Sunday, November 8, 2009

From ‘The Snow Leopard’ by Peter Matthiessen

…..In Zen thought, even attachment to the Buddha’s “golden words” may get in the way of ultimate perception; hence the Zen expression “Kill the Buddha!” The universe itself is the scripture of Zen, for which religion is no more and no less than the apprehension of the infinite in every moment

How wondrous, how mysterious!
I carry fuel, I draw water

“All the way to Heaven is Heaven”, Saint Catherine said, and that is the very breath of Zen, which does not elevate divinity above the common miracles of every day.

O, how incomprehensible everything was, and actually sad, although it was so beautiful. One knew nothing. One lived and ran about the earth and rode through forests, and certain things looked so challenging and promising and nostalgic: a star in the evening, a blue harebell, a reed-green pond, the eye of a person or a cow. And sometimes it seemed that something never seen yet long desired was about to happen, that a veil would drop from it all; but then it passed, nothing happened, the riddle remained unsolved, the secret spell unbroken, and in the end one grew old and looking cunning……or wise…..and still one knew nothing perhaps, was still waiting and listening

- Herman Hesse ‘Narcissus and Goldmund’

Monk: What happens when the leaves are falling, and the trees are bare?
Unmon: The golden wind, revealed!

- Hegikan Roku (The Blue Cliff Records)

With the first sun rays we come down into still forest of gnarled birch and dark stiff firs. Through light filtered by the straying lichens, a silver bird flies to a cedar, fanning crimsoned wings on the sunny bark. Then it is gone, leaving behind a vague longing, a sad emptiness.

…….Tibet’s great poet-saint the Lama Milarepa……..his teaching as he prepared for death………..

All wordly pursuits have but one unavoidable and inevitable end, which is sorrow: acquisitions end in dispersion; buildings in destruction; meetings, in separation; births, in death. Knowing this, one should from the very first renounce acquisition and heaping-up, and building and meeting, and …set about realizing the Truth……Life is short, and the time of death is uncertain; so apply yourselves to meditation.

Meditation has nothing to do with contemplation of eternal questions, or of one’s own folly, or even of one’s navel, although a clearer view on all of these enigmas may result. It has nothing to do with thought of any kind – with anything at all, in fact, but intuiting the true nature of existence, which is why it has appeared, in one form or another, in almost every culture known to man. The entranced Bushman staring into the fire, the Eskimo using a sharp rock to draw an ever-deepening circle into the flat surface of a stone achievevs the same obliteration of the ego (and the same power) as the dervish or the Pueblo sacred dancer. Among Hindus and Buddhists, realization is attained through inner stillness, usually achieved through the samadhi state of sitting yoga. In Tantric practice, the student may displace the ego by filling his whole being with the real or imagined objective of his concentration; in Zen, one seeks to empty out the mind, to return it to the clear, pure stillness of a seashell or a flower petal. When body and mind are one, then the whole thing, scoured clean of intellect, emotions, and the senses, may be laid open to the experience that individual existence, ego, the “reality” of matter and phenomena are no more than fleeting and illusory arrangements of molecules. The weary self of masks and screens, defences, preconceptions, and opinions that, propped up by ideas and words, imagines itself to be some sort of entity (in a society of like entities) may suddenly fall away, dissolve into formless flux where concepts such as “death” and “life”, “time” and “space”, “past” and “future” have no meaning. There is only a pearly radiance of Emptiness, the Uncreated, without beginning, therefore without end.

……..the great sins, so the Sherpas say, are to pick wild flowers and to threaten children……..

As the hand held before the eye conceals the greatest mountain, so the little earthly life hides from the glance the enormous lights and mysteries of which the world is full, and he who can draw it away from before his eyes, as one draws away a hand, beholds the great shining of the inner worlds

- Rabbi Nachmann of Bratzlav

……….Tantric teaching: Take care, O Pilgrim, lest you discriminate against the so-called lower functions, for these, too, contain the inherent miracle of being. Did not one of the great masters attain enlightenment upon hearing the splash of his own turd into the water?

……….I remembered D’s beloved Zen expression: “No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.”

The flower fulfils its immanence, intelligence implicit in its unfolding
There is a discipline.
The flower grows without mistakes.
A man must grow himself, until he understands the intelligence of the flower.

………..”When you are ready,” Buddhists say, “the teacher will appear.”

No comments: