Hello all. Blogging resumes again here at Unborn Mind Zen. Last year at this time work was begun presenting “The Lankavatarian Book of the Dead”, a work that essentially was an exercise in Atiyoga as the vehicle in which the “Bardo” experience was examined through the singular lens of the Ten Advanced Stages of Mind Development. The present developing work is primarily an exercise in Mahāyoga, a little spin into Tantric-Space wherein the aspiring Mind-adept witnesses the Consecration of the Nirvanic Element within one’s inmost self—in a real sense “unifying” all the otherwise divergent characteristics that constitute beingness itself.
Engaging Vajrayana is no easy task, particularly for those with an exclusive propensity for all things Zen. I believe that it is essential to have a solid background in Sutra-study before even considering such a venture. Indeed, preparation in the Sutrayana provides that prudent foundation in the Buddhadharma before undertaking the more highly experientially-nuanced avenue of the Vajrayana. The Sutrayana has been well represented here at Unborn Mind Zen. The Tantric Course fully and holistically attunes one in becoming resolutely engaged with the Great Endeavor—empowering the adept (yogin) to merge with the Unborn and Uncreate—in whose Mind the Dharmātic Element of Truth entices one to fully awaken and embrace the salvific sanctification.
This present work is such an endeavor. The Inspiration: While the Lankavatara Sutra focuses on the self-realization of Noble Wisdom, the Tathāgatagarbhatārā Tantra is The Self-Perfection of Noble Wisdom. It offers the Continuity of Primordial Wisdom. The word “Tantra” essentially means “continuity”. In our context it underscores that the Innate Structure of Mind is not something to attain, but rather a Continuous Substratum that is always there and that reveals the Union of Emptiness and the Means to Enlightenment in Light of the Perfect Clarity of the Unborn Mind. This is the quintessential Yoga of the Unborn and Uncreate; it will also bring home the Realization that all things come to fruition through the Unborn. There is no higher-yoga than the Yoga of the Unborn Unifier-Adjuster.
From my own intuition, the Tathāgatagarbhatārā Tantra is like an unfolding majestic Lotus Flower. Its evolving structure is like gift-waves of a highly-advanced psychic energy, stimulating spiritual-development and enhancing the Nirvanic Light in ways heretofore unknown. The Root-Guru in this spiritual exercise for the Lankavatarian is the Dharmatā Buddha—one that can manifest in marvelous ways in both form and formless ways and means. Guru means “one who dispels darkness”; the True Light shines forth here in the Supreme Nirvanic-Union of Arya Tārā (Wisdom) and Vajradhara Buddha (Luminosity). Tantric-suchness is the revelation of Dharmātic Reality in the guise of the Adamantine Body (Nirmanakaya), Speech (Sambhogakaya) and Mind (Dharmakaya). For that is the purpose of Sacred Tantra: to assimilate the Element of Truth completely; to reveal it as a “continuous continuity”—to infuse it within the awareness mechanism of the yogi, thus diffusing it throughout one’s entire being, via the Divine Energy of Bodhicitta.
Over the course of living the Lankavatarian eremitical lifestyle, I have been discerning the value of developing a type of monastic-rhythm to the day. A good rule of thumb is to pay homage to the Five Dhyani Buddhas. Their transforming energies, in particular through counteracting the five skandhas, are most helpful in generating the Bodhi Recollective Resolve. This also strengthens one’s Sambodhic-link with the Tathagatas thus continually energizing bodhicitta. I’ve discovered that being mindful of their radiating “juice” over the course of the day helps to alleviate the toxic and ill-effects of samsara. It’s almost like transporting oneself to their serene and tranquil Buddha-fields. What follows is the regimen of my day:
The pre-dawn hours: (Akshobhya)
Rising early with Akshobhya (bowing and facing East), the “Immovable One”, creates a peaceful and ethereal ambience that gently envelops you like a warm and comforting blue blanket. His healing mantra (intoned below) seems to form a protective-shield that prohibits any negative-energies from gaining a foothold over you before your day begins. In a very real sense, his energies (as depicted with his sacred mudra—touching the ground), help to center you as his sacred Vajra unites heaven with earth. (As above, so Below)
Sunrise and Morning: (Amoghasiddhi)
As the sun rises one turns to Amoghasiddhi (bowing and facing North). As the eastern light expands from the Sacred tips of Akshobhya’s Vajra, it peels over into the northern skyline as the fullness of Amoghasiddhi’s Green-filled-hue overflows—permeating and encompassing all living things, like great waves of effervescent and rejuvenating energy. Resting in his palm, the Double-Vajra is a welcoming sign that mystically unites all polar opposites. I am strengthened by his presence that radiates an assurance that all will unfold as it should over the course of the day; his Intercessory-action will always be near to counteract any negative encounters, like a protective-shield (his mudra of the raised hand) that dispels all distress and needless anxiety. The following mantra is quite-catchy and self-energizing.
