I thought we could do with a thread about the Zen-ness of things, where people could drop off texts or quotes or images that reminded them of Zen, to serve as a source of inspiration and insight. So hereby the first contribution, translated from the original Dutch by Google.
What is not-knowing really? Well, I can't tell you that. Nobody can tell you that, because it is free to interpret.
But what not knowing means to me at the time of writing this (which is long gone by the time you read this) I can tell you.
Right now, not knowing for me means swimming around freely in endless fields of meaning as dense as kelp forests without getting caught up in them.
A minute later...
I had not yet expressed that meaning when it shifted ten degrees in longitude and fifteen in latitude.
Just at this moment - I'm writing as fast as I can - not knowing means to me to swim peacefully in the endless space between fields of meaning as dense as kelp forests without feeling lost anymore.
A minute later...
I had not yet put that shifted meaning into words when it shifted another twenty degrees in height and thirty in depth.
At this very moment not-knowing means to me to wander freely about endless fields of meaning as dense as kelp forests and to lose myself completely.
A minute later...
Now you know what not-knowing 3, 2 and 1 minutes ago meant to me, but that should not be called a definitive interpretation.
Coincidentally, the definitive interpretation that I previously had in mind or think I had in mind comes to mind right now, so that if I hurry up a bit, I can still share it with you.
At this very moment not-knowing is to me the unimaginable and (as yet) irreversible self-awareness of my thinking - not gradually but suddenly, as if you are emptying a sea - that cannot be subdued or without words.
Putting into words records what is loose, silence silences what lives, and in that field of tension a game of calling and recalling spontaneously arises, resulting in one errant text after another, now this very one.
The trouble is, you think you have time.
Possibly some zen!
A minds acquisition & understanding of a perfect description of zen is limited by that same minds habituated need to value a sense of self before others.
For this reason, many descriptions of zen are given some mystical inferences that are frankly just lures to attract one in before its following hook.
In the actual practice of Zen, when the minds illusionary fiefdom starts to crumble, that mind gets to share in some understanding with it's other fellow senses, of every thing that was formally hidden by it's own self-centeredness.
Zen's practice is of delusion's loss. To describe a practice of Zen you need only describe the processes resulting in that loss.
Zen describes how to stop empowering our conditioned responses to phenomena that otherwise obscures the unborn, undying and unconditioned experiences of our life from simply illuminating their original natures.
I have yet to see a Buddhist practice that didn't also show me some of this same zen.
Pleased to say my golden Buddha lost his head. Luckily I had a Hotei Bodhi who had lost an arm to fill the emptiness.
Meanwhile my Tao fisher man has a pole but no line, hook or water. Even the vase of fish is empty.
So, again, what is Zen? Stop now. Stop trying to get an intellectual lock on something that is vast and boundless, far more than the rational mind can grasp. Just breathe in with full awareness. Taste the breath. Appreciate it fully. Now breathe out, slowly, with equal appreciation. Give it all away; hold onto nothing. Breathe in with gratitude; breathe out with love. Receiving and offering—this is what we are doing each time we inhale and exhale. To do so with conscious awareness, on a regular basis, is the transformative practice we call Zen.
Hmm it remains on the tip of the tongue....
Due to a lack of Zen gardens to wander through locally, I did a little wandering online, and found it very restful to just look at images of beautiful gardens all over the world. A taster...
No Water, No Moon
In this way and that I tried to save the old pail.
Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break.
Until at last the bottom fell out.
No more water in the pail!
No more moon in the water!
Zen Flesh Zen Bones- the poem written by Sister Chiyonos about her eventual enlightenment after trying - to no apparent avail - to get results from meditation.
You reminded me of one of my favorite poems...
You stop to point at the moon in the sky,
but the finger's blind unless the moon is shining.
One moon, one careless finger pointing --
are these two things or one?
The question is a pointer guiding
a novice from ignorance thick as fog.
Look deeper. The mystery calls and calls:
No moon, no finger -- nothing there at all.
After reading the Other Shore by Thay I was inspired to pick up my copy of Infinite Circle by Bernie Glassman just to see the contrast. I have to say the two commentaries of the Heart Sutra compliment each other nicely.
I think Infinite Circle has to be one of my all time favorite books of Zen simply for the change of perception it opened me up to.
Tosui was a well-known Zen master in his day. He had lived in several temples and taught throughout the country. His popularity became so great that the last temple where he lived could no longer cope with the number of students. Tosui concluded that the lurking personality cult would be a block in the path of his students. Tosui called all his students together and said he would give up teaching. He advised them to go apart, to wherever they wanted. Then he disappeared into the city.
Three years later, a former student discovered him under a bridge in Kyoto, where he was living with some homeless people.
