Showing posts with label Ven. Jinmyo Renge osho. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ven. Jinmyo Renge osho. Show all posts

Also See: A compilation of Zen teacher Anzan Hoshin Roshi's teachings

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I remember John Tan liked her articles. I enjoy reading her articles too.

Session Start: Friday, 30 April, 2010

(9:38 AM) Thusness: The tata is very good. The Stainless is also good but just to be picky... the 'it' must be eliminated...stainlessness is the ungraspable of the arising and passing phenomena. Without essence and locality of any arising...nothing 'within or without it'.
(9:38 AM) Thusness: all the expressions in what u quoted are excellent.
(9:38 AM) Thusness: and all those phases of insight is to get u to what's being expressed. 🙂
(9:38 AM) Thusness: and all those phases of insights are to get u to what that is being expressed in the tata and stainless articles. It is the place where anatta and emptiness become obsolete. 🙂
(9:38 AM) Thusness: put this in the blog...great expression 

John Tan also told me before my anatta realisation:

(11:20 PM) Thusness:    u never experience anything unchanging
(11:21 PM) Thusness:    in later phase, when u experience non-dual, there is still this tendency to focus on a background... and that will prevent ur progress into the direct insight into the TATA as described in the tata article.
(11:22 PM) Thusness:    and there are still different degree of intensity even u realized to that level.
(11:23 PM) AEN:    non dual?
(11:23 PM) Thusness:    tada (an article) is more than is phase 5-7
(11:24 PM) AEN:    oic..
(11:24 PM) Thusness:    it is all about the integration of the insight of anatta and emptiness
(11:25 PM) Thusness:    vividness into transience, feeling what i called 'the texture and fabric' of Awareness as forms is very important
then come emptiness
(11:26 PM) Thusness:    the integration of luminosity and emptiness


