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Far from the madding crowd

Decided to retreat here to the Buddhist section. Very little activity here and "views" at a minimum. I can waffle to my hearts content as I sit in McDonald's with my coffee.

Just done a good deed as I approached McDonald's, seeing this guy hunched up on the stone bridge into town, looking frozen solid. At first I just walked by but turned back and asked if he was OK. "I've just had enough" he sighed. Enough of what? Who knows. I said I'd get him a tenner and he could go in somewhere warm. I went to the cash machine then returned and gave it to him. "Come here" he said and I stooped down and he hugged me. "Thanks mate".

Who knows his story?

Anyway, Christianity is not the only Faith that recognises that "works" are not the gateway to heaven - or to Reality-as-is as I prefer to call it. When the Buddhist missionary Bodhidharma arrived in China the emperor there boasted of his good deeds and asked Bodhidharma what merit he had gained from them. "None at all" replied Bodhidharma. Anyway, Bodhidharma was the guy who stared at a wall for nine years, which just goes to show - not my cup of tea (or coffee.....😀) but it takes all sorts I suppose.

Anyway, I waffle. I'm a Pure Land Buddhist. The core is pure Faith. Pure Trust. In Reality-as-is, aka Amida. Just let go, have Faith, and leave it all to the path of no-calculation (Japanese = [i]hakarai[/i])

[i]Whether heading for the Pure Land
Or heading for Hell
All is in Amida's hands.
Namu-amida-butsu[/i] (i.e. Thank You)

But nevertheless, I take a great interest in zen, particularly the 13th century zen master Dogen. To me he is the bees knees, a fascinating character. His writings, both poetry and prose, are astonishing in their depth. That commentaries on his writings often come up with vastly different conclusions just adds to the attraction, at least for me. Confusion rather certainties and conccusions! (And what is so boring as those who insist that any particular set of words mean [b]this[/b] and [b]this[/b] alone?)

Dogen was a wordsmith, using language in a wonderful way.

[i]Reality, the truth, is not something abstract. For this reason it cannot be grasped with words. Why, then, should we spend our time pursuing explanation? Or more to the point, why can we not cease our efforts to explain reality? [/i]

Such is the question often posed from a zen perspective, a perspective that sees Reality as being impossible to capture in words. "Don't mistake the finger that points for the moon itself" is a little phrase often quoted with approval on Buddhist Forums. Myself, I have often said that Reality can be [i]lived[/i] but not [i]thought[/i]. In a way I still think this - yet the key here is "think this". Another concept. A thought. An idea. Not Reality itself.

Dogen objected to all this. Although many Zen patriarchs used language to defeat language, or as a “poison to counteract poison,” resulting in a realization beyond thought and scripture, Dogen in effect saw such an approach as remaining within dualism. Dogen instead employs a variety of verbal devices such as philosophical wordplay, paradox, and irony in order to stress that there is a fundamental identity of language and enlightenment. Or as one commentator on Dogen has said, to [i]realise[/i] non-duality within duality.

In a strange way - perhaps not so strange - this seems to bring me back to my own Pure Land way, where the dojo (training ground) is this world and no other, is every moment - and not just moments that conform to some preordained pattern dictated by some book, holy or not. Yes, this moment alone is supreme - yet (once again as Dogen says) nevertheless there is a "movement toward Buddha")

As the Pure Land saint Saichi once exclaimed:-

[i]O Saichi! What is your delight?
This world of delusion is my delight!
It contains the seeds of relishing the Dharma
Namu-amida-butsu is blooming everywhere![/i]

Anyway, whatever, I wander on. Often stumbling. But strangely, things become simpler and simpler by the day.

"And a little child shall lead them" as one of our world's "holy" books says.

Oh, just to finish, mentioning Holy Books, a story I have always loved, of a group of zen monks transporting a great collection of precious texts across a high mountain path, monastery to monastery. Caught out at night by a great storm, cold, they made a fire of the books to keep themselves warm. Lovely. Captures Reality perfectly.

May true Dharma continue.
No blame. Be kind. Love everything.
Once again, the above post now a blog with pictures....


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