Are We Human?

“Meditation practice teaches us the larger pattern, revealing the true self. In this endless sea, can we say the fish are wrong?”

Notes from the talk:

If we look at society, we see the same effect on a broad scale, but putting things in order, organizing, lining up, the pattern of human civilization – everything in order – an external practice. A practice – the same thing. I can see it as negative, all the new gadgets, the new grid, the new reality… Whether you like it or not, it’s not going back to the way it was. When we practice we are become Harmony with first ourselves, but more and more with the flow – the larger consciousness – what animates all of this. How could that be wrong? Only religious fanatics think we have a problem, and the buggy whip manufacturers. Can we rely on a 2500 year old yardstick? In many ways…
What has changed? The West – no influence from Buddhism – began to approach it… Externally through (rejecting religion, what was left?) Buddha wasn’t interested in religion either. Campbell – a rebellion against religion. DSSN – all religions are the same point.
Seung Sahn memorial – Hae Ju’s translation of the story – something about the end of Western philosophy, how Seung Sahn’s teaching was needed .. this kind of thing.
Seung Sahn Sunim was famously reading Western Philosophy before beginning his solo retreat . As a Westerner with some experience of both traditions, I’d like to talk about both.
In many ways they come to the same conclusion, they are the same, the same people, the same human situation, expressed differently – approached differently. According to Camus, in The Rebel – the first coherent offensive – against the dogmatic structure – the first rebellion was that of the Marquis deSade – who spent a great deal of his life chained to a wall. He follows this train of thought through to the birth of Communism and Democracy , these concrete developments of our newfound freedom from religion – and through Stirner to Neitzsche – who determined that God was dead. Who or what would take his place?
One thing Neitzsche said that relates directly to us, that to produce genius requires confinement – reflecting back to deSade, maybe, but of course the same conclusion – that a discipline is necessary to produce wisdom –

the same as the arts, in anything. If you want to be a pianist, a good one, practice 4-hours a day, for decades.. the arts have very much in common with Zen. It is the same thing, only why do it – or here, in this context, what are you trying to produce? Genius? Enlightenment? Freedom? World Peace? without fail, the artists usually has more humble motives, to get at something interminable, yes, but not down to the fabric of our existence – not usually

conserving energy (Ta Hui) as a marker for practice maturity, rather than as a discipline or goal

I described meditation as a practice form, not an end in itself — like learning the scales on the piano — that will eventually allow you to communicate, musically or etherically. If you’re able to crack the code, you deal with energy in a different way, an impersonal one. Necessarily, as your entity has been subsumed to some degree, your personal interests abandoned in the infinite seas like unneeded weight. the meaninglessness as well, of any act or work or way of life. a person who has crossed over into the greater awareness behaves differently, does not fall into conflict easily, and not for long, as the polarization is just not there. this is what Ta Hui meant by “conserving energy.”

In the East, a very different landscape – Ta Hui was one of the important voices – amazing. Echoed

but it’s more than that.. when we enter into a transformative practice, art loses it’s relevance. Are you trying to become some kind of art piece? Here Dae Bong Sunim reminded me that Ta Hui also said that to save power is to gain power. what does that mean? Having been around Zen Master Seung Sahn, any of us who knew him – this doesn’t need explaining. but to thoase who didn’t have the opportunity. He was a fuklly enlightenbed master, so behaved differently than most. he was an energy vortex, but more, he would take an interaction and turn it, like swordplay, into a transformative event. he was able to percieve karma and prescribe methods to work with it – to turn it into a practice form. we were all his

“As soon as you become aware of gradually conserving power in the midst of the afflictions of daily activities, this is where a person acquires power. This is how a person achieves Buddhahood and becomes an ancestral teacher, this is how a person changes hell into heaven, this is where a person sits in peace, this is where a person gets out of birth and death, this is where a person becomes sovereign above the ancient emperors Yao and Shun, this is where a person raises the weary people from misery, this is where a person brings prosperity to his adopted descendants. At this point it’s extraneous to speak of Buddhas or ancestral teachers, of mind or nature, of the original or the wondrous, of principle or phenomena, or of good or bad… if you can believe in these words, this is what Yung Chia meant when he said, ‘Walking is also meditation; sitting is also meditation; speaking or silent, moving or still, the body is at rest.’ These are not empty words: please act according to them, without ever changing. Then, although you have not yet witnessed the scenery of your own fundamental state fully, though you have not yet seen your own original face clearly, what was raw will become ripe, and what was stale will become fresh. Be sure to remember: where you save power is where you gain power.”

“Both torpor and excitation were condemned by the former sages. When you’re sitting quietly, as soon as you feel the presence of either of these two diseases, just bring up the saying, ‘A dog has no Buddha-nature.’ Don’t exert effort to push away these two kinds of disease—just be peaceful and still right there. Over a long time, as you become aware of saving power, this is the place where you gain power. Nor do you have to engage in quiet meditation—this itself is meditation.” – Ta Hui – Swampland Flowers

“In the conduct of your daily activities, as you’re involved with differentiated objects, when you become aware of saving power, this is where you gain power. Gaining power is the ultimate in saving power. If you use the slightest power to uphold it, this is definitely a false method—it’s not Buddhism. Just take the mind, so long-lasting, and bring it together with the saying ‘A dog has no Buddha-nature.’ Keep them together till the mind has no place to go—suddenly, it’s like awakening from a dream, like a lotus flower opening, like parting the clouds and seeing the moon.” – Ta Hui – Swampland Flowers

