Sunday, October 10, 2010

If Zazen is the Medium, What is the Vehicle?

If Zazen is the Medium, What is the Vehicle?
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Because it furnishes effective, methodical training for the development and utilization of the Dharma-eye, zazen (and its synonyms) in Dogen’s writings, is the channel, or medium, through which religion (Dharma) is transmitted...
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Because they contain and convey the “words and ways” of Buddhas and ancestors and have “carried” them “into nirvana” the Buddhist Sutras (scriptures) is the vehicle of religion (Dharma).

Practicing what the Buddha taught means making the words and ways of all the Buddhas manifest. Because this is what Buddhas and Ancestors have done for the sake of Buddhas and Ancestors, the Teachings have been accurately passed on for the sake of the Teachings. This is what the turning of the Wheel of the Dharma is. From within the Eye of this Wheel, these Teachings have caused all the Buddhas and Ancestors to manifest and to be carried into nirvana.
Shobogenzo, Bukkyo
, Hubert Nearman

The Buddhist Sutras, for Dogen, are “the entire universe itself,” which of course, includes the records and koans of Zen. Revelatory of the nondual (unified) reality of human existence, the Buddhist Sutras are the vehicle of the Buddha Dharma, and are the key to the authentic practice-enlightenment of Zen. So, authentic zazen is the channel, or medium of religion, the Sutras are the vehicle of religion, therefore, religion (the Buddha Dharma, in Dogen’s terms) is equally zazen and sutras. As always in Dogen's writings, this unity does not mean “undifferentiated oneness,” but nondual interdependence; authentic zazen is always inclusive of the sutras, the sutras are always inclusive of zazen.

“Practicing” (authentic zazen) “what the Buddha taught” (the sutras) “means making the words and ways of all the Buddhas manifest” (actualizing the enlightened vision expressed in the Sutras). Making the words and ways (contained and conveyed by the sutras) manifest in the world here and now is to actualize the Dharma. It is then, through the words and letters, which are never apart from the whole of existence-time, that Zen practitioners may come to know the “one-taste” reality of Zen. Thus Dogen wrote:

The monastics of future generations will be able to understand one-taste Zen (ichimizen) based on words and letters, if they devote their efforts to spiritual practice by seeing the universe through words and letters, and words and letters through the universe.
Tenzo kyokan
, trans. Hee-Jin Kim, Dogen on Meditation and Thinking, p.60
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For when we encounter the sutras we encounter the Buddhas and Ancestors.
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The one who encounters the twelve divisions of the Scriptural Teachings encounters the Buddhas and Ancestors, and the one who speaks of the Buddhas and Ancestors speaks of the twelve divisions of the Scriptural Teachings.
Shobogenzo, Bukkyo
, Hubert Nearman
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Peace,
Ted

2 comments:

Sunyata said...

when we encounter "being" we encounter the buddhas. we can neber not encounter our original nature. every activity outside of zazen is equally valid... that which witmness our "letting go of thought" in shikantaza is no different than that which witnesses our "taking a shit". This! is completely ordinary and outside of exaltation, and therefore it is exalted! take the backward step and be free.

Ted Biringer said...

Hello Sunyata,

Thank you for your comments.

I agree that "we can never not encounter our original nature."

But I am unaware of any kind of "activity outside of zazen."

What kind of activity do you mean that is outside of zazen?

While I have not had the experience of a witness that "lets go of thought" (in shikantaza or otherwise), I have experienced numerous witness's of my "taking a shit" - and they are all very different.

The one three days ago (who had eaten too much apple-sauce earlier that day) was a very timorous and long-faced fellow. The one this morning was cheerful, relaxed, and satisfied (if not actually a bit proud).

Perhaps it is as Dogen says about the moon, "Tonight's moon is not last night's moon."

Perhaps each "taking a shit" is an absolutely new and unique manifestation of the entirety of existence-time. Or at least, that seems to be my own experience.

Thanks again.

Peace,
Ted