2017-10-17

Oct 19 - 25

Autumn, week 5
"Life independent of all our notions is indeed most intimate. Because it's most intimate, we can't see it." --Bernie Glassman
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is
Sat Oct 21, 10:00 - 11:45am,
room 24, Community UU,
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice will be led by Meredith.

Chants for Thu Oct 19 - Wed Oct 25:
  • Genjokoan, part 2, p. 33
  • Heart Sutra, p. 12
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, Chapter 8, "Most Intimate," pp. 79-85.
Next up: starting Sat Dec 16, our book will be, Yamada Koun, Zen: The Authentic Gate.

Case this week: Book of Serenity #32, "Yangshan's Mind and Objective World": CLICK HERE.

Morning Meditation Retreat: Sat Nov 18, 9am-noon, at First Congregational Church, 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.

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. Registration opens on Oct 26.

Book of Serenity 32

103
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #32
Yangshan's Mind and Objective World

Personnel
  • Yangshan Huiji (Kyozan Ejaku, 807-83, 11th gen). Go to YANGSHAN
  • An unnamed monk
Wansong's Preface
The ocean is the world of the dragon – freely it appears, freely it disappears;
The sky is the home of the crane – at ease it flies, at will it calls.
Why does the foolish fish stay in a basin and the dull bird dwell among the reeds?
How should you figure gains and losses?
Case
Yangshan asked a monk, “Where do you come from?”
The monk said, “I am from Yû Province.”
Yangshan said, “Do you think of that place?”
The monk said, “Yes, always.”
Yangshan said, “That which thinks is the mind. That which is thought about is the objective world. Within that are mountains, rivers and the great earth, towers, palaces, people, animals, and other things. Reflect upon the mind that thinks. Are there a lot of things there?”
The monk said, “There, I myself don't see anything at all.”
Yangshan said, “That's right for the stage of faith, but not yet for the stage of person.”
The monk said, “Is there any special advice from your side, Master?”
Yangshan said, “It is not right to say that there is or there is not. Your insight shows that you have obtained only one side of the mystery. Sitting down, putting on clothes – from now on you see by yourself.”
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Embrace without separation, fly without impediment.
   All-embracing with no outside;
   Penetrating with no obstruction.
Gate and fence tower high; barrier and chain weigh heavy.
   Gates and walls like cliffs
   Doors and locks redoubled.
When drinking is abundant, the guests go to sleep.
   When the wine is always sweet, it lays out the guests;
When bellies are full, the farmer is destitute.
   Though the meal is filling, it ruins the farmers.
Shooting in the vast sky, the wind flaps the Garuda bird's wings.
   Bursting out of the clear sky, the garuda takes wing on the wind;
Stamping the waves in the blue sea, thunder sends off the sporting dragon.
   Treading over the blue sea, thunder follows the roaming dragon.
Background Sayings and Stories
Earlier, Yangshan asked a monk, "Where do you come from?"
The monk said, "For Yu province."
Yangshan said, "I'd like to hear news of Yu province -- what is the price of rice there?"
The monk said, "When I came, I happened to go right through the market-place, and broke the bridge as I walked over it."
Yangshan then stopped.

"Yangshan, because of his kindness and compassion, had a conversation in the weeds." -Yunmen

Once, as Yangshan was meditating in front of the monks' hall in the middle of night, he didn't see the mountains, rivers, buildings, people, or even his own body -- all was the same as space. The next morning he reported this to Guishan, who said, "I reached this state when I was at Baizhang's -- this is just the achievement of melting illumination which dissolves illusions. Later on, when you are teaching, there can be no one who surpasses this."

One day, Yangshan, presenting his understanding, said, "If you have me see for myself, at this point there is no state of completion, and nothing to cut off either."
Guishan said, "According to your point of view, there are still phenomena, and you haven't yet got away from mind and objects."
Yangshan said, "Since there is no complete state, where are there still mind and objects?"
Guishan said, "Just now, didn't you make such an interpretation?"
Yangshan said, "Yes."
Guishan said, "If so, then this is completely mind and objects -- how can you say there are none?"

There is the stage of faith, the sage of contemplation, the stage of cultivation, the stage of practice, and the stage of relinquishment. -The Adamantine Concentration Scripture

"In the opening and closing of the mouth you distinguish 'this side' and 'that side' -- where there are words and no words you distinguish the stage of faith and the stage of person" -Master Zhu-an Gui

Guishan questioned Yangshan: "Huiji, speak quickly, without going into the clusters and elements."
Yangshan said, "I, Huiji, don't even set up faith."
Guishan said, "Do you not set it up after having faith, or do you not set it up without having had faith?"
Yangshan said, "I'm just Huiji -- who else should I have faith in?"
Guishan said, "If so, then you have a fixed disciple nature."
Yangshan said, "I don't even see 'Buddha'."

"The stage of faith is gradually matured, and one is generally aware of wrong states; although one distinguishes purity and defilement, it is like a sword cutting mud. One still reatains the halter -- one cannot yet rely on faith; therefore (the ox is) half white, half black." -Chan Master Haosheng of Qingju, comment on the 6th ox-herding picture

Guishan once said to Yangshan: "When thoughts are exhausted, you have arrived at the source, where the True Nature is revealed as eternally abiding. In that place there is no difference between affairs and principles and the true Buddha is manifest."

Yangshan said, "In my shop, there is a wide range of goods. If someone comes looking for mouse turds, then I give them some. If someone comes looking for real gold, then I give it to him."
A monk said to him, "I don't want mouse turds. May I have the master's real gold?"
Yangshan said, "You can try to bite the head of a flying arrow until the Year of the Ass but you won't succeed."
The monk couldn't respond to this, so Yangshan added, "If you want to exchange something, we can make a deal. If you don't want to exchange anything, then we can't."

