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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vera,Chuck and Dave...

Lead me from dreaming to waking.
Lead me from opacity to clarity.
Lead me from the complicated to the simple.
Lead me from the obscure to the obvious.
Lead me from intention to attention.
Lead me from what I'm told I am to what I see I am.
Lead me from confrontation to wide openness.
Lead me to the place I never left,
Where there is peace, and peace
- The Upanishads

*note* the Beatles's song..Paul McCartney wrote this song when he was 16. Did you know that?..he also sings it.
No other comments.
-added by danny-
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

As Blake said, 'Energy is eternal delight.'

Lead me from dreaming to waking.
Lead me from opacity to clarity.
Lead me from the complicated to the simple.
Lead me from the obscure to the obvious.
Lead me from intention to attention.
Lead me from what I'm told I am to what I see I am.
Lead me from confrontation to wide openness.
Lead me to the place I never left,
Where there is peace, and peace
- The Upanishads

*note* Alan Watts (1915-1973) explains Zen,in his funny and quite charming way...
-added by danny-
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Lecture on Zen
by Alan Watts

Once upon a time, there was a Zen student who quoted an old Buddhist poem to his teacher, which says:

The voices of torrents are from one great tongue, the lions of the hills are the pure body of Buddha. 'Isn't that right?' he said to the teacher. 'It is,' said the teacher, 'but it's a pity to say so.'

It would be, of course, much better, if this occasion were celebrated with no talk at all, and if I addressed you in the manner of the ancient teachers of Zen, I should hit the microphone with my fan and leave. But I somehow have the feeling that since you have contributed to the support of the Zen Center, in expectation of learning something, a few words should be said, even though I warn you, that by explaining these things to you, I shall subject you to a very serious hoax.

Because if I allow you to leave here this evening, under the impression that you understand something about Zen, you will have missed the point entirely. Because Zen is a way of life, a state of being, that is not possible to embrace in any concept whatsoever, so that any concepts, any ideas, any words that I shall put across to you this evening will have as their object, showing you the limitations of words and of thinking.


Now then, if one must try to say something about what Zen is, and I want to do this by way of introduction, I must make it emphatic that Zen, in its essence, is not a doctrine. There's nothing you're supposed to believe in.


It's not a philosophy in our sense, that is to say a set of ideas, an intellectual net in which one tries to catch the fish of reality. Actually, the fish of reality is more like water--it always slips through the net. And in water you know when you get into it there's nothing to hang on to. All this universe is like water; it is fluid, it is transient, it is changing. And when you're thrown into the water after being accustomed to living on the dry land, you're not used to the idea of swimming. You try to stand on the water, you try to catch hold of it, and as a result you drown.


The only way to survive in the water, and this refers particularly to the waters of modern philosophical confusion, where God is dead, metaphysical propositions are meaningless, and there's really nothing to hang on to, because we're all just falling apart. And the only thing to do under those circumstances is to learn how to swim. And to swim, you relax, you let go, you give yourself to the water, and you have to know how to breathe in the right way. And then you find that the water holds you up; indeed, in a certain way you become the water. And so in the same way, one might say if one attempted to--again I say misleadingly--to put Zen into any sort of concept, it simply comes down to this:


That in this universe, there is one great energy, and we have no name for it. People have tried various names for it, like God, like *Brahmin, like Tao, but in the West, the word God has got so many funny associations attached to it that most of us are bored with it.


When people say 'God, the father almighty,' most people feel funny inside. So we like to hear new words, we like to hear about Tao, about Brahmin, about Shinto, and __-__-__, and such strange names from the far East because they don't carry the same associations of mawkish sanctimony and funny meanings from the past. And actually, some of these words that the Buddhists use for the basic energy of the world really don't mean anything at all. The word _tathata_, which is translated from the Sanskrit as 'suchness' or 'thusness' or something like that, really means something more like 'dadada,' based on the word _tat_, which in Sanskrit means 'that,' and so in Sanskrit it is said _tat lum asi_, 'that thou art,' or in modern America, 'you're it.' But 'da, da'--that's the first sound a baby makes when it comes into the world, because the baby looks around and says 'da, da, da, da' and fathers flatter themselves and think it's saying 'DaDa,' which means 'Daddy,' but according to Buddhist philosophy, all this universe is one 'dadada.'


That means 'ten thousand functions, ten thousand things, one suchness,' and we're all one suchness. And that means that suchess comes and goes like anything else because this whole world is an on-and-off system. As the Chinese say, it's the _yang_ and the _yin_, and therefore it consists of 'now you see it, now you don't, here you are, here you aren't, here you are,' because that the nature of energy, to be like waves, and waves have crests and troughs, only we, being under a kind of sleepiness or illusion, imagine that the trough is going to overcome the wave or the crest, the _yin_, or the dark principle, is going to overcome the _yang_, or the light principle, and that 'off' is going to finally triumph over 'on.' And we, shall I say, bug ourselves by indulging in that illusion.


'Hey, supposing darkness did win out, wouldn't that be terrible!' And so we're constantly trembling and thinking that it may, because after all, isn't it odd that anything exists? It's most peculiar, it requires effort, it requires energy, and it would have been so much easier for there to have been nothing at all. Therefore, we think 'well, since being, since the 'is' side of things is so much effort' you always give up after a while and you sink back into death.


But death is just the other face of energy, and it's the rest, the not being anything around, that produces something around, just in the same way that you can't have 'solid' without 'space,' or 'space' without 'solid.' When you wake up to this, and realize that the more it changes the more it's the same thing, as the French say, that you are really a train of this one energy, and there is nothing else but that that is you, but that for you to be always you would be an insufferable bore, and therefore it is arranged that you stop being you after a while and then come back as someone else altogether, and so when you find that out, you become full energy and delight.


As Blake said, 'Energy is eternal delight.' And you suddenly see through the whole sham thing. You realize you're That--we won't put a name on it-- you're That, and you can't be anything else. So you are relieved of fundamental terror. That doesn't mean tht you're always going to be a great hero, that you won't jump when you hear a bang, that you won't worry occasionally, that you won't lose your temper. It means, though, that fundamentally deep, deep, deep down within you, you will be able to be human, not a stone Buddha--you know in Zen there is a difference made between a living Buddha and a stone Buddha.


If you go up to a stone Buddha and you hit him hard on the head, nothing happens. You break your fist or your stick. But if you hit a living Buddha, he may say 'ouch,' and he may feel pain, because if he didn't feel something, he wouldn't be a human being. Buddhas are human, they are not devas, they are not gods.


They are enlightened men and women. But the point is that they are not afraid to be human, they are not afraid to let themselves participate in the pains, difficulties and struggles that naturally go with human existence. The only difference is--and it's almost an undetectable difference--it takes one to know one. As a Zen poem says, 'when two Zen masters meet each other on the street, they need no introduction. When fiends meet, they recognize one another instantly.' So a person who is a real cool Zen understands that, does not go around 'Oh, I understand Zen, I have satori, I have this attainment, I have that attainment, I have the other attainment,' because if he said that, he wouldn't understand the first thing about it.



So it is Zen that, if I may put it metaphorically, *Jon-Jo said 'the perfect man employs his mind as a mirror. It grasps nothing, it refuses nothing. It receives but does not keep.' And another poem says of wild geese flying over a lake, 'The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection, and the water has no mind to retain their image.' In other words this is to be--to put it very strictly into our modern idiom--this is to live without hang-ups, the word 'hang- up' being an almost exact translation of the Japanese _bono_ and the Sanskrit _klesa_, ordinarily translated 'worldly attachment,' though that sounds a little bit--you know what I mean--it sounds pious, and in Zen, things that sound pious are said to stink of Zen, but to have no hang-ups, that is to say, to be able to drift like a cloud and flow like water, seeing that all life is a magnificent illusion, a plane of energy, and that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Fundamentally. You will be afraid on the surface.


You will be afraid of putting your hand in the fire. You will be afraid of getting sick, etc. But you will not be afraid of fear. Fear will pass over your mind like a black cloud will be reflected in the mirror. But of course, the mirror isn't quite the right illustration; space would be better. Like a black cloud flows through space without leaving any track. Like the stars don't leave trails behind them. And so that fundamental--it is called 'the void' in Buddhism; it doesn't mean 'void' in the sense that it's void in the ordinary sense of emptiness. It means void in that is the most real thing there is, but nobody can conceive it.


It's rather the same situation that you get between the speaker, in a radio and all the various sounds which it produces. On the speaker you hear human voices, you hear every kind of musical instrument, honking of horns, the sounds of traffic, the explosions of guns, and yet all that tremendous variety of sounds are the vibrations of one diaphragm, but it never says so. The announcer doens't come on first thing in the morning and say 'Ladies and gentlemen, all the sounds that you will hear subsequentally during the day will be the vibration of this diaphragm; don't take them for real.' And the radio never mentions its own construction, you see? And in exactly the same way, you are never able, really, to examine, to make an object of your own mind, just as you can't look directly into your own eyes or bite your own teeth, because you ARE that, and if you try to find it, and make it something to possess, why that's a great lack of confidence.