The student begged Tosui to teach him. Tosui replied, "If you can do what I do for a few days, I'll think about it." His former student dressed as a beggar and stayed with Tosui. The next day, one of the homeless people with whom Tosui lived under the bridge died. Tosui and his student carried the body to a mountainside at night and buried it there. They returned to their spot under the bridge, Tosui fell asleep immediately, but his apprentice did not sleep that night. The next morning, Tosui said, "We don't have to go out begging today, our dead friend left his food for us." But the apprentice couldn't get a bite down his throat and sat gloomily in a corner. Tosui looked at this and after a while said, "I had a suspicion that you would not be able to do what I do. Go away and stop bothering me”.
Holy Sugar Puffs. Meditation is useless? I needs a new type of cushion?
Consolatory poems, incites and mulch raking pics to the usual address ...
The Record of Linji.
"44.a. One day the master and Puhua went to a vegetarian banquet given them by a believer. During it, the master asked Puhua: "'A hair swallows the vast ocean, a mustard seed contains Mt. Sumeru' – does this happen by means of supernatural powers, or is the whole body (substance, essence) like this?" Puhua kicked over the table. The master said: "Rough fellow." Puhua retorted: "What place is this here to speak of rough and refined ?"
b. The next day, they went again to a vegetarian banquet. During it, the master asked: "Today's fare, how does it compare with yesterday's?" Puhua (as before) kicked over the table. The master said: "Understand it you do – but still, you are a rough fellow." Puhua replied: "Blind fellow, does one preach of any roughness or finesse in the Buddha-Dharma?" The master stuck out his tongue."
"Keep your heart clear and transparent
And you will never be bound.
A single disturbed thought, though,
Creates ten thousand distractions.
Let myriad things captivate you
And you'll go further astray.
How painful to see people
All wrapped up in themselves."
I like this tree, it stands in my back garden. The way it is silhouetted reminds me of the search for the essential, how things often come down to a core or essence.
I came across this picture online and thought that was very Zen, the way the water sort of fades into the whiteness and leaves just the stones...
The person who lives in the dream,
The person who lives while awakening,
Both are in the dream,
The same way of human being.”
(Hasegawa, Seikan. The Cave of Poison Grass. Great Ocean Publishers. 1972. ISBN 0-915556-01-4: p. 151)
Studying texts and stiff meditation can make you lose your Original Mind.
A solitary tune by a fisherman, though, can be an invaluable treasure.
Dusk rain on the river, the moon peeking in and out of the clouds;
Elegant beyond words, he chants his songs night after night.”
When one goes to Obaku temple in Kyoto he sees carved over the gate the words “The First Principle.” The letters are unusually large, and those who appreciate calligraphy always admire them as being a masterpiece. They were drawn by Kosen two hundred years ago.
When the master drew them he did so on paper, from which workmen made the larger carving in wood. As Kosen sketched the letters a bold pupil was with him who had made several gallons of ink for the calligraphy and who never failed to criticize his master’s work.
“That is not good,” he told Kosen after the first effort.
“How is that one?”
“Poor. Worse than before,” pronounced the pupil.
Kosen patiently wrote one sheet after another until eighty-four First Principles had been accumulated, still without the approval of the pupil.
Then, when the young man stepped outside for a few moments, Kosen thought: “Now is my chance to escape his keen eye,” and he wrote hurriedly, with a mind free from distraction. “The First Principle.”
“A masterpiece,” pronounced the pupil.
"You can not catch hold of it,
nor can you get rid of it...
In not being able to get it,
you get it.
When you speak it's silent
When you're silent it speaks."
(Food for non thought)
Here is my favourite zen poem and image
[lobster removes both and a third]
I came across this today... it costs 24.95 euro’s including next-day delivery, and apparently raking the sand helps as a method of stress reduction, for those who cannot devote their entire back yard.
@Kerome save your money for sand.
I comb my hair at least once a day. Does that count as Zen ra-king?
Also that toothbrush and denture dish is zen minus ...
Anybody like to buy an authentic zen representation of the Sahara desert (raked by wind) I have stabilised it and called it Zen Sand Paper Origami?
Also working on a moon direction pointer aka finger
An automated finger I hope @lobster? Something which uses complex algorithms to determine where to point, only to find that the moon has wandered from its theoretical position...
“Glory to Buddha
On a pedestal of grass
I am still finding 4k streaming on youtube.
Today virtually visited the busy temples and parks of Tokyo.
stones sitting with moss
I am Ground
I’ve been saving stickers they give you at the supermarket, for every 10 euro’s you spend you get a sticker. You put these into leaflets, and for every full leaflet you can buy a pan from a very good brand. So I was thinking there is bound to be something that I want there in the selection. But now that I have a full leaflet I’ve looked at the pans, and there is nothing that I need.
Oh the irony, saving for things you don’t want or need...
A man went to a Buddhist monastery for a silent retreat. After he finished, he felt better, calmer, stronger, but something was missing. The teacher said he could talk to one of the monks before he left.
The man thought for a while, then asked: “How do you find peace?”
The monk said: “I say yes. To everything that happens, I say yes.”
When the man returned home, he was enlightened.
It strikes me that a lot of life is like that, saying no to things is clinging to that which must change. Saying yes, accepting, is letting go of what was there and instead welcoming the new.
