Thursday, May 26, 2011

Difficult To Understand

"Life and death touch each other intimately. They in no way hinder each other. There is no life without death. There is no death without life. Life is not death and yet life and death are indivisible. They identify each other."

"Life does not change into death. Death does not change into life. Life is just life; death is just death. Life and death are not before and after. In reality, death vividly and peacefully coexists with the fullest expression of life."
- Reb Anderson, Being Upright, p. 99
This thought is echoed in John Daido Loori's book, The Heart of Being (p. 86):
"Buddha-nature never dies. The realm of Buddha-nature is completely beyond dualism. As a result, you cannot oppose killing and nonkilling against each other. There is no killing, there is no being killed, and there is no one to kill. To give rise to the thought 'to kill' instantly violates the precepts from this perspective. The thought itself is essentially deluded."
Both author-teachers are interpreting the ancient Master Bodhidharma's comments on the First Grave Precept:
"Self-nature is inconceivably wondrous; in the everlasting dharma, not raising the view of extinction is called 'not killing'."
In the practice-enlightenment that goes beyond the distinction of self and others, when all the universe is one interconnected, inter-dependent whole, nothing can be added and nothing can be taken away. There can be no new birth or death, no creation and no extinction. Everything is just thus. When Chinese Zen Master Nansen killed the cat, from his perspective, there was no "cat" distinct from the rest of the universe, and there was no net gain or loss in life and death. But like Shrodinger's cat, Nansen's cat - as well as his monks - were still trapped in duality and could not see it that way.

Commenting on this case, Zen Master Dogen said, "Nansen's killing the cat is a manifestation of the great function of the buddha-dharma. This is a pivot word. Upon hearing this pivot word, see the cat as nothing but the Buddha-body. Upon hearing this word, students must immediately enter enlightenment."
Dogen also said, "This action, that is, killing the cat, is nothing other than Buddha's action."

Ejo asked, "What shall we call it?"

Dogen said, "Call it killing the cat."

Ejo asked, "Is it a crime or not?"

Dogen said, "Yes, it is a crime." (from Shobogenzo Zuimonki, Book 1, Chapter 6).
Dogen speaks first from the absolute perspective, then answers Ejo from the relative. The two views do not oppose one another.

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