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[8/10/23, 5:30:08 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Actually nowadays in practice i dont really have much designations or referents.. its oceanic and boundless whether in sitting or movement. In a sense its similar to infinitude of universe like AF except there is no solidity.. its just dependent origination and emptiness in action like when you move the whole infinite net of indra reflects accordingly. The dependent origination its not like inherent cause and effect.. In moving its not like body interacting with environment but like infinite reflections in total exertion, like the whole universe is the movement not i moving. When sitting there is no me or body mind sitting like out of body into boundless and oceanic but there is no sense of a self expanding outward, just natural and spontaneous presence like whole universe is sitting. Gapless distanceless without boundaries and radiant but nothing there.. no seer, no seeing, nothing seen and also no universe to ground in.. i dunno if im skewing to radiance but i seldom engage in analysis nowadays. Or its good for me to do more analysis
[8/10/23, 5:40:53 PM] John Tan: Quite good. But still skewing towards radiance. Try to balance with space-like nature. And don't talk about natural state, still far from it.
[8/10/23, 5:41:46 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Oic..
[8/10/23, 5:42:51 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Maybe i should do more dzogchen sky gazing lol
[8/10/23, 5:43:02 PM] Soh Wei Yu: I like to sit outside in nature, beach and parks
[8/10/23, 5:43:12 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Usually weekends i always do except only yesterday too hazy
[8/10/23, 5:43:26 PM] John Tan: Dunno what is that. But meditation on open space is crucial and helpful.
[8/10/23, 5:43:39 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Oic..
[8/10/23, 5:43:58 PM] Soh Wei Yu: quotes: (
[21/7/19, 8:46:47 PM] John Tan: The inner develope must include the ability to b contented in oneself.
[21/7/19, 8:47:31 PM] John Tan: When I sit in silent listening to meditation music, I was like being "there".
[21/7/19, 8:47:50 PM] John Tan: This I have told u.
[21/7/19, 8:49:26 PM] John Tan: U should look at the wide sky
[21/7/19, 8:50:10 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Oic..
[21/7/19, 8:50:53 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Like sky gazing dzogchen meditation haha
[21/7/19, 8:51:17 PM] John Tan: I do not know what they do
[21/7/19, 8:51:19 PM] John Tan: Lol
[21/7/19, 8:52:55 PM] John Tan: The reason nowsaday I don't want to talk to u abt experience is because u r already attached to experience.
[21/7/19, 8:56:22 PM] John Tan: Elena wrote something about getting "real". U know what that means?
[21/7/19, 9:02:28 PM] Soh Wei Yu: “
4) Sky-gazing
Sometimes called "mingling the threefold sky" or "namkha arted." This is an important Dzogchen practice to enhance one's released shiné. Basically, one mingles one's consciousness with the infinitude of the sky, thereby actively undoing the subject-object duality.”
‎[21/7/19, 9:02:38 PM] Soh Wei Yu: ‎image omitted
‎[21/7/19, 9:02:38 PM] Soh Wei Yu: ‎image omitted
‎[21/7/19, 9:02:39 PM] Soh Wei Yu: ‎image omitted
‎[21/7/19, 9:02:39 PM] Soh Wei Yu: ‎image omitted
‎[21/7/19, 9:02:40 PM] Soh Wei Yu: ‎image omitted
[21/7/19, 9:03:09 PM] John Tan: Then it is the
‎[21/7/19, 9:04:38 PM] Soh Wei Yu: ‎image omitted
‎[21/7/19, 9:04:38 PM] Soh Wei Yu: ‎image omitted
‎[21/7/19, 9:04:39 PM] Soh Wei Yu: ‎image omitted
[21/7/19, 9:04:50 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Oic lol.. the book by namkhai norbu
[21/7/19, 9:05:30 PM] John Tan: Mingling one's consciousness with the infinitude of the sky undoing the subject-object duality...I din know that is the purpose of sky gazing👍
[21/7/19, 9:06:36 PM] John Tan: Allowing the infinitude to dissolve whatever traces that is left...
[21/7/19, 9:07:35 PM] John Tan: However one should not b attached to blissfulness of non-dual.
[21/7/19, 9:08:29 PM] John Tan: Rather what u should learn is if u were in ur sis place, having all those issues, how r u to heal urself.
[21/7/19, 9:08:37 PM] John Tan: That is more important...
[21/7/19, 9:11:55 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Oic..
[21/7/19, 9:12:27 PM] John Tan: Tell me what "Elena" meant by getting "real"
[21/7/19, 9:13:46 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Like this? “Rather what u should learn is if u were in ur sis place, having all those issues, how r u to heal urself.”
[21/7/19, 9:14:26 PM] John Tan: What is this "healing" abt?
[21/7/19, 9:18:05 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Recovering from the various physical and mental conditions
[21/7/19, 9:18:33 PM] Soh Wei Yu: But i dunno about it myself
[22/7/19, 12:13:37 AM] John Tan: Anatta allow u to experience non-dual naturally and effortlessly in the six entries and exits
[22/7/19, 12:15:06 AM] John Tan: What will enable u to engage in market place fully and without duality?)
[8/10/23, 5:44:35 PM] John Tan: Even sitting in open park, with hot and humid weather under a tree, I can quite enter into samadhi.
[8/10/23, 5:45:25 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Nice.. ya im now at a park lol walking
[8/10/23, 5:45:30 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Just sat a little just now later i sit more
[8/10/23, 5:45:44 PM] John Tan: But I try not to sit in open nature now coz attracted school
[8/10/23, 5:45:54 PM] John Tan: Maybe in the morning in park
[8/10/23, 5:45:59 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Lol i see
[8/10/23, 5:55:33 PM] John Tan: Do u know what is dharmadhathu?
[8/10/23, 5:59:52 PM] Soh Wei Yu: I think i see you and kyle mentioned before, something like dharmadhatu is the emptiness of all phenomena while dharmata is the emptiness of a specific phenomena
[8/10/23, 6:09:06 PM] John Tan: U must learn to write ur own experiences in small lil thing like what yin ling did. Nothing about quotes but just simple daily stuff, so direct and simple and u directly see the depth of insight for example "ignorance" in that post.
[8/10/23, 6:10:56 PM] John Tan: No words from dharma, from the 7 phases of insights but just some simple descriptions u see the engagement and authentication of insight on "ignorance", on the hypnotic spell.
[8/10/23, 6:12:55 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Oic..
[8/10/23, 6:17:17 PM] Soh Wei Yu: U know ven jinmyo osho the zen teacher
[8/10/23, 6:17:25 PM] John Tan: Dunno
[8/10/23, 6:17:29 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Her lineage is always talking about space
[8/10/23, 6:17:32 PM] Soh Wei Yu: But its very much anatta
[8/10/23, 6:17:45 PM] Soh Wei Yu: She also always talk about space
[8/10/23, 6:18:33 PM] Soh Wei Yu: 1: The Sky Sits Up Straight
Presented by Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei
Dainen-ji, Saturday, August 24th 2019
Anzan Hoshin roshi has said to me, "The sky is always sitting up straight above, around, and all the way to the ground. The sky envelops the earth with atmosphere. As the atmosphere fades, the space of the sky extends to the sun and past, enveloping the galaxy and all stars and worlds galaxies to the edges of the universe. But people are focussed upon whether the sky is cloudless and blue, or clouded and grey."
The other day, Roshi once more pointed out to me that "Clouds are magnificent atmospheric sculptures standing in the sky, far beyond the talents of any sculptor, formed of air and water."
Clouds forming and reforming, sometimes massive and imposing, towering and billowy; sometimes displaying as wisps and curls and waves, as fish scales or solid sheets of pewter. It is art being created moment to moment and it’s all free.
In the Buddhadharma, the sky has often been used as a metaphor for complete and utter Awakening, the Dharmakaya or the context of Awake Awareness. Within the context of the sky, within the Troposphere, the band of atmosphere closest to the earth, vapour congeals into water or ice droplets, forming clouds and these have been used to represent the congealing of attention into content within context.
In “Six Verses in Leisurely Solitude”, written by Eihei Dogen zenji, one verse entitled “The True Person Displayed Throughout The Ten Directions” says:
The true person is
no one in particular.
Like the deep blue
of the vast sky
it is everyone, everywhere.
Breathing in, breathing out, we breathe the sky. No matter what we are doing, regardless of how we feel about what we are doing, we are always breathing the sky.
On a clear evening if you are able to see the Milky Way, what you are seeing is about 200 billion stars and the universe says, “Do you know how ancient I am, how beautiful I am, how vast I am?” And you recognize this because you are made of stardust and so you are what those 200 billion stars are, and you and they arise together in the same space. “It is everyone, everywhere”. You see the light of stars that are 100,000 lightyears away or more, and although you can’t touch them, their light crosses vast space and time and touches you.
What you are able to see of the sky, and of space beyond the sky, is only possible because of light - the light from the sun, the light reflected by the moon, and the light from objects far from the earth. Right now, facing the wall, you are seeing space lit by daylight and electric lighting. You are seeing sky. And the space of the sky is always available to you.
What we’re talking about is context. The open space of the sky is the context. Clouds within the sky refer to content within context. In this series of Dharma Talks we will discuss how to open the clouds of states you create by opening to context.
At any moment you notice a contraction, by simply feeling the breath and the body and opening to the space around the body, there is a loosening of the contraction. All contractions are simply knots tied in space.
Contraction is the result of grasping and clenching and recoiling and refusing the openness of reality. Self-image continuously sorts experiencing into what it likes (passion, or grasping), what it doesn't like (aggression, pushing away and struggling), and then everything else, the 99.9% of experiencing that it can't be bothered with (ignorance) because it doesn't fit into the categories of liking and disliking. Self-image wants to hide, to lose itself in states.
The space doesn’t bend to your likes and dislikes. It doesn’t care about any of your states or storylines. And yet, it envelops all of them with an intimacy that is closer than any relationship you could ever have and always has space for anything that might come up.
In a collection of poetry called "The Sky Itself" published in 1986, Roshi wrote:
the wisdom-sword of Monju
takes no sides
it cuts
leaving no trace
it cuts cutting
it cuts Monju
right edge cuts left
left cuts right
but leave all this behind
and cut into THIS!
this moment, this sound
autumn rain falling
in the midst of darkness
the sky itself
this breath
As the Roshi says, “The three klesas or three poisons of passion, aggression, and ignorance are self-image's three fundamental options towards anything that arises: run to it, run away from it, curl up in a ball and ignore it. But all that is known points to the open space of Knowing.”
We too, can sit up straight, as does the sky that is always around the clouds. And even clouds are just forms of the sky. Whatever comes and goes, whatever clouds form and dissolve, sit with this breath as the sky that you are breathing in and breathing out.
2: Five Heaps and Three Poisons
2: Five Heaps and Three Poisons
Presented by Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei
Dainen-ji, Saturday, October 19th 2019
I have spoken about the open space of the sky in order to represent the open context of our Experiencing, and clouds within the sky to refer to contents arising within this context.
In order to talk about the various kinds of content that students became clouded by, we should address what these ‘clouds’ or entanglements are, and how they happen. And to do that we need to begin with the traditional Teaching of the three kleshas of passion, aggression, and stupidity because they are the currents that stir together as all of our ‘entanglements’. They make up the basic style through which self-image relates to experience.
So, what are the clouds? Self-image, the image one has of oneself and the rest of the world comes about through a process of contraction. To understand the three klesas it is helpful to understand the play of the “five skandhas”. Now, don't be scared by Sanskrit terms. We chanted the Heart Sutra, the Maha Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra just a few moments ago.
In translations from the early Pali texts the five skandhas are often referred to as the "five aggregates of clinging”. They can also be called the "five heaps". The five skandhas have been translated by Anzan Hoshin roshi as "form, basic reactivity, symbolization, habitual patterning and consciousness". When the Buddha originally presented his Teachings on this, he piled up five heaps of different grains to represent these categories of impermanent phenomena.
The five skandhas can be discussed in many different ways, but they are primarily used in the Abhidhamma and the Abhidharmakosa to describe body (rupa) and mind or nama (with the categories of vedana, samjna, samskara, vijnana) as a collection of various kinds of things instead of being one solid thing, like the heaps of grains that the Buddha showed his disciples.
Instead of just describing body and mind as various kinds of things, the five skandhas can also be used to describe how perceptions and cognitions occur as a consequence of self-image. To illustrate this, I’ll quote from a passage in the “Development of Buddhist Psychology" series of classes presented by Anzan roshi in 1990:
“An example I use quite often - which of course is not at the level of mind moments, more at the level of mind-hours, mind-weeks or mind-years, but is something that we can use to understand how subtler processes happen - is to draw an example from something that almost everybody has experienced.
You walk into a room and there isn’t anybody there and you know there is nobody in the house, but there is somebody there and (sharp inhalation) you feel shocked for a moment.
And then you look and you realize it is a mirror and it is just you.
So you walk into the room and all of a sudden there is “HUHHH” – there is just “Something is there!” and everything becomes frozen. Everything becomes form. There is a big split that comes in so that you are there and what you are experiencing is out there, very definitely out there, but so much so that you cannot get any kind of focus on it.
At first it is just “HUHHH”, just panic and then feeling. You go “What is it? What’s wrong? There is somebody here. There is somebody here.”
And then perception, the third skandha comes in and you go, “There is a person in here and they are about this tall and they are”…so on and so forth.
And the next skandha, the fourth skandha comes in, in which you kind of rummage through and see if what you are experiencing now has a precursor, that is to say, if it is similar to something you have experienced in the past.
And you go, “Well, that’s me.”
Then the fifth skandha, or consciousness skandha, “Oh! It’s a mirror.” And sort of cluing into what is actually going on.
So the five skandhas can be looked at as simply a way of clarifying what we are experiencing. However, the way in which that happens tends to have an awful lot of contraction to it.
First of all, this sense of “this”, “that”, “self” and “other”, something out there – has a quality of panic to it. Not just in that example, but in the way in which self-image functions as nama rupa in the arising of mind moments, there is a very frozen, crystallized quality to it.”
According to the Abhidhamma and the Abhidharmakosa, attachment to feelings is developed through the second skandha of basic reactivity. And that brings us to the topic of the three Kleshas.
In the Pali Canon's discourses kilesa is often associated with the various passions that "defile" bodily and mental states. In the Pali Canon's Abhidhamma and post-canonical Pali literature, ten "defilements" are identified, the first three of which – passion, aggression, and stupidity – are considered to be the "roots" of suffering. The Sanskrit word klesa refers to mental states that temporarily cloud the mind's nature. They are referred to as "the three poisons" in Mahayana Buddhism. The kleshas specifically refer to the subtle movement of mind (citta) when it initially encounters a mental object. This is the second skandha of basic reactivity.
So at this point, the three klesas are as yet very subtle. They are orientations rather than actual emotions or feeling-tones and storylines. They are like predispositions rather than the stirring of states. But if this becomes amplified through the following skandhas of symbolization, and then habitual patterning, it becomes a state within consciousness.
It is through following the direction of these predispositions that we become lost in the poisonous clouds of the klesas. Unless our practice is deep and subtle, we will only very rarely recognize the basic reactivity of the second skandha. But through opening up around how the three klesas of passion, aggression, and stupidity have clouded our experience in the fifth skandha again and again and again, we become more and more capable of releasing these states earlier and earlier.
When we chanted the Heart Sutra this morning, it kept telling us that the five skandhas are empty, or sky-like. They are not solid, not fixed. They are like air and moisture and various causes and conditions mixing as clouds while all around the clouds is the already open sky.
When our world seems covered in clouds of passion, aggression, and stupidity, and we are coughing and hacking at the consequences of identifying with them, the truth is that our world is actually already open like the sky. We do not have to follow through on our pre-dispositions, our compulsions, our clouded states.
The open sky is available to us in the spaciousness of our actual bodily sensations, our ability to sit up straight and to walk upright through the spaces around the bodymind. As our practice deepens and opens then we can realize the five skandhas as the five wisdoms and the three poisons as the numberless gates to the Dharma that we can move through freely.
I will talk about the shapes of these clouds of passion, aggression, and stupidity soon. But, right now, let us sit up straight and walk upright.
Receiving the Dharma Seal
Hekiganroku Case 2: Zhaozhou’s “The Vast Way is Without Difficulty”
Dharma Talk Presented by Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei
Dainen-ji, Sogaku O-sesshin, Thursday May 20th 2021
On this day, in this moment, I sit before the students gathered in the Hatto, having just received Inka, or the Seal of Authenticity as a Zen Teacher, from my Master, Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi in a face-to-face and mind-to-mind private ceremony in the Hojo, or Abbot’s Quarters. Having been a successor to his Dharma through shiho, I now have been entrusted as his Dharma-heir through inka and can Transmit it to my own students.
