Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What is this transmission?

donald wrote:
> In the transmission, other than the ceremonial, certification, sealing
> and robing, is there anything spiritual? What I am asking is that
> your description belongs to the "realm of visible forms". Is there
> anything "unvisible, real and true" being transmitted?

Dear Donald,

In Soto what is being transmitted is a way of being. Dogen constantly
refers to "negotiating the way". As far as I know the Soto sect does not
postulate on the unknowable.....the invisible....and as for truth...well
that seems to be in the eye of the beholder.

One of course, has to be able to see the way in order to negotiate it.
What is being stamped and approved is your "way of being" in the
world...now one can postulate whether there is something invisible or
some understanding that is being demonstrated here...but Soto pretty
much sticks to what you can see, hear,touch, taste, and smell. So we
watch...we see how you raise the curtain...there is a famous story where
one master turns to a senior monk and says about two monks raising the
Zendo curtain..."the one on the right has it." We put emphasis on acting
like a Buddha in the world, not about what you think about, or how
clearly you see.......what is important in Soto is whether or not you
act like a Buddha or Bodhisattva....not whether or not you know how one
should act. What we desire is to see the manifestation of the
Bodhisattva here and now, in each and everything you do.....so what is
certified is this demonstration.

Often in Soto circles you see reading, thinking, discussion in order to
understand spoken of as a waste of time.....if you take time to
understand, you have missed the moment..one cannot understand this
moment, one can only understand the last moment......so you are always a
step behind, a bit off if you wait for understanding. What matters is
not if you understand the story about Buddha holding up the flower and
Mahakashapa smiling...... Ananda understood the story ...it was not
enough....what is required is that in the instant the flower is held up
there is a smile.....this is why Mahakashapa got the robe and Ananda did
not. Ananda had memorized every word, understood every teaching, but was
still too late with the smile.


Be Well