What is Nonduality
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Issue #1850 Tuesday, July 6, 2004
bubbles were floating on the surface of a stream.
'What are you?' I cried to them as they drifted by.
'I am a bubble, of course' nearly a myriad bubbles answered,
and there was surprise and indignation in their voices as they passed.
But, here and there, a lonely bubble answered,
'We are this stream', and there was neither surprise nor indignation in their voices,
but just a quiet certitude.
- Wei Wu Wei from Ask the Awakened
Moment after moment, thoughts and feeling arise, and they come and go. There are some thoughts that we feel pleased to welcome when they arrive. There are other thoughts that we simply do not want to have. And there is the fact that these thoughts are continually arising moment after moment after moment and filtering our view of our experience so that we continually fall into points of view that are very partial, very biased.
Some of the ways in which this bias arises we can describe as the three klesas: passion, aggression, and stupidity. So that there are things that we like and we tend to draw them towards us, thinking that somehow they will enrich us, somehow we can have something from them. Somehow, we have some kind of fundamental poverty, some fundamental lack that this thing, this object, this person, this event will fill. Finding that this isn't so, we continually grab. There are things that we feel threaten us, things that bother us, things that irritate us, that push at us, that impinge on us and so we have aggression. We set up a boundary, a territory, and then struggle to defend it continually. But the enemy is not only without, but within. And so the struggle goes on.
And then there is the klesa of stupidity. Finding that we can only maintain passion for so long, we can only maintain aggression for so long, for the most part we lapse into a kind of apathy in which we don't really see, we don't really hear. Most of the people that you meet you never look at in the eyes. Most of the people you listen to, you're spending most of that time waiting for them to shut up so that you can say something or just waiting for them to shut up and go away. So this is part of how our confusion manifests.
It also manifests much more deeply, much more subtly as "self and other", "this and that". It manifests even more subtly as what we believe to be a body, what we believe to be a mind, what we believe to be time and space. We have all kinds of beliefs, all kinds of conceptions, all kinds of points of view that we fall into that do not match our experience. And so we call this confusion, or we might call it dukkha; we might call it suffering.
Since there is so much attachment to our confusion, when we begin to practice and we begin to realize that there is a possibility of clarity, a possibility of wisdom, we want to release our attachment to confusion and we want to grab on to clarity. We want to hold on to clarity. But the whole source and root of confusion is attachment and to become attached to clarity, to become attached to wisdom, is simply confusion. It is in directly recognizing confusion as it arises that wisdom also arises. If we believe that wisdom or clarity is a state without confusion, at the moment that we are confused then wisdom is completely separate from us. At that moment being confused, wishing to be clear, wishing to have wisdom, we try to impose some state upon ourselves that is not present. And so we enter into conflict, we enter into struggle, because we are being far too simple-minded. We are being quite idiotic about the whole matter of practice. Or some moment of clarity arises and we congratulate ourselves. We start to compare it to our confusion and say "Oh this is so much better". But this state is not wisdom. This moment of clarity is perhaps a glimpse of what our experience is like when we are not hiding from it, when we are not falling into points of view. But as soon as there is the slightest measure of attachment, of identification with this state, then we have become confused, because this state will go, confusion will arise once more.
Now when you sit, you get lost in a thought and then you wake up and you come back and you might feel frustrated that you have continually become lost in thought or become localized or contracted around a sound or a pain in the knee, some sensation which is present. Or you are following the breath and there is this sense of being somebody who is following the breath which you sense as a kind of hesitation, which you sense as something that just is not necessary, some kind of holding and seeing this you become more and more frustrated because you want to let go of it, you want to do something that you might have heard of, like becoming one with the breath, and so the frustration builds. Perhaps at such a moment, what we can do is drop the image that we have at that moment of what we should be like and attend to how we are.
Instead of trying to "become one" with the breath, which is simply a conditional state of concentration in any case rather than a direct insight into the nature of our experience, and instead of berating ourselves for having been lost in a thought, perhaps we could recognize that at the moment that we notice that we are not mindful, mindfulness is present. Perhaps then we begin to allow ourselves some room, some space in which whatever is arising for us can arise. If there is enough space, then whatever arises will go. Quite simply, quite clearly it will self-liberate rather than our having to do something to liberate ourselves from it. The thought, the feeling, the conception will self-liberate.
