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Buddhadharma : Winter 2010
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly winter 2 0 10 26 But the practice continues, and in fact it begins there anew. Nonetheless, the word “metamorphosis” does have some value in describing the Zen process. Truly beginning the prac- tice anew, we learn that somehow we have been victims of our own thinking. We find the original ground that underlies thinking, the source of response. In taking this step, the human being does not become an angel, but rather finds affinity with the silent clover. Our metamorphoses, yours and mine, do not change our form, but rather enable us to acknowledge the ancient truth of no-mind. All beings, stones, clouds, trees, and animals (including human animals) come forth as no-mind. However, they dif- fer radically in their responsiveness. The clover nurtures itself and its environment without making distinctions. The pig is hostile at some times, friendly at other times. The porpoise rescues the drowning sailor. Where is the human being in this scheme? Unfulfilled in metamorphosis, the human being is alien, exploiting others by sex, race, class, nation, and species. Fulfilled, we realize and actualize the Net of Indra—with each being nourished by and nourishing all other beings. The root difference between the exploitive and the nurturing paths is made clear in Dogen Zenji’s couplet in the Genjokoan: That the self advances and confirms the myriad things is called delusion; That the myriad things advance and confirm the self is enlightenment. That the nation-state advances and consumes the whole earth with its technology is lethal delusion. That the wilder- ness of honey-creepers, koa forests, and snowy volcanoes advances and inspires your heart is buddhahood. Thus the place of the human being is a matter of choice. We can destroy the gene pool of the earth organism and eliminate all choices, or we can discipline ourselves and find the source of responsibility. That source is the mind of clover. There you are nurtured; there you nurture. Settle there, at least once in your life. Fundamentally, the no-thought of the clover and the no-thought of Shakyamuni are the same. They come forth, and their response to circumstances is to give nourishment. No-thought comes forth here as clover, there as Shakyamuni. Single, universal nature appears like this in the world. We identify clover here and Shakyamuni there, and acknowledge that the two are very different indeed. The clover produces pollen for the bees without a thought; Shakyamuni twirls a flower before his assembly without a thought. But clover can- not call a meeting. Shakyamuni cannot metabolize nutrients directly from the soil. Clover is incapable of not nurturing. It can’t do anything but nurture. Shakyamuni is capable of not nurturing. With a poisonous thought, he is a poisonous person. With an enlight- ened thought, he is an enlightened person. With his great real- ization, he is unlikely to slip back into poisonous ways, but he could, for he is human. “All beings are the Tathagata, ‘‘Shakyamuni said, “but their delusions and attachments keep them from testifying to that fact.” What are delusions and attachments? Poisonous thoughts of greed, hatred, and ignorance. The poison of not nurturing. What are enlightened thoughts? Compassionate ones, suffering with others in response to the “sounds of the world.” Shakyamuni went through a metamorphosis from self- centered thinking to enlightenment: This metamorphosis fulfills the possibilities of essential nature in the human being, just as the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly fulfills its possibilities in the Lepidoptera. What is human metamorphosis? I want to be careful to specify what I mean. With realization, you do not become something else, the way a caterpillar melts inside its cocoon and becomes a butterfly. That kind of analogy creates all kinds of trouble for the Zen student. He or she thinks, “Ah, if only I could have kensho, then all my problems would be solved.” It isn’t so. The human being does not metamorphose into something else. Kensho is a peep into essential nature, a glimpse if a shallow experience, a good look if a deeper one. All beings come forth as no-mind. However, they differ radically in their responsiveness. The clover nurtures itself and its environment without making distinctions. ➤ (Facing page) Aitken Roshi, 1991