the simmering of the tea pot, steam rises in the air. water splashes into the cup, releasing the aroma of the tea and warming my hands. a fly buzzes against the window— I open it to let him out. the slight breeze sways the branches and leaves of late fall’s remaining life. this retreat is almost done. have I taken advantage of the hospitality and this place of intense truth? it is a blessing to this world— sonoma mountain zen center— a bright jewel in the mountains, rising like the lotus from murky water and the mud in the pond of this universe.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
By the Founder of the Ox-Head School Niu-t'ou Fa-jung version by Dochong JDPSN 心性不生何須知見 the nature of the mind is before-thinking, but why should it be necessary to know this? 本無一法誰論薫錬 fundamentally phenomena do not exist; so why bother with defilement and purification? 住返無端追尋不見 there is no end to appearing and disappearing, and no matter how much you seek, you will never realize it! 一切莫作明寂自現 when all formations are inactive, then the bright stillness will manifest by itself. 前際如空知處迷宗 before you it will appear like emptiness, naturally you will know how to cut through all confused doctrines. 分明照境隨照冥蒙 distinguishing clearly all circumstances you will illuminate the dark and the hidden. 一心有滯諸法不通 if this One Mind is obstructed, all dharmas will not have a penetrating effect. 去來自爾胡假推窮 spontaneously coming and going, what use is it exhausting yourself? 生無生相生照一同 as life has the mark of before-thinking, it naturally illuminates this oneness. 欲得心淨無心用功 if you wish to obtain purity of mind, you must diligently cultivate not-thinking. 縱横無照最爲微妙 having no mental reflections high or low, this more than anything else is marvelous! 知法無知無知知要 knowing the dharma through not-knowing, this not-knowing understands the essentials. 將心守靜猶未離病 grasping the mind and maintaining stillness, how can you leave behind attachments? 生死忘懷即是本性 in life and death forgetting your attachments, there and then fundamental nature will manifest. 至理無詮非解非纏 the highest principle is beyond explanation, ridding yourself of all things without restraint. 靈通應物常在自前 spiritual penetration and responding to affairs will constantly take place there and then, 目前無物無物宛然 before you there will not be a single thing, and "not a single thing" will be a matter of life. 不勞智鑒體自虚玄 not conceptualizing the Mirror of Wisdom, its essence is wondrously empty. 念起念滅前後無別 thinking arises and thinking disolves, before and after there is no discrimination. 後念不生前念自絶 the latter thought is not produced as the former is cut off by itself. 三世無物無心無佛 in the three worlds there is not a single thing: it is neither mind nor Buddha. 衆生無心依無心出 all living beings are essentially before-thought, and depend upon not-thinking for their existence. 分別凡聖煩惱轉盛 discriminating between worldly and holy will cause vexations in abundance. 計校乖常求眞背正 constantly calculating and making plans results in searching for the truth while turning your back on reality. 雙泯對治湛然明淨 putting an end to the two extremes, you will be both bright and clear. 不須功巧守嬰兒行 it is not necessary to attach to your practices diligently. 惺惺了知見網轉彌 through awareness is knowledge, when spinning the wheel of samsara you will turn around and stop. 寂寂無見暗室不移 through Samâdhi nothing can be seen, just as in a dark room there is no movement. 惺惺無妄寂寂明亮 in awareness there is only truth, in Samâdhi only clear brightness. 萬象常眞森羅一相 the myriad shapes are truth, having only one majestic characteristic 去來坐立一切莫執 going and coming, sitting and standing are fundamentally ungraspable. 決定無方誰爲出入 with no fixed place, who is it that comes and goes? 無合無散不遲不疾 No coming together and no breaking apart, neither slowly nor quickly. 明寂自然不可言及 the bright stillness is your true self yet words can only speak about it! 心無異心不斷貪淫 if in the mind there is nothing different, you will never have to stop desire. 性空自離任運浮沈 as mind’s nature is empty, it will disappear if it is allowed to drift on. 非清非濁非淺非深 neither pure nor defiled, neither shallow nor deep. 本來非古見在非今 originally the past does not exist, and just now, the present is not! 見在無住見在本心 just now there is non-abiding and this is your true self. 