Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Buddha Nature Part III

Last night was the last Buddha Nature class with Jiryu. It was a brave approach to eat the painted rice cake. We started the class like we did 6 weeks ago, by sitting together and offering our understanding of Buddha nature.

Arising from our silent posture, some said,:

What's not Buddha nature


To transcend our mundane experience

Put a log on the fire

I've got a bicycle, I've got a bicycle, and it's got a bell and basket, the bell goes ring a ding a ding ding, you can ride it if you want to, but I can't give it to you, because I borrowed it

True intimacy.

I said:

Breathing quietly with the Sangha.

I wish I said:

Breathing quietly with the Sangha
Not breathing quietly with the Sangha

Jiryu pointed out, as we reviewed Dogen's Bussho, that reading Dogen is watching him write down a teaching from the ancestors, and hearing him say, well that's not true. Then seeing what he's written down and saying, well that's not true. It's this process of being stuck, getting unstuck, and getting stuck again.

Ironically, we chanted the closing of class at the beginning. This was a complete accident! In our tradition, we chant before class or lecture and after class or lecture. The first chant is about being be open to hear the true dharma, the closing chant is about our intention to benefit all beings. So, there we sit, and Jiryu proceeds in, and we start:

May our intention equally extend to every being and place
With the true merit of Buddha's way
Beings are numberless, I vow to save them
Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them
Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them
The Buddha's way is unsurpassable, I vow to become it.

Right after we were done, a long time practitioner and layman said, "Well that was a quick class!" And Jiryu joked that what else could possibly be said? What could ever be said about Buddha Nature? But of course we stayed and entered the discourse.

I was there, but I was a little lost. My study of the Lankavatara is going well, but it's a bit challenging to have my inner voice say, "Yeah, but emptiness belongs to an imagined reality. Yeah, Buddha nature belongs to an imagined reality. My friend, and Shuso, Reirin, she belongs to an imagined reality. This is mind-only, conscious construction, and even that belongs to an imagined reality."

Sky castle, spinning fire, perception is deception.

But, it's important to show up. My mind was also thinking about Harry, and our discussion over at Wild Fox Zen, which is way beyond any linear progression at this point. We ended (or did we?) with Harry bring up the story of the painted rice cake and the real rice cake. We need that painted rice cake, too (on this we agree, I think).

The rice cake is the real thing, which we might taste or might not taste, by sitting, or some other dharma gate.

The painted rice cake is this blog, a class on Buddha nature, a discussion of painted rice cakes.

We need this all, even if this is an imagined reality. We also need to proceed with joy and enthusiasm, even in this imagined reality. Why?

Because there are numberless beings to be saved.

Like the Lankavatara says,

Samsara is an illusion
But karma is relentless.


  1. Because there are numberless beings to BE saved, brother.

    (Sorry, English major disease, I proofread compulsively).

  2. Very welcome. Thanks for the recommendation (elsewhere here) of The Way of True Zen, started it last night. Pure pith. Yet, as direct as he is, still takes time for imagery like the dust mote that becomes the whole earth. Lovely.