#1804 - Friday, May 21, 2004
Nondual Highlights Issue #1804 Friday, May 21, 2004 Editor: Mark
Zen teacher Jitsudo Ancheta likes to tell the story of a Native American medicine man who was called before a court and asked to "tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
"I can't do that," replied the medicine man.
"What do you mean you can't do it?" demanded the Judge.
"I don't know the whole truth," he answered.
- from One Bird, One Stone - 108 American Zen Stories edited by Sean Murphy and published by Renaissance Books.
From: "Open Mouth Already a Mistake"
by Richard Shrobe, ( Zen Master Wu Kwang )
Don't Know is Closest to It
For those of you that are new to our style of practice and Zen practice in general, I will now introduce you to the practice of "not knowing". Usually, people want to learn something, to know something. Zen practice actually moves in the opposite direction; from knowing to not knowing.
This not knowing is represented in the classical Zen literature by a famous story about Zen Master Poep An. Poep An was one of the main figures of Chinese Zen during the T'ang Dynasty, which was the Golden Age of Zen in China. He lived around 900 AD. At the time this story takes place, Peop An was not yet a master. Making a Zen pilgrimage didn't mean the same thing as traveling means to us today because, of course, there were no airplanes, trains, or buses, just ox carts or foot travel, for the most part, and most of the main centers were in the mountains. So, the journey to call on the various Zen Masters was a rather arduous one. in and of itself, the hardship of travelling hundreds of miles over every kind of terrain, not knowing where you would sleep that night, or where you would find food, was a practice in facing oneself. This was a practice, as the old Zen Masters say, in "putting it all down."
Poep An came to a particular monastery and greeted Master Ji Jang, who was to become his final teacher. Ji Jang asked Peop An, "You're travelling all around China; what's the meaning of your pilgrimage?" Initially, Peop An felt stuck and momentarily all thinking stopped. Then he said, "don't know". Ji Jang responded, "Not knowing is most intimate". Sometimes you'll see this translated as: "Not knowing is closest to it." So, Poep An decided, I'd better stay here and see what this guy has to offer.
After spending some time at the monastery being introduced into this "don't know", Poep An decided he would continue on his pilgrimage. He told the Master, "Tomorrow I'll be leaving here to become a wandering monk again". Ji Jang said, "Oh, do you think you're ready?". Poep An said, "Certainly!" "Then let me ask you a question," said Ji Jang. "You are fond of the saying that 'that the whole world is created by the mind alone'. So, you see those big boulders over there in the rock garden? Are they inside your mind or outside?" Poep An said, "They're inside my mind. How could anything be outside it?" The Zen Master said, "Oh, well, then you'd better get a good night's sleep because it's going to be hard travelling with all those rocks inside your mind"! Peop An was undone and taken aback, and stayed there with this Master and finally attained great awakening.
This one sentence, "don't know" or "Not knowing is most intimate", is very much at the heart of our practice. The word intimacy is also quite interesting. Closeness. Becoming one with something. Really being able to fathom something. And, of course, many of our difficulties come about by holding on to some conception of knowing, or some opinion, or some dualistic attitude that separates us from our experience. So, as we cultivate and enter into this attitude of not knowing, true intimacy becomes a possiblity, true at-oneness with our own experience and with the world that we find ourselves in.
- from NDhighlight #1254, Sunday, November 10, 2002, edited by Gloria.
Mystery was an important theme to Father Bede, especially what he calls the mystery of love or even the ocean of love that lies behind the phenomenal universe and which he himself experienced intensely, especially towards the end of his life. His relationship to this mystery was one of surrender, which he relates to the life and death of Christ, and to which he was called more deeply in the last few months of his life. Mystery draws us beyond concept and image, a process that is mediated by the symbol, which literally means 'throw together'. Trapnell's discussion of symbolism drawing on Father Bede's insights is one of the most valuable aspects of his book. As he puts it: 'Religious symbols, as both expressions of divine mystery and apprehensions of meaning, guide the mind's return to experience the same mystery' (p. 159).
For Father Bede, openness to symbolic self-transcendence is vital if life is not to be fragmented and cut off from its source. The danger for Christianity is that it has translated experiences into words and words into thoughts so that people begin to think that these words and thoughts are themselves the object of faith when we should let them go and move beyond them. Thus faith has become identified with assent to a body of dogmatic claims rather than a direct encounter with the living God. This also means that theology itself is pursued as a function of the same rational mind that pursues science. Bede challengingly defines science as the lowest form of knowledge in that it represents a knowledge of the material world through discursive reason. Philosophy is superior in addressing the realm of thought but is still confined to discursive reason. Theology should be open to the world of transcendent reality if it is to be more than philosophy, while only wisdom can transcend the rational mind and know truth directly at a level where knowing is being. The movement is always to a place beyond form, image and concept. Hence the use of the metaphor of darkness beyond light for this process.