"He's delighting in the road, but ultimately will fail to reach home." -Old Zen saying
Wick's Comment
To reveal the place where True Nature abides, we have to exhaust our thoughts. We have subjective thoughts (about who we are, who we should be or want to be), and objective thoughts (about the nature of others and of things and our relation the them). These must all be exhausted in order to dwell in theat place where the true person is manifest. Yangshan is saying that you're not a complete person until energy is flowing freely through you. It's "not all right" because it's stuck. If you are looking for your rue self, it is not a thing to be found. Exhaust your thoughts and discard whatever you're holding onto, and your true self will naturally be revealed. The monk remains attached to emptiness. Letting go of attachment to emptiness, one arrives at the stage of a person far beyond discrimination. The body and mind are without attachment; gain and loss are cleared away. As for this absolute state, if you try to discuss it, you fail. Just as the eye cannot directly see the eye, it doesn't fall in the scope of your mental function to see the true person. In order to reveal the emptiness, you have to be the emptiness. In order to reveal the person, you have to be the person.
Yamada's Comment
Yangshan said, “Do you think of that place?” He is talking about the homeland of his own essential mind, his own essence, his essential nature.
The monk said, “I always do.” This monk is only thinking in terms of his geographical homeland. It’s time for Yangshen to throw out a problem to the monk.
“Are there a lot of things there?” There are many “minds.” Like, dislike, happy, sad. Is there a different mind each time? This is Yangshan’s question. There are many things in the outside world, but are there many minds inside?
The monk said, “There, I don't see anything at all.” The monk has simply realized emptiness, where there is not a single thing.
Yangshan said, “That's right for the stage of faith, but not yet for the stage of person.” This is the central focus of this koan. Yasutani says these stages come from the philosophy of Buddhist doctrine. Another book says the stages were creations of Yangshan. Yasutani says that the stage of faith means kensho, the stage of “dying the great death.” He says that the stage of person means coming to great life. Elsewhere, Yasutani said that the stage of faith is the stage somewhere between the stage of “seeing the tracks” and “seeing the ox” in the Ten Oxherding Pictures, in other words, not yet at the stage of kensho, although kensho is not far away. We have a clear intellectual understanding and all doubts are gone. The “stage of person” is the stage of realizing the true fact. As for me, when we speak of the “stage of faith” I feel that true faith is only established once we have realized kensho. Unless you have realized in this way, your faith is still liable to be shaken. The “stage of person” is quite a deep state. You could say it’s a matter of returning to the essential world and clearly realizing your true self and then returning to your original unadorned self. In terms of the Five Ranks of Hen and Shô, it is the level of ken-chû-tô. Having completely realized and even forgotten that realization, you have returned completely to your unadorned ordinary self. Yangshan is saying the monk that he has yet to experience the true inner recesses of Zen. This is known as returning to our home country, returning home and sitting in peace.
“Sitting down, putting on clothes – from now on you see by yourself.” Standing up, sitting down, that’s it! Putting on clothes and taking them off, that’s it! Each tree, every blade of grass, raising a hand, putting down a foot, each of them is the true fact itself. You have realized the world of emptiness and I recognize that. But now you must realize that standing up, sitting down, putting on clothes, taking them off, eating, drinking…they are all just THAT! They are the complete revelation of your true self. Now you must go on to realize that yourself!
Susan O'Connell's Verse
Yangshan's "Mind and Environment"
Sticky fingers smudge the windows.
In the stillness,
only blind men see.
Hotetsu's Verse
One side of the mystery.
How many sides are there? (None. One. Two. More than the square of the number of all the grains of sand in the world.)
From the mountain peak of faith to the village street of person,
Wherever you are, you're needed at the other.

2017-10-11

Oct 12 - 18

Autumn, week 4
"The Enlightened Way to regard our ideas is to see them as tools." --Bernie Glassman
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is
Sat Oct 14, 10:00 - 11:45am,
room 24, Community UU,
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice will be led by Meredith.

Chants for Thu Oct 12 - Wed Oct 18:
  • Invocation of Kanzeon, p. 7
  • Song of Realizing the Dao, p. 23
  • This World of Dew, p. 26
  • An Unending Truth, p. 27
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, Chapter 7, "Letting Go of Letting Go," pp. 66-73.
Next up: starting Sat Dec 16, our book will be, Yamada Koun, Zen: The Authentic Gate.

Case this week: Book of Serenity #26, "Yangshan Points to Snow": CLICK HERE.

Morning Meditation Retreat: Sat Nov 18, at First Congregational Church, 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.

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 three remaining dates are Sat Oct 14, 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. Registration opens on Oct 26.

2017-10-09

Book of Serenity 26

102
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #26
Yangshan Points to Snow

Personnel
  • Yangshan Huiji (Kyozan Ejaku, 807-83, 11th gen). Go to YANGSHAN
  • Yunmen Wenyan (Ummon Bun'en, 864-949, 13th gen). Go to YUNMEN
  • Xuedou Chongxian (Setcho Juken, 980-1052, 16th gen). Go to XUEDOU
Wansong's Preface
Ice and frost are one color; snow and moon mingle their light.
It freezes the Dharma-body to death, and ruins Gyoho through purity.
Is there anyone who wants to extol such a thing or not?
Case
Yangshan pointed to the snow lion [probably a lion made of snow or a stone lion covered with snow] and said, “Is there any [i.e., “anything” or “anyone”] that goes beyond this color [i.e., the white]?”
Yunmen [commenting later] said, “I would have pushed it over for him at once.”
Xuedou [commenting later still] said, “He [Yunmen] only knows how to push it over, but he doesn't know how to help it up.”
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
A pushing down, a raising up -- the lion in the snowy garden.
   One knocks down, one sets up -- the lion in the snowy garden.
Restraining offenses, embrace virtue; acting with bravery, behold righteousness.
   Careful about transgression, he [Yangshan] embosoms benevolence.
   Courageous in action, he [Yunmen & Xuedou] sees his duty.
Though pure light illumines the eye, it's like being lost from home
   Pure light shining in the eyes is like being lost from home --
Though clarity turns the body, it falls into a rank.
   Turning around in clear purity is after all to fall into that state.
We Zen students have nothing to rely on!
   Patchrobed mendicants ultimately have nothing to rely on.
The same life, the same death -- which of them is best?
   Dying the same, born the same, which is 'this,' which 'that'?
Warm tidings bursting the plum buds, spring comes to the icy branches
   News of warmth bursts the plum -- spring comes to the cold branches.
A chill blast drops the leaves, fall clarifies the water puddles.
   A freezing gale makes the leaves drop -- autumn clarifies the runoff water.
Fojiao's Verse
Uniform, none surpassing, he shows it to people,
Stretching in a world of white silver.
Aloof, they push down and then raise up,
But how can that compare to the freshness of the spring breeze and warm sun?
Wansong's Comment
Now white is the basis of all colors, and the color of snow is sheer white -- how can there be any going beyond this? The color that goes beyond white is only the colorless. If you then grasp the point of ultimate blankness, where there isn't even white, this indeed is falling into the formless realm. Yunmen knocks down, Xuedou sets up; Yangshan points to the lion and wants us to transcend this color -- three legs of the pot, it won't do to lack any of them.
Wick's Comment
The Lotus Sutra says, "Pure, uniform, unmixed plainness is the character of pure conduct." Pure, uniform, unmixed plainness is like the taste of water or the color white. But what's beyond white? What is the source of white? Truly going beyond the color white is not an image. How can we go beyond images? How do we go beyond our narrow views? We may think that we should be loving and compassionate and then we create an image "loving and compassionate." In zazen, eventually you'll see certain patterns of behavior, certain routine ways that you do things, that don't particularly lead to peace and comfort. And when you see that pattern, just observe that. You don't have to change it; the process of observing will itself cause a certain shift. When you discipline your ind, you sense the arising of thoughts and can allow your body and your mind to naturally return to their original resting place. That is the place beyond the color white.
Keep getting in touch with that place.
Yamada's Comment
The perfect white is the world of satori, the world of emptiness. Yunmen said, “I would have pushed it over for him at once.” He is presenting the world in which emptiness has been transcended. This is his way of responding to Yangshan's question of whether anyone can surpass that color. The whole universe is no other than you yourself. You and the universe are one. Unless we return to the ordinary world, it will not be the real thing. As long as there is that color white, there is something before your eyes. There is still that division between the color outside and the eyes. If you transcend that, there is no color. If there is no color it is transparent. But it will not do to remain in that transparent place. You must upend that transparency. If we continue on in our practice, we rid ourselves of different “colors” in the form of concepts until there is only white -- or colorlessness. So, having once ascended to the pinnacle, we must once again descend to the phenomenal world. Otherwise we cannot save sentient beings. Having realized the world of satori for the first time, we tend to want to stick to it and have trouble getting free of it. This entire koan is telling us that such an attitude will not do. It’s certainly difficult, but we have to do it.
Hotetsu's Verse
The white, whole and beautiful, pure and radiant.
It goes beyond
the red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
What goes beyond the white?
The red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
What's all this beyonding?

