This post is e-mailed in as the network I am using is not blogger friendly; please forgive resultant formatting issues…
Master Daikan Enō asked Master Nangaku Ejō, "Do you rely on practice and experience or not?" Master Nangaku said, "It is not that there is no practice and experience, but the state can never be tainted." Master Daikan Enō said, "Just this untaintedness" is that which the buddhas guard and desire. You are also like this. I am also like this. And the ancestral masters of India were also like this."
Master Dogen referenced this line from the first part of book two of the Shinji Shobogenzo in his discourse on Dignified Behavior, Chapter 23 of the Shobogenzo.
I have been considering dignified behavior recently and decided to give that chapter another read. What I type below is just what surfaced after reading it, to be clear, I haven't realy thought about addressing what Master Dogen wrote at all.
For the last 19 years or so I have had drilled into my brain housing unit some core values. They are Honor, Courage, and Commitment. So in my skull those ideas are what give form to dignified behavior.
But moment to moment if I were to spend time counting each grain of sand as it fell I would find that there has been failure after failure of living up to those ideas.
Conversely, there would also be success after success.
In the succession of these moments, who can count all of the failures and successes?
I think it is impossible.
What purpose does it serve?
I think none outside of mental masturbation.
And is that counting of grains of sand serving the Buddha Dharma?
I think not.
This week I have been striving to shorten my reach a bit.
From time to time I have noticed a tendency in myself to hold others to my own idealized standards.
But if and when I look deeply enough I can certainly find cracks in my own armor of mindfulness. Even in recent events, where I failed to stop at a stop sign that I had stopped at countless times previously.
A military policeman was kind enough to point out my error, I thanked him and I made a note to myself to take greater care in my actions.
I think it is important for me, who has a tendency to be an idealist (and who often thinks "I can do no wrong!")to take a look at my practice off of the cushion. Since how a person communicates is a large part of practice, I have been working on this at the house this week in my words with the wife and kids. Not so much thinking deeply about the words I am going to say or how I am going to say them, but more along the line of: is my intention motivated by greed or anger or confusion? Is my intention kindness, love, compassion like that which one might have for a small child? Is there any kind of "Wrong conceit (I'm better, I'm Worse, and I'm the same are examples of wrong conceit) in what I am communicating?" If the answer to these questions is no; then I think that is a good moment to stop, take a breath, exhale with a smile, and try again. How much more so when it is something I am typing out in correspondence?
Don't be deceived, I still get angry. I'm still "The Gunny" at work. But the lines are a little less cloudy at the office where the manors of speech and conduct are regulated by the uniform code of military justice. I think that there is something in place at most monasteries that governs this sort of conduct as well, but I don't have my copy of the Ehei Shigi on hand, so that is just speculation. So home and the keyboard, for me, is where the practice seems to come into play the most.
I would like to end with this excerpt from The Baizhang Zen Monastic Regulations
One must singularly manage one's mind to have cognizance of this experience (kenxin), and never be blind to it. Nevertheless, it is often the case that when the path is lofty, one's wayfaring is more likely to be even more intensely disturbed by devils in thousands of situations.
If once, however, you can manage to bring right mindfulness (zhengnian) into your present consciousness, no obstacle can disturb or delay anything, just as it is explained in the Śūraṃgama-sūtra, in the Tiantai Practice of Śamatha and Vipaśyanā (Tiantai zhiguanfamen) by Zhiyi (538–597), and in the Manual of Practice and Realization(Xiuzhengyi) by Guifeng (Zongmi, 780–841). If one analyzes devilish disturbance in detail, one becomes aware that everything arises from one's own mind and not from outside [of it]. When the power of samādhi andprajnā becomes superior, devilish obstruction disappears of its own accord.
If there is any merit in this post I would like to offer it to Buddha and Sangha, and all of those who may not be clear about dignified behavior.
Yours in practice,