6.2.08

Song Of Freedom Breakdown, lines 58-61



Vividly see the precepts of Essential Awareness
and the seal of the mind–ground.

Dew, fog, clouds, mists
are the true robes of our bodies.

The monk’s bowl that subdued dragons,
the staff that calmed fighting tigers
with the sound of its hanging rings

are not just relics from some old fable
but symbols of the Thus Come One’s precious Teachings.


The first line, I think this is just seeing clearly.
I am reminded of an old pali story of how in the Buddha’s quest for enlightenment Mara had tried to tempt him several times and each time Buddha simply touched the ground.

The next three lines I want to lump together. There are some abstract and concrete concepts here that I don’t want to address right now. But I think that what it comes down to for me is that when we sit ZaZen we are the robe and the bowl.

The robe is just the Buddha’s teaching and the bowl is our poverty, ready to accept reality.

I welcome comments, but I may integrate them into the commentary.

I hope that my efforts are helpful in clearing my own delusion as well as that of others, I recognise that I set myself up as a kind of teacher here in this commentary, I am not your Zen master, you are!
Jordan

Acknowledgments

8 comments:

Will said...

Jordon:

Sheng-Yen, in his "The Sword of Wisdom" translates this first line a little differently rendering it clearer.

Buddha-nature and the precept jewels are sealed in the mind-ground.

As a practitioner of Zen, the two qualities worth presenting are (1)buddha-nature and (2)the precepts. These two are sealed in or are manifestations of our 'mind-ground' which is code for our 'essential nature'. This is just more instruction and guidance on how to practice. Sheng-Yen says "True practitioners are concerned only with these two aspects of buddhahood. All other things and actions pertain only to superficial phenomena and have nothing to do with one's essential mind-ground." and later "It is not enough to realize the mind of true nature(buddha-nature); it is also necessary to act with purity."

The rest of this section is points to overcoming strong desires and attachments.

Dew, fog, clouds, mist can not be attached to. Nor can we attach to our bodies even though we try.

The dragons represent our mystical and inner desires and fears and the tigers represent our worldly and outer troubles.

The clanging of rings is our presentation of the 'seal of the mind-ground' or essential mind. With this presentation of our buddha-nature and the precept jewels, the "dragons" and "fighting tigers" are subdued. Our attachments melt.

Sometimes Anzan Hoshin's translation is clear and speaks to me and sometimes not. Same could be said of Sheng-Yen's translation. Here, today, this time, Sheng-Yen.

The dragon-subduing alms bowl and the staff that wards off tigers,
With the jangling of its two metal rings,
Are not outer forms of keeping the precepts,
But rather are holding the tathagata's staff and treading his path.


Hold the Tathagata's staff and tread his path. Yes.

Thanks for this opportunity to share. My knowledge is less than perfect and I look froward to being straightened out by my friends.

Jordan said...

Will,
Yes, I actually own “The Sword of Wisdom,” But I made a conscious decision to not crack it open until after I had done my own commentary.

But looking at what you have written here I have a tendency to think that “the precept Jewels” would be referring to the Three Jewels of the Buddh, the Dharma,, and the Sangha.

As a practitioner of Zen, the two qualities worth presenting are (1)buddha-nature and (2)the precepts. These two are sealed in or are manifestations of our 'mind-ground' which is code for our 'essential nature'. This is just more instruction and guidance on how to practice. Sheng-Yen says "True practitioners are concerned only with these two aspects of buddhahood. All other things and actions pertain only to superficial phenomena and have nothing to do with one's essential mind-ground." and later "It is not enough to realize the mind of true nature(buddha-nature); it is also necessary to act with purity."

I am not sure if I would agree with Sheng-Yen on this. I might change my mind if I was more familiar with him. But I do not see Buddha-nature and the precepts as separate things.

Of course teachers often position their talks for a certain audience so that may be where my confusion lies. Particularly since you say The rest of this section is points to overcoming strong desires and attachments.

"Dew, fog, clouds, mist can not be attached to. Nor can we attach to our bodies even though we try."

Yes!

The dragons represent our mystical and inner desires and fears and the tigers represent our worldly and outer troubles.

I think for me the Dragon in this case may represent idealistic views and the Tiger materialistic views. I think this may be influenced by me reading allot of Nishigima Roshi's work lately.

The clanging of rings is our presentation of the 'seal of the mind-ground' or essential mind. With this presentation of our buddha-nature and the precept jewels, the "dragons" and "fighting tigers" are subdued. Our attachments melt.

At this moment for me I think the clanging of the rings in the way you put it is just the act of ZaZen. And the precept jewels are just you and I discussing “The Song of Freedom” for the whole universe. (Man that sounds pretentious! But I feel that way right now.)

I think it is an important discussion we are having here. Thank you for your comments!

Take care,
Jordan

Will said...

