28 November 2010
06 November 2010
Satsang with Robert Adams
'The individual is sentient and cannot be without consciousness. The Self is pure consciousness. Yet man identifies with the body, which is insentient. The insentient body does not say 'I am the body.' Something else says so. The unlimited Self does not say so either. Then who says it? A spurious 'I' which arises between pure consciousness and the insentient body, and which imagines itself limited to the body. Seek this and it will vanish as a phantom. That phantom is the ego or individuality. The present state is mere illusion. Our aim should be simply to remove this illusion."
Thus speaks Ramana Maharshi, one of the great contemporary sages of the Wisdom or Jnani tradition. Robert carries on this tradition, explaining that the world arises with the I-thought, or ego. When we sleep, we are absolute consciousness itself, but do not remember this transcendent state in waking consciousness. In waking consciousness, the I-thought reins, identifies with a body named Fred or Sam or Ed, and projects a world of phenomena, of intrigue, of evolution, of living and dying. But waking consciousness, like the dream state, is an appearance within absolute awareness, which is your real nature. Robert says forget the world, and know that which goes before birth and death. Who will listen to the crazy man that says you do not exist? Only those have given up on the mortal dream and long for rest in the absolute.
Robert’s Satsang ranged from total seriousness to total humor. Yet, the same absolute understanding was always there, sometimes hidden in the joke, sometimes hidden in seriousness. “Who would come,” he said, “if I only spoke the highest truth?” Yet, the highest truth inevitably emerged during Satsang. Rest in yourself. Abide in yourself and all will be revealed. To try to comprehend the Self through the intellect is impossible because mind is only a poor reflection of Self. Speculation will not reveal the Self but obscures the Self. Self is found in utter stillness which is so difficult to find. That is why the presence of a teacher who always abides in the Self is so important. Silence is the beginning and end of true seeking and is enlightenment and Nirvana itself.
R: There is no real purpose for you being alive. Ponder this. There is no special or real purpose for you being alive. What are you here for anyway?
What has man done for this earth? What has mankind achieved even with all its saints and sages? Civilizations have come and gone, and where are we now? We think we are important. Who do we think we are? We are born, we experience many things, we work, make a lot of money perhaps, then we get old and die. So what is the real purpose of all this? There is none.
We are nothing. You have no reason to exist. As a matter of fact, you do not exist. (Laughter) You have never really existed. It is all a cosmic joke. There is no reason for you to be alive and to be here. This may sound like an insult--it is! (More laughter) But it is the truth and the truth hurts.
You may think you are important, that you have come to earth to accomplish great deeds, or to get enlightened. That is not true. The enlightenment is already here and it doesn't need you. You are not wanted by anything or by anybody. (Laughter) You are a complete failure. (Loud laughter)
In truth you do not exist. The illusion of your existence makes you think that you are important, that you are somebody. That is why we talk about being nobody so much; there is no body. Yet, no matter how often I say this, you appear to be real. You appear to have a body. You appear to go to work. You appear to eat and sleep, and believe the illusion is going to continue. But as you know, soon you will be six feet under.
So what good are you? This is why it is important to wake up. Yet, you are never asleep! So who wakes up? Therefore, nothing is important. You think some things are important. So long as you think them important, you give them power, increas ing the power of living in things, making you feel more and more--so called--alive.
The beginning of wisdom is understanding that there is no wisdom. There is no body to have wisdom. The more you try to analyze things, the more you use your brain to function on this plane of existence, the more you put into Maya, into nothing, into illusion, the more that effort is inevitably doomed to failure. All you dreams and aspirations come to nothing. There is nothing you have to become or be.
Think of all the people looking for liberation, for enlightenment. Who wants to be liberated? The ego. There is no ego. (Laughter) There is no one to be liberated. Yet you continue to believe you exist.
Remember, never put lion's milk in a clay pot. (long pause...) So what are you here? You want a teaching. You want a lesson. You want a Mantra. You are looking for a way out. All of this searching and seeking keeps you back. It cannot fulfill you. It does nothing for you. Awakening is a joke. Liberation is a joke. My sitting here talking to you is a joke. There is nothing to be found, nothing to be achieved, nothing to become. You are attached to your mind and its false beliefs.
The so-called mind is constantly judging things to be good or bad, right or wrong, and you react to the judgments creating more problems, attaching you more firmly to the illusion.
