A collection of articles and other Dharma by Rev. Leon and friends of the Priory
(Follow this link to see the June 2021 Priory Newsletter where this was published.)
The next section, the second of the four practices, begins with (from the Red Pine translation):
“Second, adapting to conditions. As mortals, we’re ruled by conditions, not by ourselves. All the suffering and joy we experience depend on conditions. If we should be blessed by some great reward, such as fame or fortune, it’s the fruit of a seed planted by us in the past. When conditions change, it ends. Why delight In Its existence? But while success and failure depend on conditions, the mind neither waxes nor wanes. Those who remain unmoved by the wind of joy silently follow the Path.”
Again, from our verse encapsulating the four practices:
Acceptance of suffering
The seeking of nothing
We might say that our entry into this second practice is Sitting Unmoved. Sitting unmoved, in this context, is the bringing the mind of meditation into every activity. Rev. Master Jiyu would describe the mind of meditation or, one who was practicing this mind of meditation, as being like a spinning top which is very active on the outside but is still at the center.
We engage in our ordinary lives with the appearance of an ordinary person, even while working on sitting still in all things. (It is possible!)
In his work the “Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of life” the Indian monk Shantideva (c685-763 CE) poses an interesting question:
Where would I possibly find enough leather
With which to cover the surface of the earth?
And answers it with:
But (wearing) leather just on the soles of my shoes.
Is equivalent to covering the earth with it.
Although we can become quite skillful in handling many areas that we are familiar with, we can’t possibly predict or control every condition we might encounter in our lives. But we can learn to meet each situation from the mind of meditation. And we can learn to convert the obstacles we carry around in our own minds and hearts; the obstacles to taking refuge in the mind of meditation.
Sitting unmoved is like giving ourselves a sturdy pair of shoes with which to dance through the many obstacles and changes life presents to us. Adapting our minds to conditions, is the conversion, the bringing to peace all of the diverse sufferings we carry around with us by applying the mind of meditation and the Buddhadharma to our lives; this is like stitching up the holes that appear in our sturdy shoes.
This process of healing our inner suffering is how we learn to remain unmoved by the wind of joy and silently follow the Path.
To be continued ….
(Follow this link to see the May 2021 Priory Newsletter where this was published.)
Bodhidharma’s “Outline of Practice” starts by saying that we can either enter the Dharma by “reason” or “practice.” Last time I talked mostly about the entry by reason and what that might mean. Entry by “reason” is more like entry by “just letting go of everything,” by giving oneself wholeheartedly over to the mind of zazen. D.T. Suzuki’s translation concludes this section with:
“He will not then be a slave to words, for he is in silent communion with the Reason itself, free from conceptual discrimination; he is serene and not-acting. This is called Entrance by Reason.”
Before we move on to the next section, I want to point out what “not-acting” means, since it relates to the mind of meditation and not necessarily directly to action in the world. Not-acting, in the sense of meditation, refers to the activity the mind Continue reading →
(Follow this link to see the April 2021 Priory Newsletter where this was published.)
One of my favorite short pieces of Zen Buddhist Teaching is Bodhidharma’s Outline of Practice. In his opening comment to his translation of this work, D.T. Suzuki says “As long as Zen appeals to one’s direct experience, abstraction is too inane for the mind of a master.” In the study of the Zen literature, there is an ongoing process of coming to see how what is talked about applies directly to our life of practice and is not just something exotic and mysterious. Of course, there is a pitfall here: the hazard of taking a thing which points to a profound truth that we do not yet fully understand, and trivializing it.
With the effort to both keep from getting mired in abstraction and keep from trivializing (bringing the teaching down to my level), I thought it would be helpful to dig into this work.
I am going to use Red Pine’s North Point Press translation from “The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma” (copyright 1987, Red Pine ) for most of this.
Bodhidharma starts with:
“Many roads lead to the Path, but basically there are only two: reason and Continue reading →