Jordan, buddha-nature and the precepts are separate things and they are not. One moment they each are part of our relative experience, in the next together they manifest the whole universe simultaneously. It is like talking about a tree. We can discuss the above ground parts and the below ground parts yet see only tree!

Will wrote:
The dragons represent our mystical and inner desires and fears and the tigers represent our worldly and outer troubles.

Jordon wrote:
I think for me the Dragon in this case may represent idealistic views and the Tiger materialistic views.


Me sees these (Will wrote/Jordan wrote) to be the exactly the same.

Jordan said...

Will,
You said buddha-nature and the precepts are separate things and they are not. One moment they each are part of our relative experience, in the next together they manifest the whole universe simultaneously. It is like talking about a tree. We can discuss the above ground parts and the below ground parts yet see only tree!

I am sorry if I seem hard headed on this. But maybe I do not really understand what you are saying. I guess I do not see them as separate things, to me I see them as always manifesting the universe simultaneously.

As to the rest of your comments, yes! I think my reaction is a little course.

Thank you for your comments!
Jordan

Will said...

I am sorry if I seem hard headed on this. But maybe I do not really understand what you are saying. I guess I do not see them as separate things, to me I see them as always manifesting the universe simultaneously.

Really? Just these Buddhist ideas or does this apply to everything? "Everything always manifesting the universe simultaneously." If so, how do we tell wife from mother?

I poke the bee hive only to show my own Understanding. I would like to operate in the world with "Everything always manifesting the universe simultaneously" yet in the old stories, things were provisionally made separate so as they could be talked about and the dharma could be transmitted. It was always understood that there was a difference between discourse and practice.

Buddha-nature and the precepts are always manifesting the universe just as 'precepts of Essential Awareness' and 'the seal of the mind–ground'; 'Dew' and 'fog' and 'clouds' and 'mist'; bowls and staffs; dragons and tigers; rings and their sounds; relics and symbols; and fables and Thus Come One’s precious Teachings. All one huge primordial soup of cosmic oneness. Nothing outside.

Notice that all is one until I open my mouth. Even you and I.

How do you see it?

Jordan said...

Will,
I think I am beginning to understand your point of view.
But to answer your first question, at the moment, for me; yes it applies to everything. Wife is interconnected with mother.

I do not agree with your idea that things were provisionally made separate. I do not see a difference between discourse and practice.

To answer your second question I also consider brushing my teeth a part of my practice and as the manifestation of the Buddha dharma itself.

Take care,
Jordan

Will said...

Jordan,
We create the universe with our minds then think that is the Truth. Seeing past that and clarifying understanding is a part of what, for me, goes on here. Thank you for this opportunity. It is with a kind heart that I continue. It becomes clearer and clearer that my understanding is less that perfect. Please take my comments with the playful and kind spirit they were generated with.

I do not agree with your idea that things were provisionally made separate.

How many "precept jewels" are there? If you say three - how can that be? If you say one - all the ancient discourses are wrong?

I do not see a difference between discourse and practice.

A famous old Zen Master, Mumon is said to have written ...

Words cannot express things;
Speech does not convey the spirit.
Swayed by words, one is lost;
Blocked by phrases, one is bewildered.


Talking about practice (discourses) is not the same as practice. No amount of listening to the dharma will advance ones practice. One has to sit on the little round cushion.

To answer your second question I also consider brushing my teeth a part of my practice and as the manifestation of the Buddha dharma itself.

Yes! Indeed all of life shows itself to be nothing but radiant energy shining everywhere. So beautiful and wonderful that thoughts and words cheapen it. Yet I pile them on -- one after the other. Like a woodworker hitting his thumb with the hammer again and again. When will I quit this madness?

It is probably a character flaw, but it is my habit to want to point out the alternative. As if our discussion was a pile of coins. You describing one side and me the other. Not that I disagree with you at all. I struggle to convey understanding with words which is generally a mess yet I don't give up.

On second thought maybe what we both are describing is more like a endless and beginningless sheet of glass. We project our minds onto it and ...

Too much talk ... back to the cushion.

Jordan said...

Will,
I share your humor, and I am grateful for the discussion.

I think it is OK to think that all the ancient discourses are wrong. It may be a helpful way to start.

Talking about practice (discourses) is not the same as practice. No amount of listening to the dharma will advance ones practice. One has to sit on the little round cushion.

Discussing the dharma is part of “my practice” as is squashing my Zafu and brushing my teeth, tickling my daughters and everything else that is interacted with. For me, practice is just this life, I give no thought to advancement.

When will I quit this madness?

May by we could ask, when will this madness quit us?

It is probably a character flaw, but it is my habit to want to point out the alternative. As if our discussion was a pile of coins. You describing one side and me the other. Not that I disagree with you at all. I struggle to convey understanding with words which is generally a mess yet I don't give up.

On second thought maybe what we both are describing is more like a endless and beginning less sheet of glass. We project our minds onto it and ...

Too much talk ... back to the cushion.


How excellent!

Take care,
Jordan

Thanks for looking!