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?
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.

2017-11-01

Nov 2 - 8

Autumn, week 7
"The point is not to negate or transcend duality, but to totally immerse oneself in it. Totally becoming duality means totally becoming not only the relative but the absolute as well, because the distinction between the two is nothing but a notion." --Bernie Glassman
Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is
Sat Nov 4, 10:00 - 11:45am,
room 24, Community UU,
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice will be led by Meredith.

Chants for Thu Nov 2 - Wed Nov 8:
  • Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage, p. 13
  • Heart Sutra, p. 12
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, Chapter 10, "Intermingle Even as They Shine Alone," pp. 92-101.
Next up: starting Sat Dec 16, our book will be, Yamada Koun, Zen: The Authentic Gate.

Case this week: Book of Serenity #77, "Yangshan: As Befits His Portion": CLICK HERE.

Sat Nov 18: Morning Meditation Retreat: 9am-noon, at 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 canceled -- or, rather, 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.

Book of Serenity 77

100
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #77
Yangshan: As Befits His Portion

Personnel
  • Yangshan Huiji (Kyozan Ejaku, 807-83, 11th gen). Go to YANGSHAN
  • An unnamed monk
Wansong's Preface
It is like trying to draw emptiness.
The moment you start to use the brush, you go wrong.
How is it possible to bring forth the pattern, or make a model?
I have already revealed the stopper.
If there are rules, make avail of them;
If there are no rules, use the [following] example.
Case
A monk asked Yangshan, “Your Reverence, do you know letters or not?”
Yangshan said, “As befits my portion." [i.e., "so-so," or "to the extent that's required."]
The monk immediately turned around once clockwise and said, “What letter is this?”
Yangshan drew the ideograph for “10” [ 十 ] in the earth.
The monk turned himself around once counter-clockwise and said, “What letter is that?”
Yangshan modified the sign “ 十” into a swastika [ 卍 ] [an ancient religious icon used in the Indian subcontinent, East Asia and Southeast Asia, where it has been and remains a sacred symbol of spiritual principles in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism; here a symbol of Buddhism].
The monk drew a circle in the air and lifted his two palms like Asura [originally a Hindu deity; here one of the eight supernatural protectors of Buddhist Way] vigorously holding the sun and moon and said, “What letter is that?”
Yangshan immediately drew a circle enclosing the swastika.
The monk at once represented the vigor of a Rucika. [The buddha Rucika wailed at his fate at first because he was the last of the thousand buddhas in this cosmic period. But then he made up his mind to be the energetic protector of the Dharma for all other buddhas. Two powerful figures of this buddha are seen at the entrance gate of many temples in Japan.]
Yangshan said, “Good, good. Keep it with care.”
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
The void inside the ring of the Way is never filled;
   The void of the circle of the Way is never filled,
the character for the seal of emptiness has never been revealed.
   The letters on the seal of emptiness are still unformed.
Marvelously orbiting the wheel of heaven and axis of earth,
   Subtly carrying the globe of heaven and axis of earth,
mysteriously stringing together military warp and literary woof.
   Finely weaving the military warp and cultural woof,
Releasing, opening, kneading, gathering;
   Opening up, kneading together,
standing alone, going anywhere.
   Standing alone traveling everywhere:
Activity send forth the mysterious gist, and sparks lightning in the blue heaven;
   The mind activates the mysterious pivot, thunder roars in the clear blue sky;
the eye enfolds the purple rays, and sees stars in the bright of day.
   The eye takes in violet light, seeing stars in broad daylight.
Cijiao's Verse
Before the birth of father and mother,
One solid circle;
Even Shakyamuni didn't understand it --
How could Kasyapa transmit it?
Sequel
Yangshan said, "Right, so it is. This is what all Buddhas attend to. You are thus, and I am thus; keep and maintain it well. Very good indeed. You'd better go now."
After the monk bowed in thanks, he sprang into the air and departed.
At that time there was a wayfarer who saw this, and after five days came to ask Yangshan about it.
Yangshan said, "Did you see?"
The man said, "I actually saw him go out the gate and take off into the air."
Yangshan said, "That was a saint from the West who came for the purpose of investigating my way."
The wayfarer say, "Although I have seen various meditation states, I don't understand the principle of that."
Some Background Tales from Wansong
The use of circular symbols has come to be called the family style of the Gui-Yang school of Chan. The tradition of the Gui-Yang school says that National Teacher Nanyang Huizhong (675-775) transmitted to his disciple Danyuan ninety-seven circular symbols of the Sixth Patriarch.
The National Teacher told Danyuan, "Thirty years after my death there will be a novice in the South who will cause this path to flourish greatly when he arrives."
Later, Danyuan met Yangshan and said, "As I carefully examine this prophecy, I realize it refers to you." [Note: Yangshan was born 32 years after Huizhong's death. While Yangshan did become a novice at a young age, he would not have been a novice until at least 45 years after Huizhong's death.]
After Yangshan had gotten the symbols, he burned them up.
One day Danyuan said to him, "the circular symbols which I transmitted to you before should be kept deeply hidden."
Yangshan said, "I have already burned them."
Danyuan said, "That's all right for you, but what about those yet to come?"
Yangshan said, "If you want, I'll recompile the book." Then Yangshan recompiled the book of symbols and showed to Danyuan -- there was not a single error or omission.

