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Buddhadharma : Fall 2005
fall 2005| 62 |buddhadharma and silence. As Rinpoche said, and as our won- derful Zen teachers have told us over and over throughout the centuries, if you strive for some- thing, if you try to become Buddha, you push that unformulated realm away. Just effort. Just deep motivation for the happiness of all beings. Just liberative intention. There are many, many ways to practice. We have a tendency to think that one way, one lan- guage, one culture, or one particular set of instruc- tions is better than the others. I have been training in Rinzai Zen for many years, and the more I sit, the more deeply grateful I am for my own tradi- tion, and simultaneously, for all manifestations of Buddha’s teachings throughout space and time. To invite lamas to give an empowerment ceremony in our zendo does not mean that we find our Rinzai Zen way insufficient in any way – quite the oppo- site. To enter into the Buddha’s teachings fully and directly as they come to us, with gratitude, is to drop the compulsion to categorize that comes from suspicious mind: the anxiety-burdened, opin- ion-encrusted mind that refuses to trust in what the present moment brings, just as it is. There’s an important distinction between sus- picious mind and great doubt. Suspicious mind is the product of an unexamined assumption that everything can be understood and explained if we just find the right diagrams, the correct formu- las, and keep narrowing things down to the most minute parts of quarks. It’s what we’ve inherited from the Age of Reason, also called the Age of Enlightenment, which of course brought mirac- ulous scientific breakthroughs, but also, in its abhorrence of anything it deemed superstitious, a kind of spiritual breakdown. Now we’re living in the Age of Post-Enlightenment, to play on the term Post-Modernism. Scientists have found that the further they go, the more they don’t know; physics has arrived at the doorstep of great doubt, the heart of Buddha’s teachings: no realm of for- mulations. Suspicious mind is locked-up mind; dogmatic mind is also captive mind. So many problems occur because we have some limited view of how things should be, of what we need, of what prac- tice is. But this looking for what we need keeps us from receiving what is always being given. When we offer ourselves, when we truly give ourselves to our practice, we experience empower- ment, simultaneously of ourselves and all beings. And we realize that this is just the beginning, the entryway to real daily practice, which is to be awake to every moment of our precious lives. At every moment, as we know, we are offered the opportunity to be lazy, to fall into old habits, to be held hostage by the illusion of a separate self with all its attendant requirements and defense systems. It takes a lot of work, doesn’t it? There’s no scenic overlook. Faith is generated out of assiduous practice. Practice flows naturally from faith. Trust prac- tice; practice trust. It is not a matter of follow- ing one or another school of Zen or Vajrayana or Theravada – it’s just being what we are, this bud- dhanature, revealing right here, right now, in this very body, this very place. Dogen Zenji, in one of my favorite passages from the Shobogenzo, “Life-Death” (translated by my teacher, Eido T. Shimano Roshi), said: “Free body-mind and abandon it. Throw yourself into the house of the Buddha. Let him initiate you and simply follow him effortlessly, without anxiety. Then, you can be free from samsara and become a Buddha.” Throw yourself into the house of the Buddha! Whenever something comes up in your life – some circumstance that brings inner cries of “I can’t! I’m afraid! I don’t know what to do!” – immediately throw yourself into the house of the Buddha. This is effortless effort. “Let him initiate you.” Where is this initiation coming from? Buddha is not some- where else outside the difficult circumstance. Right here, in the midst of samsara, is Buddha, initiat- ing us all. “Simply follow him effortlessly, without anxiety. Then, you can be free from samsara and become a Buddha.” This is empowerment. Then you are no longer enslaved by what you thought reality was. Then you understand Hakuin’s “Sentient beings are primarily all buddhas,” are all beings, all phenomena, right here, right now! You simply are a true buddha. Next Dogen asks, “Can anyone resist doing so?” And you may be thinking, “Yeah, me,” because you are so well trained in the suspicious mind of the Age of Reason. So then he tells us, there is a very easy way to become a buddha: Refrain from all evil. Don’t cling to samsara. Have deep compassion for all beings. Show a reverential heart toward elders. Be kind to the young. Don’t dislike the myriad things. Keep your mind free of desire, judgment, and anxiety. Then, you will be called a Buddha. Seek no more. Quotations from Rinzai are from The Book of Rinzai: The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Rinzai, by Eido T. Shimano Roshi (Zen Studies Society, 2005). Selections from the Diamond Sutra are from Three Sutras for Chanting and Recitation (Zen Studies Society, 2001). The quotation from Dogen is from “Life-Death,” in Shobogenzo, translated from the Japanese and annotated by Eido T. Shimano Roshi and Charles Vacher (Encre Marine, 1999).