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Buddhadharma : Fall 2014
FALL 2 0 1 4 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 25 Orientation Sage rulers have always modeled themselves on Emperor Yao. Treating others with propriety, you bend your dragon waist. At times, passing through the thick of the bustling market, you find it civilized throughout and the august dynasty celebrated. This is the first step on our journey. Every- thing lies in front of us. We hear about the Way and recognize that it is for us. Then, perhaps even years later, we embark and begin to find our home there. As we orient ourselves, we begin to see our life through the eyes of the teachings and to identify with them. We sense a mystery that resists explanation, and we turn toward it. Like the discovery of the tracks of the ox in the second of the ten pictures from the Ox-Herding Cycle, we haven’t yet entered the gate, but we’ve discerned the path. As we cultivate inquiry and learn to meditate, we begin to travel it in rever- ence and awe. No Shortcut to Awakening The etymological meaning of the English word orientation is “turning eastward,” imply- ing turning toward the rising sun—an auspicious image that evokes the dawn mood of setting out. When we make a commitment to travel the Way, circumstances most often gather to support us. It is a time of intimations and significant meetings. Sometimes it is hard to tell them apart. I remember when I flew from Perth to Sydney for my first sesshin. I met Robert Aitken in one of the personal interviews he so generously gave to new students before sesshin. We sat on the balcony of the zendo and looked out over the treetops. Neither of us spoke, and I sensed that he was shy. After a long time, and still looking straight ahead, he cleared his throat, then said, “When Kumarajiva translated the sutras into Chinese, he found that there wasn’t a word for the Sanskrit shunyata (emptiness), so he used ku, the Chinese character for sky.” Aitken’s words linked my naive and azure intuitions with the Zen tradition. He then Ross Bolleter guides us through the Cycle of Merit, the ancient Chan master Dongshan’s map showing us the way to enlightenment and back to where we are. (Opposite) Nakazora #1083 PHOTOGRAPHS BY MASAO YAMAMOTO ALLPHOTOGRAPHS©MASAOYAMAMOTO