One day Danyuan went up into the hall, and Yangshan came forth from the assembly, made a circle, and offered it up in his hands; then he stood there with his hands clasped at this chest.
Danyuan interlocked his fists and showed this to him.
Yangshan advanced three steps and curtsied; Danyuan nodded, and Yangshan bowed.
Among the ninety-seven kinds of symbols, the clasped hands is called the rakshasa samadhi; the curtsy is called the woman samadhi. These are all manifestations of the universal gate which flows forth from the samadhi which is king of samadhis.

There was an Indian monk who came to call on Yangshan. Yangshan drew a half-moon on the ground.
The monk came nearer and added to it, making a full circle; then he erased it with his foot.
Yangshan extended both hands.
The monk immediately left, saying, "I came to China to pay respects to Manjusri, but instead met a little Shakyamuni."

A monk came and bowed. Yangshan paid no attention to him. The monk said, "Master, do you know written characters?"
Yangshan said, "Enough."
the monk drew a circle and presented it.
Yangshan erased it with his sleeve.
the monk also drew a half-moon sign and presented it.
Yangshan made a gesture of throwing it behind him with both hands.
The monk looked directly at him.
Yangshan lowered his head.
The monk walked around the master once, whereupon Yangshan hit him.
The monk finally left.

A monk from the assembly at Guanyin came to call on Yantou. With his hand he made a circle to the left, then made another circle on the right, and also made a circle in the middle. As he was about to finish, Yantou swept it all away with his hand.
The monk had no reply.
Yantou then ejected him with a shout.
Just as the monk stepped over the threshold, Yantou called him back and asked, "Did you come from Guanyin in Hong province?"
The monk said, "Yes."
Yantou said, "The circle on the left which you drew just now -- what about it?"
The monk said, "It is the expression of existence."
Yantou said, "And the circle on the right?"
The monk said, "It's the expression of nonexistence."
Yantou asked, "What about the circle in the middle?"
The monk said, "It's the expression of neither existence nor nonexistence."
Yantou said, "And what about my doing as I did?"
The monk said, "Like drawing on water with a knife."
Yantou hit him and drove him out.
Wansong's Comment
The Fourteenth Patriarch Nagarjuna concealed his body on the teaching seat and manifested a circular form. Kanadeva said, "This is the Venerable One showing us the form of the body of a buddha." Thus, the form of signless meditation is like the full moon; the meaning of buddha-nature is vast emptiness and illumination -- but these are only metaphors. Right in the beginning, as soon as he asked "Do you know characters?" I'd say, "I've always been illiterate," to see what he would do.
Wick's Comment
The empty circle represents the dwelling place of the body of the Buddha. The swastika denotes working for others with expedient means arising from true wisdom. Realize that the Buddha and sentient beings are not different and then put that wisdom into practice. The problem is that we dwell in our thoughts, ideas, symbols, and images. We don't realize that we dwell in the land of the Buddha: that's the land of the unborn and the undying, that manifests as being born and dying. This is not a symbol, but your life as it is.
