December 5, 2016

Song of Hui Neng

(from the Sutra of Hui Neng)

You want to teach these foolish folks?
Proceed to exorcise their doubt
You'll need to be quite skillful blokes
And then their wisdom will come out

The place of waking, it's right here
Yet in a way fools cannot see
So please don't run away in fear
To seek a world that cannot be

The views of men as in our world
Or thoughts of truth from higher mind
To know that these, they both must go
It's then you'll leave distress behind

This is the straight-talk rousing-up
Known as the wondrous Greater Way,
That leaves confusion's endless cup
For a waking that could come today

March 4, 2015

Fifteen Flags Flew

Fifteen flags flew
Up the bodhi ladder
Into the simple true

Fifteen kites blew
To commemorate the matter
Of a new you

It's largely held that
If it's not one thing it's another,
But that only holds until the very last one

With nothing left to grab
You cut off your own blather
And mixed in the cadre of the dharma bums

Problems and love and goals and pride
Throw them in the machine together
Coming clean, pure as death, they'll
Certainly help you up the ladder
Past the things you have known
You can change it all now, 'long with the weather

The No-God claimed cannot be found,
So he dropped the anal anti-mysticism. To
Explain is nonsense—not profound,
Think I'll stop here and end the schism

Again, it's not both, and it sure ain't neither,
For the things you hate, feel neutral or hold dear,
Nor is it some combination of them either,
This time, for good, you can lose that fear.

The silent prayer now sung as a hearld,
Fifty Hail Marys and one-o-eight Om Ah Hungs, ignites
The spark of return to the original Non-Plan,
Abraham, Moses, Melkizedek and Carol, celebrate,
With Pepsi, ambrosia salad, beans, canned ham.

December 11, 2014

Shen-hsiu's and Hui-neng's Poem (From the Platform Sutra)

Shen-hsiu's Poem 

Our bodies function as mind-holding frames,
Securing our mind-mirrors: edificial stands
Keep your mind-mirrors clean, ever wiping them down,
So the muck won’t build as it constantly lands

Hui-neng's Responding Poem

Noting originalness, that's all you'll need,
This mirror of mind has no bodily stand
If our pristine divinity is ineffable, beyond structure,
Then where would it be that this filth would land?

From the Sixth Patriarch Platform Sutra
tr. by Sol Ta Triane

October 31, 2014

Chapter 7: The Ineffable Source of All Buddhas –– THE DIAMOND SUTRA

    “Do you think I became the Inconceivably Dynamic, Transcendent-Yet-Appearing Individual by virtue of my realization of unexcelled perfect enlightenment? Don’t I implore others to achieve the same?”

     Subhuti answered, “No and no, World-Honored One! You have told us that you didn’t attain any realization of unexcelled perfect enlightenment, much less show others how to proceed. You have said that the nature of your teaching is that it is beyond mental analysis; it's not bestowable! Hence, all buddhas must arise out of That Which Is Beyond Being Analyzed.”

        "The Diamond Teaching"  (Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra)
                tr. by Sol Ta Triane
                Featuring the Buddha in a discussion with his disciple, Subhuti
                Recorded by the disciple, Ananda  

August 1, 2014

Chapter 17B: How the Way You Perceive Things Always Matters –– THE DIAMOND SUTRA

     “People claim I went through a spiritual learning experience that resulted in buddhahood, and thereby misrepresent my teaching. Here’s where they went wrong: Transcendent-yet-appearing individuals never believe in processes or spontaneous peak experiences that result in an unsurpassed perfect enlightenment.

     “The things that actually make a buddha a buddha are not contained in a style of thought, nor in a sense of reality or truth versus an unreality or untruth. Along these lines, all buddhas teach that phenomena are in essence unexplainable manifestations, an arising of the inconceivable Itself, the domain of which is known only by those familiarized.

     “Subhuti! All phenomena, no matter what they are, can’t be phenomena as we conceive them. What they are, are transcendently-sourced-yet-appearing Buddha-things.

     “Now try this, Subhuti! Imagine a beautiful, great, godlike character in the sky—glorious like the majestic Mount Sumeru!”

     “I did it!” said Subhuti. “The beautific goddess I made is fantastic! On the other hand, there’s no one actually there at all!” 

     “Just so, Subhuti! This is how bodhisattvas perceive every single thing!”

        "The Diamond Teaching"  (Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra)
                tr. by Sol Ta Triane
                Featuring the Buddha in a discussion with his disciple, Subhuti
                Recorded by the disciple, Ananda  

March 26, 2014

Chapter 8: Making a Connection With the Source of All Buddhas –– THE DIAMOND SUTRA

   “Subhuti! Do you think that if someone gave gifts of tremendous value, the volume of which filled a trillion universes, to those awakened individuals who indelibly help all beings, that it would create an outrageous accumulation of goodness?”