And so, the Lineage of Awakened Ancestors is continuously alive, being passed on from Teachers to students who themselves can become Teachers who then pass it on to their own students.
I can never repay the Roshi for his instruction, encouragement, his humour, and sometimes his fierceness in his insistence that I practise realization and follow through, that I make as much use as I can of rich resources that are available, the Dharma Gates that are open in all directions right now. In speaking with the Roshi, every situation, no matter what it is, is a lesson in how to embody the Way, in how to fulfill the Four Great Vows. Whether through instruction in formal practice, or providing guidance about how to respond to a student or a situation, or explaining something about literature or history or Linux, he is continuously pointing to the spaciousness and Radiance of Experiencing, continuously asking us to open past our states and beliefs so that we can see what he is pointing to. He is always Teaching, in word, deed and gesture. His commitment to all of his students, the depth and breadth of his knowledge and understanding of Dharma and the entanglements that students experience, his foresight in creating volumes of Teachings for those who will follow, all of the effort he has made to ensure that we have the best possible resources - for all that I have mentioned and so much more, I am grateful beyond words.
I am also very grateful to the late Ven. Shikai Zuiko osho-ajari whom we honoured as O-sensei. She was my Dharma-sister and together with me had received shiho as a successor in Anzan Hoshin roshi's Lineage. I am grateful for the instruction she gave me when I was a new student, and then for always being available to consult with over the years.
Our Transmission from such Masters as Eihei Dogen to Koun Ejo, to Tettsu Gikai, to Keizan Jokin, Sogaku Hakukaze, Anzan Daiko, Mushin Daie, from Joshu Dainen to Anzan Hoshin, and now from Anzan Hoshin to me, is the practice of Vast Openness that is without a centre or fringe, and has no beginning and no end.
The whole point of the Lineage is to protect, maintain and uphold, and to continue the practice of realization, so that it can be passed on to coming generations as completely as possible. It’s not something that can be owned by anyone - although people will try to rope off areas of Zen practice and try to sell them off in various forms - those can only ever be scraps and husks because these fragments do not have actual Transmission behind them. But though the practice can’t be owned by anyone, it can be upheld and passed on.
I often explain to students that since what we are practising is Vast Openness, within that some ‘markers’ are needed - a structure with clear signposts along the way so we don’t just wander about aimlessly and fall into ditches and bumble in the brambles. In an open field you could just wander around and around in the closed circles of self concern. Without touchstone and markers, we could very easily just “wander in delusion”.
And yet the structure that we use in our Zen practice is very simple. The forms are part of that structure: bowing practice, how we take our seats, how we handle our zafu, sitting zazen, walking kinhin, the kata, oryoki, koan practice, Mikkyo practices, samu, the structure of training itself, with the various training posts - minor and major - these are all markers within Vast Openness that show us clearly what we need to do now and what we need to do next.
But people tend to want to make them into things, into signposts that they can hold up and say “Look, I am here! I’ve arrived! I understand! I’ve GOT IT, for once and for all”. But they are not ‘things’ that you can take hold of and own. They are more like gates that open out into larger and larger spaces.
Some of you may be familiar with the game of "Weiqi" or in Japanese “Go”, which is likely the oldest board game. It originated in China and is thought to be about 4,000 years old. According to legend, the game was created by the legendary Chinese Emperor Yao as a tool to teach his son how to rule. Anzan roshi and I played many games together, especially decades ago when the Sangha was at our old monastery Zazen-ji. It is played on a flat board marked with a grid. The blank board is open with possibilities, but so many that it is not until the pieces - which are actually small stones - are placed on it that you can begin to see the shapes made by stones as clear possibilities. The stones do not just squat on a square but are set on the interstitial lines so that the four directions open out from them and can form relationships with the other stones. The stones are set and rest and interact rather than squat and then jump to take territory. There are more and more possibilities as more stones are added but this is not a matter of building actual structures out of the stones. The board and the stones together merely represent various possibilities of interaction. And if you narrow and focus attention on some little area, some strategy you’re letting yourself become preoccupied with, you’ll miss what’s going on with the rest of the board. In the games of Go that Anzan roshi played with me there was no winning or losing but only playing with possibilities until they became too certain to be interesting. Then the game was over.
In the same way, the forms, the practices we do are not about building structures and rules. They are about opening attention, not narrowing attention, and they all point to the Vastness in which all of this is occurring. But because self-image is so habitually contracted, so territorial, it will lock onto fragments of experiencing and try to hold them, freeze them, so that it can feel that it is finally clear, finally certain about something. This is what is going on when people take bits and pieces of our practice out of context and try to sell them off. Self-image wants to use meditation, spirituality, anything that is at hand in order to be better at being itself. It wants something isolated from everything around it, in order to "justify" itself, or make itself seem more "real". This is self-image practicing itself, and what it will produce is self-image. This is the exact opposite of our practice.
But, of course, the Teachers of our Lineage know all about this and there are many Teachings that address it, including many that became koan. So this evening I would like to raise with you one of my favourite koan, Anzan Hoshin roshi and Joshu Dainen daiosho's translation of the Hekiganroku or Blue Cliff Records Case 2: Zhaozhou’s “the Vast Way is Without Difficulty”.
Yuanwu's Pointers:
Heaven and earth are flattened; the sun, moon, and stars go out. Even if blows from the stick fall like rain and "katsu" shouts roll like thunder, you still stop far short of the furthest truth. Even the Buddhas of the three worlds can only know it for themselves, and even the successive Lineage of Awakened Ancestors cannot exhaust its depths. The vast treasury of the sutras cannot wholly expound its meaning and even keen-eyed rag-robed monks cannot save themselves. At this point, what will you do? Saying the word Buddha trails mud and water. Saying the word "Zen," your face should redden with shame. The best students don't need to be told. As for late coming beginners, just get down to it and investigate it.
Through the process of narrowing and congealing into contraction, self-image flattens seeing, hearing, bodily sensation. It blocks out the world in order to sustain itself and the states that seem to justify it. Yuanwu says that “Even if blows from the stick fall like rain and “katsu” shouts roll like thunder, you will stop far short of the furthest truth. Unless you practise the instructions and follow through, it doesn’t matter what anyone else tries to do to try to encourage you to open attention to experiencing as it actually is - not as you ‘want’ it to be. No one can ‘give’ you the Treasury of Dharma.
Yuanwu also says that “...even the successive Lineage of Awakened Ancestors cannot exhaust its depths”. So this tells you that the Dharma is limitless, boundless, without end. So how could you take hold of any part of it and say “This is it”, or think that you could possibly be ‘finished’ in your practice and study when even the successive Lineage of Awakened Ancestors stretching back 2600 years, stretching forward for as long as students are able to uphold the Dharma can never exhaust its depths?
And then Yuanwu says very plainly, “Saying the word "Zen," your face should redden with shame”. The Buddha himself didn’t want to Teach. He didn’t want people to look to him as someone who “knew” everything. Self-image would love to find someone who ‘knows everything’ so that it can pick their brain and take their understanding and then itself be the ‘one’ who knows. Teaching students to practice isn’t about any of that - quite the opposite in fact. So if you find yourself in online chat rooms straightening other people out about how they understand “Zen”, or trying to ‘share’ your understanding of practice with your friends, you should just stop. One should never do anything that might later cause them embarrassment and you will be embarrassed by having done this if you deepen your practice. I almost made this mistake as a beginning student, but I was forewarned by the Roshi that this could come up so I avoided it. This is why all students are told that they should not discuss their practice with other people - to discuss it with a practice advisor, a Dharma Teacher or a Teacher.
