a poke in the ribs

Iha Shariputra!

That’s Avalokita giving the Great Sage a knock on the head, a poke in the ribs.  Wake up!  Shariputra was renowned for his ability to think through the Buddha’s teachings – a fact that supposedly delayed his ascendency to arhantship by a week behind his pal Maudgalyayana.    But what Avaloikta is saying here to this very well-achieved and learned disciple of the Buddha is “Don’t stop at knowing the five streams of body and mind, the Three Poisons, the 12 stages of Dependent Origination, the Four Noble Truths!”  We can dive deeper than the dis-illusion of self into the five streams of body and mind.  It’s much more than annihilating the self, deconstructing I-me-mine.

When my brother was in the seminary, he used to give me Bibles for presents.  I have a nice collection that, although I shake my head at his inability to understand the twelve year old I was, I do treasure.  “There’s Good News in this!” he would proclaim, thrusting the massive volumes at me.  I suppose if I had worked as hard at the Bible as Shariputra had at the five skandhas, Three Poisons, 12 Stages of Dependent Origination, and the Four Noble Truths, I might have found the Good News.

Form is the same as boundless; boundlessness is the same as form works for me as Good News.  It means practice is not about getting rid of something or becoming perfect at anything.  In fact, translating the Heart Sutra as the “Perfection of Wisdom” appears to set the bar rather high.  It seems to say, Grasp the non-existence of a fixed self and non-duality and you’ve got it made.  Well, that’s not what is meant by “Perfection” nor is it likely to happen in my world where I tend to trip on solid objects and step on people’s soft emotional centers like a sociopathic bull.

I’m reminded again and again by Kaz Tanahashi Sensei’s words: The enso is not perfect but it is complete.  Complete because it contains the perfect and the imperfect nondiscriminately.  Form and boundlessness are not discriminable; together they are complete.

The more I sit with this, the simpler it becomes:

Iha Shariputra!  Iha Genju!

Or if you’re into the Japanese version: Sha Ri Shi!  Genju!

You there!

Wake up and stretch beyond the lists that limit you from completion.

6 thoughts on “a poke in the ribs

    • Hah! No way. I’m too attached to the fact that no one is waxing eloquent about my calligraphy this week! 😦

      But you, OTOH… you’re about ready to ripen and fall off the branch, no? 😉

      • Actually, although I unconsciously knew it was yours, when I first saw the calligraphy, I thought to myself, “That’s really nice calligraphy she found online…” *^^* oops!

        Honestly, though, in that thin space between awake and sleep last night, the images of yesterday’s calligraphy manages to float around in my minds eye for a bit, along with thoughts of how nice your calligraphy is getting. I think I even caught a glimpse of your painting in a studio! (I looked at your blog just before going to bed)

        As for me about to ripen, I think my mom is the only person who would believe that! (I’m her son, she has to!)

        • 😆 I was surprised at the shift in the brush work but then again that’s me looking at it. Also enjoying the play of putting it on photographs.

          btw, I’m going to put the “i am ox” series into a chapbook format with the poems. You can pick up your copy when you visit!

          Moms are Best! 😀

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