   “Yes, World-Honored One. There would be an outrageous amount of good created in doing that, which you would say is not really any good.”

   “If, Subhuti, anyone learned only a few lines of what I’m trying to tell you, thought about them and shared them with others, the goodness created would be vastly greater.

   “And the reason it would be so much greater is this: To even begin to familiarize yourself with this information is tantamount to making a connection with the Source out of which arises every awakened individual! In fact, this teaching, pointing out the Source of all awakened individuals, is not really a teaching, nor are there awakened individuals! 

    "Go now and do this, so that you too may be acquainted with the Source out of which arises all enlightened beings!”

        "The Diamond Teaching"  (Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra)
                tr. by Sol Ta Triane
                Featuring the Buddha in a discussion with his disciple, Subhuti
                Recorded by the disciple, Ananda  

February 17, 2014

Chapter 29: On Inconceivably Dynamic, Transcendent-Yet-Appearing Individuals, (skt. tathāgata) –– THE DIAMOND SUTRA

    “Subhuti! Could an inconceivably dynamic, transcendent-yet-appearing individual be identified by the bodily positionings they take—perhaps their manner of standing, sitting or reclining? The observation of physical positionings simply won't help in the identification of such beings. 

    “An inconceivably dynamic, transcendent-yet-appearing individual is inconceivably dynamic—though transcendent, they posture within the world of men. That’s why they're called ‘inconceivably dynamic, transcendent-yet-appearing individuals.’” 

        "The Diamond Teaching"  (Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra)
                tr. by Sol Ta Triane
                Featuring the Buddha in a discussion with his disciple, Subhuti
                Recorded by the disciple, Ananda  

January 3, 2014

Chapter 13: The Lowdown on Perfection of Wisdom Teachings Like The Diamond Teaching ––THE DIAMOND SUTRA

    “World-Honored One! What would you like us to call this teaching you’re giving us? And do you have any suggestions as to how best we can expound it?”

    “Sure, Subhuti! This is in a category of the highest type of teaching, a perfection of wisdom teaching—a final word on how things be. The best way to try to comprehend this kind of teaching is to study it with a goal of trying to uncover just why teachings like these are called 'perfection of wisdom teachings.'

    “Now, regarding this particular perfection of wisdom teaching, why don’t you call it The Diamond Teaching! Because in order to understand a perfection of wisdom teaching like this you're going to need to be able to cut through all ideas, including any that resemble perfect wisdom!

    “So Subhuti! Does the Awakened One have a teaching that he tries to impart?”

    Subhuti responded, “No, World-Honored One, you aren't trying to impart a teaching.”

    “Subhuti! Would you say there are an enormous number of particles in a quadrillion-world universe?”

    Subhuti answered, “Yes, World-Honored One, there certainly are a humongous number of particles in a quadrillion-world universe, though you would say that what seems to be going on, in the sense that there are particles, isn't really happening. You would also say a quadrillion-world universe, although known to be a quadrillion-world universe, isn't one."

    The Buddha then spoke, “Can you identify someone to be an awakened individual by noting that they are distinguished by thirty-two buddha-characteristics?”

    “No, World-Honored One. You can’t be certain someone is an awakened individual just because you see that they have the thirty-two buddha-characteristics. That would be a false conclusion to make, because when it comes to those thirty-two characteristics that identify an awakened individual—those aren’t characteristics. They are, however, known as the characteristics of awakened individuals.”

    “Subhuti! Let’s say that a fine person gave up all he had so to benefit beings, repeating this in lifetime after lifetime for as many eons as there are particles in the mud of the Ganges riverbed. If there was someone who, on the other hand, was able to begin to understand this teaching and then tried to help someone else to ascertain the meaning of a few lines of it, the results for this person would be outrageously, immeasurably better!"

        "The Diamond Teaching"  (Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra)
                tr. by Sol Ta Triane
                Featuring the Buddha in a discussion with his disciple, Subhuti
                Recorded by the disciple, Ananda  

(this chapter was originally published at the Dog Zen Koans, 4-19-2012)

December 9, 2013

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

The yuletide parents primp and procure
All to see the magic once lost
Reappearing in the eyes of their little ones

Hey, you there, shy of Kringle's magic bag –
From which you may pull out whatever you need?
This sack brims endless joys and toys
This is where you may make that most feared of choices:

Endlessly batted like a kitten's plaything
Wanting to step out of the helplessness,
Procure the compass which points to goodness long dismissed,
Grasp something quick from that barn-born kid of yours –
Lose trust in your alliance, let intuition be your science

Be touched today
Trade the stink of doubt
For an unborn and dynamic spontaneousness,
This son is born:
The joy, the very fulfillment of man's desiring

Who knew the lion and the lamb were destined to be buds?
An impossibility for Bill is but certainty for Edith
Each, we go on to choose our fate upon the fat man's lap
Go ask a small child should you want this clear  –
Santa's bag holds endless gifts.

