Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 6 Part 2

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39271

    Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 6 Part 2

    Dear Fellow Flowers in Life's Garden ...

    We continue with the remainder of Chapter 6 (The World of Self Unfolds), from p. 92 "Self Settling on Itself" to the end.

    This chapter contains examples of Zen Buddhism radically affirming the uniqueness and incomparability of each individual self (each a special jewel in Indra's Net), all while also radically affirming that there is not individual "self" at all, and new ways to encounter our "True Self" ... all at once, as one.

    I so much care for the flower analogy. In your own life, are you getting better at seeing violets as violets, roses as roses, red thing as red, blue things as blue? It sounds so flowery , but I believe it is a very important lesson on seeing you as just you without the excess competition and comparison with others that so many people are prone to these days. Every flower has its own place in the sun.

    I also believe that a flower analogy can help with the next section of the chapter, on "non-self" and "interdependence." This past week in the forum, some folks said that they still struggle to get their head and heart around such descriptions. yOU way to see your life like a flower in that both are constantly changing and growing, even when we think things appear still and solid. So, one might say that there is no fixed "flower" there, just an ongoing process. It reminds me so of those time lapse films on the nature channel ...

    You can license this video for commercial purposes at is a time lapse video of a dwarf sunflower growing from seed ...

    Another way to approach this is that the single flower can suddenly realize that it is not only a single flower, but is an expression of the entire garden in which it grows. We see ourselves merely as single flowers, but can we also come to see our true self as the garden too? When we do, we see that we are also all the other flowers in the garden ... for they are the garden, and we are the garden, so all is just the garden.

    This also helps us understand the famous Zen teaching of "no birth no death" that folks struggle with. How? Well, one way to look at things is that flowers come and go in the garden, born from seed, growing and then dying ... just like all life. However, if the flower is just the garden, then the garden goes on and on transcending the life and death of individual flowers. Part of our Zen practice is to learn to radically drop the sense of separate self (separate flowerness) and find our ultimate "gardenness" growing and flowering on and one and ...

    Is this a picture of many individual flowers, or is this a picture of one whole, lucious and intergrowing garden? Who are we? YES!

    Whenever I start talking like this, I am reminded of this great book and movie ...


    Gassho, J

    SatToday (then worked on getting the garden ready for spring)
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-22-2016, 03:17 PM.
  • Jishin
    • Oct 2012
    • 4819

    I like this from this reading:

    "Tathagata teaches the dharma of the Middle Way: because this exists, that exists; because this arises, that arises.”

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_


    • Mp

      Thank you Jundo. =)




      • Joyo

        Thank you, Jundo. I have been a vegetable gardener for about 5 or 6 years now, and it has really helped me understand the thought process behind no-birth no death. It takes a few years to see what is really going on in that soil. Really, we are no different than the tomatoes that bloom in all their fullness during the summer months, then return to the earth and provide nourishment for the tomatoes next year. It becomes rather difficult to separate the tomatoes from last year, and the ones from this year. They are separate, yet the same, just like all sentient beings on the earth.

        sat today


        • Tai Shi
          • Oct 2014
          • 3309

          When my wife and I were 2 years married, that was 32 years ago, we planted a large garden in the back of a deserted house. Of course we received permission to grow our vegetables. We grew tomatoes, beans, corn, peppers, squash, potatoes, melons, and we canned much of what we grew. I was a heavy drinker at the time, but somehow we managed to get the work done. We never attempted a vegetable garden again, and just this year we gave away our caner, a full pressure device. As it turned out, my arthritis became severe some 5 years later, and three years later, I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis which precluded most physical labor on my part, and by that time I had become sober. Some 28 years ago, July 22, 1987 is my sobriety date, and December 25, 1986 is my clean date. I recall reading a book Zen, Drugs, and Mysticism at the time. When we bought our home in 1994, my wife continued with a beautiful flower garden, and I do not know the names of all the beautiful flowers she planted. I was forced back into physical labor to help with bills, and eventually was forced into early retirement, and eventually made my way to the UU Fellowship where I revived a life-long interest in Buddhism, eventually Zen, and on June 10, 2016 took my vows at Treeleaf in Jukai, and several weeks ago we gave away the caner to make room in our cupboards. My wife has let the flowers go to grass, and still thinks of reviving her love of growing things. In every way she has supported me in my growth in Buddhism and Zen, and we are like the growing things in our past. I have revived my belief that I shall live for some years to come, and though my wife is physically in better shape than me, we walk together in the parks, and I take pictures of growing things, nature, and specifically flowers. We are like the growing things around us, and though this might be cliched I believe we are entering the autumn of our lives. To everything there is a season, and someday I will pass away and go back to dust and ashes like our growing things yet to become again part of the wider universe. Today I am happy, and perhaps tomorrow, and the day is the URL of my Flicker site so you might enjoy our beautiful pictures of flowers and growing things.

