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Buddhadharma : Winter 2010
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly winter 2 0 10 28 The way is clear in the clover-mind. Self and other are one mind (call it no-mind if you like), the mind of “mountains, rivers, and the great earth, the sun, the moon, and the stars.” This is the mind that advances as the song of the cardinal or the scent of incense and confirms the essential self, you and me. This is the mature human experience. We find here our commonality with the pig at its friendliest and with the porpoise that pushes the exhausted swimmer ashore. We find our commonality with the Buddha preaching to his friends at Varanasi, and with Gyogi Bosatsu as he dug waterways for peasants in old Japan. What, you may ask, about “Nature, red in tooth and claw?” Isn’t that also the Tao? What about Blake’s “Tiger, tiger, burning bright?” Aren’t ferocity and blood-thirst the mind, just like mountains and rivers? Of course. Universal symbiosis involves the constant absorption of beings by other beings. The bloodstream in your body is such a system in miniature. You may feel that somehow a big tiger is more violent than a little white corpuscle, but essen- tially both are living out their lives in harmony with the great, dynamic intraplay of the cosmos. Moreover, we can learn from the tiger. First, for all her vio- lence, the tiger does not threaten the ecosystem as we human beings do. Second, during long periods in her life, the tiger is at rest. She nuzzles her mate, nurtures her cubs, and naps more than other creatures. Now the tiger is violent, now she is at rest. What is the quality of that rest? She is ready to act, of course, but in that readiness, she is completely relaxed. Reflect upon human rest, as you watch her, lying there so comfortably. The human being who has not evolved beyond selfishness has no rest. Rather there is something the Buddha called delu- sion and attachment that permits a continuation of strong feelings. At its extreme, appetite becomes insatiable greed, anger becomes unrelenting hatred, and a weak personal image induces defensive scheming. Most of us are more moderate, but to some degree we all know this constant stream of emo- tionally charged thinking, and we have no peace, not even in our sleep. Why should people be afflicted in such a way? This is a key question, one that the Buddha asked. I think that suffering is process. Just as the caterpillar suffers its change, so must we. The same drive that brings the caterpillar out to feed on hibiscus leaves turns it to spinning its cocoon. The same drive that fuels the three poisons in the human being matures in realization of mind. This is the human drive toward peace and unity, but unless it is correctly understood it becomes destructive. If you fool- ishly seek peace through alcohol, you end up sedating your- self, harming your body, and destroying what peace there may be in your family. If you seek unity in the universe through a multinational corporation, the unity you achieve is your greed with that of many others. The search for peace and unity is correctly the search for realization of the empty, infinite self and the empty, infinite universe—free of concepts, with all things appearing as their own reason. The long campaign for this realization draws on human racial memory, which in the present stage of evolution is minutely articulate compared to that of other animals. The genes that give humans potential for skills and communication are different from the DNA strands that permit the beaver to build his dam and announce danger with his tail. The beaver must go on making dams in the same way he has done for centuries, but human beings can make dams with more and more refinement in technology. This sets up problems. We can destroy the earth with our dams. We can annihilate four and a half billion years of earth history with our bombs, and also extinguish the future of the earth, which extends ahead potentially for another almost endlessly long period of time. No other being can do that. Thus we have a special responsibility to complete the human metamorphosis—to bring the mind of clover to con- scious awareness. In touch with that mind, we come forth as mature human beings, realizing that all things are this very self. Such realization is not wishy-washy. I realize that others are not separate from myself, but if someone very powerful and very reactionary confronts me, I also know very well that he regards me as his antagonist. It is my responsibility to acknowledge his strength within the set we establish and to use it to convey the dharma, just as a judo expert uses the thrust of his opposite. This is similar to the mondo, the dialogue of Zen teacher and student, and involves ➤ The human being who has not evolved beyond selfishness has no rest. To some degree we all know this constant stream of emotionally charged thinking, and we have no peace, not even in our sleep.