Wouldn't it be beautiful if you awoke one morning and realized you do not exist, that you never existed, and that no one exists? There is no existence whatsoever. What role would you have then? As long as you believe you exist, you will defend yourself. You will fight for survival. You will seek wisdom. It is all very funny to me.
Even when I tell you to wake up, there is really no one to wake up. No one has ever gone to sleep. Who sleeps? You may say, "The body sleeps," or "The mind sleeps." But there is no body, there is no mind. There never was. All the teachings you have been through are a waste of time: the struggles, the searching all over the world for teachers, reading scriptures--to what avail? Why do you think you need these things?
All you need do is to understand what I am talking about. Ponder what I say. Then forget it. Do not hold on to thoughts, words, teachings. (A bird sings constantly in the background) The reason the bird sings beautifully is because it doesn't know it is a bird. It has no idea what it is. We give it a name, 'bird.' We give names to everything. These things just are. They are not here, they are not there. They are not good, they are not bad. The same with you. You are not this or that, you just are. There is absolutely nothing you have to do.
Think of all the years you have spent studying. Where will it all lead? You may be altruistic and believe that you are doing good in the world and for its future, but the world has no future. It never did; it never will. Thousands of civilizations have come and gone, even civilizations that have surpassed, in ways, where we are now. They are all gone. What I am saying is that you cannot do good for anybody. Everything is right the way it is. Nothing in this world needs improvement. The improvement idea comes in to your mind, and you try and try, to no avail.
You must know yourself as no-thing, not as something. Always remember, there is absolutely nothing you have to do. This is how you become happy, peaceful. When there is nothing in the mind, happiness increases.
Awaken from this mortal dream. Who has to awaken? Ask yourself. There is no one, no thing to wake up. Can you see why there is really nothing to say? We can play all sorts of games with Mantras and Tantric techniques--for what end? Just know that you are nobody; there is absolutely nothing to do; no one exists. This relieves you of everything. It relieves you of all responsibilities to yourself and to the world.
You will not turn into a vegetable. If you're listening to me correctly, you will do whatever you're doing now but you'll be happier than you've ever been in your life, because you'll realize that it doesn't matter. You'll know there's really nobody doing anything. Most of you will be doing the work that you usually do if you want to do that. You'll appear to be living a human existence, but there's really nobody left to do anything. The doer is gone. There is no doer. The doer has been completely wiped out.
Some of you still believe that if you become this way you'll become so sarcastic and belligerent, you'll not care, or be loving and kind, but this is not true. On the contrary, as you drop everything, as you let go of all your preconceived ideas, your dogmas, as you forget all of your rituals and all the things you've been doing all your life, what we call love begins to function as you. What we call compassion begins to function as you. Living kindness, peace--these attributes will automatically take over, for you've lost all fear. When you've lost all fear for existence, love automatically takes over.
As long as you fear existence and you think something's wrong somewhere, the mind creates all kinds of images and you have to go out and defend yourself.
It's time to play, stump the guru. (Referring to the question and answer period following Robert's talk)
Q: You have said that we are creating the dream, both sleeping and waking. In the past 24 hours I have started to live that, not just know it intellectually and really see that everyone in my life is really me. It is totally freeing. Thank you.
R: You're welcome. That's not a stumper. Next case.
Q: When you refer to the entire universe as disappearing when one is asleep, don't you mean for him or her only? Another person could walk in and see you sleeping, maybe a cat. The same universe that the one who is sleeping witnessed or created. Any comments?
R: How do you know this is happening when you are asleep? When you are asleep you are not aware of anything. There is no universe. You saying that there may be a cat who comes in or someone may come in and observe you sleeping, that life is
going on while you're sleeping. You don't know this. Somebody may tell you they came in when you were asleep, but that apparent person tells you that in waking consciousness, which is its own kind of dreamworld. Would you let dream people to tell you what was really going on in your waking world?
Who is there to say that while you're sleeping this is happening? When you are in a sound sleep, as far as you're concerned you are dead. There is no universe. You are out of it completely. The cat who walks in or the person who walks in does not exist as far as you're concerned. You are lost to this world when you are asleep. This is the way death appears to be. When you decide to leave your body, people are still doing things, but it has absolutely nothing to do with you.
Everything is your dream. In deep sleep you are in between dreams and there is nothing happening for you. During dreams you create new worlds with all kinds of people and situations. When you wake up to this world, it appears real to you. When you go to sleep again, you do not dream nor are you awake to this world. Both are gone. Neither exists nor have they ever existed.
