Category Archives: Teachings

The Universe Weeps!

And being envious of others in their supreme achievements,
Wastes the mind night and day in efforts to exceed,
Truth, if you cleave to it as truth, turns into falsehood.

Ah, at last, I have a ‘way in’ to talking about this section of the poem by Zen Master Ryokan. Envy, when it is more than just a fleeting thought or emotion it acts over time on body/mind, rather like a poison would. Slow acting but going deep into one’s system there to be activated when the object of envy comes into mind or view. We all, no doubt have been there but it’s a hard one to acknowledge to oneself and even harder to speak about. Oh, the shame!

Nearly a decade ago I wrote a post titled Mudita-Sympathetic Joy. Mudita is one of the Buddhist virtues and is, or can be an antidote to the poison of envy and jealousy. There are a number of references in the article worth reading.

This quote comes at the very end of the article and it’s important, critical I’d say to understand what we DON’T do in this tradition. Mudita is an important teaching, but not a deliberate ‘practice’ as it might be in other Buddhist traditions. This is Zen, the non-doing non-seeking Way.

Just to make it clear, in Zen the closest we come to cultivating virtues (mudita being one of them) is seamless sitting. That’s meditation in daily living, formal Zazen within the heart and intention of the Precepts.

The word ‘exceed’ caught my attention too. To exceed, to ‘better’ or surpass the perceived ‘supreme achievements’ of those who have ignited envy. Well, in short that’s a road to nowhere. Sad and understandable as such a drive might be. All, oh so understandable though.

“Truth, if you cleave to it as truth, turns into falsehood”.
Let us not ‘cleave to’ our version of reality and then believe that to be true.

even the deepest insight,
the most profound experience
fall to the ground
in sadness and tears
The Universe surely weeps


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Conker Heiku Anybody?

conker tree
how the wind lifts your candles
to the sun

Thanks to Fred for the photograph and heiku.

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More Yellow

grey sky
the wind in its fury
trees bow

An official Haiku tomorrow.

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Embracing the Wise and the Foolish

A wise person learns the mystery of existence in a flash
And climbs in a leap beyond the world of hollow phenomena,
Whereas a foolish person holds willfully to facts and details,
To drown in subtle differences of words and lines,

Not happy with these lines above. There is a strong pointing to the opposites and for most people, this can be a grand opportunity to climb aboard the ‘foolish’ label and stick it securely to the self. Where it can remain for decades, which is indeed foolish! Or, and this happens, one sticks on the wise label and believes oneself to have ‘lept beyond the world of hollow phenomena’. Maybe so, maybe not but this is still within the realm of the opposites.

One does come across texts that extol the reader to let go of the intellect and allow oneself to ‘leap’ or more often to ‘let go’ of discursive thinking and habitual behaviour. As is said above, ‘to drown in’ and ‘to hold willfully’ to facts, details, subtle differences of words and lines, neither any of us would want to do, certainly not for extended periods of time. It takes as long as it takes to realise the futility of such thinking. So I take the lines from the poem by Ryokan copied above as a strong pointing past what we often term ‘the ordinary mind’. Such teachings can be and are a powerful reminded of the futility of such thinking.

The ‘leap’ then is a leap of faith/trust that there is a deeper aspect to ourselves/existence that is not available via the normal means of understanding ‘why things are the way they are’ and to work out how to change them in oneself or others or both.

Faith in this tradition does not need or require an ‘object of faith, nor is ‘blind faith’ what’s being pointed to. Rev. Master Jiyu said in my hearing that the solution to all koans, including the koan of daily life, is a leap of faith. I’d think this was about doing something deliberately with my mind. I’ve learnt that it’s the opposite, that it’s to deliberately decide NOT to do something! Committing to sitting still in formal meditation is to deliberately decide not to something, anything, one could be doing and JUST SIT! And to simply and actively engage with ‘what is’. This embraces the ‘wise’ and the ‘foolish’, without discrimination.

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