December 16, 2018

The Diamond Sutra Chapter 16: They Shall Produce Even Greater Results Than I

“And incidentally, Subhuti, these fine persons of integrity we are discussing were not so fine in times past. In the future, when they appear and reveal this teaching, some people will become upset and turn on them. By the manner in which they handle that situation they will awaken to absolute perfect enlightenment!

“As I said, I practiced for a vast time period under the Buddha named ‘Source of Light.’ But he was merely one of countless buddhas under whom I served! Now, here I am, instructing you how that in the future there are going to be people reciting, learning and propagating this teaching—and causing more goodness than I did in all those lifetimes of practice!

“Furthermore, by me mentioning the unfathomably vast field of goodness that will be generated by men and women of the future (by their reciting, learning, understanding and distributing this teaching)—people are going to go unhinged!

“O Subhuti! The meaning of this teaching is inconceivably profound; similarly profound is the result achieved by those who comprehend it!”

The Diamond Sutra: Transcending Merit, tr. Sol Ta Triane, Copyright © 2018

Commentary on Chapter 16 of The Diamond Sutra, by Sol Ta Triane

When I said what he said
When they spit in my face
Since I’ve now got it down
I don’t mind the disgrace

But our pause to consider
This mystical answer,
Beats the eon of service
To his own holy master?

A million lives lived,
Lived in straight purity . . .
But some, said the Son,
Will do greater than me?

Since believing in thoughts
Can’t be right perception,
Bodhisattvas will serve up
No-concept perfection

December 15, 2018

The Diamond Sutra Chapter 3: What to Do if You Want to Be a Bodhisattva

Then the Buddha spoke, saying, “O Subhuti! Anyone who aspires to bodhisattvahood should use their minds and think:

I shall liberate every single being—whether born of an egg or a womb, whether born in water or in the atmosphere, whether distinct in shape or amorphous, whether the kind that thinks or the kind that doesn’t—taking each and every one to the state of absolute and perfect nirvana! But even though I aspire to bring everyone to absolute perfect nirvana, the beings being brought there aren’t really beings—which means no one is being brought into a state of absolute perfect nirvana!

“Now, Subhuti! You may be wondering why potential bodhisattvas would need to think in this way. They’d need to think this way because if they held to an idea that selves exist, or that beings are beings, that lives are lived, or of an existence of ongoing individual personages, then they wouldn’t be able to become bodhisattvas!”

In the End, it's Dzogchen

It may seem like you have to do something, but you don't have to do anything except awaken. That is what Peter Ouspensky said. Something was bothering him on and on, and he figured the problem was an existential one. He said he realized the problem was that he wasn't "self-remembering."

Perhaps it seems that the problem is you don't have enough money, you should switch jobs, you need a vacation, or you ought to move to another place. But none of those are actually the problem. The only problem really is not awakening. If you are not awakening, that's a problem. If you are awakening, then all other problems become minuscule. All other things will be handled and added unto. If you are not awakening, you will forever be in the smorgasbord of problems, the buffet of concerns, the media of issues. You will ever be stuck and miserable, and you will never dig your way out. It's the old joke, "You can't get there from here."

So you don't have to get rid of your problems. Through insight, you can see that your problems are illusory, and in Dzogchen that illusoriness is not merely a nothing or a blankness: it is actually light, clarity and bliss if recognized.

If you think you don't have to do anything, that's conceptual, too, clinging to the idea that you have to do nothing or that you have to do something. Of course you have to do something; you're a human being in a bardo. You can't just sit there in the dirt. On the other hand, sitting there in the dirt might be just as good as anything else.

Suppose you feel contempt toward somebody and think, "What an ass," or "I'm better than he is," or "Ha, what a loser." In the pre-tantric levels you feel bad about that. You say, "I really shouldn't be that way. I should be a buddha, and I should be pure. I shouldn't be thinking, 'What a loser he is. He's nothing compared to me.' Instead I should be thinking, 'That person has pure potential, and he's wonderful. I'm sure he has a lot of good qualities, and I have my faults, too. Who am I to judge?'" That is all correct in pre-tantric practice.

Now let's look at Dzogchen. The problem with the aforementioned approach, and the reason why Dzogchen exists, is that on some level that type of thinking is denial because you are trying to convince yourself of various replacements. The truth of the matter is you despise the person. In Dzogchen practice you don't have to block anything at all. You can feel contempt, arrogance and all those negative emotions because you are connecting them with pristine consciousness. And they don't worsen. They don't deepen. You're not exorcising them, instead they are spontaneously dissipating.