(Originally published at the Dog Zen Koans on Dec. 21, 2007)

September 9, 2013

Here Mounts the Bliss-King

Awaken in
A sleepwalk magic field

Remember everything goes into
The basket of happy goo

They meant what they said when they said,
"All things"

To include every sliver cures both
Crotch and liver

While the dull may continue that which in effect
Never worked

A certain has-been now has, by inclusion of

In open throat sing, you
A single bell, ring

So fine, without cling, here mounts
The bliss-king

September 1, 2013

With Few Equipped to Share My Joy

With few equipped to share my joy,
I'll hold it warm a thousand lifetimes
Since no one noticed when you went to flirt,
Hidden wishes, those too, kept fresh for you

You, well-trained to not know your question,
Might speak it out rude, in the nude unposed
Then we could share a trif of wisdom,
But we'll keep the box closed 'til this darker time goes

You forgot why you fight, said that crusty old Lao
You looked back your own way as he points you your moon
Nasty chan wanker Lao, flustering to his breakpoint
Says, go for the soft and you'll be home soon...

   Soft are some plans you never made
   Soft holds the meaning; thoughts never stayed
   Soft is the cave of a trillion-world dream
   Soft, the quick stop where your soul's remade

All together, move, before the chan man sees us!
Run, hide and quick, don't let the stumblebum seize us!
Join, join, join, jump!
Soaking in the middle of a big fat soft!

   Soft, the give in ceasing of schemes
   Soft, for all crudenesses, lost at sea
   The end of the you and of the me dreams
   Soft: of life, of philosophy

Abandon toast-modern mind, remove like a tumor
Happy persons, arm in arm, schlepping a happy mind
Nothing can remove the stain of the pattern
It merely dissolves in the watery find

   Soft, a recline to infinity,
   Separatenesses gone, nor even unity
   Not-knowing, sans conceptuality
   Soft means its over, ending the spree

Since men look away from demented and wise
Ignoring the fool talk of slackjaw and hermit
But in the case someone somewhere takes in to hearken
Here's the easiest way to get it, if that way I may term it:

Give in to the soft,
If you want the loft  ––
If you want the loft,
You've got to go soft

August 20, 2013

Chapter 25: Buddhas Don't Hold to Ideas of Grasping or Unenlightenment –– THE DIAMOND SUTRA

    “Think again, Subhuti! Would I be going around thinking I’m going to be liberating beings? Please try to understand why I wouldn’t think that because, like I’ve said, those beings that I would supposedly be liberating aren’t beings anyway.

    “But for sake of argument, let’s say that I really believed that I was going around liberating beings. That would mean I would have to also be holding to an idea of a 'me' and 'them,' assuming that selves were really there. I would also contrive that beings are 'being something,' that lives are being lived and, perhaps, that those individualities can live on and on!

    “And Subhuti! A grasping like this, to ideas about selves as if they were real, is likewise not really grasping! But unenlightened people, who are not really people, do seem to be grasping!

    “Therefore the Inconceivably Dynamic, Transcendent-Yet-Appearing Individual submits to you: unenlightened beings are not unenlightened beings! But in a discussion about what merely seems to be unenlightened beings, the term ‘unenlightened beings' is used.”

        "The Diamond Teaching"  (Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra)
                tr. by Sol Ta Triane
                Featuring the Buddha in a discussion with his disciple, Subhuti
                Recorded by the disciple, Ananda  

August 19, 2013

The Second Man, by Sol Ta Triane, originally published June 15, 2005 at The Dog Zen Koans

Two men walk into a diner. Before they can order, two bowls are placed in front of them. Upon tasting the food the first man spits it back out and, shouting spontaneously towards the kitchen, says, "This is disgusting," then angrily towards the waitress, "You brought me a bowl.. of grease!"

The waitress returns and tells them, "that's so to remind you: samsara is suffering."

The second man is also revolted, attempting to get the grease out of his mouth with repeated snorts and spittings. The men walk out of the diner, the first man alternating between cursing loudly and mumbling under his breath, the second in confusion and silence.

They try a different restaraunt. Before having a chance to order, the chef comes out and places two steaming bowls in front of the men with a smile. "The first man skeptically takes a sip of the broth; it shoots out as fast as it went in. "This is salted water! Why would you bring us salt water?"

The chef replied that it was merely to clarify the point: samsara is unfulfilling.

By this time, the men are feeling off their game, and after a brief discussion decide to try their luck with something different. They have a project to do at home, and needed to pick up a hammer and nails at the hardware store on the way home.

