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Buddhadharma : Spri 2007
spring 2007| 32 |buddhadharma (Don’t say this is rude!) Obaku understood. He struck the platform again, as if to say, “I under- stand. Great!” Then he left the zendo. Many students of Zen are inclined to make a distinction between fundamental reality and phe- nomenological reality and thus have various inter- pretations of this koan. But as the saying goes, “Walking is zen ... sitting is zen.” There’s no action that is excluded from this practice. In this story, three Zen men simultaneously enjoyed a buji state of mind and expressed themselves in an unconven- tional manner. On an ordinary level, learning and practice are quintessential. The teacher teaches and the stu- dents learn. But here, The Book of Rinzai shows us a different perspective. We can see how these three Zen men are free from dualism and know that good and evil are mere illusions. Examine this within your own practice, and you can transcend being deeply bound by notions of “deep samadhi is good” or “dozing during zazen is evil.” The danger of this particular koan is that begin- ners may think they can do anything, even scold or ignore their teachers. But one can only do so when, through years and years of practice and karma puri- fication, there is no disinction made between dis- comfort and comfort, and the student truly realizes that life and death are in fact inseparable. That’s why, in Isan and Kyozan’s dialogue, Kyozan said both were winners. I would like to add that Obaku must have been happy to see his beloved students both attain the same state of mind as he had. Thus, quite spontaneously, these three men presented the beautiful Zen Mind with a playful spirit. One of the most dangerous delusions we have is the idea that good and evil exist. The Golden Wind From about the middle of September to the middle of October, the color of the leaves around Beecher Lake and Dai Bosatsu Mountain changes from green to yellow and red. This has been true for countless decades. The wind becomes chilly and crisp, and this particular wind is called the Golden Wind. A monk asked Master Ummon, “What will happen when the trees wither and leaves fall?” Ummon replied, “The Golden Wind blows.” In the past, I have spoken on this koan many times, but today I am examining it from a slightly different perspective. It goes without saying that the monk was not asking about trees and leaves in the literal sense. Naturally, he was talking about our state of mind. When we are young, just like the trees in the mountains, we have many green leaves, such as ambition, anxiety, desire, and uncertainty, as well as hopes and dreams. When we experience a certain amount of human life and have confronted difficulties and disappointments one after another, these leaves fall one by one, like the leaves on the trees in the mountains. But when we become almost leafless, amazingly enough, we discover that we still have many hidden leaves, such as attachment, fear of death, regret, and others. Whenever I read this koan, particularly in the autumn, I am compelled to ask myself, can I hon- estly say the Golden Wind blows in my heart? So far the answer is, “Not yet ... not yet.” When will I be able to say the Golden Wind blows in my heart – at any time throughout the year – without experiencing the things I mentioned above? If there is any objective in life, this one is mine. The other day I received an e-mail with a short article about a therapist in Hawaii who had the ability to heal mentally ill prison inmates with- out even seeing them. At first, I was half-believ- ing, half-doubting. But as I continued reading the article, I couldn’t help but agree with this doctor’s methods. The article talked about “total responsibil- ity.” In general, it means that we are ultimately responsible for what we think, speak, and do, and beyond that things are out of our control. We are responsible for what we do, but not what any- one else does. Thus, we live in our own separate, individual worlds, and within these small worlds we cry with sadness and loss and we smile with happiness and gain. But having practiced zazen for almost my entire life, and having experienced many difficult things, such as bitterness, accusations, and unbe- lievable surprises, particularly as a foreigner com- ing to the United States, my personal definition of total responsibility has changed from what I used to think. To me, total responsibility means that everything – literally every single phenomenon inside and outside of my being – is wholly a projec- tion of myself. It is entirely my responsibility when things happen, including witnessing some troubled