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 22 offering.

CultivatingEmptyField-Honzhi-revThe 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.

The dharma realm in the ten directions arises from the single mind. When the single mind is still, all appearances are entirely exhausted. Which one is over there? Which one is myself? Only when you do not differentiate forms, suddenly not a single dust is established, not a single recollection is produced. Discern that even before the pregnant womb and after your skin bag, each moment is astonishing radiance, full and round without direction or corners, discarding trifles. Where truly nothing can be obscured is called self-knowledge.

Life energy is a precious commodity. How we use each moment shapes all future ones. If we allow our attention to frequently reattach to appearances, it is exhausting. The world of appearance is quick and complex and if we watch, it’s profoundly discontinuous. So, it takes a lot of mental energy to keep the story straight. “This is me. That is you. This is my job. That’s not my fault.” Hongzhi is offering a different strategy – if we don’t pour all our life energy into the more superficial differentiation of forms and stories, gradually the perceived ‘realness’ or ‘independence’ of those forms and stories lessens. Their appearance gets exhausted and we see through them to what is more fundamental. When our attention lands here it is replenishing – we connect with our sense of purpose, of meaning. This deeper knowing of our true self is fertile ground for wonder and gratitude, the astonishing radiance Hongzhi points to.