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Buddhadharma : Fall 2016
fall 2 0 1 6 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 83 It is never taught that you should cut off an object. When wandering mind arises, it should be noted, not cut off. Only the defilements are to be cut off. First they must be observed, and then cut. This generally means not remaining involved with them. The instruction says: “Bhuta bhutati passato, see existing things as they are.” The instruction does not say, cut things off! However, if wandering mind arises too often or strongly, and you become weary, you may set it aside and contemplate another object. Physical objects should be noted. But one can get wearied of one particular object after some time. If this happens, just put it aside. In general, not- ing objects as and when they occur in the present moment is always best. How do we know when noting is good? When noting is good, objects seem to arise automatically. You don’t feel you have to go looking for them. It is like playing the piano—you reach a stage at which you no longer need advice. Where does this fall in the stages of insight—when the suffering is so intense, the mind lets go of the object and then there is release from suffering, and then it is seen only as a mental and physical process, empty in essence? Some meditators study the stages. Some meditators want to know the answer in advance. In a mathematical formula, is it the formula that is important, or the answer? Listen to the formula, and learn how to make the calculation. Then, do the calculation yourself. An answer given, without having made the calculation yourself, will not be accepted by the teacher. The formula has been given. If you make a personal calculation, this is good. Otherwise you may go wrong and it becomes a Dhamma danger. Is something lacking in a practitioner’s development if they have no questions? Please don’t think that progress depends on whether you have questions or don’t have questions. Knowing the object from moment to moment is what con- stitutes progress. You are not lacking in anything. Taste for yourself tranquility and the other results of meditation practice. Don’t ask questions just to ask—it will interfere. But if you don’t understand something, then by all means ask! The mind becomes clear and calm. If you practice steadily, the noble eightfold path will develop. Then you will no lon- ger need to ask questions. Your question is not a sign of a flaw. If someone offers you food and you ask about its origins, you won’t taste the food. So, continue to eat! In conclusion, I would like to remind you that all of you are in a frontline battle against the defilements. If you don’t fight, you will be overrun by the kilesa (klesha) enemy. Your commander says, “Go out and fight.” adapted from The State of Mind Called Beautiful, wisdom Publications Jakusho Kwong, Abbot Soto Zen Lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi resident training monthly sesshins guest resident practice solo retreats workshops daily meditation rural country setting Genjo-ji 6367 Sonoma Mountain Road Santa Rosa, CA 95404 707.545.8105 firstname.lastname@example.org www.smzc.net SONOMA MOUNTAIN ZEN CENTER