I always let students know that many times “passing” a koan is not really “knowing” it. When we “pass” a koan we merely see into it (kensho), it does not mean in anyway that we have completed it. As a matter of a fact we never “complete” a koan. If we continue to practice over the years, we may realize a koan’s greater depths repeatedly. I always say the best koans are Genjo Koan, or life koans. When we have insight into a koan, we have a basic understanding of its feel and expression. When confronted with this koan again organically, our dokusan experiences should allow a subtle grounding. Over and over we realize greater depths, endless dimensions. There is no meandering, daydreaming or bells to give pause when confronted with an organic nanto koan. Life comes at you head-on, indifferent to invitation and without reserve. Will you swerve and panic, or will you exhale and go straight on?
Gassho, Ryuun Joriki Baker, Osho offers private Zen Buddhist Instruction on Wednesdays and Thursdays via zoom or in person at the temple Tuesday afternoons. These private sessions are 1 hour and are designed for those who are interested in the attention and intimacy that only a “one on one” teaching environment can offer. These sessions include opening tea, Zen Dialectic Techniques (Hybrid of Koan Work and Counseling), meditation instruction, meditation, Zen Form, koan work/interview, and integrative techniques.
In order to truly speak with “one” voice, we must investigate the shards of the fragmented mind. We are host to a array of internal voices (limitless, primal, child, master, student, ect), and each perceives the world a bit differently. These voices are manifestations of the self, and some manifestations are caught within the scarring of ignorance, delusion and trauma. For spiritual maturity to be realized, these voices must be given permission to speak openly and honestly without the external censorship of others, or the internal supression by other voices. Part of this process is achived by the internal and external dialog between the various voices. Zen Practice offers a wonderful and safe container for us to investigate this work. Many koans invite this type of therapeutic play and ask us to “talk amongst ourselves” or to “strengthen and clarify” a particular voice. When the shards (voices) of mind are balanced, and fluid consciousness is realized. The flawless mirror reflects from upon the cool waters and with a single word the heavans fall from the sky.
One of the primary directions of practice is to cultivate and explore the various footings of emptiness (shunyatta). Early in practice we begin explore the initial stages of emptiness we call oneness. Through this practice we experience a deepening sense of unity with the world around us. For example, when I first started to explore the depths of oneness, I found myself better able to “feel” the world around me. This was such an eye-opening experience for me. It grew from just more empathy for other people to more empathy for all life, including our planet. The lines of devision were becoming so very faint. This feeling of oneness made it impossible for me to continue to hunt and fish. I felt too interconnected, and any potential harm was not worthwhile. This is not to say I am against hunting and fishing; I am not. It is just no longer for me. Tumbling further down the rabbit hole I began to have even deeper experiences. I remember standing at “Sangha Meadows” at Dai Bosatsu and literally becoming the swaying grasses and the buzzing sounds of chanting, yet there was no longer any me. These experiences were the cool breeze of Harvest Sesshin. They swept through everything, leaving not even the slightest trace. Deeper yet, there is the footing I like to call “light switch” Zen, nothing can be said, yet a sound can be made. Getting stuck here is easy. My internal dialog was, “I want emptiness again. I want to be one! Not these dam achy knees or irritating Zen Politics! I will just need to work harder at oneness”. Who can’t be stuck on these initial life altering experiences? We are like a fish in a small pool who swims so hard upward, and with so much intensity that he breaches the water’s surface, and for just a moment, glimpses a whole new extraordinary world, only to come crashing back down into the same old pool. “What the hell was that, and how do I get back?”, we scramble. Everything becomes about this experience. If asked anything about Zen, we thrust this experience forth! Too many together and they sound like a herd of cows! With this being said, it is so easy to make our home here yet, no matter how hard we try, the experience slips through our fingers like cradled water. Soon we are left with nothing but a decaying memory. No matter how hard we try to replicate our experience, the further away we seem to move from it. What a pity. For those who push through, and let go of even this footing, the rabbit hole goes even deeper. I explain these depths as “tearing through”. When we open fully, and let go to even the slightest attachment to oneness, we begin to press against the “membrane” that separates oneness from multiplicity. These two are many times explained as the full moon (pure consciousness) and its reflection dancing upon the ocean’s waves (positivity/ multiplicity). Such an odd reality when it comes to dichotic equations. When we push ever so deeper into one side, we may end up tearing through to the other and thereby creating a truly “non-dual” experience. You may exclaim, “You got your absolute negative in my absolute positive!”