The Koans and us

The Koans and us

IMG_20160418_184838

Gongans/koans are important texts, they are part of our history and was bequeathed to us by the masters of the past. Now, it is often used too systematically, no need to go through all the gongans to practice, as the japanese rinzai schools have done, this is not our way. The gongans are what HsuYun called tail words, they are the manifestation, a posteriori, of an exchange which led someone to awakening. But we must never forget that the gongan only bore these fruits when the individual was close, the individual has practiced for many years before, the gongan is therefore only the tail, the end, of the process. This is why our tradition, which can use koans, will especially stick to the word head (huatou), to the central question of the gongan. This can bring us back through introspection to the same achievement as the gongan. But our party is to say that we do not need to pass through hundreds of gongan, the practitioner of the huatou will often have only one all his life, sometimes two or three if he does not bear fruit and that the master redirects the student’s practice according to his needs. But fully realizing our nature does this only once. Now where it makes sense is that it’s not enough to have gotten a great kensho and then that’s it, once the nature of our mind is recognized, the only one is born the beginning of the way of chan, of naturalness, and therefore the possibility of simply practicing zazen, pcq the practitioner will be able to really enter into samadhi with his one spirit.

 

Our way is therefore, the recitation of the name and the precepts in the daily life to sit our practice, then the practice of the huatou to open the doors, the veils, and to recognize our spirit by penetrating into the chan, (sometimes several huatou are necessary on a lifetime), and then only the practice of serene naturalness, the royal samadhi of zuochan (the practice of all too often trivialized zazen).

 

Regarding the practice, do not worry about your achievements. Never weighted, never introduces good or bad, the reduction of the respiratory rate, or the superficial chi which circulates are side effects of our practice. Some schools focus on these phenomena, for us they are only things that happen, it is important to know them so as not to get carried away by them. There is, however, no point in denying them.

 

Classically, Zen treats them all as makkyo if not the students so attached and do nothing more than try to reproduce its possible states of grace, or to avoid very disturbing states … to the detriment of real practice: to realize our heart -spirit, our true nature.

The beginning of the path can be expressed in terms of a method for realizing the nature of the mind, but once the land of the mind is recognized, we are outside of all methods, chan is pure naturalness! This is real zazen, no more words are useful, just the serene and luminous presence.

It is a process towards serene naturalness. In short, a mystical path since it is located in experience, beyond words and conventions, a reversal of our brains where all perceptions remain but where the self, the ego has disappeared (that’s the satori from when we recognize our true nature). In short, a natural state where we recognize that there is nothing to take away and nothing to add!

 

The practice of recitation allows the same path. First discipline and firmness in practice. Then, when the practice is stable, a voluntary turning inward, towards the root of this spirit, beyond perceptions and other manifestations, we illuminate the base of the spirit. By dive with openness and concentration, at one point the recitation is done by itself ‘without recitation’ say the texts. By dive in with concentration and relaxation, ‘he who’ disappears and we experience the recognition of our Land of the Spirit. And only then the possibility of a serene naturalness practice (recitation in naturalness, this Just Now that we know well). At this stage, the zazen is not only the seat or the recitation, in a word the chan has been penetrated and we continue to dig and to walk towards ourselves but in all simplicity.

 

Asking too many questions can become a brake on the relaxation necessary to dive into the deepest practice and experience this reversal of the spirit which leads years to realization, to the recognition of its luminous vastness.

We must persevere without asking questions, give ourselves to practice until immolating ourselves in it, until our whole being burns there and a new being is reborn, but yet no different. This is the entrance to the mystical path. It takes this very mystical passage, based on trust in the Amitabha Buddha, on his universal light, before heto understand the nature of the spirit and to be able to practice the True Direct Way.

 

I hope that it will help you a little and that it will bring more answers than questions. You must cultivate faith, yes the word is dropped. But not blind faith, faith that is born of trust and knowledge. Understanding intellectually the nature of amitabha and its pure land as only the mind is important, but at some point it is also a hindrance. Unnecessary intellectualization.

