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July 03, 2013


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When one awakens to pure Mind it is very, very easy to see what the Buddha-nature is in others and where they are asleep, closed off to it. That is why The Zennist wants people to first awaken to their immaculate, pure Mind. Without doing this first, it is a case of the blind leading the blind.

Ha, ha! Adasatala! Where HAS that Koan Samadhi vanished?? It's been replaced with "the power of positive thinking", "altruism" and "social conscience." I recently asked my Abbot "Shouldn't enlightenment be the FIRST and MOST IMPORTANT task of the bodhisattva? Otherwise, it will be religious busywork and 'the blind leading the blind.'"

The Abbot replied: "As for your understanding of the Bodhisattva ideal, in general you are right, self-realization is surely an important and necessary part of the goal, but the emphasis is not put there because of the concern of self-centerness. In fact, the understanding is that self-realization will come with the realization of others not because of "positive thinking" but as a practice and realization of seeing others as being interconnected with oneself (thus leading to the understanding of no-self and emptiness). Of course, to do so effectively one has to have some basic understanding and realization, without which one is not really utilizing the Buddhist teachings to help oneself (thus technically one is not practicing the Bodhisattva path). That is the reason why the definition of a Bodhisattva is 'a being who is enlightened to a degree and strives to enlighten all sentient beings in the process.' Again, the process is like an ascending spiral, both in terms of understanding and realization as well as the effectiveness of the practice. So, this Bodhisattva sometimes is a leader, a friend, or a caretaker (shepherd)."

In our Zen Center, it's good--but I run into a lot more pleasant people than I do enlightened people...and to be frank, why do I want self-realization? It is sure as hell not to help others, or even to help myself. It's being rankled because someone is seeing what I'm not seeing; it's (in Christian terms) "the lust of the eyes."


Mountains no longer leap,
and the sound of one hand clapping has long faded.


For me, the koan issue has become a red flag. Western Zen has no grasp of the koan and, I must say, that goes for Japan, too. In China, S. Korea and Vietnam there is still some understanding. When one beholds the pure Mind, it is easy to see the golden thread that run through koan literature. And here is another red flag. Where is pure Mind in modern Zen?

Very true indeed. A few months ago I attended a talk given by a Rinzai Abbot. At one point he touched upon koan study for a brief moment, which was really sad.

In an attempt to paraphrase an excerpt: "And you know, from time to time you would be questioned on the koan, and every time I would get nervous, you know, like, trying to remember what koan was it again? Oh jeez, you know."

Where has the Koan Samadhi vanished? What happened to being inseparable from the koan one was given? Never letting up, day and night?

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