When the monk posed as Asura, representing the world of desires, Yangshan enclosed the swastika in a circle. This circle contains everything, including the Buddha and awakened activity. It is so large that it even contains itself. Everything is in balance and harmony. Finally, the monk posed as Rucika, a fierce temple guardian representing keeping and maintaining the Dharma, so Yangshan replies, "Just so! Keep and maintain it well."
The Gui-Yang school (of which Yangshan was a co-founder) is known for its use of mystical symbols. You cannot, however, hold onto explanations of symbol meanings to penetrate this koan.
Yamada's Comment
Each movement we make — lifting a leg, raising a hand — is essential nature itself. All koans are trying to somehow make us aware of this world of emptiness. But they have no resort but to bring up something from the phenomenal world. This present koan has several interesting examples of that.
The monk immediately turned around once clockwise and said, “What letter is this?” Here is an example of “the acrobatics of emptiness.” The content is empty but there is totally free activity. In writing the ideograph for “10,” which is a cross whose axes can be extended out endlessly, Yangshan expresses how our true nature fills the entire universe. This “10” [十] is the thing itself. You can also see it as expressing the activity of the phenomenal world.
At the next question, Yangshan modifies 十 into 卍. This, too, expresses the activity of the universe.
The monk drew a circle in the air and lifted his two palms like Asura vigorously holding the sun and moon and said, “What letter is that?” An Asura in Buddhism is a deity that is subject to such passions as anger. When the monk draws a circle in the air, he is expressing the world of emptiness for the first time. Yangshan draws a circle enclosing the swastika. This expresses phenomena within emptiness; it is great activity that fills the entire universe.
He represented the vigor of a Rucika:  he took on the pose of one of the guardian deities at the gate of the temple.
Sarah Emerson's Verse
Yangshan's "Enough"
the circle
drawn on the bald head with lipstick
is unprecedented in this world

the symbols have all been thoroughly corrupted
throughout history

“Relax!” cries the Racika
surely Vernon needed nothing more than to have his hair braided
in this class
at this time
Hotetsu's Verse
First, the myriad things. Then, the practice.
Third, the empty oneness. Then, guarding the dharma.
Yangshan and company put on a flashy show,
But there's really nothing to it.

2017-10-23

Oct 26 - Nov 1

Autumn, week 6
"We have to be able to see both relative and absolute at the same time and to live and function freely in both spheres simultaneously. That is freedom." --Bernie Glassman

Saturday Zen. Our next Zen service is
Sat Oct 28, 10:00 - 11:45am,
room 24, Community UU,
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY.
Practice will be led by Meredith.

Chants for Thu Oct 26 - Wed Nov 1:
  • Essence of Atonement, p. 8
  • Bodhisattva's Vow, p. 15
  • Blinded by Passions, p. 31
  • Genjokoan, part 3, p. 33
See: Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book, and
BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule

Reading this week: Bernie Glassman, Infinite Circle, Chapter 9, "Subtle Source, Branching Streams," pp. 86-91.
Next up: starting Sat Dec 16, our book will be, Yamada Koun, Zen: The Authentic Gate.

Case this week: Book of Serenity #62, "Jingzhao Mihu's 'Enlightenment'": CLICK HERE.

Morning Meditation Retreat: Sat Nov 18, 9am-noon, at 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 canceled -- or, rather, 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.

Book of Serenity 62

99
Book of Serenity (Shoyoroku, Congrong Lu) #62
Jingzhao Mihu's "Enlightenment"

Personnel
  • Yangshan Huiji (Kyozan Ejaku, 807-83, 11th gen). Go to YANGSHAN
  • Jingzhao Mihu (Keicho Beiko, b. 811?, 11th gen). Go to JINGZHAO
  • An unnamed monk
Wansong's Preface
Bodhidharma’s primary truth bewildered Emperor Wu.
Vimalakirti’s teaching of nonduality made Manjusri's speech excessive.
Is there anyone who goes into thorough realization or not?
Case
Jingzhao Mihu had a monk ask Yangshan, “Do people these days need [or: have to attain] enlightenment or not?”
Yangshan said, “It is not that there is no enlightenment. Yet how can it be helped that it falls into the secondary class [or: into duality]?”
The monk went back to Mihu and told him about it.
Mihu deeply agreed [wholeheartedly approved it].
Prequel
A monk asked Jingzhao Mihu, "Do the eminent sages since antiquity arrive at the real truth?"
Mihu said, "Yes."
The monk said, "If it's the real truth, how can it be arrived at?"
Mihu said, "At the time when Huo Guang [Western Han politician, d. 68 BCE] sold a phony silver city and gave the receipt to the chief of a foreign tribe, whose doing was this?"
The monk said, "I can only shut my mouth and say nothing."
Mihu said, "On even ground you make people help out."
He then sent the monk to ask Yangshan whether people these days need enlightenment.
Sequel
Jingzhao Mihu then sent the monk to ask Dongshan, "What do you have to say about that?"
Dongshan said, "You have to turn around and ask him, then you can find out."
Mihu also agreed with this.
Hongzhi's Verse (Wick trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
The second level divides enlightenment and rends delusion.
   The secondary -- distinguishing enlightenment, breaking up delusion:
Better to promptly let go and discard traps and snares.
   Quickly you should free your hands and relinquish net and trap.
Merit, if not yet extinguished, becomes an extra appendage.
   Accomplishment, before it's exhausted, becomes an extra thumb:
It is as difficult to know wisdom as to bite one's navel.
   Wisdom can hardly know, like you can't bite your own navel.
The waning moon's icy disk, autumn dew weeps.
   The full moon's icy disk weeps in the autumn dew:
Benumbed birds, jeweled trees, dawn's breeze chills.
   Birds are cold in the jade tree, the dawn breeze is chill.
Bringing it out, great Yangshan discerns true and false.
   Brought forth, great Yangshan distinguishes real and false:
Completely without flaw, the splendid jewel is priceless.
   Completely without flaw, the white jade is esteemed.
Another Anecdote about Jingzhao Mihu
When Mihu resided at Jingzhao, an old worthy asked him, "Nowadays if people see a piece of broken well rope in the light of the moon they say it's a snake. I'd like to know what you would call it if you saw a buddha?"
Mihu said, "If there's a buddha to be seen, it's not other than all beings."
The old monk said, "A thousand years of peach pits."
A Related Case
National Teacher Nanyang Huizhong asked an imperial attendant monk, "What does 'buddha' mean?"
The monk said, "It meaning 'enlightened.'"
The National Teacher said, "Has a buddha ever been deluded?"
He said, "No, never deluded."
The National Teacher said, "Then what's the use of enlightenment?"
The imperial attendant monk had no reply.
Touzi's Comment
Even though Yangshan was right in speaking this way, still can he avoid falling himself? If he can avoid it, there's still one who very much disagrees. If he can't avoid it, he also falls into the secondary. Although Mihu approved it, did he himself have a way to emerge? People try to examine and see. If you can find it out, for both men the tiles crumble and the ice melts. If you can't find it out, don't be hasty now.
Touzi's Verse
Atop the green peak he questions the man;
Pointing out where the mountains end, he doesn't let him settle his body.
Even though able to avoid the observance of autumn,
How can that compare to the spiritual sprouts not invading spring?
Xuedou's Comment
Fundamentally there is no delusion or enlightenment.
Dogen's Verse
We easily discern true and partial in the enlightenment of people today.
These are traces of the self before the empty kalpa.
Although carelessly making mistake after mistake,
In the intimate entrustment from west to east they fully meet.