The Koan:
Zhaozhou said to the assembly, "The Vast Way is without difficulty. Just don't accept or reject. With a single word, there may arise picking and choosing, or there may arise clarity. This old monk doesn't abide in such ‘clarity.' Do you still hoard any treasures?"
The moment you think you have “clarity” should be the moment you choose to actively question what is being experienced. The same is true of a feeling of ‘difficulty’ - that should be a prompt to question what is being experienced. When Zhaozhou said “The Vast Way is without difficulty. Just don’t accept or reject”, he gives us no choice but to go into this questioning with the whole body.
Xuedou's Verse:
"The Vast Way is without difficulty."
The direct word directly said.
One with many,
non-dual in two.
At the horizon, the sun rises,
the moon sets beyond the hills.
High mountains,
cold waters.
A dried skull has
no consciousness, no joy.
The withered tree
sings tirelessly in the wind.
Difficult, difficult!
"Accepting and rejecting"?
See for yourself.
Xuedou knows students so well. He says “The Vast Way is without difficulty, the direct word directly said. He’s really giving you no choice. If what you are practising IS in fact the Vast Way, then you cannot justify a sense of difficulty. Self-image continuously generates a sense of difficulty and this is what students spend so much time roiling about in - in their lives and even when they are sitting on the zafu. Xuedou won’t let students do that. He points to the choice you need to make moment after moment when you are sitting - to release the sense of difficulty, by opening attention to what is actually being experienced in this moment.
Xuedou says, “One with many, non-dual in two”. This is another way of saying “no opposites”. Or “nothing in opposition”. To use an example from your practice: When you are sitting and you open to the visual field, allowing the seeing to open to peripheral vision instead of peering at the wall, the wall isn’t obstructing the seeing. The seeing of the wall is part of the seeing. When you allow attention to open to seeing and hearing and bodily sensation - as many sense fields as you are able - none of these obstruct each other - they all provide information about the whole of your experiencing. Seeing does not obstruct hearing (non-dual in two); opening to all of the sense fields allows attention to open more and more completely (one with many).
Xuedou says,
At the horizon, the sun rises,
the moon sets beyond the hills.
High mountains,
cold waters.
Both of these verses speak of things as they are. At the horizon, the sun rises. You don’t do anything to make that happen. And how you are won’t stop that from happening. There is space for you and everything else and still the sun rises at the horizon and the moon sets beyond the hills. When there are high mountains, there is cold water (water comes from glaciers atop mountains). When there is cold water, there are high mountains.
Stop struggling. Experiencing unfolds as it actually is. Open attention to this extraordinary play of experiencing and - as the Roshi would say - enjoy yourself. Thoughts come and go, feelings come and go, sensations shift and change. Birth, old age, fresh bread, stale crackers, bird song, the sunlight on your skin and the smell of new flowers in the spring. Each thing is in its own place; each thing is taking its own time. Stop struggling.
Xuedou then says,
A dried skull has
no consciousness, no joy.
The withered tree
sings tirelessly in the wind.
Again, he’s speaking about things as they are. A dried skull has no consciousness, no joy. This is obvious on the most basic of levels. But also, if you are sitting there on your zafu, trying to be hollow, trying to be “no-one”, trying to be any way at all, you are like the dried skull with no consciousness, and no joy.
Meanwhile the withered tree isn’t trying to be a ‘something’. It isn’t trying to make a sound. And yet, because it is what it is, and because of the way it interacts with the wind, because both of these things are exerting themselves as they are, there is a song. If you have ever heard a withered tree singing in the wind, you’ll know how beautiful that sound is.
Zhaozhou Congren zenji was speaking from what Eihei Dogen zenji called Before Thinking and Koun Ejo zeni called the Treasury of Luminosity, pointing past the ideas about confusion and clarity held by students.
As Anzan Hoshin roshi said in the series “Without Difficulty: Commentaries of Jianzhi Sengcan’s Xinxin Ming: Words on Trusting Awareness”,
"In the absence of picking and choosing, there might arise clarity. But if it is a clarity that depends upon the absence of something then it is merely another state of mind. Like all states it will come and go, like mist and fog and rain and light and dark within the sky. To be truly without difficulty, we must not settle for merely the opposite of anything let alone try to hoard it as if it were a treasure. Instead we must sit, walk, stand, and lie down as the sky itself, always already before and beyond the conditions of body and mind that gather and disperse like weather. There is nowhere to abide, nowhere to dwell, nothing that can be grasped”.
End Quote.
Ryoko Jikaze's Comments and Questions:
Old Zhaozhou confounds the monk. I think the monk confounds Zhaozhou as well, otherwise he would have just beaten the monk into Vimalakirti's silence, wouldn't he? Or is this some kind of dim-witted compassion, letting oneself get entangled in all of this talk of "picking and choosing," "clarity," and "difficulty, no difficulty"? Is there someone to be entangled? Perhaps that's the point after all. Still, there has to be a clearer way.
Ryoko Jikaze doesn’t mean that Zhaozhou doesn’t know how to respond to the monk. But when a student asks a question, the Teacher is tasked with finding a way to respond in such a manner that the student will understand. That can be quite difficult, especially if the student has already taken up a firm stance. Ryoko Jikaze points out that Zhaozhou could have just “beaten the monk into Vimalakirti’s silence.” And although that would have let Zhaozhou off the hook, he chose to help the student understand instead. He’s being a bit tongue in cheek, a bit humorous when he says “Or is this some kind of dim-witted compassion, letting oneself get entangled in all of this talk of "picking and choosing", "clarity," and "difficulty, no difficulty"? Is there someone to be entangled? Perhaps that's the point after all. Still, there has to be a clearer way”. He’s asking students to look into what is being spoken of here, so that they too can understand what Zhaozhou is pointing to.
Zhaozhou said, "The Vast Way is without difficulty. Just don't accept or reject. With a single word, there may arise picking and choosing, or there may arise clarity. This old monk doesn't abide in such ‘clarity.' Do you still hoard any treasures?"
For the Dharma to be Transmitted, it must be given and it must be received. There can be no "holding on" or hoarding. What can be held? This is the true meaning of what people call "renunciation". What can be held? What can you hold reality with? Where could you take a hold of it?
This old monk right here does not abide in such clarity and hoards no treasures. This is how this old monk has received the Dharma Seal of her Master, yet another old monk.
Please, keep your practice open and straight.
[8/10/23, 6:18:58 PM] John Tan: Space as in descriptive language, not as ontological substance.
[8/10/23, 6:19:30 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Oic..
[8/10/23, 6:19:55 PM] Soh Wei Yu: I refer ppl either to malcolm or her
[8/10/23, 6:20:13 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Cos they are the only teachers i know who accept overseas online students that i think have quite clear insight lol
[8/10/23, 6:22:47 PM] John Tan: More experiential, Malcolm is more academic.
[8/10/23, 6:24:37 PM] Soh Wei Yu: I see.. yeah
[8/10/23, 6:24:46 PM] Soh Wei Yu: William also think malcolm too chim or something
[8/10/23, 6:24:55 PM] Soh Wei Yu: So i told him look for ven jinmyo osho
[8/10/23, 6:25:40 PM] John Tan: Once the view is pointed out, then we must see all the teaching everywhere. When u walk in the park, when u hear the kids laughing and crying, when u see boy and gal quarrelling, ppl shopping or when u see monks meditating. All these can be use to described dharma in action.
[8/10/23, 6:28:41 PM] John Tan: Driving into carpark or whatever. If ur mind is immense, u see everything as immense. If u see total exertion exertion, u write like teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. U see flower, u see the universe. U touch the earth, u feel its age, everything is deeply connected though only conventional.
[8/10/23, 6:29:37 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Oic..
[8/10/23, 6:30:02 PM] John Tan: So when u write, u must write out it's heart...when u write with a pen, u feel the pen itself on the paper. Coz u r the pen.
[8/10/23, 6:32:56 PM] John Tan: So there is no need to quote thusness or passerby or even Buddha, dharma is living in u and u r expression of dharma. When u practice, u see where exactly is ignorance. Feeling someone behind the head, someone entering a mall, an ambulance sirening ...practice become u, every endeavour is practice.
[8/10/23, 6:33:26 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Ic..
[8/10/23, 6:33:29 PM] John Tan: Get it?
[8/10/23, 6:35:22 PM] John Tan: Then ur heart is like space not because it is just nothing, it is continuous blossoming, space-like appearances is alive and dynamic.