This highest state is nevertheless for Bede a communion rather than an identity of being, or, as he later expressed it, a sense of non-duality as reflected by Jesus in his saying that 'I and my Father are One'. As Father Bede explained in his Winchester lectures, this realisation was deepened by his experience of the feminine following his first stroke. He felt himself overwhelmed with love, and those in his presence could sense this very clearly in his emanation. Jordan Trapnell would have been personally enriched by this experience, which does not fully emerge from his fine scholarly book. For Bede, Universal Wisdom is inseparable from Universal Love. And this wisdom and love are the Centre in which we can dwell when the ego is displaced: 'There is a window in my consciousness where I can look out on eternity, or rather where this eternal Reality looks out on the world of space and time through me'.
- from a review by David Lorimer of Bede Griffiths by Judson B. Trapnell
What do you seek, O Pilgrim on the Path?
"Liberation from pain and freedom from all suffering."
The answer to thy quest is already in thy heart.
Listen, O Pilgrim, to the whispering of thy Soul.
. . "Know thyself . . . for in thyself is found ALL there is to be known."
- from the Records of Wisdom
Insights Discovered On The Path...
I am a seeker of wisdom on a pilgrimage of self-discovery. The whisperings of Spirit call me to make the journey inward. The Unseen Realm provides the courage needed to face the revulsion of my deepest and darkest aspects. The way to transmute my fears and limitation is to Embrace them in Love. This path leads me home to Spirit. Learning to totally Love Self without judgment brings Spirit closer. Each step produces a new awareness, which reaffirms my dedication to being responsible for living true to the Heart and Spirit. I have walked this path through many incarnations, making the same choices over and over again -- I have kept my self separated from Spirit. Now in the present an opportunity opens to learn my lessons, which releases the bondage of limitation. The challenges encountered on this journey have blessed me with many insights and each illumination has broadened my perspective. Spiritual truth feels closer with each shift. To actualize Spiritual truth requires releasing judgments, facing fears, learning acceptance and allowance to live in the perfection of Spirit. By affirming the magnificence of each individual and compassionately loving them, instills appreciation of each person's path and allows them the pain they have created to teach themselves. I Am totally responsible for creating my reality and I have the choice to learn lessons through love instead of the Trauma/Drama experience.
- text and image from The ORB-RUNNER'S Consciousness... A Multi Dimensional Reality Zone!!!
"My advice to you, whoever you may be.
Oh! You who desire to explore the mysteries of nature.
If you do not discover within yourself what you seek,
neither will you find it without.
If you ignore the excellencies of your own house,
how can you aspire to find excellencies elsewhere?
Within you is hidden the treasure of treasures.
Oh! Man, know thyself and you will know the Universe and the Gods."
- Inscription at the entrance of the Temple of Delphi in Greece
What is Spiritual Knowing?
Question: How does spiritual knowing come about?
The route of information is quite different between spirit and mind. The ego/mind is inquisitive and aggressive in style. It grabs onto data and seeks to incorporate and master it. It categorises, qualifies, evaluates, sorts, files and classifies, judges and colours with feelings and abstract meanings in an attempt to assimilate. All new data is also rated as to its potential usefulness or gain value. There is a never ending hunger of the mind to get.
People force the mind to concentrate, learn, memorize, accumulate and master huge volumes of information with as many details as possible, including sophisticated statistical analysis and computer manipulation. All this endless detail is deemed to be even better if it can be depicted graphically and packaged attractively.
On inspection it will be seen that all the above is an impressive performance, and doubly so when one observes that all the complicated, multifaceted processing occurs in a fractions of a second. Not only is there the current instance of processing, but simultaneously, the mind is comparing this split second with every other similar split second, contrasting that through the memory time file for comparison.
In other words this zebra is compared mentally with every other zebra one had read about, heard about, talked about, seen on television, and joked about, including evolutionary camouflage theory, etc: The mind tends to do all these complicated multifactoral operations automatically as a result of its own nature.
By selection, one can choose available options to explore by focus. Although the possible functions are multitudinous, they are not unlimited. In summary, the mind views truth or enlightenment as something to be acquired or achieved. At best, it is a destination to be arrived at through effort. All such endeavour is premised on the presumption that the functions of the mind serve as a learning model and its processes are to be merely applied from the past to this new subject in the realm of duality where it supposedly will be equally useful. Thus it presumes that the applicability of that which is evolved for handling duality is useful in the search for nonduality.
