else. Your practice itself is a fulfillment of honsho myoshu, the originally enlightened life.

" . . . have faith in the fact that your zazen is the same zazen as the zazen of the Buddhas and Patriarchs."

It's not a matter of not expecting anything, or not striving to attain something else, but rather you don't need to. It's already here. That's what your life is. It's very, very true. Dogen Zenji says, "the Way is intrinsically, perfectly manifesting right here." Where? Always here! Realization or attaining enlightenment is nothing but to become aware of this fact, do you see? Our life as is. Everything is here.

How do we make our practice really effective? When you do shikantaza, just really do shikantaza. Let that shikantaza be the zazen of the Buddha. Then sit. Don't let yourself and Buddha be separate. Don't discriminate between Buddha and yourself. Just sit. Don't think about it, don't interpret your sitting. Try sitting in this way. That is the best practice. Just do it, and see how it goes.

When you work on koan, really work on koan. Koan is the absolute fact, truth, or evidence of life. What is that life? That life cannot be any other than this life that we are living. What is it? Some say it's Buddha, or Buddha mind, or Buddha nature, or empty, or Best Way, or the Supreme Way. Different words for the same thing.

What is it? I like that koan in which a monk asked Master Gensha, "What is the Buddha mind?" Gensha answered, "Shujo shin, sentient-beings mind." All-beings mind. The monk asks further, "What is all-beings mind?" (Roshi laughs) Gensha responds, "Buddha mind."

In our heads we create the difference between Buddha mind and all-beings mind. Of course, a very important function of the mind is to discriminate, or to be discursive, but we shouldn't make a problem of this functioning. This is a very important part of koan practice. So a koan can be very effective to cut through the discriminating mind.

" . . . Don't let yourself and the Buddha be separate . . .
just sit in this way, and see how it goes . . . "

When you sit shikantaza, you don't know what to do with this discriminating or discursive mind. It goes on and on and on, endlessly (laughing). How do you stop it? You can't stop it! Stopping this discursive mind is not the solution. So even shikantaza, just sitting itself becomes a koan.

Remember, when you sit, this very basic principle that practice and realization are one. Don't make practice and realization separate. How can you do this? Allow your zazen to be the manifestation of the intrinsically enlightened life itself. When thoughts come up, it's okay. Just let thoughts come up and let them go. Then, just sit. Try it.

When you sit in this way, then sitting, standing, walking, lying down all together becomes sitting. You will see a very new vision, new perspectives of life opens up for you. I appreciate your zazen as the most precious Dharma itself. In fact, your zazen is the most precious Dharma. That's what I most appreciate.

So, honsho myoshu, the subtle practice of intrinsic enlightenment, is a basic Soto tenet. Or, appreciating the intrinsic realization in our subtle practice. Let's not chase after something, but let's appreciate this very life, all the activities of life, as the manifestation of the intrinsic realization itself.

Let's just steadily keep on going.

Copyright 1999, Zen Center of Los Angeles

Ben Hassine ~ Awakened Awareness  

Typed from Day by Day with Bhagavan, pages 81 - 83  

Mr. Joshi asked: I am a householder. I have dependants and obstacles in the way of my spiritual progress. What should I do?  

Bhagavan: See whether those dependants and obstacles are outside you, whether they exist without you.  

Joshi: I am a beginner. How should I start?  

Bhagavan: Were are you now? Where is the goal? What is the distance to be covered? The Self is not somewhere far away to be reached. You are always that. You have only to give up your habit, a long standing one, of identifying yourself with the non-self. All effort is only for that. By turning the mind outwards, you have been seeing the world, the non-self. If you turn it inward you will see the Self.  

After this discourse, Lokamma began singing a Tamil song. Bhagavan at once said: "Mother used to sing this song very often. This repeats the very same thing we have been talking about now." Thereupon I asked Bhagavan who the author of the song was. He said: "Avudai Ammal. She has composed a great many songs. They are very popular in those parts (Madura and other nearby districts). Some of them have been published. Still so many remain unpublished. They have been handed down orally from generation to generation, mostly through women, who learn them by heart, hearing them from others and singing them along with those who already know them." I learnt now that Bhagavan's mother was illiterate. Bhagavan told me that, in spite of it, she had learnt by heart a great many songs. The song and its meaning are given below.

How did the Self that ever is
Awareness -- bliss,
How did It till now behave
As if It had begotten this?

Wonder of wonders, beyond understanding
Is your strange fear,
My Swan, my dear,
Your fear of me!

Mind learning, knowing and forgetting,
Body begotten, begetting and then dying,
Whence these impurities in Purity?
Bigness, smallness, class, rank, sight and seer --
Why these darkling waves in the full deep sea of bliss?

No need for speech or vow of silence;
No coming or going; no beginning, end or middle.
Nor light nor sound; no quality.
No separateness and hence no fear.
Oh wonder of wonders,
The things that seem
In a dream!

In and out, high and low, and all the ten directions
Lost in light illimitably vast,
Unbroken, unsupported, full and calm,
Pure Awareness, Bliss immutable,
The once-remote, long -- longed -- for goal
Now here, joy, joy!

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Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

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