4/29 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Tayang

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39271

    4/29 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Tayang


    I find the 'mirror' to be one of the most powerful teaching images in Zen Buddhism, and it runs all through this week's reading.

    The round, clear, borderless mirror reflects all things, all the world, without judgment. It holds easily, without resistance, what is to be shown, both the beautiful and the ugly. All individual things held before it are held as one in the one, whole, unbroken image we see ... and we are reflected too. In the mirror, there is no rejection of the ugly, no desire for the pleasant. Such clear, spacious, encompassing, non-judgmental mind is one face of what is to be attained by this Practice.

    On the other hand, if we let the mirror get too dusty with obstructions, the dirt and grime of greed, anger and ignorance, then the image becomes hard to see. The mirror appears shattered, stained and broken.

    You may recall the famous poetry slam in the "Platform Sutra of the 6th Patriarch". It is said that Shenxiu lost the contest with these lines ...

    The body is a Bodhi [Perfect Wisdom] tree,
    the mind a standing mirror bright.
    At all times polish it diligently,
    and let no dust alight.

    and that Huineng won the day with this little diddy ...

    Bodhi is no tree,
    nor is the mind a standing mirror bright.
    Since all is originally empty,
    where does the dust alight?

    But, really, it is not that Shenxiu was wrong (in fact, their Master, Hongren, praised each in its way) and both are truly right at once ... both two sides of a complete view. In fact, Huineng's job in the temple was polishing rice which ... like a mirror ... must have the dust removed.

    We polish polish polish, even though the mirror itself is perfectly clear even without our polishing!


    Cook at 217
    Hixon at 203
  • Zen_Fire
    • Feb 2011
    • 76

    Re: 4/29 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Tayang

    Thank you Jundo for your comments. They always bring a lot of light to my myopic eyes.

    Using the mirror as an illustrative image reminded me of the story below. I don't know how it fits as an addend to this thread, but I thought it would be interesting to post it.

    "There was a Zen master named Mazu who used to sit in meditation all day long. One day his teacher Nanyue approached him and asked, "Great monk, what do you intend by doing meditation?" He meant to check up on his real motivations, since Mazu seemed the perfect Zen student - too perfect, in fact.

    Mazu replied, "I am intending to be a Buddha."
    At this, Nanyue picked up a brick lying on the ground and began to polish it.
    Mazu stared at him and said, "What are you doing?"
    Nanyue said calmly, "I am trying to make a mirror."
    Mazu said, "How can you make a mirror by polishing a brick?"
    Nanyue looked at him and replied, "How can you become a Buddha by doing meditation?"
    [b:3vp7c85i]"Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in the search of it when he has grown old. For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul".[/b:3vp7c85i] - Epicurus


    • Hoyu
      • Nov 2010
      • 2020

      Re: 4/29 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Tayang

      From Hixon:
      Rinzai Zen is for aristocratic Saurai warriors. Soto Zen is for peasants.

      Though I don't know enough about the history of Rinzai to say how valid this statement is I found it interesting none the less.

      The name of the Karate school Leon and I go to is Kyoshin Ryu. Kyoshin means “a mind like a mirror.” Ryu refers to “style” or “type” of art practiced.

      Ho (Dharma)
      Yu (Hot Water)


      • Heisoku
        • Jun 2010
        • 1338

        Re: 4/29 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Tayang

        I never really got this use of 'the mirror' until I read in Cook p106 Keizan's capping verse for the chapter on Sanghanandi;
        Mind's activity smoothly rolling on is the form the mind takes; How many times has the self appeared with a different face!
        And as Keizan says in his teisho on Tayang; 'Experience the realm where there is not the least atom of external stuff.' It's something we are not without!

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


        • AlanLa
          • Mar 2008
          • 1405

          Re: 4/29 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Tayang

          Looking at Kannon as at a mirror and seeing ourselves and everything else reflected in it/her. I really like that image/idea. And then in that space between Tayang's contemplation of that Kannon-mirror and his speaking about it is when he awakens. That space between seems to be that place that is placeless, that space between form and emptiness, between heaven and earth, that space between you and the Kannon-mirror. In that mirror you have eyes but cannot see, hands that cannot hold, ears that cannot hear, a nose that cannot smell, a tongue that cannot taste, and a mind that cannot discriminate. And without discrimination, you are Kannon and Kannon is you! It's all right there before us all the time; all we have to do is look in the mirror. All of the above reminds me of the wisdom we see mindlessly all the time: "objects in mirror are closer than they appear."
          AL (Jigen) in:

          I sat today


          • Shogen
            • Dec 2008
            • 301

            Re: 4/29 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Tayang

            Swept up and consumed by "One" even Absolute and Relative have no separation. With the "Attention" of allowing, all things are uncovered as Holy. Gassho, Shogen


            • Shohei
              • Oct 2007
              • 2854

              Re: 4/29 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Tayang

              I had a conversation with a friend today, during it a small seed was planted with a statement of truth about hunger. While reading this transmission in Hixon that thought took hold and grew and funnily enough I run into this.

              Everything perfectly as it is - this does not mean we do not indulge in a lethargic practice...compassion blossoms with the force to break ground, sew seeds and feed all who hunger!

              "there are no beings that are hungry" realizing this fully we are able to feed all the hungry sitting at the buffet.


              Also would like to add thank you to all who try and tried to shake our shoulders in all those moments...for doing so ceaselessly, countless bows.


              • BrianW
                • Oct 2008
                • 511

                Re: 4/29 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Tayang

                In terms of Buddhism and mirrors I've always enjoyed the classic story of Empireress Wu:

                In order to help Empress Wu Tse-tien to understand the principle of totality, the great master Fa-tsang led her into a room lined with mirrors. He fixed the huge mirrors on all four walls, on the ceiling and the floor, all facing one another. He then placed a statue of Buddha at the center of the room with a candle beside it. The Empress was immediately inspired, and managed to visualize the Principle of Totality and the principle of Non-Obstruction. With the infinite inter-reflections among all the mirrors, the Buddha's images are found in the reflections in each mirror for all other mirrors, together with the specific Buddha's image in each particular one, which are also found in turn in every reflection of any other mirror. It demonstrates the Principle of Mutual Penetration and the Principle of Mutual Identity
                (Taken from http://www.buddhistdoor.com/oldweb/b...ll/teach66.htm)

                I once had a dream back in college that was somewhat similar to the above example, except it was with just the candle...no Buddha. It was before I heard this story...but perhaps I heard it and forgot about it. One can never tell with these things, but I never made the connection between the two until just now writting this post. I did feel the dream was somewhat profound and I remember thinking at the time it had the "taste" of an altered state of consciousness (ASC). Perhaps it was an ASC, which is simply our normal state of being.