Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thinking, Not-thinking, Nonthinking

Our body-mind is the universe arraying itself as our direct immediate experience here and now. Illuminating and clarifying this experience is one aspect of Zen practice and enlightenment, the aspect of thinking. Thinking is the analytic activity of immediate experience. Analytic consideration involves discrimination; contrasting and comparing various components of the unity of reality. As each instance of immediate experience is one with the totality of existence-time (uji), discrimination itself, as well as each of the various components are the true nature of immediate experience.

The reality that Dogen underscores with one of his favorite sayings, “nothing is hidden in the whole universe” constantly advances in and as each instance of immediate experience, whether it is verified in study and practice or not. Out thinking, communicating, and activity arises in harmony with our own actual state of enlightenment/delusion, which is, in a sense, our own unique form of systematic knowledge and understanding.

The structure or form of this systematic knowledge and understanding defines our characteristic attitude toward and response to the world. The accuracy of our understanding and the skillfulness of our speech, thoughts, and actions are exactly proportionate to our own self-awareness or lack thereof. The authenticity of our Zen practice is dependent on the degree to which “Zen” has become “our Zen,” this “our” is, of course, not the “our” of ego, but that of our true self. Any systematic knowledge and understanding that is not ours in this sense is only an idol.

Any system that does not arise from our true self is only an object of attachment that leads to bondage, stagnation, and ignorance. For Zen students, systems often become objects of attachment due to inadequate intellectual effort encouraged by dogmatic zealots and sectarian idolatry; any system that asserts its doctrines, truths, laws, or methods in “absolute” terms usurps the true self (Buddha) by halting the ceaseless advance into novelty.

Through my body, I have manifested the look of the Full Moon,
Thereby displaying the physical presence of all Buddhas.
My voicing of the Dharma has no fixed form,
For Its real functioning is beyond what is said, or how.

You need to realize that the genuine functioning of the Dharma is beyond any immediate display of what is said or how It is put. A genuine voicing of the Dharma has no set form.
Shobogenzo, Bussho, Hubert Nearman

If systems are dogmatized they become immune to logic, creativity, and common sense. Authentic Zen practice is always open-ended and fluid, never fixed and rigid. Zen realization, expression, and activity flows with and as the never-ceasing advance of the universe into novelty, Zen flows from the pivot-point of the true body-mind here and now; refusing to affirm the absolute significance of even the most revered doctrine or method. The true Zen system of actualizing enlightened wisdom is not a doctrine or a method, it is realized by thinking, not thinking, and nonthinking.
Ted Biringer

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