 

It is sincere faith / trust in our true nature, in the pure land of the Buddha of life and light which allows us to be reborn and to receive our teaching (realizing our nature and living in serene naturalness-so). .. it is necessary to go beyond oneself, and thus enter into chan … right here and now.

Cessation, samadhi and Satori

Cessation, samadhi and Satori

IMG_20200413_184850

Samadhi is a Natural consequence of the practice towards knowing our true nature. Through deep and purified consciousness. Samadhi is only a deep state of consciousness, but not usual consciousness. It is a state of temporary withdrawal from the ego, often accompanied by a deep realization and an ecstatic state, especially when it is experienced the first time. It’s a gradual, deep track, like a stone going slowly to the depths of a seemingly bottomless lake. Unlike the instant satori, the ego simply disappears there, torn from the illusion it exerts on us, it gives way to the experience of reality without masks and judgments, the ease of the ego-free.

 

The way of cessation consists in the search for samadhi, by any practice gradually allowing concentration and a calm and serene mind, thus experimenting more and more subtle forms of consciousness. In these states it may seem that self-consciousness disappears for longer and longer moments, from its moments can emerge deep realizations. Cessation is therefore the way of calm, of progressive pacification of the body, of breaths and thoughts. It is a fabulous means which can lead to experiences of the same nature of Satori, kenshos (moments of deep realization by the momentary withdrawal of the ego, often experienced as ecstasies or beatitudes.

 

But it is very different from Satori, from what I have studied, practiced and especially received from Ming Zhen and all my masters: it is the same nature this (a withdrawal of the ego which allows to taste directly what is ) but it is different in two ways: its sudden appearance and its profound implications.

It’s no longer a temporary withdrawal from the ego, it’s an ego to be taken out of this body, and out of awareness of who we are: neither an ego / mind, nor a physical body, nor anything that is outside of that … here is a fundamental gongan!

The experience is stronger and above all more lasting. Attention, this experience, the satori, also lasts only a few seconds, after this experience the ego is still BUT it no longer takes, it’s like “having seen the world through the eyes of the mountains and going back to live in the body of an ant ”, you don’t get caught.

 

We have had a real experience of the fact that there is no differentiated thing called ego, neither with us nor with others, only houses of cards that we build like children. We have built chimeras and we firmly believe in them, more firmly than what we are told about the reality of our deep experiences.

 

Our way is, by the practice of the concentration in zuo chan to reach the cessation (of which the achievement is gradual and carrying experiences, but attention !!! Once reached, samadhi has nothing gradual, l ‘to reach is to see the earth of the spirit, to understand how our spirit really is. But there is still the presence of doubts, of the ego and these games, in short it is not yet satori.

From there, we practice simplicity, the naturalness of zazen, or we continue what we practiced with simplicity. We recognized the nature of his spirit and we practice the return, « residing and living simply according to the precepts ».

So we polite ourselves, while waiting for the right moment, of the harmony which suddenly, after years of practice ranging from concentration to cessation, from cessation to samadhi, to the realization of samadhi as “serene naturalness”, has the experience of satori. No more ego or traces of doubt, just certainty and freedom!

 

It is a journey that corresponds to the main phases of our lineage, the Indian patriarchs bequeathed us the sutras, the precepts and the practices of concentration and observation which leads to Cessation and to the Samadhis, the Chinese Patriarchs bequeathed to us the Samadhis based on naturalness, and the masters succeeding them the practices leading to just practice, and differences, from Samadhi THEN, after years of practice, to the suddenness of Satori. (Those who transmitted gongans and Huatou to us to see our Spirit directly (Linji, Yunmen, Chenglu), and those who left us the calm and serene way, and direct, the royal zuochan or zazen (Chihi, Bodhidharma, Huineng, Huangpo) , to deepen our harmony with what is, waiting WITHOUT WAITING !!!, since everything is already there, the Satori which will only be fortuitous and sudden. Masters like Hanshan and HsuYun have transmitted to us the whole Buddhist way, anchored in the Chinese Mahayana and allowing us to make this journey in ourselves, towards ourselves and the world.IMG_20200413_184850

Knowing the sacred

Knowing the sacred

IMG_20200102_105823

Knowing the sacred and recognizing the true divine where it is, that’s how we recognize a practitioner of the way.

