Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Working to See More Clearly

"Take up the way of meeting others on equal ground." --Buddhist precept as discussed by Diane Rizzetto in her book, Waking Up to What You Do.

In her book, Waking Up to What You Do, Abbess Diane Rizzetto writes on the precept of meeting others on equal ground. She quotes the writer Dag Hammarskjold, Markings

"To be humble is not to make comparisons. Secure in
its reality, the self is neither better nor worse, bigger nor smaller, 
than any thing else in the universe. It is nothing; at the same time, 
one with the universe." 

What are the obvious and not so obvious ways that we regard ourselves in light of others? Do we gain self-worth in measuring ourselves against others? Do we consider our own thoughts, our own way? Do we praise ourselves at the expense of others? Or while not praising ourselves, abuse others?

What keeps us from meeting others, from meeting the stranger on equal ground? What about competition--are there winners and losers in the world? How does anger, insecurity, fear, shame and blame block the way of meeting others on equal ground? 
Why must we meet equally? Despite our sometimes fearful and anxious experiences of meeting others with pounding heart and cold hand, adrenaline flowing making us feel like ice, meeting others on equal ground is important.

Even so, there are many ways we either subtly or overtly avoid our feelings and perceptions of unease with ourselves; we measure, we criticize, blame and shame our way through life. Putting others down will pull us up, it seems--maybe. By learning more about the reality of inter-being we come to find that this isn't so.
 Making you dirty, makes me dirty; disrespect to you is disrespect to myself. I am the doing, the making of it all, the dream of self. Considering this perception, we find it isn't limited to speech. Behavior is also a means of competition and measuring ourselves to others.

We may ignore, exclude or avoid others in our activities with the intention to demonstrate a perception of superiority. Sometimes we even think we are more sophisticated, more enlightened than the others. 
In history we learn that the Buddha was enlightened in a simple way, under a tree, no posh hotel or vacation spot for him. The Christ was hung ultimately on a cross, no limousine or finely dressed mourners at his death. 
Gandhi was shot to death, there were no bowing supplicants before him; rather, it was the end of a gun. So too for Martin Luther King. 
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta had no exemplary education beyond courage and will. These figures are burned into our consciousness; they were both humble and great, simple and wise.

Do not admire them; be more like them. Diane Rizzetto writes, "When we speak or act in these [other] ways, clarity, discovery and true dialog [understanding] are lost. 
Even if we don't consciously place ourselves above others...if we're in the game of competition by watching our reactions when we make a mistake... Do we blame... find excuses... jump in defense?"   
Do we say what it is; that is, do we say, "I forgot, I lost it, I didn't understand?" In being humble, speaking truthfully, we are neither better nor worse.

However, when our focus is to maintain ourselves in a perception of better than others, above them, then we close ourselves, we cut ourselves off; separation from the world and others occurs. We then choose to live in division. 
There is now just the dream, that dream of self. Working to see more clearly, vispayana, the ways we judge others, and the ways we place so much of our energy in covering up ourselves due to fear, anxiety, shame-- the same energy is always available to help us to see more clearly and compassionately our own, true selves. Neither better nor worse than others. 

"Whether we place ourselves above or below others, we are substituting an idea about who we are, or who others are, or should be for the simple truth that as human beings we are good at some things and not so good at other things. We fail and succeed; we know and we don't know; we accomplish some useful things in our day, and we mess up some other things. This is what it means to be human..." to be humble, to be neither better nor worse, to be oneself." paraphrased

"Take your practiced powers and stretch them out until they span the chasm between contradictions... for the god wants to know himself in you."
-- Poet Maria Rilke

Friday, September 30, 2016

Bassui: An Arrow Flies Straight to Hell

"The mind is host, the body is guest."

Zen master and historical figure, Bassui was born in Japan in 1327. Rejected by his mother at birth, Bassui is recorded to have been raised by a family servant. At age 29 he became a monk, but he did not shave his head or wear robes; he did not recite Sutras, like other monks. His practice was the most simple practice. It can be called the practice of no practice. This was to be Bassui's Way throughout his life.

As a Zen master, Bassui was often questioned; often he gave reply. In one instance he was asked: "The spirit is this skin, this skin is the one spirit. Is this correct?"

Bassui replied affirmatively to the question.

"If so,' continued the questioner, 'who will become buddha after the body's dispersed to the four winds? Who will sink into the sea? What will be the reason for keeping the precept that prevents crime?"

To this Bassui replied, "If you continue holding this view, in which you deny cause and effect [karma], like an arrow, you will fly straight to hell. Do you have dreams?

Questioner: Yes.

Bassui: What do you usually see in your dreams?

Questioner: It's not always fixed. I usually see things that occur in my mind and through my body.

Bassui: The rising and sinking after death are also like that. All thoughts that come are by way of the four elements that comprise the physical body. Dreams in the night follow suit and appear in accordance to the good or bad thoughts of the day... An ancient said, 'You receive a body according to Karma, and your body in turn produces Karma. You should realize the continuity of the body in this life and in the next... If you truly understand this, then you cannot doubt the statement that the one spirit in this skin is the one spirit in that skin.

Questioner: Now I realize that the body and the mind are not separate. This being the case, the significance of 'seeing into one's Buddha nature' is relegated to the leaves and branches [of a tree]. If you simply stop doing bad deeds concerning your physical body, practice various good deeds, practice the precepts, and eliminate evil thoughts, will you then become a Buddha?

All thoughts are born of deluded ideas feelings [disordered thinking]. If you do not see penetratingly into your own nature, though you try to eliminate evil thoughts, you will be like the one who tries to stop dreaming without waking up. All evil deeds are rooted in deluded thoughts. If you cut out the roots, how can the leaves grow?... If he were a man who penetrated his own nature, how could he even think of committing a sin in which he breaks precepts?