The difference between the sage and the average person is that for the sage there is no dream going on in either world. There is no dream world; there is no waking world, which is also a dream world. The sage sees this clearly--there is only the One and nothing else. You have this experience every night when you go into deep sleep; but you are not awake to the deep sleep. The sage is awake to the deep sleep state, the fourth state. The waking and dream states are both unreal. In deep sleep you are in the fourth state, the primary consciousness, but you are not aware of it. The sage is always aware of that state no matter what state appears superimposed on it. That is why it is said the Jnani sleeps the living dream.
(Editor's note) Ramana Maharshi's response to a similar question:
"The sleep, dream and waking states are mere phenomenon appearing on the Self, which is stationary as simple awareness. The waking state is perceived to be full of beautiful and interesting things, the absence of which makes one think sleep is dull. What you consider a world fil led with interesting things is the dull and ignorant state of sleep to the Jnani. The wise one is wide awake where just darkness rules for others."
"There is continuity of Being in all three states, but not of the individu al and the objects. That which is continuous endures; that which is discontinuous is transitory. Therefore the state of Being is permanent, whereas the body and world are not."
Q: Could you talk about the importance of a teacher for self-realization, and how the relationship between teacher and student works?
R: The teacher is really yourself. You have created a teacher to wake you up. The teacher would not be here if you were not dreaming about the teacher. You have created a teacher out of your mind in order to awaken to see there is no teacher, no world, no God--nothing. You have done this all by yourself, congratulations!
This is your dream. You have a teacher in front of you, explaining all these things to you saying you have to awaken sooner or later. If you go further, you will see, in truth, you are already awake, then all the rest will disappear.
While this is going on there is a relationship between the student and the teacher. You are playing a game you created yourself. You create a teacher to wake you up; but you are already awake and do not know it. A teacher gives you teachings, gives you grace, and lets you understand you are already awake and in peace. In return you take care of the teacher. It is a reciprocal game. It is your game, it is your dream. Therefore waken now and be free.
05 November 2010
By Gudo Wafu Nishijima (translated by Brad Warner)
I was asked to contribute something to a collection of articles about the famous Zen koan "Mu" or "No." One of the fundamental tenets of Buddhism is that everything has the Buddha Nature. But in this story a famous Zen master seems to deny this idea. In order to begin writing my own commentary about this story, I decided to translate my own teacher's comments about it. The koan "Mu" is famous as the traditional beginner's koan in the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. The Soto sect also teaches about the koan "Mu," but in an altogether different way. In this short piece Nishijima explains the fundamental difference in approach. This is the first part of a very short book Nishijima put together last year (2004) commenting upon twelve of the koans in the Rinzai koan collection Mumonkan or "The Gateless Gate." Take it away Nishijima Sensei...
At one time a monk asked Master Joshu, “Does a dog have Buddha Nature or not?” Master Joshu answered, “No.”
In the chapter of Shobogenzo titled Bussho or “Buddha Nature” Master Dogen talks about the meaning of this word “no” as it relates to a conversation between the fifth and sixth patriarchs. He says, “This ‘no’ is not the ‘no’ of ‘have’ or ‘have not.’ It is the no of no no.”
The no of no no is a way of expression that we do not often hear. The no of no no means that even no is denied.
In other words, this is not the kind of no which we conceive in our brains as the conclusion to the question of whether something exists or not. The meaning of no as it is used here does not require any kind of thinking at all.
In regards to this koan there is no shortage of explanations that this “no” represents the no of no in other words the absolute no, or that it represents the absolute void, or that it’s something that cannot possibly be understood, or other similar nonsense which even those who spout it don’t seem to understand.
But by slandering the Buddha’s truth with such nonsense, people who put out these kinds of explanations are really just floundering in the darkness, not knowing what is what and tasting the miseries of Hell.
In the chapter of Shobogenzo titled “Sutra of Mountains and Water” Master Dogen says that any koan has a superb theoretical meaning. The purpose of the koan stories is to make difficult points of Buddhist philosophy clear by using a concrete example. The tendency among many Chinese monks to view the koans as some kind of riddle whose original meaning was impenetrable was something Master Dogen scoffed at.
A dog which exists before your eyes is most certainly a dog. There is nothing extra added to that dog. And there is nothing lacking in the dog either, nothing apart from itself that it needs in order to be what it is — a dog. A dog is a dog. Joshu understood that to theorize about whether a dog has Buddha nature or not is just adding something extra. When dealing with any koan it is necessary to read it in this way on the basis of Buddhist philosophy.
