Not Looking Toward The Peace Of The Innermost Mind

Not Looking Toward The Peace Of The Innermost Mind March 30, 2023
As I mentioned in my last post, in our ongoing Vine of Obstacles Zen practice period focussing on the teaching of Keizan Jokin Zenji (1261-1325), a fourth generation master in Japan, we see that a great deal of his teaching simply points to how to do it – Zen practice-awakening.
And (as I also mentioned) Keizan exudes a particular tone, like a radio frequency, that we are also steeping ourselves in – provisionally, I’d describe it as “friendly luminosity.” And that fits nicely with the title of the text that we’re working with, The Record of the Transmission of Illumination (J. Denkōroku).
And speaking of friendly luminosity, in the forty-seventh generation, Qīngliǎo comes to the old master Dānxiá who right away asks, “What about ‘your own self prior to the kalpa of emptiness’?”
That is to say, even before there’s nothing, who the hell are you?

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Qīngliǎo is understandably agitated by the question, so Dānxiá tells him to get outta there for a while. Qīngliǎo takes his advice and his kōan for a walk on Alms Bowl Peak and there breaks open. He returns to Dānxiá with the good news, but before he can say “who?” Dānxiá slaps him – and Qīngliǎo breaks open breaking open.
Later, in the main hall, Dānxiá confirms Qīngliǎo by giving away the Zen store, saying, “The subtle, secret method of the ancestral teachers is not to look toward the peace of the innermost mind.”
Pay attention to that little tidbit! Almost everywhere you go in the world of religion, including most Zen places, you’ll hear that spirituality is all about turning toward the peace of the innermost mind.
Fortunately, the subtle, secret method of all the ancestral teachers is not that. What is it?
Dānxiá said, “In sunshine, the solitary peak is green; under the gaze of the moon, the valley stream is cold.”

Dōshō Port began practicing Zen in 1977 and now co-teaches with his wife, Tetsugan Zummach Sensei, with Vine of Obstacles Zen, an online training group. Dōshō received dharma transmission from Dainin Katagiri Rōshi and inka shōmei from James Myōun Ford Rōshi in the Harada-Yasutani lineage. He is also the author of Keep Me In Your Heart a While: The Haunting Zen of Dainin Katagiri. Dōshō’s translation and commentary on The Record of Empty Hall: One Hundred Classic Koans, was published in 2021 (Shambhala). His third book, Going Through the Mystery’s One Hundred Questions, is now available. Click here to support the teaching practice of Dōshō Rōshi.
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