Thursday, October 01, 2009


Happy October. The seasons have changed. Summer in Georgia appears to be over, and the weather outside is cool and dry, a delightful contrast to the warm muggy conditions that preceded and followed the dreadful flooding in this state.

Nagarjuna was a great philosopher of Mahayana Buddhism around the 2nd or 3rd century A.D. He was the founder of the Madhyamika school of Buddhism, and in the Zen tradition, he is regarded as the 14th Patriarch, exactly halfway in the lineage between the historical Buddha and Bodhidharma, the 28th Patriarch.

In his Great Wisdom Discourse, a commentary on the Great Heart of Wisdom Sutra, Nagarjuna said that bodhi-mind is the mind that solely sees the impermanence of this world of constant appearance and disappearance. Bodhi-mind is the mind that seeks awareness or the Way. It can also be interpreted as the mind that is aware, or the mind that aspires to live in accordance with reality instead of being pulled around by egocentric desires which are contrary to it. Such a mind is what sees the impermanence of this world.

Centuries later, Zen Master Dogen said that to arouse bodhi-mind, "think deeply in your heart of the impermanence of the world. It is not a matter of meditating using some provisional method of contemplation. It is not a matter of fabricating in our heads that which does not really exist. Impermanence is truly the reality right in front of our eyes. We need not wait for some teaching from others, some proof from some passage of scripture, or some principle. Born in the morning and dead in the evening, a person we saw yesterday is no longer here today — these are the facts we see with our eyes and hear with our ears" (Zuimonki, Book 2, Chapter 14) .

An old person frequently doubts the mirror.

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