Friday, September 19, 2014

Zen Koan: Pointing to the Earth

CC Liu, Wisdom Quarterly; Gerry Shishin Wick, Book of Equanimity, Case 4 (
Golden Buddha with hands over heart mudra, Thailand (teiemo.espeerotetee/flickr)
The World-Honored One Points to the Earth
When a speck of dust is raised, the great Earth is fully contained in it. It’s very well to open new territory and extend your lands with horse and spear. Who is this person who can be master in any place and meet the source in everything?

Attention! When the World-Honored One [the Buddha, the Tathagatha] was walking with his disciples he pointed to the ground and said, “It would be good to erect a temple here.” The god Indra [the deva Sakka] took a blade of grass and stuck it in the ground and said, “The temple has been erected.” The World-Honored One smiled faintly.

The Buddha (Nadeemmazhar/flickr)
On the hundred grass-tips, boundless spring -- taking what’s at hand, use it freely. Buddha’s sixteen foot golden [aura] body of manifold merit spontaneously extending a hand, enters the red dust --
within the dust he can be host coming from another world, naturally he’s a guest.
Wherever you are be content with your role -- dislike not those more adept than you. Part of experiencing growth in our life requires developing a larger vision unconstrained by our usual, limited mind, like Indra and [the] Buddha. Doing so requires great awareness. We all have blind spots, and we project our world view from those dark places. That projection inevitably distorts our relations with others, with the world, and with ourselves.

We need to practice awareness in order to develop clarity and to perceive the difference between reality and distortions. We also need perseverance because without it we will not generate the heat necessary to melt our self-grasping ignorance.

Suppose you saw a black raven flying by, and everybody in the room said, “That’s not a black raven. That’s a white snowy egret.” You’d say, “No it’s not. It’s a black raven!” “No, everybody here except you says it’s a snowy egret.” You might see certain things with the clarity developed from your Zen practice, and yet everyone is telling you something else. This often happens when you visit close relatives. Someone might say, “This Zen stuff, sitting on the cushion all these hours -- it’s a total waste of time!” What do you say? Whenever visitors would say something argumentative to him, Maezumi Roshi would give them space for their opinions. He would respond, “It could be so.” 

The verse says, “Taking what’s at hand, use it freely.” Just put aside all of your ideas, standards, and judgments, then look at the world with your larger vision and see what arises. How can you manifest the sixteen foot golden body of the Buddha? How can you erect a temple from a blade of grass? The
Bible says that your body is your temple. A piece of grass is your temple too.
All dharmas [things, phenomena, teachings] in the ten directions are your body and your temple. But, as Master Bansho says in commenting on this case, “Repairs won’t be easy.”

The verse also says: “Wherever you are, be contented with your role. Don’t dislike those that are more adept than you.” No matter how good you are there is always somebody better. No matter how bad you are there is always somebody worse. How can we be everything that we want to be? Everywhere life is sufficient. Just be who you are, and don’t restrict it. More

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