Thursday, October 13, 2016

The True Path

It should be noted that the usual method for contemplating koans is not to take them in large chunks like we are doing here. The more common practice is to spend days on a single koan, exploring the possibilities contained within and discovering the thoughts behind the thoughts behind the thoughts. We tend to get hung up on certain patterns of thinking, and react to things based on that expected pattern rather than on the thing in question. The idea with a koan is the recognize this pattern thinking, strip away the pattern, and get to the true thought at the center.

The lessons are not always clear, but life is not always clear. It’s murky and unsure, and the way is often obscured by rocks or weeds or fog or some other obstacle, but then you get a break in the clouds, the sun shines through, and everything is suddenly obvious. It may be for just a moment, but that is a moment you will remember and carry with you for the rest of your life. Once you learn how to see, you’ll always have the memory of sight.

Just before Ninakawa passed away the Zen master Ikkyu visited him. "Shall I lead you on?" Ikkyu asked.
Ninakawa replied: "I came here alone and I go alone. What help could you be to me?"
Ikkyu answered: "If you think you really come and go, that is your delusion. Let me show you the path on which there is no coming and no going."
With his words, Ikkyu had revealed the path so clearly that Ninakawa smiled and passed away.

When Bankei was preaching at Ryumon temple, a Shinshu priest, who believed in salvation through the repetition of the name of the Buddha of Love, was jealous of his large audience and wanted to debate with him.
Bankei was in the midst of a talk when the priest appeared, but the fellow made such a disturbance that bankei stopped his discourse and asked about the noise.
"The founder of our sect," boasted the priest, "had such miraculous powers that he held a brush in his hand on one bank of the river, his attendant held up a paper on the other bank, and the teacher wrote the holy name of Amida through the air. Can you do such a wonderful thing?"
Bankei replied lightly: "Perhaps your fox can perform that trick, but that is not the manner of Zen. My miracle is that when I feel hungry I eat, and when I feel thirsty I drink."

A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin, and asked: "Is there really a paradise and a hell?"
"Who are you?" inquired Hakuin.
"I am a samurai," the warrior replied.
"You, a soldier!" exclaimed Hakuin. "What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar."
Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: "So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head."
As Nobushige drew his sword Hakuin remarked: "Here open the gates of hell!"
At these words the samurai, perceiving the master's discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.
"Here open the gates of paradise," said Hakuin.

A Zen student came to Bankei and complained: "Master, I have an ungovernable temper. How can I cure it?"
"You have something very strange," replied Bankei. "Let me see what you have."
"Just now I cannot show it to you," replied the other.
"When can you show it to me?" asked Bankei.
"It arises unexpectedly," replied the student.
"Then," concluded Bankei, "it must not be your own true nature. If it were, you could show it to me at any time. When you were born you did not have it, and your parents did not give it to you. Think that over."

A rich man asked Sengai to write something for the continued prosperity of his family so that it might be treasured from generation to generation.
Sengai obtained a large sheet of paper and wrote: "Father dies, son dies, grandson dies."
The rich man became angry. "I asked you to write something for the happiness of my family! Why do you make such a joke as this?"
"No joke is intended," explained Sengai. "If before you yourself die you son should die, this would grieve you greatly. If your grandson should pass away before your son, both of you would be broken-hearted. If your family, generation after generation, passes away in the order I have named, it will be the natural course of life. I call this real prosperity."

Once a monk made a request of Joshu.
“I have just entered the monastery,” he said. “Please give me instructions, Master.”
Joshu said, “Have you had your breakfast?”
“Yes, I have,” replied the monk.
“Then,” said Joshu, “wash your bowls.”
The monk had an insight.

When asked why he practiced zen, the student said, “Because I intend to become a Buddha.”
His teacher picked up a brick and started polishing it. The student asked “What are you doing?” The teacher replied, “I am trying to make a mirror.” “How can you make a mirror by polishing a brick?”
“How can you become Buddha by doing zazen? If you understand sitting Zen, you will know that Zen is not about sitting or lying down. If you want to learn sitting Buddha, know that sitting Buddha is without any fixed form. Do not use discrimination in the non-abiding dharma. If you practice sitting as Buddha, you must kill Buddha. If you are attached to the sitting form, you are not yet mastering the essential principle.”
The student heard this admonition and felt as if he had tasted sweet nectar.

A philosopher asked Buddha: `Without words, without the wordless, will you you tell me truth?'
The Buddha kept silence.
The philosopher bowed and thanked the Buddha, saying: `With your loving kindness I have cleared away my delusions and entered the true path.'
After the philosopher had gone, Ananda asked the Buddha what he had attained.
The Buddha replied, `A good horse runs even at the shadow of the whip.'

A monk said to Kempo, “The Bhagavat of the ten directions have one road to Nirvana. Where, may I ask, does that road begin?”
Kempo lifted up his stick, drew a line, and said, “Here”.

One pupil asked, “What is satori?”
The master said, “It is the original Mind.”
The pupil asked, “What is the original Mind?”
The master responded, “Not one thing.”
The pupil asked again, “What is this ‘not one thing’?”
The master closed his mouth and said nothing.

Let me know what you think of this exercise. Do you have a favorite koan? Do you have a thought on one of these? I look forward to sharing thoughts with you, and, as always, namaste.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date.

Follow Frequently Interrupted with Bloglovin

Please support our Out of the Darkness walk, coming this December. Join, donate, or share, it all helps. Click for more information.