Such, however is not the case; in fact, the very opposite of what has come to be viewed as the reliable, tried-and-true method of making progress now becomes the very obstacle to discovery.
Whereas ordinary mental functioning could be typified as a constant effort to get, spiritual realisation is totally effortless, passive, and spontaneous. It is received rather then gotten. By analogy, when sound stops, the silence reveals itself. It cannot be gotten by effort or endeavour.
With mentation there is the capacity to control, but with revelation, there is no control at all. No control is possible where there is nothing to control and there is no means to apply control, even if it were possible. That which is formless cannot be manipulated.
Enlightened awareness is best described as a state or condition, a realm or a dimension. It is self-revealing and all prevailing. It eclipses and displaces mentation which becomes unnecessary and would, in fact, be an interference and an intrusion. Revelation is subtle, powerful, soft gentle, exquisite, and all embracing. The senses are bypassed and all perception of this or that disappears. It is also apparent that the entire content of revelation has been there all along and simply not experienced or observed. The vision of what Is in its totality is entirely Known by virtue of the Self already being All That Is.
Identity confers absolute authority of knowledge. The observer, that which is observed, and the process of observation are all identical.
In awe at the revelation, the mind is silent and becomes speechless at the wonder. Its silence is like a profound relief and peace. What was once prized is now seen to have been a nuisance and a troublesome distraction.
People and their thoughts and words are like voice boxes connected to various energy fields. The mouths and minds parrot the thought forms that prevail at any given level of consciousness. As this occurs, the minds of individuals claim authorship and the prefix mine is added to the thought. The content reflects the self-concept of the person speaking.
There is an invisible, all-encompassing energy field of love that surrounds everyone. Therein resides the higher self or spirit through which, the individuals in varying degrees of consciousness, contact awareness or, unfortunately, may be cut off from it altogether.
If quite unidentified with the Self, the individual may be afraid or even repelled by love, which is seen as foreign, threatening, and to be resisted. All reminders of love or references to God have to be stricken from public awareness or acknowledgement. This is intrinsic to the success of totalitarianism or military dictatorships where only love for the dictator is allowable. In our society there are forces to make any reference to God politically incorrect.
In true spiritual endeavour no actual sacrifices are necessary or expected. Sacrifice in ordinary terminology means loss or even painful loss. True sacrifice really means letting go of the less for the greater and is self-rewarding rather than depleting. Painful, reluctant giving up is not really sacrifice but an attempt to purchase religious favour. With God, there is neither buy, sell, purchase, sacrifice, gain, favour, nor loss.
In the realm of the divine, there are no rights to parade or proclaim. The world of rights and wrongs and political rights are all inventions of the ego to be used as bargaining pieces on lifes game board. They are all based on seeking advantage and gain. In the Reality of nonduality, there is neither privilege nor gain nor loss nor rank.
Just like a cork in the sea, each spirit rises or falls in the sea of consciousness to its own level by virtue of its own choices, and not by any external force or favour. Some are attracted by the light and some seek the darkness, but it all occurs of its own nature by virtue of divine freedom and equality.
In a completely integrated universe, on all levels nothing accidental is possible. To be truly accidental, an event would have to transpire completely outside the universe which, by simple observation, is an impossibility. Chaos is only a perceptual concept. In reality, no chaos is possible. All in all, the mind of God is the ultimate attractor pattern which governs the totality of All That Is, down to the smallest iota.
- from THE EYE of the I by David R Hawkins
-Image Buddha, by Loïs Mailou Jones, 1927
I know that Great Person
of the brightness of the sun
beyond the darkness.
Only by knowing him
one goes beyond death.
There is no other way to go.
Les Kaye, frustrated by the emphasis of his Soto Zen teachers on form, and their lack of emphasis on enlightenment experiences, once complained to Katagiri Roshi: "You never speak about enlightenment!"
"Oh?" Katagiri raised his eyebrows, "Don't you think so?"
Years later, says Kaye, he realized that "(Katagiri and ) Suzuki Roshi did not encourage us to try and attain enlightenment; rather (they) encouraged us to express enlightenment"
- from One Bird, One Stone - 108 American Zen Stories edited by Sean Murphy and published by Renaissance Books.
here I am simply trying to get into your head
you think you were born you die what a pity
- Ikkyu , from Crow With No Mouth, translated by Stephen Berg and published by Copper Canyon Press.