High Noon and Afternoon: (Ratnasambhava)
As morning dissolves-away into the bright splendor of High Noon, one turns to Ratnasambhava (bowing and facing South). This rising is a sign that All will forever be well as his inner-bodhi pearl is a living flame of love that is never extinguished. Ratnasambhava’s Light is a strengthening-hue that radiates equanimity. All can and will be accomplished under the direct tutelage of the Tathagatas. Placing one’s hands on the Sugata-garbha Chakra (above the navel) is a further empowerment of Ratnasambhava’s sign that his is a peaceful resolve emanating from the very womb of the Sugata. All is expanding within the All and thus all former Skandhic-sensations are whittled-down to just One Transcendent Satisfaction in the One and Unborn. The following Ratnasambhava mantra is quite elegant in its simplicity.
Late Afternoon, Early Evening: (Amitabha)
As the lengthening shadows of the dying day subside and early evening unfolds like a dark and gentle cloak, one turns to Amitabha (bowing and facing West). Perhaps more than the other Dhyani Buddhas, Amitabha reflects a most consoling spirit. The following mantra reflects this deep consolation. One feels free to just dissolve-away all the events of day and just rest peacefully in Amitabha’s sweet and tender embrace. No-thing matters now but just a restful resolve to surrender any troubling vexations into his purifying Western Pure Land Province. Namu Amida Butsu.
Evening hours to the Pre-Dawn (Vairocana)
Vairocana is cosmic. His energies are a composite of the other four Dhyani Buddhas. All that came before, all manner of form-based reality simply dissolves away into Vairocana’s Imageless-Actuosity. All is now One As the One and Unborn. Quite wonderful late-night meditations as you, too, fade-away into Vairocana’s All-encompassing majestic splendor. Form is now emptiness, emptiness is now form; truly, a wonderful manner to enter into a deep and restful night’s sleep.
May the Dhyani Buddhas refresh your own Spirit of Recollection…
Great obeisance to the blessed Ârya-prajñâ-pâramitâ (perfection of Noble Wisdom)
Buddhagnosis: Being fully attuned with prior-to cognitive abilities and discernment as procured from Sutra-Study and Dharma-teachings received from teachers/sages who are well-versed in the Buddhadharma, and who have been prior-anointed with the Seed of Buddhaic Light originating from the Luminous hands of countless Tathagatas.
Samadhi: Cultivation of Dhyāna-techniques culminating in a decisive one-pointedness of Contemplative-Union (Deep Samādhis) with the Unborn Mind. One is now aligned, through the developing mystical dharma-child, with the Undivided Spirit of Bodhi and is unaffected by phenomenal paralysis.
Bodhiprajñā: The untainted and Undivided Awakened Wisdom of the Tathagatas; procured after many years of disciplined Sutra-Study and countless hours of being yoked with the Tathatic-Spirit in the dharma-womb of the Tathagatas via Deep-Samādhis. This Premier-Noble Wisdom is issued directly from the Other Shore of Deathless Suchness, and is fully conferred upon the garbha-child that grows to spiritual maturity (Bodhisattva).
This Carmelite mystic, a true Black Dragon, once whispered the following—intended as an antidote for those afflicted by endless yearnings; with one paraphrased nuance:
To reach satisfaction in all
desire its possession in nothing.
To come to possession in all
desire the possession of nothing.
To arrive at being all
desire to be nothing.
To come to the knowledge of all
desire the knowledge of nothing.
To come to the pleasure you have not
you must go by the way in which you enjoy not.
To come to the knowledge you have not
you must go by the way in which you know not.
