Tag Archives: Chan

The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing

Awakening has nothing to do with outward actions or appearances. It is only achieved by ceasing conceptualization. There is no benefit in shaving your head, taking precepts, or wearing robes. Nor is there any disadvantage if you own a home, work in the secular world, and have a spouse and children. People in the secular world who cease conceptualization awaken. Monks and nuns in monastic communities who do not cease conceptualization remain in delusion.

These are the words of Louie Wing, the fictional character author Ted Biringer brings to life in The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing. This is a masterful work that gets right to the heart of Zen. It is inspired by The Platform Sutra of Hui-Neng and provides a very direct and profound explanation of some Zen philosophy. Ted delves deep into prajna, the five ranks of Zen, and some excellent commentary on the Genjokoan. But when I say deep, I don’t mean that the book just drones on and on with complicated metaphysics. Rather, Louie Wing takes on the role of a fierce bodhisattvha, using his wisdom and teachings like Manjushri’s sword, cutting deep but precisely into the real matters of Zen.

The book provides a departure from most books on Zen you might find at Barnes and Nobles or some other such store. Rather than hold your hand while you mindfully wash the dishes, The Flatbed Sutra cuts right to the heart of the matter, revealing the path of compassion and wisdom in the Zen tradition, focusing on prajna and non-conceptualization. That’s not to say that this book is some sort of harsh, ‘hardcore’ approach to Zen either. Rather, it is styled in the fashion of the Chinese and Japanese classics from which the body of wisdom we know as Zen emerged. It is direct, but not in a know-it-all way. It is classic in its approach, yet the context that Biringer gives to Louie Wing makes the Flatbed Sutra accessible to all students of Zen.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Every student of Zen should read this book at least once;  it is one I will likely keep on my shelf and come back to again and again for years to come.

Cheers.

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Another Hsu Yun poem…

 

 

Found this poem, thought I would share

The water and my mind have both settled down
Into perfect stillness.
Sun and moon shine bright in it.
At night I see in the surface
The enormous face of my old familiar moon.
I don’t think you’ve ever met the source of this reflection.
All shrillness fades into the sound of silence.
But now and then a puff of mist floats across the mirror.
It confuses me a little
But not enough to make me forget to forget my cares.

 

~Hsu Yun

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Faith in Mind

As my time is limited these days, one of the ways I maintain a connection to the dharma at work is to listen to a few chants over my headphones. My favorite of which is currently Faith in Mind, or Affirming Faith in Mind (it is sometimes attributed to Jianzhi Sengcan, but that is under debate and unlikely to be proven). To me, this verse/poem points to many of the most important Buddhist teachings like karma, conditioned existence, dukkha, the Four Noble Truths, awakening to pure Mind, and non-conceptual wisdom. And it does all of that without the overlays of ancient Chinese culture that some might find bewildering or off-putting. It is a powerful work, one that will speak to many over countless generations.

I’ve included the text below. You can also listen to it being chanted here.

The Great Way is not difficult for those who do not pick and choose.

When preferences are cast aside the Way stands clear and undisguised.

But even slight distinctions made set earth and heaven far apart.

If you would clearly see the truth, discard opinions pro and con.

To founder in dislike and like is nothing but the mind’s disease.

And not to see the Way’s deep truth disturbs the mind’s essential peace.

The Way is perfect like vast space, where there’s no lack and no excess.

Our choice to choose and to reject prevents our seeing this simple truth.

Both striving for the outer world as well as for the inner void condemn us to entangled lives.

Just calmly see that all is One, and by themselves false views will go.

Attempts to stop activity will fill you with activity.

Remaining in duality, you’ll never know of unity.

And not to know this unity lets conflict lead you far astray.

When you assert that things are real you miss their true reality.

But to assert that things are void also misses reality.

The more you talk and think on this the further from the truth you’ll be.

Cut off all useless thought and words And there’s nowhere you cannot go.

Returning to the root itself, you’ll find the meaning of all things.

If you pursue appearances you overlook the primal source.

Awakening is to go beyond both emptiness as well as form.

All changes in this empty world seem real because of ignorance.

Do not go search for the truth, just let those fond opinions go.

Abide not in duality, refrain from all pursuit of it.

If there’s a trace of right and wrong, True-mind is lost, confused, distaught.

From One-mind comes duality, but cling not even to this One.

When this One-mind rests undisturbed, then nothing in the world offends.

And when no thing can give offense, then all obstructions cease to be.

If all thought-objects disappear, the thinking subject drops away.

For things are things because of mind, as mind is mind because of things.

These two are merely relative, and both at source are Emptiness.

In Emptiness these are not two, yet in each are contained all forms.

Once coarse and fine are seen no more, then how can there be taking sides?

The Great Way is without limit, beyond the easy and the hard.

