2017-12-16

Dec 21 - 27

Winter, week 1
"This moment is the koan. When practice and realization are without complexity, the koan is this present moment. That which is before any trace arises and the scenery on the other side of time's destruction, the activity of all Buddhas and awakened Ancestors, is just this one thing." --Keizan Jokin
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is Sat Dec 23, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice to be led by Meredith.

Chants for Thu Dec 21 - Wed Dec 27:
  • Shorter Precepts, p. 62
  • Four Commitments, p. 65
  • Fourfold Commitment to Social Justice, p. 66
  • Heart Sutra, p. 14
See Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed. and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: In Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, 4th ed., pp. 50-57.
Starting Sat Jan 6, our book will be, Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special.

At Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
  • Coming and Going Sesshin, Tue Jan 2, 19:00 – Mon Jan 22, 12:00. During these three weeks, participants "come and go" -- select a day, a week-end, several days, a week, or more when you can partake of this "encounter of the heart" (sesshin). INFO HERE.

Gateless Gate 3

108
Gateless Gate (Mumonkan, Wumenguan) #3
Judi's One Finger (extended version)

Case
Whatever he was asked about Zen, Master Judi, simply stuck up one finger.
He had a boy attendant whom a visitor asked, "What kind of teaching does your master give?"
The boy held up one finger too.
Hearing of this, Judi cut off the boy's finger with a knife.
As the boy ran away screaming with pain, Judi called to him. When the boy turned his head, Judi stuck up one finger.
The boy was suddenly enlightened.
When Judi was about to die, he said to the assembled monks, "I have received this one-finger Zen from Hangzhou. I've used it all my life but have not exhausted it."
Having said this, he entered nirvana.

Blue Cliff Record 19, Book of Serenity 84

107
Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #19
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #84
Judi's One Finger (briefer version)

Yuanwu's Preface
When even one particle stirs, the whole universe is involved; a blossom opens and the orld responds. But what do you see when no particle stirs and a blossom does not open? It is said that it is like cutting the thread on a reel: one cut and you cut it all. Or it is like dyeing the thread on a reel: dye it once and you dye it all. Now, if you eradicate all the complications that affect you and bring out the treasure within you, you will find that everything is all right, above and below, before and behind. If you have not yet done so, see the following.
Wansong's Preface
One hearing, a thousand realizations; one understanding, a thousand follow suit.
The people with the highest spirit capture all when one has been decided;
The people with the middle and lower spirits hear much, but do not believe much.
I will try to bring up the clear and the simple matter, look!
Case
Judi, whenever he was asked a question, only raised a finger.

Book of Serenity 94

106
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #94
Dongshan Unwell

Personnel
  • Dongshan Liangjie (Tozan Ryokai, 807-69, 11th gen). Go to DONGSHAN
  • An unnamed monk
Wansong's Preface
The lower do not discuss the higher; the humble do not move the dignified.
Even if one rules over oneself and follows the others,
One should not burden the heavy by the light.
When the four elements [earth, water, fire, and wind] are not in order [i.e., when one is ill], how would one attend and serve?
Case
Dongshan was unwell. A monk asked, “Your Reverence is unwell. Is there anyone who does not become ill?”
Dongshan said, “There is.”
The monk said, “Does the one who does not get ill take care of Your Reverence?”
Dongshan said, “‘The old monk’ is properly taking care of the other one.”
The monk said, “How about when ‘your Reverence’ takes care of the other one?”
Dongshan said, “[The old monk] does not see that there is illness.”

Book of Serenity 98

105
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #98
Dongshan's "Intimate With It"

Personnel
  • Dongshan Liangjie (Tozan Ryokai, 807-69, 11th gen). Go to DONGSHAN
  • An unnamed monk
Wansong's Preface
Jiufeng, by cutting off his tongue, followed Shishuang faithfully;
Caoshan, by cutting off his head, did not go against Dongshan.
The tongues of the ancients are so intimate as these.
Where is the art of doing good to people?
Case
A monk asked Dongshan, “Among the three bodies [of the Buddha -- namely, Dharmakaya (Dharma-body), Sambhogakaya (body of reward), Nirmanakaya (accommodated body)], what body does not degenerate into numbers [i.e. get trapped in numbers such as the three sections of “six roots [=sense organs], six functions, six areas”, the seven elements of “earth, water, fire, wind, etc.” and so on]?”
Dongshan said, “I am always most keenly with it.”

2017-12-15

Dec 14-20

Autumn, week 13
"Of itself, the fruit is born. Out of our zazen, out of our bearing witness, the right action arises. We don['t have to worry about what to do, we don't have to worry about what's right or wrong. If we function from the state of not-knowing, if we bear witness, the offering arises, the fruit is born. Isn't that a relief?" --Bernie Glassman
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is Sat Dec 16, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice to be led by Meredith.

New Edition of Our Sutra Book! You can see the FOURTH edition of the Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book: CLICK HERE. Downloading may be easier HERE.

We'll also have printed copies available at Saturday practice starting Dec 16 -- including copies you can take with you for home practice.

Chants for Thu Dec 14 - Wed Dec 20, with page numbers for the new edition:
  • Hakuin’s Song of Zazen, p. 17
  • Self and Other the Same, p. 37
  • Field of Boundless Emptiness, p. 37
  • Yuibutsu Yobutsu 4, p. 48
There's a new BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule (to go with the new Sutra Book): CLICK HERE

Here's what Guiding Teacher Josh Bartok says about the new edition:
This edition, at 90 pages, is expanded by 50% over the previous edition. I and the other Guiding Teachers believe that this document, even more than before, thoroughly represents the scope, teachings, emphasis, and context of Boundless Way Zen.