William Albert
What is your experience of beauty like in this state?
Soh Wei Yu
"Strong and vivid radiance..
Even now the smell of food is standing out in intensity
...[sights have a] HD hypervivid quality...
...Actually more accurate description is magical and marvellous colors (as in the vivid 'textures' of what's called trees, sky, houses, people, streets, etc), sounds (as in the vivid 'textures' of a bird chirping, sound of traffic, etc), scents (as in the aromas of food, and plants, etc), etc. Complete perfection with a stark intensity...
Yet feels completely natural. Without slightest sense of distance or self/Self, even the tiniest details becomes starkly clear
This sense of perfection and magical radiance of everything is still there even when I'm physically tired and lack sleep on the previous night
By magical what I mean is a sense that there’s something very magnificent, almost like beauty but it is not beauty vs ugly and is not at all a subjectively imposed or affective feeling of beauty, but a sense of perfection.. like I look at the fly crawling on my skin, the fly is so completely perfect, like part of the paradise (note: this is different from Thusness's usage of the term 'magical')
Like a ball of radiance, except radiance as none other than the boundless world of forms, colors, textures and sounds, that is the very radiance, for it is the world that is the radiance and nothing else. Not a subjective radiance standing apart from forms.
There is nothing subjectively imposed here.. when I say “sense of perfection” that is already not quite accurate as it conveys some subjectively imposed interpretation of perfection.. rather it is the world that is the perfection and each moment carries the flavor of perfection
Perfection being merely a qualitative description of the pristine state of consciousness/radiant forms, not an affective feeling of "it is perfect" but neither is it an objective characteristic of some inherently existing object (there is neither subject nor object as subject and object is conceptual)
But this state of consciousness is not just heightened clarity... it’s like even the trees swaying is marvelously and magically alive and life reveals its significance and meaning all around. I think this is what Richard calls “meaning of life”.
The emotional model of AF makes some sense"
Driving around Singapore, it feels like I am experiencing Singapore for the first time.
The Magical Fairytale-like Wonderland and Paradise of this Verdant Earth Free from Affective Emotions, Reactions and Sufferings
The Magical Fairytale-like Wonderland and Paradise of this Verdant Earth Free from Affective Emotions, Reactions and Sufferings
The Magical Fairytale-like Wonderland and Paradise of this Verdant Earth Free from Affective Emotions, Reactions and Sufferings
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Anna Mukherjee
Soh Wei Yu what stage this relates to in the AtR system?
Soh Wei Yu
Anna Mukherjee
All these should be experienced even in anatta, stage 5. You see actual freedom teachings full of such descriptions but they reify the physical, the material. I did not as I already had some clarity on dependent origination and emptiness of phenomena.
Soh Wei Yu
Anna Mukherjee the first six months after my anatta breakthrough in late 2010 was particularly intense and i was in samadhi like or mini absorption into the intense luminosity of all sense perceptions without trace of self basically all the time even in daily activities. Then it normalizes a little, still intense but not as much as first few months. Then years later another breakthrough amplifies it many fold and it basically stayed since, and total exertion also became natural.
Soh Wei Yu
Actual Freedom and the Immediate Radiance in the Transience
I was having a conversation with someone today (he had some history with various practices, vipassana, actual freedom, and recently came across a famous Thai ajahn, etc) who shared about an experience of dissolving into centerless space. I told him what I call anatta is not just being centerless, it is the effulgence and radiance of the transience. That is, regardless of any realization of no-self, and no matter how centerless one feels or how centerless is one's experience of awareness and so forth... still, anything short of direct realization of the radiance or luminosity as the very stuff of transiency is still not what I call the realization of anatta. (And that too is also just an aspect of anatta, and furthermore not yet into the twofold emptying)
Was reminded of a conversation with Thusness back in Aug 2010 and found some excerpts from the Actual Freedom site:
"(12:22 AM) Thusness: for u, u will not be clear now... what Richard taught has some problem...that focus is in the experience
u should focus on the realization
(12:22 AM) Thusness: the pce is what i told u, bring what u experience into the foreground
(12:23 AM) Thusness: Richard has a very important realization.
(12:24 AM) Thusness: that is, he is able to realize the immediate radiance in the transience
(12:25 AM) AEN: this is like ur second point of anatta in the anatta article?
(12:25 AM) Thusness: yes
(12:26 AM) Thusness: there is nothing to argue, it is obvious and clear.
(12:27 AM) Thusness: however i do not want to focus on the experience
(12:27 AM) Thusness: u need to go through a period of frustration first"
From the Actual Freedom site:…/selecte…/sc-relativism.htm
RESPONDENT: How do the qualities of ‘splendour and brilliance’ present themselves AS splendour and brilliance?
RICHARD: Directly ... as splendour and brilliance are intrinsic to the properties of this actual world they present themselves openly where apperception is operating: everything is literally bright, shining, vivid, intense, sparkling, luminous, lustrous, scintillating and coruscating in all its vitality here in this actual world.
RICHARD: As I understand it (I am not a scientist nor have any scientific training) a photometer can measure how bright or brilliant something is in a more precise, reliable and universal way than the eye can sensately determine ... and one can then talk about the brilliance of that something if one wishes to convey to another what one is experiencing (the word comes from the French ‘briller’ meaning ‘shine’).
• ‘brilliance: brilliant quality; intense or sparkling brightness, radiance, or splendour; an instance of this’. (© Oxford Dictionary).
As for the splendour of something (the word comes from the Latin ‘spendere’ meaning ‘be bright; shine’) ... it is related to a brilliant display:
• ‘splendour: 1. great or dazzling brightness, brilliance. 2. magnificence; sumptuous or ornate display; impressive or imposing character; a magnificent feature, object, etc. 3. distinction, eminence, glory’. (© Oxford Dictionary).
Therefore, when I wrote that ‘as [the qualities of] splendour and brilliance are intrinsic to the properties of this actual world’ and that ‘they present themselves openly where apperception is operating’ I am reporting that literally everything is ‘bright, shining, vivid, intense, sparkling, luminous, lustrous, scintillating and coruscating in all its vitality here in this actual world’ ... thus it is not the imposition of subjective attributes (which phrase may very well equate to what you called ‘internal percepts’ in the previous e-mail) that I am talking about.
Rather it is the absence of such subjectively imposed attributes – due to the absence of identity – which reveals the world as-it-is.
RESPONDENT: This is what I meant in my question ‘present themselves AS splendour and brilliance?’
RICHARD: Okay ... incidentally, I do not go about seeing things in terms of their properties, qualities or values (such classifications never occur to me other than when having a discussion such as this) ... I simply delight in the wonder of it all and marvel in the amazing display.
Once experienced apperceptively – as in a pure consciousness experience (PCE) – one will never again settle for second-best.…/selected…/sc-sensation.htm
RICHARD: Yes ... ‘how amazing’ indeed, eh? I am particularly pleased to see you say that you had a ‘clear and unequivocal PCE’ as, of course, I have no way of ascertaining the intrinsic quality of what any body experiences other than what they describe – and I have no intention of setting myself up to be to arbiter of another’s experience anyway – so I cannot adjudge the exact nature of what you experienced. The rule of thumb is to ask oneself: is this it; is this the ultimate; is this the utter fulfilment and total contentment; is this my destiny; is this how I would want to live for the remainder of my life ... and so on. It is up to each and every person to decide for themselves what it is that they want ... as I oft-times say: it is your life you are living and only you get to reap the rewards and pay the consequences for any action or inaction you may or may not do. [...]
Having said that, and I am not inferring anything either way by what I am writing here, it may or may not be relevant to report that one must be most particular to not confuse an excellence experience with a perfection experience ... and the most outstanding distinction in the excellence experience is the marked absence of what I call the ‘magical’ element. This is where time has no duration as the normal ‘now’ and ‘then’ and space has no distance as the normal ‘here’ and ‘there’ and form has no distinction as the normal ‘was’ and ‘will be’ ... there is only this moment in eternal time at this place in infinite space as this flesh and blood body being apperceptively aware (a three hundred and sixty degree awareness, as it were). Everything and everyone is transparently and sparklingly obvious, up-front and out-in-the open ... there is nowhere to hide and no reason to hide as there is no ‘me’ to hide. One is totally exposed and open to the universe: already always just here right now ... actually in time and actually in space as actual form. This apperception (selfless awareness) is an unmediated perspicacity wherein one is this universe experiencing itself as a sensate and reflective human being; as such the universe is stunningly aware of its own infinitude.
In a PCE one is fully immersed in the infinitude of this fairy-tale-like actual world with its sensuous quality of magical perfection and purity where everything and everyone has a lustre, a brilliance, a vividness, an intensity and a marvellous, wondrous, scintillating vitality that makes everything alive and sparkling ... even the very earth beneath one’s feet. The rocks, the concrete buildings, a piece of paper ... literally everything is as if it were alive (a rock is not, of course, alive as humans are, or as animals are, or as trees are). This ‘aliveness’ is the very actuality of all existence – the actualness of everything and everyone – for one is not living in an inert universe.
It is one’s destiny to be living the utter peace of the perfection of the purity welling endlessly as the infinitude this eternal, infinite and perpetual universe actually is.
Actual Freedom and the Immediate Radiance in the Transience
Actual Freedom and the Immediate Radiance in the Transience
Actual Freedom and the Immediate Radiance in the Transience
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Soh Wei Yu
Anna Mukherjee
RICHARD: Put simply: as there is no (subjective) experiencer there is no separation ... no ‘inner world’/‘outer world’.
RESPONDENT: If the images (presumably) are identical in quality, do you see them differently (e.g. in terms of clarity)?
RICHARD: Yes ... and just as the moving picture is visually brilliant, vivid, sparkling, so too is the sound track aurally rich, vibrant, resonant.
• [Richard]: ‘The whole point of actualism is the direct experience of actuality: as this flesh and blood body only what one is (what not ‘who’) is these eyes seeing, these ears hearing, this tongue tasting, this skin touching and this nose smelling – and no separative identity (no ‘I’/ ‘me’) means no separation – whereas ‘I’/ ‘me’, a psychological/ psychic entity, am inside the body busily creating an inner world and an outer world and looking out through ‘my’ eyes upon ‘my’ outer world as if looking out through a window, listening to ‘my’ outer world through ‘my’ ears as if they were microphones, tasting ‘my’ outer world through ‘my’ tongue, touching ‘my’ outer world through ‘my’ skin and smelling ‘my’ outer world through ‘my’ nose ... plus adding all kinds of emotional/ psychological baggage to what is otherwise the bare sensory experience of the flesh and blood body’.
• [Richard]: ‘I am speaking of the immediate perception, of this body and that body and every body and of the mountains and the streams and of the trees and the flowers and of the clouds in the sky by day and the stars in the firmament by night and so on and so on ad infinitum, without the affective faculty existent operating ... which reveals actuality in all its purity and perfection. This applies not only to ocular perception but also to cutaneous perception, to gustatory perception, to olfactory perception, to aural perception ... and even to proprioceptive perception, for that matter. There is no mystery where there is such direct perception of actuality as described ... all is laid open, as it already always has been open just here right now all along, because nothing is ever hidden. One walks through the world in wide-eyed wonder simply marvelling at being here doing this business called being alive on this verdant and azure paradise called planet earth. This is what innocence looks like’.
As immediate, direct perception (sensuous perception) does not involve either the affective faculty or the cognitive function the thinker (‘I’ as ego) and the feeler (‘me’ as soul) do not get a look-in ... hence I call this direct perception ‘apperception’ (perception unmediated by either ‘self’ or ‘Self’). Thus what I am is this flesh and blood body being apperceptively aware (sans ‘I’ as ego and ‘me’ as soul) ... which means that the actuality of the physical can indeed be known, each moment again, day after day.
I do not know if I can put it more briefly or succinctly than this.
Labels: Actual Freedom, Anatta, Luminosity |
An Actual Freedom From The Human Condition
An Actual Freedom From The Human Condition
An Actual Freedom From The Human Condition
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Anna Mukherjee
Soh Wei Yu can this also be experienced naturally and effortlessly pre-anatta? What you describe and Richard below is my daily "normal" perception. I would only add to " simple delight in the wonder of it all and marvel in the amazing display." that this wonderment is beyond notion of beauty and ugliness. That radiance and aliveness permeates everything. I drive on average 2-3 hrs a day through a city where traffic and road rage can be insane, and yet it is the simplest samadhi inducing activity. And every day the city is reborn, every instant the "same" roads freshly anew. It's truly delightful.
Soh Wei Yu
Anna Mukherjee that is intensity of lumimosity but it need not be nondual yet.
Do you experience the following:
What is experiential insight
Yin Ling:
When we say experiential insight in Buddhism,
It means..
A literal transformation of energetic orientation of the whole being, down to the marrow.
The sound MUST literally hears themselves.
No hearer.
Clean. Clear.
A bondage from the head here to there cut off overnight.
Then gradually the rest of the 5 senses.
Then one can talk about Anatta.
So if for you,
Does sound hear themselves?
If no, not yet. You have to keep going! Inquire and meditate.
You haven’t reach the basic insight requirement for the deeper insights like anatta and emptiness yet!
Yin Ling:
Yin Ling: “Realisation is when
This insight goes down to the marrow and you don’t need even a minute amount of effort for sound to hear themselves.
It is like how you live with dualistic perception now, very normal, no effort.
Ppl with Anatta realisation live in Anatta effortlessly, without using thinking to orient. It’s their life.
They cannot even go back to dualistic perception because that is an imputation, it js uprooted
At first you might need to purposely orient with some effort.
Then at one point there is no need.. further along, dreams will become Anatta too.
That’s experiential realisation.
There’s no realisation unless this benchmark is achieved!”
what is important is that there is experiential realisation that leads
to an energetic expansion outwards into all the forms, sounds, radiant
universe... such that it is not that you are in here, in the body,
looking outwards at the tree, listening the birds chirping from here
it is just the trees are vividly swaying in and of itself, luminously
without an observer
the trees sees themselves
the sounds hear itself
there is no location from which they are experienced, no vantage point
the energetic expansion outward into vivid manifestation, boundless, yet
it is not an expansion from a center, there is just no center
without such energetic shift it is not really the real experience of no
selfxabir Snoovatar" -
Labels: Anatta, Yin Ling |
Four Aspects of I AM
Four Aspects of I AM
Four Aspects of I AM
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 John Tan: "I really like the expression of this article and the quote from Dogen's Genjokoan. No preference and privileging of either -- water or moon's light; no over emphasis and extrapolation of water into ocean, instead the metaphor of "a single drop of dew dangling from a blade of grass" is used - the maha of vastness sky and radiance of moonlight in a dangling dew drop. So deeply intimate even though it is just a reflection. How long such a reflection will last? just consider the water's depth, the moon's light. Beautiful!"



