Nansen Cuts the Cat in Two

Nansen saw the monks of the eastern and western halls fighting over a cat. He seized the cat and told the monks: “If any of you say a good word, you can save the cat.”

No one answered. So Nansen boldly cut the cat in two pieces.

That evening Joshu returned and Nansen told him about this. Joshu removed his sandals and, placing them on his head, walked out.

Nansen said: “If you had been there, you could have saved the cat.”

    Mumon’s comment: Why did Joshu put his sandals on his head? If anyone answers this question, he will understand exactly how Nansen enforced the edict. If not, he should watch his own head.

Had Joshu been there,

He would have enforced the edict oppositely.

Joshu snatches the sword

And Nansen begs for his life.

——

—-


Wide Empty Paths

beyond the point

of primal,

causal origination,

no cognition

nor perception

a void awakens

shimmering the nothing

into becoming

empty and yet Dao,

no re-cognition

before the void

no time

no place

no recollection

or, any memory

wide empty paths

towards the infinite

have no ending

nor any start,

the essence of being

a Soul alone,

sole and soular

radiates into space

a single spark

of a cosmic fire

beyond the point

of primal,

causal origination,

no cognition

nor perception

at the point before mind

bodhi svāhā

The Unfettered Mind – The Sword Taia

These are excerpted from “The Unfettered Mind – Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master” by Takuan Sōhō and translated by William Scott Wilson published by Kodansha International.

Takuan Sōhō (沢庵 宗彭, December 24, 1573 – January 27, 1645) was a Japanese Buddhist prelate during the Sengoku and early Edo Periods of Japanese history. He was a major figure in the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism. Noted for his calligraphy, poetry, tea ceremony, he is also popularly credited with the invention of the takuan pickled radish.”

How Exactly Do You Define Failure and Success?

This morning I have had a particularly vivid and mildly disturbing dream. In which someone although they were injured and bleeding, was able to remove a circular portion of their scalp at the back of their head to reveal white skull underneath and then pop it back like a piece of turf. He did not want to go to hospital to have it looked at. They were injured and too stubborn to seek help. I escorted them there in a taxi and handed them over to A&E.

{Hair is the dreaming symbol for social self image.}

Earlier in that dream a famous scientist said to me “You do know you are a failure, don’t you?” To which I replied, “It depends on exactly how you define failure.”

Scientists like definitions. And in that world metrics of success and measures of esteem hold an important place in the socio-political ordering and hence access to research funding. They define the pecking order, or the greasy pole position. Kudos is important in that world.

There is a Japanese expression coined by Dōgen Zenji, todatsu*— which means a fish slipping out of the net. If one slips the net has one failed or succeeded?

In the context of all the markers of success in the materialistic world of self-advancement one has clearly failed to play the game of snakes and ladders well. One is not even on the board.

If one has slipped between the tethers back into the wider ocean or lake one has done a Houdini and gained a freedom. In this context the escaping fish has succeed whilst those who remain trapped have failed.

{Fish is the dreaming symbol for state of awareness.}

Zen is not fond of definition; it sees this as a way of being hooked. It is not buddha nature to define and assert accuracy, nor to argue the toss. One could argue that definition is a kind of net which surrounds a concept and makes it less holistic. Modern science is often about separating the variables. It can see the trees and not the wood.

People keen on success can succeed on one level in one context and fail terribly in others.

*Todatsu. This term is quite interesting. It is a short form for totai-datsuraku: totai is “penetrating to the matter” or “clear right through” along with datsuraku which means “shaken away” or “dropped through.”

Bodhisattva in the Blue Books

From Initiation, Human and Solar – Glossary B-E

Bodhisattva Literally, he whose consciousness has become intelligence, or buddhi. Those who need but one more incarnation to become perfect buddhas. As used in these letters the Bodhisattva is the name of the office which is at present occupied by the Lord Maitreya, who is known in the occident as the Christ. This office might be translated as that of World Teacher. The Bodhisattva is the Head of all the religions of the world, and the Master of the Masters and of the angels.

