|The Shit Paper
...Do not get either side of the toilet bowl dirty, and do not soil the front or back of the bowl. Keep quiet while you shit! Do not chat or joke with the person on the other side of the wall, and do not sing songs or recite poems in a loud voice...
last month * * *
Three quotes from the Genjôkôan:
"Those who greatly realize delusion are buddhas. Those who are greatly deluded about realization are ordinary beings."
"When you first seek the dharma, you are far removed from the borders of the dharma. As soon as the dharma is authentically transmitted, you are a human being in your original element."
"When the dharma does not yet fill your body-and-mind, you feel already sufficient. When the dharma fills your body-and-mind, you see that one side is lacking."
These quotes come from the beginning, middle and later half of the Genjôkôan fascicle, so they are not directly connected, but it seems to me that Dogen Zenji is developing a theme here. When we start out with our practice, we think that it should help us become less attached to our desires, more relaxed, peaceful, better persons, maybe even "enlightened beings" in the end. This is what is called being "greatly deluded about realization", it means to be "far removed from the borders of the dharma".
Funnily we are not aware of this at all. Quite the opposite, we think we know pretty well what our problems are, in what direction we can find the solution to them, and what kind of practice will get us there. In fact, we have no idea what problem we really have, and that is why we are heading in a completely wrong direction, mis-using our practice to reach a solution which is no solution at all. In Dogens words:
"When the dharma does not fill our body-and-mind, we feel already sufficient."
We think we are progressing with our practice of "zazen" when in fact we are not doing Zazen at all, we think we get less attached while we become even more attached to our frame of mind, we think we become better and more peaceful persons while we are a pain in the ass of our neighbours.
The direction of our practice should be opposite. First, we have to "greatly realize our delusion" - not getting rid of our delusion, but realizing it! A bodhisattva is also called someone who is in "delusion throughout delusion". Then, when we proceed, we will realize "that one side is lacking" - if we fell that we gain through our practice, make some kind of spiritual progress, something must be wrong. The more we practice, the sharper our awareness of our defects must become. That is why it is quite common for people to be more aware of their deluded thoughts during Zazen, rather than enjoying a peaceful state of "no-mind". Practice will not make us feel sufficient, and if it does, it is not practice.
A person who thus greatly realizes delusion and sees one side lacking is exactly the human being in its original element. Dharma has been authentically transmitted, because dharma had never been lacking in the first place. When we sat out on our journey, defining our problems, looking for a way to bring us to our goal, we were only creating more problems rather than solving them. Zazen means to return to the state before we started out, that is here and now, one side lacking - because there is no other place and time to live in.
Practicing a dream inside a dream
Sawaki Roshi once said: "People often say 'reality, reality', but it is just a dream. It's reality in the dream. People think revolutions and wars are astounding, but they are just struggles in a dream. At the point of death, you might easily understand, 'Oh! that was just a dream!'".
Actually, the world is at war. Some fight at the front of the war, others fight against the war. But all are caught up in their own dreams. Everone is in their own dreams, and as Sawaki says, the discrepancies that exist between the dreams are the problem. Unless we take a new, fresh look at the world from the view point of zazen, we will be caught up int the "realities" based only on our own small ego.
Sometimes we fall in our dreams, but we are always looking at them from our own very little eyes. We want to have dreams because we feel bored and we have fear to be bored.
At Antaiji, we always have to give up these transitory feelings, thoughts and ego-self dreams. We actualize the reality. We practice the way as a free dream: The dream of the patriarchs of the way. Every day is a good day no matter where our own head is wandering. We don't have any more half-baked ideals and we realize that actually we don't have any excuses for postponing our true dream of the way. In a way this is practicing a dream in a dream. Actualizing the way of the Buddha in the present world. A world that flows as a lightning dream, so short and fast that if we don't take care, our life has gone away. Sometimes, reality doesn't match our desires. This is why we think that time moves slow and we are in pain. Every hour passes very slow but when we look back time has passed by. Usually, we don't want to realize this serene and limited reality. We feel it is too empty.
The snow has melted, its water is being the source of this new spring. The plum trees want to bloom as new birds seem to appear every day. The Uguisu chants echoes in the valley. Nature itself wants to show in its very own way the urgency of regenerating our practice. To actualize the way of the Buddha. Diligently, and not to let one more day pass. Are we able to hear its voice or do we want to hear it?