Saturday, May 5, 2007

Effortlessness - simple yet challenging

I have been drawn to certain teachings (or should I say different expressions of the same fundamental teaching) and have been collecting them here. Thanks to James from the Buddhist blog I have added another. I will briefly butcher the underlying premise and then hope that your own practice and the words of others will do more justice to that which is being conveyed.

As I wrote at The Buddhist Blog, perception and intellect are limited - not bad, not something to be shunned or minimized, but also not relied on to grasp the Truth being described. I think to some looking at Buddhism from the outside such admonitions may seem like forms anti-intellectualism or anti-rationalism, given the focus on using various combinations of our intellect and our perceptions to form our basic maps of reality (memory, imagination, etc). But even so, it doesn't take much to demonstrate that both the intellect and perception, while important and useful, are woefully limited.

Instead the practice advocated in some form or another by various Buddhist traditions (but most blatantly by Chan/Zen) is paying attention/focusing on (our) actions, effortlessly, without resorting to judgment or elaboration or abstraction. To truly grasp (realize? ...notice?) that sitting is sitting, crapping is crapping, scratching is scratching. No greater or deeper revelation is necessary from reflection or sensation to improve upon such attentiveness (which is not an obsessive focus of great mental force being constantly applied like neurotic self-consciousness). And in that situation, one is also not "being in the moment", which is already an abstraction and the start of dualistic thinking, but simply being. Whether our appreciation this results from a visualization practice of Tibetan Buddhism or from the true entrusting of Shin Buddhism or the direct focus of Zen or some other tradition or lineage is irrelevant. That is why so many of the quotes are from such a diverse array of places and times. So here are those who can and have said it far better and more succinctly than I could ever hope to:

"Affliction is Bodhi and the cycle of birth and death is Nirvana"
-Platform Sutra of Hui Neng

"Form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form; form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form"
-Heart Sutra

"The Way does not require cultivation, just don't pollute it."
-Chan ancestor Mazu

Recent quotes from Beliefnet:

"Although you may understand the explanations, if you are still suffering because of problems, you clearly do not understand the true nature of your mind, your body, and your senses."
-Lama Zopa Rinpoche

"You have always been one with the Buddha, so do not pretend you can ATTAIN to this oneness by various practices."
-Huang Po

"Just understand that birth-and-death is itself nirvana. There is nothing such as birth and death to be avoided; there is nothing such as nirvana to be sought. Only when you realize this are you free from birth and death."

"Hear me, future disciples!
Your time will have been badly wasted if you neglect to put this teaching into practice."

"What you should do is to know your own mind and realize your own buddha-nature, which neither rests nor moves, neither becomes nor ceases to be, neither comes nor goes, neither affirms nor denies, neither stays nor departs."
-The Sutra of Hui-Neng

The current quotes being added to the list:

"Happy is one who knows samsara and nirvana are not two."
-Milarepa, "Drinking the Mountain Stream"

"Enlightenment is a way of saying that all things are seen in their intrinsic empty nature, their Suchness, their ungraspable wonder. Names or words are merely incidental, but that state which sees no division, no duality, is enlightenment."

At this moment, is there anything lacking? Nirvana is right here now before our eyes. This place is the lotus land. This body now is the Buddha.

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