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Buddhadharma : Fall 2013
80 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY FALL 2 0 1 3 So, what is my role in that? Am I per- petuating suffering or working to bring it to cessation? We talk so much about alleviating suffering, and we need to be careful that it doesn’t become abstract. “I vow to alleviate the suffering of all sentient beings.” What suffering beings are we talking about? We’re talking about you and me. We’re talking about every living being. Guishan says, “Water is level, why don’t you use water to level it?” Water moves freely; it’s not fixed. Cool it and it turns to ice; heat it and it turns to gas. When it’s quiet and gentle, its murmur- ings can put a baby to sleep; in its wrath and fury, it can destroy cities and land- scapes. Not being fixed to any state, it can both give life and destroy it. In Daido Roshi’s poem accompany- ing the Main Case, he says that each thing abides in its own dharma state. What is the “water” that Guishan is speaking of? What is it that levels all dif- ferences, equalizes all inequalities, dis- solves all distances? In the Vimalakirti Sutra, the Buddha speaks of the world as a buddha-field, a place of splendor and perfection. He also said that some living beings can’t behold the splendid display of virtues of this buddha-field due to their own ignorance and confu- sion. It’s not that they don’t have the capacity to see it clearly, but rather they aren’t able to see it yet. It’s neither the fault of the world nor the eyes. Hearing this, Shariputra says, “As for me, I see this great Earth with its highs and lows, its thorns, its precipices, its peaks, its abysses.” An elder disciple says, “The fact that you see such a bud- dha-field as this as if it were so impure is a sure sign that there are highs and lows in your mind.” This is true, but our beliefs in those highs and lows are condi- tioned; we weren’t born with them. If we were born with the belief that high and low exist as an absolute truth then we’d be truly imprisoned by it; practice and enlightenment would not be possible. When we free ourselves of our ➤ continued from page 27