Song Of Freedom Breakdown, lines 33-36

Picture from "How Stuff works"

If folks argue and slander you, let them:
they are playing with fire, trying to burn the sky.

When I hear them, their words are drops of nectar
and show me that this moment is free from conception.

Abusive words are disguised blessings
and my abusers good teachers.

This mind has room for slander and abuse
and is itself unborn compassion and patience.

Four lines this time, mainly because they all seem to fit together so well.

These lines should boost ones confidence! The slander of others or arguments can be seen as a teaching in itself. In a world where talking behind ones back, and trash tale in general is common these lines have even greater meaning!

Take a look at some current events, see if you can draw some parallels to where abusive words have helped the target.

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,



Unknown said...

Encouragement indeed. I can hardly wait to be slandered. Unfortunately most of what passes for slander these days takes place behind one's back.

I know this is not the intent yet I can not help thinking that with "Abusive words are disguised blessings and my abusers good teachers" maybe if I heap on some abuse maybe I'd be do you a favor. Just kidding.

I'm confused by "This mind ...is itself unborn compassion and patience."

Here is Aitken Roshi's translation:
Some may slander, some may abuse;
They try to set fire to the heavens with a torch
And end by merely tiring themselves out.
I hear their scandal as though it were ambrosial truth;
Immediately everything melts
And I enter the place beyond thought and words.

When I consider the virtue of abusive words,
I find the scandal-monger is my good teacher.
If we do not become angry at gossip,
We have no need for powerful endurance and compassion.

This last pair of lines point to the work, do not become angry and the reward, no need for compassion and patience. So clear - no anger no need to respond to the anger. No new karma created. Finished before even started. Is this what is meant by "This mind ...is itself unborn compassion and patience."

Carol said...


Very interesting. I think it depends on where the slander and abuse comes from. But I agree, no matter what, it does teach a lesson.

I remember Millie was quite upset one time when she heard that some people I'd worked for were spectulating that we were headed for a divorce. I laughed! These people were coming to the restaurant and supporting me with their $$$! If they can pay me for entertaining them, so much the better!
But when it comes from those near me because they don't understand or misunderstand something of me, then it can be hurtful if not ignite righteous indignation. Even then, though, it is a lesson and tells me that I must clarify my words and actions. But some times I need help in doing this!

oxeye said...

I usually react to abuse in kind. occasionally I will even instigate it. that is sad for me to admit but true. abuse starts with confusion and fear and just leads to more. hopefully with practice I will uncover buried compassion and patience..

SlowZen said...

I made a mistake and checked my e-mail last night, read your comment and was contemplating it for some time, I usually sleep pretty well but I could not help all sorts of different ways to respond from welling up. May be I should have just posted them at the moment but now the thoughts have simmered down and I think I can look at this with a fresh face.
As to hurling abuse my direction, I would say that is not advisable. I herd a story, maybe from the pali cannon? about hurling abuse at others. It is akin to picking up a hot coal to hurl at your target. You are the one that gets burned.
In concerning the difference in the translations, I really think this gives us some insight into the translator. I feel like the Aitkin translation may be written that way because of something that was on Aitkin’s mind at the time. We could probably ask him if we were so inclined.
This mind has room for slander and abuse
and is itself unborn compassion and patience

Might also be written “The universe has room for slander and abuse…”
An important thing that you may want to consider is what is meant by “the unborn” The unborn is without:
1. Notions of a permanent individual personality, soul or self
2. Attachment to wrong views, rites, rituals, dogma, superstitions
3. Doubt and confusion
4. Liking, attachment, passions, sense desires, lust, greed
5. Disliking, aversion, hatred, malice, illwill, spite
6. Lust and craving for perpetuating forms and hereafter’s of Fine Materiality
7. Lust and craving for perpetuating formlessness and hereafter’s of Immateriality
8. Wrong views of conceit plus pride and arrogance, declaring "I am the doer"
9. Excitement for constructions and perpetuating artificial realities, Self-Delusion and Self-Illusion
10. Addiction to Self-Deception and a complete state of Self-Ignorance, necessary for the ILLUSION of artificial realities and individuality to seem real, necessary for not seeing the impermanence and ill for what it is, and the pain and peril associated with these addictive, ill-conceived, conditioned, fleeting states of fabricated fictitious existence.

I hope that helps!

SlowZen said...

Sometimes it can be a real challenge to clarify words and actions. Particularly with those closest to us, even some of the simplest things can get incredibly complex because of our attachment to the situation.

With love,

SlowZen said...

