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 3 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.

CultivatingEmptyField-Honzhi-revDirectly cut through all the overgrown grass. Reach the limit in all directions without defiling even one atom. Spiritual and bright, vast and lustrous, illuminating fully what is before you, directly attain the shining light and clarity that cannot attach to a single defilement. Immediately tug and pull back the ox’s nose. Of course his horns are imposing and he stops around like a beast, yet he never damages people’s sprouts or grain. Wandering around, accept how it goes. Accepting how it goes, wander around. Do not be bounded by or settle into any place. Then the plow will break open the ground in the field of the empty Kalpa. Proceeding in this manner, each event will be unobscured, each realm will appear complete.

My father and mother grew up in Kansas where there were tallgrass prairie patches still around. Ten-foot tall bluestem grass, switch grass, etc. covered 85% of the midwest and was home to the buffalo. Stand in the middle of a field of tall grass and you will notice that it is hard to see the solid ground at your feet. By Summer, I often forget what the ground looks like in our hay field as I’m often lost in the season and absorbed in the excitement of the grass blowing in the wind. Trudging along in the middle of the grass, my feet are clearly on the ground, but it is hard to see it with all that grass in my face. Consider finding a field and jump in as an experiment! Just, ya know, kinda wander around and don’t worry about getting anything from the experience. There are two kinds of wandering: wandering around lost like a ghost and wandering around at home in your ancestor’s field.

The grass Hongzhi talks of is really tall; it’s exactly as tall as your 10,000 foot stature. It is hard to get it out of your face for good because you grew up together to the same height, just like cousins. The height wouldn’t be so daunting if each blade wasn’t packed in right next to 10,000 other blades. It’s nothin’ against grass, but if you want to know the ground for yourself, it does make sense to do some cutting and then Hongzhi says to keep going by plowing right into the ageless firmament.