Navigating the well stocked isles of the hardware store, they noticed that the hammers had no heads and that the nails were made of rubber. Seeing the angry face of the first, and the perplexed face of the second man, the stock boy announced,

"We carry those items especially to remind people that samsara simply doesn't work."

And so it was at this moment the first man made a silent decision to retreat to the solace of his own abode. And that he did without hesitation, soon to piece together some sort of dinner and, he thought, maybe a bit of television.

It was the case, though, that the second man reacted quite differently. Those odd encounters had awakened his curiosity, or maybe it was wonder. Now ravenously hungry, the thought crossed his mind to give another restaurant a try.

He went into the very first joint he could find, which happened to be directly across the street from the hardware store. Reaching for the door, it opened for him. He saw that he was being greeted by a sparkling polite woman, who he assumed must be the matire-d'. She took his arm and gently escorted him through the plain building into a stunning and lush backyard garden, in the center of which was a large shapely wooden table with one large chair holding multiple multi-patterned cushions.

"Would this place be to your liking sir?" The man heard himself say, "Oh yes," as he saw it was in fact quite a fine spot.

Settling in, his senses began to open in the comfort of that sun-speckled yard. Flowers and greenery of every hue and geometric shape surrounded him, bemusing the eye. The air was warm yet breezy; the flowers were gently pushed into undulations by its caress. Bees buzzed happily, circling and bobbing flower to flower.

Deepening in comfort he sunk into his chair; the maitre-D nodded, nimbly removing his shoes. Turning away in wide gaze, she seemed as a conductor, raising her baton at the beginning of a symphony. As she began to do whatever it was she was doing, which seemed to be environmental adjustments, she turned back for just a moment to address the man, saying, "By the way, sir, all this is on the house."

Sinking even deeper on that voluptuously soft and supportive chair, as a king on a throne, a most entrancing of musics began to fill the garden. The sounds of lyres, tamboura, then gentle tablas beginning almost inaudibly, then increasing, layering back and forth, not unlike the bees. He could see the musicians had been in wait behind a hedge of blueberry bushes. The bushes, he noticed, had quite a crop of the rich blue-black orbs.

Out of nowhere, a heartbreakingly attractive girl was leaning over his table, asking him if he would like some of those blueberries, which, she now held before him in a festive flower bowl, painted with flowers. He enjoyed the most delicious berries he ever ate. When she asked him if he would like his feet and shoulders massaged, he said gratefully, and with very little hesitation, "Sure!" Soon he achieved a state of immense relaxation and pleasure.

But it was only the beginning. Beautiful dancing girls silently appeared, smiling, coy and playful, moving through the garden, disturbing nothing, harmonizing to the scene, and an odd, full and healthy joy arose in his mind. One after another, the waiters and waitresses brought fresh squeezes and cuts of exotic fruits, steamed vegetables and meats dipped in sauces he had never seen previously. Some came in stars cups, moons bowls, even two long curved pink tureens in opposite shapes. Small presentations of the most delicate and vitalizing hot and cold appetizers were presently by the lovely girls, each on a different painted bowl or plate; then presented and uncorked was a 1942 Krug Sparkling Nectar of a supremely subtle refreshing taste, which the second man found to be a nourishment of his soul: its effervescence danced on his tongue, and wine flowed soft and pleasing to refresh him deeper with each taste.

Another completely unabashed lady of radiant beauty appeared. She giggled and sat down at the table along side the man. She introduced herself with funny puns which delighted and sent the second man even further off-guard, then told the man stories of the type that he would be most interested in. With light hearts and humor, they engaged discussions of religion, books, love, art, politics, music, much more. The man noticed that she was purely humble, but all the same seemed to understand all those topics well. The laughed and spoke for hours, mixing their variegated togethernesses into the soft summer evening.

During this time the train of exquisite treats continued its course. The crescendo and decrecendo of foods, colors, the distinct and merging fragrances only supported those conversations, maybe the best conversations of his life. His new girlfriends were such a fine conversationalists humorists, but foremost they were women. He simply lost himself in their beauty, wisdom, and the scene at hand.

How it seemed to work, he thought, was this: In pure undulating synchronicity, this simply came to be. Look here: the maitre-d' or a waiter or waitress would appear with yet another delicious fruit, an appetizer, a beverage, maybe a tasty and warming filling main course. The young women, one after another, came to please him in many ways that one might expect and also might not. The tensions and release expanded during entire episode, somehow bringing placidity to his mind and needs, as he watched to setting of an orange sun. It came to mind in that moment that he had greatly underestimated his life, in the sense that joy is something that could quite be accomplished.

The bees and butterflies moved like a painter's brushstrokes. Whatever the man experienced in taste, sound or vision, it built itself anew upon the previous joy. The bliss amassed and staying consistent; this stability was something he never before known, or yet it seemed like something glimpsed a distant memory.

And as that wondrous scene of harmony, light and vitalizing, perhaps, but really through his own charm, right then, his own purity opened, as a flower. And he became as one in that glorious feast that had been presented him, in it, beyond it too.

In that way he also forgot his problems and joy opened firmly in him, like the white-pink lotus right before him, in the garden.

And he held the hand of his lovely conversation companion as they giggled, chatted, played and dined together. He thought he could see waves emanating between himself and the woman – certainly he could feel them. In fact, they emanated between all the people and objects, ass if the spirit of atmosphere had stepped forward and taken over, and the second man knew it would all be like a downstream flow of a great river from here on in.

Fully satisfied and in the finest of spirits, the knew it to be time to go home. But he experienced no regret, only gratitude. Turning to bid an adieu, he did however for a moment, hesitate.

"Why did you do all of this for me?" said the second man.

The matrie-D looked into his eyes. The second man recognized, from her look, a wisdom and inner world he had once sensed but had not been able to stabilize. She was a mirror in which he saw himself. The entire assembly of waiters stood aside, arms in front, palm over palm. The musicians and dancers gently stopped and came over to join the group, and with kindness attended the man. They said,

"We did it to show your capacity."

July 30, 2013

Chapter 11: Result of Great Charity or of Learning This –– THE DIAMOND SUTRA (previously published February 23, 2012 at The Dog Zen Koans)

    “Subhuti! Let's suppose, that for every particle of muck in the Ganges Riverbed there was another Ganges River. Now imagine the number of particles of sand in all those new riverbeds. Would that amount to a great number of sand particles?”

   Subhuti answered, “Yes, World-Honored One. The number of the rivers would be impossible to conceive, not to mention the number of sand particles in them!”

   “Subhuti! I’m going to lay it out for you. Imagine a man or woman of integrity giving valuable charitable offerings in an amount that would fill vast trillions of universes, the number of which would be like the number of particles in all of those rivers! Wouldn’t this fine act result in an outrageously great production of goodness?”

   Subhuti replied, “Yes, World Honored One, the goodness produced by the actions of such a man or a woman would be humongous, truly impossible to conceive.”

   The Buddha said, “Subhuti! Let’s say that instead this man or this woman were to go and take a few lines from what I’m saying here, consider them, and try to discuss them with others. The consequences of doing that would be unequivocally superior to those caused by the charitable offerings.”

        "The Diamond Teaching"  (Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra)
                tr. by Sol Ta Triane
                Featuring the Buddha in a discussion with his disciple, Subhuti
                Recorded by the disciple, Ananda  

July 25, 2013

Chapter 17A: How the Buddha Didn’t and Did Become Emancipated –– THE DIAMOND SUTRA

    Subhuti said once again to the World-Honored One, “How is it that especially fine individuals who hold the aspiration to perfect enlightenment should conduct themselves? What should they be practicing and how are they supposed to handle their minds?”

    The Buddha responded and said, “Subhuti! Fine individuals who aspire to perfect enlightenment, who are wondering what might be the best way to handle themselves, are going to need to establish this way of thinking: 'I shall lead all beings, bringing them to perfect salvation! And as I lead them thus, I shall know that there really isn’t anyone who is being brought to perfect salvation!’

    “Now Subhuti! Tell me why each person aspiring to enlightenment would need to establish such a way of thinking? Well, they wouldn’t be bodhisattvas if they thought there were actually selves existing, beings who are being someone, or eternal personages who seem to digress or become emancipated into higher levels of being!

    “Why do I prod you again on this? Do you think that emancipation is an experience that people go through? Anybody who thinks that is no bodhisattva.

    “So think, Subhuti! It is generally held that I received teaching from the inconceivably dynamic, transcendent-yet-appearing individual, the Buddha Source of Light, and that by following his teaching I attained total and perfect enlightenment—correct?”

    “It is so believed. But according to what you have taught us, World-Honored One, that isn’t how this works. There is no teaching by which receiving or following it one can attain unsurpassed perfect enlightenment.”

    “Yes, Subhuti. That idea that spiritual realization is an actualization of special teachings, that doesn't happen.

   “Had I been holding an idea of establishing enlightenment, then Buddha Source of Light, wouldn’t have prophesied my enlightenment, saying that, ‘In the future you shall become Shakyamuni, a fully enlightened buddha.'

    “So here I am, Shakyamuni Buddha, the fully realized transcendent-yet-appearing individual—which implies I see things as they are in their actuality! People like me never bother imagining that ideas created about processes or states of realization were in themselves actualities.