2017-10-05

Oct 5 - Oct 11

Autumn, week 3
"We have everything because we are everything. Look at the beautiful parts of us that are the mountains. Do we need them in our living room? Do we have to own them? They are us!...Give away everything and I won't be a hungry ghost. Try to grab everything and I'll only get hungrier." --Bernie Glassman
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is
Sat Oct 7, 10:00 - 11:45am,
room 24, Community UU,
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice will be led by Martin Alberti.

Chants for Thu Oct 5 - Wed Oct 11:
  • Genjokoan, part 1, p. 32
  • Heart Sutra, p. 12
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, Chapter 6, "Transmuting the Three Poisons," pp. 58-65.
Next up: starting Sat Dec 16, our book will be, Yamada Koun, Zen: The Authentic Gate.

Case this week: Blue Cliff Record #68, "Yangshan Asks Sansheng's Name": CLICK HERE.

Morning Meditation Retreat: Sat Nov 18, at First Congregational Church, 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.

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 three remaining dates are Sat Oct 14, 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. Registration opens on Oct 26.

2017-09-26

Sep 28 - Oct 4

Autumn, week 2
"No separation does not mean no suffering; it does mean no complaining." --Bernie Glassman
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is
Sat Sep 30, 10:00 - 11:45am,
room 24, Community UU,
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice will be led by Terry Truta.

Chants for Thu Sep 28 - Wed Oct 4:
  • Heart of True Entrusting, p. 21
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, Chapter 5, "No Suffering," pp. 47-57.
Next up: starting Sat Dec 16, our book will be, Yamada Koun, Zen: The Authentic Gate.

Case this week: Blue Cliff Record #68, "Yangshan Asks Sansheng's Name": CLICK HERE.

Morning Meditation Retreat: Sat Nov 18, at First Congregational Church, 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.

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 three remaining dates are Sat Oct 14, 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. Registration opens on Oct 26.

Blue Cliff Record 68

101
Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #68
Yangshan Asks Sansheng's Name

Personnel
  • Yangshan Huiji (Kyozan Ejaku, 807-83, 11th gen). Go to YANGSHAN
  • Sansheng Huiran (Sansho Enen, b. 830?, 12th gen). Go to SANSHENG
Yuanwu's Preface
Commanding the center of the heavens, overturning the axis of the earth; capturing the tiger, distinguishing the dragon from the snake: displaying such abilities, one can for the first time be called active and enlightened. And then words can meet words, spirit meet spirit. Tell me, who has ever been like that? See the following.
Case
Yangshan asked Sansheng, "What's your name?"
Sansheng said, "Huiji" [Yangshan's Buddhist name; it means "wisdom silence."].
Yangshan said, "Huiji -- that's me."
Sansheng said, "My name is Huiran" [Sansheng's Buddhist name; it means "kindness"].
Yangshan laughed loudly.
Xuedou's Verse (Sekida trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Both grasping, both releasing -- what fellows!
   Both gather in, both let go -- which is fundamental?
Riding the tiger -- marvelous skill!
   Riding a tiger always demands absolute competence.
The laughter ends, traceless they go.
   When the laughter ends, who knows where it's gone?
Infinite pathos, to think of them!
   It will only stir the wind of lament for all time.
Background Stories
When Sansheng arrived at Mount De, he started to arrange his zazen items when Deshan said, "Don't put out your meal apron. There's no rice here."
Sansheng said, "Although it's here, it can't be shown."
Deshan took his staff and made to strike Sansheng. Sansheng grabbed it and pushed Deshan onto the meditation platform. Deshan laughed loudly.
Sansheng shouted and went out.

As Xuefeng was going to the temple manor, on the way he encountered some macaques, whereupon he said, "Each of the macaques is wearing an ancient mirror."
Sansheng said, "For eons it has been nameless; why do you depict it as an ancient mirror?"
Xuefeng said, "A flaw has been created."
Sansheng said, "The teacher of fifteen hundred people does not even know what to say."
Xuefeng said, "My fault. My tasks as abbot are many."

During the time that Sansheng was with Yangshan, one day an official came to call on Yangshan. Yangshan asked him, "What is your official position?"
He said, "I am a judge."
Yangshan riased his whisk and said, "And can you judge this?"
The official was speechless. All the people of the community made comments but none accorded with Yangshan's idea. At that time, Sansheng was sick and staying in the infirmary ["Life-Prolonging Hall"]. Yangshan ordered his attendant to take these words and ask Sansheng about them.
Sansheng said, "The Master has a problem."
Yangshan again ordered his attendant to ask, "What is the problem?"
Sansheng said, "A second offense is not permitted."
Yangshan deeply approved of this.