We'll be using this sutra book as the study text for the Coming-and-Going Sesshin in January-and I encourage students of BoWZ to throughly explore, reflect, on and practice with the many powerful texts in the sutra book, perhaps rotating through reading them aloud at home. I encourage BoWZ Dharma Teachers to give talks from the sutra book and to select texts that go along with your talks. And I encourage everyone to bring questions and resonances to any of us in dokusan, or in dharma dialogue!

We've made a number of changes, including to material we use in nearly every service-so the sangha will all want to read along in the books for while, even if you've memorized previous versions.

Let me mention a few such changes we're excited about.

We've expanded the Ancestors Dedication to enable us to better honor and acknowledge our debt to the women ancestors near to all three of the BoWZ lineages whose practice has directly or indirectly impacted our own. Many names are still "left unsung"-but the dedication is now made up of 50% women ancestors, in our attempt to begin to right the wrong of historical erasure and silencing. Moreover, in the back of the sutra book you'll find brief biographies of every ancestor mentioned.

In the material added to this edition, we've also taken great care to bring forth the voice of women. There are pieces from two contemporary Zen Teachers of Color: angel Kyodo williams, and Zenju Earthlyn Manuel. There a piece from Daehaeng Sunim, a contemporary and influential Korean Seon master. We've added a poem from Wendy Egyoku Nakao, Abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, and a additional piece from Joan Tollifson, as well as a resonant piece by Rebecca Solnit. These join the pieces written by women in the previous edition, Awakening from Discouragement (by Tollifson), The Ship of Compassion (by Miaoshi) and Spring Everywhere (by Shundo Aoyama).

We've changed the text of the Gatha of the Atonement to emphasize not just momentary at-one-ment, but also the ongoing effort of contrition, reparation, and change. Accordingly, the Gatha now ends "I vow to atone for it all" (rather than "Now I atone for it all"). CHANTING NOTE: folks are encourage to chant "I-VOW" quickly together, and "TO-ATONE" quickly together--rather than giving each of those four words equal slow weight (i.e., not: "I vow to atone ").

We've added more options in the dedications, and are now encouraging people to remain with head bowed during the speaking of individual names. We've broken up some of the longest pieces into shorter more wieldy chunks.

We've changed the chant leader's role in the 4 Bodhisattva Vows-now they will chant the title, and then the entire sangha will join in from the very beginning of the first vow.

We've brought in additional material for memorials, suggest Egyoku Nakao's "A Blessing for the Journey" perhaps for weddings, have included a revised version of the less formal Oryoki spoken chant we do on Coming-and-Going, have included a few mantras for people to explore practice with, and a powerful primarily-about-sound-only chant from the Shin tradition that can be richly used at at times of remembrance and recommitment-and other times as well. We have two pieces we're calling "Prayers" from Shantideva and Larry Yang.

And then there are many powerful new teachings from Dogen, Keizan, Koun Yamada, Dainin Katigiri, Kosho Uchiyama... and more!

And to make it all more useable, we've added in the back an Index by Title and an Index by Author.

I'm so thrilled to begin practicing with this new edition of the sutra book.

And may we realize the Buddha Way together!
Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, Chapter 14 and Epilogue, pp. 125-142.
For Dec 23 and Dec 30, the reading will be selections from the New Sutra Book.
Starting Sat Jan 6, our book will be, Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special.

At Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
  • Coming and Going Sesshin, Tue Jan 2, 19:00 – Mon Jan 22, 12:00. During these three weeks, participants "come and go" -- select a day, a week-end, several days, a week, or more when you can partake of this "encounter of the heart" (sesshin). INFO HERE.
Meredith's latest Koan Post: Book of Serenity #89, "Dongshan's 'Place of No Grass'": CLICK HERE.

2017-12-12

Book of Serenity 89

104
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #89
Dongshan's "Place of No Grass"

