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 1 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.
The field of boundless emptiness is what exists from the very beginning. You must purify, cure, grind down, or brush away all the tendencies you have fabricated into apparent habits. Then you can reside in the clear circle of brightness. Utter emptiness has no image, upright independence does not rely on anything. Just expand and illuminate the original truth unconcerned by external conditions. Accordingly we are told to realize that not a single thing exists. In this field birth and death do not appear. The deep source, transparent down to the bottom, can radiantly shine and can respond unencumbered to each speck of dust without becoming its partner. The subtlety of seeing and hearing transcends mere colors and sounds. The whole affair functions without leaving traces, and mirrors without obscurations. Very naturally mind and dharmas emerge and harmonize. An Ancient said that non-mind embodies and fulfills the way of non-mind. Embodying and fulfilling the way of non-mind, finally you can rest. Proceeding you are able to guide the assembly. With thoughts clear, sitting silently, wander into the center of the circle of wonder. This is how you must penetrate and study.
Grinding away and purifying tendencies is not accomplished by a to-do-list, to-see-list, to-relate-list, to-feel-list, or to-be-list. The way of Hongzhi is to follow the practice set out by ancestors; the way of non-mind.The stories of the ancestors often show a significant struggle; they show attempts to gain enlightenment and lasting refuge by adding or removing some attribute or condition of the self and the universe. At some point they shifted by wandering into wonder. It is understandable that they made great efforts to end their suffering and used the conditioned means normally used for doing just about anything and everything. Yet to do so is like a person knowing they need bodily rest and trying to fall asleep by increasing the effort which keeps them up. Hongzhi instructed, “Enacting and fulfilling the way of non-mind, finally you can rest.”