The view out onto the Upaya grounds reminds me of the divisions I create between stillness and activity: sitting Buddha and Jizo in counterpoint.
I want things to be easy. Show up, laugh, eat, sit, become enlightened, manifest compassion. Can someone out there write a little program that I can download into my brain as a memory capsule? I’m sure this balance between contemplation and engagement really is as easy and it seems for everyone else. Don’t you love those self-revelatory books that make it seem that way? Compressed into a 100 or 200 pages are all the peak experiences of becoming Buddha. Do you ever read behind the lines to confirm what you know really happened? Having lived your own life as an enlightened being, you do know what it takes. Which means you know the lines on the pages are wonderfully crafted to slide over the boulders and rubble (thank you, Helmut!) left from the earthquakes and aftershocks in your inner landscape.
Maybe I’m being a bit too cynical. Some time ago, Barry (Ox Herding) and I had a fun exchange about Layman Pang’s whinge about how hard it was to sow the seeds of practice; Pang’s wife responded that it was easy, and their daughter cheekily retorted that it was all there on a blade of grass just for the having. If I read it again, it seems to me the Layman is addressing the outer form of practice, his wife the inner form, and their daughter points to the 84,000 dharma doors that we can choose from. Hard, easy, effortless – it’s our choice.
Dogen is uncompromising on the issue of true practice. It’s easy to chop off arms and fingers, he says, in the way our ancestors chose to prove their commitment. But harmonizing the body and harmonizing the mind are difficult.
Brilliance is not primary, understanding is not primary, conscious endeavor is not primary, introspection is not primary. Without using any of these, harmonize body-and-mind and enter the buddha way.
Old man Shakyamuni said, “Avalokiteshvara turns the stream inward and disregards knowing objects.”
That is the meaning. Separation between two aspects of activity and stillness simply does not arise. This is harmonizing.
Dogen on Guidelines for Studying the Way from Moon in a Dewdrop edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi
I learned this chopping onions. A calm mind and fully engaged body goes a long way to keeping the fingers whole.
Thank you for practicing,