Sunday, August 16, 2009


By now, gentle reader, you should be conditioned to know that when you see the picture above, especially on a Sunday, it means that I went up to Chattanooga today to practice with the sangha up there, and that I enjoyed the drive and was encouraged by the sincerity of their practice, etc, etc, etc. So if you'll spare me from writing about all that again, I'll in turn spare you from having to read all that, and from now on the picture above will be our little "code" about how I spent the day. Okay?

Okay. I didn't prepare a specific dharma talk for the day, but instead just discussed some of the Monday Night Group's Zuimonki studies, specifically (from Book 1, Chapters 18 and 20):
"Most people in the world want to show off their good deeds and hide their bad deeds. Since this frame of mind goes against the minds of the unseen deities, their good deeds go unrewarded, and their bad deeds done in secret bring about punishment. Consequently, they conclude that there is no recompense for good deeds, and little merit in the buddha-dharma. This is a false view. We must certainly revise it. Do good things secretly while people are not watching, and if you make a mistake or do something bad, confess and repent of it. When you act in this manner, good deeds you have done in secret will have recompense, and wrongdoings will be revealed and repented so that punishment can be dispelled. Therefore, there will naturally be benefit in the present, and you will be sure of the future result."
“Although some merely wish to gain fame as people of bodhi-mind, and not have their faults known by others, the heavenly beings, the guardian deities, and the three-treasures are secretly watching them. What is being admonished against here is an attitude which feels no shame before unseen beings, and covets the esteem of worldly people. You should consider things only for the sake of the flourishing of the dharma and the benefit of living beings, all the time and in whatever situation. Speak after making careful consideration; act after giving attentive thought; do not act rashly. Ponder over what is reasonable in whatever situation you encounter. Our life changes moment by moment, it flows by swiftly day by day. Everything is impermanent and changing rapidly. This is the reality before our eyes. You do not need to wait for the teaching of masters or sutras to see it. In every moment, do not expect tomorrow will come. Think only of this day and this moment. Since the future is very much uncertain, and you cannot foresee what will happen, you should resolve to follow the Buddha-Way, if only for today, while you are alive. To follow the Buddha-Way is to give up your bodily life and act so as to enable the dharma to flourish, and to bring benefit to living beings.”
We talked about examples of both hiding our faults and keeping our virtues hidden. For the former, I used myself as an example, and admitted that ever since my foot injury interrupted my zazen practice, I have found it difficult to get back into a practice rhythm again, and that I had felt like the world's biggest hypocrite driving up to encourage the sangha in their practice, when it was I who really needed the encouragement. And Dogen is right, having admitted my short-coming to them (and now here on line), I have found the needed encouragement. Now it's just a matter of seeing if I apply it to my home practice.

As an example of the latter, I used the translator of my edition of Zuimonki, Shohaku Okumura. Modestly, his name is not on the cover of the book, and you have to really read nearly the entire Preface before you realize who the translator was. He has also translated a great many other essential Zen texts into English and written much outstanding commentary, and yet his Center's website modestly does not have his bibliography on line. To get an idea of his output, do a search for his name over at Amazon, and then realize that most of the body of his work is not available in commercial form. But instead of wrapping all his accomplishments around his ego for the esteem of worldly people, he instead humbly continues to promulgate the buddha-dharma solely for the benefit of all sentient beings.

His Zen lesson is as much in the way that he leads his life as it is in the teachings he writes, and for that, I bow in deepest gassho.

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