Monday, July 20, 2009
Hyōbong Hangnŭl (1888~1966)
Prior to becoming a monk Sŏn Master Hyōbong was appointed as a Judge by the Japanese Occupying forces; however, he left his position after sentencing several Korean independence fighters to death according to the Japanese Law he was supposed to uphold. He told no one of this decision; he just left and survived by selling toffee in rural villages. He later ordained under Sŏktu Sunim as a monk in the Jogye Order. Applying himself with lionhearted devotion, he earned the nickname of “stone mortar master.” Sŏn Master Hyōbong served as the head of the Jogye Order in Korea in this later life.
Hyōbong Sŏnsa was a Dharma Brother of Kōbong Sŏnsa and spent time teaching Seung Sahn Sŏnsa in his early days as a monk. Hyōbong was highly respected by all the monks in Korea for his steadfast devotion to the Dharma. Hyōbong’s only Dharma Heir was Kusan Sŏnsa who taught many Westerners at his temple in Korea.
December 8, 1948, at Haein-sa monastery
Ascending the dharma platform and taking his seat, Hyōbong Sŏnsa said, “Over the last two thousand five hundred years, there have been many who criticized the Buddha but few who praised him; the only one in the past who did so was Chán Master Yunmen; however, today this mountain monk is about to praise the Buddha.”
He recited this poem:
What thought did he needlessly arouse
about entering the snowy mountains?
Sitting quietly for six years,
what did he accomplish?
It is said that he awakened to the Dao
at the sight of the morning star,
but what is the Dao
and what also is awakening?
“The Buddha is a crazy thief who has sullied the pure and clear dharma realm, as well as a sinner who has fallen into the sea of the suffering of birth and death. The reason I say this is because the dharma realm is originally pure, clear, and impartial; so why did he speak of the distinctions between the six destinies of rebirth? All sentient beings enter supreme nirvana, so why did he speak about the dharma of transmigrating through birth and death, which prompts sentient beings to arouse doubts in their own minds!”
He recited another poem:
Taking seven steps
in the four cardinal direction
began the Buddha’s transgressions,
attaining Nirvana in the twin Sala grove
ended his transgressions.
His transgressions have been
irredeemable since the distant past,
where will he be able to repent?
He paused for a while and then said,
Today, this mountain monk
will repent on the Buddha’s behalf
before this assembly.
Will the assembly accept it
and forgive him?
He paused again for a moment and said,
the transgressive karmic fruit
of the Buddha have now vanished.
He continued, “Generally speaking, if practitioners who are cultivating the Way simply calm their restless minds moment (kşana) by moment, right away they will be connected to the Buddhas and patriarchs. Does the assembly in fact know the Buddhas and patriarchs? That which, right before your very eyes, hears the dharma is in fact the Buddhas and patriarchs, but practitioners of the Way often resist believing it. Hence, if one seeks [the Buddhas and patriarchs] outside oneself, he will not attain it in the end.”
The three worlds
are like a burning house
where one cannot abide for long,
The evil spirit of impermanence,
moment after moment,
between noble and humble,
young or old.
“In order to avoid the invasion of this evil spirit, more than anything one must first find the Buddha. Where is the Buddha? This assembly’s one thought of pure and clear radiance is exactly the Dharma-body Buddha (Dharmakaya-Buddha) in your ancestral dharma hall; one thought of this body being free from discrimination is exactly the reward-body of the Buddha (Sambhogakaya-Buddha) in your ancestral dharma hall; one thought of acting with the wisdom that is free from contaminants is exactly the Transformation-body Buddha (Nirmanakaya-Buddha) in your ancestral dharma hall.”
“Commentators consider these three Buddhas to be the most precise standards, but this mountain monk’s view is different. In my view, they are like wanderers who have left their homes; the numinous enlightenment and sublime enlightenment (of the Buddhas) are like a person in bondage; ‘voice-hearers’ [sravakas] and ‘solitary realizers’ [pratyekabuddhas] are like turds in an outhouse; bodhi and nirvana are like a blind man’s mirror. Because ordinary practitioners do not awaken to the emptiness of the three asamkhyeyakalpas [infinite eons], they are subject to such obstructions, but this is not the case with the true sages. At the moment a thought arises, there never is a thought present: They eat and put on their clothes as they may, come and go as they may, and sit or lie down as they may; at any time or place, they manifest themselves in only one way. Furthermore, they do not even have a thought of seeking the Buddha. Therefore, if you try to seek the Buddha, you only become entangled by the Buddha; if you try to seek the patriarchs, you become entangled by the patriarchs. Seeking is nothing but suffering, which is worse than if one had not sought anything at all.”
