29 December 2010

Faith Mind

Verses On the Faith Mind
Translated by Richard B. Clarke

The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.

When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.

Make the smallest distinction, however
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.

To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.

When the deep meaning of things is not understood
the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect like vast space
where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.

Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
that we do not see the true nature of things.

Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in inner feelings of emptiness.

Be serene in the oneness of things
and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.

When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity
your very effort fills you with activity.

As long as you remain in one extreme or the other
you will never know Oneness.

Those who do not live in the single Way
fail in both activity and passivity,
assertion and denial. To deny the reality of things
to assert the emptiness of things is to miss their reality.

The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find the meaning,
but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment
there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.

The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.
Do not search for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.

Do not remain in the dualistic state
avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is even a trace of this and that, of right and wrong,
the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities come from the One,
do not be attached even to this One.

When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,
nothing in the world can offend,
and when a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way.

When no discriminating thoughts arise, the old mind ceases to exist.
When thought objects vanish, the thinking-subject vanishes,
as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.
Things are objects because of the subject (mind);
he mind (subject) is such because of things (object).
Understand the relativity of these two
and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.
In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable
and each contains in itself the whole world.

If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine
you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.

To live in the Great Way
is neither easy nor difficult,
but those with limited views
and fearful and irresolute: the faster they hurry, the slower they go,
and clinging (attachment) cannot be limited;
even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way
and there will be neither coming nor going.

Obey the nature of things (your own nature),
and you will walk freely and undisturbed.
When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden,
for everything is murky and unclear,
and the burdensome practice of judging brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefit can be derived from distinctions and separations?

If you wish to move in the One Way
do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully
is identical with true Enlightenment.

The wise man strives to no goals
but the foolish man fetters himself.
This is one Dharma, not many: distinctions arise
from the clinging needs of the ignorant.

To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind
is the greatest of all mistakes.

Rest and unrest derive from illusion;
with enlightenment there is no liking and disliking.
All dualities come from
ignorant inference.
They are like dreams of flowers in the air:
foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong:
such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.

If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things are as they are, of single essence.
To understand the mystery of this One-essence
is to be release from all entanglements.
When all things are seen equally
the timeless Self-essence is reached.
No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state.

Consider movement stationary and the stationary in motion,
both movement and rest disappear.
When such dualities cease to exist
Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality
no law or description applies.

For the unified mind in accord with the Way
all self-centered straining ceases.
Doubts and irresolution's vanish
and life in true faith is possible.
With a single stroke we are freed from bondage;
nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.
All is empty , clear, self-illuminating,
with no exertion of the mind's power.
Here thought, feeling, knowledge, and imagination
are of no value.
In this world of Suchness
there is neither self nor other-than-self

To come directly into harmony with this reality
just simply say when doubt arises, 'Not two.'
In this 'no two' nothing is separate,
nothing excluded.
No matter when or where,
enlightenment means entering this truth.
And this truth is beyond extension or diminution in time or space;
in it a single thought is ten thousand years.

Emptiness here, Emptiness there,
but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small;
no difference, for definitions have vanished
and no boundaries are seen.
So too with Being
and non-Being.
Don't waste time in doubts and arguments
that have nothing to do with this.

One thing, all things:
move among and intermingle, without distinction.
To live in this realization
is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.
To live in this faith is the road to non-duality,
Because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.

Words! The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is
                           no yesterday
                           no tomorrow
                       no today.

12 December 2010

The Law of KARMA

The energy of thoughtfulness, kindness and graciousness are considered to be ‘good karma’. When you send these energies out, they will be returned to you in kind.
Hate, anger , act of vengeance, vindictive thoughts, self pity and resentment are damaging energies. When you send out these negative energies, they too will return to you in some form and prolongs your own suffering and generates more bad karma.
Karma provides situations that will best help us to learn from our mistakes. The best way to deal with bad karma is to accept our fate and let it work itself out. We should accept the hand that life deals us and go with the flow, because if we resist life and try to wriggle out of our karma we will only make matters worse in the long run. Karma is self-balancing divine justice; it is 100% fair and absolutely infallible.
 The Law of Karma is ‘as you give so you shall receive’, or ‘you reap what you sow’. Bad deeds and thoughts return to you, as do kind, thoughtful deeds. To the exact extent that you live these qualities, you will receive an equivalent back into your life, at some time. Karma is recorded and balanced. Loving thoughts, emotions, deeds and words are ‘credits’. Negative ones are ‘debits’. The Universe calls these up when we least expect it.
Your family is also your karma. Your soul chooses your family before you are born. Difficult family ties may be a consequence of unresolved feelings or situations in a past life. You choose that family this time around because your soul wanted another chance to resolve the problems. This offers you the lessons your soul needs to learn.
By loving and empowering others we heal karmic relationships.
Mindsets that you bring into this life with you are also your karma. If you have a mindset that you are not good enough, the belief will inevitably draw into your life things and people that make you feel inferior or weak.
Positive beliefs create good karma in your life. Wonderful things then happen. You are responsible for your own mindset, so change your beliefs if they do not serve you in a positive manner.
Your health is your karma. Before you incarnated you chose your family, your life challenges and your mission. You also chose your body and your genetic predisposition. Your moment by moment choices of thoughts and emotions will affect your vitality and health. This is your karma.
The balance sheet of your karma is known as your ‘Akashic Records’, which is a recorded history of all of your lives and life experiences and lessons. Karma is carried forward from lifetime to lifetime. We may not experience the consequences of our actions until a subsequent lifetime. Because of this there is often no obvious and visible correlation between an action and its consequence/s.
The higher our vibration, the more quickly karma returns to us. Some are subjected to ‘instant karma’. If you feel that you never get away with anything, you may be experiencing instant karma. This means that whatever you give out comes back to you, instantly. It is a sign that you are becoming more evolved because your karmic balance sheet is being kept up to date. Your soul is no longer allowing you to accumulate debt.
The key to the Law of Karma is ‘you reap what you sow.'
By: Joanne

