BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 19

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39456

    BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 19

    Case 18 never ends, yet now comes ...

    Case 19 - Ummon Mt. Sumeru

    A monk asks, when there is not a single thought, is there any fault in this life-self-world? In fact, what is "fault" or "faultless" apart from our human judgments, each just a human thought? When thinking stops, the human judgment of "fault" or "flawless" must stop too. Mountains (as far as I know) do not judge themselves too tall or too short, as dangerous volcanoes or majestic peaks, or any other way we might see and rank them. Rocks do not call themselves "sharp pebbles in our shoe" or "great boulders". Birds do not judge the beauty or harshness of their own song ... and simply sing as they must sing. Cancer cells do not call themselves a "deadly disease", but grow as they grow. Only humans rate these things by human standards.

    Ummon responds, "Mt. Sumeru" ... the traditional point at the center of the universe in Buddhist and Hindu cosmology, around which worlds upon worlds, all beings, heavens and hells circle and spin. In traditional Indo-Asian belief (long before humankind came to speak of solar systems, galaxies and big bangs), reality was modeled something like this (from a Tibetan painting), the still axis of Mt. Sumeru at the core.



    Like the eye at the center of a storm, it is quiet, still and windless though chaos and calm, tragedy and comedy, birth and death and all events in between turn all around it.



    However, we cannot live a life without thought. We must judge mountains as volcanoes to get out of the way (when we can), judge a peak's height to climb it, hear the bird song as sometimes sweet and sometimes a harsh screech, fight the cancer for a cure, get soaked in the storm, experience and think about and live life. We are not rocks which pass through cold or heat or hurricanes without a care.

    We cannot live merely still and unmoving at the center of the storm, but must come out to where life is ... with all its chaos and complexity. What to do?

    Can one find "not a single thought" even in/as/through-and-through all the many thoughts and judgments we need to live?

    Can one sit in the center of the storm, even in/as/through-and-through all of the tumult of life in the bands of the storm, battered by whatever the weather throws our way?


    You are not merely a speck on one world circling Mt. Sumeru, but rather, Mt. Sumeru is within you, fills you, and you fill it and all things! The Whole Catastrophe, the Perfect Storm, the howling wind is your very breath. The center of the storm IS its farthest outer bands and everything in between. Heavens and hells are so much your own creation!

    The Preface and Verse say: Sounds simple ... but takes Practice! Have confidence, do not be unsure.

    QUESTION: Please describe a thought without a thought, a fault without fault, a problem without a problem, a deadly storm band that is simultaneously eye, that you have or are encountering in your life.

    Today's Koan is dedicated to Jim (LORAX), a friend and an old volcano hunter (truly, that was his job in Hawaii!) who constantly teaches how to find the center in the direct hit of life's storm or lava flow, finding one's footing even as the earthquake knocks us down again and again. Jim knows both Kīlauea and Sumeru, from foot to summit, as here and 100 other stories. When the volcano or storm erupts, sometimes one must take cover as one can, then just let 'er blow. Even at the hottest, most liquid point of Kilauea is the firm footing of Sumeru.



    Last edited by Jundo; 07-07-2020, 03:46 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • RichardH
    Member
    • Nov 2011
    • 2800

    #2
    Originally posted by Jundo
    QUESTION: Please describe a thought without a thought, a fault without fault, a problem without a problem, a deadly storm band that is simultaneously eye, that you have or are encountering in your life.
    Right now.. laying here with this laptop on my lap, after a long day of over-concentrating and wrecking a painting .. with a gallery owner driving into town tomorrow to pick it up.. ... and nothing to pick up. And a relative leaving messages all day about being depressed and needing me. ..and a sore foot ... and the dog having a seizure and.. and..

    Right now. just like this. Gassho. kojip.

    Comment

    • Geika
      Treeleaf Unsui
      • Jan 2010
      • 4980

      #3
      Originally posted by Jundo
      ...Cancer cells do not call themselves a "deadly disease", but grow as they grow...
      Though it is basic Buddhist practice, I have never thought of cancer this way before. It comforts me. When there is trouble with my body, it manifests in my consciousness as something I have neglected to take care of. It manifests as guilt. Though I try my best to care for my teeth, for example, I still have a lot of cavities. I know, genetically, that my teeth are not bound to be very strong, but in my mind I see it as me failing to take care of my teeth properly. They are just cavities, though, being cavities, and my teeth are just being my teeth. If I do my best to take care of them, though they still break, what need is there for guilt? All this aside, it would help to visit the dentist when I am able to afford it or the insurance.

      Originally posted by Jundo
      ...Can one sit in the center of the storm, even in/as/through-and-through all of the tumult of life in the bands of the storm, battered by whatever the weather throws our way? ...


      Originally posted by Jundo
      ...QUESTION: Please describe a thought without a thought, a fault without fault, a problem without a problem, a deadly storm band that is simultaneously eye, that you have or are encountering in your life...
      Waking up for work in the morning!