Baizhang had formerly imparted his meditation brace and cushion to Huangbo, and had bequeathed his staff and whisk to Guishan. Guishan later gave them to Yangshan. Since Yangshan greatly approved of Sansheng, when the day arrived when Sansheng was taking his leave and departing, Yangshan took the staff and whisk to hand them over to Sansheng.
Sansheng said, "I already have a teacher."
Yangshan inquired into his reason for saying this, and the reason was that Sansheng was a true heir of Linji.
Yuanwu's Comment
In asking Sansheng's name, Yangshan ignored both the name and the reality. Sansheng said, "Huiji." See how a man who has the eye is naturally not the same as others. This manner of Sansheng's was still not crazy, though; he simply captured the flag and stole the drum. See how those men of old contemplated the Path like this: they exerted their spirits to the utmost, and only then were capable of great enlightenment. Yangshan said, "I am Huiji." This is where he let go. Sansheng said, "My name is Huiran." This too is letting go. Yangshan laughed heartily. Because he was crystal clear in every respect, therefore he functioned with complete freedom. This laugh was not the same as Yantou's; in Yantou's laugh there was poison, but in this laugh, for all eternity the pure wind blows chill.
Hakuin's Comment
Even if you are a long-time practitioner, if you get confused you can't hear. "What is your name?" This is holding still. Sansheng said, "Huiji." Holding still, he won't let it be said it is not Huiji. "Huiji is me." This is letting go. Sansheng said, "My name is Huiran." "If you're Huiji, then I'm Huiran!" They took turns occupying the fundamental and extending their hands, obliterating both guest and host. Relative and absolute interchanging, letting go and gathering in were both total. When you have reached the state beyond effort, there will be no one to recognize it through the ages.
Tenkei's Comment
Even though Yangshan knew Sansheng's name, he asked the question to test the other's penetration. This is a method of letting go. Because Sansheng was an adept, he didn't say his own name but pretended to be drunk on tea and tossed out a substitute. This too is letting go. Yangshan replies, "What you said is my name." Suddenly, he is holding still. Sansheng says, "Then I'm Huiran," suddenly wrapping it all up, also a method of holding still. Observe the action in an interchange of adepts: there is nothing about Buddhism in it; it is the realm of "after enlightenment being the same as before enlightenment," a completely inviolable state. Yangshan roared with laughter. Throughout all time the pure wind is severely cold. What a pleasant laugh! This is the eye of Zen, the handle of Zen practitioners.
R.D.M. Shaw's Comment
When Sansheng was asked what his name was, he replied by giving the name of his questioner. When the questioner rebuked him he instantly gave his own name. From whichever point of view -- the negative or positive methods of instruction -- the reply was apt and prompt. Sansheng was indeed a strong man who could answer and act quickly. He was a strong and supernormal man who knew how to get on the back of a tiger. But what about Yangshan's roar of laughter at his friend's answer? That roar of laughter died out in thin air. How far did it go? It will go on for a thousand ages. It will be like a lonely autumn wind -- for ever the despair of all who hear it.
Sekida's Comment
The exchange seems to have taken place when Sansheng first visited Yangshan. Yangshan must long have been familiar with Sansheng's name, but he pretended not to know it. By ignoring Sansheng's name, Yangshan deprived Sansheng of his name and reality. Sansheng said, "Huiji!" This was Yangshan's personal name. In other words, if you deprive me of my name, I shall deprive you of yours. Yangshan said, "Huiji is my name!" In holding fast, or grasping, the whole universe vanishes. In letting go, or releasing, the individual world appears, in which everyone asserts his existence. When he asked his first question, Yangshan was standing in the absolute world, where others are ignored. But now he has come out into the world where everyone has his name, and he has himself confirmed his own name. Sansheng said, "My name is Huiran." All right, if you come out into the world and confirm yourself, I shall do the same. Of course, the two masters' actions were not the outcome of this sort of intellectual reasoning but flowed from an intuitive understanding. Yangshan laughed heartily. Yangshan found that his words were met by Sansheng's, and so was his spirit. And quite naturally, he laughed delightedly.
Yamada's Comment
Sansheng was Linji's most outstanding student and a very great Zen man. When he went out on Zen pilgrimage and entered into exchanges with various Zen masters to sharpen his enlightened understanding, Yangshan was one of the people he visited. Yangshan undoubtedly knew Sansheng's name since Sansheng was well known by that time, having made quite a name for himself as he traveled from temple to temple. Since Sansheng was supposed to be quite a fellow, Yangshan deliberately pretended that he didn’t know the name of his guest, because he wanted to check him by seeing how he responded. Sansheng replied, “Huiji.” A very interesting reply. Imagine if someone came to me and, upon my asking his name, he were to say, “Kyôzô Yamada.” Just what is going on here? We can understand this using the fraction I always cite as an example where the denominator is zero-and-infinite (satori is coming to a realization of this denominator) and the numerator (α) is anything at all. Let’s say the denominator in this case is the person called Yangshan Huiji. With Sansheng's answer, Yangshan disappears completely. The numerator which is Yangshan Huiji has completely disappeared, and all that remains is the empty and infinite denominator. This has been expressed in various ways in Zen literature. For example, to erase the numerator is known as shû or “gathering in” or datsu [“stealing”] or setsu [“killing”]. All that remains is the empty and infinite denominator. In response, Yangshan says, “Huiji -- that's me.” With this, the numerator comes to life. This is hô [“letting go”] or yo [“giving”] or katsu [“giving life”]. This time Sansheng says, “My name is Huiran,” thus saying his own name. Once again, with this reply, the world of the numerator comes to life. Yangshan laughed loudly. With this laughter, Yangshan realizes that Sansheng’s ability is on a level with his own and is delighted. His laughter is one of boundless and bright joy.
Rothenberg's Verse
What Is Your Name?

My name is your name.
Each macaque wears an ancient mirror:
It was never described until now.

To ride tigers you must be completely sure --
Stir the wind of lament, laugh the poison laugh.

His laughter ends, I know not where he's gone.
I do not even know what to call him.
Hotetsu's Verse
I am the pine trees
For all that
If I bump into one
I say excuse me.

2017-09-20

Sep 21 - 27

Autumn, week 1
"Everything is right here, right now. Thus, everything we do affects all past, present, and future, because it's all right here, right now -- not born, not destroyed." --Bernie Glassman
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is Sat Sep 23, 10:00 - 11:45am, in room 24 at Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY. Leader: Meredith

Chants for Sep 21 - Wed Sep 27:
  • Shorter Precepts, p. 47
  • The Four Commitments, p. 50
  • Heart Sutra, p. 12
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, Chapter 4 "Letting Go," pp. 36-46.
Next up: starting Sat Dec 16, our book will be, Yamada Koun, Zen: The Authentic Gate.

Case this week: Blue Cliff Record #34, "Yangshan's Never Been to the Mountain": CLICK HERE.

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 three remaining dates are Sat Oct 14, 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

2017-09-15

Blue Cliff Record 34

100
Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku, Biyan Lu) #34
Yangshan's "Never Been to the Mountains"

Personnel
  • Yangshan Huiji (Kyozan Ejaku, 807-83, 11th gen). Go to YANGSHAN
  • an unnamed monk
  • (commenting later) Yunmen Wenyan (Ummon Bun'en, 864-949, 13th gen) Go to YUNMEN
Case
Yangshan asked a monk, "Where have you come from?"
The monk said, "From Mount Lu." [a beautiful and famous mountain in the southern part of China with many Zen monasteries]
Yanshan said, "Have you been to the Goroho Peak?" [i.e., Five Elder Peak, the most noted peak of Mt. Lu]
The monk said, "No, I have never been there."
Yanshan said, "Then you have never been to the mountains at all!"
Yunmen said, "Because of too much compassion these words have fallen into grasses."
Xuedou's Verse (Sekida trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Falling or not falling, who can tell?
   Out of the weeds, into the weeds -- who knows how to search?
White clouds piling up,
Bright sun shining down,
   The white clouds pile in layers, the red sun is clear and bright.
Faultless the left, mature the right.
   Looking to the left, no flaws; looking to the right, already old.

