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Buddhadharma : Summer 2018
JIRYU RUTSCHMAN-BYLER 37 So after Zhiyi lays out the “sequential development” of the Six Gates, this step-by-step science of breath meditation, he then starts to splash color on it, to mix it up, to trade in the science for art. For example, as noted in the discussion of counting, he invites us to simply take one gate to break all the way through to libera- tion. Just staying in breath counting, for example, one can realize and express the fullest liberation. Alternately, he invites us to use one gate to realize any other one: let the counting fulfill the turning or the stabilizing; let the contemplation realize the counting or the turning. And so on. These practices interpenetrate. They include one another and realize one another. To just see the science is to miss this art, this tangle, this life—the wild garden of meditation. Zhiyi invites us to follow the sequence, or to respond as the “suit- ability” demands, applying whichever gate is appropriate, whichever one best meets the particular person or moment. Or, he suggests, we might bypass the sequence in order to “counteract” any obstruction we may be facing—to pick up counting when our mind is wandering, to follow when we’re drowsy, to stabilize when we’re anxious, and so on. He also invites us to assess what sort of practitioner we are— to reflect on what we intend and what we have realized—and adjust our approach based on that. the Bodhisattva Breathing As a Mahayana Buddhist, Zhiyi also teaches these Six Gates with what he calls a “reversed orientation,” in which he sees the path not as moving away from the world of mud and convention and toward liberation but, rather, as a bodhisattva path, moving from liberation Zhiyi invites us to assess what sort of practitioner we are—to reflect on what we intend and what we have realized—and adjust our approach based on that.