The Touchstone 10: Serenity Is Not Special

by Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei

Dainen-ji, June 21st, 2014

At any moment that you recognize that you are lost in thought or are propagating a feeling tone or a state, you can use that recognition as a prompt to come back to the breath and the body, seeing and hearing. Experiencing this moment with the whole body is practising an intimacy of experiencing that comes about only when you simply allow yourself to meet your experiencing as it really is.

Meeting experience as it is might be feeling the breath at the diaphragm and tanden, opening to seeing and hearing while chopping vegetables. It might be opening attention while pulling wads of who-knows-what out of the drain in the kitchen sink because it's not emptying properly. It might be a moment of opening to seeing and hearing and bodily sensation while listening to birdsong as you walk under the canopy of trees on the way to the monastery. Or you might find yourself opening attention while someone nearby is expressing frustration and anger. It might be feeling the breath at the diaphragm and tanden and opening to whole-bodily sensation and seeing and hearing while listening to falling rain, or it might be while measuring out medication for someone who is ill. You don't know, from moment to moment, what will happen, what will need to be done, what someone might say. Yet each moment of your life is a moment of breathing, of feeling, of seeing, of hearing. Each moment is always a moment in which you can simply allow yourself to meet experience intimately.

If you were not practising at all, you might still walk down this street and hear the birdsong and you might still have to pull wads of who-knows-what out of the sink drain when necessary. And you'd still be interacting with other people and their states. But if you are practising, the difference is that you can do each thing you are doing more fully and completely. You can do each task with the whole bodymind instead of doing them with a sense of resentment. You can recognize how your attention is as you do them and choose to release attention into the sensations and colours and forms and the doing of the task instead of recoiling and holding yourself at a distance from it.

Self-image -- or the process of contraction that gives rise to a sense of self -- would much rather think about what's going on than really engage in what is going on. This is because through contraction, the sense of a 'self' sets itself up as the 'knower' of experiencing, as a some 'one' who is separate from what is being experienced.

When you sit zazen you can see this process of contraction and separation quite easily. You might begin by following the instructions to stay with the sensations of the breath and body, to open to seeing and hearing and pay attention to where you are and what is going on. But a few minutes later, you begin to drift into a storyline, in which the sense of self can seem to be at the center of the storyline.

In zazen, again, and again, when you come back to the breath and body, and refresh your practice, you see the storylines fall apart because there is no "one" at the center of experiencing. There is just this moment and the details that present themselves as the exertion of this moment which are constantly changing. Our practice is to release contraction, and instead of recoiling, learn to meet experiencing as it actually is. This is why we begin with this very simple practice of sitting cross-legged in the posture of zazen, opening attention to all of the sense fields instead of ignoring them to pursue internalized states and stances. And this is why, when we practise Anapanasati, or mindfulness of the breath, we come back to the touchstone of the breath, we mark the moment with the touchstone of this breath. We touch the breath and ground ourselves in this moment.

Grounding oneself in this moment doesn't mean hanging on to the moment. It means letting yourself drown in the moment. If you try to hold on to the moment things can get quite complicated. So I will talk about that a little, because it is something that comes up in people's practice at one time or another.

In people's lives there is usually a lot they have to contend with that they don't particularly like. For instance, being bored at work; having to participate in social events they don't want to go to; being immersed in family issues that are not interesting to them.

Zen practice isn't about any of that stuff. But we are instructed to practice while those experiences are going on. So here's where a misunderstanding can creep in.

If you are practising Zen you will see more about your own states. And you will recognize more often when other people are in a state -- because you recognize some of your own. Now, all this stuff that was going on before you started practising - the boredom and arguments and family foibles and all of the rest of it -- that stuff is still going to be going on after you start practising. And what can happen is that you may make the mistake of trying to use your practice as a way of distancing yourself from all this stuff you don't really like.

So, for instance, there is a family member in front of you talking about an issue. It doesn't matter what the issue is. What matters is the stance you might take up relative to that person and the situation. If you recoil instead of releasing, this is not practising. It's taking up a stance about the situation and perhaps about the other person. And if you allow this recoil to continue, it can seem as though you are at a distance from what is being experienced, in a kind of special practice space that they don't share. Because, the story says, you're different. Because, the story says, you practice and they don't and that makes you superior and special. And if you allow this state and its story to continue, you may actually begin to feel quite serene about the whole thing. But what is being mistaken for a sense of serenity is actually a sense of flattening and withdrawal.

I do want to make it very clear that this has nothing to do with practising. This is merely the acting out of various patterns of contraction with a storyline about practice woven through them.

If you are in a social interaction and this comes up, open around it by coming back to the touchstone of the breath and actually do your practice. If you are in that situation it is because you agreed to put yourself in that situation. So be in that situation with the whole bodymind. If you don't wish to experience that sort of thing again, then you can change the activities you engage in. If you are in a relationship or are married, it is because you agreed to that. You can change that, but if you are going to change it then do it. Don't fence-sit, secretly holding yourself at a distance. Fully participate in your life and if you make a change, then fully engage in and take responsibility for that change. Don't use your practice as a way to avoid your life. This is not how a bodhisattva behaves - it is how self-image behaves.

When students make the mistake of recoiling from their own lives, and from the people around them, to some extent they will recognize that this is not good. And they will ask if Zen is devoid of feeling.

No, Zen is not devoid of feeling. If you are really practising, you will feel more, not less. But genuine emotion, real feeling, is a momentary flash. It does not colour or predispose, so it is not something you can hold on to.

In Anzan Hoshin roshi's translation of the Genjokoan, The Question of our Lives, Eihei Dogen Zenji says:

Gaining enlightenment is like the moon reflecting upon water; the moon isn't wet, the water isn't stirred. With all of its radiance, the moon can still be seen in a puddle. Full moon, vast sky, can both be reflected in a single drop of dew dangling from a blade of grass. Enlightenment does not disturb you just as the moon doesn't ruffle the water. You can no more grasp enlightenment than the dew drop can restrain the full moon, the vast sky. As deep as the drop is, so high is the moon. As to how long such a reflection will last, just consider the water's depth, the moon's light.

We cannot grasp enlightenment and we cannot grasp mindfulness. Mindfulness is only mindfulness if we are really allowing ourselves to meet our experience as it actually is in this moment. It's not something we can 'oversee'. We can only enter into it, moment after moment. It penetrates our lives like sunlight through water and the longer and more deeply that we practice, the more transparent we become. And being transparent to experiencing allows us to see that all experiences arise within a much larger space.

To be transparent means that there is absolutely nothing you can hang on to. It means that none of your thoughts are solid, none of your feelings are solid, none of your views or attitudes are solid.

So when you are practising formally or informally, at home or at work, interacting with other people, the same is true. Practise this transparency by coming back to the breath and body, by opening to seeing and hearing, and allow experiencing to present itself to you. With other people, let them be how they are and don't hold yourself separate from them. Again, if you don't want to be with them you don't have to be. But if you ARE with them and this is what you agreed to, then let yourself fully BE in that situation. Don't be half-assed. You can't sit up straight as the Buddhas and Awakened Ancestors if you are half-assed. You need to practise with the whole bodymind, both legs, both feet, both hands, and arms and legs and ears and eyes and the nape of the neck and behind the ears.

You can't do other people's practice for them. Do your own practice. If you just do your own practice, it includes all people that you know, all of the things that you do, all of the colours and forms that you see. In doing your own practice you practise the moment and everything that arises together as the moment. Meet the moment intimately and wordlessly. Don't recoil. Release. In this way you embrace everyone instead of holding everything at a distance.

You can release grasping at them and being entangled by their grasps as well, by embracing them and everything in the intimacy of experience. You are not people's ideas about you and they are not your ideas about them.

Zen practise is not an idea. And it is certainly not the ideas you can have about your practice, many of which are quite contradictory. Zen practice is something that you actually do. And in actually doing it, it does you, it changes you. Not into a special version of you, someone who is not only more spiritual or wise than you were but more wise and spiritual and special than your family and friends. It changes you so that you can live your real life, be a real person instead of a story about yourself, and really meet others beyond your ideas about them. We will explore more of this next time.