The state of pristine consciousness itself is compassion. Your hatred, spite and anger toward this person, they implode, they explode. They don't really implode; they don't really explode. They don't really dissolve, but it's like a dissolving. The reason why they dissolve is because you don't try to dissolve them. The reason they implode is because you don't try to implode them. The reason why they explode is because you don't try to blow them up. Nor are you trying to be neutral; rather, you're being completely honest. "I hate this guy's guts. What a moron!" Then the nakedness of what that is appears. There is nothing there but luminosity. The person is an appearance of your own mind's creativity. As such, he is dharmata. As such, the anger is pure. All of these phenomena are intrinsically pure.

If you try to correct them in the tiniest bit, that means you don't really have faith in the purity of your negativity. If you have faith in the purity of your negativity, you will lose your wrathful activity because it will fall apart.

That is why Dzogchen is only taught to advanced people because only certain types of people are willing to let their negative emotions fall apart. Most people cherish their negative emotions. But in the end, which is Dzogchen, by the way, even that is okay. You can cherish your negative emotion, and it will still fall apart, and the cherishing can fall apart, too. The cherishing of negative emotions arises as pristine consciousness, as does hatred, greed, angst, blame—all the hundreds of complicated permutations of basic ignorance, passion, anger, pride, jealousy. It's like taking an assortment of colors and mixing two of them together. Then you can take another color and combine it with the two colors you initially mixed and keep making different combinations.

If you did a practice that involved feeling remorse about some way that you are and wanting to amend that, in Dzogchen you're only allowed to do that as a ceremonial, empty activity. But it shouldn't be thought of as the ultimate method, ati yoga. It is a lower, preparatory yoga. It shouldn't be thought to be a cause of enlightenment because it doesn't enlighten you. Conversely, if you let things arise without blocking them and see them as they are, it will be a cause for enlightenment. Amazingly, admonishing yourself, "I'm a bad person. I'm really arrogant, and I have a lot of disgust and loathing toward this person, and I shouldn't do that," doesn't make you a buddha.

In Christian parlance, that means you're not saved and you don't get to go to the kingdom of heaven just because you think you're good. The prodigal son came back and his brother objected, "I've been the perfect son, doing everything impeccably here. Yet you're throwing a party for the other son who's been irresponsible and blew all his money? You should ignore him, exalt me, and make him secondary. Maybe appreciate that he's coming home, but why make a fuss about him when he's a disaster?" Perhaps the name of that story should be "The Prodigal Son's Brother," instead of "The Prodigal Son," because the prodigal son's brother might be even more important.

The prodigal son was lost; now he is found. He was gone, but now he is home. If you come home, it doesn't really matter whatever you did before. It's all gone; it's all pure; it's all complete. Your sins are forgiven. Dzogchen, the grace of Jesus Christ, is the complete forgiveness of sins. It's realizing your nature in God. If you become at one with God, you no longer can have sin. The reasons that you would harm beings are gone. But in order to purify all those desires to harm beings, you might at some point be given the teaching to harm beings in order to see the emptiness of that physically.

It's like trying to learn how to swim simply by reading books or watching videos. At some point you have to jump in the water and swim. The only way you can really be a swimmer is to learn in the water, in the physical experience.

In the same way, at the end of the spiritual journey you have to be a sinner. Dzogchen is for sinners, for bad people. When I say it's "for bad people," you could say all people are bad, but Dzogchen practitioners are people who know they are bad. So I sometimes call us Dzogchen folk "bad people." People who haven't attained this profound level of understanding may think, "I'm righteous: I won't vote for Republicans, I'm for social justice, I'm for women's rights!" This thinking has little to do with the Great Vehicle of transcendent meaning. But pseudo-virtuous religious-displacement thinking can, in Dzogchen, be utterly purified in the honesty of seeing it as a cover for pride, lust for control, attempt to power. Amazingly, the pride and control, being revealed as illusory, give way to more primal truths, their enlightened essence.

Consider, for example, the seven ray opposites. If you meditate upon the seven ray opposites, noticing things arise as those opposites, you may recognize them all as pristine consciousness. Meditate on the six realms of samsara; see if they are indeed pristine consciousness. Meditate on the different sublevels of the fifth subplane of the mental plane and the fourth subplane of the mental plane; keep moving up through the sublevels.

We have too many quirks manifesting the thousands of different subtle negative emotional combinations for us to be able to clear them with a one by one technology: this would take so very many lifetimes. These faults, however, can be automatically and completely removed in merely one lifetime or less, as an effect of Dzogchen practice. Dzogchen can only be taught to a few people, to fearless bodhisattvas who can let go on an unprecedented level, allowing radical natural honesty to rise. This might be likened to the opening, through time and space, of a trapdoor through which one's countless beliefs are spontaneously ripped away.

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)

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

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 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."