Monday, December 4, 2017

encouragements maybe

Posted elsewhere, but it seems to want a wider footprint:
If others are like me, there is a collection of nudges that accumulates on the mental book shelf as time in spiritual practice advances.... second-hand stuff that rings your bell. Two that popped up in my mind this morning were these:
  1. Once upon a time, at an introductory forum with the Korean Zen teacher Seung Sahn in New York, an audience member said approximately, "Sometimes during [meditation] practice, I feel like such a liar and a phony and a schmuck. What can I do?" And Seung Sahn replied, "You're either a Buddha or a schmuck. There is no in-between."
  2. The Zen teacher Ta Hui [1089–1163] once said approximately, "I have always taken a great vow that I would rather suffer the fires of hell for all eternity than to portray Zen as a human emotion."


  1. Always that promise of more is dangled.

  2. Grasping the Essence of Zen Buddhism, entails a “quantum leap.” However, while necessary, the quantum leap is rarely sufficient.

    The other day I read something by a Theravadan Buddhist scholar. He wrote that he’s formed the opinion that that meditation (dhyana, ch’anna, zazen) was so important and central to Gautama Buddha, the man, that he actually spent more time meditating than teaching even after his “enlightenment.”

    The thing of it is both Seung Sahn’s and Ta Hui’s statement are both correct and incorrect depending upon one’s point of view. Further, either teaching may be helpful or harmful. If all sentient beings are primarily Buddhas and have Buddhanature what Schmuck is not Buddha? (Practically speaking there are I know quite a few schmucks for whom I’d say “A Buddha? No Way!”)

    Ta Hui surely goes right to the edge of making a Huge Error in asserting that Zen is not a Human Emotion. First, in truth what human emotion is not Zen? Second, isn’t the deep down in the belly desire for ‘True Wisdom,” be that desire be simmering or firey, be the emotion ultimately driving Zen Insight? How can Zen be separate from Human Emotion? It can’t it’s impossible! And. Yet. There’s that Quantum Leap.