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Buddhadharma : Fall 2017
fall 2017 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 63 enlightenment Sometimes ideas of metaphysical emptiness can actually be harmful. If you start focusing on how the damage of drinking—and the people damaged by your drinking—are empty of inherent existence, you could develop a rationale for continuing to drink. So the teaching on metaphysical emptiness wouldn’t seem to pass the Buddha’s own test for wisdom. The irony here is that the idea of emptiness as lack of inherent existence has very little to do with what the Buddha himself said about emptiness. His teach- ings on emptiness—as reported in the earliest Buddhist texts, the Pali Canon— deal directly with actions and their results, with issues of pleasure and pain. To understand and experience emptiness in line with these teachings requires not philosophical sophistication but the personal integrity of being willing to admit the actual motivations behind your actions and the actual benefits and harm they cause. Winter 2006 Becoming the Mountains and Rivers by John Daido Loori Roshi In Genjokoan, Dogen says, “No trace of enlightenment remains and this trace- less enlightenment continues endlessly.” We call this endless activity “filling a well with snow,” the seemingly inane occupation of the ancient sages. No one can tell whether they’re sages or whether they’re crazy, whether they’re ordinary or holy. One of them gathers a few others and they all climb the mountain to get to the snow-capped peaks. They fill their buckets with snow and carry them down and throw the snow into the well, trying to fill it. Of course, filling the well with snow is impossible. Yet they do it, trip after trip, day after day. It is like the four bodhisattva vows that all Zen practitioners make each night: Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to save them. Desires are inexhaustible; I vow to put an end to them. The dharmas are boundless; I vow to master them. The Buddha Way is unattainable; I vow to attain it. It is impossible to save numberless beings, yet we vow to do it. It’s impossible to exhaust inexhaustible desires; impossible to master infinite dharmas; impossible to attain the unattainable. Impossible, yet we’ll do it. Fall 2008 (Opposite) Photo by Meredith Farmer