Right now, let's sit.

by Ven. Jinmyo Renge osho

Dainen-ji, June 10th, 2006

Golden leaf
Not long ago it was spring and now it is becoming summer. From spreading roots, shoots and stems have appeared and now countless buds burst forth and blossom and then fall to the ground. In the monastery garden, the ferns have unfolded and now tower above spreading moss. Skunks and squirrels and hundreds of finches have come to drink from the stream along with a mother racoon and her young who also stopped by the front porch to investigate the Buddha rupa and offering bowl. And the Engleman ivy creeps up the building with small fingers that attach themselves to the brickwork.
Not long ago, it was night and now its morning. Not long ago, we began this Dharma Assembly and not too long from now, it will already be over. Not too long from now, someone will be listening to the recording of this Dharma Talk and I will have been dead for years. It all happens so quickly. This happening, this activity, this exertion of the reality of impermanence is all that is ever going on. Our practice is the practice of opening to this reality and realizing it as part of our own natures.
Virya, or exertion, is one of the six Paramitas. The Paramitas describe aspects of being Awake to Reality that unfold through the process of practice. You have to start off with some initial element of, say, generosity, exertion, and so forth, but they unfold dynamically as you actually practice. In the Mahayana schema there are six Paramitas:
Dana Paramita: generosity
Sila Paramita: Integrity or discipline
Ksanti Paramita: Patience or flexibility
Virya Paramita: Exertion
Dhyana Paramita: Zazen or practice
Prajna Paramita: Radical insight or perfectly knowing emptiness
Of these six, exertion is the most important Paramita because without exertion, nothing is going to happen. We will just sit around instead of actually sitting and doing the practice of realization.
There are many ways of understanding what virya is, such as "the sustained effort to overcome laziness"; vitality; enthusiasm; prowess and potency. But none of these understandings are adequate to what we need to understand through and within our practice.
In the book, "The Pathless Path", Zen Master Anzan Hoshin says about virya:
…Exertion may well be the most crucial of the Paramitas that we must develop. Without it, our practice can only be based on images and ideas, expectations and concepts. Exertion is like the fine steel of a sword blade. Without a strong blade, it does not matter how sharp or well-honed the edge is, because the blade will snap off at the handle as soon as it is drawn. In fact, without exertion, the blade will just stay in the scabbard.
To truly sever the confusion and duality of the usual mind with Manjusri's sword of Dhyana and Prajna we must be able to exert THIS fully, holding nothing back. If we do not sever the duality and strategies of the usual mind, then the seamless unity of the whole moment will never be lived.
In order to practice beyond strategy we must first see our strategies, not to follow them but to open beyond them. And so it is of utmost importance to stay with the instructions we have been given and refrain from making up and following our own version of the practice. Not propagating means not propagating any thoughts, feelings, theories and concepts about anything and this of course applies to our practice as much as it does any other topic that might come up while one is sitting. Thinking about practicing is not practicing. If you have not been specifically told to do something in your practice, then don't do it. Ask about it if something has caught your attention and you think it worth discussing, but don't experiment.
There are ten thousand strategies that we may attempt to apply to our practice, but in the end they all fall apart. For instance, hunkering down around the breath instead of using the breath as a touchstone from which to open to the whole of experiencing will just lead to more and more discursiveness. Students will also sometimes "watch" themselves practicing, as though following themselves around. If you follow yourself around, you will inevitably get in your own way. Continuously "assessing" one's "progress" is another pitfall that frequently comes up. Letting yourself passively drift into storylines and justifying this by occasionally checking to see if you are still breathing or if the wall is still there and then going straight back into the storyline is not exerting yourself in your practice. Over and over again I see students allowing themselves to fall into the same cesspools of confusion and torpor again and again. Don't just muck about in that stuff. Don't put your face in it. STAND UP from it. How do you do that? Sit up straight, Shut up. Practice.
The Roshi continues,
Exertion must be clean, it must be free of strategies and romantic notions about enlightenment and Buddhahood. There is no use gritting your teeth and locking your legs in full lotus and trying to pull yourself out of samsara and into nirvana.
There is simply nowhere else that you can be than right here, in this moment. Exertion does not imply some kind of spiritual gymnastics or punching out self-image.
Exertion is surrendering completely into attentiveness again and again. Exertion is being utterly straightforward with whatever arises. Exertion is doing whatever needs to be done, and doing so as completely as possible: taking a complete step, a complete breath, touching completely, hearing completely. This is complete and wholehearted practice.
Without this kind of exertion all of this would just be talk. We could say, "Oh yeah, everything is Buddha Nature inhering within itself. Don't struggle, just wake up." And we could go through the motions, sit on the zafu and stare at the wall for the prescribed number of minutes and bide our time. But what is time? Who is this?
Zen is "the direct transmission outside words and letters, pointing directly to the mind," pointing directly to the moment, directly to just this.
The wall exerts itself completely and directly as the wall. No doubts about it, nothing held back, nothing pushed forward. No matter whether you call it a wall or not, the wall exerts itself completely as what it is. This exertion is what the wall is.
Complete exertion is our practice, it is what practice is. Cutting through blame and fame, hope and fear, here we are. Breathing in, breathing out.
Without calling it samsara or nirvana, good or bad, self or other, let us exert ourselves completely in just this. If you are walking, walk; if you are talking, talk; if you are listening, listen. In complete exertion, in whole-hearted practice, the Buddha Dharma begins to exert itself. If we exert ourselves completely as this breath, then this breath will begin to exert itself. Seeing has its own intelligence, hearing has its own intelligence; you are redundant. All struggle drops away and we discover that we don't even have to try to know anything.
Everything is self-known without a knower, without a known. Limitless Knowingness begins to dawn and continues to blaze as the mandala in which enlightenment is continuously born.
This occurs nowhere else and in no other time than just this. So let us exert ourselves completely, practice completely, realize the Way completely.
Moment after moment, the world opened by practice extends in the Ten Directions, exerting itself as sun and rain and wind. It exerts itself as the pain in your knee and the pleasure of cool water on your face on a hot summer day. It exerts itself as the creaking of the floorboards on which you walk in kinhin. It exerts itself as the empty toilet roll that needs changing, the printer that won't print, the bill that can't be paid, and exerts itself as your job, your family and your friends. It exerts itself right now and in each moment as everything you experience. The world presents itself as rich, playful, ever-changing details.
You are not separate from the exertion of the world and the possibility of your Waking Up exists only because of the possibility of your exertion. Unless you exert yourself, you're not really sitting, you are just sitting around. But if you're pushing and pulling you're not sitting either. You are doing some weird meditation trip.
When we are really practicing, we are not making anything happen. We do not make the sensations happen or the colours and forms and sounds happen. They are already present. All that we need to do is let attention fall open to what is already the case. Sensations and colours and forms and sounds already exert themselves. When you release yourself into this exertion, you release yourself into that which exerts itself as you and exerts itself as the world.
In the teisho series, "Wild Time: Commentaries on Dogen zenji's "Uji: Being Time", the Roshi says,
Everything arises here and now.
It is not that this arising is a matter of here plus now.
Here is now.
Now is here.
It is not a matter of time plus place equals our experience.
It is now equals here equals is.
This is the exertion that you must release yourself into in order to realize who you are.
Without the exertion of you releasing yourself, nothing is realized, nothing is real.
All that you have are stories,
By releasing yourself into That which unfolds itself as everything,
which arises everywhere as everything, right now,
you realize this arising.
You are the realization of this arising.
Without the exertion that needs no one to do it,
that is done by no one at all
but is simply exertion exerting itself,
Nothing would arise.
We are open to the exertion of this moment only when we do not hold ourselves back or get in our own way by following tendencies and habits. Actually recognizing that a pattern is a pattern, that a tendency is a tendency, can be difficult. We have used patterns and tendencies to define ourselves and can sometimes find it impossible to believe that we can be any other way. But as Roshi says, "We are really only ourselves as we really are when we are open to reality as it is." And we can do this so easily. All that we need to do is actually sit when we sit. Just sitting around just won't do it. Just sitting back and hoping it will all work out won't do it.
Open to this breath. Now. Now. I mean it. Now. I really really mean it. Please? It's not just for your own good. There is no good that you can do without doing this. Look at this world. Read the newspapers. Or just actually listen to the nasty stuff you tell yourself about yourself. And about other people. It's terrible. The problem is that every body else is saying these terrible things to themselves about themselves and every one else. And they're out there: driving cars, shooting guns, buying shoes, having babies, ruling countries, writing code, playing music, cooking and eating and all of the things that affect every one and every thing else in the world. Someone has to do these things that doesn't have such a grudge about actually doing something clearly and completely and well. So, please, exert yourself. Exert yourself by just stopping. Stop that stuff. Just sit up straight. Now.
I mentioned before how quickly everything goes. Now this Dharma Talk is almost finished. Spring comes and goes, summer comes and goes, autumn comes and goes, winter comes and goes. You and I and all of us come and go. So let go. Let go INTO this coming and going. Exert yourself by not following yourself around and open to the ten directions all around you.
Now I've finished talking. You should stop talking to yourselves too. And so let's all sit.