That shows that you don't really know your 'it'. And if you're 'it,' you don't need to make anything of it. There's nothing to look for. But the test is, are you still looking? Do you know that? I mean, not as kind of knowledge you possess, not something you've learned in school like you've got a degree, and 'you know, I've mastered the contents of these books and remembered it.' In this knowledge, there's nothing to be remembered; nothing to be formulated. You know it best when you say 'I don't know it.' Because that means, 'I'm not holding on to it, I'm not trying to cling to it' in the form of a concept, because there's absolutely no necessity to do so. That would be, in Zen language, putting legs on a snake or a beard on a eunuch, or as we would say, gilding the lily.


Now you say, 'Well, that sounds pretty easy. You mean to say all we have to do is relax? We don't have to go around chasing anything anymore? We abandon religion, we abandon meditations, we abandon this, that, and the other, and just live it up anyhow? Just go on.' You know, like a father says to his child who keeps asking 'Why? Why, Why, Why, Why, Why? Why did God make the universe? Who made God? Why are the trees green?' and so on and so forth, and father says finally, 'Oh, shut up and eat your bun.' It isn't quite like that, because, you see, the thing is this:



All those people who try to realize Zen by doing nothing about it are still trying desperately to find it, and they're on the wrong track. There is another Zen poem which says, 'You cannot attain it by thinking, you cannot grasp it by not thinking.' Or you could say, you cannot catch hold of the meaning of Zen by doing something about it, but equally, you cannot see into its meaning by doing nothing about it, because both are, in their different ways, attempts to move from where you are now, here, to somewhere else, and the point is that we come to an understanding of this, what I call suchness, only through being completely here. And no means are necessary to be completely here.


Neither active means on the one hand, nor passive means on the other. Because in both ways, you are trying to move away from the immediate now. But you see, it's difficult to understand language like that. And to understand what all that is about, there is really one absolutely necessary prerequisite, and this is to stop thinking. Now, I am not saying this in the spirit of being an anti-intellectual, because I think a lot, talk a lot, write a lot of books, and am a sort of half-baked scholar. But you know, if you talk all the time, you will never hear what anybody else has to say, and therefore, all you'll have to talk about is your own conversation.


The same is true for people who think all the time. That means, when I use the word 'think,' talking to yourself, subvocal conversation, the constant chit-chat of symbols and images and talk and words inside your skull. Now, if you do that all the time, you'll find that you've nothing to think about except thinking, and just as you have to stop talking to hear what I have to say, you have to stop thinking to find out what life is about. And the moment you stop thinking, you come into immediate contact with what Korzybski called, so delightfully, 'the unspeakable world,' that is to say, the nonverbal world. Some people would call it the physical world, but these words 'physical,' 'nonverbal,' are all conceptual, not a concept either, it's (bangs stick).


So when you are awake to that world, you suddenly find that all the so-called differences between self and other, life and death, pleasure and pain, are all conceptual, and they're not there. They don't exist at all in that world which is (bangs stick). In other words, if I hit you hard enough, 'ouch' doesn't hurt, if you're in a state of what is called no-thought. There is a certain experience, you see, but you don't call it 'hurt.' It's like when you were small children, they banged you about, and you cried, and they said 'Don't cry' because they wanted to make you hurt and not cry at the same time.


People are rather curious about the things the do like that. But you see, they really wanted you to cry, the same way if you threw up one day. It's very good to throw up if you've eaten soemthing that isn't good for you, but your mother said 'Eugh!' and made you repress it and feel that throwing up wasn't a good thing to do. Because then when you saw people die, and everybody around you started weeping and making a fuss, and then you learned from that that dying was terrible. When somebody got sick, everybody else got anxious, and you learned that getting sick was something awful. You learned it from a concept.


So the reason why there is in the practice of Zen, what we did before this lecture began, to practice Za-zen, sitting Zen. Incidentally, there are three other kinds of Zen besides Za-zen. Standing Zen, walking Zen, and lying Zen. In Buddhism, they speak of hte three dignities of man. Walking, standing, sitting, and lying. And they say when you sit, just sit. When you walk, just walk. But whatever you do, don't wobble.


In fact, of course, you can wobble, if you really wobble well. When the old master *Hiakajo was asked 'What is Zen?' he said 'When hungry, eat, when tired, sleep,' and they said, 'Well isn't that what everybody does? Aren't you just like ordinary people?' 'Oh no,' he said, 'they don't do anything of the kind. When they're hungry, they don't just eat, they think of all sorts of things. When they're tired, they don't just sleep, but dream all sorts of dreams.' I know the Jungians won't like that, but there comes a time when you just dream yourself out, and no more dreams. You sleep deeply and breathe from your heels.


Now, therefore, Za-zen, or sitting Zen, is a very, very good thing in the Western world. We have been running around far too much. It's all right; we've been active, and our action has achieved a lot of good things. But as Aristotle pointed out long ago--and this is one of the good things about Aristotle. He said 'the goal of action is contemplation.' In other words, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, but what's it all about? Especially when people are busy because they think they're GOING somewhere, that they're going to get something and attain something. There's quite a good deal of point to action if you know you're not going anywhere.


If you act like you dance, or like you sing or play music, then you're really not going anywhere, you're just doing pure action, but if you act with a thought in mind that as a result of action you are eventually going to arrive at someplace where everything will be alright. Then you are on a squirrel cage, hopelessly condemned to what the Buddhists call _samsara_, the round, or rat-race of birth and death, because you think you're going to go somewhere. You're already there. And it is only a person who has discovered that he is already there who is capable of action, because he doesn't act frantically with the thought that he's going to get somewhere.


He acts like he can go into walking meditation at that point, you see, where we walk not because we are in a great, great hurry to get to a destination, but because the walking itself is great. The walking itself is the meditation. And when you watch Zen monks walk, it's very fascinating. They have a different kind of walk from everybody else in Japan. Most Japanese shuffle along, or if they wear Western clothes, they race and hurry like we do. Zen monks have a peculiar swing when they walk, and you have the feeling they walk rather the same way as a cat.


There's something about it that isn't hesitant; they're going along all right, they're not sort of vagueing around, but they're walking just to walk. And that's walking meditation. But the point is that one cannot act creatively, except on the basis of stillness. Of having a mind that is capable from time to time of stopping thinking. And so this practice of sitting may seem very difficult at first, because if you sit in the Buddhist way, it makes your legs ache. Most Westerners start to fidget; they find it very boring to sit for a long time, but the reason they find it boring is that they're still thinking. If you weren't thinking, you wouldn't notice the passage of time, and as a matter of fact, far from being boring, the world when looked at without chatter becomes amazingly interesting.


The most ordinary sights and sounds and smells, the texture of shadows on the floor in front of you. All these things, without being named, and saying 'that's a shadow, that's red, that's brown, that's somebody's foot.' When you don't name things anymore, you start seeing them. Because say when a person says 'I see a leaf,' immediately, one thinks of a spearhead-shaped thing outlined in black and filled in with flat green. No leaf looks like that. No leaves--leaves are not green.


That's why Lao-Tzu said 'the five colors make a man blind, the five tones make a man deaf,' because if you can only see five colors, you're blind, and if you can only hear five tones in music, you're deaf. You see, if you force sound into five tones, you force color into five colors, you're blind and deaf. The world of color is infinite, as is the world of sound. And it is only by stopping fixing conceptions on the world of color and the world of sound that you really begin to hear it and see it.


So this, should I be so bold as to use the word 'discipline,' of meditation or Za-zen lies behind the extraordinary capacity of Zen people to develop such great arts as the gardens, the tea ceremony, the caligraphy, and the grand painting of the Sum Dynasty, and of the Japanese Sumi tradition. And it was because, especially in tea ceremony, which means literally 'cha-no-yu' in Japanese, meaning 'hot water of tea,' they found in the very simplest of things in everyday life, magic.


In the words of the poet *Hokoji, 'marvelous power and supernatural activity, drawing water, carrying wood.' And you know how it is sometimes when you say a word and make the word meaningless, you take the word 'yes'--yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. It becomes funny. That's why they use the word 'mu' in Zen training, which means 'no.' Mu. And you get this going for a long time, and the word ceases to mean anything, and it becomes magical. Now, what you have to realize in the further continuence of Za-zen, that as you-- Well, let me say first in a preliminary way, the easiest way to stop thinking is first of all to think about something that doesn't have any meaning.


That's my point in talking about 'mu' or 'yes,' or counting your breath, or listening to a sound that has no meaning, because that stops you thinking, and you become fascinated in the sound. Then as you get on and you just--the sound only--there comes a point when the sound is taken away, and you're wide open. Now at that point, there will be a kind of preliminary so-called satori, and you will think 'wowee, that's it!' You'll be so happy, you'll be walking on air.


When Suzuki Daisetz was asked what was it like to have satori, he said 'well, it's like ordinary, everyday experience, except about two inches off the ground.' But there's another saying that the student who has obtained satori goes to hell as straight as an arrow. No satori around here, because anybody who has a spiritual experience, whether you get it through Za-zen, or through LSD, or anything, you know, that gives you that experience. If you hold on to it, say 'now I've got it,' it's gone out of the window, because the minute you grab the living thing, it's like catching a handful of water, the harder you clutch, the faster it squirts through your fingers.


There's nothing to get hold of, because you don't NEED to get hold of anything. You had it from the beginning. Because you can see that, by various methods of meditation, but the trouble is that people come out of that an brag about it, say 'I've seen it.' Equally intolerable are the people who study Zen and come out and brag to their friends about how much their legs hurt, and how long they sat, and what an awful thing it was. They're sickening. Because the discipline side of this thing is not meant to be something awful. It's not done in a masochistic spirit, or a sadistic spirit: suffering builds character, therefore suffering is good for you.


