BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 14

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  • Hans
    Member
    • Mar 2007
    • 1853

    BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 14

    Hello everyone,


    Jundo asked me to present the following Koan:


    Main Case:

    Attention! Attendant Kaku asked Tokusan, "Where did the holy ones of the past go?" Tokusan answered, "What? What?" Kaku said, "Give an imperial order for a fleet horse, and out comes a lame tortoise." At that, Tokusan desisted.The next day, Tokusan left his bath, and Kaku brought over tea and served it to Tokusan. Tokusan patted him once on the shoulder. Kaku said, "Old man, at last you're beginning to see." Tokusan once again desisted.




    Wearing a dinner jacket and metal-soled tap-shoes doesn't mean you can hear the music the other person is dancing to. Kaku vomits out a juicy question but doesn't have the ears to hear the resonance of Tokusan's crystal clear answer. We can disguise our ineptitude and hide it in front of others, but never in front of one who knows the traceless non-ground on which we all stand, the birthing place of non-other. No matter how watery the broth, if the gate is shut, no sustenance will ever enter.


    Questions:

    Can you recall an instance where looking back at past events revealed to you what should have been understood there and then by you?
    Who has more Buddha nature, your father, or your mother?


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

    Last edited by Jundo; 07-05-2020, 08:09 AM.
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39450

    #2
    Like Shishin Wick's comments, Steve Hagen has a nice section on the tangled vine relationship of teacher and student ... as well as Koans, confusion, paradox ...

    -------------------------------------


    Buddhist teachings and practice all have to do with this issue—
    this basic confusion, this problem we have with self.
    Thus Zen is a very no-nonsense practice.
    We can’t just go through the motions of Zen practice—
    sitting in meditation, reading books, attending classes, going
    to workshops and retreats—as if studying the Buddhadharma
    were just another self-help program. This practice is not about
    helping the self. It’s about seeing this so-called self for what it
    is—an illusion.
    This means that we have to actually deal with stuff, mull
    things over, look at what’s going on, and work at it. In short,
    we have to actually see what we ’re doing.
    Our problem is not out there in the world. It’s not a matter
    of straightening “them” out or fixing a particular situation.
    It’s a matter of observing our own cast of mind.

    There’s a story of a Zen teacher who particularly praised one
    of his students. Several people were bewildered by this and
    wanted to know what was so special about him.
    “Come with me,” the teacher said and led them to where
    the student was living. The teacher knocked on the door. From
    within they heard a pen being tossed down, papers being
    shuffled, a book being closed, and then footsteps. The door
    opened and a young man said, “Yes?”
    “Sorry, wrong room,” said the teacher.
    They proceeded to the next room, where the teacher again
    knocked. Immediately they heard footsteps. The door opened
    and a young man said, “Yes?”
    “May we come in?” asked the teacher. The student obliged.
    Inside the room, on a table, was a sheet of paper with a
    drawn circle, begun but abandoned halfway. The student was
    still holding a calligraphy brush in his hand. He had obviously
    started drawing a circle but had been interrupted midway by
    the knock at the door.
    The teacher then turned to his guests and said, “You can
    teach someone like this.”
    This teacher knew that it’s much easier to teach someone
    who is willing to drop his own plan, her own agenda. This was
    why the teacher found the student so refreshing. Such a person
    can quickly learn from a true teacher, if they are fortunate
    enough to find one.

