Dear Dharma Friend,
Thank you for your year of hard training and deepest practice!
There is a marvelous parable from the Blue Cliff Record, Case 6:
Yun Men said, “I don’t ask you about before the fifteenth day; try to say something about after the fifteenth day.”
Yun Men himself answered for everyone, “Every day is a good day."
Every day is a good day without the chance for it to have an opposite or an alternative. Every day is a day in the life of the Buddha enacted as your original self, perfect in its balance and equanimity.
That, of course, is the absolute point of view and yet there is also suffering, loss and greed, hatred, and ignorance rising endlessly. Issa said it so well after several tragedies and the death of one of his children:
“The world of dew
is the world of dew.
And yet, and yet--”
This past year has known disasters and violence that are dangerously unparalleled for humans. The intensifying polarization in every domain seems relentless. The power of a few over the fate and well-being of so many seems to be a constant confusion that we as humans fall into. For the first time there is the possibility of seeing the horizon of human existence… never in modern times has it been as clear a possibility that we are in the end times.
How do we hold a world that is sacred and profound beyond knowability and yet paradoxically unfair, violent, and causing suffering? This is the Hwadu question for all time…
How do we move forward in what is called choice-less awareness in such an awkward and seemingly irreconcilable world.
Is it possible to work with the fabric of the universe without having clarified one’s own heart?
Can we enter right here in the not knowing, the no idea?
Zen practice has only one purpose and that is to awaken! To wake up to things as they are - not as we think they are or we want them to be, or we fear they are or might become. Zen is a return to actuality. One does not have to develop compassion any more than one has to learn to put out a fire on one of your arms with the arm that is not burning. We already have this wisdom and compassion.
I heard Jay Leno, the famous comedian, recently talk about his face catching on fire while working on one of his cars. He said that he could not speak, but crawled out from under the car, face ablaze, and his companion saw the fire and immediately fell onto Jay Leno’s face and put it out.
No thinking, “Someone is on fire, put it out.” Not wondering what it would look like or weather the action would work. He fell, not on Leno’s face because it is a good thing or morally just, but because as Zen Master Seung Sahn would say, “It is correct.”
By correct he meant complete with compassion and wisdom without calculation.
There is another story that happened near Furnace Mountain during the terrible floods in Kentucky this past year. A young woman and her dog were stranded on the roof top of a flooded house for quite some time, and by chance a man with a canoe came by…he simply rowed over to her on his way, and brought her and her dog to the safety of the shore. The teaching of “correct situation, correct relationship, correct function,” is not Confucian morality but an awakening to the immediate recognition of an order not created by thought and yet fully executable.
We practice together not to gain anything, but because we want to support each other in a life of presence and service. From this mind we can meet, not only in a room or on the computer screen but in the realization that all our activity is together action and inextricably the activity of the Dharma. And, we enact our lives, together, as one body.
It has never been more important to awaken to this than it is right now!
And from this awakening we realize our birthright of wisdom and compassion.
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