Personnel
  • Dongshan Liangjie (Tozan Ryokai, 807-69, 11th gen). Go to DONGSHAN
  • Shishuang Qingzhu (Sekiso Keisho, 807-88, 11th gen). Go to SHISHUANG Q
  • Dayang Jingxuan (Taiyo Kyogen, 943-1027, 16th gen). Go to DAYANG
Wansong's Preface
If you move, you bury your body ten thousand feet deep.
If you don’t move, roots grow right at your very place.
Even if you throw away both and cast off the middle,
You must buy some straw sandals and set out on a pilgrimage,
In order to truly attain it.
Case
Dongshan instructed the assembly and said, “At the beginning of autumn and the end of summer, you, brothers, are departing east and west. Thus you go directly to the place of no grass over ten thousand miles.” And again he said, “How will you go to the place of no grass over ten thousand miles?”
[A few weeks later] Shishuang said, “When you go out of the gate, there is grass all over!”
[Over a century later] Dayang said, “I would say: Even if you don't go out of the gate, grass is abundant everywhere."
Background
Dongshan and Shishuang were the same age, both born 807. Emperor Wuzong (reigned 840-846) instigated a persecution of Buddhism (and all religions other than Confucianism and Taoism). Many monasteries were closed, their property seized and the monks and nuns sent home to a lay life. Dongshan was at that time prominent enough to be left alone. Shishuang, however, left behind his robes and became a potter for three years. In 847, as the persecution was lifting, a monk came who had spent the summer retreat at Dongshan. Shishuang asked, "Where are you coming from?"
"Dongshan," said the monk.
Shishuang asked, "What is Master Dongshan saying to the disciples?"
The monk said, "Recently, when he was disbanding the summer retreat, the master went up in the hall and said, 'It's the beginning of autumn, the end of summer, and you brethren will go, some east, some west; you must go where there's not an inch of grass for ten thousand miles.' Then added, "But where there's not an inch of grass for ten thousand miles, how can you go?"
Shishuang said, "Going out the gate, immediately there's grass."
The monk reported this to Dongshan, who said, "This is a saying of a teacher of fifteen hundred people -- but how many could there be in all of China?"
Once Shishuang's excellence was exposed, the fragrance of ripeness floated on the air. The Buddhist community asked him to be a monk again, and dwell at Stone Frost (Shishuang) monastery. In time he fulfilled Dongshan's prediction and had 1500 monks.
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Grass all over.
   Grass boundless;
You, inside and outside the gate, see for yourself!
   Inside the gate, outside the gate, you see by yourself.
In a thicket of briars it's easy to place your feet.
   To set foot in the forest of thorns is easy.
In darkness, outside drawn blinds, it's hard to turn your body around.
   To turn the body outside the luminous screeen is hard.
See! See! How many!
   Look! Look!
   How many kinds?
For a time, be as an old tree with wintry skeletal branches;
   For the while going along with the old tree, with the same emaciation in the cold,
be about to pursue the spring breezes, about to enter the burned-out fields.
   About to follow the spring wind into the scars of the burning.
National Teacher Shan of Yantong's Comment
Tell me, how can you express where you are right now? If you say there's not an inch of grass for ten thousand miles, you may see Dongshan. If you say upon going out the gate immediately there's grass, you may see Shishuang. If you say even not going out the gate there's boundless grass, you may see Dayang. If you can't speak at all, you may see me. Why? There is only a good wind coming over the assembly; there are no more useless words falling into human society.
Wick's Comment
No grass means no weeds, no delusions, and no attachments. But if you go outside the monastery gate, there's grass, and if you don't go outside the gate, there's grass. What are you going to do? The point of this koan is to see one's true self and remain undisturbed inside and outside. To be undisturbed outside means seeing the True Nature of phenomena without adding anything extra. To be undisturbed inside means seeing the True Nature of one's self without sprouting delusions. This very mind is Buddha (as Mazu said), yet when we try to describe it, it eludes us. As soon as we describe it, grass springs up everywhere. Thoughts arise continually like grass and we miss the miracle. If we look closely at our mind, we see there are gaps between the thoughts. Who are you when there are gaps between the thoughts? Going outside the gate, I meet myself everywhere. Inside the gate, I meet myself everywhere. There's no firm ground upon which to stand. As soon as you make it firm, that's grass.
Yamada's Comment
We can probably understand "grass" as meaning our conceptual thoughts and ideas. Dongshan is telling his monks to practice and go to that place where not a single thought arises. Dayang says that, even if you don’t step outside the gate, there is grass everywhere. The idea of inside or outside the gate is a concept. This itself is already “grass.” In the essential world there is no inside and outside. If you are speaking about going outside the gate, it means there is an outside. Actually, however, the main point to examine in this koan is the original statement of Dongshan: “But you should go directly to the place of no grass over ten thousand miles.” Still, the world of satori is a lonely world since there is nothing there. You must realize that world, but it will not do to take up residence there. You must return to life and come out into this “world of red dust,” the world of enduring indignities. Otherwise there is no way you can save all beings.
Daido's Comment
Going to a place where there is not an inch of grass for ten thousand miles is truly auspicious, but if there is no grass, how can there be coming and going to begin with? If you are to enter the endless spring of real activity, you must first be free of both sides and then let go of even the middle.
Daido's Verse
Passing through the forest of brambles,
   we enter clear ground.
Then, like the spring breeze,
   we must enter the scars of the burned-out fields.
Catherine Gammon's Verse
Dongshan's "No Grass"
Grass inside the gate—
inside the inside
boundless
No grass — where?
Just here just now —
just the other side of one thin blade
Hotetsu's Verse
There is a plot I plant and weed assiduously.
Other areas grow mostly wild:
I support an occasional sapling, maybe cull a little.
Then there are forests I traverse without changing.
I have seen the earth all bare, and see it bare now,
All its growth transparent.

2017-12-06

Dec 7 - 13

Autumn, week 12
"Enlightenment does not follow from doing Zen; rather, to be enlightened is to do Zen, and vice versa." --Bernie Glassman
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is Sat Dec 9, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice to be led by Meredith.

Chants for Thu Nov 23 - Wed Dec 20:
  • Loving-Kindness Sutra, p. 20
  • Guidepost for Silent Illumination, p. 29
  • The Many and the One, p. 45
  • Mind Like the Moon, p. 45
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, Chapter 14, "Nonkilling," pp. 125-134.
Next up: starting Sat Jan 6, our book will be, Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special.

Case this week: Book of Serenity #56, "Dongshan, Sengmi, and the Rabbit": CLICK HERE.

At Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
  • Coming and Going Sesshin, Tue Jan 2, 19:00 – Mon Jan 22, 12:00. During these three weeks, participants "come and go" -- select a day, a week-end, several days, a week, or more when you can partake of this "encounter of the heart" (sesshin). INFO HERE.

2017-12-01

Nov 30 - Dec 6

Autumn, week 11
"Everything we do, even sleeping in our bedroom alone with the lights out, affects the whole universe. When we really see this, our whole life has to change." --Bernie Glassman
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is Sat Dec 2, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice to be led by Terry Truta.

