Friday, December 24, 2004


Nothing fills the sky

Like the call

of Cranes

Will virtue lead to enlightenment?

Virtue is not enlightening. Concentration is not enlightening. Wisdom is not even enlightening. Again with the enlightening. You are still on the Hinayana track here (what is in it for me to be virtuous?), but even so there is an answer.

There is nothing you can do that is enlightening. There are only things you can do that are enlightenment.

Once you drop the idea that there is a you that is separate and not dependent on all things, that there is a you that is unchanged by the conditions under which it exists, then to be selfish and take care of you is to take care of all the things around the bag of bones your intellect resides in. This is virtuous behavior. There is nothing you can gain by stealing, stealing hurts you as much or more than it hurts the person stolen from. Disharmony at home is disharmony where you and all the things you depend on exist. It is your disharmony even if it is your wife or child that is screaming. The way to make things better for yourself is to make things better for the screaming child. You are not something that exists without the screaming child, you exist only in relation to the screaming child in that moment. Virtue then becomes not a rule that you follow, it becomes a way to take care of yourself. Compassion is not something you cultivate it becomes a description of the way you are in the world. Virtue is not something that causes you to be awake to your life, it is the result of being awake.

The precepts are not rules you follow in order to get enlightenment, they are descriptions of enlightened behavior. The 10 powers of a bodhisattva are not something you practice in order to become a bodhisattva they are a description of the results of acting like a bodhisattva.

You can meditate forever and not awaken to the realization that there is no you that exists without the support of your environment and all things in it, there is no you that does not change as all the things around you change, you are only a whirlpool that results from a rock in a steam, dependent on both rock and moving water for your existence. It would be a good idea for you to take care of both rock and the moving water as much as you can.

You can meditate forever and get up and steal as well. There is no particular virtue in meditation. There is really nothing for you to gain from meditation. It is not something you do to gain something.

A person who understands would not steal. He would offer the thief the moon if he could, because the more the thief understands, the better off the person who had something stolen will be. The more satisfied the thief is, the less that is stolen and the the more satisfied the person stolen from will be and he will have helped all the other victims as well. Sitting down to meditate when something is stolen to gain some calmness does not really help the situation, unless and until you get up and go and take away the thief's motivation for stealing. This virtuous behavior makes your existence better. If you need to sit for a few moments in order to become clear enough to act, by all means do so, but do not pretend that sitting down to meditate all by itself makes one bit of difference to the thief, and if it is all you do, it really will not solve anything even for you the next time the thief returns either. (how many times have I heard "I have sat for years and nothing is any better. I think I have some stability then wham something knocks me off it again and I am back to square one...where is the improvement?...why has it not worked to make me calm, more stable?, after fifteen years I still am just as unsettled as I was when I started" ?) All the understanding in the world will not make it better the next time the thief returns. It is only acting on that understanding in a virtuous way that makes the thief stop stealing. This will make it better for you and all beings the next time he or she returns. This thief or another will return. It is not a matter of "if" it is only a matter of "when". When the thief returns what will you do?...better yet, before the thief returns what will you have done?

Be Well


just being in the moment

One of the things about being in the moment is that it is also often misinterpreted to mean only thinking about the shower you are about to enter, but what if this moment is a moment of planning for your day, your week, or your child's wedding? ..then just plan. Once you can be in the moment, then it becomes a practice to stand up in the moment, (not be blown away by the moment) and finally to take care of this moment (act in a way that is beneficial to you and to all beings...since last time I checked you are also a being).

We all want to be done. We want to get there. but in this case there is the end of this life. When we put it that way there is no particular motivation to finish. Buddha entered Nirvana at the end of his life, just be sure when you seek nirvana you are aware of the prerequisites. "This" becomes the journey, and "this moment" becomes your life. If this moment is one in the bathroom, then just piss, if this moment is on the cushion, then just sit. If this moment is one of confusion and distress, just be confused and distressed. It is perfectly all right to be where you are as you are..this is the freedom you are offered. This whole life journey is a process, and we are all like my kindergarten daughter who thought we all should be able to write our name without going through the process of learning how to do it. Right now you are in the process of learning how to do it, it is a fine place to be. We should not be killing this moment of being in the process for desire for a moment of being at the end of the process. Just do it. Just inquire about the schedule and follow it.

Dogen says the first time you sit, right there the right dharma is manifest. Our practice is a practice of manifesting the right dharma. If in your present moment the right dharma is being in process, then be in process. Relax. Just be here now, wherever here is, including in the bathroom, in the school, on the job, or in your relationship. Take care all of all beings there with you as best you can. Do not fret over a mistake made a moment ago, do not break your arm patting yourself on the back for what you did well a moment ago.
I hope you have met some people who are a step ahead in the process, then you can at least have some faith that the process is one you in fact desire. If this is true then just begin manifesting the right dharma here and now, and in the next moment and the next, and as you practice manifesting the right dharma, eventually your whole life becomes such a manifestation. Just begin the process, and have a little faith in the process. If you bought the idea of process from a book, or from deep dissatisfaction with things as they are, it is my recommendation that you find someone who has some traits you admire. Ask them how they do what they do, then just follow the schedule. This is the function of a teacher, if you choose a teacher where you do not wish to gain what they have...then you have no trust in the process. If there is no trust in the process then there is no ability to relax and undergo the process. (remember the Dalai Lama did not spring forth from a lotus..there was a lot of mud there, including having your country taken away before you even had a chance to rule it as you thought should be done, being a colossal failure as a ruler of a country, and as a result of that failure having your friends murdered and your citizens tortured.)....perhaps before we covet a Dalai Lama-like demeanor we should take a little look at the process and see if we really want to undergo it.

We all see ourselves as capable and smart. We all think we should be able to write our name without going through the process. It would be nice if just because we are capable and smart we could just skip the process of learning. Unfortunately this is not the way it works. Just be in the process of learning..that is where you really are. We should not consider ourselves the bodhisattva, we are the suffering beings the boshisattvas come to aid.

Once a student came upon Katagiri Roshi eating breakfast and reading the newspaper. The student said "Hojo-san, you are always telling us to 'just sit', or 'just write', Yet here you are reading and eating." Katagiri responded, "Yes, but I am just eating and reading the newspaper."

Being a teacher is just another step in the process, do not covet the next step till the time for the next step arrives, the last step (or apparent last step) of the journey is a doozy..I am in no hurry to get there. I, for one, am content with just being in the process. I see no need to pretend I am done, or I am perfect..I am in process, just like everyone else alive today is.

I am not sure what happens when we die, if the process continues, or if it ends, I sure am in no hurry to find out.

Be Well


On the Great Poet Basho

Basho? Basho is a liar.

All poets are liars.

I looked under the paper and in the ink.

There was no frog there.