Daily Dharma

Those who donated to our crowdfunding Indiegogo campaign last fall are getting daily e-mails this month as a thank-you and part of the May Sit. We wanted to share these with everyone, though they are a day or so later. This was the May 18 offering.

The first text in italics is from Cultivating the Empty Field by Zen Master Hongzhi, translated by Taigen Daniel Leighton with Yi Wu. The commentary following it is from one of the teachers at Dharma Rain Zen Center.

Our house is a single field, clean, vast, and lustrous, clearly self-illuminated. When the spirit is vacant without conditions, when awareness is serene without cogitation, then buddhas and ancestors appear and disappear transforming the world. How amazing it is that all people have this but cannot polish it into bright clarity. In darkness unawakened, they make foolishness cover their wisdom and overflow. One remembrance of illumination can break through and leap out of the dust of kalpas.

“Clearly self-illuminated.” The elusive It that we pursue—call it clarity, wisdom, enlightenment—always seems just outside the temporary self. Always outside. But here Hongzhi reminds us that it can’t possibly be elsewhere, can’t be other than, this. From within the outside is made clear, the way breath moves into and out of the body, laughing at the notion of separation. Everything, including buddhas, appears and disappears, like breath. A kalpa is a great period of time, as long as it takes for a world to form and fall away, for all of humanity to appear and evolve and become extinct. We don’t see that we already have a lustrous field in which to roam. For eons we don’t see this—but in the moment that we do, endless kalpas are overcome.