He is not attached or disgusted by concepts like that of god or divine. It is he who sees in the ideas of others a latent, vestigial form of Christianity when they use when they use a Christian term to designate the divine / sacred universal.

Those are precisely those who are trapped in concepts, and whose minds are so influenced by the latent forms of Christianity. The proof is that he does not perceive the universal significance of the sacred. And implies an obligatory relation between the divine and the divinity.

Besides the judeo Christian heritage which always serves as benchmarks, even if he stands in opposition to him, he can only conceive of the divinity as a creator, which is not a real problem since ‘it is BUT the divinity is not an external, separate element.

Everything and everyone participates. It is neither exterior nor interior, which would be a limited view. It is emptiness itself. This emptiness and our Buddhist nature, our universal nature which embraces all form and everything.

Amituofo!

Walking to ourselves

IMG_20200119_160953

Once upon a time there was a 10 years old boy asking himself questions. The boy was quite happy and his hard working immigrant parents had done everything they could to assure him the most comfortable life they could afford. He was raised by a Jewish mother and a Catholic father and was sent to a good Catholic school… so everything was OK.

Of course, he had learned from his mother that she had cancer but that didn’t know what it really meant. His mother seemed to be fine to him, she was still smiling, playing with her kinds and just being the extraordinary mom they always had. One day however, he understood what cancer was. Cancer was the sickness that made mom loose her hair and cry when she thought she was alone. Of course, his world fell apart. Like the young Gautama getting out of his golden palace, he began to look around him and realize that there was life and death in this world and that things were impermanent. In his words « why we suffer ».

In his Catholic school he had the opportunity to get interested in religion and began to ask the priests and monks he encountered about it. At the age of twelve, he had been authorized to stay twice at an urban monastery for a whole week-end to partake the monks duties and liturgy. But being also from a Jewish background, he would also go to the local synagogue every Friday.

And soon the spiritual child would share his week-ends between boy scouts and diverse liturgical services. At that time being a 12 years old and going by oneself to church or school  was still quite normal… things have change a bit. His parents being very open and seeing his spiritual urge, just let him go to several services on weekends and soon he was familiar with not only his Catholic and Jewish background but also with Protestant and Orthodox Christianity.  Asking questions, studying the texts and coming back with more questions that child felt that there was something more than what his eyes could see, there was something more to life than its end… death. Being from an immigrant family the child became obsessed with History and Religion, with what could tell his story and the story of the societies he was living in. But still, something was missing and the little child had that same inner doubt that made him ask himself all the existential questions one could ask: Why? How? Who?

Of course, people knowing me know the little boy was me. So there I was urging for what I felt was a real lack. There had to be something more to the world than the differences. You are different from your brother, from your neighbor, from … something didn’t felt right, at a deeper level I knew that everyone was kind of the same when in love, when in pain, when hungry, angry, …

From my own eyes, all these priests and rabbis I had been asking for questions for years were talking the same truth. We are not only impermanent things determine to die but we had a soul, something permanent and holy that we shared with God… What a relief. But yet, how to live that truth?

So, in my early adolescence I was searching for the methods to « polish the soul » if I may say. Prayers, good deeds, prostrations, services, contemplation… And I gradually encountered what I may know call the « power of silence ». When I shut up, my mind would shut up and was not alone in that inner silence. Things have gone and come but there was a relief there, a raft, a shelter. After sometime, I realized that letting time to silence, the quality of silence itself deepened, I was more concentrated and simply joyful to be in the presence of silence.

Of course, I was also an adolescent with friends and parties to go to. And the adolescent mindset being what it is, I was all about taking my spiritual thirstiness into action too, but in a more systematize way.

