Yunmen said – Even after the full moon, every day is a good day! The light of sesshin – how it infuses us. In a ‘good day’ the light is in you. Just how it is, not an achievement, you are in the gift of the universe. The tenderness of the good day and our whole lives opening to now. You can’t bully the Tao! it’s bigger than you. Not getting in the way of life, dreams, Linji’s death and more.
David Weinstein talks about the great teacher Dawei and his teaching that: ‘Great doubt leads to great awakening’ – nothing wrong with the little daily awakenings either. How great faith (i.e. acceptance of yourself or by someone else as you are) allows for great doubt, which leads to great awakening. David talks about his journey with teachers and ‘Making your mind a question mark!’
Revisiting the big koans – What is this? Who is hearing? Who am I ? and others on his personal path: What is being a teacher? What is succession? Jon talks about Linji’s path to enlightenment – His teachers Wangbo and Daiyu conspire to help him. Our ancestors in the Chan lineage. Jon reflects on his recent visit to Japan and the Chan zendo in Kamakura, his warmth and gratitude for Yamada and his teachings.
Allison Atwill talks about transmission from two perspectives – the formal ‘Ikkan’ seal of transmission passed down in the Chan lineage from Bodhidharma; the Mind to Mind transmission. Described as the ‘Legitimate seal of clearly finished practice’, and secondly the transmission the teachings are always conveying to each of us. She relays the story of Chan teacher Ikkyu and his feral path toward awakening.
Allison relays the story of the encounter between Manjushri and Vimalakirti. Manjushri, among the 32,000 Bodhisattvas sent by Buddha to Vimalakirti’s , and asks him on his sick bed: ‘How do the Bodhisattvas enter the gate of non-duality?’ The response is an intimate silence. Allison’s story includes the karmic path that his daughter, Moon Like Beauty bore on her way to enlightenment.
John Tarrant introduces the Queensland Magpie singing fire sirens and walks us through the ancient forests he knew as a child. How do we live the life we live in the face of this vast change? What is this?
What does abiding mean? When am I abiding? What can I NOT abide? Not rest in? Meditation is mostly about returning to abide. Whatever it means – not following the rules, not abiding them is that resting place.
So you are thinking about your loved ones, your ancestors and decide to take a trip out to the cemetery. You find your family vault and with a key open the stone door and step inside. You won’t stay long, you just want to pay your respects. But a gust of wind comes up and…
That dog knew what she was doing when she ‘dogged’. Zhaozhou also says ‘Yes’, a dog has Buddha nature. Becoming a dog who knew what she was doing is encouraging. Maybe something isn’t wrong with the dog you are right now.
The dog part of the koan emerges from the resounding NO as a companion for the inner life. Humans and dogs have been companions for eons and are clearly in the fossil record from ancient times. Through this long relationship down through time, dogs have learned to relate and map us and our inner lives. What is our relationship to the natural world? Dogs help us remember there is no separation, as does meditation practice.
Often we chase out and look for things, but when things come toward us – that’s enlightenment. In retreat, time expands and the universe appears. The art and craft of koan practice – freeing the heart and mind.
In the beginning of things something always happened, a birth, a death, a famine, a war. Good and bad were entangled. In order to understand our lives and how to manage we’ve always made up stories. What does the mind do with things that happen to us – our attitudes and stances and more.
In practice you are traveling, you are on a path. It is different from a plan because you are on uncertain turf. Practice also has more love in it because you are moving in the dark in a positive way. The koan is like the dog that follows you around with a bowl – it foils your serious plans.