The Zen teacher’s dog loved his evening romp with his master. The dog would bound ahead to fetch a stick, then run back, wag his tail, and wait for the next game. On this particular evening, the teacher invited one of his brightest students to join him – a boy so intelligent that he became troubled by the contradictions in Buddhist doctrine.
“You must understand,” said the teacher, “that words are only guideposts. Never let the words or symbols get in the way of truth. Here, I’ll show you.”
With that the teacher called his happy dog.
“Fetch me the moon,” he said to his dog and pointed to the full moon.
“Where is my dog looking?” asked the teacher of the bright pupil.
“He’s looking at your finger.”
“Exactly. Don’t be like my dog. Don’t confuse the pointing finger with the thing that is being pointed at. All our Buddhist words are only guideposts. Every man fights his way through other men’s words to find his own truth.”
That last sentence in particular I find true. Often in the words of others there are things we don’t immediately understand, that we struggle to interpret. Finding the truth in those words can be a difficult art, and the truth that results is uniquely ones own.
Saying yes to everything that happens is sometimes called idiot acceptance and is actually the antithesis of enlightenment. Imagine trying to explain your "yes" doctrine to all the victims of the many horrors in mankind's history that have simply occurred from folks saying yes when they should have said No!
After you say yes to my posting here, check out Jim Carry's film "Yes Man" for an idealistic viewing of Hollywoods version of your suggestion that also might explain why Harvey Weinstein succeeded for so long in getting away with his predations.
Saying yes to everything that happens is as formulaically limited as saying no to everything that happens, whereas being free of any predilection to saying one over the other allows for attitudes to better interact with the fluidic nature of reality.
Well, the story says “to everything that happens, I say yes”. That doesn’t mean you have to actively participate in everything that happens, merely that when it comes in front of you, you say yes to it, you accept it.
On seeing a tragic car accident, you say yes, it happened. You don’t wander around in denial, trying to say it shouldn’t be so. It also doesn’t stop you from giving first aid to the survivors.
You find yourself in 1933 in Germany. Hitler is in power. Yes, it happened, accept it. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something about it, if it comes in your path.
Somebody offers you a syringe full of heroine. If it happens, accept that it happens. But gracefully refusing it is also something that can happen. It’s a choice.
A young physician in Tokyo named Kusuda met a college friend who had been studying Zen. The young doctor asked him what Zen was.
“I cannot tell you what it is,” the friend replied, “but one thing is certain. If you understand Zen, you will not be afraid to die.”
“That’s fine,” said Kusuda. “I will try it. Where can I find a teacher?”
“Go to the master Nan-in,” the friend told him.
So Kusuda went to call on Nan-in. He carried a dagger nine and a half inches long to determine whether or not the teacher was afraid to die.
When Nan-in saw Kusuda he exclaimed: “Hello, friend. How are you? We haven’t seen each other for a long time!”
This perplexed Kusuda, who replied: “We have never met before.”
“That’s right,” answered Nan-in. “I mistook you for another physician who is receiving instruction here.”
With such a beginning, Kusuda lost his chance to test the master, so reluctantly he asked if he might receive Zen instruction.
Nan-in said: “Zen is not a difficult task. If you are a physician, treat you patients with kindness. That is Zen.”
Kusuda visited Nan-in three times. Each time Nan-in told him the same thing. “A physician should not waste time around here. Go home and take care of you patients.”
It was not yet clear to Kusuda how such teaching could remove the fear of death. So on his fourth visit he complained: “My friend told me when one learns Zen one loses the fear of death. Each time I come here all you tell me is to take care of my patients. I know that much. If that is your so-called Zen, I am not going to visit you any more.”
Nan-in smiled and patted the doctor. “I have been too strict with you. Let me give you a koan.” He presented Kusuda with Joshu’s Mu to work over, which is the first mind enlightening problem in the book called The Gateless Gate.
Kusuda pondered this problem of Mu (No-Thing) for two years. At length he thought he had reached certainty of mind. But his teacher commented: “You are not in yet.”
Kusuda continued in concentration for another year and a half. His mind became placid. Problems dissolved. No-Thing became the truth. He served his patients well and, without even knowing it, he was free from concern over life and death.
Then when he visited Nan-in, his old teacher just smiled.
Subhuti was Buddha’s disciple. He was able to understand the potency of emptiness, the viewpoint that nothing exists except in its relationship of subjectivity and objectivity.
One day Subhuti, in a mood of sublime emptiness, was sitting under a tree. Flowers began to fall about him.
“We are praising you for your discourse on emptiness,” the gods whispered to him.
“But I have not spoken of emptiness,” said Subhuti.
“You have not spoken of emptiness, we have not heard emptiness,” responded the gods. “This is true emptiness.” And blossoms showered upon Subhuti as rain.
I would rather sink to the bottom of the sea for endless eons than seek liberation through all the saints of the universe.
Everyday is a good day.
Vast emptiness, nothing holy!
Keep your mind alive and free without abiding in anything or anywhere.
— Diamond Sûtra