Verification Monologues

A protagonist might say, “In my lineage, practice and enlightenment are one. Therefore, every moment of every zazen of every person is complete enlightenment. You seem to be saying in these rambling blogs that verification is outside practice. ”

Response: What I’m saying here is that although practice and enlightenment are not separate as people commonly believe, neither are they one as people commonly believe. More like the boy, dog and ball are one.

As old boy Dogen puts it (to paraphrase from Maka hannya haramitsu), practice is enlightenment, enlightenment is practice, and practice is also practice, enlightenment is also enlightenment.

The just (dead) sitting crowd, imho, ain’t savvy to the last part of the equation.

In addition, while encouraging tolerance for our common views about illusion, what I’m suggesting here (following Kyogo with the hope that you, the reader, will test this in practice if you haven’t already) is the importance of being intolerant with our own common views of verification.

As Nagarjuna said, “Those who hold a view of emptiness are said to be incurable.”

At least in the “holding a view” moment – or we’re all incurable (and that’s perhaps his point).

Or as an astute blog commenter put it, “To view verification in the common way may mean that we have become intolerant to illusion and thus allowed illusion to narrow our view of verification.”

In other words, rigorously let it go, man/woman.

The view of the protagonist above is based on an unverifiable belief that denigrates both practice by gutting its power and diminishes enlightenment by attempting to paste a common view on the very slippery it.

Rather than a zazen that has nothing to do with sitting or standing, those who hold the protagonist’s view also tend to give the form of zazen an inappropriately special and magical power that promotes a passive “do me dharma” attitude.

Further, what the proponents of a sloppy conflation of practicenlightenment (no big E) suggest is not verifiable and therefore, it is not a Buddhist proposition.

Why? It is not testable – verifiable. If illusion and enlightenment are one as they argue, then enlightenment could not be realized because it is collapsed into illusion. The proposition can only be supported by belief or authority. What they fail to verify is the dynamic functioning of nondual wisdom. Emptiness is also emptiness.

Nor is their fixed view supported by carefully studying the words of our dharma ancestors. For example:

After we have produced the thought of enlightenment and turned to practice the Buddha Way, when we are wholeheartedly performing difficult practices, though we may be performing them, we do not have one hit in a hundred practices.
Still, “whether from a friend, whether from a scripture,” eventually we hit it. This one hit in the present is the power of a hundred misses in the past, is the “one maturation” of a hundred misses.
- Dogen in
Talking of Mind, Talking of Nature

If in the course of practice there are hits and misses, every sitting is simply not a hit. Further, verification is not coming to believe that each moment of zazen is complete. Such a practice is merely a cognitive reframing exercise that abuses the vivid truth of the incomplete and broken.

And here’s where believing every miss is a hit becomes a problem (in addition to the constant mind screw of insisting that shit is ambrosia – it is also just shit) – the belief that practice and enlightenment are one in a dead and sloppy way (or as a cognitive reframing tricky way), may discourage wholeheartedly throwing away, and being thrown away, missing, missing, missing… (hitting).

Capping Verse from “Dirt Road Blues” by Bob Dylan:
Gonna walk down that dirt road,

until my eyes begin to bleed
‘Til there’s nothing left to see
Til the chains have been shattered and I been freed

The No of No No: Affirming the Great Heart Sutra
Zenshin Tim Buckley Dies: One Heartbeat, Ten Thousand Buddhas
Ducking the Quacking Koan: Soto Zen, Koan, and Kensho
Restraining the Nevertheless Deluded One: Vine of Obstacles Turns Two

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