To come to the possession you have not
you must go by the way in which you possess not.
To come by the what you are not
you must go by a way in which you are not.
When you turn toward something
you cease to cast yourself upon the all.
For to go from all to the all
you must deny yourself of all in all.
And when you come to the possession of the all
you must possess it without *wanting* anything.
Because if you desire to have something in all
your treasure in the Unborn is not purely your all.”
Once desire is laid-low, the All will reveal Itself freely and unhindered in All as All…
One slight movement—one minuscule desirous intent—then the Living Flame of the Unborn is extinguished.
Of course the most meritorious means for dispelling the effects of the Skandhic Demons is The Heart Sutra. Chanted daily by millions in the Buddhist milieu it serves as a mantra that diurnally reminds one of the efficaciousness of the very heart of Noble Wisdom:
when deeply practicing prajna-paramita,
clearly saw that the five skandas are all empty,
and was saved from all suffering and distress.
form is no different to emptiness,
emptiness no different to form.
That which is form is emptiness,
that which is emptiness, form.
Sensations, perceptions, impressions, and consciousness
are also like this.
all things and phenomena are marked by emptiness;
they are neither appearing nor disappearing,
neither impure nor pure,
neither increasing nor decreasing.
Therefore, in emptiness,
no forms, no sensations, perceptions, impressions, or
no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, mind;
no sights, sounds, odors, tastes, objects of touch, objects of
no realm of sight and so on up to no realm of consciousness;
no ignorance and no end of ignorance,
and so on up to no aging and death,
and no end of aging and death;
no suffering, accumulation, cessation, or path;
no wisdom and no attainment.
With nothing to attain,
rely on prajna-paramita,
and their minds are without hindrance.
They are without hindrance,
and therefore without fear.
Far apart from all confused dreams,
they dwell in nirvana.
All buddhas of the past, present and future
rely on prajna-paramita,
and attain full, complete realization.
Therefore, know that prajna-paramita
is the great transcendent mantra,
the great bright mantra,
the supreme mantra,
the unequalled balanced mantra,
that can eliminate all suffering,
and is real, not false.
So proclaim the prajna-paramita mantra,
proclaim the mantra that says:
The Heart Sutra in its entirety is a whole other blog in the making, but for our recent study on the Surangama Sutra, the following may be discerned:
Prajna-paramita is the Noble Wisdom directly from the Other Shore of Deathless Suchness. As expounded in the Heart Sutra by Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva—the very mouthpiece for Bodhicittapada Itself—the skandhas are truly devoid (empty) of substance in their absolute sense, but they are also made manifest in the relative-sense; but still the underlying nature of both is emptiness (Shunyata). The sutra also unequivocally states that the skandhas are disbanded through the gateless gate of Noble Wisdom; Noble Wisdom heralds from the Deathless Other Shore with no-thing arising nor cessating. The concluding mantra can be referenced as: The Undivided Awareness of Noble Wisdom from the Other Shore that is far removed (gone) from the shore of defiled aggregated existence…so may it be. Awakening therefore to the Bodhi-Mind one is far-removed from any skandhic interference; as Tozen wrote in a recent blog reply, “…if you truly know thyself, your own true Mind, such matters (skandhic demonic influences) are of no concern.” Another way of expressing this is by keeping before the Mind’s Eye at all times Tozen’s admonition: Know Thyself before the arisal and cessation of all things. Also from Tozen, his blog on The Unborn Mind Dharani is another marvelous tool to effectively counteract the effects of the Skandhas:
Another Dharma-tool for dismantling the skandhas is what we covered a while back during the Lankavatarian Book of the Dead series: the Transformational Mandala of the Five Dhyani Buddhas. Each Dhyani Buddha counteracts the effects of the corresponding skandha. Here once again is the extracted snapshot (from the aforementioned blog series) of their significance:
THE BUDDHA VAIROCANA
Perhaps the most radiant of the five since this Buddha is the Total Revealed Wisdom-Truth of the Dharmadhatu. He essentially overcomes the poison of ignorance (avidya) and illusion and is associated with the corresponding Skandha of Form; his all-pervasive Wisdom Plane transmutes this Skandha into the Absolute Buddha Body—Buddhakaya. He resides in the Center of the Transformation-Mandala; his color is White—symbolizing Pure Unadulterated Consciousness. His centralized-Tathagatahood position within the Transformation-Mandala also signifies his family=Buddha. Vairocana’s Symbol is the Dharmachakra—or the Turning Eight-Spoked Wheel of the Buddhadharma; his mudra is the gesture of teaching, or Dharmachakra Mudra. The Mantra associated with Buddha Vairocana is Om Vairochana Om.