Buddha (The) The name given to Gautama. Born in India about B.C. 621 he became a full buddha in B.C. 592. The Buddha is one who is the “Enlightened,” and has attained the highest degree of knowledge possible for man in this solar system.

Buddhi The Universal Soul or Mind. It is the spiritual soul in man (the Sixth Principle) and therefore the vehicle of Atma, the Spirit, which is the Seventh Principle.

Causal Body This body is, from the standpoint of the physical plane, no body, either subjective or objective. It is, nevertheless, the center of the egoic consciousness, and is formed of the conjunction of buddhi and manas. It is relatively permanent and lasts throughout the long cycle of incarnations, and is only dissipated after the fourth initiation, when the need for further rebirth on the part of a human being no longer exists.

Chohan Lord, Master, a Chief. In this book it refers to mind an those Adepts who have gone on and taken the sixth initiation.

Deva (or Angel) A god. In Sanskrit a resplendent deity. A Deva is a celestial being, whether good, bad, or indifferent. Devas are divided into many groups, and are called not only angels and archangels, but lesser and greater builders.

Egoic Groups On the third subplane of the fifth plane, the mental, are found the causal bodies of the Individual men and women. These bodies, which are the expression of the Ego, or of the individualized self-consciousness, are gathered together into groups according to the ray or quality of the particular Ego involved.

Elementals The Spirits of the Elements; the creatures involved in the four kingdoms, or elements, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Except a few of the higher kinds and their rulers they are forces of nature more than ethereal men and women.

Etheric body (Etheric double) The physical body of a human being is, according to occult teaching, formed of two parts, the dense physical body, and the etheric body. The dense physical body is formed of matter of the lowest three subplanes of the physical plane. The etheric body is formed of the four highest or etheric subplanes of the physical plane.

———–

From Initiation, Human and Solar – Chapter V – The Three Departments of Hierarchy

The Work of the World Teacher, the Christ

Group two has the World Teacher for its presiding Head. He is that Great Being whom the Christian calls the Christ; he is known also in the Orient as the Bodhisattva, and as the Lord Maitreya, and is the one looked for by the devout Mohammedan, under the name of the Iman Madhi. He it is who has presided over the destinies of life since about 600 B.C. and he it is who has come out among men before, and who is again looked for. He is the great Lord of Love and of Compassion, just as his predecessor, the Buddha, was the Lord of Wisdom. Through him flows the energy of the second aspect, reaching him direct from the heart center of the Planetary Logos via the heart of Sanat Kumara. He works by means of a meditation centered within the heart. He is the World Teacher, the Master of the Masters, and the Instructor of the Angels, and to him is committed the guidance of the spiritual destinies of men, and the development of the realization within each human being that he is a child of God and a son of the Most High.

Just as the Manu is occupied with the providing of the type and forms through which consciousness can evolve and gather experience, thus making existence in its deepest sense possible, so the World Teacher directs that in dwelling consciousness in its life or spirit aspect, seeking to energize it within the form so that, in due course of time, that form can be discarded and the liberated spirit return whence it came. Ever since he left the earth, as related with approximate accuracy in the Bible story (though with much error in detail) has he stayed with the sons of men; never has he really gone, but only in appearance, and in a physical body he can be found by those who know the way, dwelling in the Himalayas, and working in close cooperation with his two great Brothers, the Manu and the Mahachohan. Daily he pours out his blessing on the world, and daily he stands under the great pine in his garden at the sunset hour with hands uplifted in blessing over all those who truly and earnestly seek to aspire. To him all seekers are known, and, though they may remain unaware of him, the light which he pours forth stimulates their desire, fosters the spark of struggling life and spurs on the aspirant until the momentous day dawns when they stand face to face with the one who by being “lifted up” (occultly understood) is drawing all men unto himself as the Initiator of the sacred mysteries.

