Friday, April 15, 2005

beyond knowing

I came across
an interesting article written by Rev. Issho Fujita of the Pioneer
Valley Zendo in the February issue of the Dharma Eye published by the
Soto Zen International Center.

Rev. Fujita says:

"In in most other meditation practice,the issues involved take place
within the sphere of knowing and from beginning to end, these methods
focus on this sphere. In short, the core of the practice is concerned
with the regulation and control of conditions in the sphere of knowing.
In that sense they are build on "what-is-known-is-everything-ism" and we
can see that there is no interest in a dimension of beyond knowing. With
regard to this, zazen doesn't ignore the value of knowing, but the main
emphasis is put on beyond-knowing which transcends knowing and makes
knowing possible. It is precisely for this reason that no matter what
happens within the sphere of knowing, it is all right not to deal with
such things with your own thoughts and simply entrust yourself to their
appearance and disappearance by simply noticing them. In zazen,it is
enough to know that such things appear naturally moment to moment within
the sphere of knowing. It is not to have the intention of trying to
produce some special condition."

This beyond-knowing is what the "only don't know" advocates are pointing
to. It is this quest to "know" that is the be all and end all or what
Rev. Fujita calls "what-is-known-is-everything-ism" that is ultimately
futile. It is enough to recognize there is this beyond-knowing, and then
to stop the pursuit of every idea that occurs to its ultimate end, and
just let these things arise and pass withing your sphere of knowing
without an intent to pursue, to know, to have, to hold,to control,to
own,to create or to understand.

Dogen tells us in the Genjo Koan "there is clearly a limit to our
knowing. It isn't possible to grasp the limitless enlightenment of the
Buddha by means of our limited knowing. In the Bendowa Dogen states "if
perceptions and understanding are mixed in, then it is not the mark of

It is this practice of entrusting yourself to the appearance and
disappearance of phenomenon in your sphere of knowing, and just noticing
them that is the zazen of which Soto Zen speaks. It is this resting of
the mind comfortably for a few minutes, without trying to control,
create, or know, or hold or understand any particular thing or state,but
just noticing what arises in your sphere of knowing that is "just
sitting". One might say "well isn't this just sitting and noticing
then?"....if one sits down for a few moments one quickly realizes that
one cannot help noticing. Noticing is a part of everything we do, one
need not intend to notice. It happens naturally, if we only let it and
do not try and control what we notice. It is when we no longer try to
drive our mind down one particular track that we can begin to see what
it naturally is. We can begin to sense what we truly are.

There is a drive within all of us to "know" have to hold to control.
The reality is that none of us can know, hold or control. There are
things that will always be beyond our knowing, beyond our ability to
gain or hold, or control. One of the things that contributes to our
suffering is our desire to have what we cannot have. It makes our
current state of being seem small, confused, treacherous. Welcome to the
club. It is only when when we think there is another state (one where
our life is stable and in control and we know) that this true state of
our being seems diminished. We think if we could only be something
else...then everything would be better...we chase better jobs, better
homes, better thoughts, until we realize that wherever we go ...there we
are. Our life keeps arising in the same state. Rather than chase after
noble causes, pure thoughts, and intellectual heights of deception, we
just might try living our lives as they are..... Small, confused,
ignorant, and treacherous. It is after all the only thing that we can
really do. The great Zen Master Hakuin painted life as three blind men
on a log bridge...holding hands and tapping their way with their staffs
across a treacherous bridge. One mistake and splash! This is what he
indicated is the true state of our lives. If one focuses on being what
one is here and now, and notices everything that arises in our sphere of
thought, no matter how petty or small, one begins to live a life free of
restriction and suffering, and can be comfortable in whatever arises in
this place. We can begin to see the life we live, rather then looking
elsewhere for a dream of what could be. The life you are really living
is much more satisfying than any dream, even a dream of something

Here and now is the only place where you can act to change the reality
of your life, and the lives of those around you. If you are not paying
attention to here and now, it is pretty difficult to make a positive
change in anything that matters. Do not sacrifice your chance for
comfort and effectiveness for any dream of something better or any
imaginary state of being, even an imagined Nirvana. Nirvana is beyond
knowing, it cannot be contained in any knowing. If you know about it,
what you know is just not accurate. Better not to chase the lie at all.

Nirvana is like Cleveland... even if you ever get there you probably
will not care that you have arrived.

Be Well