THE BUDDHA AKSHOBHYA
The name means the “Immovable” or “Unshakable” One. He is forever known as having a Mirrorlike Wisdom that can transmute the darkest of images into the Clear Light of the Dharmakaya Itself. He essentially overcomes the poisons of hatred and anger and is associated with the corresponding Skandha of Consciousness (vijnana); indeed, his mirror-like Wisdom transmutes any volatile and misshapen imagery of the Alaya-receptacle into Translucent Unborn Light. He resides in the Eastern quadrant of the Transformation-Mandala; his color is blue, reflective of the Luminosity of the Dharmakaya Itself. Akshobhya is the Ruler of the Vajra Family and his corresponding symbol is that of the Vajra itself—signifying its indestructible diamond-like resiliency in the face of all evils. His mudra is the Bhumisparsa Mudra, or the earth-touching gesture that bespeaks the resilient groundedness of the Amala Consciousness. The Mantra associated with Buddha Akshobhya is Om Akshobhya Hūm.
THE BUDDHA RATNASAMBHAVA
Ratnasambhava’s name means “the jewel-born, wish-fulfilling one” or the Source of all precious-things. Ratnasambhava is especially known for transmuting the poison of all forms (spiritual, intellectual, and material) of hatred into the Absolute Wisdom of equality and equanimity; in this sense his corresponding Skandha is that of feeling or sensation—wherein the rabidness of hatred can be transmuted and quelled into a semblance of quietude and Absolute Peacefulness. He resides in the Southern Hemisphere of the Transformational-Mandala and his symbol of course is the radiant jewel; his color is that of a Golden-Yellow, signifying the shining sun of Absolute Satisfaction in the Sugata-garbha, or the Supreme Womb of Buddhaic Light. Ratnasambhava is the ruler of the Ratna Family and his corresponding symbol is the Chintamani—or the Shining Jewel manifesting the Liberated Mind. His mudra is the Varada Mudra, or the palm-opening gesture that reflects an open and Self-giving display of equanimous compassion. The Mantra associated with Buddha Ratnasambhava is Om Ratnasambhava Tram.
THE BUDDHA AMITABHA
Amitabha is known as the Buddha of Infinite Light. His Discriminating Wisdom is said to overcome and transmute the poisons that accompanies all forms of passions and inordinate desires; his corresponding Skandha is Perception (all cognitive associations that result in “conceptualizations” about perceived phenomena). His wisdom hence pierces through all phenomena and renders it null and void in the Clear Light of the Dharmakaya. He resides in the Western-half of the Transformation Mandala, a location that bears special significance as the “Western Paradise” for followers of Amidism. His color is a beautiful rose—reflective of a magnificent setting-sun. Amitabha is the ruler of the Padma family—or the wondrous unfolding Lotus, which is his symbol. His mudra is the classic Dhyana Mudra, or the palms-up, right hand on top of left meditation pose. The Mantra associated with Buddha Amitabha is Om Amitabha Hrih—although there are numerous variables associated with Amida followers, such as Namu Amida Butsu.
THE BUDDHA AMOGHASIDDHI
The name bespeaks the “Almighty Conqueror” and also the Lord of Karma. His is an All-Accomplishing Wisdom that transmutes the poisons of envy and jealousy into the perseverance of the Recollective Resolve. His corresponding Skandha is Volition, or Motion—signifying that Karmic “Action”. Amosghasiddhi bears salient significance in the bardo of the later stages as future-karma becomes solidified and determines the wayfarer’s next incarnation. His color is a radiant Turquoise Green. He resides in the Northern Hemisphere of the Transformation Mandala—which takes on special significance as the departing awareness principle exits the head via the crown, or Dharmamegha Chakra at death. His Symbol is the Dorje, or Double (thunderbolt) Vajra. His mudra is the Abhaya Mudra, or the raised gesture of Fearless-Protection. The Mantra associated with Buddha Amoghasiddhi is Om Amoghasiddhi āh hūm.
