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 20 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.
Being withered and cold in body and mind cleanses and sharpens the field. The dusts are jumbled and then distilled, leaving each realm vacant and bright. This is the time and place to leap beyond the ten thousand emotional entanglements of innumerable kalpas. One contemplation of ten thousand years finally goes beyond all the transitory, and you emerge with spontaneity. Therefore we have been told that nāgas are always in meditation, never apart from this sublime state.
Zen imagery often includes a withered branch, a dead and withered tree. This is an image of the person utterly at rest, still and without desire. From the outside, such a person may appear passionless – dead. But Hongzhi points out how clean and clear the experience can be. The dusts of daily life settle out, and no longer obscure one’s view. Time and space are no longer seen as obstacles. Nagas are great beings, half human and half snake, who live beneath the sea. They have been friends of buddhas for countless eons. They are happy, relaxed, full of enjoyment, free of fear. The nagas are always in meditation, he adds, in this very condition of witheredness, and it is a state full of life. Today is a day to let go of the worry that comes from thinking about the future, let go of the pain that comes from thinking of the past, and just be at ease with things as they are.