Reacting to abuse in kind, Been there, participated in that, and I think there is a time and place for that too. But I think I am finding it much less necessary nowadays since I have not been in a combat zone in a while. I think I would be hard pressed to find a single solution for any given situation. But I would hope that I err on the side of Kind speech rather than abuse.
If I am confused, I ask for help. Sometimes I get help even when I don’t think I am confused. That is appreciated too.
As long as I am sounding off like a cosmic shmuck, I am going to say something else Zenny regarding hope. Give up all hope and anything that comes your way will be appreciated a whole lot more. Practice no hope, But persevere brightly!
Take care,

Unknown said...

Jordan, you have been so helpful. It is with sorrow that I hear my comments lead to your troubled sleep. In no way was that my intention.

I would never intentionally be abusive to you. You are a trained professional, I am but a flabby old IT guy. Being abusive would go against my vows to maintain the precepts. Your comments and this "Song of Freedom Breakdown" are so helpful and fun too.

Thank you for you kind explanation of the unborn. This is terminology I've heard before and even chanted it in various sutras but not till now have I made the effort to explore what is meant by unborn. Ok, the unborn are without the Ten Fetters, but what are the unborn with? Is unborn a synonym for emptiness?

SlowZen said...

Will, you said :It is with sorrow that I hear my comments lead to your troubled sleep.

Seriously, don't worry about that! I lost sleep because I allowed my mind to get excited. And your comments were excellent!

What is the unborn with? This is going to sound hokey, but the unborn is with you. It sounds like a koan but it is not. This reminds me of Joshu’s dog. Ack!
But really I think that the unborn is in everything and non-thing. Someone else might say “MU” but I think that might lead to nihilistic thinking.
As far “The Unborn” being “emptiness(mu)”? I do not think I would express it that way. But I acknowledge that it could be my own attachment to form interfering.

Will, please keep in mind that these are just my own (and a lot of plagiarized) thought doodles, and all of this intellectual work is not worth squat without practice. And as I said in the acknowledgements,
I am not any sort of certified teacher, so I recommend bouncing everything I might say (or anyone else says on the matter) against the Kalama Sutra

"Rely not on the teacher/person, but on the teaching.
Rely not on the words of the teaching, but on the
spirit of the words.
Rely not on theory, but on experience.
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
Do not believe anything because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything because it is written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is
conducive to the good and the benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."

Take care, and truly, thank you for your comments!

Yamakoa said...

Jordan I thought you might find this interesting. It is from Huang Po. I feel it could be from anyone who has realized the unborn and knows what can be known about the Tao(Uni-Verse).
What is the Way?
Q: What is the Way and how must it be followed?
A: What sort of THING do you suppose the Way to be, that you should wish to FOLLOW it?
Q: What instructions have the Masters everywhere given for dhyana-practice and the study of the Dharma?
A: Words used to attract the dull of wit are not to be relied on.
Q: If those teachings were meant for the dull-witted, I have yet to hear what Dharma has been taught to those of really high capacity.
A: If they are really men of high capacity, where could they find people to follow? If they seek from within themselves, they will find nothing tangible; how much less can they find a Dharma worthy of their attention elsewhere! Do not look to what is called the Dharma by preachers, for what sort of Dharma could that be?
Q: If that is so, should we not seek for anything at all?
A: By conceding this, you would save yourself a lot of mental effort.
Q: But in this way everything would be eliminated. There cannot just be nothing.
A: Who called it nothing? Who was this fellow? But you wanted to SEEK for something.
Q: Since there is no need to seek, why do you also say that not everything is eliminated?
A: Not to seek is to rest tranquil. Who told you to eliminate anything? Look at the void in front of your eyes. How can you produce it or eliminate it?
Q: If I could reach this Dharma, would it be like the void?
A: Morning and night I have explained to you that the Void is both One and Manifold. I said this as a temporary expedient, but you are building up concepts from it.
Q: Do you mean that we should not form concepts as human beings normally do?
A: I have not prevented you; but concepts are related to the senses; and, when feeling takes place, wisdom is shut out.
Q: Then should we avoid any feeling in relation to the Dharma?
A: Where no feeling arises, who can say that you are right?
Q: Why do you speak as though I was mistaken in all the questions I have asked Your Reverence?
A: You are a man who doesn't understand what is said to him. What is all this about being mistaken?

SlowZen said...

Yamakoa, I have a lot of appreciation for the old Chan Masters,
Thank you for posting that. Here is another teaching from Huang Po that I think may be helpful.

"This pure mind, which is the source of all things, shines forever with the radiance of its own perfection. But most people are not aware of it, and think that mind is just the faculty that sees, hears, feels, and knows. Blinded by their own sight, hearing, feeling, and knowing, they don't perceive the radiance of the source. If they could eliminate all conceptual thinking, this source would appear, like the sun rising through the empty sky and illuminating the whole universe. Therefore, you students of the Tao who seek to understand through seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing, when your perceptions are cut off, your way to mind will be cut off and you will find nowhere to enter. Just realize that although mind is manifested in these perceptions, it is neither part of them nor separate from them. You shouldn't try to analyze these perceptions, or think about them at all; but you shouldn't seek the one mind apart from them. Don't hold on to them or leave them behind or dwell in them or reject them. Above, below, and all around you, all things spontaneously exist, because there is nowhere outside the Buddha mind."