Don't you know Hanshan?
He went very fast;
   Haven't you read of the Cold Mountain man, who went early on--
Ten years not returning,
He forgot the way he had come.
   Ten years he couldn't return, finally forgot the road on which he came.
Background: Hanshan's Verse
This is my resting place,
Hanshan knows the best retreats;
The breeze blows through the pines,
Sounding better the nearer it is.
Under a tree I'm reading
Laozi, quietly perusing.
Ten years not returning.
I forgot the way I had come.
Background Story 1
Guishan one day asked Yangshan, "When there are monks coming from various places, what do you use to test them?"
Yangshan said, "I have a way of testing."
Guishan said, "Try to show me."
Yangshan said, "Whenever I see a monk coming, I just lift up my whisk and say to him, 'Do they have this in other places?' When he has something to say, I just say to him, 'Leaving this aside for the moment, what about That?'"
Guishan said, "This has been the tooth and nail of our sect since time immemorial."
Background Story 2
Mazu asked Baizhang, "Where do you come from?"
Baizhang said, "from down the mountain."
Mazu said, "Did you meet anyone on the road?"
Baizhang said, "Not at all."
Mazu said, "Why did you not meet anyone at all?"
Baizhang said, "If I had met anyone, I would mention it to you, teacher."
Mazu said, "How could this have been happening?"
Baizhang said, "I am at fault."
Mazu said, "On the contrary, I am at fault."
Yuanwu's Comment
The point of testing someone is to know him intimately as soon as he opens his mouth. An Ancient said, "Immeasurably great people are turned about in the stream of speech." If you are one who has the eye on your forehead, as soon as it is being brought up, you immediately know where it comes down. "Did you ever get to Five Elders Peak?" If that monk had been a person of substance, he would simply have said, "A disaster."
Hakuin's Comment
This example is a difficult case with a number of significant details. "Where have you just come from?" This is an ordinary question, but if you therefore think it's the usual, you're mistaken. "I never got there." He doesn't even reveal his shadow. "You never traveled the mountain." Among the outward manifestations of the Guiyang school of Zen, the ancients appreciated this saying. That is why Yunmen made such a remark, leaking quite a bit; even the canes of Linji and Deshan cannot match. Why is there such significance in it? You must make the effort to see for yourself -- explanation by pictures won't work. "This talk was all for compassion." Yunmen drips blood; how can any comment about going into the weeds or getting out of the weeds be inserted? "A conversation in the weeds" means he came down to a secondary level of potential to speak.
Tenkei's Comment
"Where have you come from?" The point is, right now what place is this? Check and find out where you are. The monk said he had never been to Goroho Peak; unfortunately he missed what was right in from of him; apparently he didn't hear. He didn't realize it's the great matter right at his feet. "Been to the mountains" means passing through formal Buddhism and no longer establishing views of Buddha or views of Dharma. There is no such thing as roaming the mountains and enjoying the rivers in the context of formal Buddhism. As for Yunmen's remark, this is known as his method of lifting up and putting down, where one can censure and praise independently according to the situation.
R.D.M. Shaw's Comment
Yangshan implies that it would have been much better to have gone to see the beauties of nature at Goroho Peak than to go round from temple to temple merely asking sophistical questions. Yangshan urged the climbing of Goroho Peak because he believed that the wonderful cloud effects, the glorious sunlight, the perfect view in whatever direction one looked from there, would inspire the viewer with a deep knowledge of the Buddha nature and the very heart of Dharma. It was on this very mountain that the famous hermit Hanshan took up his abode so as to be near the absolute Truth. Unfortunately he was traced there by somebody. Hanshan fled still farther into the hills and disappeared into the mountains with great haste and has never come back. No doubt he forgot the way back, for he was swallowed up in the beauty of those hills.
Sekida's Comment
"From Mount Lu." The monk associates himself with something spiritual and refined. "Goroho Peak? is the most famous part of Mount Lu. Yangshan's question was aimed at discovering if the monk had attained a true, subtle insight into Zen. "You have never been to the mountains at all!" With these words Yangshan dealt the monk a decisive blow. A more severe master, such as Deshan or Linji, would have used his stick on the monk. However, a gentle word can sometimes be more telling in its effect than a blow. Yangshan is a mature Zen master who, like Hanshan in Xuedou's verse, has gone into the world of unworldliness and forgotten the way back to the world of worldliness.
Yamada's Comment
"No, I have never been there." It would not be the least bit strange for either an enlightened person or an unenlightened person to answer like this. He's simply stating the facts. But a true master, observing the monk, knows whether he is just talking about ordinary affairs or, having attained kensho, he is talking from the viewpoint of the essential world. The master may not know right away but, as the exchange goes on, he knows. "Then you have never wandered in the mountains at all!" Yangshan is saying in effect: "You say that you have come from Mount Lu, but you don't understand anything at all about the real pleasure of wandering in the mountains." There is no record in the koan of what the monk said in reply, but he probably could not attain realization at this point.
Rothenberg's Verse
Come Down from the Mountains

Where have you just come from?
The mountains.
By the tone of your voice, I am sure
You never found the right peak at all.

Though everyone in the world is the same,
it is still appropriate to ask;
If you want to know the mountain road,
you must be the one who travels it.

You learn the truth of someone by testing their speech.
Not even a fly will get past your scrutiny.
Why try so hard to be clever?

No single hair common,
no single strand sacred.
The whole earth has never concealed it.
No particular ever reveals it.

when cold, no sense of cold.
when old, no sense of old.
Hotetsu's Verse
There are peaks and there are valleys
But it is all the peak.
Even so, it is, at the same time,
A big mistake.

2017-09-13

Sep 14 - 20

Summer, week 13
"Usually we practice in order to acquire or gain something, not to let go. We start sitting because we want to become better in some way -- to improve our physical well-being, become more intelligent or more stable, experience samadhi or even enlightenment -- the list is endless. Usually practice is a matter of what we want to gain. But the message that keeps coming back (from the practice itself, as it were) is: "Let go! Let go! Let go!" To which we usually respond, "I don't want to. I want to be taught." But again what the practice keeps saying is, "Let go!" --Bernie Glassman
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is Sat Sep 16, 10:00 - 11:45am, in room 24 at Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY. Meredith will lead the dharma discussion.

Chants. See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule
For Wed Aug 23 - Wed Sep 20, the chants are:
  • Song of the Jeweled Mirror Samadhi, p. 18
  • Shinjin Gakudo, p. 42
Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, Chapter 3 "Emptiness," pp. 26-35. Next up: starting Sat Dec 16, our book will be, Yamada Koun, Zen: The Authentic Gate.

Case this week: Gateless Gate #25, Book of Serenity #90, "Yangshan's Dream Sermon": CLICK HERE.