He recited a poem:
one may have,
Make it difficult
to become a person
If one suddenly forgets
all things at once,
There will be
no final eight days
in the last month of the year.
He raised his staff, struck the platform once, and said: Today, there are many in this dharma assembly who have been listening to the dharma, but only one person among them will gain benefit. I ask you, who is this person? KATZ!
He then descended from the dharma platform.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Losing my Religion. This is REM's masterpiece. It maps on to our Buddhist Practice, it is an exploration of finding and then losing the insight of wonder. This is the processs of discovery and in the process of discovery we lose our insight. He said "too much" and he hasn't "said enough" this is it. Just a dream. God Bless All.
Doloroes O'Riordan delivers a spectactular performance of this song which on the surface may not seem as significant as it is. My mom was born in Dalkey, a suburb of Dublin in 1929; it was in this era that the evolution of nationalism was born. Irish Catholics, under the guise of Irish Nationalism; were fighting with British Protestants, under the guise of British Nationalism. This dichotomy of existience gave birth to the terrorism that we know today. Car bombings, people sacrificing themselves for their beliefs; this all was given birth by the Irish Republican Army and the resistence that formed the Britsh Reform in Ireland (Erie). This song in many ways reminds of the later song "Losing My Religion" by REM.
I can say that these lyrics are haunting and cause me to reflect on the stories told to my by my sweet and deceased mother who lived this insantiy in a world considered sane by Western Standards.
The Cranberries are an Irish rock band formed in Limerick in 1990 under the name The Cranberry Saw Us, later changed by vocalist Dolores O'Riordan. Although widely associated with alternative rock, the band's sound also incorporates indie, indie pop, rock, post-punk and pop rock elements.
Doloroes O'Riordan's voice is so similar to my mother's voice, that anytime I listen to any of these songs I feel a deep connection to my Irish Roots. It is a primal thing, something I don't believe we have any control over.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
by Steven Heine
A thoughtful examination of Dylan’s oeuvre through the lens of Buddhism
In Bargainin', Heine, who is Professor of Religion and History and Director of the Institute for Asian Studies at Florida International University, interprets the oeuvre of Dylan's career through a Zen Buddhist perspective and includes but digs much, much deeper than Dylan's obvious Buddhist influences -- the references in songs and interviews, his travels to Japan, his kinship with Allen Ginsberg and other Beat writers who were involved in Zen practice -- by presenting Dylan's entire career trajectory as a demonstration of attainment of the "Middle Way" in Buddhist teaching, or the avoidance of all extremes and the refraining from opposing positions.
One of the mysteries of Bob Dylan’s incredible corpus is why he seems to veer and zigzag so drastically and dramatically from one extreme standpoint to another. Throughout his career, rapid, radical transitions in musical style and public persona have either inspired or shocked different sectors of his fans. Is Dylan’s work complex and contradictory, or is there an underlying consistency and continuity to its seemingly chaotic ebb and flow?
Steven Heine argues that Dylan actually embraces two radically distinct worldviews at alternating periods. One is prevalent in his Protest (early ’60s), Country (late ’60s), and Gospel (late ’70s) phases; it finds Dylan expressing moral outrage by endorsing a single higher truth based on a right-versus-wrong philosophy. The second view appears during periods of Dylan’s disillusionment in the mid ’60s (“Desolation Row”), mid ’70s (“Tangled Up in Blue”), and mid ’80s (“Jokerman”), finding him disenchanted with one-sided proclamations of truth, and wandering, seemingly aimless, amid a relativistic world of masks and disguises where nothing is ever what it claims to be.
Throughout his various stages, Dylan’s work reveals an affinity with the Zen worldview, where enlightenment can be attained through meditation, self-contemplation and intuition rather than through faith and devotion. Much has been made of Dylan’s Christian periods, but never before has a book engaged Dylan’s deep and rich oeuvre through a Buddhist lens. Forgoing Christianity and Western views for Zen and Buddhism, Bargainin’ for Salvation will capture your attention and direct it toward the East.