—–

From “From Intellect to Intuition – Chapter Eight – The Universality of Meditation”

The Method in Chinese Buddhism

One of the main contributions to the process of enlightenment is an understanding of the way in which the Buddha found the Light. It demonstrates in a most remarkable way the use of the mind to overcome ignorance and its subsequent futility to carry a man on into the world of Light and spiritual being. Dr. Suzuki, Professor of Zen Buddhism at the Buddhist College at Kyoto, tells us about it in the following illuminating paragraphs. He tells us that it was through “supreme perfect knowledge” that the Buddha arrived at the wisdom which changed him from a Bodhisattva into a Buddha. This knowledge is

“…a faculty both intellectual and spiritual, through the operation of which the soul is enabled to break the fetters of intellection. The latter is always dualistic inasmuch as it is cognizant of subject and object, but in the Prajna which is exercised ‘in unison with one-thought-viewing’ there is no separation between knower and known, these are all viewed in one thought, and enlightenment is the outcome of this…

“Enlightenment we can thus see is an absolute state of mind in which no ‘discrimination’ …takes place, and it requires a great mental effort to realize this state of viewing all things ‘in one thought’. In fact our logical as well as practical consciousness is too given up to analysis and ideation; that is to say, we cut up realities into elements in order to understand them; but when they are put together to make the original whole, its elements stand out too conspicuously defined, and we do not view the whole ‘in one thought’. And as it is only when ‘one thought’ is reached that we have enlightenment, an effort is to be made to go beyond our relative empirical consciousness… The most important fact that lies behind the experience of Enlightenment, therefore, is that the Buddha made the most strenuous attempt to solve the problem of Ignorance and his utmost will-power was brought forth to bear upon a successful issue of the struggle… Enlightenment therefore must involve the will as well as the intellect. It is an act of intuition born of the will… The Buddha attained this end when a new insight came upon him at the end of his ever-circulatory reasoning from decay and death to Ignorance and from Ignorance to decay and death… But he had an indomitable will; he wanted, with the utmost efforts of his will, to get into the very truth of the matter; he knocked and knocked until the doors of Ignorance gave way; and they burst open to a new vista never before presented to his intellectual vision.”
– Suzuki, Daisetz Taitaro, Essays in Zen Buddhism, pages 113-115.

Earlier he points out that the attainment of Nirvana is after all essentially the affirmation and realization of Unity. In the same essays we find the words:

“They (Buddhists) finally found out that Enlightenment was not a thing exclusively belonging to the Buddha, but that each one of us could attain it if he got rid of ignorance by abandoning the dualistic conception of life and of the world; they further concluded that Nirvana was not vanishing into a state of absolute non-existence which was an impossibility as long as we had to reckon with the actual facts of life, and that Nirvana in its ultimate signification was an affirmation – an affirmation beyond opposites of all kinds.”
– Suzuki, Daisetz Taitaro, Essays in Zen Buddhism, page 47.

The term Prajna used above is very interesting. It is

“the presence in every individual of a faculty… This is the principle which makes Enlightenment possible in us as well as in the Buddha. Without Prajna there could be no enlightenment, which is the highest spiritual power in our possession. The intellect… is relative in its activity… The Buddha before his Enlightenment was an ordinary mortal, and we, ordinary mortals, will be Buddhas the moment our mental eyes open in Enlightenment.”
– Suzuki, Daisetz Taitaro, Essays in Zen Buddhism, pages 52-53.

Thus we have the mind focused and used to its utmost capacity, and then the cessation of its work. Next comes the use of the will to hold the mind steady in the light, and then – the Vision, Enlightenment, Illumination!

—–

From Initiation, Human and Solar – Chapter XI – The Participants in the Mysteries

The Departmental Heads

The Manu.
The Bodhisattva.
The Mahachohan.

As has been said, these three great Beings, represent the triplicity of all manifestation, and might be expressed under the following form, remembering that all this deals with subjectivity, and therefore with the evolution of consciousness and primarily with self-consciousness in man.


Consciousness
The ManuThe BodhisattvaThe Mahachohan
Matter aspectSpirit aspectIntelligence aspect.
FormLifeMind.
The Not-SelfThe SelfThe relation between.
BodySpiritSoul.
PoliticsReligionScience.
GovernmentBeliefsCivilization.
RacesFaithsEducation.

