Monday, May 6, 2013

The Precious Jewel

"Don't covet the leftovers of others while losing the precious jewel that hangs around your own neck."  --Zen Master Bassui

Prayer versus practice: As many others before and since him, the Zen Master Bassui wrote
"A monk is one who leaves the house of delusion. He is a liberated person. One who recites prayers from the sutras and performs various formal practices but does not have an alert mind and creative mind may well experience happiness and prosperity in his next life; if however one whose mind remains in this dull state, and who commits evil acts... will finally in his own body sink into hell."
So for this reason "foolish prosperity" can be called the enemy of all time."

A liberated person may not always recite invocations from the Sutras and may not perform memorial services, but all those who have contact with this one will eventually become believers in the teaching of liberation... That's why even in the teaching sects, the true purpose is studying the commentaries of the sutras and practicing the teachings set forth to attain Buddahood. paraphrased

Why so? the Simple mind asks. It seems that the Master seeks to instruct in the difference between belief and faith. Many of us see religion strictly in terms of belief. We are instructed and do seek to self-instruct in the tenets and the sutras of any given sect. We seek merit and we seek to learn prayers, yet Bassui insists that the one who is liberated may not always aspire to master these things and yet attain Buddhahood.

How so? It is because as Bassui also observes that belief without the conjunction of faith is insufficient to "leave the house of delusion." One must live those beliefs in a real, concrete way, the way of experience and then faith enters one's practice as community. The community of believers is Sangha. This practice life is as important as any idea one might read. It is "a precious jewel which hangs readily available about each person's neck."

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