Chants for Thu Nov 23 - Wed Dec 20:
  • Loving-Kindness Sutra, p. 20
  • Guidepost for Silent Illumination, p. 29
  • The Many and the One, p. 45
  • Mind Like the Moon, p. 45
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, Chapter 13, "The Three Treasures and the Three Pure Precepts" pp. 117-124.
Next up: starting Sat Jan 6, our book will be, Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special.

Case this week: Book of Serenity #56, "Dongshan, Sengmi, and the Rabbit": CLICK HERE.

At Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
  • Rohatsu Sesshin, Thu Dec 7, 20:00, to Sun Dec 10, 13:00.
  • Coming and Going Sesshin, Tue Jan 2, 19:00 – Mon Jan 22, 12:00. During these three weeks, participants "come and go" -- select a day, a week-end, several days, a week, or more when you can partake of this "encounter of the heart" (sesshin). INFO HERE.

2017-11-29

Book of Serenity 56

103
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #56
Dongshan, Sengmi, and the Rabbit

Personnel
  • Dongshan Liangjie (Tozan Ryokai, 807-69, 11th gen). Go to DONGSHAN
  • Shenshan Sengmi -- i.e., Mi Shibo (Uncle Mi) (Shinzan Somitsu, n.d., 11th gen): A dharma brother of Dongshan's and fellow disciple of Yunyan -- called "Uncle" because he is older than Dongshan.
Wansong's Preface
Even if one sank forever in hell, one would not look for the Liberation of the saints;
Devadatta enjoyed the bliss of the three-Dhyana-Heaven amid uninterrupted hell.
Udraka Ramaputra fell from the zenith of heaven down into the body of a flying raccoon.
Just tell me, where is the gain or loss?
Case
When Dongshan and his spiritual Uncle Mi were walking together, they saw a white rabbit run by in front of them.
Mi said, “How swift!”
Dongshan said, “In what way?”
Mi said, “It is just like a person in white clothes [i.e., a commoner] being venerated as a prime minister.”
Dongshan said, “You are such an elderly and respectable man, and still you say something like that?”
Mi said, “Then how about you?”
Dongshan said, “A noble of an ancient house is temporarily fallen into poverty.”
Background from Wansong
Dongshan and Master Sengmi of Shanshen were crossing a stream.
Dongshan asked, "How is the event of crossing the stream?"
Sengmi said, "Doesn't wet the feet."
Dongshan said, "A venerable old person like you using such words!?"
Mi said, "How about you?"
Dongshan said, "The feet are not wet."
Wansong's Comment
In the teachings, there are two gates, natural and cultivated. In Dongshan's lineage this is called "using the accomplishment to illustrate the state." Usually we awaken by means of cultivation, entering sagehood from ordinariness -- a commoner is directly appointed prime minister. If you're first enlightened and then cultivate afterwards, you enter ordinariness from sagehood -- traditional nobility is originally honorable. Though drifting destitute in myriad conditions, the basic constitution is still there. That is why it is said, "In the metaphor of the destitute son is illustrated the Path. In the verse on presenting the jewel is shown the net of salvation."
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Contending strength with frost and snow.,
   Matching strength with snow and frost,
footsteps alike in cloud and heaven:
   Walking evenly through clouds and sleet.
Kake left the country; Shojo crossed the bridge.
   Xiahui left the country,
   Xiangru crossed the bridge.
Shoso's strategy made the Han dynasty prosper.
   Xiao and Cao's strategy was able to establish the Han,
Sokyo's body and mind wanted to avoid Gyo.
   Chao and Xu wanted to avoid Yao completely.
Favor and disgrace do unsettle.
Have firm faith in yourself.
   Favor and disgrace are disturbing -- profoundly trust in yourself:
The genuine spirit -- mingling footprints, mixing with fishermen and woodcutters.
   In the real state one mixes tracks with fishermen and woodcutters.
A Dongshan Verse
Who can be tuned to that beyond what is and what is not?
Though all persons want to leave the ever-flowing stream,
Each returns to sit among the coals and ashes.
Wick's Comment
There are two aspects of our practice and realization: the intrinsic and the experiential. Intrinsically, you are Buddha. But have you experienced it? Usually in the Zen tradition, we awaken through our steady practice, through focusing and quieting our mind, allowing our concentration to develop ever more deeply into samadhi. That's called "entering sagehood from ordinariness."
Realization is a place to get stuck. But having such an experience, letting go of it, refining it, and maybe having aditional realizations and letting go of them is called "entering ordinariness from sagehood." It means not holding onto anything.
The mind is quick and zig-zags like a rabbit. It cannot be grasped or controlled. Yet ultimately there's no thing there to control.
To "sit among the coals and ashes" is the compassionate activity of the bodhisattva. There is no separation: everything is one body.
Wherever you try to hold on, right there, it's a problem.
Yamada's Comment
Mi said, “Then how about you?” Dongshan said, “A noble of an ancient house is temporarily fallen into poverty.” In reply to Uncle Mi’s statement, in which he praises the rabbit for “divine powers” far exceeding a rabbit, Dongshan says there is just the rabbit. It’s quite difficult to realize this koan. One way to say it is: I’m fine just as I am. All beings are intrinsically Buddha, and already posses the limitless and absolute from the very beginning. You temporarily fall into poverty, but that impoverished state is perfectly fine. If you stick to the belief that you need money or social status to become peaceful, it’s not the real thing. You have to realize that you are alone honored under heaven, even if you fall and lose everything.
Catherine Gammon's Verse
Spiritual Uncle Mi and the Rabbit

Words like frogs singing --
empty them of meaning.
Remember from what you are fallen.
Quick -- is it by error or design,
vow or consequence?
In the small rabbit see the great,
invisible beyond it --
beyond it, no beyond,
no great or small,
no error -- just this.
Hotetsu's Verse
Dashing rabbit zips past. So swift!
Rabbit-watching Uncle stands motionless. So swift!
"Wherever you go, there you are" --
And somewhere else, too. So swift!

