Once a student asked Baizhang, “what is the most excellent matter?”
Baizhang said, “Sitting alone on Daxiong Peak”
Suppose someone were to ask me – what is the most excellent matter? I would simply tell him: Giving a Dharma hall discourse on Mount Kichijo. (The location of Master Dogen”s temple)
Dogen’s Extensive Record
For all of us spending our lives scurrying to somewhere. anywhere – Master Dogen provides a pointed short cut.
San Francisco squirrels
First day of Autumn
Truly to know plum blossoms
needs your heart
as well as your nose
Ueshima Onitsura (1660-1738)
Needing the heart implies the openness of being the flower, of being one with our reality.
The obstacles to this are what they have always been – Greed, that is the belief that if we get just one more thing…. turns us into hungry dissatisfied ghosts. Anger – the feeling that someone else is to blame, makes us irresponsible victims. And Fear deprives us of our very lives. All of this is what our ancestors called ignorance.
Analytical intelligence is important, but emotional intelligence is the entrance to the world of plum blossoms. The world of our life.
A person of the way sees with their heart and walks in the footsteps of our ancient ancestors.
The plum blossom stands alone, shining, serene. It fills the universe. Another name for it is Heart. The best name for it is your name.
The person of the way is not swayed. They are intimate with the Tao, sometimes known as the heart.
Please practice. Do not falter.
When you sit, sit
When you stand, stand
Above all don’t wobble.
This old Zen saying contains enough nourishment to last a lifetime.
So will we just talk the talk
or really walk the walk?
Looking back over these seventy years and more
The human world of good-and-bad
completely dissolves before my gaze
A late-night snowfall blurs
the footsteps of the last passerby
I light a stick of incense
and sit and meditate beside my old window
How many years I spent parting the wild grasses
to penetrate the inmost depths
Then suddenly I understood my teacher
and came back to my native place
You go there and come back again
Yet everything remains the same
Cloud’s covering the mountain summit
Streams flowing by your feet
Trying to change into someone or something else
Changing into oneself
Is practicing the true Way
Looking for meaning misses the mark
Finding the world of non-meaning
Is attaining the true Way
Our practice is about seeing things as they really are. Seeing reality. Seeing things as they really are is true intelligence. This seeing includes our view of ourselves, our world and the relationship between them. By removing the blinders of emotional and intellectual conditioning we can gradually see reality clearly, that is, just as it is. So we can say that Lost Coins’ practice is the practice of reality.
In order to look at this practice of reality in a systematic way, we can divide it into three basic aspects: the spiritual, the psychological and the scientific.
The spiritual aspect comes from seeing the depths of who we really are and the wonder of knowing that like infinity, it is ultimately unknowable.
The psychological aspect consists of developing objectivity, seeing our mechanical conditioning and in congress with the spiritual, freeing ourselves from introjected patterns which stem from ignorance, habit or negative emotion.
The third aspect is scientific, like physics or behaviorism. It is the study of the cause and effect of our actions. The study needs to be accurate. It took a long time for people to understand that no matter how many rams, cows or first born they slayed it did not deter the plague or famine.
Real intelligence is both intellectual and emotional. When our practice develops, both clarity and empathy evolve. Fear recedes.
It is my sincere belief that in practicing with these understandings, Lost Coin can create a culture of practice that is appropriate to this time and place and the emerging intelligence that is the future.
This is an excerpt of a video we made on Zen Arts as a “Way”.
“A Way” is a path to realizing our true nature and our innate capacity using an external activity which can be anything from writing to tea ceremony.
Western arts can be used as well as the traditional Japanese practices. Zen “ways” can include things we don’t usually even consider art. Being an entrepreneur or a cook would be an example of that. You can think of it as using external activity to appreciate the reality of our internal state.
“The Way” can then be used to see our internal state and to cultivate its growth.
photo credit: monsieur-g
The content of this post inaugurates Lost Coin’s Zen Arts Month which began on the first day of spring.
Zen is the realization and art of this very moment.
Han Shan’s Cold Mountain poem invites us in.
Who takes the cold mountain road
takes a road that never ends
the rivers are long and piled with rocks
the streams are wide and choked with grass
it’s not the rain that makes the moss slick
and it’s not the wind that makes the pines moan
who can get past the tangles of the world
and sit with me in the clouds?
Han Shan’s landscape is always here.
Who can get past the tangles of the mind and meet him on Cold Mountain?
photo credit: NJ..
Our light is sometimes described as a white light. This does not mean that it is the color white but that it has no color at all. In order to discover it we must forget about our eyes, ears, nose, sense of touch, emotions, and thoughts. We must leave ourselves behind. Then there is of course, nothing to find the light with and no way to find the light.
If after we have done all this, we can make our way to this light then it is the lost coin, the true light.
photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography
‘The bright and shining mind is never absent but is colored by the thoughts and emotions people put on it”
Shayamuni Buddha from the Anguttara Nikaya
And the thoughts and emotions we cling to are what the Buddha refers to as attachment. We become so attached to our thoughts about the world, that for us these thoughts and states become the real world.
Yes, but aren’t our thoughts real?
Yes they are really thoughts.
Perhaps we cling to our thoughts to avoid what we see as the real world. The world of disease, loss, old age and death. The world in which everything is impermanent.
But we have a choice. The road the Buddha took. Instead of thinking about the world of impermanence and suffering we can embrace it, become one with it. This is practice and the road to liberation.
What would it be like to completely accept everything that comes with life and death, completely?
It would be to cross over to the other shore.
photo credit: A Chilling Soul
Happy Groundhog Day!
For those of you who live in Europe and may not have heard of Groundhog Day, it was wonderfully explored in a Bill Murray film of the same name. In it, Bill Murray lives the exact same day, over and over again. In short, he founds out how life is for most of us. He also finds out that he is a “minor god”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euY1jeZu9kI
Here, in the States, it is a day in which the length of winter is predicted when a groundhog comes out of the ground in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania today, February 2. If he casts a shadow, winter is far from ending. If he does not, spring is about to come.
We have chosen this day to release the February updates to the Study Center. These include three new videos in the video library which continue our curriculum for Lost Coin. Two of these videos are under the Training component and one is under Realization. There is also an audio from the recent Intensive, Practicing Relationship, as well as three Zen poems in the writing section of Conscious Art by well-known adepts with open Dharma eyes.
We have also included some writings of Takuan which are our first offerings in the new Performance and Excellence section. A thousand years later Takuan’s teachings are as alive today as they were then. Additionally there are two new musical compositions in the musica section intended to focus on the art of improvisation.
With this much new material, we feel confident that anyone can break the chain of samsara and stop living the same day over and over.
One again, Happy Groundhog Day.
photo credit: Alan Vernon.