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Buddhadharma : Spring 2016
54 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 1 6 KOKyO heNKel trained for twenty years at Tassajara and green gulch, as well as in Japan. he now serves as the head teacher at Santa cruz Zen center. To illustrate these four kinds of mystical commu- nion between buddhas and sentient beings, Hakuun Yasutani Roshi told a true story: A Japanese man, who was nominally Buddhist but didn’t really know anything about Buddhist practice, decided to visit a Zen temple with his daughter to enjoy the beauti- ful gardens. His daughter was sick with the flu, and he thought it would be a peaceful place to walk around, maybe good for his daughter’s health. They did walk around the gardens, and they were beauti- ful and serene. This is an example of imperceptible inquiry and imperceptible response. Since their spirits were uplifted by the walk, they decided to stop in and visit the abbot, who served them tea. As the father and daughter were leaving, the abbot offered them a small sutra book, the kind of free distribution book that is sometimes given to anyone who comes for tea in Asian temples, a little souvenir of their visit. The man didn’t think any- thing of it, and when he got home he put the sutra book on his family’s home altar. This is a kind of imperceptible inquiry and perceptible response: a book of Buddha’s teachings entered this man’s home without him consciously looking for such a thing. A few years later, the man was relaxing one afternoon and happened to be looking at the altar. “What’s that up there?” he thought. “Oh yes, it’s that sutra book that a Zen teacher gave me a while back. I’ve never opened it.” He picked it up and opened it randomly to some words of the Buddha about cause and effect. “Actually, this is pretty interesting,” he thought. “I’ve never heard this kind of thing before.” The Buddha’s words struck him in a new way, so he thought he might look more into such things. He went to a bookstore, picked up another sutra and read it, but he still was not receiving direct guidance from a living teacher and wasn’t sure exactly what the dharma was really The buddhanature station is always sending out radio waves, but if we’re not tuned in we don’t hear the music. with inconceivable buddhanature—“small mind” resonating with “big mind.” Mystical communion can also apply to the relationship of student and teacher. If a student in dokusan says, “Everything is going just fine, I don’t have anything particular to bring up today,” then the teacher can’t do much with that. She might just respond, “Alright, well have a nice day,” and the meeting is over. However, it’s different if the student says, “I’m really struggling, I have some embarrass- ing things to confess. I’m just going to put the issue out there because I trust you won’t scorn me.” The student puts it out there and the teacher doesn’t scorn him. Instead the response is “I understand, I really empathize, I’m with you.” In such a meet- ing we feel met, but if we don’t express ourselves straightforwardly, then the meeting may seem not to have happened at all. Zhiyi, one of the ancient Chinese founders of the Tiantai School, spoke directly of mystical com- munion. “The water does not rise up, nor does the moon come down, yet in a single moment the one moon manifests in all bodies of water,” taught Zhiyi. “Buddha does not come, and sentient beings do not go to buddha, yet they meet through the person’s inquiry and the buddha’s response. This is subtle mystical communion.” According to Zhiyi, there are four types of relationships between inquiry or receptivity of people and the response of buddha: imperceptible inquiry and imperceptible response; imperceptible inquiry and perceptible response; perceptible inquiry and imperceptible response; and perceptible inquiry and perceptible response. AUthor’SportrAit|SoUrcEUNkNowN