Sekida - Ll(dyiw‘oiat minim/9 My Orientations IN nus...

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Unformatted text preview: Ll (dyiw‘oiat, minim) (/9 My Orientations IN nus mnonucroav cunrrra I want to review briefly some of the. main topics that are to be dealt with In this book. A summary at the. outset may help the reader to find hIs way about the rest of the book more easily, and to understand how dIITerent ideas and concepts relate to one another. In studying Zen we start with practice. Now, It Is true that Zen Is concemed with the problem of the nature of mind, so it necessarily includes an element of philosophical speculation. However, while the philosopher relies mainly on speculation and reasoning, In Zen ave. are. never separated from our personal practice, which we carry out with our body and mind. Edmund Husseri, the founder of phenomenology, may seem to come close to Zen In his Ideas when he advocates a technique called "phenomenological reduction." He says that he. ignores "the ego as a person arranged on objective time," and arrives at the "pure phenomenon." However, like. other philosophers, he does not seem to go beyond a purely mental exercise. In Zen training we also seel: to extinguish the self-centered, individual ego, but we do not try to do this merely by thinking about It. It is with our own body and mind that we actually experience what we call "pure existence." The basic kind of Zen practice Is called zazen (sitting Zen). and In zazen we attain samadhi. In this state the activity of consciousness Is stopped and we cease to be aware of time, space, and causation. The mode of existence which thus makes Its appearance may at first sight 29 981 2 E N T R A I N l N G seem to be nothing more than mere being, or existence. However, if you really attain this state you will find it to be a remarkable thing. At the extremity of having denied all and having nothing left to deny, we reach a state in which absolute silence and stillness reign. bathed in a pure, serene light. Buddhists of former times called this state an- nihilation, or Nirvana. But it is not a vacuum or mere nothingness. it is utterly dilferent, too, from the unconscious state of the patient under anesthesia upon the operating table. There is a definite wake- fulness in It. it is a condition of existence that recalls the impressive silence and stillness that we experience in the heart of the mountains. in ordinary daily life our consciousness works ceaselessly to protect and maintain our interests. it has acquired the habit of utilitarian thinking, looking upon the things In the world as so many tools—in Heidegger's phrase, it treats them "In the context of equipment." It looks at objects in the light of how they can be made use of. We call this attitude the hahitual way of consciousness. This way of looking. at things is the origin of man's distorted view of the world. And he comes to look upon himself, too, In the context of equipment, and fails to see Into his own true nature. This way of treating oneself and the world leads to a mechanical way of thinking, which is the cause of so much of the suifering of modern man, and which can, under some conditions, lead to the development of mental Illnesses. Zen aims at overthrowing this distorted view of the world, and, uzen Is the means of doing it. ' 0n coming out of samadhi it can happen that one becomes fully aware ofonc's being in its pure form; that Is, one experiences pure existence. This experience of the pure existence of one's being, as- sociated with the recovery of pure consciousness In samadhi, leads us to the recognition of pure existence in the external world too. Discussion oi' these topics inevitably leads us into epistemological tangles, but let us proceed for the moment, granting that such rec- ognition of pure existence is possible. To look at oneself and the objects of the external world in the context of pure existence is ken- shs. or realization. And this has been achieved, since Buddha himself did so, by men and women of every generation, who bear witness to its feasibility. JO ORIFNTATIONS This experience, as we have stressed, is attained hy the training of hotly and mind. Reason comes later and illuminates the experience, and thus the two wheels of the cart of cognition are completed. If one goes climhing in the Alps, one is prohably led to do so in the first instance by the beauty of the mountains. When one starts to climh, however, one finds it is a matter of working sine's way along patiently, step hy step, progressing with great care and caution. Soun- knowlerlge ofclimhing technique will he essential. it is the same with Zen. We take it up in search of the meaning of life, or in hope of solving the problem of our existence, hut once we actually start, we fiml we have to look down at our feet. and we are faced with praca tice followed by more practice, trainingfollowed hy more training. It must he done patiently