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 24 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.

Practice in emptiness and forget conditioning as dazzling light gleams from the shadows. When each portion of spirit is luminous and unhindered, the mind of the three times is interrupted and the four material elements are in balance. Transparent and marvelously bright, in solitary glory for multitudinous kalpas, a patch-robed monk can practice like this and not be bound by life and death. In upright practice let go from the edge of the high cliff, not grabbing anything. The ropes around your feet are severed. In wholeness take one step. The buddhas and ancestors all do not reach one’s own genuine, wondrously illuminating field, which is called one’s self. At this juncture sustain the family business. Just when involved in deliberations, turn around from the stream of thoughts. Empty with enduring spirit, pure with enduring illumination, clear and white, reed flowers and bright moonlight are mixed together. Oars pulled in, the solitary boat drifts past without difficulty. At this time please tell me, who would be anxious to display the eye of discrimination?

Again and again, Hongzhi points us towards complete realization of the universal and the particular. This is his main theme; he constantly returns here to remind us. In “Stepping From the Cliff’s Edge,” Hongzhi leans more towards the emptiness perspective; the universal; the Absolute. Resting in the Absolute perspective, all things share one key, uniting quality. The use of “light,” “brightness,” “clear,” and “white” are evocative of the emptiness that has so enamored Hongzhi. Resting in emptiness; past, present, and future resolve into *now*. There is only *this*. This moment, this realization. Right here. Right now. Unbounded by distinctions we are free to move within ever-changing conditions. The buddhas and ancestors do not reach this place of realization for us; they do not achieve this practice for us. Only we can do this. Only we, each of us individually, can see our own true nature. This is something to which we can return in the midst of worldly life. Can you do this? Try. Finding yourself caught in the details of this individual life, take a step back and ask yourself: in the midst of all of this, what is it that endures?