A more complete breakdown of their significance begins with the following blog:
When turned-to and properly invoked while in Deep Samadhis, these transformational Tathagatas will prove to be mighty fine company in transfiguring the face of the skandhas.
Another Dharma-method is meditating upon the following video from the Dragon Mind of Zen series. It points directly to the transcending gateless gate that antecedes the relentless pounding of the skandhas, thereby calming them into submission:
From time to time one reads the half-hearted and veiled recalcitrant attacks on mystics by those who are still trapped within their pseudo-intellectualism. They claim that mystics are somehow alien to scientific methodologies, like some form of isolated dharma-freaks. In reality, they are far from the truth. Sisirkumar Ghose has written eloquently in his book, “Mystics as a Force for Change”, that such unwarranted attacks are far off the mark:
“The mystic belongs to the Family of Man, and more than man, he has his comrades and is at home everywhere and nowhere. He alone has truly conquered alienation and has looked into the heart of the human situation…it is a challenge rather than a comfort, an adventure rather than a hide-out.”
“As Thomas Merton saw it, the spiritual anguish of man has no cure but mysticism. Here is the only Reality-therapy that will endure, the truth that liberates.”
“Simply, the mystic is the sane or mature person. Though he will not allow anything, any inferior attachment, to come between him and the Real, he does not abjure all relations and responsibilities…the Way of the Bodhisattva remains the highest achievement of a civilized consciousness. “
“ Dionysius the Areopagite advised the seekers to “strip off all questions in order that we may attain a naked knowledge of that Unknowing and that we may begin to see the superessential Darkness that is hidden by the Light…”
As relayed in an earlier blog, Einstein the Mystic/Scientist wrote:
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”
As can be discerned, rather than being an isolated aberration, the Mystic is actually at the Heart of the All. Many times people can confuse seclusion and inner-contemplative-solitude from the madness of Samsara as being somewhat of a lonely existence. What they do, of course, is to misconstrue loneliness for Aloneness. It is Aloneness that defines the very heart of the Authentic-Mystic.
Aloneness is quite the opposite of being lonely. When one feels lonely there is a desperate cry to make sure that somebody else is always nearby to dispel the loneliness. Yet it’s all truly an effort in futility. Because if someone is no longer there, then the crippling cycle of loneliness happens all over again; many times married couples can experience this, acutely so when one spouse dies and the other is left feeling the terrible absence of their love—crying out from their deep and empty chasm, “what’s the use of living anymore?” Aloneness is quite altogether different. Aloneness is when separation truly comes to an end as one is United, not with the passing phases of some-thing phenomenal, but rather with the very Core of the Noumenal. It’s when the Real looks at the Real and no-thing else. Aloneness is the best remedy from samsara as one discovers just how close the Unborn actually is…forever revealing something new and vibrantly beyond what the dull sensate realm could ever hope to offer. Again from Ghose’s book:
“The Eternal Now releases us from the temporal tyranny, virtually from all limits of causation…Assured of the deep secret of self-finding through self-loss, the mystics have heard the inner-voice aright: “Annhilate yourself gloriously and joyously in Me, and in Me you shall find yourself; so long as you do not realize your no-thing-ness, (emphasis mine) you will never reach the delights of immortality.”
Far from the herd-mentality the Mystic ascends to all that is best in man and all that Transcends mankind. The Divine-Milieu, as Teilhard de Chardin once foretold. Feeling comfortable with Aloneness is the active agent that propels the Mystic to climb those unimaginable heights. It is the steady and equipoise, solitude-like tortoise, and not the harried hare who sustains the long-distance that is required for the quest of the ineffable.
“I can tell you something about this matter of women’s Buddha Mind. I understand that women feel very distressed hearing it said that they can’t become buddhas. But it simply isn’t so! How is there any difference between men and women? Men are the Buddha Body, and women are the Buddha Body too. You shouldn’t entertain any doubts of this sort. When you thoroughly grasp the Unborn, then, in the Unborn, there’s no difference whether you’re a man or a woman. Everyone is the Buddha Body.
