Personal Perfection of Being
Zen practice should make one perfect, shouldn't it?
Yet one's body consumes and excretes,
one's emotions reflect desires, anger, greed, and lust,
and one's mind frequently wanders, with deluded thoughts and wishful daydreams.
When in about 700 A.D. the fifth Zen Patriarch in China asked his disciples
for a poem or gatha, Shenxiu, his leading disciple, wrote
Hui Neng, an unschooled trainee, composed in response
- The body is a Bodhi tree,
- the mind a standing mirror bright.
- At all times polish it diligently,
- and let no dust alight.
Since Hui Neng became the Sixth Patriarch,
- Bodhi is no tree,
- nor is the mind a standing mirror bright.
- Since all is originally empty,
- where does the dust alight?
one is tempted to think his answer was right.
Much later in his lifetime of teaching
Hui Neng advised
Hui Neng's advise seems to advocate Shenxiu's mirror polishing.
"at all times, in every moment of your mind, you must
- purify your mind by our own effort
- see your own teachings by your own practice
- see your own Buddha by your own exercise
- reform yourself by observing your own commandments"
Shenxiu later founded his own branch of Zen
that addresses continuing problems and effort
and may be consistent with gradual enlightenment.
Hui Neng taught that the five elements of your own nature are
- Commandment--it is inate within you that you do not wish to kill, steal etc
- Tranquility--you do not wish to lead a bustling life or to make money
- Wisdom--you do not wish to live in delusion
- Emancipation--you do not wish to suffer the pangs of conscience,
and you wish to live a life of sanction
- Teaching--you know how you were emancipated, so you will teach it.
This is the hardest.
Truth is a pathless land,
One must find out
One must see the sources of one's thoughts and emotions, watch them
move and change with complete attention,
and in that is the beginning and end of
A poem by Meister Eckhart, a 13th century Catholic theologian, mystic, and abbot, ends with
Every object, every creature, every man, woman and child
has a soul and it is the destiny of all
to see as God sees,
to know as God knows,
to feel as God feels,
to be as God is."
After his great enlightenment, Buddha said
It is wonderful that everything, and every being, is enlightenment".
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