I feel a gassho coming on! (smile)

Yamakoa said...

Thank you for Huang Po's post. The Old Chan masters ring with vitality and authenticity. Their teachings were at the same time, an arrow that could pierce your heart, or an uncompromising labyrinth where no matter how hard you tried, you would not progress.

Jordan, I often wonder, can this mind exist without the brain, or for that matter, our senses that Huang Po slaps us with for basing our reality through their faculties. I think and feel that herein lies the crux of the matter.

I get the feeling that what Huang Po is talking about is not just defining the mind that arises out of our neurological formation. For if that is the case, then all the Patriarchs are no more than sophisticated materialists. At the same time, I do not feel he is describing some unchanging everlasting essence that is separated from us and therefore we can tap into this source (God?).

Could this MIND not be the manifestation of the universe and when the conditions arise, we take form. Through the five skandhas we become. This I is born and subsequently we rely on the conventional mind and start to forget original mind.

I must admit, that although this can make sense, in the end, we can not enter into samadhi or realize Huang Po's mind without our perceptions (remember the brain is the sixth facultative organ).

Sorry for the rambling.

SlowZen said...

You really do write beautifully.

I am thinking I agree that we need to figure it out on our own.

But for what it is worth, here are my thought doodles.

No, not the neurological formation, but in that too. Ever-changing, not unchanging. Everlasting, I do not know, I’ll tell you when I get there! I have an idea that everlasting might not be that long.

I do not think that we are separate from the source. We are the source, and so is this keyboard, and so is my dog that occasionally poops on my zabuton, not a thing (or even non-thing)is excluded.

Could this MIND not be the manifestation of the universe and when the conditions arise, we take form. Through the five skandhas we become. This I is born and subsequently we rely on the conventional mind and start to forget original mind.

That is a little more intellectualizing; I guess the mind being a manifestation of the universe sounds accurate enough but I feel kind of fuzzy on it, maybe it is better not to try and put the mind into a box. Conditions arise, mom meets pop, we’re born, and causation begins to shape our perceptions.

I think that dropping off those perceptions would be a noble effort.

No apologies necessary, Thank you for posting!

Take care,

Yamakoa said...

Thank you for the reply and compliment. I always find them helpful.
I feel I that you are right about me intellectualizing it a bit too much.
You mention that you think"dropping off those perceptions would be a noble effort." I would be inclined to agree with you. Although I am not sure we can totally drop off our perceptions. Maybe more like replace our current perceptions.
As stated previously, Muchas Gracias, I feel I take away invaluable lessons from our cyber chats.

SlowZen said...

Thank you too. I think that our conversations might be beneficial to the whole universe. Boy that sounds pretentious, but hey, it sure feels right.
As to dropping of perceptions, full lotus posture works best for me, Half lotus is ok too. I have heard some people mention the Burmese posture but it never really worked for me. I am not espousing some dogma here but just my own experience learned through practice. Now I can’t say that those perceptions permanently drop off, but even a small moment can be enough to radically “replace” those current perceptions.
Also I have to say that there are other methods and that I have experienced them as well, but sitting in the full lotus posture is the only one I have had consistent success with. Ack!!! look at me writing like I am somebody who knows something. It is not anything special, I am not special . anyone can do this, that is what makes it so special. I know what muchas gracias means, but I am not sure how to say that you are so very welcome in Spanish. I can try my poor Japanese and say 優しく歓迎される. (you are welcomed fondly)

Take care,

Yamakoa said...

I am inclined to agree with you that it is beneficial to the whole universe. Why not? Objects not only affect the subjects, but subjects also affect the objects. Therefore I agree with our analysis :-) (who knows, maybe I am full of it).
The response to muchas gracias in spanish is typically "de nada." This literally means "of nothing" but it is the equivalent of your welcome.
I am surprised that you write Japanese so well. I can see why you are one with your keyboard ;-@.
Be Well

SlowZen said...

Yamakoa, I totally cheated on the /Japanese. I have some built in translation software that helps me out allot when I am trying to communicate vocabulary intensive concepts to my wife.
I learned almost all my Japanese in my bar hopping days about 12 years ago, It is all t-shirt Japanese really. We had a survival Japanese language class where they taught us to say doitoushimashte (sounds like "dont touch my mustache") which basically means "don't mention it. i would be more inclined to say "Dozo" which is literally please but is more like "your welcome too it" I have been a little to one with my keboard lately methinks.

Take care and don't forget to laugh!

Thanks for looking!