At that time, between 14 and 15 probably, I was deeply in love with a Vietnamese girl. And the only thing I could see to spend some time with her, her parents being very attentive to her not going to parties and such, was at her local Buddhist pagoda. So, I enrolled in the school journal and said I would wrote a column on spirituality, as people knew I was into that kind of thing… they just accepted right away.

So, there I was at her local temple, I could see her and talk to her… with her parents always being on sight. That thing never really got anywhere. But I had committed to do a series of articles on Buddhism so I was kind of obliged to go to that temple several times. After the first six articles I had promised to the journal, I found myself returning to the pagoda every Sunday and not at church anymore.

Very naturally, I felt quite at home in the pagoda. An old lay Buddhist man took the time to explain me the whole liturgy, the purpose of the different parts of it and everything. And so I began to read about Buddhism and identify as a Buddhist but never in contradiction with my previous Judeo-Christian background. I felt more of a complementarity. Soon, I realized that Buddhism was a really huge community with a wide range of philosophy, psychology and what interested me the most meditation practices. And I began to see that all the Christian or Jewish practices existed in a way or another in the « Library of Buddhist Practices ». That could seem nothing, but to me it made the certitude that it was the right path to me. Yet, Buddhism is very diverse and I still had to find what branch of Buddhism was the best for me.

And than I made the error every convert may make… I became more catholic than the pope. Suddenly, I had some certitudes, I read Walpola Rahula’s basic Teachings of the Buddha book and thought I knew the real stuff. Thus, the very family oriented and devotional Vietnamese pagoda, with their devotion to Amitabha Buddha and Zhunti GuanYin all wrapped in colorful lights and fabrics… just felt below my great knowledge and aspirations. I didn’t knew it but I had become a little sectarian know it all… or more simply a Buddhist jerk.

So I did go to the most authentic Theravadha authorities I could find from the Burmese and Thai traditions and attended their classes. They were lovely communities but again I didn’t felt in the right spot. Partly because I was a self oriented jerk lacking compassion and partly because this idea that you had to be a monk to experience the real stuff just didn’t sound to my hears. Of course, everyone could be a monk for a limited period of time, which is very very common, but still… didn’t felt right.

One day I realized from a Buddhist friend that a small Tibetan center existed two blocks away from home… Big cities you know, sometimes you don’t even know your own neighbor. So I went. At that time, I was quite sure I knew all kind of practices available to a spiritual seeker but encountering the Vajrayana sure was something I didn’t expected. I knew it from books but being in the presence of the teachers and the ceremonies and all that was amazing to my adolescent mind. Yet, what caught me was that I knew that beyond the deity practices (yidam), that were by themselves a true source of compassion… including the self compassion I probably lacking at the time, were the Dzogchen or Mahamudra. The texts relating to Mahamudra and Dzochen that encountered in this path just blew my mind. No need to look for our true self in an infinite quest, just here, just this clear mind … a taste of freedom that I would never forget.

When I used to go to the Vietnamese pagoda I didn’t quite understood what Mahayana Buddhism was all about and, in a funny way, I had to encounter Vajrayana to understand the heart of Mahayana Buddhism. Because from a young age I knew that there was not only impermanence, death and suffering but now I knew that I had the same Nature than the Buddhas and that holy « soul » was not from a different essence. Nirvana could be find in this very life. The Tibetan tradition had masters in his lineage that were prostitute or butchers, just normal dudes and that felt right.

So I went to ceremonies and attended training sessions for some years. The Dzogchen and Mahamudra texts were profound and, again quite funnily, they lead me to meet some Zen guys who presented me Zen and Daoist text. I could find in these Zen texts, the same « taste of freedom » that I was still striving for. But the setting was very different. These guys Patriarchs were really normal men… maybe a bit too much. Look at it for yourself: a Blue eyed dark skinned stranger as a first Patriarch, a disabled arm missing guy for second, and a leper for third Patriarch, not mentioning my favorite one, the illiterate one for sixth Patriarch.

