Posts Tagged ‘Vimalakirti’

Going about our lives.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Vimalakirti was a householder, or as some call him, a lay practitioner to whom is attributed the Vimalakirti Sutra. Of all the heros of Buddhism he is my favourite precisely because he was a householder. Whether he existed or not is moot. My read on the sutra is that he must have had a lot of material possessions. The point is that he achieved enlightenment (now there’s an oxymoron) while going about his everyday life. Zen emphasises the ordinary and here he is.

Actually, I’m writing this having just got back from putting the rubbish out. And I’m going to go and sit on my mat in a minute.

I think the point is that our everyday lives are meditation practise too.

Some people break the eightfold middle path down into three sections:- prajna (wisdom):- right view, right intention ; sila (ethics):- right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort; and samadhi (meditation):- right mindfulness, right concentration. But I think it’s really just one practise – extending the emptiness of meditation into the emptiness of our daily lives. Strange as that may sound.

When we sit in meditation, realising that the stuff in our minds is just stuff is much easier. It’s much harder in everyday life. I think that it’s the waking up from a train of thought in meditation that points the way to waking up in our daily lives. And, at least in meditation in the little way I imagine I know it, it really does feel like waking up.

Thanks for the inspiration, Vimalakirti.

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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.

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Non-attachment, the basis of anger.

Friday, May 25th, 2007

I don’t know if I’ve written this down before, but it’s taken from The Vimalakirti Sutra.

Manjusri asked Vimalakirti, “What is the source of our body?”
“Craving and desire,” answered Vimalakirti.
“What is the source of craving and desire?”
“Delusion and particularization.”
“What is the source of delusion and particularization?”
“Topsy-turvy views.”
“What is the source of topsy-turvy views?”
“Non-attachment.”
“What is the source of non-attachment?”
“Non-attachment has no source, Manjusri. With non-attachment as basis, all Dharmas are established.”

It reminds me that anger arises out of non-attachment. A very liberating insight indeed. And it does seem to act as a palleative while dealing with one’s own psychic contents. And today is just one of those days.

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