Dainen-ji, November 17, 2017

Each moment unfolds as a display of richness, of colours and forms and sounds, as a myriad of sensations. Sincere practice is allowing the whole bodymind to live as the brightness of seeing, the depth of sound, as ever-changing sensations, as the Luminosity of experiencing as a whole. And when we allow ourselves to do even a measure of this, there is a quality of questioning, of interest, of intimacy with everything that is being experienced. But to do this requires that we choose to stop following the congealing of attention into fabrications that lead to further contraction and inevitably, suffering.
Anzan Hoshin roshi says, in the series of classes on “The 8000 Line Prajnaparamita sutra”:
Fear is the underlying mechanism of self-image, the attempt to reify reality in the most basic kind of way by simply freezing it and contracting. And the conventions of consensual experience or the experience of those who are unlearned, those who have not studied their experience, those who have not heard the Dharma, who have not practiced it, those whose lives are based on the understanding of a culture which is itself founded on contraction, will allow themselves to fall into that fear and will allow themselves to be held back by that fear from their own freedom.
What this points to is that we must wordlessly examine absolutely everything, taking nothing for granted: not who we think we are, not our memories, not what we think the body is, not what we think the mind is, not what our tendencies and habits tell us to do, not what our anger or fear is telling us to do. Any state you experience, any stance, any structure of attention you experience is not necessary. They are all recoil. They are all self-inflicted damage.
As the Roshi explained in Class 4 of the series “The Development of Buddhist Psychology:
All conditioned existence gives rise to dukkha or unsatisfactoriness, suffering, contraction, confusion; that this suffering, this dukkha, is fueled by the mechanism of grasping, of trying to hold on to something when it cannot be held and by continually misunderstanding the nature of our experience.
“Dukkha” does not describe one particular kind of state and the "suffering" isn’t necessarily traumatic or dramatic. I mention this because sometimes students will describe a particular kind of state, such as boredom, as dukkha. For example, a student might describe a state of sinking mind, of disinterest, when what they really mean is boredom, and boredom is the result of stupidity klesa. In other words, boredom is a way of experiencing that is poisoned by a flattening of attention that you are fabricating, following, propagating. It is a kind of pouting that one is not being entertained. It is not as dramatic as the tantrums of anger or grasping. But it is still a childish tactic.
But dukkha refers to all  states which are the result of conditioned experience, and all states create suffering, unsatisfactoriness and bondage.
The roots of the Pali word "dukkha" are "jur" and "kha." "Bad" and "space". The root metaphor behind this is the hole in a wheel through which the axle passes being blocked. So the word means obstructed space.
We need to learn that the space of who we are, which is present as seeing and hearing and just the fact of experience is already open. When you are in a state, you think you have no choice about that, but the truth of the matter is that you are not choosing. You are following compulsion. Choose to actually practise and open attention and the axle will turn freely.
It’s easy to cultivate states when you are sitting - states of boredom, states of calm, states of quiet, states of euphoria, shiny, shiny states. But all of these are dead ends because whatever is experienced within the state can only be the product of the state. The context is narrowed to the kind of content that suits it. And this is why such states can seem so convincing, and so compelling. This is why you fixate on them. There is no one who is better at lying to you than you are, and the thing that’s convinced by the lie is the same thing that’s doing the lying. It’s not magic once you understand how the trick works. The states define who and what is imagined as a self but is really just a process of obstruction and fabrication.
In Zen practice, however, what we are doing is attending openly, rather than fixating. You can’t ‘fix’ a state from inside of a state. You have to open around it and release it first. Anything you experience when attention is arranged in a structure (a state) is going to be biased and therefore cannot be true. Seeing these structures and learning to attend to them more and more openly with the whole of your experience is part of the many truths that zazen reveals. In the Class Six Outline in the series, “The Development of Buddhist Psychology”, the Roshi said,The Buddha has clearly seen that the root of dukkha was clinging to what  could not be clung to. This clinging was the result of conceiving of the impermanent and dynamic exertion of experience to be a collection of real and permanent objects and entities, believing that this clinging will bring pleasure and satisfaction whereas it results only in suffering and confusion, and that what is selfless and beyond the personal is self and personal. The succession of these moments of grasping and confusion he called “samsara”, the “flow”. He called the cessation of this useless struggle and strategic approach to experience “nibbana”, the “blowing out”. In many places throughout the early texts, we find the Buddha again and again asking students to give up their spiritual and secular strategies and just understand something so obvious that it is often missed.
This is why we ask students to sit according to a schedule, why the Roshi has said so often that “the schedule IS Buddha”. The dreaded committed sittings and the schedule you have promised to follow is important because you have to make choices that go beyond compulsion in order to do it. It is something in your life that will insist that you go further than your habits and tendencies dictate and can invite you into the world of the Buddhas. The world of the Buddhas is unfabricated and unborn and you arrive there by releasing yourself into it.
We sit zazen and we do this practice because moment after moment, we do not understand. Any snippets of understanding that come and go are not enough. We cannot afford to entertain ourselves with our states, our thoughts, our interpretations, our fabrications. These are all part of how we misunderstand and will not help us to clarify our understanding. We cannot afford to be lazy. So this morning and throughout this Dharma Assembly, please make the effort to really practise the richness of colours and forms and sounds, the nuance of sensations. Allow the whole bodymind to live as the brightness of seeing, the depth of sound, as ever-changing sensations, and as the Luminosity of experiencing as a whole, by opening all around, all at once.
16 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    How does one destroy "earth-roots" , i.e the knots that binds oneself to this physical,material realm? Many teachings,whether its nondual,advaita,Buddhist's no self etc.. seems shallow,full of empty views and concepts. But practicaly speaking,how to go deeper and deeper and destroy the very 'binds' so one can 'fly like a bird', free unto the sky ?

