Is Truth Inside or Outside?

Is Truth Inside or Outside? May 12, 2012

Good stuff in the blog world this morning, sorta on a theme – is the buddha way transcendent or immanent?

More simply put, is the truth “out there” or “in here”?

Take a look, for example at the ruminations of James Ford over at Monkey Mind and the bowing of Koun Franz over at Nyoho Zen.

Both seem to be dealing with this central and subtle issue.

In my view, the transcendent view tends to deprecate the utter beauty of the moment at hand. The immanent view tends to deny the possibility of going beyond. What is right?

How this issue is practically resolved and embodied is really important to how we live our lives.

We’re in the Wild Fox koan here – is the person of great practice free from karma or free within karma? Lean one way or the other – or not – and we might find we have a bushy tail and will be fooling ourselves and others (maybe in wild delight) for 500 lives.

One way we fool ourselves and others is that what we think we think might not really be what we think … and how we live.

Really paying attention, as James suggests, is sure important. I’ve seen a bunch of beginning wild fox koan students who espouse an immanent philosophy but actually respond to “What is mu?” through their underlying transcendent framework that really must be addressed. Most of us some of the time are really resistant to meeting our transcendent leanings and just can’t believe that the truth is closer than close at hand.

On the other hand, wild foxedly killing the Buddha by kicking Buddha images out of our practice places might seem to embody the immanent but might just be putting the immanent on a pedestal, making it transcendent. In my process, even though I’d been working with the Wild Fox koan for years, when I encountered it in koan introspection, I got stuck on a one-sided view of the immanent.

Koun aptly points out that to kill the Buddha we must first meet the Buddha. I’d add that what “killing” means in this context is also an important point and is not the ordinary kind of killing.

How can we work with this issue?

The koan that keeps coming to mind – a back door to the Wild Fox issue – is this, “Who is the master hearing this sound?”

The image and smell that keeps coming to mind about this is (speaking of back doors…) my dog Bodhi’s poop as I bent down to pick it up this morning. In that context the koan is “Who is the master that sees this sight? Who is the master that smells this smell?”

Who is it?

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