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March 04 Journal - Zen Readings - a partial commentary

March 04 Journal - Zen Readings:

Treatise on Sitting Meditation

Daikaku (1213-1279)

Sitting meditation is the method of great liberation; all the teachings flow forth from this, myriad practices are mastered this way. All the buddhas and bodhisattvas have entered and left by this door.

Commentary: Sitting meditation is the main practice of Rinzai Zen, which Daikaku founded. "Great liberation" refers to freeing the mind from the petty distractions of everyday life. "All the teachings flow forth from this" — All the teachings of Zen are rooted in sitting meditation, and are derived from this method of great liberation. "Myriad practices are mastered this way" — Many forms of great liberation are mastered by sitting meditation. Even the buddhas and bodhisattvas have practiced this method of great liberation.

'What does it mean that sitting meditation is the root source of all the teachings?'

Meditation is the inner mind of the enlightened ones, discipline is their outer character, doctrine is their speech, Buddha remembrance is the invocation of Buddha's name; all come from the enlightened mind of the buddhas. Therefore it is considered fundamental.

Commentary: "Inner mind of the enlightened ones" refers to the mind of buddhas and bodhisattvas, the awakened mind that practices daily meditation. "Discipline is their outer character" refers to their ability to follow a master faithfully. "Doctrine is their speech" — Awakened disciples do not gossip idly, but speak freely of the various aspects of Zen, with the desire to help others but not to preach. The doctrine of the Buddha is simple: practice sitting meditation to free oneself from the delusions and distractions of daily living, and then help others do likewise. "Buddha remembrance is the invocation of Buddha's name" — The invocation of the Buddha's name, Nembutsu, is called "remembering the Buddha", i.e. putting together the Buddha from the various parts of the disciple's mind. Imagine if you will that Buddha-nature as a diamond shattered into many pieces by the stone mind called Ego. Nembutsu, the chanting of Buddha's name — Namu Amida Butsu — helps bring together the shattered peices of Buddha-nature. This is what remembering the Buddha is all about. "All come from the enlightened mind of the buddhas" — meditation, discipline, doctrine and Buddha remembrance arise in the awakened mind due to the karma of the Bodhi Mind in action. This is the essence of Buddha Nature. Hence, sitting meditation is the root source of the teachings of the Buddha.

'The method of meditation is formless and thoughtless; spiritual qualities are not obvious, and there is no proof of seeing reality, so how can we believe this?'

Your own mind and the enlightened mind are one. If you do not know your own mind, on whom can you call for witness and proof? Other than seek the identity of mind and Buddha, what proof do you seek?

Commentary: The above is straight-forward. "Seek the identity of mind and Buddha" — to do this requires only that the disciple practices daily sitting meditation.

'How should we practice this method? Even if we practice we are not sure of attaining enlightenment and fulfilling buddhahood; and if it is uncertain, even if we do practice, what is the benefit?'

The enlightened mind itself basically has no delusion or enlightenment. This is actually the subtle art of those who realize thusness; even if you don't become enlightened, when you sit once in meditation you are a Buddha for that sitting; when you sit for a day in meditation, you are a Buddha for a day; when you sit in meditation for all your life, you are a Buddha all your life.

Commentary: "The subtle art of those who realize thusness" mdash; Sitting meditation is the subtle art. Thusness is also known as suchness and shunyata. Enlightened disciples are those who realize thusness. The terms "a Buddha for that sitting", "a Buddha for a day", and "a Buddha all your life" refer to the state of mind and attitude of the disciple who practices sitting meditation. Thus, they imply dedication to Zen.

Original post: March 16, 2004 0058H
Update posted: March 8, 2013 1203H

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