    It is said at the time of the death of Sri Ramana, a shooting star passes through the sky....must be his soul finaly 'flying leaving this earth realm'

  2. Anonymous Says:

    In other words,how to Un-earthbound ? Even after dying,99% of humans will still remain "earthbound" . Will it takes many2 lifetimes? If one were to cut short the time taken,what kind of extreme renunciation needed?

  3. Soh Says:

    Anatta is the only way one can be freed from samsara.


    "31. “Bhikkhu, ‘I am’ is a conceiving; ‘I am this’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall not be’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be possessed of form’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be formless’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be percipient’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be non-percipient’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be neither-percipient-nor-non-percipient’ is a conceiving. Conceiving is a disease, conceiving is a tumour, conceiving is a dart. By overcoming all conceivings, bhikkhu, one is called a sage at peace. And the sage at peace is not born, does not age, does not die; he is not shaken and is not agitated. For there is nothing present in him by which he might be born. Not being born, how could he age? Not ageing, how could he die? Not dying, how could he be shaken? Not being shaken, why should he be agitated?
    32. “So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘The tides of conceiving do not sweep over one who stands upon these [foundations], and when the tides of conceiving no longer sweep over him he is called a sage at peace.’ Bhikkhu, bear in mind this brief exposition of the six elements.”"

    I don't believe in external signs.

  4. Soh Says:

    Sutta source: https://www.wisdompubs.org/book/middle-length-discourses-buddha/selections/middle-length-discourses-140-dhatuvibhanga-sutta

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Samsara,again,is buddhist view and concept.

    An alternative,and likely more valid way of seeing is this :

    A human being consists of 'multiple layers' , sheaths . Spiritual path (for human being) should be to increasing going deeper and deeper into these 'layers' or 'dimensions' .

    Thats why the Q being asked, the how of it - how to go deeper into (increasing) 'inner self' ?

    Honestly i think you should be more open minded and view from other perspectives instead of all tied up into buddhist pov.If we cling too tightly to a cretain view/perspective, even any personal realization may still be contaminated by those pov.(my $0.02 :-) )

  6. Anonymous Says:

    The 'outermost' of this 'layers' , of course, is this dense,material realm. Our bodily existence belongs to this lowly vibrated plane. And any valid path,should be to increasingly delve deeper into 'higher vibrated' inner layers of our being.

    And real progress is only possible when this dense,material plane had been transcended.

  7. Soh Says:

    Other paths do not reach Anatta, Emptiness and Dependent Origination, and thus do not reach liberation.

    They are however able to transcend identification with forms and realize the Formless I AM. But just as in Buddhadharma teaches -- and I am not just speaking out of dogma but my own experience, this is not yet liberation.

    Although I have great respect for Ramana Maharshi and always recommend his teachings to those practicing self-inquiry, I do not think he reaches the same liberation as Buddhadharma.