    Much of Zen may at first seem baffling or contradictory to us.
    But over time, with effort and attention, these seeming contradictions
    will begin to clear up. I certainly ran into this repeatedly with my own teacher. He
    often said things that at first struck me as bizarre, ridiculous, or
    just plain wrong. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt, though
    I kept my eyes open, and gradually I learned what he had to
    show me. After a while, I started to see that many of the apparent
    ambiguities, contradictions, paradoxes, and enigmas of Zen
    weren’t really contradictory or ambiguous. They only seemed
    that way because of the presumptions and unexamined leanings
    of my own mind. It wasn’t easy for me, after meeting Katagiri Roshi. I almost
    quit Zen three times—twice because I got to thinking that Zen
    Buddhism is not what you think was nuts, once after I’d been with him awhile because I thought
    I wasn’t up to it. But I didn’t quit. And while there may have
    been a few things about my training that were less than ideal
    (how could there not be?), he pointed out everything I needed
    to see. Still, whether I learned anything from him or not was
    up to me. He didn’t interfere. He was a very good teacher.
    And I would never have learned from him had I not willingly
    set aside my own notions and predilections at a few
    critical junctures. With his guidance, I was able to hold my
    opinions and beliefs loosely in one hand while turning over
    and freely examining what he was showing me with the other.
    It’s essential that we loosen our grip on our cherished ideas,
    attitudes, and approaches, in the same way that the calligrapher
    student left off with drawing his circle. If you hold tight
    to some particular notion—about the world, about what’s fair,
    about Buddhism, about who you are—there will be interference
    and resistance to what a teacher points out, and you’ll not
    really see. Or else you’ll just get another idea, which you’ll exchange
    for some idea you believed before. If you do this, you’re
    just eating Zen candy. There ’s no transformation of heart and
    mind, and the background confusion remains unaltered.
    At the same time, however, we need to realize that the opposite
    approach—swallowing whole whatever a teacher gives
    you without examining it critically, openly, carefully, fairly,
    and respectfully—will prove just as barren. Blind, mindless
    acceptance isn’t openness; it’s simply another form of grasping—
    in this case, clinging to the notion that whatever your
    teacher tells you must be true.

    We need to take to heart these words of the Buddha:

    Don’t believe me because you see me as your teacher. Don’t
    believe me because others do. And don’t believe anything
    because you’ve read it in a book, either. Don’t put your faith
    in reports or tradition or hearsay or the authority of religious
    leaders or texts. Don’t rely on mere logic or inference or
    appearances or speculation. Know for yourselves that certain
    things are unwholesome and wrong. And when you do, then
    give them up. And when you know for yourselves that certain
    things are wholesome and good, then accept them
    and follow them.


    Another way of looking at this is through the Buddha’s teaching
    of avoiding of extremes. Don’t be a hundred percent gullible;
    don’t be a hundred percent scornful and dismissive, either.
    The Buddhadharma urges each of us to be good skeptics—in
    the classical Greek sense. A good skeptic is slightly gullible:
    willing to consider and examine any evidence or argument being
    raised, at least temporarily. They neither swallow it whole
    nor reject it outright. They continuously observe it, test it, and
    engage it with interest, curiosity, and openness.
    To dismiss something as bunk before you examine it is the
    hallmark of a believer, not a skeptic. Those who won’t even
    examine something are operating out of an agenda, are shut
    down to actual experience, and are so full of ideas that they
    can’t see what’s coming at them. For them the world is structured
    and fixed, and they’re often caught up in their own form
    of bunk: an insistence on dismissing and devaluing certain
    propositions or attitudes. This is not skepticism but cynicism.
    Buddhism is not what you think
    In order to cultivate a pure mind, we need to set aside our
    personal agendas. But this doesn’t mean taking up the personal
    agenda of someone else—a teacher, for example. No true
    Dharma teachers would ever direct you to follow their personal
    agenda. In fact, they really don’t have much of a personal
    agenda regarding you. Their only concern for you is that you
    awaken. (As my teacher used to say, the final job of a teacher is
    to free the student of the teacher.)


    Last edited by Jundo; 09-14-2012, 09:10 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    Comment

    • Graceleejenkins
      Member
      • Feb 2011
      • 434

      #3
      Hans, you almost sound like a koan! ; ) Grace.
      Sat today and 10 more in honor of Treeleaf's 10th Anniversary!

      Comment

      • Graceleejenkins
        Member
        • Feb 2011
        • 434

        #4
        Originally posted by Jundo

        We need to take to heart these words of the Buddha:

        Don’t believe me because you see me as your teacher. Don’t
        believe me because others do. And don’t believe anything
        because you’ve read it in a book, either. Don’t put your faith
        in reports or tradition or hearsay or the authority of religious
        leaders or texts. Don’t rely on mere logic or inference or
        appearances or speculation. Know for yourselves that certain
        things are unwholesome and wrong. And when you do, then
        give them up. And when you know for yourselves that certain
        things are wholesome and good, then accept them
        and follow them.


