"Meditation does not turn us into gray, vegetative blobs with all the feelings washed out. The Buddha taught that we can feel pleasure fully, yet without craving or clinging, without defining it as our ultimate happiness. We can feel pain fully without condemning or hating it. This nonreactivity is the state of equanimity, and it leads us into freedom in each moment." --Sharon SalzbergChants for Wed Apr 5 - Tue Apr 11 (from Boundless Way Zen Sutra Book. See: BoWZ Westchester Chant Schedule)
- Genjokoan, part 1, p. 32
- Heart Sutra, p. 12
Room 24, Community UU
468 Rosedale Ave, White Plains, NY
This week's reading: Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, Chapter 9, "The Gift of Equanimity," pp. 136-153.
NOTE: We'll finish our reading of Lovingkindness on Sat Apr 22. You may want to order the next book now: Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought.
This week's case: "Zhaozhou's 'Why Not Quote to the End?'" Blue Cliff Record #59.
Personnel and Background
Zhaozhou Congshen (778-897, 10th gen) was a disciple of Nanquan (748-835), who was a disciple of Mazu (709-88). The Xinxin Ming is a poem of about 1,000 words in English translation, attributed to Jianzhi Sengcan (the "Third Patriarch," 530? - 606). Xinxin: "truthful heart-mind," "faith," or "trust;" Ming: "inscription," or "time-tested truth." Hence, Xinxin Ming: "Heart of True Entrusting," "Faith in Mind," or "Trust in the Heart." Zhaozhou, in his teaching, often cited the Xinxin Ming's opening lines: "The great way is not difficult; it just dislikes choosing." See also: BCR #2, BCR #57, and BCR #58.Case
A monastic said to Zhaozhou, "'The real Way is not difficult. It only abhors choice and attachment. If you say a word, there arise choice and attachment.' How, then can you go about helping someone?"Xuedou's Verse (Sekida trans, with Cleary trans in italics)
Zhaozhou said, "Why don't you quote it to the end?"
The monastic said, "I have only this much in mind."
Zhaozhou said, "You know, the real Way is not difficult. It only abhors choice and attachment."
Spit in his face -- he is not sullied;Yuanwu's Preface
Call him names -- it doesn't touch him.
Water cannot wet, wind cannot penetrate.
He walks like a tiger, moves like a dragon.
A tiger walks, a dragon runs;
Spirits shriek, gods groan and weep.
Ghosts howl, spirits cry.
His head is three feet long. Who is he?
His head is three feet long -- I wonder who it is?
Facing you, he stands silent, on a single leg.
Answering without words, he stands on one foot.
Controlling the heavens, commanding the earth, transcending the holy, rising above the mundane, he shows us even in the myriad weeds the Wonderful Mind of Nirvana, and in the midst of Dharma battle holds the lifeline of the monk. Tell me, by what blessing can he be like that?Hakuin's Comment
"How do you help people, teacher?" If you can't open your mouth, how can you teach others?Tenkei's Comment
"Why not quote this saying fully?" There's still more of the saying, why don't you say it all? What an extraordinary, wonderful, amazingly great teacher!
"It's just this: 'The supreme way has no difficulty'" This flavor can be known only to those who have had the experience of dealing with students.
How does a teacher help others without words? This monastic posed a question on seeing a gap, but his question was nevertheless a product of subjective discriminatory mental activity.Sekida's Comment
"The supreme Way..." "If you want brevity, best just say this much." This answer was outside the monastic's expectations. Zhaozhou's way of helping people without running afoul of the the point sees the problem of the monastic's clinging to "as soon as there are words spoken", responding in such a way as to break it down. This is called the methodology of giving medicine according to the illness.
Quoting to "the end" would presumably include all of the words Zhaozhou quoted in BCR #2: "The Real Way is not difficult. It only abhors choice and attachment. With but a single word there may arise choice and attachment, or there may arise clarity."Rothenberg's Verse
"I have only this much in mind." The monastic shows that he has himself exercised a choice, cutting off the quotation where he does.
Thick as Pea SoupHotetsu's Verse
Water pured on you keeps you dry.
Wind guesting stops at your door.
It's like empty space -- solid, impervious.
Address your plea to the sky!
"Cover your ears," he draws back;
stops the words in their tracks.
"Stand on one foot," thus respond in silence.
See yourself in him,
see his idea in you.
Skim over the grasses, slide over the spears.
No blood, no breeze.
Take it to the end: Give every bit of yourself!
"I only meant this much." He's made his choice and chosen small.
The Great Way, helping people:
Only take it all the way to the end.