‘Is there a way we should aim at beyond the framework of zazen that has not yet been accomplished?’ Is there some kind of formless samadhi besides this sitting using this body and mind, besides ‘polishing a tile’, or not?
Chan / Seon / Zen
Shakyamuni Descending from the Mountain. 15th century, Japan. © Metropolitan Museum of Art
Vinaya master Yuan asked Great Pearl, “When you practice the Way, do you use a special skill?”
Great Pearl said, “I do.”
Yuan asked, “What is it?”
Great Pearl said, “ When I’m hungry I eat. When I get sleepy I sleep.”
Yuan said, “Everyone does these things. Do they not have the same skill as you?”
Great Pearl said, “They do not have the same skill.”
Yuan said, “Why is it not the same?
If buddha-dharma is the self, why do we have to study from others? Why do we have to practise in order to change the self? Why do we have to practise? We already have buddha-nature. We can do whatever we want. What is wrong with this kind of view? That is the question. Dogen’s reply is as follows:…
The real part 5 of Zazenshin. Sorry for the slip up last time.
The origin of Buddha statues of this style is the figure of Prince Siddhartha in contemplation pondering the four phases of life (birth, old age, sickness, and death). Established first in India, the Pensive Bodhisattva was made in countless numbers in China but not till it came to Korea…
A monk asked, “What is the essential meaning of Buddhism?” Mazu said, “What is the meaning of this moment?”
Afterwards, however, as I began reflecting upon my everyday behaviour, I could see that the two aspects of my life—the active and the meditative—were totally out of balance. No matter what I was doing, I never felt free or completely at ease. I realised I would have to rekindle a fearless resolve and once again throw myself life and limb together into the Dharma struggle…
The intimate scale, informality of the figures’ poses, and landscape setting link the painting to Chan-style depictions of Shakyamuni — the human origin of the Buddha — as an ascetic descending from the mountains just prior to achieving Buddhahood…