So, I tried to go to Zen groups or dojos. And I could see that each group had is very own way to adapt not only the teachings and practices to their reality but also the material aspect of it. That could seem stupid but until that time I was so spiritual I was very denying of the material side of life… So seeing these groups adapting so beautifully and simply to their houses, community centers or Zen centers, finding ways to express their Zen thing with what they could really touched me. It was not only a discource for the mind but also a praxis for the body. And in ways I had find these in all other traditions, Buddhist or not, but so complicated by rituals and formulas and gestures and … that in comparison the minimal (yet no so simple) form of most Zen groups seemed very open and humble in comparison. It was just right for me, every little thing just seem to be at his very place… and thus I had found mine. And their, quite astonishingly, I found an old friend who had been around all the time: inner silence. The possibility to just be, to fully be, with body and mind. To enter into unity with that Silence. What the old master call the silent part of Emptiness… that that place with no inner chit chat, a place of vastness and union with silence.

And my Zen life went on for years on that path. Of course, I found sectarian and ridiculous views and attitudes in Zen just as I did in other groups. But I had find something that felt true beyond the differences, words, traditions, beyond myself. That blissful encounter with Amitabha light. Zen is samadhi, Silence and Union, a direct and mystical encounter with our very own Buddha Nature. But Emptiness as several sides and experiencing merely the Empty side of emptiness is still being totally blind.

And after some years, being very serious about the matter of Zen, I entered kind of a dark zone, a zone of deadly emptiness, deadly stillness in meditation… something didn’t felt right anymore. I was part of a very friendly and precious Zen community at the time, which is still very active on the Internet, they do an amazing job.

But I didn’t find in the Zen world I knew the answers of what was in fact a Zen disease. And fortunately it is at that time that I encountered our Zen Order and my main teacher since, Ming Zhen Shakya. First trough her book « the Seventh World of Chan » which gave me the answers I needed and then personally. Trough her teachings and advices, I became to understand that I had to accept things fully, to embrace my whole existence. And after some turmoils too long to explain, I really found the beauty of Zen in an Orthodox Christian Retreat. I came to realize that « seeing Zen » or entering Samadhi wasn’t enough. All the Zen masters had given their advices but I hadn’t hears to listen. Entering Zen is crucial but it is only the beginning of the Zen path. One must enter the inner road of Self Transformation through the letting go of the small self the Big Self manifests. That Was the Zen of manifestation.

No matter what faith, Buddhist school or Christian school of thought, some of the mystical members of these school would have direct experience of what is beyond words, that is entering Zen, entering our Universal Nature. But What is very peculiar to each one of us is that we have to manifest that Universal truth in our own way, our own lives, our own acts. And that is a « never ending actualization of Zen ». So that it takes a whole life to manifest what a Zen life is. No shortcuts, no sectarian door on the side to enter the Truth quicker or express it louder than anyone else. We must experience and then manifest Zen in our very life in our own very way.

The little boy is now  way older, he has a wife, kids, house and all the joys of life. May he never forget that Life, Love, or as we say : Zen, is a life process to manifest.

May all being find the presence of inner Silence and unite with its Universal Truth.

My Buddha is better than yours

IMG_20200421_180210

My Buddha is better than yours

Informal discussion on the practice of Huatou in our lineage

 

My Buddha is better than yours! My practice beats yours! No way your silly thing rides you to enlightenment before me… and we could go on and on. Of course, we never hear that per se. But that is what we can ‘read’ between the lines sometimes, both in others that we may interact with… and in us, lets be honest.

There is a natural tendency in each of us to think that our choices and references are better than the ones that people around us assume. That is a crucial part of our practice: doubting. Not staying on any position or thought. But its easy to say, not so easy to do… how to do that anyway?

 

Well, the great chance for a teacher are his student questions. Each question demands to deeply search and expound, to adapt an answer to his student needs and capacities. And I had a teacher who, through his questions, obliged me to go deeper and deeper in my own relation to our main practice: reflecting on the Huatou to shed light on the MindGround. That student was a serious practitionner of a Japanese School of Buddhism for 20 years. During these two decades he practiced and, above all, studied. In this school of Nichiren Buddhism he meet tremendous people, and especially an old and compassionate teacher. When his teacher had to come back to Japan, he left the school and continued practicing and studying for years on his own.