2017-11-24

Nov 23 - 29

Autumn, week 10
"The purpose of the precepts is to deepen our awareness of the aspects of our lives and our understanding of why we are making the glass dirty all the time. As a result, we are led in the direction of taking better care of the glass." --Bernie Glassman
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is Sat Nov 25, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice will be led by Meredith.

Chants for Thu Nov 23 - Wed Dec 20:
  • Loving-Kindness Sutra, p. 20
  • Guidepost for Silent Illumination, p. 29
  • The Many and the One, p. 45
  • Mind Like the Moon, p. 45
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, Chapter 12, "The Bodhisattva Precepts: Literal, Subjective, and Intrinsic Perspectives" pp. 111-116.
Next up: starting Sat Jan 6, our book will be, Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special.
(Note: This is a change from Yamada Koun, Authentic Zen. If you've already purchased Authentic Zen, hang on to it -- we will be getting to that later. It just seemed a good idea to do Joko's book first, so please go ahead an order Nothing Special as well. Thank you!)

Case this week: Book of Serenity #49, "Dongshan and the Memorial Service": CLICK HERE.

At Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
  • Buddhism 101, is a four-part series. You need not have attended earlier parts to attend any of the dates. The remaining date is Sat Dec 2. Information: HERE. Registration: HERE. For carpooling from White Plains, email to Brain LaVoie: brianlavoie43 -at- gmail -dot- com
  • Rohatsu Sesshin, Thu Dec 7, 20:00, to Sun Dec 10, 13:00.
  • Coming and Going Sesshin, Tue Jan 2, 19:00 – Mon Jan 22, 12:00. During these three weeks, participants "come and go" -- select a day, a week-end, several days, a week, or more when you can partake of this "encounter of the heart" (sesshin). INFO HERE.

2017-11-23

Book of Serenity 49

102
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #49
Dongshan and the Memorial Service