All human beings belong to one or other of these three departments, and all are of equal importance, for Spirit and matter are one. All are so interdependent, being but expressions of one life, that the endeavor to express the functions of the three departments in tabular form is liable to lead to error.

The three Great Lords closely cooperate in the work, for that work is one, just as man, though a triplicity, is yet an individual unit. The human being is a form through which a spiritual life or entity is manifesting, and employing the intelligence under evolutionary law.

Therefore the Great Lords are closely connected with the initiations of a human unit. They are too occupied with greater affairs and with group activities to have any relationship with a man until he stands upon the probationary path. When he has, through his own effort, brought himself on to the Path of Discipleship, the particular Master who has him under supervision reports to the Head of one of the three departments (this being dependent upon a man’s ray) that he is nearing the Portal of Initiation and should be ready for the great step during such and such a life. Each life, and later each year, report is made, until the final year upon the Path of Probation, when closer and more frequent reports are handed in. During this final year also, the applicant’s name is submitted to the Lodge, and after his own Master has reported upon him, and his record has been briefly summarized, his name is balloted, and sponsors are arranged.

During the initiation ceremony the important factors are:

  1. The Initiator.
  2. The triangle of force formed by three adepts or three Kumaras.
  3. The sponsors.

In the case of the first two initiations, two Masters stand, one on each side of the applicant, within the triangle; at the third, fourth and fifth initiations, the Mahachohan and the Bodhisattva perform the function of sponsor; at the sixth and seventh initiations two great Beings, who must remain nameless, stand within the esoteric triangle. The work of the sponsors is to pass through their bodies the force or electrical energy emanating from the Rod of Initiation. This force, through radiation, circles around the triangle and is supplemented by the force of the three guardians; it next passes through the centers of the sponsors, being transmitted by an act of will to the initiate. Enough has been said elsewhere in this book anent the Lodge of Masters and their relation to the applicant for initiation, whilst the work of the initiate himself has been likewise touched upon. That work is not unknown to the children of men everywhere, but remains as yet an ideal and a far-off possibility. Yet when a man strives to reach that ideal, to make it a demonstrating fact within himself, he will find that it becomes not only a possibility, but something attainable, provided he strives sufficiently. The first initiation is within the reach of many, but the necessary one-pointedness and the firm belief in the reality ahead, coupled to a willingness to sacrifice all rather than turn back, are deterrents to the many. If this book serves no other purpose than to spur some one to renewed believing effort, it will not have been written in vain.

From Letters on Occult Meditation – Letter VI – The Use of Form in Meditation

The Line of the Bodhisattva

This is the line of religion and of philosophy, and of the development of the indwelling life. It deals with consciousness within the form more than with the form itself. It is the line of least resistance for the many. It embodies the wisdom aspect of the Logos, and is the line whereby His love is manifested in a predominant fashion. The solar system being in itself a direct expression of the Logos, and of His love aspect, all in manifestation is based upon it – love in rule, love abounding, love in activity, – but in this second line the above manifestation is supreme, and will eventually absorb all the others.

The man who meditates on this line seeks ever to enter into the consciousness of all that breathes, and by graded expansions of consciousness to arrive eventually at the All-Consciousness, and to enter into the life of the Supreme Being. Thus he enters into the life of all within the Logoic Consciousness. He broods not so much upon the Law as upon the life that is governed by that Law. Through love he comprehends, and through love he blends himself first with his Ego, then with his Master, next with his group egoic and then with all groups, till finally he enters into the consciousness of the Deity Himself.