When I went to school in England, the basic premise of education was that suffering builds character, and therefore all senior boys were at liberty to bang about the junior ones with a perfectly clear conscience, because they were doing them a favor. It was good for them, it was building their character, and as a result of this attitude, the word 'discipline' has begun to stink. It's been stinking for a long time. But we need a kind of entirely new attitude towards this, because without that quiet, and that non- striving, a life becomes messy. When you let go, finally, because there's nothing to hold onto, you have to be awfully careful not to turn into loose yogurt.


Let me give two opposite illustrations. When you ask most people to lie flat on the floor and relax, you find that they are at full attention, because they don't really believe that the floor will hold them up, and therefore they're holding themselves together; they're uptight. They're afraid that if they don't do this, even though the floor is supporting them, they'll suddenly turn into a gelatinous mass and trickle away in all directions. Then there are other people who when you tell them to relax, they go like a limp rag. But you see, the human organism is a subtle combination of hardness and softness. Of flesh and bones.


And the side of Zen which has to do with neither doing nor not doing, but knowing that you are It anyway, and you don't have to seek it, that's Zen-flesh. But the side in which you can come back into the world, with this attitude of not seeking, and knowing you're It, and not fall apart--that requires bones. And one of the most difficult things--this belongs to of course a generation we all know about that was running about some time ago--where they caught on to Zen, and they started anything-goes painting, they started anything-goes sculpture, they started anything-goes way of life.


Now I think we're recovering from that today. At any rate, our painters are beginning once again to return to glory, to marvelous articulateness and vivid color. There's been nothing like it since the stained glass at Chartre(sp). That's a good sign. But it requires that there be in our daily use of freedom, and I'm not just talking about political freedom. I'm talking about the freedom which comes when you know that you're It, forever and ever and ever.


And it'll be so nice when you die, because that'll be a change, but it'll come back some other way. When you know that, and you've seen through the whole mirage, then watch out, because there may still be in you some seeds of hostility, some seeds of pride, some seeds of wanting to put down other people, or wanting to just defy the normal arrangements of life.


So that is why, in the order of a Zen monastary, various duties are assigned. The novices have the light duties, and the more senior you get, the heavy duties. For example, the Roshi very often is the one who cleans out the _benjo_, the toilet. And everything is kept in order. There is a kind of beautiful, almost princely aestheticism, because by reason of that order being kept all of the time, the vast free energy which is contained in the system doesn't run amok.


The understanding of Zen, the understanding of awakening, the understanding of-- Well, we'll call it mystical experiences, one of the most dangerous things in the world. And for a person who cannot contain it, it's like putting a million volts through your electric shaver. You blow your mind and it stays blown. Now, if you go off in that way, that is what would be called in Buddhism a pratyeka- buddha--'private buddha'. He is one who goes off into the transcendental world and is never seen again. And he's made a mistake from the standpoint of Buddhism, because from the standpoint of Buddhism, there is no fundamental difference between the transcendental world and this everyday world.


The _bodhisattva_, you see, who doesn't go off into a nirvana and stay there forever and ever, but comes back and lives ordinary everyday life to help other beings to see through it, too, he doesn't come back because he feels he has some sort of solemn duty to help mankind and all that kind of pious cant. He comes back because he sees the two worlds are the same. He sees all other beings as buddhas. He sees them, to use a phrase of G.K. Chesterton's, 'but now a great thing in the street, seems any human nod, where move in strange democracies the million masks of god.' And it's fantastic to look at people and see that they really, deep down, are enlightened. They're It. They're faces of the divine.


And they look at you, and they say 'oh no, but I'm not divine. I'm just ordinary little me.' You look at them in a funny way, and here you see the buddha nature looking out of their eyes, straight at you, and saying it's not, and saying it quite sincerely. And that's why, when you get up against a great guru, the Zen master, or whatever, he has a funny look in his eyes. When you say 'I have a problem, guru. I'm really mixed up, I don't understand,' he looks at you in this queer way, and you think 'oh dear me, he's reading my most secret thoughts. He's seeing all the awful things I am, all my cowardice, all my shortcomings.' He isn't doing anything of the kind; he isn't even interested in such things. He's looking at, if I may use Hindu terminology, he's looking at Shiva, in you, saying 'my god, Shiva, won't you come off it?'


So then, you see, the _bodhisattva_, who is--I'm assuming quite a knowledge of Buddhism in this assembly--but the _bodhisattva_ as distinct from the pratyeka-buddha, bodhisattva doesn't go off into nirvana, he doesn't go off into permanant withdrawn ecstasy, he doesn't go off into a kind of catatonic _samadhi_. That's all right. There are people who can do that; that's their vocation. That's their specialty, just as a long thing is the long body of buddha, and a short thing is the short body of buddha. But if you really understand that Zen, that buddhist idea of enlightenment is not comprehended in the idea of the transcendental, neither is it comprehended in the idea of the ordinary.


Not in terms with the infinite, not in terms with the finite. Not in terms of the eternal, not in terms of the temporal, because they're all concepts. So, let me say again, I am not talking about the ordering of ordinary everyday life in a reasonable and methodical way as being schoolteacherish, and saying 'if you were NICE people, that's what you would do.' For heaven's sake, don't be nice people. But the thing is, that unless you do have that basic framework of a certain kind of order, and a certain kind of discipline, the force of liberation will blow the world to pieces. It's too strong a current for the wire. So then, it's terribly important to see beyond ecstasy. Ecstasy here is the soft and lovable flesh, huggable and kissable, and that's very good. But beyond ecstasy are bones, what we call hard facts.


Hard facts of everyday life, and incidentally, we shouldn't forget to mention the soft facts; there are many of them. But then the hard fact, it is what we mean, the world as seen in an ordinary, everyday state of consciousness. To find out that that is really no different from the world of supreme ecstasy, well, it's rather like this:


Let's suppose, as so often happens, you think of ecstasy as insight, as seeing light. There's a Zen poem which says


A sudden crash of thunder. The mind doors burst open,
and there sits the ordinary old man.


See? There's a sudden vision. Satori! Breaking! Wowee! And the doors of the mind are blown apart, and there sits the ordinary old man. It's just little you, you know? Lightning flashes, sparks shower. In one blink of your eyes, you've missed seeing. Why? Because here is the light. The light, the light, the light, every mystic in the world has 'seen the light.' That brilliant, blazing energy, brighter than a thousand suns, it is locked up in everything. Now imagine this. Imagine you're seeing it. Like you see aureoles around buddhas. Like you see the beatific vision at the end of Dante's 'Paradiso.'


Vivid, vivid light, so bright that it is like the clear light of the void in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. It's beyond light, it's so bright. And you watch it receeding from you. And on the edges, like a great star, there becomes a rim of red. And beyond that, a rim of orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. You see this great mandela appearing this great sun, and beyond the violet, there's black. Black, like obsidian, not flat black, but transparent black, like lacquer.


And again, blazing out of the black, as the _yang_ comes from the _yin_, more light. Going, going, going. And along with this light, there comes sound. There is a sound so tremendous with the white light that you can't hear it, so piercing that it seems to annihilate the ears. But then along with the colors, the sound goes down the scale in harmonic intervals, down, down, down, down, until it gets to a deep thundering base which is so vibrant that it turns into something solid, and you begin to get the similar spectrum of textures.


Now all this time, you've been watching a kind of thing radiating out. 'But,' it says, 'you know, this isn't all I can do,' and the rays start dancing like this, and the sound starts waving, too, as it comes out, and the textures start varying themselves, and they say, well, you've been looking at this this as I've been describing it so far in a flat dimension. Let's add a third dimension; it's going to come right at you now. And meanwhile, it says, we're not going to just do like this, we're going to do little curlicues. And it says, 'well, that's just the beginning!'


Making squares and turns, and then suddenly you see in all the little details that become so intense, that all kinds of little subfigures are contained in what you originally thought were the main figures, and the sound starts going all different, amazing complexities if sound all over the place, and this thing's going, going, going, and you think you're going to go out of your mind, when suddenly it turns into... Why, us, sitting around here.


Thank you very much.

Scribbled down by Alan Seaver.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Are you real or am I dreaming?(Amanda Lear)

Lead me from dreaming to waking.
Lead me from opacity to clarity.
Lead me from the complicated to the simple.
Lead me from the obscure to the obvious.
Lead me from intention to attention.
Lead me from what I'm told I am to what I see I am.
Lead me from confrontation to wide openness.
Lead me to the place I never left,
Where there is peace, and peace
- The Upanishads

*note* Amanda Lear asks you if you are real ,or she is dreaming?

Give a bit of mmm to me
And I'll give a bit of mmm to you
Give a bit of mmm to me
And I'll give a bit of mmm to you
And your eyes like a laser
Every time cut me deeper
refrain:
Give a bit of mmm to me (you're a mystery)
And I'll give a bit of mmm to you (it's so confusing)
Give a bit of mmm to me (you're a mystery)
And I'll give a bit of mmm to you (it's so confusing)
For me you are an enigma
For me you really are a mystery

A mystery
For you I break all the rules
And for you I'll go to the moon
'Cause you're the one
There's no one else
There's no one else
refrain
Are you devil or angel?
Are you question or answer?