“You women, listen closely now. While, in terms of physical form, men and women are obviously different, in terms of the Buddha Mind there’s no difference at all. Don’t be misled by appearances! The Buddha Mind is identical; it makes no distinction between men and women.
“Let me prove this to you. There’s quite a crowd of people here at this meeting, but when they hear the sound of a drum or a gong outside the temple, do you suppose the women mistake the sound of the gong for that of the drum, the sound of the drum for that of the gong? Do you really think there’s any difference between the way the men are hearing these things and the way the women hear them? There’s absolutely no difference at all. Now, everyone, is this true only for ‘men and women’? In this hall we have young people and old, monks and householders, men and women, all here mingled together; but when it comes to hearing the sound of the gong or the drum, can you say the old people hear it this way, the young ones hear it that way? Can you tell the difference in the way the monks hear it, the way the lay people hear it, the way the men hear it, the way the women hear it? The fact that there’s no difference at all [proves that what's involved] is none other than the One Identical Buddha Mind that everyone intrinsically possesses. So this talk about ‘men’s and women’s’ is nothing but names of traces produced by your thoughts. Before these traces get produced, in the realm of the Unborn, there’s nothing about ‘men’ or ‘women.’ And since that’s how it is, as there’s no difference between men’s Buddha Mind and women’s Buddha Mind, you shouldn’t harbor any such doubts.
“Suppose you are staying continually in the Unborn, abiding in the Buddha Mind just as it is and forgetting any distinctions between men and women, when suddenly you see or hear something [disturbing], someone says nasty things about you, or thoughts of clinging and craving arise and you attach to them: you’ll carelessly switch the Buddha Mind for thoughts, and then claim it’s because you’re only a wretched woman, or some such thing. Without being deluded by your physical form, thoroughly grasp this One Way of the Unborn, and [you'll see that] not only men and women, but the buddhas of the past and those of the future are all the identical One Buddha Mind. There’s no reason that women should be a special case and not be able to realize buddhahood too.
“If there really were some reason that women couldn’t become buddhas, just what do you think I would have to gain by deceiving you all, lying to you and insisting they can, misleading everyone in this big crowd? If it were a fact that women couldn’t realize buddhahood, and I told you that they really could, deceiving every person here, I’d be sure to land in hell well before all of you! Just because I longed to realize buddhahood, from the time I was young I engaged in hard and painful practice; so now do you suppose I’d want to get punished for lying to you all and land up in hell? What I’m telling you is no lie. I want you ladies to grasp it clearly and, from here on, feeling fully assured, pass your days in the Unborn Buddha Mind.”
Bankei always held women in high esteem. His spiritual relationship with his own mother had much to do with his eventual Union in the Unborn Buddha Mind. He discovered that within the Unborn there is no distinction between man and women, with male vs. female. This is akin to the Pauline admonition, “In Christ there is no east or west, male or female”, rather all are equal and As-One in Christ. Throughout the millennium women have had much to do with breaking down patriarchal and parochial stereotypes. Within Catholicism this is most prevalent. The fact is that many women religious are better educated and far more intellectually astute than their male counterparts. I’ve always been a strong advocate for women priests. The old argument is that women are somehow ontologically inadequate, given their sex, to walk in the shoes of Christ. This is utter nonsense. Indeed, it’s an outright crime to assert that women are ontologically inferior. Ontologically inferior—yeah, right. They’ve never been ontologically inferior to bear the full burden of the cross! It’s all about maintaining power and control and one can only hope that in some fashion the new and directly forthcoming Pope will have enough wisdom to finally dissolve this centuries-old atrocity. There were similar obstacles during Bankei’s age—indeed Patriarchalism has been a dominant strain in many diverse cultures. He had enough forthright wisdom to break-through the barriers and to declare the utter absurdly that the Unborn could somehow be different in men and women. There is no distinction. The Unborn does not discriminate. All are free, asserted Bankei, to pass one’s days freely in the Unborn. He draws upon the whole notion of “hearing” as being an equal-opportunity signifier. The sound of a gong is no different within a man or woman, yet there is far more going on here beneath the surface. The central motif behind “hearing” and “listening”, to the Buddhadharma in particular, is reflective of Parato ghosa—the great deathless sound that emanates from the very heart of Suchness Itself. This is truly hearing, in a heightened mystic-sense, with the ability to hear with eyes that see the Dharmadhatu—Dhammasota. When one awakens (Bodhi) to the Unborn Buddha Mind one ascends and transcends all skandhic-dualism’s (like male vs. female) as their Dharma-ear opens and reveals the inner-essence that is realized inwardly by one’s inmost Self—there is no male/female in the Self; It is the Self-Same Unborn Mind and no-thing more. Don’t be deluded and attached to outside form, says Bankei, rather rest in the assurance that All Is One in the Unborn. In the Unborn, man AND woman become as One. The Dharma of the Unborn Buddha Mind is a non-material (arūpa) one; there is no difference between male and female.
