Thirty days in the Unborn
“Everyone, do exactly as I’m telling you, and, following my instructions, start by trying to abide in the Unborn for thirty days. Learn to abide in the Unborn for thirty days, and from there on, even if you don’t want to—whether you like it or not—you’ll just naturally have to abide in the Unborn. You’ll be a success at abiding in the Unborn! Since that which is unborn is the Buddha Mind, you’ll be functioning with the Buddha Mind at all times. That way you’ll be living buddhas here today, won’t you? So listen to my teaching just as if today you were all born anew and starting afresh. When you’ve got some fixed notion, you won’t take in what you hear. Listen as if you were newly born right now and it will be like hearing my teaching for the first time. If you don’t have any fixed notion in your mind, at a single word you’ll instantly understand and attain complete realization of the Dharma.”
Bankei is saying to allay the karmic-seeds of the kharmadhatu for a time and just rest easy in the Unborn. Resting Alone and unfettered in the Unborn for a month opens-up the True Dharma-Eye that sees Reality (Dharmadhatu) for what IT IS, not what It Is Not when exacerbated through karmic-lens. Just start anew with a clean slate (Tabula Rasa) that erases all former influences and associations that hinder one’s proper bodhi-flow in the Unborn. If this is done properly, without dependence upon outside “fixed-notions”, then the Natural Spirit of the Unborn will flow through you. Self-realization consists in the Unborn seeing ITSELF, AS IT IS, and not what your skandhic-self imagines it to be.
Ask me and I’ll tell you
One day, the Master said: “I simply come out here like this each day to meet with you all; I haven’t anything particular in mind I want to tell you. So if you’ve got anything to ask—whatever it is—everyone step right up and ask! Ask me and I’ll tell you, no matter what it is. I’ve got nothing special in mind I want to say.”
A brief but poignant passage; when Bankei arrives for the day’s Dharma-session he doesn’t do so with any prior “fixed-notions” inside his head of how best to respond to questions. He just does so naturally and spontaneously in the Unborn. The Unborn Spirit Itself responds in best fashion for what is suitable for a given adept. No-thing is ever set into stone, like some static dogmatic statements that have all the answers available in a manual-like fashion. This is a true revelation of being “nothing special”; Bankei is not like some sin qua non Guru who has all the answers. He gets out of the way and, like an open-channel, allows the Absolute Unborn Buddha Mind to simply come-through.
” . . . When I was young, there was a notorious thief in these parts called ‘the Kappa,’ a fellow on the order of Kumasaka Chohan, who would boldly rob people on the highway, seizing their money. He had remarkable genius as a thief: when he caught sight of someone coming from across the way, he could tell exactly how much money he had on him and was never off by even a hair—that’s what a formidable fellow he was. However, one day he got himself nabbed and served a long term in the prison at Osaka. The years passed, and then, because he was such an expert as a thief, he found himself at an advantage and was spared execution to become an informer for the police. Later, he was excused from being an informer as well and became a free man. Afterward, he learned to carve Buddhist images, becoming a maker of Buddhist statues and settling in Osaka, an expert now at carving buddhas. Completely reversing his former wicked state of mind, he devoted himself to salvation, and ended his days absorbed in chanting the nembutsu. “So, even such a notorious brigand as ‘the Kappa/ once he’d reformed, ended his days in religious devotion. Where can you find anyone who steals because his karma is deep or his sins heavy? Stealing is the karma, stealing is the sin! If it weren’t for stealing, that sin and karma couldn’t exist. Whether you steal or whether you don’t depends on the present state of your own mind, not on your past karma. And what I’m telling you now doesn’t go only for stealing. Generally speaking, all delusions are just the same as stealing. Whether you’re going to be deluded or you’re not going to, all depends on the present state of your own mind. When you’re deluded, you’re an unenlightened being; when you’re not deluded, you’re a buddha. There’s no special shortcut to being a buddha beyond this. Isn’t it so? Everyone, realize this conclusively!”
A “Kappa” is a chameleon-like character in Japanese folklore that can change its shape at will, usually in order to produce a nasty effect on an unwary recipient. Bankei utilizes this folk tale in marvelous fashion as a metaphor for the workings of one’s own mind. The Action of transforming one’s mind to suit a given situation is the very mechanism of karma at work. Karma itself is not some kind of static, stand-alone objective reality; it is through “Action” itself that karma comes into being; so, in this sense, karma is always shifting, always moving about to color the ramifications of a given set of circumstances. When one becomes bewitched in karmic outflows, one’s mind is being constantly deluded and thus forfeits its rightful position in the Unborn. In this sense, one can make one’s mind either a heaven or hell. Just taking a simple moment to Recollect one’s proper union with the Unborn forestalls all karmic-actions. Thus no karma is spent per-se. The act of Recollection itself is really a Prior Non-Action as there is no deceptive agent present that colors the environment via a connection with the Alaya-receptacle. Mind simply Recollects Mind and no-thing more.