Are you real or am I dreaming?

Your unhappiness is your Authentic Self's way of telling you: I exist. Please set me free

Lead me from dreaming to waking.
Lead me from opacity to clarity.
Lead me from the complicated to the simple.
Lead me from the obscure to the obvious.
Lead me from intention to attention.
Lead me from what I'm told I am to what I see I am.
Lead me from confrontation to wide openness.
Lead me to the place I never left,
Where there is peace, and peace
- The Upanishads

*note* Interesting wisdom from Anand..quote"“How do I know that I have such a thing as an Authentic Self?”

“Because you are unhappy,” I replied.

“I don't understand,” she said, opening her eyes.

“Your unhappiness is your Authentic Self's way of telling you: I exist. Please set me free.”

-added by danny-
...................................

Set It Free

A young lady came to me for help. “I'm not happy,” she said. “I've read all the books about happiness, and bliss, and enlightenment. I meditate regularly. I attended a workshop. I even tried some antidepressants, but nothing seems to work.”

I asked her to sit down and close her eyes. “Think of the boundaries of your self.” I said.

“I don't know what you mean,” she said.

“It does not matter how you interpret it,” I replied. “Close your eyes. Think of your self. Where are you in your body? Where are you physically located?”

She pointed, as most people do, to a spot on her forehead.

“Now concentrate your entire being onto that spot. Inhale and exhale as you feel that spot grow larger and larger.”

After a few moments, I asked, “What emotion do you feel deep down?”

“Lonely, sad,” she said.

“Do you try and please people?” I asked.

She nodded. “All the time. That's all I seem to do. I try and help my family, I am always polite, and I don't know what I really want any more.”

“You feel empty sometimes, like a fragile shell of a person,” I said.

She nodded.

“It's OK to feel those feelings. You don't have to hide those emotions here. Let go, and let yourself express those feelings inside you,” I instructed.

I watched as her face grew sad. Tears rolled down her face as the long-buried sorrow of a lifetime spilled out.

“You have forgotten who you are. You feel empty, because your energies have sustained a person that you were not born to be. You have suppressed your real self for too long. Your Authentic Self has waged a long battle to be heard. It will never die, you know. You can suppress it for as long as you want, bury it deep within, but it will never die.”

“How do I know that I have such a thing as an Authentic Self?”

“Because you are unhappy,” I replied.

“I don't understand,” she said, opening her eyes.

“Your unhappiness is your Authentic Self's way of telling you: I exist. Please set me free.”

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Are you the scared cat?

Lead me from dreaming to waking.
Lead me from opacity to clarity.
Lead me from the complicated to the simple.
Lead me from the obscure to the obvious.
Lead me from intention to attention.
Lead me from what I'm told I am to what I see I am.
Lead me from confrontation to wide openness.
Lead me to the place I never left,
Where there is peace, and peace
- The Upanishads

*note* interesting remote distance healing of the,,scared cat,,..EFT actually unblocks the energies on the channels ,and it works because the principle is valid.Sahaja yoga uses affirmations for the same initial purpose..it all comes down to using the logical brain to see the truth...what is interesting is that EFT is so popular,while sahaja yoga is not,maybe because the influence of the mantras are not processed in the logical brain.Because Jesus didn't give people some sanskrit mantra to chant,but he said,,just forgive,,...few people can comprehend this stuff,really..especially the Indian continent born,whom just love weird magik and spells,and mantras,and never look for the source within.
-added by danny-
..................................

By JoAnn SkyWatcher

Learn EFT Here

Ginger is a sweet cat even though she's been a scaredy-cat. Her mother was mostly feral and taught Ginger to be afraid of humans. Ginger's mother disappeared a year ago, most likely munched by a bobcat that was living near our pond at the time. We've had Ginger for 2 1/2 years, and she's a hardy outside cat who ruthlessly (hey, she's a cat! What do you expect?) keeps down the mice population in our home.

Even though we feed Ginger, and she loves being petted (though only by us), she hasn't liked us picking her up or putting her on our laps. She's gotten a lot friendlier in the year since her mother vanished.

Just the other day, I really wanted Ginger on my lap. I was outside sitting in a lawn chair, and Ginger walked over to me. I tried picking her up and she jumped out of my hands. So, I thought I would try surrogate EFT, on her. I didn't even have to physically tap on my cat. She's way too skittish for that. Here is how I did it. I imagined that I was Ginger. I tapped on my karate chop point saying:

Even though my mother taught me not to trust people, I'm an OK cat.

Even though I've been afraid of people, including JoAnn, and I'm an OK cat.

Even though I'm a scaredy-cat, and my mother taught me to be leery of people, I'm an OK cat.

I tapped on my meridians for one round saying "scaredy-cat" as a reminder phrase. Then I did another round, saying things like:

My mom taught me not to trust people

Maybe I can trust JoAnn, she's been feeding me for my whole life JoAnn hasn't hurt me.

Maybe I can trust her.

Maybe it's okay for me to get on her lap. I can trust JoAnn.

It is okay for me to get on her lap. I feel safe on JoAnn's lap.

After I finished, Ginger let me pick her up. She didn't struggle at all. I put her on my lap and didn't feel any resistance. I started to pet her and she let me. She stayed on my lap for 10 minutes, purring as I stroked her fur.

EFT is an amazing tool! Gary Craig says try it on everything, and that includes even a scaredy-cat named Ginger.

JoAnn SkyWatcher

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It was like awakening from a dream

Lead me from dreaming to waking.
Lead me from opacity to clarity.
Lead me from the complicated to the simple.
Lead me from the obscure to the obvious.
Lead me from intention to attention.
Lead me from what I'm told I am to what I see I am.
Lead me from confrontation to wide openness.
Lead me to the place I never left,
Where there is peace, and peace
- The Upanishads

*note* Interesting experiences of some Zen(Chan) Masters...some of these were exactly as my own..
quote: Inevitably there are many different levels of meditation experience and the depth of an experience can be judged by the person's feelings of the experience. If the experience is shallow, then the person would still feel the existence of the external world and the internal world and even the distance between the two. A deeper experience would be when the distance between the two actually disappears. And in an even deeper experience, not only does the distance itself disappear, but the whole thing completely disappears. And yet everything is still very clear.
    'I had been reading the Parinirvana Sutra for more than a month and was just about finished with it. During this time my body and mind had gradually become concentrated, stable, at peace. One day while reading the Sutra, suddenly my body, mind and world disappeared. I entered into a condition where nothing existed. An extremely bright and pure light appeared which extended without limit. Within this limitless, bright and pure light there was clearly manifested innumerable, incalculable transparent worlds. All this existed within the great emptiness. I sat like this for several hours, which seemed to pass in an instant. After this experience, for many days following, my body and mind were still extremely happy, light, pure and peaceful.'

    'At that time I was sitting in meditation every night and the previous enlightenment experience which I had had while reading the Sutra regularly reoccurred. However, this time I applied the method of viewing the experience itself as empty. The method gradually took effect and became uninterrupted. One night, as I heard the sound of the Ch'ien Monastery evening bell, my mind suddenly disappeared. When my awareness returned, there was nothing but limitless, indescribable sound and light. From a condition where there was nothing, no external, no internal, no subjectivity, no objectivity, gradually subjectivity, objectivity, inner and outer, near and far, and the longness and shortness of time all reappeared, and I returned to my original condition of sitting in the meditation hall. A whole long night had passed from the time my mind had disappeared till my awareness returned. It was not until I heard the sound of the morning bell that I regained awareness.... From this time onward, my mind was firmly established in an extremely pure emptiness and was filled with a very bright and clear awareness. This was completely different from my previous experience in which I had merely seen many phenomena within the emptiness and bright light.'

'After I had been meditating for more than twenty days all my thoughts disappeared. I was working intensely moment to moment, day and night without interruption. When walking I moved like the wind. One evening when the bell was rung to signal the beginning of the sleep period, I opened my eyes and looked around. Suddenly I saw a great light as if it were broad daylight. I could clearly see both the inside and outside of my body. I saw a monk urinating on the other side of the wall and another monk relieving himself in the outhouse. A long distance off I could clearly see a boat moving on a river, as well as the trees along the banks. Then suddenly I heard the sound of the morning boards. A whole night had passed. The next day I asked the two monks if they had really been where I saw them the night before. They answered 'yes'. After several more weeks had passed, one evening during the meditation break a monk was pouring hot water into my cup. The water spilt and burned my hand, causing the cup to fall and break. As soon as I heard the smashing sound, I became enlightened. I felt that in this life I was extremely lucky. It was like awakening from a dream.'
Inevitably there are many different levels of meditation experience and the depth of an experience can be judged by the person's feelings of the experience. If the experience is shallow, then the person would still feel the existence of the external world and the internal world and even the distance between the two. A deeper experience would be when the distance between the two actually disappears. And in an even deeper experience, not only does the distance itself disappear, but the whole thing completely disappears. And yet everything is still very clear.
-added by danny-
........................................
Radio Interview of Chan Master Sheng-yen with Lee Hixon

The cup fell to the ground
The sound was perfectly clear

Emptiness was smashed to pieces
The mad mind abruptly came to a halt.

---------------------------

Burning the hand, the cup was smashed to pieces
When the home is destroyed and the family all dead
It is hard to say anything.

