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Buddhadharma : Winter 2007
buddhadharma| 31 |winter 2007 then we’re all ignorant. The ignorant can laugh at me. But the one with insight, with understanding, will understand me.” Wherever we go, we can be the master of our situation. Suppose an older sister or brother is bothering us. We may be tempted to think it’s their fault that we suffer. But we can instead take the initiative and decide that we can help our sibling and ourselves. “You should be sovereign accord- ing to where you find yourself; be the true person wherever you are, not allowing the conditions to pull you away.” Wherever we are, our true self is present. We don’t stand before a crowd pretend- ing to be dignified and then when we’re alone we become forgetful. Rather, whether we’re alone or with others, we’re still our true selves. Whether we’re defecating or giving a dharma talk, we’re the same person. I knew a Thai practitioner who had lost respect for her teacher. When asked why, she told a story about how one day her teacher, after looking around and thinking no one was looking, kicked a dog. Often he was very compassionate, but that day, for whatever reason, he kicked the dog and his student saw this. Perhaps he had something irritat- ing on his mind and therefore he kicked the dog. But the thing that upset the student the most was how, before he kicked the dog, he looked around to see if anybody was watching. If we can be our true selves, then even if in this or a past life we committed one of the five offenses that cause eternal hell—killing father, kill- ing mother, killing an arhat, causing a Buddha to bleed, and causing the sangha to be divided—we will still be liberated. The master taught, “Most of those who study the path of Buddhism in our own time do not understand the dharma. They are like goats who will eat whatever is given them; they cannot distin- guish master from servant, guest from host. People like that enter on the path of practice with the wrong motivation; they are always ready to enter places of noise and disturbance. True monks must have right view in their daily life, which is able to distinguish Buddha from Mara, true from false, sacred from profane. Only when people have this ability can they be called true renouncers of the household life. If they cannot distinguish Mara from Buddha, they just renounce one household in order to enter another. They can be called liv- ing beings who are making karma but not those who have renounced the household. In our own time there is a phenomenon called Buddha-Mara, an entity in which Mara and Buddha cannot be distinguished, like when milk and water are mixed together. It is said that from such a mixture the King of Geese can drink just the milk. My dharma friends with good eyes, according to me, should topple both Buddha and Mara. If they still have the tendency to love the sacred and hate the pro- fane, they will continue to drown in the ocean of birth and death for a long time.” Some Buddhist seekers are like the goat who will eat whatever it comes across. The goat will eat whatever its mouth touches. We study Japanese Zen, we study Tibetan Buddhism, we study the southern transmission, the northern transmission, we study mindfulness, we study Vipassana. We will chew whatever we come across; we have no discernment. Master Linji is referring to a Mahayana story in which even when milk and water had been mixed together, the King of Geese could drink milk and leave the water, even though the two seemed to have become indistinguishable from each other, just like Buddha and Mara. Garbage and flow- ers depend on each other to grow. Night and day depend on each other to establish themselves. This is the wisdom of nondiscrimination. Back to Bright Shining Mind Master Linji taught that each one of us has a bright and shining mind. If we can find our way back to that bright mind, then we can be as the Buddha and the bodhisattvas are. When our shining mind is dulled, that means it’s covered by afflictions. With the practice of mindfulness, we can restore our bright mind. Our mind is a garden, and our garden has been ignored for a long time. The soil is hard, and brambles and wild grasses are grow- ing everywhere. To practice is to come back and care for our garden. We are the gardener, our mind is the earth, and in the soil there are good seeds. Please write these eight words and hang them somewhere you will see them: “Wherever you are, you are your true person.” You can write them on a small piece of paper, the size of a credit card, that you put in your wallet to take out as a reminder. If you can practice these eight words, you are worthy of being Master Linji’s student and his continua- tion. Master Linji taught us that we have to use our bright shining mind to come back to the present moment and enter the world of the ultimate, the realm of the Buddha, the Pure Land. With mind- ful breathing, mindful walking, and gathas (Zen poems that we can memorize and recite silently) to help us come back to our true self, we can be the businessless person with nothing to do but hold the hand of the Buddha and roam. kiMsooja