Personnel
  • Dongshan Liangjie (Tozan Ryokai, 807-69, 11th gen). Go to DONGSHAN
  • Yunyan Tansheng (Ungan Donjo, 780-841, 10th gen). Go to YUNYAN
  • An unnamed monk
Wansong's Preface
However hard one may try,
It can never be depicted, it can never be drawn.
Puhua made a somersault*, Longya exposed only half his body.**
After all, what is the appearance of that One?
[*Master Panshan (720-814), shortly before his death, brought in his disciples and told them to depict the Greatest Matter. Puhua (d. 860) made a somersault and went out.
**There is a portrait of Longya (835-920), on which only the half of his body is painted. On the back side of the portrait stand the following verses: “The sun comes out and lines itself with the mountains; the moon is round and shines upon each house. This is not no-body; I do not want to expose all.”]
Case
When Dongshan held a memorial service for Yunyan before his portrait, he told the episode related to the portrait.
Then a monk asked, “When Yunyan said, 'Just this!' what did that mean?”
Dongshan said, “At that time, I almost misunderstood my master's intention.”
The monk said, “I wonder whether or not Yunyan really knew that it is.”
Dongshan said, “If he did not know that it is, how could he say like that? If he knew that it is, how did he dare say like that?”
Background: "The Episode Related to the Portrait"
Dongshan was still a young monk under Yunyan.
One day, when he was leaving his master, he asked Yunyan, “After your passing, if I am asked by someone whether I have your portrait [or: "if I can describe your reality"], what should I answer?”
Yunyan remained silent for a while and then said, “Just this [is it].”
Dongshan sank into thought.
When Dongshan was about to go, Yunyan called to Dongshan, “Dear Liangji [Dongshan’s given name]!”, and said, “If you want to attain this Great Matter, go straight to it and be utmost precise!”
Dongshan left without saying anything more. Later, as he was crossing a river he saw his reflection and then for the first time was thoroughly enlightened. Thereupon he composed a verse.
Dongshan's Verse Upon His Enlightenment
Just don't seek from others, or you'll be far estranged from Self.
I now go on alone; everywhere I meet It:
It now is me; I now am not It.
One must understand in this way to merge with thusness.
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
How could he speak thus?
   How could he be able to say this?
Fifth watch, and a cock crows: dawn in the forest of houses.
   In the third watch the cock crows -- Dawn for the forest of homes.
Why did he even speak thus?
   How could he be willing to say this?
Thousand-year-old crane and cloud-piercing pine together grow old.
   The thousand-year crane grows old with the pine in the clouds.
The jewel mirror lucidly tests Absolute and Relative:
   The jewel mirror, clear and bright, shows absolute and relative:
the bejeweled loom, with shuttle flying.
See the unstopped finish.
   The jade machine revolves -- see them both show up at once.
The school's style prospers greatly; rules mosey along.
   The Way of the school is greatly influential, its regulated steps continuous and fine:
Father and son transforming throughout,
their charisma expanding.
   Father and son change and pass through -- oceanic is their fame.
Dongshan Background (from Wansong)
Dongshan first dwelt at Baiji temple on Mount Xinfeng in the latter part of the Dazhong era of the Tang dynasty (847-859); later he moved to Mount Dong at Gaoan in Yuzhang, where he was the first generation. As he was conducting a memorial service for Yunyan, a monk asked, "What instruction did you receive at your late teacher's place?"
Dongshan said, "Although I was there, I didn't receive his instruction."
The monk said, "Then why conduct a service for him?"
Dongshan said, "Even so, how dare I turn my back on him?"
The monk said, "You rose to prominence at Nanquan's -- then why do you instead conduct a service for Yunyan?"
Dongshan said, "I do not esteem my late teacher's virtues or his buddhist teaching; I only value the fact that he didn't explain everything for me."
The monk said, "You succeeded to the late teacher; then do you agree with him or not?"
Dongshan said, "I half agree, half don't agree."
The monk said, "Why don't you completely agree?"
Dongshan said, "If I completely agreed, then I would be unfaithful to my late teacher."
Wick's Comment
If Yunyan didn't know the essence, how could he say anything about it? If he did know the essence, for what reason would he say anything about it? What would you say?
Yamada's Comment
The monk said, “I wonder whether or not Yunyan really knew that it is.” The monk is asking whether Yunyan really knew that “there is essential nature.” To say such a thing already becomes a concept and “dirties” essential nature when you speak in terms of true self or essential nature. But he does not use such names.
Dongshan said, “If he did not know that it is, how could he say like that? If he knew that it is, how did he dare say like that?” In other words, if Yunyan had not realized that world, how could he have said “just this?” It was because he had realized it that he was able to say what he did. The second part means that, if he still knew that it is, (i.e., if he was still clinging to an idea of there being something like satori or being enlightened), how could he have said it like he did? So the world of “just this” means coming to great enlightenment and then completely forgetting, completely wiping away any trace of that enlightenment. It is only then that you can truly say, “just this.” Then there is “thusness” or “suchness.” When you stand there is only standing. When you sit there is only sitting. When you are sad there is only sad, with nothing else sticking to it. Wansong's Preface asks, “After all, what is the appearance of that One?” In this koan, Yunyan represents the appearance of the person who has completely grasped the matter.
Daido's Comment
"This is it" is not a matter of intellect. The more you linger in thought over it, the further you stray from the truth. A lightning bolt arrives as it departs, in a single instant. Any reflection on the matter is an abstraction of its reality. Now tell me, without falling into intellectual interpretations and without standing in dumb silence, how do you see it?
As for ancestor Dongshan's answer to the monastic, "If he didn't know it, how could he have said these words?" it is as clear as the bright dawning sun of the first morning. As for "If he did know it, how could he have said these words?" it is as present as the valley stream hidden in the morning mist.
Daido's Verse
Deep in these mountains
is an ancient pond.
Shallow or deep,
its bottom has never been seen.
Taigen Shizan's Verse
Dongshan Presents Offerings: Presented to My Teacher from Over a Bridge
The immediate offering of Just This cannot be tolled.
Not grasping outside, who would fail to taste?
Waiting for someone to whom I never need explain,
When the jade workings turn, the apparent is real, and real apparent.
Now I am not you, but how truly you are me.
Just this, Just this--caring for it well;
Though I cross the great water, everywhere I meet you,
Only half agreeing, I work to repay my ancient debt.
Hotetsu's Verse
Silent, I unconscionably allow the lies to stand.
Speaking, I only introduce new lies.
Sit, stand, walk, eat, wash, sleep.
Speaking or silent,
Dustless truth presents continuously.
Sit, stand, walk, eat, wash, sleep.

2017-11-16

Nov 16 - 22

Autumn, week 9

Our regular Saturday practice will, on Sat Nov 18, begin at 8:45am, and it will be in Stamford, CT.

Please join us for this special practice opportunity. Boundless Way Guiding Teaching David Rynick will lead our practice, give a dharma talk, and offer one-on-one interviews for those who would like.

We will practice at:

First Congregational Church
1 Walton Pl
Stamford, CT

This extended practice time is open to people of all experience levels. Register here: http://www.fccstamford.org/events/meditation.

Registration begins at 8:30 and the practice begins promptly at 9:00, going until noon.

Events at Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
  • Buddhism 101, is a four-part series. You need not have attended earlier parts to attend any of the dates. The two remaining dates are Sat Nov 11, and Sat Dec 2. Information: HERE. Registration: HERE. For carpooling from White Plains, email to Brain LaVoie: brianlavoie43 -at- gmail -dot- com
  • Rohatsu Sesshin, Thu Dec 7, 20:00, to Sun Dec 10, 13:00.
  • The Coming and Going Sesshin, Tue Jan 2, 7:00pm - Mon Jan 22, noon. MORE INFO HERE

2017-11-10

Nov 9 - 15

Autumn, week 8
"We don't practice to become enlightened; because we're enlightened, we practice....If we don't see that this is it, that this moment is the state of enlightenment itself, then we're lost, we've gone astray." --Bernie Glassman
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is Sat Nov 11, 10:00 - 11:45am, room 24
Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice will be led by Meredith.

Chants for Thu Nov 9 - Wed Nov 15:
  • Facing Everything, p. 27
  • The Misunderstanding of Many Lifetimes, p. 28
  • Fukenzazengi, part 1, p. 36
  • Menju, p. 42
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, Chapter 11, "Two Arrows That Meet in Midair" pp. 102-106.
Next up: starting Sat Dec 23, our book will be, Yamada Koun, Zen: The Authentic Gate.

Case this week: Blue Cliff Record #43, "Dongshan's 'No Cold or Heat'": CLICK HERE.

Sat Nov 18: Morning Meditation Retreat: 9am-noon. Registration at 8:30.
First Congregational Church
1 Walton Pl
Stamford, CT
Led by Boundless Way Guiding Teaching David Rynick, this retreat, open to people of all experience levels, is a wonderful opportunity. Register here: http://www.fccstamford.org/events/meditation.
Our regular Saturday practice is replaced by this event.

Events at Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
  • Buddhism 101, is a four-part series. You need not have attended earlier parts to attend any of the dates. The two remaining dates are Sat Nov 11, and Sat Dec 2. Information: HERE. Registration: HERE. For carpooling from White Plains, email to Brain LaVoie: brianlavoie43 -at- gmail -dot- com
  • Practice and Study Retreat. Fri Nov 3, 19:00, to Sun Nov 5, 13:00. Information: HERE. Registration: HERE
  • Rohatsu Sesshin, Thu Dec 7, 20:00, to Sun Dec 10, 13:00.

2017-11-08

Blue Cliff Record 43

101
Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #43
Dongshan's "No Cold or Heat"

Personnel
  • Dongshan Liangjie (Tozan Ryokai, 807-69, 11th gen). Go to DONGSHAN
  • An unnamed monk
Yuanwu's Preface
The words which command the universe are obeyed through the ages.
The spirit able to quell the tiger amazes even thousands of the holy ones.
His words are matchless, his spirit prevails everywhere.
If you want to go through with your advanced training, you must enter the great master's forge.
Tell me, who could ever show such spirit? See the following.
Case
A monk said to Dongshan, "Cold and heat descend upon us. How can we avoid them?"
Dongshan said, "Why don't you go where there is no cold or heat?"
The monk said, "Where is the place where there is no cold or heat?"
Dongshan said, "When cold, let it be so cold that it kills you; when hot, let it be so hot that it kills you."
Background and Related
When Dongshan was with Nanquan, one of Mazu's disciples, Nanquan observed the anniversary of Mazu's death and said to the assembly, "Will Mazu come back to us?"
Dongshan said, "If there is company fit for him, he will.
Nanquan appreciated this answer.

When Dongshan was studying with Guishan, he asked Guishan about National Teacher Nanyang Huizhong's "Sermons by insentient creatures."
Guishan said, "Sermons by insentient creatures are given here for us, too, but few can hear them."
Dongshan said, "I am not yet certain about them. Would you please teach me?"
Guishan said nothing, but raised his hossu [a short staff of wood or bamboo with bundled hair or hemp wielded by a Zen Buddhist priest] straight up.
Dongshan said, "I do not understand. Would you explain it to me?"
Guishan said, "I would never tell you about this with the mouth given to me by my parents."
This was Guishan's way of teaching.

Coming to Yunyan (whom Dongshan later succeeded), Dongshan asked, "Who can hear the sermons of insentient creatures?"
"Insentient creatures can hear them," answered Yunyan.
"Why can I not hear them?"
Yunyan raised his hossu straight up and said, "Do you hear?"
"No, I don't"
Yunyan said, "Don't you know the sutra says 'Birds and trees, all meditate on the Buddha and Dharma'?"
At this Dongshan suddenly became enlightened. He wrote this verse:
Wonderful! How wonderful!
Sermons by insentient creatures;
You fail if you listen with your ears;
Listening with your eyes, you hear them.
Later, when Dongshan was wading a stream and saw his shadow cast on the water, he experienced a greater enlightenment. He wrote this verse:
Long seeking it through others,
I was far from reaching it.
Now I go by myself;
I meet it everywhere.
It is just I myself
And I am not itself.
Understanding this way,
I can be as I am
Once there was a monk who asked Dongshan, "How is it when Manjusri and Samantabhadra come to call?"
Dongshan said, "I'd drive them into a heard of water buffalo."
The monk said, "Teacher, you enter hell fast as an arrow."
Dongshan said, "I've got all their strength."

A monk asked Cuiwei, "What is the meaning of the Patriarch coming from the West?"
Cuiwei said "When no one comes, I'll tell you," then went into the garden.
The monk said, "There's no one right here: please, Teacher, tell me."
Cuiwei pointed to the bamboo and said, "This stalk is so tall, that stalk is so short."
Suddenly the monk was greatly enlightened.

