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#2654 - Monday, November 27, 2006 - Editor: Gloria Lee

The Nondual Highlights    

The purpose of studying Buddhism is not to study Buddhism, but to study ourselves.

--Shunryu Suzuki, "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind"

An ambassador of enlightenment The man who brought Zen to the West
By ERIC PRIDEAUX   [A new documentary directed by Michael Goldberg explores the life of Japanese Buddhist author and scholar Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki.]    

Delivering the opening assessment of Suzuki's work in the documentary is Pulitzer prize-winning poet and one-time Zen initiate Gary Snyder. "He's probably the most culturally significant Japanese person, in international terms, in all of history," says Snyder, who spent many years in Japan, starting in the 1950s, as a Zen adept. To that, eminent U.S. religious scholar and student of Zen Huston Smith adds, "(Suzuki) . . . made Buddhism burst like a bomb on America."

What is Zen? During Zen sitting meditation, called zazen, practitioners sit in lotus position, half-lotus or the Japanese kneeling position called seiza. Some schools of Zen emphasize "just-sitting" meditation without any particular goal, while others focus on the breath and the contemplation of paradoxical riddles called koan.

The late American pioneer of Zen, Philip Kapleau, who had studied under Suzuki at Columbia University in New York before being ordained as a teacher of the spiritual practice himself, wrote in his widely read book "The Three Pillars of Zen" that, "At its profoundest level, Zen, like every other great religion, transcends its own teachings and practices, yet at the same time there is no Zen apart from these practices."

But let us listen to Suzuki himself, who comments on the question in the documentary.

"Zen denies everything we do, everything we say, everything we write. But at the same time, Zen writes, Zen speaks. Zen acts -- does all kinds of things," he tells a listener. In another clip: "What distinguishes Zen from all the rest of religious teachings, or from the rest of Buddhist teachings, perhaps, is this: psychologically speaking, to become conscious of the unconscious; morally, to be attached and not attached."

from      film's website   

  Alan Larus photos  

"The dharma of thus-ness is intimately transmitted
By Buddhas and ancestors. 
Now you have it, preserve it well.

A silver bowl filled with snow, a heron hidden in the moon. 
Taken as similar, they are not the same;
Not distinguished, their places are known. 
The meaning does not reside in the words,
But a pivotal moment brings it forth.

Move and you are trapped; miss and you fall into doubt and
vacillation.  Turning away and touching are both wrong,
for it is like massive fire.  Just to portray it in literary form
is to stain it with defilement.  In darkest night it is perfectly
clear; in the light of dawn it is hidden.

It is a standard for all things; its use removes all suffering. 
Although it is not constructed, it is not beyond words. 
Facing a precious mirror; form and reflection behold each other. 
You are not it, but in truth it is you.

Like a newborn child, it is fully endowed with five aspects. 
No going, no coming, no arising, no abiding;
a baby babbles - is anything said or not? 
In the end it says nothing, for the words are not yet right.

In the illumination hexagram, apparent and real interact;
stacked together they become three, the permutations make five,
like the taste of the five flavored herb,
like the five pronged vajra.

Wondrously embraced within the real, drumming and singing begin
together.  Penetrate the source and travel the pathways;
embrace the territory and treasure the roads.  You would do well to
respect this; do not neglect it.

Natural and wondrous, it is not a matter of delusion or
enlightenment.  Within causes and conditions, time and season,
it is serene and illuminating.  So minute it enters where there
is no gap, so vast it transcends all dimension.  Just a hair's
breadth's deviation, and you are out of tune."

--Zen Master Tozan Ryokai

From the Great Vow Monastery Chant book
posted to Daily Dharma

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