When spring arrives, flowers blossom, the scent pervading everywhere
Mountains, rivers and the great Earth are all the Tathagata

--Master Hsu Yun

On December 16, Master Sheng-Yen along with two of his students (Marina Heau and Dan Stevenson), was a guest on WBAI radio's 'In the Spirit' program with Lex Hixon. During that interview, Shih-fu spoke about the kind of help he had received from both his Grand Master, T'ai Hsu and his Great Grand Master, Hsu Yun. First-hand accounts of their enlightenment experiences, including the above two poems, were read and discussed. Shih-fu also commented on the various levels of experience in meditation and about his relationship with his own students.


Because of the interested response from many of the listeners following the broadcast, we have decided to include portions of that interview in this publication, especially for those who may not have had the opportunity to listen in on that Sunday afternoon.


Shih-fu : Inevitably there are many different levels of meditation experience and the depth of an experience can be judged by the person's feelings of the experience. If the experience is shallow, then the person would still feel the existence of the external world and the internal world and even the distance between the two. A deeper experience would be when the distance between the two actually disappears. And in an even deeper experience, not only does the distance itself disappear, but the whole thing completely disappears. And yet everything is still very clear.


Lex : Shih-fu, when you saw these two people (Dan and Marina) practicing, could you tell that they were going to approach an experience like this and were you able to help them by pushing them a little bit?


Shih-fu : Usually I can know if someone is about to have an experience. I am not one with super powers, but very often I will have a natural response so that I realize what will occur with certain students and am able to use appropriate methods to help them along.


Lex : Because, as you said earlier, Shih-fu, the sense of outside and inside disappears, you must feel that you are not outside your students and whatever they are experiencing is just as intimate to you as what you are experiencing.


Shih-fu : That's right. The students are just the Shih-fu himself.


Lex : We are going to be looking at two enlightenment experiences of a very high order. The first one that we'll read is that of Shih-fu's Grand Master, his Grandfather in the Dharma, and the second one will be of his Great Grandfather in the Dharma, his Grand Master's Master. These are first-person accounts from great Chinese Masters of our times essentially. We are always reading of the old Zen Patriarchs of hundreds and even thousands of years ago, but these are people who are completely comparable to the original Patriarchs. Shih-fu, let's read your Grand Master first. This was his first enlightenment experience, while reading the Sutra in 1908, when he was 19 years old. And then he had a second or a deepening of his experience when he was 28 years old, in the winter of 1916 --


    'I had been reading the Parinirvana Sutra for more than a month and was just about finished with it. During this time my body and mind had gradually become concentrated, stable, at peace. One day while reading the Sutra, suddenly my body, mind and world disappeared. I entered into a condition where nothing existed. An extremely bright and pure light appeared which extended without limit. Within this limitless, bright and pure light there was clearly manifested innumerable, incalculable transparent worlds. All this existed within the great emptiness. I sat like this for several hours, which seemed to pass in an instant. After this experience, for many days following, my body and mind were still extremely happy, light, pure and peaceful.'


    'At that time I was sitting in meditation every night and the previous enlightenment experience which I had had while reading the Sutra regularly reoccurred. However, this time I applied the method of viewing the experience itself as empty. The method gradually took effect and became uninterrupted. One night, as I heard the sound of the Ch'ien Monastery evening bell, my mind suddenly disappeared. When my awareness returned, there was nothing but limitless, indescribable sound and light. From a condition where there was nothing, no external, no internal, no subjectivity, no objectivity, gradually subjectivity, objectivity, inner and outer, near and far, and the longness and shortness of time all reappeared, and I returned to my original condition of sitting in the meditation hall. A whole long night had passed from the time my mind had disappeared till my awareness returned. It was not until I heard the sound of the morning bell that I regained awareness.... From this time onward, my mind was firmly established in an extremely pure emptiness and was filled with a very bright and clear awareness. This was completely different from my previous experience in which I had merely seen many phenomena within the emptiness and bright light.'

Lex : Each teacher, each lineage has a kind of specialty you might say. What, would you say, was the special thing that he gave to your teacher and to you?


Shih-fu : The important guideline that he had given to my Master was that of Buddhist theories. At that time the methods of practice were actually incorporated in Buddhist theories, so he did not teach any specific way of meditation but rather the conception of Buddhism and the direction of Buddhism. I have been significantly influenced by this Master's ideas.


Lex : That's why he had his first enlightenment experience while reading the Sutra. He must have felt that actually reading the Sutra itself had some sort of power.


Shih-fu : Enlightenment does not come necessarily from meditation. This Master became a monk very early in life, so at the time he was reading this Sutra, he had also been meditating everyday. Much time was spent in meditation. In fact, for many of the great Ch'an Masters that we know, in most cases their enlightenment did not come directly during meditation, but rather, building on the foundation of meditation, they came into contact with something, some sound, or they might have been reading something, and suddenly became enlightened.


Lex : One of the backgrounds of Master Sheng-Yen is that you went to Japan and took a doctorate degree, and therefore you qualify as a fine scholar as well as a meditation master. I think it is an important combination because today many people think that Zen can just do away with all the teachings and the Sutras and just go straight to the direct experience. But it seems to me that this would be making it more narrow, and this particular Master emphasized the value of Buddhist doctrine.


Shih-fu : From my point of view, the doctorate degree was not very important or useful to me. In fact, I acquired the doctorate degree in Japan in a relatively short time. So my emphasis is on practice and not on scholarly work. However, where we look into historical figures, most of the great Masters and Patriarchs had very deep foundations in the theoretical works as well. A doctorate degree is not useful to me. However it is useful for helping me to spread the Dharma and Ch'an practice.


Lex : Now we will go to Master Sheng-Yen's Great Grandfather in the Dharma. This was his enlightenment experience that happened when he was 56 years old, in 1895. And again, I remind you of a very important cultural point, that there are Zen masters in China. There is an unbroken transmission there. It is the country where Ch'an, or Zen, really flourished and began and still has an unbroken transmission. And Shih-fu, Master Sheng-Yen, is a living embodiment of that tradition.


    'After I had been meditating for more than twenty days all my thoughts disappeared. I was working intensely moment to moment, day and night without interruption. When walking I moved like the wind. One evening when the bell was rung to signal the beginning of the sleep period, I opened my eyes and looked around. Suddenly I saw a great light as if it were broad daylight. I could clearly see both the inside and outside of my body. I saw a monk urinating on the other side of the wall and another monk relieving himself in the outhouse. A long distance off I could clearly see a boat moving on a river, as well as the trees along the banks. Then suddenly I heard the sound of the morning boards. A whole night had passed. The next day I asked the two monks if they had really been where I saw them the night before. They answered 'yes'. After several more weeks had passed, one evening during the meditation break a monk was pouring hot water into my cup. The water spilt and burned my hand, causing the cup to fall and break. As soon as I heard the smashing sound, I became enlightened. I felt that in this life I was extremely lucky. It was like awakening from a dream.'

Lex : Master Sheng-yen, you told us a little about your Grandfather in the Dharma and the special gift that he gave you. Now this Great Grandfather in the Dharma you mention came from a different lineage; what would you say the special gift of this Great Grandfather was?


Shih-fu : I have never met this Master, but my Master in this lineage had a very deep relationship with him. The relationship that I had with my Master was actually very interesting because during my practice I had a lot of experiences but couldn't explain them well and just couldn't be certain about them. And so I met this Master. We just stayed together for a few evenings. One evening I asked him a few questions and he gave me very short answers. With just a few short sentences, he explained away everything, all the doubts that I had had in my mind. With my so-called Great Grandfather in the Dharma, the relationship was indirect. But because of what I had received from this Master, I was very grateful to him. The most important thing that I had received from my Master were two Chinese characters which mean put down. At that point I had many questions to ask him, but he simply told me to put down. Right away I felt the problems disappear, although daily life would still continue as usual. My whole personality changed just after these two words. This experience has never before been told to anyone.


Lex : Shih-fu, anyone else could say those same two characters, or those same English words, put down. What is the difference when an enlightened Master says that? What gives the power to that?


Shih-fu : First, I had absolute faith in the Master, and at that point I had a lot of things in my mind that I could not put down. And, of course, the Master and the disciple must have a good karmic connection. At that moment, the Master recognized that my time had come, so he just told me to put down. In fact, if those words had been said at any other time, it would not have been as powerful. This is Ch'an. There must be a right opportunity and karma, and the minds of the Master and disciple must unite.


Lex : As Master Sheng-yen said earlier, he knew when Dan and Marina were about to have those experiences, and actually he said that they were none other than his own. That is a very deep thing that he told us. Is it true that the Zen Master experiences all experiences as his own somehow?


Shih-fu : Ch'an Masters have various levels of attainment; some have reached a very high level, some have just barely passed the first barrier. Ch'an Masters are not necessarily completely enlightened people, so it cannot be said that they can experience everything. However, when a Ch'an Master has disciples who are making progress, then inevitably the Master will also be making progress and vice-versa. When a Master himself is practicing hard and making progress, there is also a better chance for him to bring his disciples forward.


Lex : So there's no end to this process of deepening?


Shih-fu : For me this is probably true. But ultimately if there is an end, that end point is also the state where there is no end.

