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Buddhadharma : Winter 2011
63 WINTER 2 01 1 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY At the three-tiered Dragon Gate, where the waves are high, fish become dragons THIS LINE is from Setcho’s poem to the seventh case of the Blue Cliff Record, “Echo Asks about Buddha.” In March, when the peach flowers begin blooming, the carp gather at the bottom of the three falls on the Yellow River known as the Dragon Gate. Legend says that those that are able to jump to the top of the falls become dragons. After training hard for six years and setting everything aside to actualize life energy directly, the Buddha saw the morning star and knew himself as that very star, with no separation between inside and outside. If we, with all of our delusions and flawed ways, can completely pass back up that waterfall, our habits of thinking and presuming are swept away, and we become a dragon that can fly through the sky. Losing obstructions, we gain our freedom. To pierce through conceptual thinking and mental baggage, we clarify our being with the same effort and determination used by the carp to ascend the falls. When we put everything on the line, we know the state of mind of the Buddha. Some people can’t understand why it is essential to follow all the way through to the end. Those who have done so don’t look different on the outside; what changes is how they function and live. Saying that we’re going to die anyway, that awakening won’t change whether we get hungry or stop world crises, is to deny that truth. People who can’t see the value of refining their state of mind will forever be at the mercy of their body and its needs, tossed by emotions and thoughts. Each person who awakens can enable and guide others to awaken as well, just as the Buddha’s enlightenment still influences the enlightenment of others today. But while the Buddha’s awakening has been kept alive for 2,500 years, if no one continues this work, there won’t be anyone left to tell future generations about it. No matter how many words and records are left behind, those who have not realized buddhanature directly won’t be able to touch its deep truth. Because of this, the awakening of each person is essential. From Moon by the Window: The Calligraphy and Zen Insights of Shodo Harada, published by Wisdom Publications, 2011.