2016-02-03

Gateless Gate 30

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Gateless Gate (Mumonkan, Wumenguan) #30
Mind is Buddha

Personnel
Mazu (709-788, 8th generation) was the disciple of Nanyue (677-744, 7th generation), who was a disciple of the 6th Patriarch, Huineng (638-713). Mazu is the founder of the Hongzhou school, from which the the Linji and the Guiyang Houses of Zen derived. Mazu reportedly had 139 Dharma successors, including Baizhang and Nanquan. Another of those disciples was Damei (752-839, 9th generation). Damei had first studied philosophy, then took up zazen in middle life. Mazu appears in five of our koans: GG #30, GG #33, BCR #3 (BOS # 36), BCR #73 (BOS #6), and BCR #53.

Case
Damei asked Mazu in all earnestness, "What is the Buddha?"
Mazu answered, "The very mind is Buddha."

Wumen's Comment
If you grasp it on the spot, you wear Buddha's clothes, eat Buddha's food, speak Buddha's words, do Buddha's deeds; you are Buddha himself. Though this may be so, Damei has, alas, misled not a few people into mistaking the mark on the balance for the weight itself. How can he realize that even the mere mention of the word “Buddha” should make a man rinse his mouth for three days? If one is such a man, when he hears someone say, “The very mind is Buddha,” he will cover his ears and run away

Wumen's Verse
On a clear day, in the bright sunlight,
   The blue sky and bright day --
Don't go searching around;
   It is most detestable to hunt around;
To go on asking "what"
   If, furthermore, you ask, "What is Buddha?"
Is to protest your innocence while holding the loot.
   It is like shouting your innocence while holding the loot.

Background: From the Avatamsaka (Flower Garland) Sutra, ca. 3rd-century CE
As mind is, so is the Buddha;
As the Buddha is, so are living beings.
One should know that the Buddha's and mind's
Essential nature is boundless.

Dogen's Comment
When they hear tell of 'mind itself,' what the ignorant suppose it means is that ordinary people's thinking awareness without awakened aspiration for enlightenment is itself Buddha. This is a consequence of never having met an enlightened teacher.

A Sequel
When Damei heard Mazu's response to his fundamental question, circumstances came together for him and he saw the Way. He settled in a litte hut in the forest some distance from Mazu's temple to polish his wisdom and compassion. One day he was discovered. A monk hiking in the forest came across a priest doing zazen in a little hut. He told his teacher Mazu about this.
Mazu said, "Ah, that must be Damei." He sent the monk back for a dialog with him.
"Where do you come from?" asked Damei.
"From Mazu," replied the monk.
"What is Mazu saying these days?" asked Damei.
"Not mind, not Buddha," replied the monk.
"Great Master Ma is confusing people," said Damei. "I still say this very mind is Buddha." The monk reported back to Mazu.
"The Great Plum [da-mei] is ripening," commented Mazu.

Senzaki's Comment
"What is Buddha?" This is the first and last question in Buddhism. Mazu's response best translates as "The actual mind is the actual Buddha."

Yamada's Comment
Shakyamuni Buddha's great enlightenment was simply the realization that, "The whole universe is one and empty." The truth realized by all the past, present, and future Buddhas is identical to Shakyamuni's realization. In empty oneness there is no duality; it transcends all dualistic opposition. Just one at every point of time and space. This oneness is sometimes called "Mu," sometimes "the sound of one hand," sometimes "one's primal face before one's parents were born," or "the subtle Dharma," "the subtle mind of nirvana," "mind, "one mind," "Buddha," or "our essential nature," and so forth. All these names, however, are only symbols or labels for this empty oneness. Enlightenment is nothing other than grasping this oneness by living experience. Everything you see and hear and touch and feel and think is nothing but mind. Although it may move as greed, anger, or folly, or wanting to eat or love or hate, all these are no other than mind.

Mahasattva Fu's Verse
If you realize the origin, you will attain mind.
If you attain mind, you will see Buddha.
Mind is Buddha; Buddha is mind.
You truth-seeker, look into your own mind.
If you realize that Buddha is in yourself,
you will not seek after him outwardly.
Mind is Buddha; Buddha is mind.
If your mind is clear, you will realize Buddha.

Shibayama's Comment
Zen is a teaching which contends that "Mind is Buddha," and training in Zen aims to make it possible to be personally awakened to this fact.

Huangbo's Comment
A monk asked, "From earliest times they all say, 'Mind is Buddha'; I wonder which mind could be Buddha?"
Huangbo answered, "How many minds do you have? If a thought of consciousness arises, you are at once in the wrong. From time immemorial until today, 'Mind is Budddha' has never been changed. There is no other Dharma. It is therefore called the attainment of true satori."

Low's Comment
What is this very mind? To call it Buddha is to poison it. To call Buddha this very mind is to confuse. It was Zhaozhou who originally said, "When I speak the word Buddha I want to wash my mouth out for three days afterwards." That is how it has become with words such as love, religion, and holiness: they leave a rancid taste in the mouth.

Hotetsu's Verse
Endless play everywhere. No inside, no outside.
The ten thousand things cross the ten thousand synapses,
Merge into a single axon, which passes itself into
The dendrites of ten thousand other cells.
This is not just a nervous system.
It is mountains, rivers, the great wide earth.
No outside, no inside. Endless play everywhere.

Illustration by Mark Morse, http://www.thegatelessgate.com/

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