Posts Tagged ‘Shin Shau’

Taming the bull

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I guess if I were to have to make a call I’d say that I am taming the bull.  I’m reminded of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approach to body building; everytime the same routine, session in, session out. It’s not about making it interesting, it’s about getting the job done. And I’m reminded of something Gil Fronsdal once said; to paraphrase: that people think my talk was boring is a good thing. After all, what we’re pointing to is interesting not the pointing itself. But it seems we are making finer and finer distinctions until there are no distinctions at all.

So, this taming, seems to be about getting some distance on the mind; the kind of distance where thoughts are seen to be external, which is I guess glimpsing the bull. Perhaps distance should be called spaciousness. Thoughts arise within a much wider space than the thoughts themselves. And because of that distance there is a measure of control, which seems to be no control at all, because when there is control it is really thoughts controlling thoughts. Call this wider space presence. (more…)

Email This Post Email This Post

Back to basics

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Strangely enough, before the last patriarch of Zen became the last patriarch there was a competition to write a stanza to demonstrate the understanding of essence of mind. Shin Shau, the senior disciple at the time wrote this.

Our body is the Bodhi tree,
And our mind a mirror bright.
Carefully we wipe them hour by hour,
And let no dust alight.

It seems to me that from one point of view he was correct. Desire, anger, lust, greed, fear, delusion obscure that subtle ever present awareness. So various sutras instruct us to eliminate desire. This is what Shin Shau pointed to.

Yet other sutras point us to the emptiness of it all. From the perspective of the ever present (and words fail me here) it’s all empty anyway. So what of desire, anger, lust greed, fear and delusion. Vimalakirti pointed to the idea that desire ultimately derives from non-attachment. Hui Neng, who won the competition and became the next patriarch wrote.

There is no Bodhi-tree,
Nor stand of a mirror bright.
Since all is void,
Where can the dust alight?

In some passages Bodhidharm agreed.

Regardless of what we do, our karma has no hold on us.
The Blood Stream Sutra, Bodhidharma

Yet, to paraphrase Bodhidharma, if we don’t realise our nature, we are bound in karma. And apparently those who don’t realise their own nature it’s because of their heavy karma.

I think we have a two pronged instruction here. One is to work on our karma. I can buy that. And the other is zen.

Through zen, it seems to me from my practise, that we become ever more aware of the effect of these things on our awareness. That was Shin Shau’s understanding. Yet from the awareness itself there is no effect. That was Hui Neng’s.

Email This Post Email This Post


Sunday, May 6th, 2007

Tonight while meditating I was reminded of Xin Shao.

Our body is a Bodhi-Tree,
And our mind a mirror bright.
Carefully we wipe them hour by hour,
And let no dust alight.

And Hui Neng’s response was so brilliant.

There is no Bodhi-tree,
Nor stand of a mirror bright,
Since all is void,
Where can the dust alight.

If you’re interested, these are from the The Sutra of Hui-Neng. I wonder if they describe the difference between Vipassana and Zen. I would like to express the quality of my meditation.

It is raining dust tonight.
Some settles on my mind.
Stillness arises from within
And there is only the breath.

Email This Post Email This Post