    “Subhuti! Being a transcendent-yet-appearing individuality (a tathagata) means to see things as they are. Tathagatas are people who are especially acquainted with That Which Is Not Created. A tathagata knows that conceptualities about phenomena never explain what they are. Tathagatas are familiar with the Uncreated Nature behind the myriad objects appearing as our world. To know this Uncreated Nature is to know how things are."

        "The Diamond Teaching"  (Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra)
                tr. by Sol Ta Triane
                Featuring the Buddha in a discussion with his disciple, Subhuti
                Recorded by the disciple, Ananda  

July 14, 2013

Chapter 14: How It Is That Bodhisattvas Come to Understand (or, Subhuti Wept) –– THE DIAMOND SUTRA

    Overcome in the deepening of his realization, Subhuti wept. Wiping back the tears, he exclaimed, “How profound, how wondrous is your teaching, World-Honored One! And to think, with all my training...and I never really understood!

    “If anyone whosoever hears this teaching and intuition arises in him, he shall awaken to ultimate truth and become a source of immense glory and goodness. But no comprehension arises in actuality, since ultimate truth is not a conceivability. Here, I am suggesting the manner in which you, World-Honored One, make implications to us, that we might realize this inconceivability.

    “Having had the fortune to be taught by you, World-Honored One, it’s no wonder that I’m finally catching on. It is suddenly clear to me that, in the latter days, there will be bodhisattvas—people like me—intelligent people who will be fully capable of understanding the meaning of the meta-genius disclosures—like this one you are giving us right now!

     “Further, I testify that these people won’t be clinging to an idea of a self, to a thought of being a being or even to an idea of the existence of eternal personages! These folks are going to become buddhas!—the kind of individuals that aren’t going to hold on to thoughts they might have about...anything!”

    The Buddha responded, “Subhuti, you are correct. You now see that a certain breed of people aren’t going to become perturbed upon being introduced to the meta-genius information. And when I start in to talking about the people who become perturbed, you can be sure I’m not implying that there are people who are going to become perturbed!

    “Long, long ago King Kali amputated my arms, legs, ears, and nose, but it didn’t upset me since I didn’t believe in a real me, nor did I think of myself as a temporary or eternal being. Had I held any of those ideas when my appendages were cut off, I would have become perturbed.

    “There was another period covering five hundred lifetimes during which I was the renunciate yogi, Virtuoso of Forbearance. During that entire period I never thought of having a real self, of being a being—not even a transmigrating, ethereal one.

     “And that, Subhuti, is how bona fide bodhisattvas are inspired to an enlightenment unbound by concepts! Fearlessly, they use their mind without any tendency to glom onto whatever formulations may arise in it, whether arising from that which is seen, heard, smelled, tasted, felt or from something else. The thoughts they have about beings being beings or of beings being alive or even eternal souls are not serious.

     "Bodhisattvas-to-be, instead of getting mentally caught up, create ways of thinking that never glom onto anything at all! These trainees are well aware that when someone gloms onto his own thoughts (as a result of them seeming to be real) they’re going to become stuck!

     “Therefore all bodhisattvas, knowing that their helping-phenomena are not ultimately true, benefit all beings by giving the greatest of gifts: they act without the slightest sense of giving! And these venerable beings of great compassion that we speak so highly of? They aren’t beings!

     “You should see that the Buddha’s teaching is perfectly accurate and free of fallacy, the consummation of which is to understand the way things are in their actuality. This entails the comprehension of the lack of existence of either truth or falsity. A manner of thinking in which things are thought to be real or unreal is delusional.

    “A bodhisattva poseur is like a person who goes into a dark room, unable to see a thing. An authentic bodhisattvasomebody who provides for beings without grasping in the slightest onto his acts of benefit and unfoldmentsees things clearly, as they are, as in the effulgent light of day.

     “In the future, some very fine folks will appear who are going to be learning, catching on to and presenting this very message to othersjust as now, awakened individuals, through intuition, spiritual vision and meta-knowing, notice the great work that future people are going to be doing!”

        "The Diamond Teaching"  (Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra)
                tr. by Sol Ta Triane
                Featuring the Buddha in a discussion with his disciple, Subhuti
                Recorded by the disciple, Ananda  

July 10, 2013

A Bodhisattva's Vow (originally published at the Dog Zen Koans on June 18th, 2006)

I'm not that concerned about environmental warming:
A cool sun hides within storms of human childishness.
The tides of seeming knowledge, reason's loss
Generate the winds and the global patterns we miss,
Next, idealism. Next, a suicide warning.

People, listen to me for once!
You can't sew without a needle's sharpness
Your defense assumes dignity, righteousness, furvor,
But to spasm against your opponent like that
The center is ever missed as you flail and punch.

