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Buddhadharma : Fall 2014
FALL 2014 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 79 time. Imagine a block of stone a cubic mile in volume. Every century a swallow flies over the stone, brushing against it with the tip of its wing. When the block has been worn away by these caresses, not even one kalpa will have elapsed! So that everything can breathe again, Dongshan consigns the Cycle of Merit to this timeless vastness. “In the vast- ness of the empty kalpa there is no one who knows.” This line empties out time, knowing, and the stages of the Way. However, this doesn’t mean “abandon all hope.” It’s just that, having walked the darkling path into not-knowing, we are so sunk in emptiness that we are it, and we have forgotten even that. It is important not to attach to the five stages of the Cycle of Merit as modes of knowledge. This is the main thrust of Dongshan’s final verse. If you attach to the stages as knowledge, you cash out the spirit of the Way. Having climbed the ladder, we kick it away. We step beyond knowing and not- knowing, and even beyond forgetting. Emptiness and all its modes of expres- sion are empty. The final verse encodes its own release, and ours. Even as their beauty and profundity entrance us, we learn the modes and stages, realize them, embody them, and finally forget them. In light of this, if there is no one who knows, why would we go to the South to interview the fifty-three sages? Why go to the South to interview the fifty-three sages? Here Dongshan refers to the Avatam- saka Sutra, alluding to the journey of the pilgrim Sudhana, who engaged fifty-three teachers of the Way. After the long pilgrimage from orientation to commitment, from commitment to per- sonal awakening, from personal awak- ening to enlightenment in common, and from enlightenment in common to supreme awakening, the conclusion of the final stage is very quiet—“Why go to the South to interview the fifty-three sages?”—wordlessly conveying the Way beyond questions and answers. 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 SubScriber ServiceS Subscribe • Renew Pay an invoice • Give a Gift Purchase back issues Change your address Inquire about a subscription Replace a missing issue Online easy, quick, and secure Visit Subscriber Services at www.shambhalasun.com or www.thebuddhadharma.com Call toll-fRee 11:30 am – 8 pm et weekdays 1-877-786-1950 overseas: 01-760-317-2362 fax: 1-760-738-4805 email: email@example.com or thebuddhadharma.com Mail: Po Box 469095, escondido, Ca 92046–9095 Privacy notice: Subscribers may receive offers from organizations we believe may be of interest to our readers. Contact us if you wish to be excluded from such mailings. Shambhala Sun Foundation An independent, nonprofit corporation. Publishers of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly.