Brian Wilcox 'Wild Cherry - Flame Azalea ~ Maine'
Today's Saying: Wakefulness is the heart of living in the Silence, regardless of how one feels or what is happening outside oneself.
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Harmonize the Light,
Blend with the Dust.
This is the Mystic Union.
*Lao-Tzu. Tao Te Ching. Trans. John Minford.
The Taoist adept sees no opposition between the Light and the Dust. Contrasts such as flesh and spirit, earth and heaven, life and death, he sees as parts of a whole. They are manifestations of the Way that includes all. Yet, much teaching is to live in the strain of keeping these apart. We have divided Reality. This partitioning leads to much needless life-energy expenditure, trying to claim the one and reject the other.
This is not Harmony. Harmony is in-breath and out-breath flow into each other. The seasons are Harmony, though different, no separation. Season flows into season. One cannot say, "Winter is bad, but Summer is good." Yes, where can you find the end of Autumn and the beginning of Winter? If you say, "Well so-and-so month and day," that is a day and time imposed on the seamlessness of the seasons.
To flee from the Dust means to flee from the Light. While to flee from the Light is to flee from the Dust. To embrace one is to embrace both.
Spiritual Contemplation challenges the oppositional attitude by leading us into Harmony that harmonizes all within us. So, we are at one with all things as the Taoist says ~ the Ten-Thousand-Things or All-Under-Heaven.
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In Buddha Shakyamuni's lifetime, Manjusri, or Gentle Glory, a bodhisattva of insight, attended a meeting of the Buddhas. When he arrived, the conference was over, and the Buddhas had returned to their respective Buddha-land. Yet, one girl continued unmoved in deep meditation.
Manjusri asked Buddha Shakyamuni how this girl could reach this state, one which even he could not attain. "Bring her out from Samadhi and ask her yourself," said the Buddha. Manjusri walked around the girl three times and snapped his fingers. She remained still and quiet. So, Manjusri, by his miracle power, transported her to a high heaven and tried to call her out of Samadhi. He failed.
Buddha Shakyamuni said, "Even a hundred thousand Manjusris could not disturb her, but below this place, past twelve hundred million countries, is a Bodhisattva, Mo-myo, Seed of Delusion. If he comes, she will awaken."
Instantly, Mo-myo sprang up from the Earth, bowed and paid homage to the Buddha. The Buddha instructed him to arouse the girl. Mo-myo went in front of the girl and snapped his fingers. Immediately, she came out from her deep meditation.
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This koan appears in Ekai's (1183-1260), also called Mumon, The Gateless Gate, a collection of Zen koans with Mumon's comments. Following the above story, Mumon says:
I want to ask you monks: If Manjusri, who is supposed to have been the teacher of seven Buddhas, could not bring this girl out of meditation, how then could a Bodhisattva who was a mere beginner? ... One could not awaken her, the other could.
If you understand this intimately, you yourself can enter the great meditation while you are living in the world of delusion.
The last words above are the clue to this riddle, for me, as well as Buddha saying to Manjusri that Mo-myo can awaken the girl. One may assume the girl is in a deep meditation, called Samadhi, and the preferred meditation. Admittedly, "Samadhi" is often the word for the most profound state of meditation. In Hinduism, one attains union with Life, or Samadhi, during his or her life or at death, or experiences reincarnation. In some Buddhism, many states of Samadhi are identified, based on the quality of consciousness of each.
However, according to the riddle, is Samadhi the state of an awakened person? If so, is the girl in Samadhi?
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Is it not telling, the compassionate being, Gentle Glory, signifying insight, cannot stir the girl? One can read this to mean she is dead to being awake, to seeing: so, in-sight. Is she in a trance? A void-like blank state? An inward absorption that negates receptivity to the outer world? So, it takes Mr. Delusion to stir her from her happy stupor. See, delusion and insight are equally expressions of the Dharmakaya, or Truth Body. Both are emanations of the one Light.
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"Awake" means remaining alert, perceptive, and of clear mind-heart. Deep stillness and inner quiet can attend this wakefulness. Still, if the mind and body are unquiet, one can remain awake. Wakefulness is the heart of living in the Silence, regardless of how one feels or what is happening outside oneself.
A Buddhist story, stressing this, tells of a monk responding to a question about his meditation. The monk says, "Why should I meditate, when I'm always awake?"
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What of absorption in the Divine? If absorption means a deep restfulness and quiet, then yes. If absorption means a stuporlike trance, a self-hypnosis, which is easily mistaken for the final goal of meditation, then no. Union with God, for example, does not mean disunion with the world of delusion. The Union is a realization of kinship with the Whole, while awake in body, mind, and speech. In Presence, all exist, and one exists, too.
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To live a grounded life, we remain awake in the body, in the breath, and in the world. The Way is not an escape. The Way is an inscape. In the Way, one becomes intimate with the Dust-and-Light. In trying to escape the Dust, we push ourselves away from the Light. Compassion arises from being awake to both poles of Reality as expressions of a singular Totality.
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An aspirate said to the Sage, "When I meditate, I often feel dull of mind. Yet, you emphasize that meditation is wakefulness. I feel it's often impossible for me." "Are you," replied the Sage, "awake to the dullness?" "Yes." "That's being wakeful."
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In the Silence, various states will come and go. Being awake even to being of dull mind, that is being awake. Yet, sometimes, slumber will overtake the body. If so, no need to feel guilty.
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(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2020
*Mumon's koan is from Paul Repps and Nyogen Senzaki. Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings.
**There are different means to uplift the body-mind in meditation. A wise guide can give direction in this matter. The tendency toward dullness could indicate a need for more regular sleep for the body or that one is living under too much strain, such as in over-working.