          calm poetry
          Tai Shi
          sat today
          Peaceful, Tai Shi. Ubasoku; calm, supportive, for positive poetry 優婆塞 台 婆


          • Jeremy

            Originally posted by Elgwyn
            When my wife and I were 2 years married, that was 32 years ago, we planted a large garden in the back of a deserted house...
            Thanks Elgwyn for your recent posts - I just wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed them!



            • Byrne
              • Dec 2014
              • 371

              A good friend once told me, "Everything you need to know about abstract art can be found in the garden." Every shape and color doesn't need an explanation in the garden. It all makes perfect sense. Maybe something along those lines got transmitted to Mahakasyapa when Shakyamuni held up the flower. Maybe.


              Sat Today


              • ForestDweller
                • Mar 2015
                • 39

                Well, once again, I find myself drawing from my life as a Forest dweller in response to Jundo's rhapsody about flowers. Unlike a garden, the Forest grows a violet here and there, a wild rose - one right here, another over there -- and so on. There is no pattern but it is the loveliest tapestry one can imagine, perhaps moreso because one must remain aware and alert to notice some of these shy, out of the way flora. Moreover, each season (up here on the Canadian border, we have some pretty starkly delineated seasons) changes the aspect of the landscape so much that it's hard to believe one is looking at the same space of ground. The warm rush of color in the fall; the stark blacks and whites of winter, the tender greens of spring, and the golden hues of summer. For those of us fortunate enough to live amid this glory of change, it's a constant reminder of our constant alterations to our own visages. And yet . . . there is a perennial rhythm to it, a comforting recurrence. Just as no matter how much a beloved person may change, there is that essence that remains constant. Maybe the reason the Forest is so appealing is that it wears its changings so naturally, not shouting them out, nor hiding them. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could wear our impermanence with such grace? Well, there you have my musings on Jundo's flowers. Be well everyone. ^^ForestSatToday^^ CatherineS
                Last edited by ForestDweller; 02-25-2016, 07:56 PM.


                • Rich
                  • Apr 2009
                  • 2596

                  Always enjoy your forest musings.

                  SAT today
                  無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...



                  • Mp

                    Thank you Catherine. =)




                    • Getchi
                      • May 2015
                      • 612

                      I haven't been able to participate in is reading, but I do want to let you all know that your writings are very much appreciated. ��

                      Elgwyn I learn something about myself every time you post, live well brother.


                      SatToday with innumerable sentient beings.
                      Nothing to do? Why not Sit?


                      • Hoseki
                        • Jun 2015
                        • 649

                        Hi guys,

                        I don't have a lot to say about this chapter other than I thought it very good. I read it a second time but I think I should probably read it again. At one point (103) in the edition I have Uchiyama Roshi mention the view of substantially and non-existence. I'm wondering if he meant that these tendencies of thought are found in most thought? Or only when we are in the mist of thinking? (delusion the gateway to thought?) Or is in the attitude we have after the fact. I'm not really sure.

                        Either way good stuff!



                        Sat today


                        • Jakuden
                          • Jun 2015
                          • 6142

                          Something that stuck with me when I first read this book awhile ago was the reference to "the Thinker," in the curled up posture with even the toes clenched, a pretty miserable figure. It made me aware how I curl up like that when my ego is chattering away in overdrive... just the act of straightening my posture can bring me back out of my head and into the present moment.

                          This chapter and all this discussion about "self" has been very helpful... I am also starting to understand and enjoy the flower analogy. No separation.... no birth and death... just this.



                          • Risho
                            • May 2010
                            • 3179

                            I am a bit behind on the reading, but I have been taking in all of the posts; thank you all for your (as usual) really good posts.