- excerpt from "Confusion is the Mother of Wisdom" from a Dharma Assembly Presented by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi Zazen-ji, May 1991
More here: http://www.wwzc.org/translations/Confusion_is_the_Mother_of_Wisdom.htm
ode to This
i have no onions, or pearls, or blue pearls,
no artificial sweeteners, no fancy This or That,
no cat in the hat, no bright light around me,
no following in india, no retreat house in costa rica,
no american ashram, no golden temple,
no little white church, no flowing gowns,
no stones in a circle or photos of clowns
i don't have rocks from special mountains,
got no inner circle, no levels or rungs,
no superman here, nor spidy either,
no Blessings, no Glories, (can't deny Grace)
don't balance chakras, don't count my beads,
i hate wake up calls, but often say please,
no snakes or ropes by this computer,
no grokking, no being, i don't be, i ain't here now,
i definitely don't love myself, in the way that i "should",
seen too many hearts dotting i's
i don't talk to fairies, i don't channel lizards,
i have seen people awake, sleeping and dead
i have no idea "what is" or "what isn't",
threw the stars and moons out, no more cds with waves,
unplugged the zen clock that awoke me,
sold my encyclopedias of goddesses, angels and Eygypt
sometimes i still expected a miracle or two,
i kept my eyes open at satsang, i didn't sing along at church,
i didn't focus on what the buddhist monk said i "should",
i didn't do those affirmations, i didn't create more positive thoughts,
i didn't leave screaming from a well-known teacher's talk,
my self-control appears pretty amazing till you know it's not me,
i didn't throw my water bottle at the girl with the head,
i didn't yell at that one guy "just shut up, please shut up"
luckily i realize i'm just not that wise
so even when they tell me i don't exist,
i just close my eyes
i've got no petals today, i don't have a stem, i've got no fragrance,
i 'm definitely not this, and probably not that,
i still hate laundry, i never liked carrying water,
chopping wood might be ok if i felt better with an axe,
the cushions i never sat on are at the back of my closet,
i don't have cool mediation shawls, i don't have a better teacher,
i don't qualify for the intensive for repeating intensivites,
i don't do the work, i don't care if they think it's true,
i don't sink alleluia, i don't repeatedly chant.
i don't light sticks, ring special bells, my crystals got chipped,
forgot there used to be tarot, medicine, animal cards and runes,
(but the truth is when i heard a guru died i felt very sad),
public tv haunts me when i surf by, why, why why i think,
is this one man repeating his sappy spiritual mumbo jumbo,
how good white guys with good thoughts get rich and are holy
but he doesn't make me drink, and he doesn't make me think
i'm done signing emails with peace, well just for today,
or with love, light and laughter, come what ever may
i don't claim a dark side, a shadow, or demons,
no light body, nor black hole, i've got no inside at all,
i don't love others the way i love myself, and
i've seen the martyr in kindness, expecting reward
i'm not a sheep, goose or cow, just plain human if that,
i don't think i'm a lemming though i do watch the news,
& it might be argued we're heading over the edge
i jumped long ago, i can't handle drugs,
sometimes the world is even more than enough,
i don't want "it", i don't get it, a while back, i gave it away,
i've had it, i've read it, i've blissed it and resisted it,
i've got no path, nor a road, no cave or a river,
forget the gates too, gateless or not, open or shut
i don't evolve in how to's, steps, or formulas,
since all numbers are my favorite i refuse to pick any,
i paint outside the lines, on the floor and the grass,
i don't have any powers of now, or of then, just because,
i could tell you what might happen but i doubt that you'd like it,
nothing is perfect, and i could say i truly love nothing, or not,
and though i don't get paid for nothing, i do it anyway
and i usually say nothing, until i don't
i'm not going to hug everybody, maybe shake hands,
i might win staring contests, so what, i don't try,
i'm definitely not responsible unless it was all my fault,
even then i'll probably argue it out,
the simplest of how are you's and it all pours out,
they tell me what's going on, it appears that i care,
sometimes depending, i just couldn't care less,
but i'd be lying if i said that was absolutely true,
& if you're reading this, of course, i didn't mean You.
i'm not sleeping or dreaming, i'm sitting this one out,
i'm not really me, even at the best of my times,
for i rarely feel like staying just in the mind,
i can speak no final truth, not of emptiness or fullness,
which ultimately and only, brings me to This.
- Josie Kane on GuruRatings
From the beginning, all beings are Buddha;
Like water and ice, without water no ice,
Outside us, no Buddhas.
How near the Truth, yet how far we seek!
Like one in water crying, "I thirst",
Like the son of a rich man
Wandering poor on this earth,
We endlessly circle the Six Worlds.
From dark path to dark path
We've wandered in darkness.
How can we be free from the wheel of Samsara?
The Perfection of freedom is Zazen-Samadhi,
Beyond exaltation, beyond all our praises,
The pure Mahayana.
Observing the precepts, repentance and giving,
The countless good deeds, and the Way of Right Living,
All flow from this Zen.
Even one meditation extinguishes evil;
It purifies karma, dissolving obstruction.
Then where are the dark paths to lead us astray?
The Pure Lotus Land is not far away.
Hearing this Truth, heart humble and grateful,
To praise and embrace it, to practice its wisdom,
Brings unending blessings, brings mountains of merit.
But if we turn directly, and prove our True Nature,
That true Self is no-self,
Our own Self is no-self,
We stand beyond ego and past clever words.
Then the gate to the oneness of cause-and-effect is thrown open:
Not two, and not three,
Straight ahead runs the Way.
Now our form is no-form,
So in coming and going we never leave home.
Now our thought is no-thought,
So our dancing and songs are the voice of the Dharma.
How bright and transparent the moonlight of Wisdom!
What is there outside us, what is there we lack?
Nirvana is openly shown to our eyes.
This earth where we stand is the Pure Lotus Land,
And this very body, the body of Buddha!
- Zazen Wasan Song of Zazen by Hakuin
no earth - but still
A dead chrysanthemum
and yet - isn't there still something
remaining in it?
- Takahama, Kyoshi
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