        Another way of looking at this is through the Buddha’s teaching
        of avoiding of extremes. Don’t be a hundred percent gullible;
        don’t be a hundred percent scornful and dismissive, either.
        The Buddhadharma urges each of us to be good skeptics—in
        the classical Greek sense. A good skeptic is slightly gullible:
        willing to consider and examine any evidence or argument being
        raised, at least temporarily. They neither swallow it whole
        nor reject it outright. They continuously observe it, test it, and
        engage it with interest, curiosity, and openness.
        This is the teaching that first brought me to Buddhism! Gassho, Grace.
        Sat today and 10 more in honor of Treeleaf's 10th Anniversary!

        Comment

        • Risho
          Member
          • May 2010
          • 3179

          #5
          Thank you for postung that Jundo! That examination is why I love Zen. Its fun to get to know my quirks. It's deeper than that but it is definitely an exploration.

          Gassho

          Risho
          Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

          Comment

          • Jinyo
            Member
            • Jan 2012
            • 1957

            #6
            Jundo




            Willow

            Comment

            • Mp

              #7
              Thank you Hans and Jundo ... these are great examples.

              ... In order to cultivate a pure mind, we need to set aside our
              personal agendas ...
              Wonderful!

              Gassho
              Michael

              Comment

              • Shohei
                Member
                • Oct 2007
                • 2854

                #8
                I have for quite a while worked in a print shop and for a lot of that time I did pre-press and design work etc for offset printing. I would take folks unusable files for press printing and make the useable. I had done just that for a client who, despite me explaining the limitations of the technology, insisted I proceed with what they wanted. I said F&*k it and did so. The job came out unsatisfactory and my "point" was proven... thing is we do not make money off of a failed printing and so I had to explain this all out to my boss then. I had my boss stare me in the eye as I expressed in a very aggressive manner (i was pissed off) why the mistake I MADE was another problem. He never said boo. Satisfied I made my point with him (cuz he never said boo) I left... and then a few weeks later had to redo that very job, for free and I had to deal with the customer all over again...UGH. Just recounting this makes me laugh, I am still friends with my old boss and I thanked him not long ago for his approach as anything in that old moment other than what he did would have just drove me even further past seeing the big picture.

                Currently I am "the boss" and I handle less of the clients but do a lot of the pricing. VERY shortly after a tumultuous time at work that saw old management get the boot and me become in charge, I had worked out a quote for a client, processed the job handed it off and priced it out. I was later approached by an employee who came in angry and hard at me over the numbers worked out. They were certain I had undercharged, was sinking the place even further etc and showed me where they thought I went wrong.

                The math was right, the cost correct and I knew this but I sat and listened to the rant. I was boiling inside a bit as the tone was absolutely horrid, disrespectful and worst of all they did not see the mistake they made (3 times as they explained why I was wrong) and so I sat with no expression nodding.
                When they finished and noticed my lack of expression (think that made it even more maddening for them) they added "you are wrong, are you so dumb you cant even see it now? 3 times, do I need to show you a fourth??"

                I smiled instead of what I wanted to do, and said no, I am sure you will see your mistake before that happens and handed them my short hand notes on the quote, got up and went back into my office.
                An hour later they came in red faced and apologetic. I told them I understood as I had been there too.


                Like any good comedy, timing and delivery are EVERYTHING.

                Gassho
                Shohei

                Comment

                • Mp

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Shohei
                  I have for quite a while worked in a print shop and for a lot of that time I did pre-press and design work etc for offset printing. I would take folks unusable files for press printing and make the useable. I had done just that for a client who, despite me explaining the limitations of the technology, insisted I proceed with what they wanted. I said F&*k it and did so. The job came out unsatisfactory and my "point" was proven... thing is we do not make money off of a failed printing and so I had to explain this all out to my boss then. I had my boss stare me in the eye as I expressed in a very aggressive manner (i was pissed off) why the mistake I MADE was another problem. He never said boo. Satisfied I made my point with him (cuz he never said boo) I left... and then a few weeks later had to redo that very job, for free and I had to deal with the customer all over again...UGH. Just recounting this makes me laugh, I am still friends with my old boss and I thanked him not long ago for his approach as anything in that old moment other than what he did would have just drove me even further past seeing the big picture.