    As someone who was deeply devoted to Ramana Maharshi and went deeply into I AM and Non Dual before I guided him to realise Anatta once said this after his realisation of Anatta, "To my saddness, I realized that my favorite master, Sri Ramana Maharshi, is not speaking about Anatta, or not even about Nondual (as far as I can see), He mentions that even in Sahaja Nirbikalpa Samadhi (the ultimate state, according to Him) there is "something" there which mediator is at One with. Well, He must be talking about something different, not about Anatta or Nondual."

    He wrote a good e-book (still unpublished) which you should read: https://app.box.com/s/7u47emus4osjxzpnqs03

    As Thusness wrote to someone in 2007,

    "Hi Grim,

    As much as I would not like to say, although you have experienced the fruition of ‘seeing’, you have not experienced the fruition of ‘dropping the Self -- The ONE INFINITE EXISTENCE’. If the essence of experiencing manifestation without the background is not fully realized, there is no hope in understanding the ‘dreamless sleep’. To hold on to a familiar state of awareness that is experienced in waking state and attempt to bring this familiar experience to ‘dreamless sleep’ state is a distortion of what awareness is. It is an attempt of our thinking mechanism to replicate to what it thinks 'pure awareness' is into 'dreamless sleep'. If ‘conscious knowing’ does not give way to spontaneity of being no one, then there is no hope in understanding ‘unconsciousness’. Knowingness is the very flow of spontaneous manifestation.

    Good Luck!"

  8. Soh Says:

    Also you should not ask
    "Thats why the Q being asked, the how of it - how to go deeper into (increasing) 'inner self' ?"

    Going deeper is an illusion. You can only realise what your Self is. Attempting to 'go deeper' into what you are is dualistic and comes with sense of subject and object.

    Just continue asking Who am I until you realise what you are, Existence or Presence-Awareness, without a trace of doubt.

  9. Soh Says:

    If you are already at the north pole, trying to 'go deeper' into the north pole is going further away from the north pole. Any movement is wrong. You cannot 'go deeper' into north pole, you can only realise you are there.

    Actually according to Sri Atmananda teaching, in the Vedanta system once you realise the Transparent Witness (which is like the I AM realization), you are already free, or attain moksha and freedom from rebirth. There is no more wavering, as I wrote about my I AM realization. No more 'gaining or losing it', it is no longer a maintenance state or passing glimpses which I had for years prior to that realization. Instead, there is a doubtless certainty of what you are and you cannot lose it.

    But even this is not yet liberation from samsara and rebirth from the Buddhadharma standpoint, not yet Anatta. So different traditions have different views.

  10. Soh Says:

    I should also add that the Transparent Witness is not the last stage in the Atmananda system, as they also talk about the collapse of the witness and the dissolving of even the notion of consciousness. However they consider the transparent witness stage as criteria moksha.

  11. Soh Says:

    Criteria for moksha*

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Genuine realization is an increasingly deepening process,instead of one single 'aha' and then we r done ....

    Why deepening? Ignorance-vasanas is unlike a single thread,and you just cut it once and be done with it ! No .

    The 'aha' is simply realization on superficial level,for until one dismantles the layers upon layers of the sheath-ignorance(vasanas) ,no true freedom is to be found.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Again,whats the essence of this 'deepening', or development? It has to do with letting go. The more we dwell deeper into the inner self,the more we let go of our earthly nature(the lower self).

    Ultimately,the goal is to transcend this physical/material realm .Only then can progress be made in the higher plane. Its pure ignorance to suppose the end can be attained in this human form.

  14. Soh Says:

    I think it's incredibly foolish and dogmatic to suppose that Nirvana cannot be attained in this human form. In the Buddha's times, thousands of his students attained arahantship - the complete ending of all 'taints', let alone Buddha himself.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    To believe what a human being who lived 2000 years ago taught as source of 'gospel truth' is equaly foolish and dogmatic . Over the years,Buddhism has diluted through 'add and delete' we never know that the historical buddha really taught anymore...

  16. Soh Says:

    If you cannot have faith, at least keep an open mind.

    I can only report to you that whatever I realized and experienced, completely aligns with what the Buddha taught in the scriptures. That is why I have confidence in the Buddha's teachings.

    I have little use for blind faith and dogmas too.