The Circle of the Way

The Circle of the Way

Transat Jacques Vabre: Le Havre Bahia.

On the great road of Buddha ancestors there is always unsurpassable practice, continuous and sustained.  It forms the circle of the way and is never cut off.  Between aspiration, practice, enlightenment, and nirvana there is not a moment’s gap; continuous practice is the circle of the way.

Dogen Zenji, Continuous Practice, Fascicle 1, Circa 1242, Fukakusa

The aim of practice is to free the body and mind, to return to the miraculous wonder of who we are and to manifest our realization in our life.  This has always been the purpose of the teaching (dharma) and continues to this day.
In Lost Coin we call the manifestation of the power of practice: excellence.
In former times training occurred in the context of a monastery.  What makes Lost Coin “modern” and unique is its emphasis on carrying out this training in the context of  daily life.
A part of this that I would like to focus on is training positions.  Training for excellence and mindfulness(practice) was carried out in the monastery by sitting (zazen) as well as assuming certain duties and responsibilities: anything from being the cook (tenzo) to the administrator (kanin).  There were also positions that put people in close touch with the teacher and afforded close personal training.  One of these positions is the teacher’s personal assistant (the jisha).  These training positions are an opportunity to really accelerate one’s practice and work towards excellence, but they must be undertaken with a clear understanding and aspiration. They are more potent than coaching.  They are training in action.  They are not something to figure out.  They require the desire to overcome obstacles as well as the ability to fail and keep going.
There is an old saying: seven times down, eight times up.  This saying is the spirit of the Way. If you wish to take this journey (the Way), leave a lot of room in your backpack for courage.  Then you will be able to pay back Master Dogen for his wonderful teaching of unsurpassable practice, continuous and sustained.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Alain76

Huang Po

Huang Po

Free texture - I hope this can be useful to you all !!!

Huang Po or in Japanese, Obaku, is one of the Great Ones. I have been reading The Zen Teaching of Huang Po for nearly 40 years. Little is known of his life, but texts traditionally give his death some time between 847 and 859 A.D.
I am going to pick just one section from The Zen Teaching of Huang Po which was translated by John Blofeld in 1958.  I will divide this section into two or three posts and add some commentary to each.  His words really need no commentary, but I hope my comments are useful.  My commentary will probably fall into the category known in Zen as ” spreading shit on the clean-driven snow”.  However, this is also true of Huang Po’s words, so I have put myself cleverly in good company.
If you would spend all your time – walking, standing, sitting, or lying down –  learning to halt the concept-forming activities of your mind, you could be sure of ultimately attaining the goal.  Since your strength is insufficient,  you might not be able to transcend samsara (illusion) by a single leap; but, after 5 or 10 years, you would surely have made a good beginning and be able to make further progress spontaneously.  It is because you are not that sort of man that you feel obliged to employ your mind ‘studying dhyana (dharma)’ and ‘studying the Way’.  What does all that have to do with Buddhism?
So it is said that all the Tathagata (The Buddha) taught was to convert people; it was like pretending yellow leaves are real gold,  just to stop the flow of a child’s tears; it must by no means be regarded as though it were ultimate truth.
Commentary: Huang Po raises the flag of the true Dharma eye high.  He draws a line below which all speculation, intellectualism, and conception fall and above which the empty mind of the Way begins.  Can it be as simple as this?  The answer is: yes, it can.  But don’t be deceived: it is simple, but hard, very hard and requires an on-going, inexhaustible spirit.
photo credit: Nina MatthCreative Commons Licenseews Photography