 

One day he came to know my own teachings and come to see me because he knew that Master Hsu Yun and his followers were, generally, sincere Buddhists who praised the Lotus Sutra. He also had in mind that Hsu Yun himself actually studied Huatou Meditation with a Tientai master. He then asked me to teach him our “Tientai Chan Meditation style”. 

“What a soup” I thought, he seemed to blend everything. 

He was sincere and dedicated to his practice but he had one big problem. He was a real connaisseur of Japanese Buddhism, knowing all his schools, teachings and practices and he tried to paste his understanding of Japanese Buddhism on Chinese Buddhism. 

 

And we could say they have lots in common, but they grew totally differently. Lots of Japanese schools existed previously in China but almost none was identified as a separate school per se. Take Pure Land tradition, in Japan it exists as a different school (we could say schools because of different splits), in China it is a feature of almost all Lineages and Schools (note that these years some are trying to create a distinctively Pure Land school based on Japanese Models). 

In his mind, we had a common ancestry, the historical Buddha of course, but more importantly in his eyes: Tientai Buddhism. Tientai Buddhism is the first True form of Chinese Buddhism, putting toguether the core of Mahayana principles of philosophy based on the Prajna, Nirvana and Lotus Scriptures; giving a skeleton to meditation practices based on the traditional Shamatha-Vipassana understood as Zhi-Guan/Stopping and Seeing; and becoming a symbol of Chinese Mahayana itself. And Chan Buddhism, wich is different from Tientai Buddhism per se, can be seen as a direct path of Mahayana Buddhism taking its roots in Tientai Buddhism as the core of Chinese Mahayana Buddhism. 

So he wanted his practice to come closer to Chih-i and his Zhi-Guan thing (jp. Shikan). Thus, I introduced him to the practice of repeating the name of Amitabha, as I would with every student. Oh my, what did I do? He recited with the utmost sincerity, and almost rage, the sayings of Nichiren against Pure Land schools of his time. Giving me more and more evidences showing that one must certainly not repeat Amida’s name he noted that I wasn’t paying attention to him for a few seconds. ‘Did you understood?’ he asked. And yes, I was understanding that it would take time. Time to make him realise that all Buddhas share the same nature. Time to realise that the Buddha gaves to his disciples 84.000 skillful means to enlightenment and that repeating Buddhas names was one of them. It would take time for him to understand how different Chinese Buddhist monasteries are than Japanese ones. In a Chinese Chan monastery, you can find monks of PureLand or Tientai or any school of Chan. The Abbot himself may be a master from a different Lineage… time to break all the barriers that he built by his years of sincere, yet sectarian, study (or “reading with one eye only” as one of my old teachers used to say). 

 

But Nevertheless, through the years of relation and common practice we had he is a student that helped me understand more profoundly how deeply linked to Tientai Buddhism the teachings of master HsuYun on the practice of Huatou are. 

All his questions helped me to go back to one thing. The importance of Seeing our Own Nature as stated by the 6th Patriarch of Zen, master HuiNeng, is the same thing as Seeing the Empty MindGround trough the barrier of Huatou. Master Chih-i used to talk about Cessation to relate to the ending of normal thought and the entering into real concentration were one is able to look deeply into things without getting attached to things. 

But more importantly, master Hsu Yun added his own flavor to Huatou. It is often said that they are now mostly two active schools of Chan Buddhism active in China, LinJi (jp.Rinzai) and CaoDong (jp.Soto) (forgetting that Master HsuYun re-established both GuiYan and YunMen Lineages). One generally assumes, from the Japanese context, that Linji Chan is all about gongans (jp. koans) and that CaoDong Chan is all about MoChao (silent illumination). Well, Yes and No. Most monks in these schools practice Huatou, and as I said different lineages may be found at a single monastery under the same abbot and master. So this grid isn’t a good one. 