      Originally posted by Jundo
      ...The Preface and Verse say: Sounds simple ... but takes Practice! Have confidence, do not be unsure...

      ...Today's Koan is dedicated to Jim (LORAX), a friend and an old volcano hunter (truly, that was his job in Hawaii!) who constantly teaches how to find the center in the direct hit of life's storm or lava flow, finding one's footing even as the earthquake knocks us down again and again...
      Originally posted by Kojip
      Right now.. laying here with this laptop on my lap, after a long day of over-concentrating and wrecking a painting .. with a gallery owner driving into town tomorrow to pick it up.. ... and nothing to pick up. And a relative leaving messages all day about being depressed and needing me. ..and a sore foot ... and the dog having a seizure and.. and...
      求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
      I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

      Comment

      • Memo
        Member
        • Oct 2012
        • 33

        #4
        Problem without problem?
        A short story came to my mind: A Guy was returning from visit late at night carrying a lamp in his hand. On his way back home he bumped into some other guy not seeing him and shouted at him: "Why don't you look where your're going.Can't you see the light of my lamp?!"- or something like that

        Comment

        • Shokai
          Treeleaf Priest
          • Mar 2009
          • 6391

          #5
          Posted by Jundo;
          Please describe a thought without a thought, a fault without fault, a problem without a problem, a deadly storm band that is simultaneously eye, that you have or are encountering in your life.
          There is no thought without a thought, no fault without fault, no problem without a problem, etc., etc. whatever
          Everything is interrelated as in the net of Indra (and Mt. Sumeru) just as Shozan has related; Why do bad things happen to good people?

          I could go on to say, "Shit happens", "Lie down with dogs you get fleas", "Que sera, sera" or as the Christians, "We each have our cross to bear"
          but I won't

          While doing Shikantaza, it sometimes occurs to "me", how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to have lived and experienced

          May all beings have the certainty and courage to pass through the barrier

          And may i someday not be perturbed at having to re-sign-in after such a short period of typing
          合掌,生開
          gassho, Shokai

          仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

          "Open to life in a benevolent way"

          https://sarushinzendo.wordpress.com/

          Comment

          • Daitetsu
            Member
            • Oct 2012
            • 1145

            #6
            Sitting with a busy mind.
            no thing needs to be added

            Comment

            • Omoi Otoshi
              Member
              • Dec 2010
              • 801

              #7
              Mount Sumeru!
              An image of the greatest of all mountains. Its roots reaching unfathomably deep into the waters of the vast and ever-changing ocean. Its top protruding endlessly into the boundless blue sky. Facing the moon on one side and the moon on the other. A sun-faced, moon-faced mountain sitting. Sitting unperturbed by the heavy waves hitting it from all sides, by the scorching sun and ice cold blizzards. Sitting in the center of the universe, in the midst of creation, bowing to all sentient beings. The whole universe, all of creation, just sitting, bowing.

              Gassho,
              Pontus
              In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
              you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
              now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
              the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

              Comment

              • Mp

                #8
                Originally posted by LimoLama
                Sitting with a busy mind.
                I second that ... busy mind likes to visit me as well.

                Gassho
                Michael

                Comment

                • Omoi Otoshi
                  Member
                  • Dec 2010
                  • 801

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Jundo
                  We cannot live merely still and unmoving at the center of the storm, but must come out to where life is ... with all its chaos and complexity. What to do?

                  Can one find "not a single thought" even in/as/through-and-through all the many thoughts and judgments we need to live?

                  Can one sit in the center of the storm, even in/as/through-and-through all of the tumult of life in the bands of the storm, battered by whatever the weather throws our way?
                  I very much agree that we cannot live merely still and unmoving, but must come out to where life is. Bodhidharma sat for nine years gazing at a wall in a cave. I'm not so impressed. Did realization make him sit for nine years? Or did realization make him get up, pick up the hoe and get his empty hands dirty again? Escaping into emptiness can become a sickness that would make one as useful to the world as a bump on a log. True, there are no sentient beings in need of saving from the beginning. But that's only half of the truth. Find Mount Sumeru, but don't stay there. Throw yourself back into the chaos of Samsara and start saving all sentient beings! But don't let yourself be dragged down by chaos either. Stay mindful of the mountain. Always keep Mount Sumaru in the background, and there's calm in the eye of any storm.

                  Originally posted by Shishin Wick
                  The verse says, "Be unsure and you'll not pass through the barrier." Maezumi Roshi used to say, "I want you to be confident in yourself." That confidence is nothing but Mount Sumeru.
                  True, but how can you be sure until you have passed through? Only after you have passed through are you completely confident, because you have seen it yourself, been there, been Mount Sumeru. Proven to yourself that the ancestors weren't all full of crap. And you know that whatever happens, you always were and you always will be Mount Sumeru (even though there will be days when it's not so obvious). So what to do until you are sure? Well, a good start would be to practice letting go of the unsureness!