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 three remaining dates are Sat Oct 14, 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

2017-09-11

Gateless Gate 25, Book of Serenity 90

99
Gateless Gate (Mumonkan, Wumenguan) #25
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #90
Yangshan's Dream Sermon

Personnel
  • Yangshan Huiji (Kyozan Ejaku, 807-83, 11th gen). Go to YANGSHAN
  • Maitrya: Buddha of the future, successor to the present Buddha, Gautama (Shakyamuni)
  • An unnamed venerable monk
  • (in Wansong's Preface) Qu Yuan (ca 340-278 BCE): poet and minister whose verses included the lines: "All the world is muddied with confusion;/ I alone am pure./ People all are drunk;/ I alone am sober."
Wansong's Preface
Qu Yuan says, “Only I am sober” – this is nothing but intoxication.
Yangshan speaks of a dream; yet it is like in an awakened state.
Just say: I, Wansong, preach like this, and you all hear like this:
Just tell me, is this an awakened state or is this a dream?
Case
Master Yangshan went to Maitreya's abode in a dream and was led to the third [GG] second [BOS] seat.
A venerable monk struck the anvil with a gavel and [GG] said, “Today the third [GG] second [BOS] seat is due to speak.”
Yangshan stood up, struck the stand with the [GG] wooden anvil with a [BOS] gavel, and said, “The Dharma of Mahayana is beyond the four propositions and transcends the hundred negations. Listen! Listen! [GG] I beg to tell you this! [BOS]”
Continuation of the Case
When Yangshan had said this, all the monks dispersed.
Yangshan awoke from the dream, and went to tell Guishan about it. Guishan said, "You have now reached the holy rank."
At this, Yangshan made a bow.
Similar Cases
BCR67: Great Master Fu Concludes His Lecture On the Sutra
BCR92/BOS1: The World-Honored Takes His Seat
BOS7: Yaoshan Takes the High Seat
Background Stories of Guishan and Yangshan
See also: BOS15, and BOS37.

* * *
Yangshan went with Guishan to the fields to help him with plowing. He said, "How is it that this side is so low and the other side is so high?"
Guishan said, "Water can level all things; let the water be the leveler."
Yangshan said, "Water is not reliable. It is just that the high places are high and the low places are low."
Guishan said, "Oh, that's true."

* * *
One day when they were picking tea, Guishan called to Yangshan, "All day I have heard your voice but have not seen your face."
Yangshan, not saying anything, shook a tea plant.
Guishan said, "You have got the function but not the essence."
"So what would you say?" asked Yangshan.
Guishan remained silent.
Then Yangshan told him, "You have the essence but not the function."

* * *
Guishan asked Yangshan, "In the forty volumes of the Nirvana Sutra, how many words were spoken by Buddha and how many by the devils?"
Yangshan replied, "They are all devils' words."
Guishan said, "From now on no one will be able to do anything to you."

* * *
When Guishan was in bed, Yangshan came to speak to him, but the master turned his face to the wall.
Yangshan asked, "How can you do this?"
The master rose and stated, "A moment ago I had a dream. Won't you interpret it for me?"
Thereupon Yangshan brought in a basin of water for the master to wash his face.
A little later Xiangyan also appeared to speak to the master.
The master repeated, "I have just had a dream. Yangshan interpreted it. Now it is your turn."
Xiangyan brought in a cup of tea.
The master said, "The insight of both of you excels that of Shariputra."