Keizan's Verse
Seeking it oneself with empty hands,
you return with empty hands;
in that place where fundamentally nothing is acquired,
you really acquire it.
Keizan's Comment
Don't try to seek enlightenment, and don't say enlightenment doesn't exist.
Wick's Comment
The theme of this koan is one of the most important themes in Zen: do not dwell in any fixed place. "How can one not fall down into the second level?" Don't hold onto anything. Just let go.
If you say you're enlightened, you've already fallen into the second level since words can't reach it. If you say you're not enlightened, you've fallen into the second level because you deny the Buddha's teaching. Is there a first level? If you say there is, you fall into the second one. And if you avoid the question entirely, you also fall.
You have some ideas about enlightenment, some kind of a notion, maybe it's not even fully formed -- but whatever it is, it's not this life, not this suffering, not this reality. It's something else.
As long as you believe there's enlightenment, then there's delusion
Yamada's Comment
In order to achieve true peace of mind, is it necessary to borrow such a means as satori? And: Is there really such a thing as satori among people?
All beings are intrinsically enlightened. But if you then assume that it is not necessary to do anything, that is mistaken. There is definitely the matter of realizing it experientially and thus confirming it as a fact for yourself. Hence: “although there is there isn’t, although there isn’t there is.”
How can it be helped that it falls into the secondary class? This could be seen as the main point in this koan. Even though we realize satori, concepts remain, which are known as the “form of satori.” Traces of satori are remaining. This is what is meant by “falling into the secondary class.” You remain sticking to that experience of satori.
There are many gradations of satori when it comes to the clarity and intensity of that experience. When you reach the stage of returning to your original, unadorned self (moto no mokuami), even satori disappears, in the sense that there is no consciousness of being enlightened. When you stand, there is just standing. When you sit, there is just sitting.
Dôgen Zenji says that, although we are intrinsically enlightened, there is not a single person who is aware of that from birth. Thus, we must by all means practice. Why? Because we are deluded from birth, we must break through that illusion in enlightenment. Then the satori itself becomes delusion. This is what is meant by falling into the second level, which can’t be helped. Dogen states unequivocally that even the second level is satori. This is truly wonderful. He is presenting a sharp affirmation toward this problem, whether we are talking about a second level or a
thousandth level.
Daido's Comment
Enlightenment is not simply the absence of delusion, nor is it true that because there is enlightenment there is no delusion. Delusion does not become enlightenment. It is beginningless and endless. Enlightenment does not follow delusion. It is beginningless and endless. Thus, they are always manifesting in the present moment.
There is delusion within enlightenment, as there is enlightenment within delusion. Enlightenment can only be realized within delusion; delusion can only be realized within enlightenment.
With self and other forgotten, how can you even speak of them? Bringing them up in the first place makes them two. The nature of diamond wisdom is that it includes the whole universe.
Daido's Verse
Endless blue mountains,
free of even a particle of dust.
Boundless rivers of tumbling torrents,
ceaselessly flowing.
Anonymous Verse
Mihu's "Enlightenment or Not?"
Thinking there is enlightenment – it is needed,
Desperately.
Here, between things
Even a bird flying high in full view would fail to find it.
Would the moon still be reflected in that dewdrop?
BIRD BEWARE.
Hotetsu's Verse
"Second class enlightenment"?
It is the way of my house to speak thus,
Goosing one another to notice conceptualizing
And serve the greens fresh
As befits a house of the homeless.

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

98
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

97
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

96
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