Now your butt is tender

Lead me from dreaming to waking.
Lead me from opacity to clarity.
Lead me from the complicated to the simple.
Lead me from the obscure to the obvious.
Lead me from intention to attention.
Lead me from what I'm told I am to what I see I am.
Lead me from confrontation to wide openness.
Lead me to the place I never left,
Where there is peace, and peace
- The Upanishads

I was cryin' when I met you
Now I'm tryin' to forget you
Love it sweet misery


*note*...hahaha..no comments...

There was a time
When I was so broken hearted
Love wasn't much of a friend of mine
The tables have turned, yeah
'Cause me and them ways have parted
That kind of love was the killin' kind
Listen, all I want is someone I can't resist
I know all I need to know by the way that I got kissed

I was cryin' when I met you
Now I'm tryin' to forget you
Love it sweet misery
I was cryin' just to get you
Now I'm dyin' 'cause I let you
Do what you do down on me

Now there's not even breathin' room
Between pleasure and pain
Yeah you cry when we're makin' love
Must be one and the same

It's down on me
Yeah I got to tell you one thing
It's been on my mind
Girl, I gotta say
We're partners in crime
You got that certain something
What you give to me
Takes my breath away
Now the word out on the street
Is the devil's in your kiss
If our love goes up in flames
It's a fire I can't resist

I was cryin' when I met you
Now I'm tryin' to forget you
Your love is sweet misery
I was cryin' just to get you
Now I'm dyin' 'cause I let you
Do what you do to me
'Cause what you got inside
Ain't where your love should stay
Yeah, our love, sweet love, ain't love
'Til you give your heart away
-

added by danny-......................................


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Supernormal Powers?

Lead me from dreaming to waking.
Lead me from opacity to clarity.
Lead me from the complicated to the simple.
Lead me from the obscure to the obvious.
Lead me from intention to attention.
Lead me from what I'm told I am to what I see I am.
Lead me from confrontation to wide openness.
Lead me to the place I never left,
Where there is peace, and peace-
- The Upanishads

*note* Sheng-Yen explains super-duper-abby-norman(l) powers...but there are no powers at all,other then your true self's manifesting.
-added by danny-
....................

Supernormal Power
(Lectures given Sunday, June 9 & June 16, 1985 by Master Sheng-Yen)

The emphasis of the Surangama Sutra is on samadhi and the power of samadhi, the concentration of the mind. Through samadhi, the Buddha radiates his power, his teaching. Only through personal realization and experience attained through practice can samadhi be developed. Otherwise, it is impossible to achieve any real power or strength. Simply being associated with a powerful being or receiving the help of a deity is not enough.


Ananda assumed that he would be protected by the Buddha because he was his cousin as well as his constant companion. Yet Ananda succumbed to the magical powers and charms of a courtesan. His samadhi power was not strong enough to resist her.


Today I will talk about samadhi, the levels to which it can be developed, and the supernormal powers that can result from this development. I will discuss supernormal powers at three levels: ordinary sentient beings, deities, and sages.


Ordinary sentient beings may develop their own power from samadhi practice, or they may receive power from other beings as the result of prayer or mantra practice. A very old gentleman I know, Mr. Chen, told me about a Vietnamese monk who practices an esoteric form of Buddhism. He teaches his disciples to use a mantra that enables them to cure headaches and any number of ailments.


If there were a mantra that could really accomplish such miraculous cures, there would be no need for doctors and hospitals. All we would need is the mantra. But even famous lamas in Tibet can fall prey to death and disease. There is no mantra that can defend against every sickness. And without samadhi of your own, the power of a mantra received from a deity, Bodhisattva, or Buddha is limited and unreliable.


Using symbols and especially sounds to invoke the power of a deity is common in India, Tibet, and China. These practices even predate Buddhism. Deities, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas have names associated with them, much as Nagendra and Lucy have names by which they can be called. But names are only conveniences for liberated beings such as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. They really have no use for names. However, there are mantras associated with these beings which help sentient beings reach them. Manjusri has his own mantra, as does Avalokitesvara, and so on.


The power of a mantra varies according to the deity it represents. Actually, the name of the Bodhisattva is also his mantra. When we repeat the name of Avalokitesvara (Kuan Yin, in Chinese), we are reciting his mantra. Recitation of names can generate some power, and this can be useful to someone who has not developed samadhi on his own.


Scientists can transmit messages from one side of the earth to the other by bouncing a signal off of an orbiting satellite. Similarly, the power of a Buddha or Bodhisattva can act as a mirror to reflect and also to amplify our weaker power. A Buddha or Bodhisattva does not actually decide to help us -- his help is a natural product of his power, just as a satellite, according to its structure and design, transmits radio or television signals. Enlightened beings do not get annoyed, as some people seem to think, when we repeat their names. Making contact in this way is a very natural process.


Lesser deities know very well when they are being called. It's a little like calling the police when you're in trouble, and they say that they'll be right over.


The power of deities, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas can also be transmitted through spiritual mediums. These are people who are especially receptive to spiritual transmission. The power a medium receives comes directly from a deity, Bodhisattva or Buddha, it is not the medium's own power, no matter what he or she might think.


I am often asked if I have supernatural power, and if I can teach others to develop it. I always say, "I don't have such power, and if I did I wouldn't teach it to you." Using such power would get me into trouble; and if I taught it to you, I would get you into trouble.


Throughout history, people who have used supernormal powers have found themselves in dangerous situations or met tragic ends because of their power. Even one of the Buddha's disciples died for this reason. People who use supernormal power must contend with the law of karma. When you help someone who is sick or in danger, you intercede in the karma that was affecting that person, and the karma now becomes directed towards you. It's like assuming someone else's debt. Now you have to pay.


Supernatural powers should not be used lightly. The account in the New Testament of Jesus is an example of redirected karma. I believe that Christ had supernormal powers -- the ability to heal the sick, make the blind see, and to drive out demons. You might think that with such powers, when he was nailed to the cross, he would have been able to make it disappear with a wave of his hand. But no, he had to die. You could say that Jesus died because of the sins of other people, because he had supernormal power, because he intervened in matters affecting other's lives.


Why then do I even speak about supernormal powers? It is to emphasize the power of samadhi. The practice and experience of samadhi generate mental power. This power does not necessarily have to be supernormal, but it can be. The important point is that samadhi can help increase mental power.


The practice of dhyana and samadhi can clear a scattered mind, and bring it to a state of concentration. The mind can become so concentrated, in fact, that you can keep it on one single thought, whatever thought you choose. You might be able change to the disposition of a particular person or greatly affect a particular situation or event. It depends on how concentrated you are.


A very concentrated practitioner who has eliminated all wandering thoughts can, for the most part, know what he wants to know. He doesn't have to see or hear anything in particular; he will just know. A person with this facility can foretell the arrival of a visitor, and know the exact day on which he first decided to come. This may seem strange and mystical, but it is nothing more than a power that some practitioners develop from samadhi.


It is important to understand that a practitioner with clairvoyance, such as I described above, will not necessarily know what is on everyone's mind at every moment. Two factors must be involved for a practitioner to know another person's thoughts: there must be a karmic affinity between the practitioner and the other person, and that person must be open to connecting with the practitioner. If you thought that there was someone who could read every thought in your mind, you wouldn't want to have anything to do with him. You would feel naked. But there is really nothing to fear. First, the two factors I just mentioned must be present. And consider, there are eight million people in New York City. No ordinary practitioner can know what they are all thinking. Only a Buddha is capable of that.


These psychic powers can be fallible. Once when I happened to be near a certain mountain in Taiwan, I decided to visit a monk who lived in the area. He had a reputation for knowing when people would visit him long before they arrived. But when I got there, I found that he hadn't known I was coming, and he didn't know who I was. I believe that the reason for this is that I had no intention of visiting him until I found myself in his area.


What you can do depends on the power of your samadhi. If you have enough power, you can hold a piece of iron or steel in your hand and turn it into gold, then you could take it to a jewelry store and exchange it for cash. All of you in business should learn this technique. Of course, the consequences of trying something like this are that you will probably get yourself killed or end up killing someone else. And if you get life in prison, don't think that you can just melt the bars with your samadhi and escape. By that time your karma will be so strong that samadhi will be of no use.


Supernormal power can be used occasionally, but it should not be used too often. If you do use it, it should benefit others, and hopefully it will bring some benefit to you. Using this power should not place you in jeopardy. If it does, it means that you are transferring someone else's karma onto yourself. Most practitioners refrain from using their supernormal power.


Samadhi power should always be developed before you attempt to use the power of a mantra. When you are firmly established in samadhi, then you can try to help others, occasionally. Use of a mantra without samadhi is not true Buddhism. This is true of Tibetan Buddhism also.


Now I will talk about the psychic powers of the sages -- Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. These are beings whose power is such that they can move in and out of samsara unhindered by karma.


For ordinary sentient beings, karma is the law of retribution, of effect determined by prior action. It is karma that causes us to be born as human beings. Once a doctor I know came to visit me, and asked why we should do good works in this life when it will not benefit us, but the next person in his or her next life. I asked, "If you did something in the morning and received the benefit from it in the evening, would you say the recipient was the same person or that it was two different people?" And again, "Are you the same person who studied so hard to become a doctor, or are you a different person? You can say that it is the same person who has gone through all the difficulties and changes. What you receive accords with how you have acted."


The sage performs activities just like ordinary people. But unlike ordinary people, the sage no longer has a sense of self. As a result, there is no karmic consequence. Karma follows ordinary people like a shadow. No karma follows the sage. When a sage performs a good deed, it generates nothing -- there are no consequences. It doesn't seem like it would be that interesting to be a sage, does it? An ordinary person gets something back for his efforts; a sage gets nothing.


Once when I was in Taiwan a young man came up to me, and told me that he wanted to model his life after mine. "But unfortunately," he said, "I have a strong karmic affinity with a young woman, and I have to work through it." I asked him, "Don't you think you're making the bond stronger by putting all of your time into this relationship?" He said, "NO, I figure that I am getting this particular obstruction out of the way." This is the nature of ordinary people -- there is no way they can keep themselves away from karmic action and reaction.


But for sages, avoiding karma is a natural process. Mahayana and Theravadan (Hinayana) Buddhism differ in their classification of enlightened beings. There are four levels in Theravada, ten or sometimes eleven in Mahayana. Someone who is at the the first level, "stream-entry," according to the Therevadan classification, can truly hold to the precept of not killing. We might take this precept, but it is more than likely that we will inadvertantly step on an insect or somehow crush a bug during the course of the day. But the psychic power of a "stream-enterer" is such that when he walks, creatures move out of his way.


The last level in Theravada before Buddhahood is that of Arahat. You may have read that someone can attain this level without acquiring psychic powers. But Arahats can accomplish almost anything they wish to do. However, they may be unaware of their power. There is a story of a group of monks who arrived late one night at a vihara, an Indian temple. Their lamp had run out of oil and the night was pitch black. One of the monks said, "We can have light if there is an Arahat here." Sure enough, a monk stepped forward and said that he was an Arahat. The first monk suggested that he point his finger and illuminate the area. The Arahat did just that and the area was bathed in light. He was simply unaware of some of the powers he had attained.


In the literature of many cultures there are references to heavenly beings who answer the prayers of mortals with silver gold, or precious jewels that have been transformed from ordinary objects or substances. Buddhist sutras acknowledge this power, but caution that a transformed substance can revert to its original form. It may take eight, eighty, even five hundred years, but it will eventually change back. However, if an Arahat transforms something into gold, it will remain for a great kalpa.


Many people are curious about past and future lives. Devas and gods can know the past and future, but their power is limited to perhaps ten lives in either direction. The most powerful deva may be able to see one hundred lives in either direction, but no further. Arahats have even greater power. They can remember lives for ten thousand kalpas, but not even they can go back to their origins. They can, however, tell exactly what will happen in the future.


Now I will compare the power of an Arahat with that of a Buddha. Of all Arahats, the strongest in psychic power was Maha Maudgalyana. Once the Buddha said to him, "There is a world that lies to the west. If we go there together, you will not be able to keep up with me, so you start the journey before me." It took Maha Maudgalyana three months to reach his destination. When he arrived, the Buddha was already there. Maha Maudgalyana asked him when he had departed. The Buddha replied that he had just left a moment ago. For the Buddha there is no distance. This world or that world is close by, no matter how far it may seem to us. There is no time for the Buddha -- he sees limitless lives in the past, limitless lives in the future, all seen in the same instant.


A god can have jurisdiction over a particular region, or country. A deva who had power over this planet would be powerful indeed. But this is a small planet among myriads. An Arahat's power extends over thousands of world systems. He has the ability to know what transpires anywhere in his domain.


But the Buddha is everywhere at every time. The Bodhisattva Manjusri is very close to Buddhahood, so his power is comparable. He, too, is everywhere at all times. The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara can respond effortlessly to a thousand different beings at a thousand different places at the same time.


There was a Ch'an master who decided to urinate in front of a statue of the Buddha. Another monk rushed over and asked him what he was doing. The master said, "If you can show me where there is no Buddha, I'll go there."


The power of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas exists at all places and at all times, and far surpasses the power of other beings: Arahats, deities, and common people.

They can seek until the year of the donkey

Lead me from dreaming to waking.
Lead me from opacity to clarity.
Lead me from the complicated to the simple.
Lead me from the obscure to the obvious.
Lead me from intention to attention.
Lead me from what I'm told I am to what I see I am.
Lead me from confrontation to wide openness.
Lead me to the place I never left,
Where there is peace, and peace
- The Upanishads

*note* Hsu-yun explains Chan practice...quote: There are people who fear falling into emptiness. Little do they know that demons have arisen in their minds. They can neither empty their minds nor get enlightened. And there are those who strongly seek enlightenment, not understanding that seeking enlightenment and wanting to attain Buddhahood are all grave wandering thoughts. One cannot cook sand hoping to eat rice. They can seek until the year of the donkey and they still won't get enlightened. sometimes people become elated when occasionally they sit through a couple of peaceful sittings. These situations are like a blind turtle whose head happens to pass through a small hole in a piece of wood floating in the middle of the ocean. It is not the result of real practice. In their elation these people have served to add another obstruction....
-added by danny-
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This is Part Three of a translation of an article written by Master Hsu-yun.

The Essentials of Chan Practice
by Master Hsu-yun

7. Enlightenment and Practice

The patriarch, Hanshan (1546-1623), once said, "There are practitioners who get enlightened first and then start their cultivation, and those who practice first and then get enlightened. However, there are two kinds of enlightenment: insight through reason and insight through experience. If a person realizes Mind by following the teachings of the Buddha and the patriarchs, it is considered insight through reason. One with such an experience will only have a conceptual understanding. In all circumstances he will still be powerless. The mind of the practitioner and the environment are separate and do not reach totality. Therefore, his experience is an obstruction. It is called simulated Prajna and is not real practice.


"On the other hand, those who become enlightened through practice stick to their methods in a straightforward manner until they force themselves into a corner. suddenly their last conceptual thought disappears and they completely realize Mind. It is like seeing your father at a cross road there is no doubt. It is like drinking water: only the person drinking knows if it is warm or cold. There is no way to express it. This is real practice and enlightenment. Afterward, the practitioner will still have t deal with different mental states that arise in accordance with his experience. He will still have to get rid of strong karmic obstructions and wandering and emotional thoughts, leaving only pure Mind. This is enlightenment by experience.


"concerning true enlightenment experiences, there are deep and shallow ones. If one puts effort in following the fundamental principle, destroys the nest of the eighth consciousness and overturns the dark caves of ignorance, then one head directly for enlightenment. There is no other way. Those who achieve this have extremely sharp karmic roots and experience deep enlightenment.


"Those who practice gradually experience shallow enlightenment. The worst case is when someone attains little and is satisfied. One should not take illusions, like shadows created by light, for enlightenment. Why? Because they do not chop down the root of the eighth consciousness. The experiences these people have are manifestations of their own consciousness. Believing such an experience to be real is like mistaking a thief for your son. an ancient said, 'Because cultivators believe that the activities of their consciousness are real, they do not recognize what is real. This is the reason for their transmigration through innumerable kalpas of birth and death. Ignorant people take consciousness for their true selves. 'Therefore, you must pass through this gate.


"On the other hand, there are those who experience sudden enlightenment and cultivate gradually. Although these people have experience deep enlightenment, they still have habitual tendencies that they cannot eliminate immediately. At this point , progress depends on circumstance. It all depends on the clarity of their practice in different situations. They have to use their enlightened principle to illuminate these situations. while passing through them they can check their minds. If they can melt away one percent of the external appearances, then they will have gained one percent of their Dharmakaya. By eliminating one percent of their wandering thoughts, one percent of their original wisdom will manifest. This is how one can strengthen one's experience."


Listening to Hanshan's words, we can see that it is not important whether someone is enlightened or not. Those who understand enlightenment either through reason or experience have to continue their practice and follow it through. The difference is that those who are enlightened first and then cultivate are like old horses who are familiar with the road. They will not go the wrong way. It is much easier than cultivating first and then getting enlightened.


Those who are enlightened are rooted and are not like those who understand enlightenment through reason. People with the latter understanding are shaky. Their experience is superficial. those who are enlightened through experience are more likely to derive benefit form their practice. Even at the age of eighty, the elder master Zhaozhou (778-897) still traveled. For forty years, the master used his mind without any wanderings; he only investigated the word "nothingness." He is a great model. Do you doubt that the master was enlightened? He truly reminds us not to be satisfied when we have little and not to praise ourselves highly.


There are those who, after reading a few sutras or collections of talks of Ch'an masters, say things like, "The mind is the Buddha," and , "It is throughout the three periods and ten directions." Their words have nothing to do with the fundamental principle. They firmly believe that they are ancient Buddhas who have come back again. When they meet people, they praise themselves and say that they have attained complete enlightenment. Blind followers will even brag for them. It is like mistaking fish eyes for pearls. They do not know the difference between the real and the false. They mix things up. It not only makes people lose faith; it also gives rise to criticism. The reason the Ch'an sect is not flourishing is mainly because of the faults of these crazy people. I hope you can be diligent in your practice. Do not start something false. Do not speak about Ch'an with empty words. You must investigate seriously and attain real enlightenment. In the future you can propagate the Dharma and be a great master, like a dragon or an elephant in the animal kingdom, and help Ch'an Buddhism to flourish.


8. Investigating Ch'an and Reciting Buddha's Name

Those who recite Buddha's name usually criticize those who investigate Ch'an and those who investigate Ch'an usually slander those who recite Buddha's name. They seem to oppose each other like enemies. Some of them even wish that the others would die. This is a terrible thing to have happen in Buddhism. There is a saying which goes something like this: "A family in harmony will succeed in everything, whereas a family in decline is sure to argue. "With all of this fighting among brothers, it is no wonder that others laugh at us and look down at us.


Investigating Ch'an, reciting Buddha's name, and other methods are all teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. The original Path is not separate from these methods. It is only because of the different karmic roots and mentalities of sentient beings that different methods are taught. It is like giving different antidotes for different poisons. Later on, patriarchs divided Buddha's teaching into different sects corresponding to different theories. Because the needs of people differ at different times, patriarchs propagated the Dharma in different ways.


If an individual practices a method that fits his character, then regardless of which Dharma door he uses., he can penetrate the Path. Actually, there are no superior and inferior Dharma doors. Furthermore, Dharma doors are interconnected. all are perfect and without obstruction. For example, when one recites the Buddha's name to the point of one-mindedness, is this not investigating Ch'an? When one investigates Ch'an to the point of no separation between the investigator and that which is being investigated, is this not reciting the real characteristic of the Buddha? Ch'an is not other than the Ch'an within the Pure Land and Pure Land is not other than the Pure Land within Ch'an. Ch'an and pure Land are mutually enriching, and they function together.


However, there are people who favor one view over another, and from these distinctions arise different ideas and opinions, which can unfortunately lead to praising oneself while slandering others. Such people are like fire and water. They cannot exist together. they have misunderstood the intention of the patriarchs who started the different sects. These people are unintentionally responsible for damaging, slandering and endangering Buddhism. Is this not sad and pitiable?


I hope that all of us , no matter which dharma door we practice, understand the Buddha's principle of not discriminating and not arguing. We should have the mind of helping one another so that we may save this ship which floats amidst dangerous and violent waves.


9. The Two Kinds of difficulty and Ease with Practitioners experience

There are two kinds of difficulty and ease practitioners face on the Path, and which they experience depends primarily on the shallowness or depth of their practice. The first kind of difficulty and ease is associated with beginners, while the second kind corresponds to advanced practitioners.


The symptoms of the common beginner's disease are: incapability of putting down wandering thoughts, habitual tendencies, ignorance, arrogance, jealousy, greed, anger, stupidity, desire, laziness, gluttony, and discrimination between self and other. All these fill big bellies. How can this be in accordance with the Path?


There are other kinds of people who are born into wealthy and noble families. Never forgetting their habitual tendencies and bad influences, they cannot endure one bit of difficulty or withstand any hardship. How can these people practice the Path? They do not consider the status of our original teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha, when he decided to become a monk.


There are other people who know a few words but do not understand that the ancients were actually tests to evaluate practitioners' levels of understanding. These people think they are smart. Every day they scrutinize the recorded sayings and writings, talk about Mind and Buddha, explain and interpret the teachings of the ancients. Talking about food but not eating it, counting the treasure of others and not owning it themselves, they think they are extraordinary people. They become incredibly arrogant. But when these people become seriously ill, they will cry out for help; and at the end of their lives they will panic and become bewildered. At that time, what they have learned and understood will be useless, and it will be too late to regret.


There are other people who misunderstand the saying, " Originally we are Buddhas." These people say that the original self is complete and that there is no need for rectification. All day long they loaf about with nothing to do, following their emotions, wasting their time. These people praise themselves as eminent people and conform to causes and conditions. In the future these people will suffer greatly.


Then there are people who have determined minds to practice, but who do not know where to begin their endeavors, or who are afraid of wandering thoughts. Unable to get rid of their thoughts, they abide inn vexation all day long, thinking about and mourning their heavy karmic obstructions. Because of this their determined minds backslide.


There are also those people who want to battle till death with their wandering thoughts. Furiously, they tense up their fists and push out their chests and eyes. It seems like they are involved in something big. Ready to die in battle against their wandering thoughts, they do not realize that wandering thoughts cannot be defeated. These people end up vomiting blood or going insane.


There are people who fear falling into emptiness. Little do they know that demons have arisen in their minds. They can neither empty their minds nor get enlightened. And there are those who strongly seek enlightenment, not understanding that seeking enlightenment and wanting to attain Buddhahood are all grave wandering thoughts. One cannot cook sand hoping to eat rice. They can seek until the year of the donkey and they still won't get enlightened. sometimes people become elated when occasionally they sit through a couple of peaceful sittings. These situations are like a blind turtle whose head happens to pass through a small hole in a piece of wood floating in the middle of the ocean. It is not the result of real practice. In their elation these people have served to add another obstruction.


There are those who dwell in false purity during meditation and enjoy themselves. Since they cannot maintain a peaceful mind within activity , they avoid noisy places and spend their days soaking in stale water. There are numerous examples of this. for beginners, it is very difficult to find entrance to the Path. If there is illumination without awareness, then it's like sitting in stale water waiting to die.


Even though this practice is hard, once you find entrance to the path, it becomes easier. What is the easiest way for beginners? There is nothing special other than being able to "put it down." put what down? Put down all vexations arising from ignorance. Fellow practitioners, once this body of ours stops breathing, it becomes a corpse. The main reason we cannot put it down is because we place too much importance on it. Because of this, we give rise to the idea of self and other, right and wrong, love and hate, gain and loss. If we can have a firm belief that this body of ours is like a corpse, not to cherish it or look upon it as being ourselves, then what is there that we cannot put down? we must learn to put it down anywhere, anytime, whether walking, standing, sitting or sleeping, whether in motion or still, whether resting or active. we have to hold onto the doubt of the hua tou internally, and externally, and externally ignore everything. Continuously keep this up, calmly and peacefully, without a moment of extraneous thought, like a long sword extending into the sky. If anything comes in contact with the sharp edge, it will be extinguished without a trace or sound. If one could do this, would he still be afraid of wandering thoughts? What could harm him? Who is it that would be distinguishing between movement and stillness? Who is it that would be attached to existence or emptiness?


If there are fears of wandering thoughts, then you have already added another wandering thought. If you feel you are pure, then you are already defiled. If you are afraid of falling into emptiness, then you are already dwelling in existence. If you want to become a Buddha, then you have to know is the entrance to the Path. afterward, carrying water and gathering firewood are not separate from the wonderful Path. Hoeing and planting fields are all Ch'an opportunities (Ch'an ji). Practicing the Path is not limited to sitting cross-legged throughout the day.


What difficulties are encountered by advanced practitioners? Although some have practiced until the emergence of genuine doubt and possess both awareness and illumination, they are still bound by birth and death. Those who have neither awareness nor illumination fall into false emptiness. To arrive at either of these situations is truly hard. After reaching this point , many people cannot detach themselves further. They stand at the top of a ten thousand foot pole unable to advance. Some people, having progressed to this stage and being skilled in practice, and having sidestepped situations they cannot solve, think that they have already eradicated ignorance. They believe that their practice has reached home. Actually, these people are living in the wave of ignorance and do not even know it. When these people encounter a situation that they cannot solve --- where they must be their own master --- they just give up. This is a pity.


There are others who reach real doubt, gain a little wisdom from the experience of emptiness, and understand a few ancient gong ans; and then they give up the great doubt because they think they are completely enlightened. These people compose poems and gathas, act arrogantly and call themselves virtuous men of the Path. Not only do they fool themselves, they also mislead others. They are creating bad karma. In other cases there are those who mistake the words of Bodhidharma, "To isolate from external conditions, internally the mind becomes still, like a wall, and one can enter the Path, " or the Sixth Patriarch's, "Not thinking of good or evil, at this time what is your original face, venerable Ming?" They think that meditating by rotten wood or by large boulders is the ultimate principle. These people take the illusory city as their treasured palace. They take the temporally guest house as their home. This i s what the gong an of the old woman who burned down the hut to reprimand one such living corpse refers to.


What is the easy way for these advanced practitioners? Do not be proud and do not quit in the middle of cultivation. In the midst of well-meshed continuous practice, you have to be even finer. While practicing in a cautious and attentive manner, you have to be more careful. When the time comes, the bottom of the barrel will naturally drop off. If you cannot do this, then find a virtuous teacher to pry off the nails of the barrel and pull out the joints.


Master cold Mountain once chanted: "On the peak of the highest mountain, the four directions expand to infinity. Sitting in silence, no one knows. The solitary moon shines on the cold spring. Here inn the spring there is no moon. is high in the sky. Though I'm humming this song, in the song there is no Ch'an. "The first two lines of this song reveal that the appearance of real nature does not belong to anything. The whole world is filled with bright and pure light without any obstructions. The third line speaks of the real body of Suchness. Surely, ordinary people cannot know this. Even the Buddhas of the three periods do not know where I abide. Therefore, no one can know the path. The three lines beginning with, "The solitary moon shines on the cold spring," is an expedient example of the level of Master Cold Mountain's practice. The last two lines are mentioned because he is afraid that we will "mistake the finger for the moon." He especially warns us that words and language are not Ch'an.


10. Conclusion:

I have said too much and have interrupted your practice. It is like pulling vines. The more one pulls, the more they tangle together. whenever there are words, there is no real meaning. when the ancient virtuous masters guided their students, either they used sticks or shouted. There were not so many words. However, the present cannot be compared with the past. One has no choice but to point a finger at the moon. After all, which is the finger? Which is the moon? Investigate!