. I liken this to a single piece of paper. If we hold up a piece of paper, we may say it is “one” piece, yet that “one piece” is made up of two sides. Take away one side, and what is left? So, our “one” relies on “two”. What does this insight point too? What is it to both realize and navigate the true waters of “non-duality”? To ride the choppy waters of the ocean’s surface without ever truly leaving the darkest and deepest waters of its depths. What now…
My wife is such a loving Bodhisattva. We have four stray alley cats that we adopted when the zendo was in the city. One “Blue” ran into the zendo door, sat down and never left. I perceive I am responsible when any sentient being seeks help from me. Whether this is a person asking, the land weaping, or an animal suffering. Over the past two days a cat, who has obviously been thrown away or lost, has been sleeping under a tree in our back yard. She is dirty, skinny, scared and hungry. Karma has brought her to my home, my attention and my responsibility. For me there is no choice. However, my wife reminds me of the needs of the others already under our roof. This is not indifference or greed but, wisdom and compassion as well. She reminds me of the balance that is needed when we are dealing with resources. Seven beings already inhabit our structure, so there is limited space. It also costs a lot to care for three humans and four cats. There is medical, food, housing ect that is needed for everyone. I fight myself at times to balance heart and mind. As I said, today, for me, there is no choice. I don’t seek to save the world but, those in need who pass through my life will never be turned away. I may not be able to give exactly what is needed but, I will always do my best. She is feed, and she has a place to sleep. Tomorrow she may be gone or she may need more. I will do my best then as well. That is really all that we can do, our best.
The Bodhisattva Vow – Torei Enji
When I, a student of the Dharma, look at the real form of the universe, all is the never-failing manifestation of the mysterious truth of Tathagata. In any event, in any moment, and in any place, none can be other than the marvelous revelation of its glorious light.
This realization made our patriarchs and virtuous Zen masters extend tender care, with the worshiping heart, even to such beings as beasts and birds. This realization teaches us that our daily food, drink, clothes, and protections of life are the warm flesh and blood, the merciful incarnation of Buddha. Who can be ungrateful or not respectful to each and every thing, not to speak of a man! Even though someone may seem a fool, be warm and compassionate toward them. If by any chance such a person should turn against us, become a sworn enemy and abuse and persecute us, we should sincerely bow down with humble language, in reverent belief that he or she is the merciful avatar of Buddha, who uses devices to emancipate us from sinful karma that has been produced and accumulated upon ourselves by our own egoistic delusion and attachment through countless cycles of kalpas. Then in each moment’s flash of our thought there will grow a lotus flower, and on each lotus flower will reveal a Buddha. These Buddhas will glorify Sukhavati, the Pure Land, every moment and everywhere. May we extend this mind over all beings so that we and all beings together, may attain maturity in Buddha’s wisdom.
ATTA DIPA VIHARATHA ATTA SARANA ANANNA SARANA DHAMMA DIPA DHAMMA SARANA ANANNA SARANA
You are the light! Dwell.
You are the refuge.
Have no other as your refuge.
Light of the Dharma.
Refuge of the Dharma.
Have no other as your refuge.
These words were given by the Buddha to his cousin and student Ananda right before his death. Panicked and weeping, Ananda perceived he had lost his opportunity to awaken with the Buddha’s death. Ananda thought, “Who will lead and teach me?” The Buddha’s reply, his medicine, is beautiful and compassionate. Even upon his last moments, the Buddha comforted and empowered those around him. You are the light! These words are still spoken everyday by countless members of the Maha Sangha. These words still pacify and inspire countless students of the way. I invite you to not only speak these words but, to pass through the gate left by the Buddha, and KNOW, you are the light!