The following Buddhist parable makes light of the age-old conundrum that man’s spirit is somehow superior to woman’s. Indeed, this old woman awakens the ol’ Brahmin to the absurdity that he is somehow “purer” in stature:
One day a brahmin saw an old woman who was selling cakes of white marrow (meal, flour??) and said to her: “I have reason to stay here for about a hundred days. Make me these cakes regularly and bring them to me, I will pay you well.” Each day the old woman made the cakes and brought them to him. The brahmin liked their taste and was happy with this plentiful food.
At the beginning, the cakes made by the old woman were white, but later, little by little they lost their color (rūpa) and their taste. The brahmin asked the old woman what was the reason for this. She replied: “It is because the canker (gaṇḍa) is healed.” The brahmin asked her what she meant by this and the old woman answered: “At my house, a prostitute contracted a canker on her privy parts and we applied flour (saktu), ghee (ghṛta) and sweet herbs (yaṣṭimadhu) to it. The canker ripened, the pus (puya) came out and mixed with the poultice. This happened every day and I made the cakes that I gave you with this: that is why they were so good. Now that the woman’s canker has healed, where am I going to find [the wherewithal to make them]?”
Having heard this, the brahmin struck his head with his fists, beat his breast, vomited and shouted: “How can I say how much I have violated the rules of [alimentary] purity? But now my business is settled.” Leaving all his affairs, he returned in haste to his native land.”
Heh, heh! Indeed, quite a good little moral as how to best vomit-forth notions of one’s ontological-self-superiority.
The Master instructed the assembly: “As you’ve all been hearing me say, everyone has the innate Buddha Mind, so all you need to do is abide in the Unborn just as it is. However, [following] the ways of the world, you get into bad habits in life and switch the Buddha Mind for the wretched realm of hungry ghosts with its clinging and craving. Grasp this thoroughly and you’ll always abide in the Unborn Buddha Mind. But if, wishing to realize the Unborn, you people try to stop your thoughts of anger and rage, clinging and craving from arising, then by stopping them you divide one mind into two. It’s as if you were pursuing something that’s running away. As long as you deliberately try to stop your rising thoughts, the thought of trying to stop them wars against the continually arising thoughts themselves, and there’s never an end to it. To give you an example, it would be like washing away blood with blood. Of course, you might get out the original blood; but the blood after that would stick, and the red never go away. Similarly, the original angry thoughts that you were able to stop may have come to an end, but the subsequent thoughts concerned with your stopping them won’t ever cease.
” ‘Well,’ you may wonder, ‘then what can I do to stop them?’ Even if suddenly, despite yourself and wholly unawares, rage or anger should appear, or thoughts of clinging and craving arise, just let them come—don’t develop them any further, don’t attach to them. Without concerning yourself about whether to stop your rising thoughts or not to stop them, just don’t bother with them, and then there’s nothing else they can do but stop. You can’t have an argument with the fence if you’re standing there all alone! When there’s no one there to fight with, things can’t help but simply come to an end of themselves.
“Even when all sorts of thoughts do crop up, it’s only for the time being while they arise. So, just like little children of three or four who are busy at play, when you don’t continue holding onto those thoughts and don’t cling to any [particular] thoughts, whether they’re happy or sad, not thinking about whether to stop or not to stop them—why, that’s nothing else but abiding in the Unborn Buddha Mind. So keep the one mind as one mind. If you always have your mind like this, then, whether it’s good things or bad, even though you’re neither trying not to think them nor to stop them, they can’t help but just stop of themselves. What you call anger and joy you produce entirely yourself due to the strength of your self-centeredness, the result of selfish desire. Transcend all thoughts of attachment and these thoughts can’t help but perish. This ‘perishing’ is none other than the Imperishable. And that which is imperishable is the Unborn Buddha Mind.