“Historically speaking, the first coherent offensive is that of de Sade, who musters into one vast war machine the arguments of the freethinkers up to Father Meslier and Voltaire. His negation is also, of course, the most extreme… From rebellion Sade can only deduce an absolute negative. Twenty-seven years in prison do not, in fact, produce a very conciliatory form of intelligence.” – Camus – The Rebel

“The way in which a prisoner uses his wits in the search for a means of escape, the most cold-blooded and tedious employment of every little advantage, can teach us what instrument nature sometimes makes use of to bring into existence genius – a word I ask to be understood without any flavor of the mythological or religious: it takes it and shuts it in a prison and excites in it the greatest possible desire to free itself. – Or, to employ a different image: someone who has completely lost his way in a forest but strives with uncommon energy to get out of it again sometimes discovers a new path which no one knows: that is how those geniuses come about who are famed for originality.” – Nietzsche – Human, All Too Human – The Origin Of Genius
“The whole of Zarathustra is an explosion of forces that have been accumulating for decades. With explosions like this it is easy for the originator to blow up along with them. Aside from these ten-day work-periods, the years during and above all after Zarathustra were a time of incomparable distress. One pays dearly for being immortal: one dies for it several times during one’s life.” – Nietzsche – Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and Nobody
“..to fail as a writer meant to fail as a man. And I failed. I realized that I was nothing-less than nothing-a minus quantity. It was at this point, in the midst of the dead Sargasso Sea, so to speak, that I really began to write. I began from scratch, throwing everything overboard, even those whom I most loved. immediately I heard my own voice. I was enchanted: the bet that it was a separate, distinct, unique voice sustained me. It didn’t matter to me if what I wrote should be considered bad. Good and bad dropped out of my vocabulary. I jumped with two feet into the realm of aesthetics, the non-moral, non-ethical, non-utilitarian realm of art. My life itself became a work of art. I had found a voice, I was whole again. The experience was very much like what we read of in connection with the lives of Zen initiates. My huge failure was like the recapitulation of the experience of the race: I had to grow foul with knowledge. realize the futility of everything. smash everything. grow desperate, then humble, then sponge myself off the slate. as it were, in order to recover my authenticity. I had to arrive at the brink and then take a leap in the dark. I talk now about Reality, but I know there is no getting at it, leastwise by writing. I learn less and realize more: I learn in some different, more subterranean way. I acquire more and more the gift of immediacy. I am developing the ability to perceive, apprehend, analyze, synthesize, categorize, inform, articulate-all at once. The structural element of things reveals itself more readily to my eye. I eschew all clear cut interpretations: with increasing simplification the mystery heightens. What I know tends to become more and more unstatable. I live in certitude, a certitude which is not de-pendent upon proofs or faith. I live completely for myself, without the least egotism or selfishness. I am living out my share of life and thus abetting the scheme of things. I further the development, the enrichment, the evolution and the devolution of the cosmos. every day in every way. I give all I have to give, voluntarily, and t as much as I can possibly ingest. I am a prince and a pirate at the same time. I am the equals sign, the spiritual counterpart of the sign Libra, which was wedged into the original Zodiac by separating Virgo from Scorpio. I find that there is plenty of room in the world for everybody-great interspatial depths, great ego universes, great islands or repair, for whoever attains to individuality. On the surface, where the historical battles rage, where everything is interpreted in terms of money and power, there may be crowding. but lire only begins when one drops below the surface, when one gives up the struggle, sinks and disappears from sight. Now I can as easily not write as write: there is no longer any compulsion, no longer any therapeutic aspect to it. Whatever I do is done out or sheer joy: I drop my fruits like a ripe tree. What the general reader or the critic makes of it is not my concern. I am not establishing values: ] defecate and nourish. There is nothing more to it. This condition of sublime indifference is a logical development of the egocentric life. I lived out the social problem by dying: the real problem is not one of getting on with one’s neighbor or of contributing to the development of one’s country, but of discovering one’s destiny, of making a life in accord with the deep-centered rhythm of the cosmos.” – Henry Miller – Wisdom Of The Heart

“In the conduct of your daily activities, as you’re involved with differentiated objects, when you become aware of saving power, this is where you gain power. Gaining power is the ultimate in saving power. If you use the slightest power to uphold it, this is definitely a false method—it’s not Buddhism. Just take the mind, so long-lasting, and bring it together with the saying ‘A dog has no Buddha-nature.’ Keep them together till the mind has no place to go—suddenly, it’s like awakening from a dream, like a lotus flower opening, like parting the clouds and seeing the moon.” – Ta Hui – Swampland Flowers

.. meditation as a practice form, not an end in itself — like learning the scales on the piano — that will eventually allow you to communicate, musically or etherically. If you’re able to crack the code, you deal with energy in a different way, an impersonal one. Necessarily, as your entity has been subsumed to some degree, your personal interests abandoned in the infinite seas like unneeded weight. the meaninglessness as well, of any act or work or way of life. a person who has crossed over into the greater awareness behaves differently, does not fall into conflict easily, and not for long, as the polarization is just not there. this is what Ta Hui meant by conserving energy.

the talk ..

Dharma Talk for December 28, 2014 at the Seoul International Zen Center, Hwa Gye Sa – Won Il Hjn and Zen Master Dae Bong

 

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