* * *
Guishan sent Yangshan a mirror, and during a teisho Yangshan asked: "Is this Guishan's mirror or mine? If you say it is mine, did it not come from Guishan? If you say it is Guishan's, am I not now holding it? If you can say a word of Zen I will keep the mirror, if not I will break it."
Background Story, 2
A magician flew in from India one day. Yangshan asked him, "When did you leave India?"
The magician said, "This morning."
Yangshan said, "What took you so long?"
The magician said, "Oh, I went sight seeing here and there on the way."
Yangshan said, "You obviously have occult power, but you haven't yet dreamed of the great occult power of the Buddha Dharma."
The magician returened to India and told his followers, "I went to China to find Manjusri, and instead I found Little Shakyamuni."
Mumon's Comment
Just say, did he preach or did he not? If you open your mouth, you miss. If you shut your
mouth, you miss too. Even if you neither open nor shut your mouth, it is a hundred and
eight thousand miles away.
Mumon's Verse
The broad daylight, the blue sky -
He speaks of a dream in a dream;
Suspicious! Suspicious! [or "Absurd!" (Aitken), "Humbug!" (Shibayama), "Making up wonders" (Cleary), "Watch out!" (Low), "A monster among monsters" (Senzaki)]
He is trying to deceive the whole assembly.
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
In a dream, wearing robes and meeting the elders,
   In a dream, wrapped in his patchwork robe, he calls on the elders;
a forest of saints stretches away to his right.
   The ranks of the saints serene, he sits to their right.
To be appointed and not give way, strike the sounding post.
   Responsible for humanity, he doesn't defer -- the sounding board rings;
Speak the Dharma without fear -- a roaring lion,
   Expounding the teaching without fear, the lion roars,
a heart peaceful as the ocean,
   Mind as peaceful as the ocean,
a liver capacious as a peck or a bushel.
   Heart as big as a bushel.
From a mermaid's eye, tears flow,
   Fish eyes shed tears,
a clam's guts make a pearl.
   Clam guts open in pearls.
Sleep-talking -- who knows my activity leaks away?
   Much talk -- who knows it leaks one's potential?
Those with splendid eyebrows should laugh at family skeletons so presented.
   Shaggy eyebrows -- laughable, they reveal the family disgrace.
Separate from the propositions, transcending the hundred negations,
   Beyond all predication:
Master Mazu and his disciples stopped using medicine for illness.
   Mazu, father and sons, in sickness stopped doctoring.
Benjiao's Verse
Talking about emptiness in a dream is very unusual;
How is it possible to get beyond all propositions and denials?
At that time, if could have upheld the Buddha's direction,
What need would there have been to strike the gavel in the hall?
Dagui Xiu's Comment
It's not that he doesn't understand the meaning according to the words, but if there were an adept in Maitreya's assembly, as soon as he saw Yangshan say, "The teaching of the Mahayana...," he'd immediately tell him to shut up, no only stopping Yangshan's sleep talk, but also avoiding making people later on talk of a dram in a dream.
Aitken's Comment
Yangshan could dream that he went to the Tusita Heaven and was led in to sit at the third seat because that was his seat, just below Maitreya and Shakyamuni. He had matured to that level. I think the old teachers must have recongnized Yangshan's dream was a makyo, going beyond promise and presenting the essential world itself. There, in the presence of the Buddhas, Yangshan confidently arose, struck the stand with a gavel, and said, "The truth of the Mhayana is beyond the Four Propositions and transcends the Hundred Negations. Listen, listen." The Four Propositions are the one, the many, being, and nonbeing. The Hundred Negations are made up with four negatives for each of the propositions -- not, not not, neither not nor not not, both not and not not -- making sixteen. Then each of these sixteen is found in the past, present, and future. That makes forty-eight. These have either appeared or have not yet appeared, so that makes ninety-six. Negate the original four and you get the Hundred Negations. The truth of the Mahayana has nothing whatever to do with such intellection. It is found, as the Budha pointed out in the beginning, beyond the realm of words. Yet even with the word "beyond" perhaps some kind of image appears. Yangshan ends with a cautionary, "Listen! Listen!" Pay attention! Who is hearing that sound? Don't neglect this point.
Cleary's Comment
Yangshan stated the timeless liberative teaching of Buddhism that universal absolute truth is beyond all categories of human thought. Then he closed by once again calling forth presence of mind.
Low's Comment
We do not wake up from a dream, but rather we wake up to the dream. Some, hearing that the world is a dream, assent to it intellectually but at the same time secretly think of it as a poetic way of talking. They believe the dream is real, and this is the deepest dream of all. The four propositions are the world is separate from me, the world is not separate from me, the world both is and is not separate from me, and the world neither is nor is not separate from me. The hundred negations are permutations of these four. In other words, is the Mahayana truth beyond the real world as we know it?
Sekida's Comment
Yangshan's dream was simply the realization of the Zen saying, "With holy ones, dreams and wakefulness make one and the same stream." And enlightened mind is always in playful samadhi, in which medicine and sickness cure each other, and ego is each moment nuetralized and melted away, leaving behind no vexations and frustrations to be discharged in dreams.
Senzaki's Comment
Yangshan's dream was his everyday life, and his daily task was nothing but his dream. He recognized himself seated in the third seat in the abode of Maitreya. Yangshan hit the podium with the gavel and spoke. He is not only telling what the Mhayana teaching is, but also showing it to everyone openly in broad daylight. Some say that the scriptures written in Pali are Theravada teachings and those in Sanskrit are Mahayana teachings. Our Yangshan would laugh at such statements. If you open your own third eye, you can read the whole of the Mahayana teachings in a glace at the blue sky, but if you close yourself off from your inner wisdom, both the scriptures written in Sanskrit and in Pali are nothing but papers smeared with nonsense.
Shibayama's Comment
As Wumen said, the key point of this story is: "Did Yangshan really give a talk or not? If he did, what kind of a talk was it?" Students must concentrate their efforts to open their Zen eye on this point. The rest, whether a dream or a reality, is an outer setting for the story and not important. If you say he did not give a talk, why then did he demand of the audience, "Listen carefully"? The essence of this koan lies here, and students must concentrate their efforts in training to see through this point. How is the Reality of the Dharma of Mahayana itself demonstrated? Did Yangshan thoroughly illustrate it in his striking the table with the gavel? When you can truly appreciate this talk, you will also understand why Wumen said that Yangshan deceived all the audience.
Yamada's Comment on Gateless Gate
In this case, Mu, zazen, standing up, sitting down, eating, drinking, Jack, Mary, and so forth appear on stage under the name of dream. We should know that not only are our delusions and the phenomenal world dreams, but also our enlightenment and the essential world itself are nothing but dreams. The fact of today will be dram tomorrow. Minute by minute, second by second, everything previous to right now is a dream. And, of course, now is a dream too. Yangshan stood up and struck the stand with the gavel, WHACK! "The Dharma of Mahayana is beyond all thought and expression!" More precisely he was saying, "WHACK!" Just this! What is the Dharma of Mahayana? Just WHACK! Just standing up and sitting down, laughing or crying.
Yamada's Comment on Book of Serenity
He says that the Dharma of the Mahayana transcends the four propositions and the hundred negations. The true fact is completely beyond all thinking. Then he strikes the gavel. “Clack!” That “clack!” itself is the Dharma of the Mahayana. To cry out “Katsu!” like Linji or stick up a finger like Jinhua Juzhi is the same thing. Whatever you bring up from the phenomenal world, that itself is the Dharma of the Mahayana. It is itself the essential world.
Padmasambhava's (8th-century Tibetan sage) Comment
When there is no distinction between dream and the waking state, then perfect meditation is realized.
Wick's Comment
Everything we see, think, and feel, in our self-grasping ignorance, is a dream. But if everything we experience is a dream, whet then is real? To say everything is real is delusion, to say nothing is real misses it. We exist -- but not in the way we think. Going beyond all words, how would you declare it?
Catherine Gammon's Verse
Yangshan's Declaration

Nothing can be said
Nothing can be not said
The old question:
How can I be your student?

In a jikido dream I dreamed I knew I was dreaming
and I was pleased with myself
and went on dreaming
until I woke suddenly in terror
at seeing daylight and being told
it was already after five

In the zendo it was night
the darkness clouded with the shadows of dreaming
and I was awake in time to light the lanterns

When the storm was breaking
I dreamed a message taken by Meiya—
a color xerox photo of the new No Abode
with Taj Mahal pillars and a pink-flamingo lawn chair
and telling her the dream a few hours later
I knew I was staying for guest season at Tassajara

Now, nothing I can say
and nothing I can not-say
in daylight leaking
in darkness cloudy with the shadows of dreams
and the old question—
how am I your student?

Now, done with knowing
nothing to say or not say
not even the old question

Seven days of sun
On the eighth day, rain
Hotetsu's Verse
There I was in Professor Maitreya's class,
Was it the second or the third seat?
Someone in a monk's cowl called on me
Did he bang the gavel first, or not?
Anyway, I took that gavel and banged it.
I had some point to make that seemed important.
Or I'd already made it.
I wanted the class to get it.
Something about propositions and negations and beyond.
Then I woke up and the dream
Began.

2017-09-06

Sep 7 - 13

Summer, week 12
"Two important aspects of our practice and life [are] the intrinsic and the experiential. Intrinsically, we are enlightened, we are the Buddha. But experientially, we are not enlightened because we have yet to experience this fact." --Bernie Glassman
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is Sat Sep 9, 10:00 - 11:45am, in room 24 at Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY. Meredith will lead the dharma discussion.

Chants. See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule
For Wed Aug 23 - Wed Sep 20, the chants are:
  • Song of the Jeweled Mirror Samadhi, p. 18
  • Shinjin Gakudo, p. 42
Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, Chapter 2, "Being Doing," pp. 16-25.

Case this week: Book of Serenity #68, "Jiashan Brandishes the Sword": CLICK HERE.