 There are Four different types of karma that works around our life:
  • Sanchita Karma: the accumulated result of all our actions from all our past lifetimes. This is our total cosmic debt. Every moment of every day either we  are adding to it or we are reducing this cosmic debt.
  • Prarabdha Karma: the portion of our "sanchita" karma being worked on in the present life. If we work down we agreed upon debt in this lifetime, then more past debts surface to be worked on.
  • Agami Karma: the portion of actions in the present life that add to our "sanchita" karma. If we fail to work off our debt, then more debts are added to "sanchita" karma and are sent to future lives.
  • Kriyamana Karma: daily, instant karma created in this life that is worked off immediately. These are debts that are created and worked off - ie. we do wrong, we get caught.

04 December 2010

On Death and Dying - A (very personal) Zen perspective

eath is the Great Teacher, the Great Equalizer. Death claims the rich as well as the poor, it fells the powerful just as swiftly as the powerless. Death teaches us how precious life is, and brings into painful focus the precariousness of our sense of self. Death is also the ultimate irony, for it underscores the value of life by negating it; we tend to value life more when faced with the prospect of losing it, since only then can we muster the willpower to live our lives mindfully, a day at a time -- a moment at a time.
Our Lin Chi Chan school emphasizes mindful living; it teaches us to be fully present in the moment during every single minute of our day. This relentless focus on awareness brings with it a strong wonderment towards life, and it makes us value life because we are alive and not because we will die. The difference is not semantic: if we value life because we fear death, we can be happy only as long as we ignore the fact that we will die someday, and we become anguished as soon as we suspect that our life is endangered. This is a deluded and egotistical form of valuing life in that it humors the wants of our ego. The ego claims immortality but it is not the ego that is immortal. The ego is focused on the self, and feeds the self's need for self preservation and discrimination. The ego blinds us to the reality of mortality, as well as to the reality that our essence, our Buddha essence, is indeed immortal.
In Chan, we value life not because of a fear of death, but because ... we are alive! We value life for itself, not for its absence. Not for its eventual cessation. This frame of mind arises from awareness, and is facilitated through the contemplative practice of meditation. Once we free ourselves from concerns of death, we make a great step towards grinding down our dualistic thought; we value life for what it is, for its "suchness" as well as for the opportunities it affords us, not because it props up our ego and ensures its survival. The life/death dualistic view of existence isolates us from the world, causing us to seek to create classifications, categories, and other things that express our sense of separation from the world around us. A mind that avoids the reality of death cannot affirm the value of life. The ego's tendency to value only what it can lose leads to dualistic thought which isolates us further from the others around us. This tendency stems from the root of all dualistic views: that which sees the ego as a self-standing entity, existing on its own, separate from all that surrounds it. Dualistic thought leads to alienation from our True Nature because it makes us see ourselves as separate from the others: valuing life because we will lose it is a primal form of dualistic thought.
The need to fathom the nature of death leads many of us to Religion. A commentator once wrote that religion was created by our restless minds as a way to cope with death. Buddhism is no different in this regard, but unlike other religions it significantly tones down the focus on death by classifying it as one more form of suffering, and by providing very clear instructions on how to address suffering, which is, itself, the solution for understanding death.
Chan Buddhism has no formula for how to overcome or transcend death. In Chan we deal with death not by trying to avoid it, or by hoping to attain rebirth in another form or another realm. We recognize that death is another point of change on an infinite continuum of change. If we attribute suffering to death, then death is suffering. If we attribute death to a process of change, removing our projections of fear, then it is just that. The Chan practices of concentration and meditation make clear the inherent lack of individual-nature in everything - including us. And it makes clear that the unifying essence of Buddha Nature permeates everything, both in space and in time, the realization of this fact dispels the duality that so feeds the ego. The practice of the eightfold path is the first step toward relieving suffering, and it prepares us for ultimate liberation from delusion and, thereby, death.
In Chan, death is no different from lunch or from a cab ride: it is just an event that happens of its own accord. Death is only tragic for the ego, for it is only the ego that fears it, and for good reason, because the ego knows it will sever the connection with all its attachments, which is all the ego is. What it doesn't know, is that its very existence eliminates our chance of attaining a pure, egoless, awareness - what we call the "enlightened mind." For those of us who have taken the Bodhisattva vows, which includes the promise to help other sentient beings, it raises the question of how we can help other sentient beings attain an enlightened mind if we, ourselves, haven't yet found it. The realization of our impending death should bring a sharp sense of urgency to our practice, for we can only attain enlightenment while alive, and we can die at any moment. When I received the five precepts from Abbot Chuan Zhi, he expressed to me this sense of urgency: Don't waste time. Zen is a matter of life and death.
I had read how Hsu Yun used to talk about Chan as "a matter of life and death," but it takes great effort - or a close call with death - for us to internalize this point.
None of these aspects I'm discussing are mere philosophical or religious bantering: I have just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was fortunate that it was diagnosed early and that I have been a Dharma practitioner for so long: for one, I seem to have a good chance of cure and, for another, because this brought renewed energy and focus to my practice.
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that grows slowly - which is not necessarily good news for someone like me who still hasn't clocked 50 years of age, yet its treatment has a host of side effects that rob us of our dignity and sense of self. What a great solution for rapid advances in Zen! Here lies a great opportunity to practice: not only am I given a sharp reminder of how tenuous life is, but it also brought my mind to focus on several hua tous: "who is this I?" "Whose identity is threatened by the disease?" "What is this dignity that I supposedly have and that I am being robbed of, and who is the one being robbed?"
I also have the privilege of observing my mind as it indulges in all sorts of negative thoughts and feelings: a sense of loss, a fear of the unknown, frustration. And, on the other hand, I observe the more rational mind answering that these feelings make no sense, that they apply to the interpretation of some knowledge that I now have about my death - in many cases to inference about that knowledge - and not to facts: my likelihood of dying did not change by my knowing the probable cause for my death. The only change is that now I have something around which my restless monkey mind can busy itself with. My mind's craving for duality just found a new tool! But this has also given me a renewed sense of urgency and a far greater focus on practice, I can now raise a doubt when using a hua tou, and the doubt is solid and strong. The doubt just . . . is, and I see what's beyond the doubt.
I don't know if I'll be cured, or if this growth inside me will kill me, but I thank it for raising in me such strong and present doubt, a mind that questions and investigates deeply. As the Latin saying goes: Mors certa, hora incerta. Death is certain, only the time of its occurrence is uncertain
Written by Upasaka Fa Huo 