本來不存本來即今 not holding on to the origin, then the origin will be present by itself. 菩提本有不須用守 Bodhi originally is, this is why it is not necessary to maintain it. 煩惱本無不須用除 vexations are fundamentally non-existent, therefore it is not necessary to do away with them! 靈知自照萬法歸如 spiritual wisdom shines forth by itself, and the myriad phenomena return to the one. 無歸無受絶觀忘守 nothing to revert to and nothing to receive. cut off opinions and forget about the precepts! 四徳不生三身本有 the Four Virtues are before-thinking, and the Three Bodies fundamentally exist. 六根對境分別非識 the Six Roots just face circumstances and perception has nothing to do with consciousness. 一心無妄萬縁調直 the mind will have nothing wrong, and the ten thousand causes will directly harmonize. 心性本齊同居不攜 the mind and feelings are basically of the same source, they coexist without interfering with each other. 無生順物隨處幽棲 not knowing is in accordance with phenomena, together they dwell and rest in the dark. 覺由不覺即覺無覺 enlightenment comes from that which is not enlightened, therefore enlightenment can’t be grasped! 得失兩邊誰論好惡 gain and loss are like the two sides of a coin, who can then speak about good and bad? 一切有爲本無造作 all that is caused, is originally the product of before-thinking. 知心不心無病無藥 the knowing mind is not the Mind, the true Mind is something which neither disease nor medicine can effect. 迷時捨事悟罷非異 in times of confusion just let things go their way, when awakening is accomplished it will not be different from your self. 本無可取今何用棄 fundamentally nothing can be grasped; so what will you throw away? 謂有魔興言空象備 speaking of existence is to give in to demons, for with words empty images arise! 莫滅凡情唯教息意 do not wipe out worldly feelings. the only teaching that you should be concerned about, is how to do away with ideas! 意無心滅心無行絶 ideas will be annihilated by no-mind, and mental states will be cut off by non-activity. 不用證空自然明徹 there is no use trying to verify emptiness, spontaneously it will shine forth! 滅盡生死冥心入理 extinguishing both life and death, the profound Mind enters the ultimate principle. 開目見相心隨境起 just open your eyes and behold the forms, letting your mind go along with the arising circumstances. 心處無境境處無心 if the mind abides in no-circumstances, then the circumstances abide in no-mind. 將心滅境彼此由侵 when the mind is about to annihilate circumstances, they will go along with the annihilation. 心寂境如不遣不拘 the mind will be quiet, and circumstances the same. neither having to let go or to hold on. 境隨心滅心隨境無 when circumstances go along with the mind they will be extinguished, and the mind which follows circumstances is nothingness. 兩處不生寂靜虚明 both abide in before-thinking, still purity and empty brightness! 菩提影現心水常清 awakening appears like a shadow in the mind's water which is constantly clear. 徳性如愚不立親疎 the nature of the virtuous is like stupidity, for it does not set up any separation between this and that. 寵辱不變不擇所居 they are not moved by either grace or dishonor, and do not choose a fixed place to dwell. 諸縁頓息一切不憶 if all causes are put to rest, you will cease to worry about them! 永日如夜永夜如永 if you do not discriminate, then an eternal day can be like a night, and an eternal night can be like a day. 外似頑 内心虚眞 when seen from the outside it seems as if you are wayward and stupid; however—within, the mind is vacant and in communion with reality. 對境不動有力大人 adverse conditions will not move you, and you will have the power of an accomplished being. 無人無見無見常現 there will be neither seer nor the seen, then that non-seeing will be perpetually manifested. 通達一切未嘗不 penetrating everything, constantly being everywhere. 思惟轉昏汨亂精魂 thinking will cause confusion and confusion will give rise to all kinds of emotions. 將心止動轉止轉奔 if by grasping the mind you try to stop agitation, then with this movement the mind will be even more active. 萬法無所唯有一門 the myriad phenomena have no base, there is only the One Door. 不入不出非靜非喧 this is the door of neither entering nor leaving, of neither stillness nor disturbance. 聲聞縁覺智不能論 the wisdom of Srâvakas and Pratyeka-buddhas cannot fathom this. 實無一物妙智獨存 in reality not one thing exists, the wonderful wisdom alone remains. circumstances are fundamentally empty. 本際虚沖非心所窮 it is not something which the mind can exhaust. 