This morning I want to talk about Practice in Everyday life. For some
time we have been studying Bodhidharma who also points the way by giving us
instruction. At times it may seem theoretical so I thought I would bring it
back down to a more concrete level, a more familiar ground.
All of us are acquainted with the virtues, faith, hope and charity. Each
of these has a Buddhist corollary. For example, to express faith, we chant,
'Faith in Mind'. Charity is seeing giver and receiver as one with the gift.
There is one virtue that also seems fundamental to our practice, that is
"Courage" - "Ying".
The Chinese character for courage is constructed of an ideogram that
contains the radical for "grass". Below is a person with arms
spread wide to signify "adult, standing alone in a wide open space,
thick with grass. A wilderness signifies courage and heroism for he/she does
not fear this place where wild animals roam. In Chinese thought the hero
courageously endures natures hardships by harmonizing with his environment
as did the sage-kings of China, who in the mystical golden age were tested
in the forests and on mountains, among lions and through storms.
Courage is not the absence of fear or desire, but the strength to conquer
them. The images are clear and our everyday language supports this
understanding. We speak of the "jungle" out there, outside our
home. There's a battlefield at work, with war rooms to harness and direct
resources. All of these images present us with a challenge to meet head on.
Even without these heavyweight images looking at our life from a Buddhist
perspective we can see while sitting in zazen or being upright in our lives,
courage is needed. How? Why's that? We need courage not to be ourselves. By
this I mean when we are in a state of confusion or locked in habitual ways
of thinking, speaking, reacting, we suffer because of our conditioned points
of view. In the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha Shakyamuni
spoke of the entangled reed mat. We can't see the pattern. Preferences,
judging mind, are basically our unconscious tendencies clouding our vision.
We need to face the confusion of modern living, to find our way. We must
face fear, our anxiety. When we sit zazen, we face ourselves.
Recently, because of rivalry at the office an award for outstanding
effort was snatched away from the deserving team like a thief in the night.
This was very disturbing to the nominating person. In sinking deep into the
situation what came up was that it's not about winning or losing, about
fixing a situation and making it right, not about getting rid of feelings or
even understanding it. It just is. Herein lives the courage not to be
oneself. To recognize where your mind wanders and gets caught, and then, let
"Sit Empty of Worldly Anxiety
If you truly appreciate a single thread your eye can suitably meet the
world and its changes. Seeing clearly, do not be fooled, and the ten
thousand situations cannot shroud you. Moonlight falls on the water; wind
blows over the pines. Light and shadow do not confuse us; sounds or voices
do not block us. The whistling wind can resonate pervading without
impediment through the various structures. Flowing along with things,
harmonizing without deviation, thoroughly abandoning webs of dust, still one
does not yet arrive in the original home. Put to rest the remnants of your
conditioning. Sit empty of worldly anxiety, silent and bright, clear and
illuminating, blank and accepting, far-reaching and responsive. Without
encountering external dusts, fulfilled in your own spirit, arrive at this
field and immediately recognize your ancestors."
Impermanence – Dogen
To what shall
I liken the world?
Shaken from a crane' bill.