Seccho - a commentary

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  • chankin
    Member
    • Jul 2015
    • 16

    Seccho - a commentary

    Seccho - a. Commentary.
    The great Tang Dynasty Zen Master Seccho left us a message that clearly illustrates his perfect understanding of Zazen. He had it nailed. This translation is taken from “The Manual of Zen Buddhism” written by Professor D.T.Suzuki D Lit.
    “Blind, deaf, dumb,
    (No input from his senses.)
    Infinitely beyond the imaginative contrivances.
    (No input from memory or other intellectual activities. Together - no conscious mental activity.)
    Encompassing all possible heavens.
    (Originally translated as “above the heavens and below the heavens” but this puts him outside the heavens when ,clearly, he considers himself to be inside . It is a reasonable assumption that (In the Tang Dynasty) this was the convention for “ brackets” which validates the version I have chosen.)
    How ludicrous, how disheartening.
    (Here we have the lament of the consummate intellectual. He had expected a transcendental elevation of mind to some superior plain . Instead he is disappointed to find that it is the temporary end of all mental activity. As far as I am aware, this last sentence sets him apart from most Masters who do not express any resentment of this fact and makes him the one who impresses me most.)
    What life can compare with this?
    (Then he assesses his position and accepts that in spite of the negative implications, no life can be better.)
    Sitting alone quietly by the window, I observe the leaves fall and the flowers bloom.”
    (He no longer needs to become blind, deaf and dumb to get the benefits of Zazen. His mind is clear of random and habitual thoughts. He has the great treasure of Zen - profound peace-of-mind - while watching the leaves fall and the flowers bloom. It is important to notice that he has not retreated into the void to get the benefit of his practice. It is with him during every waking moment.)
    Do you understand or not?
    (Does he mean: “Do you understand his message?”
    The answer is: “Hopefully.”
    Or does he mean: “Do you do any “understanding” in zazen?”
    The answer is: “Never.”)
    An iron bar without a hole.”
    (No matter how you think of that iron bar, you envisage it with a hole - welded up, filed flat and polished to invisibility – but still there. So it is with “mind without thought”. He demonstrates the great problem in zazen. The meditator must acquire the knack of abstaining from thinking (CMA) while remaining alert and aware - that’s not easy. But practice (and guidance from your teacher) makes perfect!
    Colin
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39211

    #2
    Hi Colin,

    This is a poem by "Seccho" (Xuedou Zhongxian / Setcho Juken, 982-1052), one of the authors of the Blue Cliff Record, and plays on those who are blind to that which is seen right before one's eyes, who cannot hear Sound and Silence whether in or without earthly sound and silence. How blind, deaf, mute and unknowing are those who believe this a matter of thought or no thought. What can you say which is clearly heard, with or without human words?

    The Koan (88) goes ...

    Gensha spoke to the assembly saying, "All of the ancient patriarchs say,
    'Saving all beings.' If suddenly three kinds of sick persons were to come, how
    would you teach them? For a blind person, even if you hold up a gavel and stick up
    a whisk, he will not see it. For a deaf person, even if your speech is samadhi
    itself, he will not hear it. For a mute person, even if you try to have him say
    something he will not be able to speak. How will you teach them? If you cannot
    teach these people, the Buddha Dharma has no life."
    A monk asked Unmon for Instruction (concerning this). Unmon said,
    "Make a prostration." The monk made a prostration and stood up. Unmon took
    his staff and poked it at the monk. The monk stepped back. Unmon said,
    "You are not blind." He again called the monk to come before him. The monk
    approached him. Unmon said, "You are not deaf." Unmon then said, "Do you
    understand?" The monk said, "I don't understand." Unmon said, "You are not
    mute." With this, the monk had some understanding.
    Another translation, the traditional commentary and my words ...

    Blind, deaf, mute
    Already there before it's said. The three openings (eye,
    ear, mouth) are all illumined. It's already been made into
    one piece.

    Eyes, ears, mouth whether open or shut ... the True Man of No Rank ever goes in and out. Who could say that this is a matter of "no input" or "no output", and where is "in and out"?

    Soundless, without any adjustments to potentialities.
    Where will you search? Can you make any judgments?
    What have they got to do with it?

    The Silence in every sound, the Sound crying out all silence. The Wise can always Hear, even as the greatest cacophony of memory and intellectual activities.

    In the heavens, on earth
    With the correct principle, Hsueh Tau is on his own. I am
    also thus.

    This very land is the Pure Lotus Land. But to get inside, drop measure of "in vs. out" even as one opens the door. "And yet, if there is a hairsbreadth deviation, it is like the gap between heaven and earth. If the least like or dislike arises, the mind is lost in confusion." (Fukanzazengi, in a quote I really like!)