                            One of the things that sticks with me a lot is this interrelationship of everything. We obviously have a self, but that self is interrelated with everything, not separated from anything. We are connected with everything. Our older doggie is at the vet's today; he's getting an X-ray; it seems to be digestion related, so we are waiting to find out the results.

                            It gets me to thinking, death is hard; it's not like you can just give up and say I'm not going to love anymore; all you can do is do the best you can to love those you are with, to treat everyone with respect and love and help where you can. Take care of things and people, most importantly, with all you can at the given moment.

                            There are limitations; we are finite beings, but we can do our best at the time.

                            Interrelationship is very, very important as Uchiyama Roshi points out. We are not an independent existing self, but we are a self nonetheless. This interdependence, whenever I read it, seems so obvious, just like the precepts, but when you are in the heat of the moment, or in the heat of your life, how soon I can forget.

                            With the upcoming election in the US, interrelationship comes to the fore. Racism, sexism, homophobia, the same old things that have been plaguing humanity since humanity was around.

                            If you had the funds to build a wall to exclude people from entering this country, what if you turned that attitude just a hair to feeling like those "others" that you are excluding are also your responsibility because they are your family? Would you maybe be able to use those funds to help find out what the source of all of the migration to the US is? Or maybe it's something else. Could you use that money to help people? Could money be a source of help rather than hoarding?

                            I don't know, I'm not trying to be political, yet this realization of interrelationship requires our action. And that means we do our best. We smile at someone instead of looking pissed off all the time. We notice when we are so pissed because "that asshole cut in line" that we don't take action and we face ourselves and find out why in God's name that is causing us so much pain. And maybe by investigating that, we can bring a little peace and by bringing that peace we can help others have a little bit of a better day too.

                            There is so much to say about interdependence, much better articulated by Uchiyama Roshi and Jundo I might add, but it's an important realization. It's easy to get distracted. It's easy to want to separate myself away from other people's problems, but those are my problems. I think this realization is so key to the survival of our species. I look forward to the day when people are not hated or killed or feared for the color of their skin or the people they choose to have sex with (assuming that it's consensual of course). I really look forward to that day.

                            I look forward to the day when the US is a beacon of hope (and not just the US), where you are welcome to bring your tired, hungry and poor and they will find a better life here. I know that money isn't everything, but money is something - people need to eat too. People deserve a basic level to survive. People deserve a place where they can thrive. People are not commodities, they deserve to be treated better. People deserve a good education, healthcare. And so many people are fond of quoting the constitution to defend gun rights. What about people rights? What about the right to equal opportunity where it doesn't matter if you go to a public school in the inner city or a wealthy neighborhood - your kids are safe, they will get healthy meals (not freaking pizza and tater tots) and they get a good education.

                            But the only way that day has a chance of occurring is if I take responsibility for my thoughts, and actions. The war starts and stops inside. Peace is only possible - the realization and (more importantly) expression of interrelationship in the world is possible if I do it - and if you do it.

                            And back to racism because it fires me up. Racism is not just white on black, it's black on white, brown on brown - racism occurs in every culture. But so what? If you know better, do better! If someone is racist against you, do better; that doesn't mean to be racist back.

                            And to attribute violence and crime to a race of people is highly, highly questionable. It's poverty, not race. And it's time that we help the impoverished. I know I'm preaching to the choir but it goes back to taking care of ourselves. Invest in ourselves. Education, healthcare, etc. I don't know if it's possible to eliminate poverty, and we certainly do not want to go to the extreme communist china trying to eliminate all differences, but I think we need changes. I think those changes start with ourselves.

                            Ok that ends my campaign speech. hahahahah




                            • Byokan
                              Treeleaf Unsui
                              • Apr 2014
                              • 4280

                              Risho, you've got my vote! I'll vote twice!

                              I think those changes start with ourselves.
                              Absolutely. When interdependence becomes real to you, it will affect everything you do: the way you treat people, the way you do business, the way you raise your kids, the way you vote, the way you behave as a citizen, your buying habits, everything. And the effects really will reverberate outward, they will make a difference in the world.

                              Hm. Imagine a government operating on the principle of interdependence. Imagine how foreign and domestic policy would change. Ah, just a dream.

                              sat today
                              展道 渺寛 Tendō Byōkan
                              Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.