But those who hold to narrow views are fearful and irresolute; their frantic has just slows them down.

If you’re attached to anything, you surely will go far astray.

Just let go now of clinging mind, and all things are just as they are. In essense nothing goes or stays.

See into the true self of things, and you’re in step with the Great Way, thus walking freely, undisturbed.

But live in bondage to your thoughts, and you will be confused, unclear.

This heavy burden weighs you down– O why keep judging good and bad?

If you would walk the highest Way, do not reject the sense domain.

For as it is, whole and complete, This sense world is enlightenment.

The wise do not strive after goals, but fools themselves in bondage put.

The One Way knows no differences, the foolish cling to this and that.

To seek Great Mind with thinking mind is certainly a grave mistake.

From small mind come rest and unrest, but mind awakened transcends both.

Delusion spawns dualities– these dreams are nought but flowers of air– why work so hard at grasping them?

Both gain and loss, and right and wrong– once and for all get rid of them.

When you no longer are asleep, all dreams will vanish by themselves.

If mind does not discriminate, all things are as they are, as One.

To go to this mysterious Source frees us from all entanglements.

When all is seen with “equal mind,” to our Self-nature we return.

This single mind goes right beyond all reasons and comparisons.

Stop movement and there’s no movement, stop rest and no-rest comes instead.

When rest and no-rest cease to be, then even oneness disappears.

This ultimate finality’s beyond all laws, can’t be described.

With single mind one with the Way, all ego-centered strivings cease;

Doubts and confusion disappear, and so true faith pervades our life.

There is no thing that clings to us, and nothing that is left behind.

All’s self-revealing, void and clear, without exerting power of mind.

Thought cannot reach this state of truth, here feelings are of no avail.

In this true world of Emptiness both self and other are no more.

To enter this true empty world, immediately affirm “not-two”.

In this “not-two” all is the same, with nothing separate or outside.

The wise in all times and places awaken to this primal truth.

The Way’s beyond all space, all time, one instant is ten thousand years.

Not only here, not only there, truth’s right before you very eyes.

Distinctions such as large and small have relevance for you no more.

The largest is the smallest too– here limitations have no place.

What is is not, what is not is– if this is not yet clear to you, you’re still far from the inner truth.

One thing is all, all things are one– know this and all’s whole and complete.

When faith and Mind are not separate, and not separate are Mind and faith, this is beyond all words, all thought.

For here there is no yesterday, no today, no tomorrow.

 

Hat tip to Marcus for sending me the link to the VZC awhile back. The text used in this post, however, is from the Portland Zen Community site.

 

 

Cheers.

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Heart of the Buddha

Oregon Coast

No need to chase back and forth like the waves.

The same water which ebbs is the same water that flows.

No point turning back to get water

When it’s flowing around you in all directions

The heart of the Buddha and the people of the world…

Where is there any difference?

~ Hsu Yun Heart of the Buddha

I’ve been sporadically reading a bit of Zen/Chan poetry lately. Some of it I dismiss fairly quickly. Quite a bit of it doesn’t speak to me, though I know the reasons for this are many (they’ve been written by wisdom, meant to be read with wisdom). But some of it takes you somewhere.

Heart of the Buddha is one of those poems that really shouted out to me, even though it was just a whisper. I like the water analogies used in Buddhism, as I think they are usually the most accurate descriptions of mind, dualism, and non-conceptual awareness one can use that people can easily relate to. This poem in particular opened up to me almost instantly. Here is what I found:

No need to chase… – chasing, grasping, reaching, swimming – none of these actions will help you to realize Buddha nature. Buddha nature is not something to be found while scuba diving on a treasure hunt.

…back and forth like the waves – this is samsara. The phenomenal world of dukkha leading us here then there then here then there. We’re all chasing. And we’re all swimming with the tide.

The same water that ebbs is the same water that flows – this line brought many thoughts to mind. The same ‘stuff’ that brings us pain is the same ‘stuff’ that brings us pleasure. Buddha nature is defilement, defilement is buddha nature. No samsara apart from nirvana. Water waters water.

No point turning back to get water – That which we are chasing we have already left behind. Seeking Buddha nature outside the self is like searching for a wave already crashed back into the ocean.

When it’s flowing around you in all directions – no self no buddha. Our deluded mind is creating all this samsara around us, when we are able to free our deluded mind, we can find the heart of buddha, which is all around us. But when we turn back and seek, it is again unreachable.

The heart of the Buddha and the people of the world… where is there any difference? – This is just the non-dual nature of reality. Again, no nirvana apart from samsara. Also I felt like this pointed at the 10th Ox Herding picture a little, in the idea of bringing Buddha nature back down into the marketplace, or back to be with “the people of the world”.

Just some thoughts of mine. Yours?

Cheers.

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