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 27 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.

Patch-robed monks roam the world constantly emptying and expanding their minds. Without the slightest remnant held inside, they can respond appropriately, not hindered by beings, not tangled up by dharmas. Openly appearing and disappearing you can freely share, but if merely involved in intellect you will be buried. If enacting pure maturity, then you can naturally journey at ease among the ten thousand changes without touching them and without turning away from them. Box and lid [join] and arrow points [meet], harmoniously hitting the mark. Whether releasing or gathering up externals, eliminate all leaking. Such a person can fulfill the family business. From this place just return. The white clouds enter the valley and the bright moon circles the mountain. On this occasion you have the same substance as the elders. So it is said that three people are propped up by one staff and lie down in one bed. Do not leave any traces and inside and outside will merge into one totality, as leisurely as the sky clearing of rain clouds, as deep as the water drenching the autumn. All of you virtuous people, remember this matter well.

Zen practice is not merely a mental activity. It is a lived experience. So often we can get caught in worrying about what to do next or how to respond correctly. There’s no need to think so hard about it. There’s no need to plan ahead. Meeting each moment as it arises opens a way forward. Meeting each moment as it arises does not negate fear, loneliness, or exuberance; but makes a space for them where they, too, are part of the unfolding of the universe. Everything is accepted; everything has a place. When happiness arises, embrace and embody happiness. When fear arises, embrace and embody fear. It is entirely possible to experience the world without being caught by it. Practice becomes a question of how to move in harmony with whatever is arising and falling away – moving unhindered. This is what Hongzhi nudges us towards with these phrases. Right now, take a moment and reflect on what it is that has caught you. Can you relax with it, ever so slightly?