    Laughable, lamentable.
    Laugh at what? Lament over what? Half light, half dark.
    The smile in tears, the allowing as all regrets. The dark cloud's silver lining, the silver cloud's dark lining ... all floating in clear skies.

    Li Lii can't discern the true form (What life can compare with this?);
    Blind man! A skillful craftsman leaves no traces. Truly blind!
    Always right before one's eyes, and one's eyes too ... all just light within a Buddha's Eye.

    How can Shih K'uang recognize the mystic tune!
    Deaf man! No reward has been established for the great achievement. Truly deaf.
    Hear, hear!

    How can this compare to sitting alone beneath an empty window!
    You must be this way to attain. Don't make your living in a ghost cave. Instantly Hsueh Tau smashes the lacquer bucket.
    Clean the window, smash the glass at once ... and the sun shines in countless broken fragments. But try to find a formula, and the ox passes through though his tail gets caught!

    The leaves fall, the flowers bloom-each in its own time.
    What time and season is it right now? You mustn't understand
    it as unconcern. Today goes from morning to evening
    and tomorrow too goes from morning to evening.

    As tomorrow flows into yesterday, endless evenings to come just mornings of the past. The clock hands turn, yet the clock face is unconcerned.

    The Genjo: "Though all this may be true, flowers fall even if we love them, and weeds grow even if we hate them, and that is all."

    Again Hsueh Tou said, "Do you understand or not!"
    Again he speaks the words of the verse.
    It is a matter of clear intellectual-non-intellectual understanding. It is an Understanding right thru all human understanding, heard in the breeze as well as expressed in words. To the well trained eye, even the instructions on the side of a toothpaste tube are a Sutra.

    An iron hammer head with no hole.
    Take what's coming to you and get out! Too bad-Hsueh Tau let go, so I'll hit.
    Hole or no hole, nothing in need of filling. Iron rails smooth in all directions, whole and complete even as they twist, snap in two and rust. It is "abstaining from thinking" that has little to do with thinking or not thinking, thus the non-thinking thinking.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday

    (Been awhile since I tried some games like this).
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-24-2015, 06:51 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    Comment

    • Byokan
      Treeleaf Unsui
      • Apr 2014
      • 4279

      #3
      Jundo,

      deep bows to you Teacher. Thank you.

      I started to add some thought or other, but your words have touched me deeply; I will offer instead a little silence now.

      Gassho
      Lisa
      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.

      Comment

      • Jishin
        Member
        • Oct 2012
        • 4819

        #4
        Hi,

        Here is my commentary.

        Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

        Comment

        • chankin
          Member
          • Jul 2015
          • 16

          #5
          Compare the translations: (DT Suzuk’si in black.)

          Blind, deaf, mute
          Blind, deaf, dumb
          Soundless, without any adjustments to potentialities.
          Infinitely beyond the reach of the imaginative contrivances.
          In the heavens, on earth
          Above the heavens and below the heavens
          Laughable, lamentable.
          How ludicrous, how disheartening.
          How can this compare to sitting alone beneath an empty window!
          What life can compare with this?
          The leaves fall, the flowers bloom-each in its own time.
          Sitting alone quietly by the window, I observe the leaves fall and the flowers bloom.”
          Again Hsueh Tou said, "Do you understand or not!"

          Do you understand or not?
          An iron hammer head with no hole.

          An iron bar without a hole.

          The two versions are practically the same. It’s what each of us reads into them that differs.
          Colin
          Last edited by chankin; 07-24-2015, 11:30 AM.

          Comment

          • Getchi
            Member
            • May 2015
            • 612

            #6
            jundo, gassho.

            could i humbly request more commentary like this? esp. the blue cliff rec
            ord and the mountain verses?

            again thankyou, a person is met well through there views on these classics.
            Nothing to do? Why not Sit?

            Comment

            • Jundo
              Treeleaf Founder and Priest
              • Apr 2006
              • 39211

              #7
              Hi Getchi,

              You may appreciate the commentaries in our "Beyond Words Book Club" on the Book of Serenity. We will be back to that sometimes soon ...

              Welcome to our book club, where we travel through helpful books on Zen without getting lost in words.


              Gassho, J

              SatToday
              ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

              Comment

              • Getchi
                Member
                • May 2015
                • 612

                #8
                Thankyou :

                Ive been working through these waiting for my copy of "Grass Hut" to arrive1

                Gassho
                Geoff
                SatToday
                Nothing to do? Why not Sit?

                Comment

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