                  Currently I am "the boss" and I handle less of the clients but do a lot of the pricing. VERY shortly after a tumultuous time at work that saw old management get the boot and me become in charge, I had worked out a quote for a client, processed the job handed it off and priced it out. I was later approached by an employee who came in angry and hard at me over the numbers worked out. They were certain I had undercharged, was sinking the place even further etc and showed me where they thought I went wrong.

                  The math was right, the cost correct and I knew this but I sat and listened to the rant. I was boiling inside a bit as the tone was absolutely horrid, disrespectful and worst of all they did not see the mistake they made (3 times as they explained why I was wrong) and so I sat with no expression nodding.
                  When they finished and noticed my lack of expression (think that made it even more maddening for them) they added "you are wrong, are you so dumb you cant even see it now? 3 times, do I need to show you a fourth??"

                  I smiled instead of what I wanted to do, and said no, I am sure you will see your mistake before that happens and handed them my short hand notes on the quote, got up and went back into my office.
                  An hour later they came in red faced and apologetic. I told them I understood as I had been there too.


                  Like any good comedy, timing and delivery are EVERYTHING.

                  Gassho
                  Shohei
                  Wonderful story Shohei, been there! ... thank you.

                  Gassho
                  Michael

                  Comment

                  • galen
                    Member
                    • Feb 2012
                    • 322

                    #10
                    It seems the best teaching is when said teacher meets the student where he is, not where the teacher wants him to be...

                    A talent for, or realization of, another’s true essence is the Way. In this way, sometimes the student is the better teacher, if a teacher is capable of putting his ego aside and listening intuitively with true feeling. A bodily sense, a feeling of what is really going on emotionally with ones capable of being taught, brings light to both and less meaning to who is the teacher or the student..... ‘what happens when something soft encounters strength?’

                    Tokusan in his later years learned through the hard knocks of teaching that sometimes for the hard headed, its easier to meet them where they were instead of pushing it down their throats or physical violence. Let the student be their own best teacher by letter them hit their heads against the wall a few times and be there to pick them up with true understanding, seems to be a teaching that hits home with the best understanding. Let the student whip himself and do the fight, not bringing the fight to them, which only slows the process, seems to be the highest best teaching.
                    Last edited by galen; 09-17-2012, 02:38 PM.
                    Nothing Special

                    Comment

                    • Hans
                      Member
                      • Mar 2007
                      • 1853

                      #11
                      Hello folks,

                      thank you for sharing your impressions.

                      What would a student be without a teacher, what would a teacher be without a student? And don't they both come from where questions are born? So who is meeting whom?


                      Gassho,

                      Hans Chudo Mongen

                      Comment

                      • Mp

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Hans
                        What would a student be without a teacher, what would a teacher be without a student? And don't they both come from where questions are born? So who is meeting whom?
                        They are meeting each other ... one in the same.

                        Gassho
                        Michael

                        Comment

                        • Shugen
                          Treeleaf Unsui
                          • Nov 2007
                          • 4535

                          #13
                          Koans make my head hurt.


                          Shugen
                          Meido Shugen
                          明道 修眼

                          Comment

                          • galen
                            Member
                            • Feb 2012
                            • 322

                            #14
                            Originally posted by rculver
                            Koans make my head hurt.


                            Shugen

                            They make my ase hurt, but probably the same diff . They are twisters for sure, esp spoken in the 8th century Zen jargon.
                            Nothing Special

                            Comment

                            • Heisoku
                              Member
                              • Jun 2010
                              • 1338

                              #15
                              I like this story and Shohei's. It's like when you are driving down a narrow road with a small passing place but the other driver just wants to get by you without stopping or slowing, or even seeing passed the 'my view' and 'your view' of the situation. There's usually a third way which both parties can access if they are not pressing their own view, however, if only one party can see this and the other can't, then waiting in silence is pretty much all you can do. Sometimes it can be a long wait ..... And don't they both come from where questions are born? So who is meeting whom? ..... the answer my friend is blowin' in the wind the answer is blowin' in the wind.
                              Heisoku 平 息
                              Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. (Basho)

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