Don't attack kindness in the name of goodness
Don't criticize unless you know for sure
If you don't know just leave it be
There's no vision without stillness,
No success apart from silent clarity

Sixty billion ancestors scream, ignoring the mystic Tao,
A hellish din, unheard by the dense incarnate hordes
This show ran too long, at least for my taste,
So I choose to stay in the beauty of the wildwood place.
Enjoying its splendor, I have plenty now.

Whatever happens, come what may,
I pray you join my wish today
To stay in protection of the abiding ones
As Kali's burn has just begun
We'll stay until the job is done.

May 9, 2013

Chapter 10: More On How Bodhisattvas Think, and a Visualization –– THE DIAMOND SUTRA

    The Buddha again spoke, saying, “Subhuti, think! Did I, the Inconceivably Dynamic, Transcendent-Yet-Appearing Individual, receive the transmission of spiritual wisdom in the past when I was under the tutelage of the master, Buddha Source of Light?”

    “No, World-Honored One! You, the Inconceivably Dynamic, Transcendent-Yet-Appearing Individual, did not receive the transmission of spiritual wisdom when you were under the tutelage of the master, Buddha Source of Light.”

    “And Subhuti! Aren’t bodhisattvas supposed to be transforming the world? Well, whoever believes that is way off-base, because actually there is no such thing as a transformation of the world. By comprehending this, bodhisattvas are able to participate in that which is called 'the transforming of the world.'

    “Which goes to show, Subhuti, that anyone aspiring to be a bodhisattva should think without any sense of clinging to those thoughts. They should refrain from making up thoughts with the sense that they are ultimately real, whether the thoughts pertain to visions, sounds, smells, flavors, feelings, or whatever. Aspirants to bodhisattvahood should simply make up thoughts without any proclivity towards thinking they are substantial, in any way more than what they are.

    “Now try it! Make up a god-like superman with a fantastically ideal sort of body, large and wondrous like a great Mount Sumeru! 

    “Subhuti! How’s your superman? Is he not amazing?”

    “Oh yes, World-Honored One, amazing indeed! And the fantastical superman I’m imagining isn’t really anybody! Nor is he a nonexistence!”

        "The Diamond Teaching"  (Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra)
                tr. by Sol Ta Triane
                Featuring the Buddha in a discussion with his disciple, Subhuti
                Recorded by the disciple, Ananda  

March 25, 2013

What Lao Tzu Means by Nonaction, (and Dzogchen Trechod Nonthought, While We're At It)

The meta-geniuses of philosophy and religion use special words, and sometimes use normal words, in different ways than the usual. If you wish to receive the teachings, you will need to have a new way of using language.

For example: Lao Tzu's "nonaction."

The nonaction that Lao Tzu speaks of is the humble action that we can perform in order to return to the bliss of God/Tao, the correct way of life.

We have to have dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of experiences of nonaction, becoming finally stabilized in nonaction, in order to make our return.

Since we're human and in action, it will take an action to accomplish nonaction, esoteric stillness.

If you're walking you'll have to do the act of stopping walking in order to be "not acting,"purely in terms of walking. But stopping of walking is an action too: Lao Tzu is making you try to understand something very different when he says "nonaction."

In the famous words "the sage practices nonaction," the key word missed by the novice is “practices.” Sounds like an action--such as walking. The doorway to harmony with Tao (God, buddha, dharmakaya) is opened by--hear ye, hear ye--nonaction.

What the sage does is this nonaction. In other words, what they do is not do. It takes an act of will for the sage to let go like that.

The sage is comfortable in transcending activity. The transcendent activity of nonactivity is the sage's practice. We have our many worldly activities, but the sage is the one who doesn't cling or become frantic about them.

The sage knows that it's in their not-knowing that they are blessed and made their big comeback to wholeness which is Tao. Not-knowing is the mental aspect of nonaction. When we say the sage doesn't know, it doesn't mean the sage doesn't know anything. It means he doesn't cling to any concepts or situations as having an ultimate import in themselves. The sage engages fully in life, okay with its flux and flow, successes and disappointments.

The sage is not at all upset about all the stuff that he has to do. A sage may have a family and may need to earn a significant living to support them. The sage may have a complicated or challenging job or problematic situations. Whether life is simple or complex, the sage does his best, then proceeds to not worry about it. They simply act and do what needs be done and not a bit more. They "know when enough is enough." For the sage, neuroses can be said to have been put to rest. Not by avoiding, but by properly engaging life: the practice of nonaction.

When the sage doesn’t have much to do, it doesn't really bother him: he isn't compulsive to self-proving. This is the security of his wisdom. But also, if does have a lot to do, he just does it; it's no difference either way to him.