正覺無覺眞空不空 true enlightenment is non-enlightenment, and real emptiness is not empty! 三世諸佛皆乘此宗 all the Buddhas of the Three Kalpas teach this doctrine. 此宗毫未沙界含容 this teaching is like a particle of dust, worlds as numerous as sand grains in the Ganges are contained therein! 一切莫顧安心無處 if you do not occupy yourself with everything, then the peaceful mind will have nowhere to abide. 無處安心虚明自露 the peaceful mind will be non-abiding, and the empty brightness will manifest by itself! 寂靜不生放曠縱横 the quiet stillness is un-born, and you will be free to roam in all directions. 所作無滯去住皆平 whatever you do, there will be nothing to obstruct you. in motion and in rest, all will be equal. 慧日寂寂定光明明 the sun of prajnâ is still, the light of samâdhi is bright; 照無相苑朗涅槃城 they are the bright park of no mark laksana and the clear city of nirvâna. 諸縁忘畢詮神定質 in all causes you should be un-mindful of the fruit; it can be likened to the quality of the spiritual samâdhi. 不起法座安眠虚室 do not set up platforms for teaching; but take a peaceful nap in an empty house. 樂道恬然優遊眞實 you will find happiness in the Dao, with plenty of space to roam about in True Reality. 無爲無得依無自出 nothing to do, nothing to obtain, and depending upon nothing, your true self will be manifest. 四等六度同一乘路 the Four Virtues and the Six Parâmitâs all belong to the path of the One Vehicle. 心若不生法無差互 when the mind in this way is not produced, then all the phenomena also will not be wrong. 知生無生現前常住 knowing that life is un-born, before you it will constantly remain thus. 智者方知非言詮悟 those with wisdom will know this, but no amount of words can explain this kind of awakening! a version is an attempt to express the authors intention in modern english and in a modern expression within the western culture in which we live.
Monday, March 16, 2009
to breathe in the universe; to exhale our very life unhindered. it is this play of life and existence that goes on between the nose and the lips each passing moment that we are alive. is the in breath a moment to perceive? no, it is just the passing of each nanosecond that we pay attention to life. is the exhalation a divine state of exaltation? no, it is just the letting go of what the universe truly gives for free! it is the passing of breath and the sojourn of time that you and I and this and that and all or nothing can become one in the simplicity of a moment in time where there is no this nor that and all that is here can be seen by you and not thought of as in a daze.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
full moon at its apex in the midnight sky the milky way sparkles in the heavens a single ragged mountain out in front scottsdale, arizona lies behind desert shrubs scattered here and there a saguaro cactus home for a family of birds a pack of coyotes howling in unison at the moon looking up I understand we would howl too if we spent some quiet time in this lonesome desert the bright white ball in the midnight sky illuminates objects with an eerie glow walking alone in the desert tonight it’s residents wonder how this stranger could have ever gotten lost January 21, 1997 Paradise Valley, AZ
Saturday, March 7, 2009
leaving china with mixed emotions passing through customs at shenzhen my bags are much heavier now than before from all of the gifts I have bought the sign says; Hong Kong Residents Only. my group proceeds and I ask, “shouldn’t we go that way?” “oh no, this is the correct way.” looking up and down at the customs gates all of them have signs which read, Hong Kong Residents Only. a chinese official tells us, we must turn around and go back because we’ve come the wrong way. when we finally arrive at Hong Kong Customs turning around the corner there is Maha Ghosananda his paperwork is done and his processing complete Maha Ghosananda has taught us all today only go straight and pay attention to the signs.
October 7, 1996 Hong Kong Customs
Thursday, March 5, 2009
clack--clack--clack from shenzhen to shaoguan water buffalo graze in bright green meadows between dense groves of banana trees and lush forests of tall bamboo the rivers meander through terraced fields of rice as the blue mountains veiled in the autumn mist thrust upward towards the heavens. October 4, 1996 Train to Shaoguan