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
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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03320860122104064884 James

    pretty damn cool, Dosho

  • mike f

    It is so hard, and such a relief, to not understand. Bows.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05168631752214481563 Harry

    Hi, Dosho.Master Dogen seemed to agree with somebody quoted as being “Sakyamuni Buddha” in Zanmai-o-Zanmai where “Sakyamuni Buddha” says that sitting in the lotus posture regulates body and mind (or “sets straight” body and mind as Dogen is translated as saying in his enthusiastic agreement in Nishijima/Cross)… not “magical” maybe (but then again…”magic” isn’t that magic really), nor the whole story, but surely a remarkable form of conduct (if it’s proven to be true).Does sitting/standing/swimming/eating etc etc etc dropping off body and mind verify us or not? And, for what it’s worth, I’m not asking you to confirm/affirm a belief.It seems to me that crappy effort has it’s share of dropping off… in non-obvious way as well.Capping phrase: “Every cripple has his own way of walking” – Brendan Behan.Regards,Harry.

  • http://five-mountain.org Jiun

    “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.”THIS.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04878684373898294730 Dosho Port

    Harry,You might enjoy the “The King of Samadhis Samadhi” the Soto Zen Text Project. Here’s a little piece of context for the passage you quote.”We should realize that there is a vast difference between all realms of sitting and all other realms. Clarifying this principle, we confirm the aspiration, the practice, the bodhi, and the nirvāṇa of the buddhas and ancestors. We should investigate: at the very moment we are sitting, are all realms vertical? Are they horizontal? At the very moment we are sitting, what about that sitting? Is it a flip? Is it “brisk and lively”? Is it thinking? Is it not thinking? Is it making? Is it without making? Are we sitting within sitting? Are we sitting within body and mind? Are we sitting having sloughed off “within sitting,” “within body and mind,” and so on? We should investigate one thousand points, ten thousand points, such as these. “We should do the sitting with legs crossed of the body; we should do the sitting with legs crossed of the mind; we should do the sitting with legs crossed of the body and mind sloughed off.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05168631752214481563 Harry

    Dosho,Yes, indeed. I’ve enjoyed that/those translations before.It’s really quite close to Nishijima/ Cross (and here’s the preamble to that section as it appears in Nishijiam/Cross, for further context):”To transcend the whole Universe at once, to live a great and valuable life in the house of the Buddhist patriarchs, is to sit in the full lotus posture. To tread over the head of non-Buddhists and demons; to become, in the inner sanctum of the Buddhist patriarchs, a person in the concrete state, is to sit in the full lotus posture. To transcend the supremecy of the Buddhist patriarch’s supremecy, there is only one method. Therefore, Buddhist patriarchs practice it solely, having no other practices at all…”As the SZTP has it:”Abruptly transcending all realms, to be greatly honored within the quarters of the buddhas and ancestors—this is sitting with legs crossed. Trampling the heads of the followers of alien ways and the legions of Māra, to be the one here within the halls of the buddhas and ancestors—this is sitting with legs crossed. Transcending the extreme of the extremes of the buddhas and ancestors is just this one dharma. Therefore, the buddhas and ancestors engage in it, without any further task.”It seems the section expresses wonderfully just what sort of ‘investigating’ conduct Master Dogen was pointing us towards actually doing:“We should do the sitting with legs crossed of the body; we should do the sitting with legs crossed of the mind; we should do the sitting with legs crossed of the body and mind sloughed off.” (from the SZTP trans.)Regards,Harry.


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