Events at Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
  • Buddhism 101. Sat Sep 9, 9:00 to 17:00. Intro to Buddhism plus an afternoon retreat. 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

2017-09-05

Book of Serenity 68

98
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #68
Jiashan Brandishes the Sword

Personnel
  • Jiashan Shanhui (Kassan Zenne, 805-81, 11th gen). Go to JIASHAN
  • Shishuang Qingzhu (Sekiso Keisho, 807-88, 11th gen). Go to SHISHUANG Q
  • an unnamed monk
Wansong's Preface
The emperor’s decree inside the land of his direct control;
The general’s command outside the walled regions.
Sometimes one gets power at the gate;
Sometimes one is sublime in the room.
Just tell me, who is this?
Case
A monk asked Jiashan, “What if one sweeps away the dust and sees Buddha?”
Jiashan said, “You must brandish your sword. If you do not brandish your sword, the fisherman dwells in a nest of reeds [i.e., unable to catch a single fish].”
The monk mentioned this to Shishuang Qingzhu and asked him, “What if one sweeps away the dust and sees Buddha?”
Shishuang said, “He has no land [i.e., no country, no realm, to dwell in]. Where could one meet him?”
The monk reported this to Jiashan.
Jiashan ascended the rostrum and said, “As for the facilities at the gate [concrete teaching means and devices in Zen], the old monk [i.e., "I"] is superior to Shishuang, but for deep discourse expounding the true principle he is one hundred steps ahead of me.”
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
A sword's spirit drives out the bull.
The heavens are washing the soldiers.
   The star-brushing sword, the army-washing weather.
To achieve the quelling of a riot: Who is he?
   Settling disorder, deferring the merit, who else is it?
Once, there were battle clouds, the four seas were clear.
   One morning the haze of dust clears over the four seas:
With flowing robes, the emperor's governing is naturally effortless.
   Robes hanging down, the imperial rule is naturally effortless
A Background Story
Shishuang was at Guishan, where he served as the rice maker. Just as he was sifting rice, Guishan said, "Gifts from donors should not be thrown away."
Shishuang said, "I'm not throwing it away."
Guishan picked up a grain of rice off the floor and said, "you said you aren't throwing it away -- where did this come from?"
Shishuang had no reply.
Guishan said, "Don't take this one grain lightly -- hundred of thousands of grains come from this one grain."
Shishuang said, "Then were does this one grain come from?"
Guishan laughed and returned to his room. That evening he went up in the hall and said, "People, there's an insect in the rice!"
Another Background Story
After leaving Guishan, Shishuang studied with Daowu, and asked about enlightenment that meets the eyes. Daowu called to a novice to add water to the pitcher.
Wansong's Comment
In profound talk of the principle, Shishuang is better. In setting up method, Jiashan is ahead. Is there no one with two faces on one die?
Wick's Comment
Jiashan and Shishuang were asked the same question: When I get rid of all the confusion in my own mind and wisdom manifests, then what? Jiashan says essentially: "Cut that out. You're getting things all confused. Keep things in order, like Wansong's Preface says: emperor rules in the castle and the general commands in the field. What's the Buddha doing in your mind? Is that his seat?" One way to practice is cutting it off -- "hold your mind against incoming thoughts like a great iron wall." In the long run, letting it pass through is better than cutting it off. You can sit like a vast ocean letting everything in. The ocean accepts everything. If your energy channels are all open, delusive thoughts will pass through. To let them go, we have to illuminate our hidden beliefs that sustain our arrogance, anger, hatred, laziness, indifference, self-pity. Just let go of all your opinions, and the Buddha appears -- but Jiashan says, "Don't hold onto it."
Shishuang says, "Where would you meet the Buddha?" She has no name, no country, no gender, no occupation, no rank, no sword, no mother, no father, no lover. She doesn't even have a face. If you say all the dust has been swept, what about that new dust ball you're creating that you call Buddha? You can't depend on it.
As Jiashan then says, he has given the practical expedient (brandish the sword, cut through your image of Buddha), while Shishuang expounds the principle of emptiness, including the emptiness of Buddha ("He has no land.")
There are numerous paths to enter the way of Zen. Even Bodhidharma talked about entering by method or entering by principle. Either way, drop off attachment to your own thoughts, ideas, judgments, and opinions.
Margery Gibbons Farrar's Verse
Jiashan "Swinging the Sword"
Respecting our ancestors, respecting others,
For this case, Aitken-roshi’s cautions, for all the Whole Works.
In times of warlords, obeying Jiashan, swords remaining buried,
With Guishan, Shishuang, Shunryu, and Trudy, practicing every day
new with rice and insects, going out the gate, already it’s grass.
Hotetsu's Verse
No dust! Clear Buddha!
But the mind soon makes dustless clarity into "dustless clarity."
With Jiashan's sword, cut off those marks --
Or, with Shishuang's understanding, unhook them.
Fly, you fish. Swim, you birds.
PREVIOUS CASE: BOS35

2017-08-26

Aug 31 - Sep 6

Summer, week 11
"In Zen there are two ways of describing reality. Basically, one says that reality is all One, that everything is Buddha. The other describes the manyness of reality, its multitude of diverse phenomena and differences. What both sutras say is that these two ways of perceiving reality are not just valid, but essentially the same." --Bernie Glassman
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is Sat Sep 2, 10:00 - 11:45am, in room 24 at Community UU, 468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY. Meredith is out of town on Sat Sep 2. Zen practice will be led by Terry Truta.

Chants. See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule
For Wed Aug 23 - Wed Sep 20, the chants are:
  • Song of the Jeweled Mirror Samadhi, p. 18
  • Shinjin Gakudo, p. 42
Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, "Introduction" (ix-xiii) and "No Yellow Brick Road" (5-15).

Case this week (well, fortnight): Book of Serenity #35, "Luopu's Obeisance": CLICK HERE.

Buddhism 101 Offered. Spend a day at our Boundless Way Temple in Worcester. On Sat Sep 9, from 9:00 to 17:00, they are offering "Buddhism 101" plus an afternoon retreat at the BoWZ Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA 01602. Schedule for the day:
9:00 - 12:00 Workshop
12 - 12:30 Lunch (bring your own)
12:30 - 13:15 Caretaking practice
13:30 - 17:00 Silent Retreat
For more details: http://tiny.cc/Buddhism101Fall17
To register: https://tinyurl.com/BoWTBuddhism101
For carpooling from White Plains, email to Brain LaVoie: brianlavoie43 -at- gmail -dot- com

Aug 23-30

Summer, week 10
"Everything is one with everything, whether we think so or not. That is our true self." --Kosho Uchiyama
Chants for Wed Aug 23 - Wed Sep 20 (from Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book. See: BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule)
  • Song of the Jeweled Mirror Samadhi, p. 18
  • Shinjin Gakudo, p. 42
Next Saturday Zen Service: Aug 26, 10:00 - 11:45am.
Room 24, Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY

This week's reading: Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought, pp. 168-172 (8.2) and pp. xiii-xxxvi (Prefaces by Warner, Okumura, Wright, Uchiyama)

This is our last week with Uchiyama. On Sep 2, we start on Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle: Teachings in Zen.

This week's case: Book of Serenity #35, "Luopu's Obeisance": CLICK HERE.