Dusk Haiku

pinking the night

down to earth

hush tippy-toes in

the DJ fades out

memory’s slider

no more pencil marks!

obsidian skies

cooling a lava glass

for sparkle stars

ghosts whisper

their ancient stories

scaring the living

beech and birch

whip up flames

in a yawning stove

heat flickers dry

easing the room

all blinds drawn

darkness, at bay

wanders cold

no gap, under the door

Mind “Haiku”

always tomorrow mind

loses today

and does so, forever

self important mind

bigger than eternity

smaller than the void

I am right mind

ticks all the boxes

misses all the circles of life

justification mind

alters paragraphs

to fit prejudice

tight circle mind

obsesses whirlpools

a vortex, of doom

told you so mind

is confident in

its omniscience

busy mind, too full

is blind as bats

and deaf as posts

stress bunny mind

drives a car

like kangaroos

just like this mind

clear as a pond

reflecting truth

point before thought,

has no worries

ever, premature

pure wisdom mind

is mostly silent

and waiting in the forest

simple Dao mind

flows like a brook

an empty Raku bowl

impermanence mind

sees only

coloured sand in the wind

no mind, mind

knows eternity

and offers him only rice

Serenity Haiku

a heron stands

one leg in the reeds

he reaches for his oboe

a contented carp

blows bubbles

puckering his lips

a lotus unfolds

her petal wings

butterflies waft incense

a busy dragon-fly

is a rainbow

who caresses time

clear crystal ponds

reflect pure light

whiter than snow

a pendant drop

hangs from the gallows

of a moment

a ripple stretches

across a dewy pond

and yawns sleepily

a reed bends

in the harsh winds

which soon, too will pass

a moorhen dives

hungry for breakfast,

a croissant with butter

the spirit churns

all of the milk

to spread on toast

a hungry falcon

hovers in the wind

seeking a morsel

the rain falls heavy

the ducks rejoice

water off their backs

a Rōnin waits

for he has no master

else his heart

he sits seiza

and watches only walls

for there, is wisdom…

Menju 面授 Face to Face Transmission

Shōbōgenzō

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shōbōgenzō (正法眼蔵, lit. “Treasury of the True Dharma Eye”) is the title most commonly used to refer to the collection of works written in Japanese by the 13th century Japanese Buddhist monk and founder of the Japanese Sōtō Zen school, Eihei Dōgen. Several other works exist with the same title (see above), and it is sometimes called the Kana Shōbōgenzō in order to differentiate it from those. The term shōbōgenzō can also be used more generally as a synonym for the Buddha Dharma as viewed from the perspective of Mahayana Buddhism.

Shōbōgenzō as a General Term

In Mahayana Buddhism the term True Dharma Eye Treasury (Japanese: Shōbōgenzō) refers generally to the Buddha Dharma, and in Zen Buddhism, it specifically refers to the realization of Buddha’s awakening that is not contained in the written words of the sutras.

In general Buddhist usage, the term “treasury of the Dharma” refers to the written words of the Buddha’s teaching collected in the Sutras as the middle of the Three Treasures of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. In Zen, however, the real treasure of the Dharma is not to be found in books but in one’s own Buddha Nature and the ability to see this Correct View (first of the Noble Eightfold Path) of the treasure of Dharma is called the “Treasure of the Correct Dharma Eye”.

In the legends of the Zen tradition, the Shōbōgenzō has been handed down from teacher to student going all the way back to the Buddha when he transmitted the Shobogenzo to his disciple Mahākāśyapa thus beginning the Zen lineage that Bodhidharma brought to China.

The legend of the transmission of the Shōbōgenzō to Mahākāśyapa is found in several Zen texts and is one of the most referred to legends in all the writings of Zen. Among the famous koan collections, it appears as Case 6 in the Wumenguan (The Gateless Checkpoint) and Case 2 in the Denkoroku (Transmission of Light). In the legend as told in the Wumenguan, the Buddha holds up a flower and no one in the assembly responds except for Arya Kashyapa who gives a broad smile and laughs a little. Seeing Mahākāśyapa’s smile the Buddha said,

    I possess the Treasury of the Correct Dharma Eye, the wonderful heart-mind of Nirvana, the formless true form, the subtle Dharma gate, not established by written words, transmitted separately outside the teaching. I hand it over and entrust these encouraging words to Kashyapa.

—————————————————————————————–

Here is an extract of the Shōbōgenzō by Dōgen which is reported as being a part of a lecture at Yoshimine Temple in 1243.(!) This comes from “Moon in a Dewdrop” edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi