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 19 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-revYou must clarify your heart, dive into the spirit, and silently wander in contemplation, apprehending the dharma’s source. Without pettiness, or weaving hairs to create an obstacle, be magnanimous beyond appearances… The jade vessel turns over on its side, at once dispensing energy for you to return, share yourself, and respond to the world. In this realm are the separate, limited forms, but all are only what the self establishes, arising along with our own four elements. How could there be an obstruction? Since [this mind] is entirely without obstruction, there is no difference between that one and me, self and other are not separated by their names. Sounds and colors crowd in together, carefree and transcendent, directly leaping into each other. So it is said that mountains and rivers are not separated. You should embody this like the brightness apparent everywhere.

The broad, benevolent expanse of stillness that we become intimate with in the course of practice is our birthright, and it’s not for us. Touching this place, it is only natural to share. Hongzhi is warning against a quietism that distorts the wholesome yearning for peace: Often we have an intuition that this inner silence is important, but habitual ways of approaching it as a goal to be attained stymie our efforts. As peace becomes more accessible, we’re comfortable in not possessing it. Gradually, we can pivot easily into noticing the world around us with love and wisdom, and stillness has room to spread. See if you can catch yourself “protecting” your stillness, as if its something fragile or limited.

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