and seriously. Much of this book is concerned with the technique of razen. Our aim in practicing saun is to enter the. state of samadlri, in which, as we have said, the normal activity of our consciousness Is stopped. This is not something that comes easily to us. The hegioner in Zen will usually be told to start by practicing counting his hreaths —that is, to count each exhalation up to ten. and then start again (see chapter 5). The reader (assuming he is inexperienced in Zen) shrmld try this for himself. Quite prohahly you will look on this task with some contempt, thinking that you can do it without any diiiicully, but when you start you will soon find that wandering thoughts come into your head, perhaps when you have reached about "five" or "six." and the thread of counting is broken. The next moment you come to yourself and cannot recollect where you left all. You have to start again, saying "one" and so on. How can we prevent our thoughts from wandering? How can we learn to focus our attention on one thing? The answer is that we cannot do it with our hrain alone; the hrain cannot control its thoughts hy itself. The power to control the activity of our mind comes from the body, and it tls'pcmls criti- cally (as we shall show in later chapters, in detail) on pnsiurt' and hreathlng. ‘ With regard to posture, we need only say at this stage that still- ness of body engenders stillness of mind. immobility is a first essential. Traditionally, and for good reasons. we sit down to practice, hecause 1i [E N T R Al N l N 0 (among other reasons) it is in this position that we can keep our body still but our minds wakeful. Chapter 2 is devoted entirely to a discus- sion of the posture we should adopt while sitting. immobility results ina diminution of the stimuli reaching the brain, until eventually there are almost none. This will give rise, in due course, to a condition in which you cease to be aware of the position of your body. It is not a state of numbness, for you can move your limbs and body if you want. But if you keep your body still, it is not felt. This condition I call "off-sensation." in this state the activity of the cortex of the brain becomes steadily less and less, and we can regard this condition as a preliminary to entering samadhi. We continue to breathe, of course, as we sit, and it will be shown later that our ability to concentrate our attentionI to remain wakeful, and ultimately to enter samath depends on our method of breathing. Even those who have not practiced zazen know that it is possible to control the mind by manipulating the breathing. Quiet breathing brings about a quiet state of mind. If, when you feel like shouting with rage, you keep your breath bated and make yourself quiet, you will find you can control your anger. Particular forms of breathing automatically appear in connection with various forms of activity, as we shall describe later. In uzen, we breathe almost entirely by means of our abdominal muscles and diaphragm. The muscles of the thorax are scarcely used. If the lower abdomen is allowed to fill out, the diadi'ragmblowered, the thoracic cavity is enlarged, and air is tak- en into the lungs. When the abdominal muscles contract, the contents of the abdomen are pushed up, which in turn forces the diaphragm up, reducing the volume of the thoracic cavity and expelling air' from the lungs. The slow, sustained exhalation that we adopt in uaen is produced by keeping the diaphragm contracted so that it opposes the action of the abdominal musclesI which are trying to push air out of the lungs. This opposition generates a state of tension in the ab- dominal muscles, and the maintenance ofthls state of tension is of the utmost importance in the practice of uzen. All other parts of the body are motionless, and their muscles are either relaxed or in a state of constant, moderate tension. Only the abdominal muscles are active. In ways that we shall explain later (see especially chapters 3 31 ORIENTATlUNS 3"" 7i. this activity is a vital part of the mechanism by \"lilt h concen- tration and wakefulness of the brain are maintained. Traditionally, in the East, the lower part ofthe abdomen (called the “fluff”. has been regarded as the seat of hutnan spiritual power. Correct ran-n postnre ensures that the weight of the body is concentrated there, producing a strong tensionI aml the method of breathing that is adopted rein- forces that tension. in chapter J we develop a hypothesis in physio- logical terms about the way in which stimuli from the. tamlen help to maintain wakefulness, and in chapter 7 and elsewhere we deal in some. detail with the importance of the tanden in both zazen and other ae- tivitles. The essential point we want to make at present is that it is the. cor. rect manipulation of the lower abdomen, as we sit and breathe. that enables us to control the activity of our mind. l‘osture aml lo‘eflhing are the key to concentration, to stilling the activity ol' the mind, and to entering samadhi. Stated so hrieily, our conclusion may seem far- fetched. The reader will find our reasons for this conclusion set out in more detail later, and we hope that they will seem convim ing. \nd if they do not seem convincing on the page, the reader shoohl m, erl- ment for himself along the lines we shall indicate. Zen is above all a matter of personal experience. The. student is asked to accept nothing the truth of which he cannot demonstrate for himself, with his own mind and body. We have already referred to the state of oil-sensation, in which we lose the sense of the whereabouts of our body. Subsequently, by stilling the activity of our mind, a state is reached in which time, space, and causation, which constitute the franteworlt of conscious‘ ness, drop away. We call this condition "body and mlan fallen oil." In ordinary mental activity the cerebral cortex takes the major role, but in this state, apparentlyI It is hardly active at all. "iiody and mind fallen oil" may seem to be nothing but a condition of mere being, but this mere being is accompanied by a remarkable mental power, \tltir h we may characterize as a condition of extreme \Vahcfttlness. To those who have not experienced it, this description may seem strange, yet the condition really does occur in samadhi. At the time, however, we are not aware of it, because, as we shall explain in t hap- J] 881 ZEN TRAINING ‘ ter I0, there is no rellecting activity of consciousness, and it is thus hard to describe. However, if we were to try to describe it, it would be as an extraordinary mental stillness. In this stillness, or emptiness, the source of all kinds of activity Is latent. It is this state that we call pure existence. This, perhaps, is the most simplified form of human existence. if you catch hold of this state of pure existence, and then come back into the actual world of conscious activity, you will find that Being itsell' appears transformed. Because of the possibility of this transfor- mation, Being is said to be "veiled in darkness' ' to the eyes of those who have not experienced pure existence. When mature in the practice of usen, Being is seen with one's own eyes. Or, as it is said in the sutras, "The Tathagata sees Buddha Nature with his naked eyes." However, lust as energy can be used for many dill'erent purposes. so can pure existence be experienced In relation to any phase of life- anger, hatred, or iealousy, as well as love and beauty. Now, every human action must be carried on through the ego, which plays a role analogous to that of a pipe or channel through which energy ls con- ducted for diil'erent uses. It may he asked what this ego is. We usually think of the ego as a kind of constant, unchanging entity. in fact, bOwever, it is simply a succession of physical and mental events or pressures, which appear momentarily and as quickly pass away. liotverer, so long as our mind operates subiectively, there must be a subject that functions as the ego. As there is normally no'cessation of subjective activity, there can normally be no state in which we are devoid of an ego. However, the nature of this ego can change. Every time we succeed in banishing a mean or restricted ego—a petty ego—- another ego with a broader outlook appears in its place, and eventu- ally what we may call an "egoless ego" will make its appearance. And when you have acquired an egoless ego, there is no hatred, no jealousy, no fear; you experience a state in which you see everything in its true aspect. It is a state in which you cling to or adhere to nothing. it is not that you are without desires, but that while desiring and adher- ing to things you are at the same time unattached to them. The Dia- mond Sutra says, "Abiding nowhere, let the mind work." This means, "Do not let your mind be bound by your desire, and let your 34 ORIENTATIONS desire occur in your mind." True freedom is freedom from your own desires. I _ When the Zen student has once experienced pure existence, he undergoes a complete about-lace in his view of the world. But unl'nr- tunately, as long as he is a human being. he cannot escape from the inevitability ol' living as an individual. ilc cannot leave the world of diilerentiation. And he is thus placed in a new dilemma, which he. did not encounter hei'ore. lnevitably, this entails a certain internal conflict, which may cause much distress. To tleal with this, further training oi the mind has to be undertaken In order to learn how, while living in the world of difl'erentiation, we can avoid discrimination. We have to learn how to exercise the mind of nonattachment while working in attachment. This Is called training after the attainment of ' realization, or cultivation ol' Holy Iiuddhahood, which constitutes an essential part oi Zen (see chapter l7). There is a Zen saying, "liqual- ity without diil’erentiation is bad equality; diil'erentiation without equality is bad dillerentiatlon." This is a very commonplace saying, but the level of understanding to which it refers is not common, since it can be attained only in a mature state of Zen practice. Zen training continues endlessly. The mean or petty ego, which was thought to have been disposed of, is found once again to be sc- cretly creeping hack into one's mind. The long, chronic habit of t'mt- sciousness has implanted evil impulses so firmly in man's mind that they haunt us perpetually, and it is impossible for us to inhibit them bclot‘t'. they appear. However, the longer we train ourselves, the more. we are liberated from the petty ego. When the petty ego appears, do not be concerned with it. Simply ignore it. When an evil thought strikes you, acknowledge it honestly, saying, “Such and such an evil thought has occurred in me," and then drop it. The Zen saying goes, “The occurrence of an evil thought is a malady; not to continue it is the remedy." Zen talks about "emptiness." What is meant by this? Perhaps a story will help. The guardian deity wanted to have a look at Town Osbo, but found he could not, and so be devised a trick. lle took some rice and wheat from the kitchen of the monastery and scattered it in the yard. In the monastery, things are taken good (are oi', simply 35 ........_W,mmanmw m... ZEN TRAINING because they exist. (This Idea Is conspicuously dIil'erent from that Inherent In modern economic thought.) Toran found the rice and wheat strewn on the ground and said to himself, "Whoever could ‘have been so thoughtless as to do this ?" And at that moment the de- Ity was able to have a look at Tozan. Usually Toun did not abide any- where. That Is why the deity could not have a look at him. Toaan allowed his mind to work when he saw the grain strewn on the ground. A cloud appeared In the empty sky; It soon vanished, but at that moment the deity could have a glimpse oi" hIm. A student of Christianity, hearing that Zen talks of emptiness, oll'ered for comparison a definition of holiness. Holiness, he said, means completeness, with nothing to be added to It. The word holl- ness ls found In Buddhism, too. A Buddha Is holy. But in Buddhism, when a man has become a Buddha, he Is supposed to forget he Is a Buddha. While you are conscious of being a Buddha, you are not tmly a Buddha, because you are ensnared by the idea. You are not empty. Every time that you think you are achieving something—be- coming a Buddha, attaining holiness, even emptiness—you must cast It away. Emptiness is s conditlon in which Internal mental pressure is to- tally dissolved. When a thong“ appears in your mind, it is necessarily accompanied by Internal pressure. Even when you think, "it's fine today," a certain Internal pressure Is generated in your miml, aml you feel you want to speak to someone else and say, "It's fine today, isn't it?" By doing this you discharge the pressure. These matters are dIs- cussed In detail In chapter l0. ln Zen texts the word murhin occurs. Literally, thIs means ''no mind" (mu, no; shin. mind), which means "no ego." It means the mind Is In a state of equilibrium. We think every moment, and an Internal pressure is generated, and we lose equilibrium. And in Zen we train ourselves to recover equilibrium every moment. The ego Is built up from a succession of Internal pressures. When the pressures are dissolved, the ego vanishes, and there is true emptiness. There is a Zen topic, or Man, that asks, "What Is the meaning of Bodhldharma's coming to China?" And the answer given is "No meaning." This means "no purpose." Bodhldharma spent three 36 ORIENTATIONS years traveling to China. 'Ihe hardships ol‘ the louruey are sr-arrelv conceivable to us todav, yet he is said to have had no |nrrpoo-._ The point is that "no purpose" means enrptiness. When lhnllrhllrarma arrived In China, the first distinguished person who met hiur “as lunpernr Wu ol l.iang. Emperor Wu was called "l-'rnperor Wu ol linddha Mind." lie was a devout believer in Buddhism. lie lurilt nranv temples, supported monks, and set scholars to translate tlte'sutr'as into Chinese. lle himself was deeply versed In Buddhist scriptures and put on a sacred golden rohe to give lectures on the sutras. it is said that on that occasion llowers rained down from heaven and changed the earth to gold. It was thought that this was a reward lor great merit. llowever, Il' Wu had had true. understanding ol llnddhist errrpti'uess, and II that emptiness had been realized in himself, the llowers would - not have rained down and the earth would not have been changed into gold. Emperor Wu said to lIothdharma, "l have. erected temples and supported monks; what virtue will come out of it ?" lle esper-ted liodhldharma to reply, "Great vlrtuel" Bodhidharma's answer, however, was "No virtue." Emperor Wu perhaps realized his failure and made another attempt. He asked, "What is the Iirst principle ol' the holy teac...
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