BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 96

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39270

    BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 96

    Dear All,

    We will begin our readings from Master "Homeless" Kodo Sawaki's "TOO YOU" next week [details here]:

    Dear All, Please allowing me to announce our next book for the "no words book club." We will take a little pause from Zen Master's Dance between chapters, for some wonderful reflections and inspiration, from dear Homeless Kodo Sawaki ... To You: It is a wonderful little book ... brilliant, in fact. Gassho,


    For today, a little Koan Magic ... Case 96 - Kyuho's Disapproval.

    The basic message of this Koan, which is a bit mysterious at first glance, is that all the magic powers in the world that someone might summon (perhaps some of which are actual abilities of folks, some more mythological) are not worth a farthing compared to actual understanding, realization and practice.

    The Preface to the Assembly mentions several famous stories of miracles and magic that did not measure up to true Zen satori: In one story, a hermit dies and left many sacred sarira relics (little jewels said to be found in the cremated remains of the Buddha and great monks, but which may actually be nothing more than gallstones and kidney stones : https://www.atlasobscura.com/article...t-human-pearls ). The story goes that he secreted himself from the world, and did not truly understand the meaning of "emptiness," so the sarira mean little. In another story, birds always miraculously brought flowers and garlands to cover a priest who sat Zazen, but when the priest had true understanding and realization, the birds stopped ... signifying something like that the birds could no longer see him because the enlightened priest had just become quite ordinary, nothing special to be decorated, just blending into the background scenery. Another monk was able to walk on water, or surf across on his straw hat, leaving his traveling companions behind on the shore. He was criticized for selfishness, for our Bodhisattva Vow is to ferry all sentient beings to the other shore together. And then there is the miracle in the main case:

    In the Main Case, a Zen Master dies and the question is who will be his successor, understanding the late Master's teachings. The late Master's words ("Go through, desist, cease ... One thought [perhaps a better translation is "one awareness"] is ten thousand years ... Cold ashes and withered trees ... One strip of pure white silk") seem to indicate some very pure state of Kensho in which the mind grows extremely still and quiet, such that all thinking and pondering ceases ... there is only pure awareness that sweeps in all time into timelessness ... where one's mind is as cold and silent as cold ashes or a dead tree ... as pure and clear as pure white silk. One monk says "The meaning is to clarify the one-colored state" [alternate translation: "To clarify the matter of absolute Oneness."] To demonstrate this, the monk then crawls into the Lotus Posture and dies ... perhaps literally, perhaps only signifying his entering a deep, deep death-like trance which he believed was enlightenment. [I think this second meaning is most likely, because suicide is generally considered a serious violation of the Precept on Not Killing, so I do not think that he actually killed himself.] Kyuho criticizes this, saying something like, "Hey, that's a good trick, but you still don't understand the real intent of our Master's words."

    So, what is the basis for the criticism? It is something like that the monk knew how to dive deep into a deathlike emptiness, but not that real "enlightenment" is then to live and come back to the world, figuring out the "enlightenment" that is our mundane living is the life. One has to "go through" the place of stopping and ceasing to return to the world of going and doing. The pure mind is not just beyond time, but living in a world of passing time. In Zen poetry, "cold ashes" actually produce heat, and "withered trees" still produce leaves which are filled with life. The "one strip of pure white silk" is cut into pieces to make the clothes we wear, and sometimes sully, as we get on with our work in this muddy world.

    The Appreciatory Verse praises Kyoho's understanding of the late Master [Sekiso's] intent, and Kyoho thus carried on the late Master's lineage. Dying while sitting is just a stunt. The line about a "[White] crane in front of the [white] moon" traditionally signifies the wholeness of "Emptiness," where the crane loses its separate self-identity in the "white on white" light. Nonetheless, the crane has its dream of time [which is our dream of life. However, Master Dogen used to say that, while this world is like a dream, it is our dream of our lives, a "real" dream, so we should dream it well.] The man dwelling in the snow is, likewise, a symbol for being lost in "one colored" emptiness. Sitting Zazen in such a way as to lose all sense of space and time ["cut off the ten directions"] is [in alternative translation] "a miserable failure," and one will still bump their head up against this ordinary world. The final line likely means something like, "then the dragon [a symbol of enlightenment] really takes flight and gets going, when it takes one more step to return to this world."

    QUESTION: Describe some of the "ordinary" magic powers you possess as just a human being living an ordinary life. Describe some "ordinary miracles" of this life that we take for granted. [At my age, I often think it a miracle just when all the plumbing works right on a trip to the bathroom! ] How has Zen practice helped you realize the ordinary as truly magical, the magical as most ordinary?

    Here is a song about putting down the hope for miracles, yet not fearing the impossible and knowing that "there ain't impossible." Not afraid in this world of change, yet there is pain and struggle in this hard life ... keeping on struggling ahead, even when he too sometimes wants to die in the night as the light [like incense] burns ... then running through the busy city without obstacles ... not one, not two, just one way to go ... not afraid, cause already there ... making the impossible into the possible ...



    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-07-2022, 04:56 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Tokan
    Treeleaf Unsui
    • Oct 2016
    • 1230

    #2
    Once you learn how to desist, how to let go of your ego-grasping mind, then cease thinking that you're something special because you let go of your ego-grasping mind!
    If you've dropped away your self-grasping ignorance, then drop away that dropping away.
    Let go of all your devices, supernatural and common, and be genuine. Then you will understand the late master's intent.