Japanese Poems when life ends!

Gesshu Soko, died January 10, 1696, at age 79
Inhale, exhale
Forward, back
Living, dying:
Arrows, let flown each to each
Meet midway and slice
The void in aimless flight --
Thus I return to the source.

Goku Kyonen, died October 8, 1272, at age 56
The truth embodied in the Buddhas
Of the future, present, past;
The teaching we received from the
Fathers of our faith
Can be found at the tip of my stick.
When Goku felt his death was near, he ordered all his monk-disciples to gather around him. He sat at the pulpit, raised his stick, gave the floor a single tap with it, and said the poem above. When he finished, he raised the stick again, tapped the floor once more, and cried, "See! See!" Then, sitting upright, he died.

Hosshin, 13th century
Coming, all is clear, no doubt about it. Going, all is clear, without a doubt.
What, then, is all?
Hosshin's last word was "Katsu!" (a word signifying the attainment of enlightenment.)

Shoro, died April 1894, at age 80
Pampas grass, now dry,
once bent this way
and that.

Sunao, died in 1926 at 39
Spitting blood
clears up reality
and dream alike.

Senryu, died September 23, 1790, at 73
Bitter winds of winter --
but later, river willow,
open up your buds.

Kozan Ichikyo, died February 12, 1360, at 77
Empty-handed I entered the world
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going --
Two simple happenings
That got entangled.
A few days before his death, Kozan called his pupils together, ordered them to bury him without ceremony, and forbade them to hold services in his memory. He wrote this poem on the morning of his death, laid down his brush and died sitting upright.

Senryu, died June 2, 1827
Like dew drops
on a lotus leaf
I vanish.

Shinsui, died September 9, 1769, at 49
During his last moment, Shisui's followers requested that he write a death poem. He grasped his brush, painted a circle, cast the brush aside, and died.
The circle is one of the most important symbols of Zen Buddhism. It indicates void -- the essence of all things -- and enlightenment.

The poems collected and edited by Yoel Hoffman are part of a centuries-old Japanese tradition in which Zen monks, samurai and others compose poems at the moment of death.