                  Gassho,
                  Pontus
                  Last edited by Omoi Otoshi; 11-16-2012, 12:05 AM.
                  In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
                  you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
                  now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
                  the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

                  Comment

                  • Jundo
                    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                    • Apr 2006
                    • 39456

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Omoi Otoshi
                    I very much agree that we cannot live merely still and unmoving, but must come out to where life is. Bodhidharma sat for nine years gazing at a wall in a cave. I'm not so impressed. Did realization make him sit for nine years? Or did realization make him get up, pick up the hoe and get his empty hands dirty again?
                    Well, he also (or so the legend goes) came from the West, walking from India and over half of China, met with the Emperor, trained students, then did a lot more perhaps sufficient enough to anger folks and be assassinated ... creating tea leaves and founding Kung Fu too (although farcical tales http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post57601 )

                    True, but how can you be sure until you have passed through? Only after you have passed through are you completely confident, because you have seen it yourself, been there, been Mount Sumeru.
                    Yes, but we do need a kind of trust and confidence in the Teachings and Practice before seeing any results (I hesitate to use the word "faith" because it is such a loaded term in the west), much like one must trust and have confidence in the doctor and the medicine prescribed even before the cure. In fact, that trust and confidence is a vital part of the cure, so much so that even a placebo can often work on trust and confidence alone.

                    Gassho, J
                    Last edited by Jundo; 11-16-2012, 03:27 AM.
                    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                    Comment

                    • Omoi Otoshi
                      Member
                      • Dec 2010
                      • 801

                      #11
                      Yes, I agree.

                      Gassho,
                      /Pontus
                      In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
                      you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
                      now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
                      the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

                      Comment

                      • Shujin
                        Treeleaf Unsui
                        • Feb 2010
                        • 977

                        #12
                        Thanks to all who have posted. Presently, I'm studying for an aptitude exam for grad. school. The fear of failure, extra hours away from family, seem to play a secondary role to my constant critique of the last ten years of my life. Nothing substantive has changed, only this mindset. Of course this mental narrative is not the least bit productive. And yet, here it is.... Mt. Sumeru.

                        Gassho,
                        Shujin
                        Kyōdō Shujin 教道 守仁

                        Comment

                        • Heisoku
                          Member
                          • Jun 2010
                          • 1338

                          #13
                          This body has already taken my wife to work, fed the chickens, set the washing off and must remember to do shopping, fuel a car, write an email to a sick family member, plan my work for next week, take and watch my son play football, cook lunch, finish a rakasu after buying some silk and dark thread, pick up my wife after work and then remember that I have been doing this for twenty one years today(!), yet all this activity is just life into which I have throw myself without hesitation, doubt or thought. Life gets done it, just depends how you do it. I 'know' I will get these things done, I know that Mount Sumeru is all this, I know that Buddha mind is all this, and that all this includes me. There is no gap between my activity or your activity or the activity of Mount Sumeru and I celebrate this in zazen.
                          Heisoku 平 息
                          Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. (Basho)

                          Comment

                          • Risho
                            Member
                            • May 2010
                            • 3179

                            #14
                            Last night I was talking with a friend. Both he and I, coincidentally, quit drinking alcohol earlier in the year. We both also stopped drinking caffeine. I'm not an ascetic, but I found that I was too attached to those things; I used them (or vice versa) to escape from unease in my life.

                            About a year after sitting regular zazen (in 2010) I had a pretty significant panic attack from work. Nothing like going to the hospital, but I was afraid. I was extremely afraid of failure. I missed a big bug in my code. I never realized how much stress played a role in my life and decision making, and after I gave up drinking (at that point just for Ango) and caffeine, I had 2 less toys for my ego to grasp onto to avoid the situation. It wasn't just that alone; this practice revealed the stress that was there, and welled up because I never learned to just be with it. I only knew how to run from it by grasping at other things. When you start listening to your thoughts, it can get a little crazy when you aren't used it. Sometimes when I sit before I go to work, I can feel stress. Or sometimes anger rises up, or whatever else.

                            In hindsight the stress wasn't that big of a deal.. I sort of made it a big deal by being afraid to just experience it. It can be hard to sit through the feelings, but that's also the great power of zazen.

                            This practice is really interesting... I've made changes in my life. Nothing forced, just natural changes I think that are very informed by zazen, e.g. not drinking anymore or trying to eat more balanced (I've eaten good in the past, but I've just noticed an easier approach to certain things). Then some days I feel like I'm going to rip out of my skin if I don't get off that cushion, like during last nights sit. lol But that goes away too if I can just sit with it. It's all just part of it. Sometimes Mt. Sumeru is hard to experience; most of the time, I have to get out of my own way.

                            Gassho,

                            Risho
                            Last edited by Risho; 11-17-2012, 04:07 PM.
                            Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

                            Comment

                            • Heisoku
                              Member
                              • Jun 2010
                              • 1338

                              #15
                              Hi Risho

                              I replaced coffee during the day with peppermint tea or plain water and the change over time is amazing...more energy, less irritation and more balance overall!

                              Good for you in making these changes...keep it going!

                              Gassho
                              Heisoku 平 息
                              Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. (Basho)

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