    These are lessons that I took a long time to learn, being proud of my self-perceived 'attainment' of insight. Now, just drop away, drop away, dr...

    Tokan (satlah)
    平道 島看 Heidou Tokan (Balanced Way Island Nurse)
    I enjoy learning from everyone, I simply hope to be a friend along the way

    Comment

    • Tairin
      Member
      • Feb 2016
      • 2731

      #3
      I have this remarkable ability to draw air into my body, hold it there, and the expel it back out. I can do this all day long. Sometimes taking short breaths and sometimes long ones. I can even do it in my sleep. (There are some limits to this remarkable ability. For instance I can’t seem to breath underwater)

      Definitely my Zen practice has helped me be better aware and appreciative of the ordinary miracles that surround me. Just this afternoon I was sitting outside watching the clouds float by and listening to the near quiet of a lazy Sunday. For a period of time there was no feeling that I had to be doing something else or that I had to add anything to make the moment more than what it was.


      Tairin
      Sat today and lah
      泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

      Comment

      • Jundo
        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
        • Apr 2006
        • 39270

        #4
        Originally posted by Tairin
        I have this remarkable ability to draw air into my body, hold it there, and the expel it back out. I can do this all day long. Sometimes taking short breaths and sometimes long ones. I can even do it in my sleep. (There are some limits to this remarkable ability. For instance I can’t seem to breath underwater)

        Definitely my Zen practice has helped me be better aware and appreciative of the ordinary miracles that surround me. Just this afternoon I was sitting outside watching the clouds float by and listening to the near quiet of a lazy Sunday. For a period of time there was no feeling that I had to be doing something else or that I had to add anything to make the moment more than what it was.


        Tairin
        Sat today and lah
        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

        Comment

        • Gareth
          Member
          • Jun 2020
          • 219

          #5
          Magic powers:
          Being able to see, hear, and communicate with others.

          Something magical that wasn't:
          1. The rain was always a nuisance, but I was wrong - it is a miracle.
          2. Sitting on a bus, hearing the sounds of the engine and the chatter, seeing the houses and cars passing by and, inside, the worn plastic seats and people entering and leaving, is also a miracle.

          Conversely, we see magical absorption states within zazen as ordinary or even as "Makyō".

          Gassho,
          Gareth

          Sat today, Lah

          Comment

          • Jundo
            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
            • Apr 2006
            • 39270

            #6
            Originally posted by bad_buddha_007
            Magic powers:
            Being able to see, hear, and communicate with others.

            Something magical that wasn't:
            1. The rain was always a nuisance, but I was wrong - it is a miracle.
            2. Sitting on a bus, hearing the sounds of the engine and the chatter, seeing the houses and cars passing by and, inside, the worn plastic seats and people entering and leaving, is also a miracle.

            Conversely, we see magical absorption states within zazen as ordinary or even as "Makyō".

            Gassho,
            Gareth

            Sat today, Lah
            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

            Comment

            • Heikyo
              Member
              • Dec 2014
              • 103

              #7
              An "ordinary" magic power I have is to have some (but not complete) control over a bunch of billions of cells so that they move as one and can interact with the world around them.

              An ordinary miracle that I (and I suspect many people) can take for granted nowadays is all of the communication technology we have. This miracle allows us to chat to people all over the world through the internet or on the phone.

              The feeling that we are all one with all other things has given my walks a sense of awe and wonder. Seeing even the smallest living thing and feeling that we are all part of this universe together is humbling.
              Paul
              Sat LAH

              Comment

              • Tai Do
                Member
                • Jan 2019
                • 1358

                #8
                I have the magical power of being sad when sad things happen and being happy when happy things happen.
                The great miracle that zen practice showed me isto be OK with being sad or happy.
                Gassho
                Mateus
                Satlah
                怠努 (Tai Do) - Lazy Effort
                (also known as Mateus )

                禅戒一如 (Zen Kai Ichi Nyo) - Zazen and the Precepts are One!

                Comment

                • Seth David
                  Member
                  • Apr 2022
                  • 26

                  #9
                  Some of my magic powers include: folding laundry, taking out the trash, making the bed. Here in Arizona the magic of air conditioning is definitely something we take for granted in the summer. Zazen helps me to recognize the magic inherent in everyday life and to let it go.

                  Gassho [emoji120]
                  ST
                  Seth


                  Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

                  Comment

                  • Chikyou
                    Member
                    • May 2022
                    • 568

                    #10
                    I had to give this one a lot of thought! For me, the most magical thing one can is bring aid, joy or comfort to sentient beings. I do this in my day to day life by creating things (art, music), doing my best to be a supportive friend, giving to charity, and in my career, manufacturing medical devices.

                    While I'm new enough to this path to have limited experience with how Zen practice makes the magical mundane and the mundane magical, I can certainly say that I have had some special moments of real clarity and attention (I've spoken on the forums about having a much more profound appreciation for food than I had before).

                    Gassho,
                    SatLah
                    Kelly

                    ETA: now having read others' responses I feel I may have given it TOO MUCH thought, and missed the point entirely.
                    Last edited by Chikyou; 08-15-2022, 08:06 PM.
                    Chikyō 知鏡
                    (KellyLM)

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