Caoshan asked a monk, "When it's so hot, where will you go to avoid it?"
The monk said, "I'll avoid it inside a boiling cauldron, within the coals of a furnace."
Caoshan said, "How can it be avoided in a boiling cauldron or among the coals of a furnace?"
The monk said, "The multitude of sufferings cannot reach there."
Huanglong's Comment
Dongshan puts the collar on the sleeve and cuts off the shirtfront under the armpits. But what could he do? This monk didn't like it. Peaceful meditation does not require mountains and rivers: when you have extinguished the mind, fire itself is cool.
Yuanwu's Comment
"Why don't you go to the place where there is no cold or heat?" This is the correct within the biased.
"When it's cold the cold kills you; when it's hot the heat kills you." This is the biased within the correct. Though it's correct, still it's biased; though it's biased nevertheless it's complete. With this kind of public case you must understand directly as soon as it is uttered.
Hakuin's Comment
If you see Dongshan by means of this example, you may consider him foremost among the Five Houses. Even Yunmen looks clumsy by comparison. This monk is cold; he tried to see an example of how Dongshan would respond.
"Why not go to where there is no cold or heat?" This most leisurely exchange is utterly indescribable. Fishing around, Dongshan ripped off this monk's household goods with a huge rake.
"How is it where...?" The monk conceives an interpretation following the words, not realizing he's been given a method of changing his bones.
"When it's cold, it kills you with cold." It's a pearl that lights up the night, presented along with a tray and all. Even Yunmen and Linji would be flabbergasted by this saying; one can only sing its praises.
Tenkei's Comment
The twin roads of life and dath are what students suffer over; this question refers to them as cold and heat.
"...where there is no cold or heat." Where there is no flavor, where there is no room for a blow of a cane or a shout. This is a direct indication of the beyond. It is not a place where there is or is not cold or heat, but the monk missed it right off the bat, and so he asks again.
"When it's cold, it kills you with cold." When it's cold, it's extremely cold; when it's hot, it's extremely hot. Are you cold or hot? Is there anything better? Is there nothing there? Get a grip and find out!
Sekida's Comment
Cold and heat descend upon us. Death and disease stare us in the face. How can we hope to escape from them?
Why don't you go where there is no cold or heat? Where is the place that is without cold or heat? We all madly, pointlessly seek it, to no avail.
When cold, let it be so cold that it kills you. Freedom of mind comes when we free ourselves of what was burdening our minds. If you bravely face even the most appalling prospect with all your strength and resolution, that is positive samadhi, and what had frightened you will become enjoyable.
Yamada's Comment
The real concern here is not specifically cold or heat but rather the sufferings of life, the fear of death, and delusion generally. How can we avoid them when they descend upon us?
Dongshan said, "Why don't you go to the place where there is neither cold nor heat?" Why don't you go to the place where there is no suffering? Dongshan seems to be offering hope to the monk -- as if such a place existed.
'When it's cold, kill yourself with cold. When it's hot, kill yourself with heat.' In other words, "that's the place where there is neither cold nor heat." The place where there is neither cold nor heat is right smack in the middle of cold and heat. There's no place to run. Suffering and sadness, sickness and death: all of them arise according to the law of causality and there is no way we can escape them, no matter what we do. But it is in the very midst of suffering that we escape suffering. When you are suffering, you become completely one with that suffering; there is no other way. If we are on speaking terms with the essential world of emptiness, even in the midst of great suffering and distress we will be able to maintain our composure and peace of mind. No matter how much we wiggle and squirm, there is no way we can escape from our present circumstances. We must learn just to give in to our situation, becoming one with those circumstances. To be able to maintain our basic peace of mind in times of great suffering we must have our sights clearly fixed on the essential world where there is nothing. This is the only thing we can do.
Xuedou's Verse (Sekida trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
A helping hand, but still a thousand-fathom cliff;
   He reaches out, but it's still inaccessible.
Sho and Hen: no arbitrary distinction here.
   Why must absolute and relative be in an arrangement?
The ancient emerald palace shines in the bright moonlight.
   The ancient palace of crystal glows in the moonlight;
Clever Kanro climbs the steps -- and finds it empty.
   A sneaky dog goes up the stairs for naught.
Sekida's Comment on Xuedou's verse
Sho and Hen. This is a reference to Dongshan's five ranks, which are a philosophical tratment of the relation between the real (sho) and the apparent (hen).
The ancient emerald palace is the place where there is no cold or heat. It represents the realm of samadhi. In samadhi, your subjectivity and objectivity are unified. In other words, when it is cold, you do not evade it but become one with it. When it is hot, you immerse yourself in the heat and become one with it.
Clever Kanro: A legend tells of a clever, fast-running dog, Kanro, that chased a hare. Both ran so fast that eventually they fell dead of exhaustion. The monk who asked the question is here compared to Kanro. He pursued the problem of life and death, entered the emerald palace, and found it empty. But what is empty?
Daido's Comment
Dongshan's "go to the place where there is no cold or heat" is like flowers blooming on a withered tree in the midst of the frozen tundra. His "let the cold kill you...let the heat kill you" is a roaring furnace that consumes every phrase, idea, and thing in the universe. Even the buddhas and sages cannot survive it -- nothing remains.
However, we should understand clearly that this "let the cold kill you" is not about cooling off. Cold is just cold, through and through. "Let the heat kill you" is not about facing the fire. Heat is just heat, through and through. Furthermore, there is no relationship whatsoever between Dongshan's heat and cold. Heat does not become cold; cold does not become heat. The question really is, where do you find yourself?
Daido's Verse
Is it the bowl that rolls around the pearl,
or is it the pearl that rolls around the bowl?
Is it the weather that is cold,
or is it the person who is cold?
Think neither cold nor heat --
at that moment, where is the self to be found?
Rothenberg's Verse
Not Cold, Not Warm

All obstructions removed, the whole appears everywhere.
The edges of temperature easily kill.
Too hot, too cold, fragile beings will die.

If not this season, then maybe the next.
Grifters sell sham silver cities.

In the heart of the first night, before the moon's out
they can't see each other --
both closed in a freeze over previous days.

From nothingness there's one road rambling from dust
past the eloquent silence of long ago.

No fire, no ice.
No smoke out of drowned coals.
I'll hide in the cauldron, I'll live in the cooler.
I'll fight my demons with more of the same.
Hotetsu's Verse
Asking how, answering why.
Asking where, answering when.
No what, no who: suffering cannot arise.
From the beginning, we are dead ones walking.