To teach my student I used to talk about Dahui’s use of Huatou, which is very near the use of great teacher of the 17th, Hanshan Dequing. Hanshan was a life model for master Hsu Yun, he rebuilt temples and spoke from the Heart of his practice, outside a specific school or lineage. In Dahui and Hanshan teachings, the Huatou is nothing more than another skillfill mean that Chan people use because they need “one poison to cast all poisons (of thought)”. a skillfull mean for the Direct and sudden practice that Chan is. But the purpose was only to realize one’s MindGround, once the True Nature realised there is no need to cultivate the skillfull mean anymore. It is very similar to the raft to the other shore that Shakyamuni Buddha used himself several times. That is totally in line with the old masters view that one must first realize is own mind, and only then cultivate (sudden enligthenment, gradual practice). 

 

But master Hsu Yun shared the Huatou practice as he received it from his Tientai teacher, old master Yung Ching. Also, master Hsu Yun wanted to root his practice on the practice of reciting Amitabha’s name, as this simple practice could be done by everyone, and that he was a friend and admirer of Pure Land master Yin Kuang and shared his understanding. Master Hsu Yun, taking care of the students of this Dharma Ending age, prepared us a practice that embodied the different key aspects of Chinese Chan Buddhism in a very direct and simple way. It is important to practice discipline and aquire concentration in order to look deeply in us to let our True Nature shine through the vieils of ignorance, these are the tenets of Tientai Buddhism and are the basis of Chan Buddhism. He deeply advocated to respect Amitabha and his Pure Land that could be viewed as our Own Nature, integrating thus the Pure Land view BUT he was very careful for the silly students of this ending dharma age. Master Hsu Yun never gave as an advice the fact of stopping the practice of Huatou after seeing the Mindground. And that can seem to be nothing but it is a huge gift. You see, some Zen schools have the view, at least today poor pracitionner, that once the True Nature is seen … that is it nothing as to be done anymore. But master Hsu Yun gave us the advice to just keep ‘maintaining the Huatou’. Once the Huatou is drilled to it’s bottom… well, just continue this simple practice. It is as simple as that. With the aknowledgment of this constant attention and practice, master Hsu Yun keeps us from stopping at any point thinking that “the job is done”. He also doesn’t try to represent only one Chan school, all his life he acted as a testimony that our acts could be the embodiement of the Heart of the Five schools of Chan. And wich school of Chan you are in doesn’t really matter when one practices Chan/Zen with an utmost effort and sincerity. Chan is a trap you see, a master can show you the path, as a friend on the way which is ahead of you on a mountain track. But once he gave you the method, you are the only one who can walk on the same path. Once the Huatou is given, no one can walk the path of “generating and keeping the Great Doubt” in your place.Simply continuing our practice with determination and compassion, we wave the Vajra-Sword of Huatou until the True Mind of every being shines in every place. 

 

Like that student, we all wave our views, likes and dislikes all day. May we simply wave the Vajra-Sword of Huatou, turn the light on the Mindground and humbly continue on the mountainous path to Enlightenment.  

 

Goodbye 2019

FB_IMG_1577806072424.jpg

As 2019 comes to an end, let’s take some time to consider all the attachments we have nourished, all the ego-masks we have been wearing.

For many of us, this year has been a year of fighting against certitude and division, sometimes against our own friends or families.

Political, economic and social challenges are ahead of our societies forcing us to accept impermanence and embracing the changes. It implies more than ever Buddhist practitioners need to practice.

So, let’s hope that next year, 2020, will be the year of harmony. The year of taking the battle inward, fighting our own certitude and division.

Our Old Sun, Ming Zhen Shakya, used to say that her Zen was very simple and could be summarized as the Way of Action (Karma Yoga). When we take action, for the sake of all beings, there is no I-me-mine, no ego, not even an inch of something special called Zen. Beyond our own egos, through action, we can manifest our True Nature.

But True Action takes true honesty…. the kind of honesty needed to face what is in front of us and accept the reality of change and impermanence.

Our lives are always changing, yet they are always starting right here and now. In every situation, go forward and take action.

Let’s vow to talk less and act more in this coming year!

Saying Goodbye to 2019