rivers into islands

rivers into islands

Saturday, May 30, 2015

No Gap Between

Considering the Wild Fox koan where a Zen master falls into the body
 of a fox for five hundred years, Dogen questions, “…Just what is the
 subject that falls and just what is the object fallen into?”
In response, Dogen turns the question and brings it back home:
“What form and color does the universe that has continued from the past
have in the present?”
Dosho Port, Keep me In Your Heart A While [from Dogen,
“Great Practices” (Daishugyo), in Gudo Nishijima and Chodo
Cross trans., Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo, Book 4]

“Before you think who you are, you are you,’ means you are exactly
 the universe, exactly, harmoniously intimate, no gap between.”
Dainin Katagiri, in Dosho Port, Keep me In Your Heart A While

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Despite The Buddha's Warnings

Despite the Buddha’s warnings, his insistence on the individual experience of these truths by means of meditation, and despite his advocacy of a “middle way” that shunned asceticism as much as it did hedonism, Buddha’s practice became a widely doctrinal system, caught up in rituals and scholasticism.  After his death, his disciples split up into sects, many advocating the very means and ends against which their teacher had warned.

….The tendency of students, however, to revert to dependence on gods, the Buddha, and the “holy” scriptures persisted.
            Perle Besserman & Manfred Steger, Crazy Clouds


A]            Taking care of the psychosocial realm: for example:

 Fire, Tenderness and Awakening (Race, Sexuality and Gender)
Transforming Depression and Anxiety Through Mindfulness and Compassion
Meeting Trauma and Finding Balance
Zen Approaches to Sickness& Dying
Queer Dharma Group
Four Perspectives on Dharma: Therapy, Spirituality, Science and Religion
Buddhist Psychology
Zen Therapy
The Awakened Writer
                         San Francisco Zen Center 5/13/15

Another characteristic of contemporary Buddhist practice, encouraged by Dharma centers, is to combine meditation with other practices--community circles, twelve-step programs, psychotherapy, martial arts, shakuhachi, drawing, pilgrimages to holy sites, clowning, writing, yoga, cooking, and/or precepts as Moses' commandments.  Whatever the teacher or influential community members happen to be interested in is combined with Buddhadharma and some as the true way, perhaps augmenting the center's membership with people who aren't really interested in traditional dharma practice.  Dosho Port, Keep Me In Your Heart A While

or meditation as mindfulness training that emphasizes awareness, compassion and well-being

B]            The centrality of rules, etiquette and hierarchy.

Meditation, enlightenment, teacher-student relationship, celibacy, lay practice, gender, nature, social convention, leadership hierarchy/administrative roles, sexuality, the play of family/children, socio-political involvement [activism, environmentalism, racism, homelessness, militarism, mental health, illness, nationalism, warrior, anarchism, eccentricity, indigenous/alien], ritual [sutra recitation, chanting, prostration, eating, walking, clothing, sitting form, degree of asceticism in practice—endurance, striking, fasting], public education, retreats, community activities, ecumenism, funding/financial issues

This is quite different from:
            The body is not the bodhi tree, mind is not a mirror stand, nothing to polish
with no place for dust to alight.

Peopling Of The Earth

ALIVENESS AS A PERSON is not finally as a person—which is to say in a popular sense as a body or as a “brain-mind” or as a modern Casper-like soul-ghost. There is an oceanus, a cosmos, of aliveness, intelligence that is visible in a person, tree, wind, water. 

In Returning to Silence, Dainen Katagiri suggests that in looking at a tree, “From moment to moment, the tree explains itself.  If we look casually, we likely see our sense of what we have learned to define as a tree rather than the essence of a tree.  But if we exclude our presumptions, Katagiri suggests that “There is something more beautiful and much more worthy than what we usually see.”  He suggests that the universe is the content—“the whole personality”—of the tree or of anything that we look at.  In this sense, instead of an object or force we are looking through a gateless gate.  The event in the moment is the expression of the universe in that place and time.  And if we see what Siddartha saw, we do not simply imagine the universe before us.  We directly experience ourselves, and the discriminators of “I” and “we” drop away—no longer a perception of looking outward or looking at.