Table of Contents
1. Satori in Amsterdam - "Inside the Museums, Infinity Goes Up on Trial"
2. The Paths of Duality and Non-Duality - "The Judge is Coming In, Everybody Rise"
3. Duality I: The Protest Era - From the Union Halls to the Blues Bars
4. Non-Duality I: The Mid 60's Folk-Rock Era - "I've Had to Re-Arrange Their Faces"
5. Duality II: The Country Era - "Have a Bunch of Kids who Call Me 'Pa'"
6. Non-Duality II: The Mid-70's Road Show: "An Illusion to Me Now"
7. Duality III: The Gospel Era - "You Either Got Faith or Unbelief"
8. Non-Duality III: Mid-80's Retro - "Staying One Step Ahead of the Prosecutor Within"
9. The "Modern Era": Middle Way Lost - "I Used to Care, But Things Have Changed"
10. Dylan's Expressiveness and Zen - "Sitting Like Buddha in a Ten Foot Cell"
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
A lay student once asked Zen Master Kobong,
“From the ten directions, all humans come together.
Each of them learns the idle life.
This is the field of becoming Buddha.
The empty mind passes the investigation and returns.
Does this language help seekers of the way or not?”
Kobong said, “It does.”
The student then asked, “Which of these sentences helps people?”
Kobong responded, “Bring each sentence here and I will tell you.”
The student continued, “What is the first sentence, ‘From the ten directions, all people come together’?”
Kobong replied, “The dragon and the snake combine; enlightenment and non-enlightenment become mutual.”
The student then asked, “Who has learned the idle life?”
Kobong said, “The Buddha and the Eminent Teachers are swallowed up; the eye links the sky and ground.”
The student queried, “What is the field of becoming Buddha?”
Kobong responded, “From West to East, there are one hundred thousand, from North to South, there are eight thousand.”
The student then asked, “What is the last sentence, ‘The empty mind passes the investigation and returns?”
Kobong said, “In action and non-action, the ancient way appeared. The Dao is not dragged down into the chasm of turbulence.”
The student concluded, “Thus, in each speech, nature is seen. Each sentence is truth.”
Kobong asked him, “What do you see and what did you attain?”
The student shouted, “KATZ!”
Kobong shook his head and laughed, “This is grabbing a stick and trying to hit the moon.”
Zen teachers are very slippery when they speak, but if you see to the core than you can laugh along with Zen Master Kobong.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
This, itself however, is the source and the food for our practice. We in the West (excuse me if my following comments don’t include you and you have been experiencing a bad situation for a very long time) have had a good situation for many years, and many of us grew up in the West believing that our good situation would never end. My teacher, Zen Master Seung Sahn often said to me, “A good situation is a bad situation. A bad situation is a good situation.” This is what he meant. On my many trips outside of the US I can remember my interactions with the people of those countries. The closest I have come to a third world country has been in Cambodia and also perhaps in Egypt. I have also been to many other places like China, Korea, Europe, etc.., but these don’t qualify for places experiencing a ‘bad’ situation.
I can explicitly remember the people of Cambodia and Egypt, most of whom I met were for the most part smiling and seemed genuinely happy; although, many of these people didn’t know where their next meal was coming from or how they would fend for their families in the next moment. This is the raw and unadulterated truth that most of us in the West fear. What I realized from these experiences is that this is what made these people alive and happy. It seems like a paradox, yet we can hide all sorts of emotions and feeling inside of our ‘security.’ That ‘security’ is merely misplaced anxiety and can’t help us when our certainty of the future has been stripped away.
Our practice of experiencing this moment is the only gift of the truth that our teachers gave us. Please understand that our ideas, our opinions, our situation, our expectation, all of our thinking collapses because the future and our ideas have perhaps crumbled into the ocean. This is when we need to believe in the truth that the Buddha taught; which is not dependant on any of these things. God bless all of you and just know that life is very tenuous and precious; please don’t waste any of it.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I have posted a video before from Paramahamsa Nithyananda and I found these talks from the Jain Sutras and I thought I'd share this with you. I have a few friends here in Southern California who are Jains from India. Through our friendship and interactions over the past five years I have studied much from the Jain Cannon.
Mahavir was the last Thirthankara (Manifest Sage) and was born about 20 years prior to Sakyamuni Gotama who became the Buddha. Mahavir was one of the teachers that Buddha sought out prior to his awakening. Through my study of Jain Sutras I have found that much of the basic foundations of Buddhism also exist in the Jain Sutras. I don't mean to say that Jainism is Buddhism, it is not. But the roots and divergence are apparent and Buddhism has borrowed much from the Jain Cannon. This is an opportunity to view some of the basics of Buddhism from a teacher in India who has an open approach to spirituality, much like Buddha attempted. I hope you can enjoy and know that we all are quite similar.