I am an old monk of over 70 years who has spent the past fifty or more years studying Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo. Therefore I am an amateur when it comes to the koans included in Mumonkan and I have some misgivings. But on the basis of the Buddhist philosophy which I have absorbed through long years of studying Shobogenzo, there is no room for doubt about the meaning of this koan. With such meaning in mind, I would like to proceed with the reading of some of the other koans in the collection.
Here are Master Dogen's comments on this koan as presented in the Bussho chapter of Sobogenzo referred to in the text above. The following translation is by Gudo Nishijima and Chodo Cross. This part can be found on page 29 of volume two.
A monk asks Great Master Shinsai of Joshu, “Does even a dog have the Buddha-nature or not?”
We should clarify the meaning of this question. “A dog” is a dog. The question does not ask whether the Buddha-nature can or cannot exist in the dog; it asks whether even an iron man learns the truth. To happen upon such a poison hand may be a matter for deep regret, and at the same time the scene recalls the meeting, after thirty years, with half a sacred person.
Joshu says, “It is without.” When we hear this expression, there are concrete paths by which to learn it: the “being without” with which the Buddha-nature describes itself may be expressed like this; the “not having” which describes the dog itself may be expressed like this; and “there is nothing,” as exclaimed by an onlooker, may be expressed like this. There may come a day when this “being without” becomes merely the grinding away of a stone.
The monk says, “All living beings totally have the Buddha-nature. Why is the dog without?” The intention here is as follows: “If all living beings did not exist, then the Buddha-nature would not exist and the dog would not exist. How about this point? Why should the dog’s Buddha-nature depend on ‘non-existence.’?”
Joshu says, “Because it has karmic consciousness.” The intention of this expression is that even though the reason it exists is karmic consciousness and to have karmic consciousness is the reason it exists, the dog is without anything, and the Buddha-nature is without anything. Karmic consciousness never understands intellectually what the dog is, so how could the dog meet the Buddha-nature? Whether we cast away duality or take up both sides, the state is just the constant working of karmic consciousness.
A monk asks Joshu, “Does the Buddha-nature exist even in a dog or not?”
This question may be the fact that this monk is able to stand up to Joshu. Thus, assertions and questions about the Buddha-nature are the everyday tea and meals of Buddhist patriarchs. Joshu says, “It exists.” The situation of this “It exists” is beyond the “existence” of scholastic commentary teachers and the like, and beyond the dogmatic “existence” of the Existence School. We should move ahead and learn the Buddha’s Existence. The Buddha’s Existence is Joshu’s “It exists.” Joshu’s “it exists” is “the dog exists,” and “the dog exists” is “the Buddha-nature exists.”
The monk says, “It exists already—then why does it forcibly enter this concrete bag of skin?” This monk’s expression of the truth poses the question of whether it is present existence, whether it is past existence, or whether it is Existence already; and although Existence already resembles the other “existences,” Existence already clearly stands alone. Does Existence already need to force its way in? Or does Existence already not need to force its way in? The action of forcibly entering this concrete bag of skin does not accommodate idle heedless consideration.
Joshu says, “Because it knowingly commits a deliberate violation!” As a secular saying these words have long since spread through the streets, but now they are Joshu’s expression of the truth. What they discuss is deliberate violation. Those who do not doubt this expression of the truth may be few. The present word “enter” is difficult to understand; at the same time, the word “enter” is itself unnecessary. Moreover, If we want to know the immortal person in the hut, How could we depart from this concrete skin-bag here and now? Even if the immortal person is anyone, at what moment is it [necessary to say] “Do not depart from your skin-bag!”? A deliberate violation is not always entry into a skin bag, and to have forcibly entered a concrete skin bag is not always to knowingly commit a deliberate violation. Because of knowing, there can be deliberate violation. Remember, this deliberate violation may contain the action of getting free of the body—this is expressed as “forcibly entering.” The action of getting free of the body, at just the moment of containment, contains self and contains other people. At the same time, never complain that it is impossible to avoid being a person before a donkey and behind a horse. Still more, the founding Patriarch Ungo says, “Even to have learned matters on the periphery of the Buddha-Dharma is to have adopted a mistaken approach already.” That being so, although we have been making the mistake for a long time—which has deepened into days and deepened into months—of half-learning matters on the periphery of the Buddha-Dharma, this may be the state of the dog that has forcibly entered a concrete skin bag. Though it knowingly commits a deliberate violation, it has the Buddha-nature.