Did you see the moon? It’s now the half moon. The new moon cannot illuminate the
world. When there are clouds, we cannot see the moon nor the moon can illuminate
the world. If we are not interested in the moon, we don’t see it and care about its
phases. The full moon is compared to the Buddha mind or heart, full free
functioning, brightly illuminating the world.
King Âdassa, Mirror, might have had the mirror-like face, mind, or heart - like the
full moon, perfectly round and brilliant, illuminating the world and reflecting
reality. He summoned blind people, to feel an animal and report it. They reported it
is like a snake, a pillar, a wall, etc., and started fighting for their own truths - all only
partial views, unlike his seeing all of this.
Decades ago a taxi driver came here to learn Zazen only a few times and said that he
got it 95%. We shouldn’t claim that we got Soto tradition by glancing Dogen
interpretations, or Zen tradition by learning some sayings of it, or Buddhist teaching
by reading hearsays. As Dogen said, the true Buddha Dharma was transmitted by
Bodhidharma with the actual attainment.
Bodhidharma taught it and transmitted to the second patriarch Eka (Huike) Daiosho
only after having shown his determination by presenting his severed forearm after
waiting in the deep snow. Aspirants for attainment at practice places must show
their determinations despite dismissals and after long waiting and at least a week
long sitting in Tangaryō (旦過寮, Passersby Dorm).
As you know well, we have all kinds of problems in our world - wars, global warming,
mass extinction, etc., all coming from ego, I, Ich, aham. Only seeing the small self,
we do not see the whole world, eco. Eco, oikos, home, became essentially economy
(oikos+nomos, home economy, domestic economy) and evading ecology
(oikos+logos, home truth, universal truth).
That is why we have so many problems and sufferings simply saving private
economies, externalizing and excluding the public ecology and global ethic. Last
week I talked about Soto, Zen, Buddhist teachings and traditions. Dogen said, ”To
learn the Awakened Way is to learn the self. To learn the self is to forget the self. To
forget the self is to be verified by all Dharmas…”
Only in this way can we learn the Awakened Way, not lending it only as an accessory
of the ego life. Soto, Zen, Buddhist traditions teach us to forget the self - to drop off
our bodies and minds. Zen is often called Poverty Path and Buddhism is Purity Path.
As you know, the Buddha possessed nothing - his home, home country, and even
food, depending on nothing and living on joy.
His life and Zen masters’ lives have been most ecological, never damaging the
Dharma world. We must sit and stop our karmas, fitting into the Dharma world.
Actually they have attained the Dharma bodies, Dharma-kāya. It consists of
morality, concentration, pro-gnosis, liberation, and liberation knowledge (sīla,
samādhi, paññā, vimutti, vimutti-nāņa, gobun-hosshin, five-part Dharma body).
One of Dogen’s poem in reference to the Lotus Sutra reads as follows:
Colors of peaks and
Sounds of valleys are
Altogether voices and
Forms of my Shakyamuni.
The true Shakyamuni Buddha was beyond his skin sack or his family name. When
called ”Bho Gotamo!,” he said, ”I am not Gotama. I am Tathāgata (Thus-being,
being in Thusness).” Dogen loved Xuansha’s expression ”the entire world in ten
directions is a ball of clear crystal.” Such is attained only by Shikantaza (只管打坐,
just sitting, devoted sitting), stopping karmas, settling in the supramundane.
Our world is doomed by mundane views and values with ego defilement or leaks
(āsava), the triple poisons of delusion, craving, and anger. This is due to mundane
truth (sammuti sacca). Only in nirvana can we witness the supramundane
paramount truth (parama-attha sacca). It is the unicolored Buddha Dharma, which
Bodhidharma practiced nine years and faced.
The Buddha spent six years to attain it - the right Dharma eye stored in the exquisite
heart of nirvana. Only in this way can we reach the undefiled (an-āsava, muro, 無漏)
truth, goodness, and beauty, holy (wholly wholesome) harmony, health, and
happiness. In this mundane realms we have only defiled truth, goodness, beauty,
justice, just war, good day, etc.
Such mundane, defiled, selfish goodness, etc., are not universally good for other
people, species, generations, etc. So, our conventional truth, goodness, beauty, etc.
are not ultimate truth, etc. The Buddhist traditions tell about the Three Eras of True
Dharma, Imitation Dharma, and Degenerate Dharma. The first and second last 500
and 1,000 years (or other combinations of them).
The True Dharma Era was with the true teaching, practice, and witnessing. The
Imitation or Formal Dharma Era had only formal, figurative, superficial,
superstitious teachings and practices, without witnessing it. The Degenerate Dharma
Era after them has been with only scriptural teaching, without actual practicing and
witnessing. We are in the last era in this least area.
Conventional truth (sammuti sacca) is simply agreement among people in a certain
place and age, not universal encompassing and embracing all species, space and
time. Paramount truth (paramattha sacca) is truth in the ultimate sense, fact,
objective, and merit. This is like the full moon in full, free function, bright and
beautiful, unlike the new, crescent, or even half moon.
Small, selfish views are stored in the haughty heart of karma-conditioning unlike
“the right Dharma eye stored in the exquisite heart of nirvana.” This is why we need
to sit constantly and concentratedly to come back from karma to Dharma, from
mundane to supramundane, from ego to eco. Only then, maybe we can have the
ecological justice, truth, goodness, and beauty.
Note: 1. Tathāgata is usually translated as Thus-come (Tathā-āgata, Nyorai, 如来),
and less often as Thus-gone (Tathā-gata, Nyoko, 如去), but as there is neither
coming nor going (cf. Nagarjuna’s eight negations, Zen witness of śūnyatā,
substanceless, nirvana, etc.), Tathā-gata is Thus-being or Being-in-Thusness (如存)
as in hasta-gata āmra, mango being on the hand/palm.
2. Conventional truth (sammuti sacca, sammuta satya) is simply sectional and
sectarian truth. Paramount, primary truth (parama-attha sacca, parama-artha
satya, shōgitai, 勝義諦, daiichigitai, 第一義諦) is the first, all-inclusive, universal,
ultimate, supreme, supramundane, sense, truth, matter, and merit.
Aurora, Iceland, photo by Olgeir Andresson, National Geographic