If you want to know Tao, you'll need to stop practicing the pseudo-Tao of being against complexity or an active life. To know Tao, we get our stuff done the best we can, without overthinking it. Overdoing fills our life with the fuzz of confusion and it's hard for inborn harmony to arise.

If you worked all day and didn't take a break for lunch, that would mean you don't know Tao very well. Overdoing is damaging, for obvious reasons. Take breaks and rest a bit. Get the things done that need to be done. Do them, get them done, and then you're done. But remember too, superstitious underdoing is also bad for you.

And what does the sage say when his work is done? Great, but it's not a big deal one way or the other: work to be done or work complete; either way he is in the continual practice of nonaction. Because the sage practices nonaction and its mental aspect, not-knowing, it doesn't matter whether there's a lot to do or a little to do. The sage just handles what needs be done, when possible, then stops. The sage could make up something to do in the joy of Tao. But the sage may be very busy and have a lot to do.

If you're doing too many things or working for too long, that would be bad for the chi. Take breaks and vacations. That's what vacations are for and breaks and such. It's why we have weekends. Everybody understands Tao a bit.

But the sage goes much further. He performs everything he does with firm nonaction.

Life is action. Saying the sage practices nonaction could sound anti-life. But since the essence of life isn't merely the function of getting things accomplished, the sage knows the bliss of the big picture that the rest of us may be missing.

Action means movement, so when you take creative action, that's a movement of some sort or another. There's nothing wrong with taking action. Without action a singer couldn't sing a tone, a drummer couldn't pound a drum. A driver couldn't drive a car. A factory worker couldn't build a product. A farmer couldn't sow the field. People wouldn't procreate. Nothing would occur. Nothing would come into being from Tao.

Creativity is intrinsically good, which is a way of saying that there's nothing wrong with getting something done. Maybe creativity is good, and God/Tao is correct in saying that He created the world and said "it was good." There's nothing essentially bad about creativity in itself.

Dzogchen practitioners should note that Lao Tzu's "nonaction" is very similar to the Dzogchen trechod term "nonthought." For both the practice is perfect peace, and one is complete in God with no need for action/thought. This nonaction/nonthought "arises," accompanied by bliss and lucidity. The sage reaches the point where he can create thoughts and take actions without any clinging to them. These actions he is taking are the nonactions of Tao, his thinking is the nonthought of Dzogchen.

Nonaction is rare to understand. If there is one great tip we can all take from Tao Te Ching, a beneficial action you might say, it's that, when we overdo, we suffer. Start with that premise. But the test of really understanding Lao Tzu's "don't overdo" arises in knowing that nonaction has nothing to do with "doing nothing," Not comprehending this, Tao remains beyond our understanding.

March 22, 2013

Lao Tzu Kicked Out of the City (originally posted on August 4, 2006)

Chalking his hand
Looking toward that 300 score
Lao Tzu had a hissy fit:
They ran out of Budweiser.

Dog Zen is easy
But you still have to do it.
Your way is hard
But you still have to stop it.

After you begin the beating of the bushes
Rip out roots, just to make sure.
Still, you'll have to use the chemicals,
Even still, you won't be close to pure.

Dead roots point a shine toward infinity
Looking from the back, clockwise becomes counter:
You can't fool me again, no friend would hold lies
No mixing is allowed without the chan master's affinity.

While this wild plant, it silently grows
The fraud primps and arranges the styles that he chose,
Further and further back from his chance:
He never entered into the source of romance.

If there's one lick of passion in your blood
You'll take to roaming with the dharma thugs
Where you'll learn the chod that cuts the bone:
Then again, the odds are you'll stay home.

Gold, a bad choice,
Steel is better.
How you 'spect to get around
Up there on that ladder?

Glory to God our Father in Heaven
Yes, just the way that it already is!
Our meal ends in a toast, better than ever
Ain't no complaints in this line of biz.

February 11, 2013

Lao Tzu Returns to the City (originally posted at Dog Zen Koans on Feb. 16, 2005)


Like a thief in the night Lao Tzu returns to the city.
A loose-wheel patriot, I will cheer for the goodness of the universal nation.

Like a fundamentalist I will save all beings, forgetting to leave behind some at the rapture.
A jihadist gone astray, I will chop the root of every unhappiness.

Ignoring Kali Yuga, indomitable and coarse, I gather a sweet offering for beings' release.
Oblivious to externals, I see potential.

The scriptural omission of the concern of animals and their emancipation is in evidence
But I'm not going without them either, dammit.

You see, long ago I became versed in the myths of the educated
And long ago let that go.
Only those burnt by the bodhi-flame can understand
The tree, ignoring biology, is just fine.

On the periphery a small but adamant group of students gather at the union
This disorganized band of Indians will have to do.
It is important to die crazy.

© 2005 FlowWorld Vol 2, Padma Tenzin Sol