Happy Vesak Day!

"The condition of practice-and-enlightenment

“Buddha” describes a person in the activity or condition of practice-and-enlightenment, the deepest meaning of the term "zazen." The keystone of Zen practice is not “sitting meditation” (though that is where it is often first discovered), it is “mustering the whole body-and-mind” and perceiving the world directly.

Seeing and hearing (as well as smelling, tasting, feeling, and thinking) sights and sounds (smells, tastes, sensations, and thoughts) with the ‘whole body-and-mind’ means truly being intimate with them. When we are truly intimate with them, there is no sense of I see that or I hear that. Hence, Dogen tells us that in such a condition “buddhas do not know they are buddhas.” In Shobogenzo, Genjokoan, He says, “It is not like an image reflected in a mirror, and not like the reflection of the moon on water” -- there are not two things (e.g. moon and water).

When we are authentically engaged in practice-and-enlightenment we do not hear a bell, there is simply, booooonngg–boooooongg. The classic Zen koan about escaping heat and cold illustrates this point wonderfully:

A monk asked Tozan, “When cold and heat come, how can we avoid them?”
Tozan said, “Why don’t you go to the place where there is no cold or heat?”
The monk said, “What is the place where there is no cold or heat?”
Tozan said, “When it’s cold, the cold kills you; when it’s hot, the heat kills you.”"

- Ted Biringer, http://dogenandtheshobogenzo.blogspot.com/…/condition-of-pr…

I love this teaching by Buddha to Bahiya because this teaching was the one that led to my sudden realization and entrance into the Great Way, which is not an end in itself but the way towards effortless and ongoing practice-enlightenment/actualization:

"So we continue on with Bahiya’s meeting with the Buddha and the Buddha’s response to Bahiya’s urgent pleading to teach him how to truly enter the Great Way of freedom and happiness. Remember that although Bahiya has sought out the Buddha as a result of deep doubt and the realization that he is neither free nor practicing in a manner that will lead to freedom, he is nonetheless completely ripe to receive a teaching that will utterly transform him. He has dropped literally everything, emptied himself of everything except his completely focused urgency for awakening. The Buddha meets his simple openness with a simple and powerful response:

“Bahiya, this is how you should train yourself: Whenever you see a form, simply see; whenever you hear a sound, simply hear; whenever you taste a flavor, simply taste; whenever you feel a sensation, simply feel; whenever a thought arises, let it be simply a thought. Then “you” will not exist; whenever “you” do not exist, you will not be found in this world, another world or in between. That is the end of suffering.”

There are at least two approaches to understanding this teaching. The first is to follow closely just what the Buddha says; that this is an approach to training the mind and training one’s life; a teaching to be practiced and worked with as a process. Bahiya gets it in one deep jolt which he swallows whole, digests instantly and is fully awakened.

Most of us have to work at this as a practice for a very long time, and yet we don’t know how long Bahiya worked at his in order to come to this place, available for this encounter. And it doesn’t really matter whether we have gradual cultivation and sudden awakening, or sudden awakening followed by gradual cultivation. In fact both are not only true, together they encompass the whole of the life of practice-realization.


See, hear, sense, touch, taste; everything happening all at once with no discrimination, preference or choice. Every sense door completely open, welcoming, receptive, alert, completely alive. So that listening is with the whole body/mind; every pore of our skin, every hair on the body, one whole receptive, alive field of listening. In this there is no “who”, is there? No “me” listening, is there? Check it out for yourself. It may be a little slippery to catch, because when “you” are only hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, smelling; there may not be anyone there to record or reflect on the experience; no “you” there! See what happens when you notice there is separation from what is; when the mind is wanting this to be some other way than just how it is. What happens in that moment of just seeing separation? What happens when you’ve traveled down the mind road and there is a sudden seeing of that? Was there a “you” in that moment of awareness? What if seeing is awakening? What is hearing is awakening? What if it is just as simple and as obvious as that? Then you might wonder what you are doing here on this retreat! What happens if there is just awareness of that thought? This is the practice of awakening, but it might be more accurate to say that it is really awakening which is practicing us!

- Douglas Phillips, http://www.emptyskysangha.org/bahiya2.htm
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