“At any rate, the main thing is always to be mindful of the Unborn Buddha Mind and not go cooking up thoughts of this or that on the ground of the Unborn, attaching to things that come your way, changing the Buddha Mind for thoughts. As long as you don’t waver in this, no thoughts will arise, whether good or bad, and so, of course, there won’t be any need to try to stop them, either. Then, aren’t you neither creating nor destroying? That’s nothing but the Unborn and Imperishable Buddha Mind, so you’d better grasp this clearly!”
Today’s blog compliment’s yesterday’s and heightens the realization that Bankei’s Zen singularly addressed the human condition by regulating it in light of the Unborn. This is not some form of Pop-Zen psychology, but is truly indicative of something more primal and innate in man’s psycho-physical component that needs to be recognized and addressed before abiding freely and unattached in the Unborn Buddha Mind. Of course, the metaphysical cognizance of the problem stems from transcending the skandhic-spawned mechanism altogether and simply recognizing Pure Mind as the sole Reality, one that brings perfect-clarity of Spirit-Mind to fruition. Intellectually this is grasped as true and there is a need to abide in this Self-recognition above all else; Recollecting Self AS Self is the solution to the predicament. But Bankei is addressing the problem on the common-human experiential plane, one that continually conflicts with the Awareness-Principle throughout this samsaric-trek across the vast stratum of Bardo-Realm One (see the blog-series, The Lankavatarian Book of the Dead). Even if one is some advanced Lama living in the reclusive-wilds of the Himalayas, this conflict will never subside until full Undivided Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi. The best way, says Bankei, to quell the systemic-tide of the incessant thought process is to never be about “creating nor destroying” it. As long as one’s spirit is incarcerated in the skandhic-cocoon there is need to be eternally vigilant by being Recollectively-Present in the Unborn at all times. It’s interesting, as Bankei points out, how young children are better adapted to this endeavor than adults. They are never fixated on any given passing phenomenal escapade, but just nimbly allowing them to pass-by as they occur without becoming fixated on it. It’s only later on, when after being recorded in the Alaya-receptacle, that they can rise to the surface again as the years advance. This is the fault of present-day psychoanalysis as it digs deeper and deeper into the alaya-vijñana, reopening old wounds with the incessant refrain, “Haven’t ya found it yet?” Yet, in finding them one can begin to relive the pain over and over and over whilst simultaneously becoming dependent on the psychotherapist for the rest of one’s days. This can be referenced as being caught in the claws of Mara forevermore. Instead, Bankei prescribes not going back again and again, in effect, enabling the junk in the Alaya-receptacle to keep flooding through ad nauseam, but to be as little children at play oblivious and unconcerned as thoughts continually pass on by. In effect, Bankei says to be a natural born killer of the dark inhabitants lurking about in the phenomenal-playground by just abiding freely under the protective-shield of the Unborn. All things are naturally resolved in the Unborn. It’s like Recollecting that bright sunny day when you romped freely at play, somehow knowing intuitively who you really are…paraphrasing Wordsworth, “trailing clouds of glory, from the Unborn That Is our Home.”
A monk said to Bankei: I was born with a short temper. It’s always flaring up. My master has remonstrated with me time and again, but that hasn’t done any good. I know I should do something about it, but as I was born with a bad temper, I’m unable to rid myself of it no matter how hard I try. Is there anything I can do to correct it? This time, I’m hoping that with your teaching, I’ll be able to cure myself. Then, when I go back home, I’ll be able to face my master again, and of course I will benefit by it for the rest of my life. Please, tell me what to do.
Bankei: That’s an interesting inheritance you have. Is your temper here now? Bring it out. I’ll cure it for you.
Monk: I’m not angry now. My temper comes on unexpectedly, when something provokes me.
Bankei: You weren’t born with it then. You create it yourself when some pretext or other happens to appear. Where would your temper be at such times if you didn’t cause it? You work yourself into a temper because of your partiality for yourself, opposing others in order to have your own way. Then you unjustly accuse your parents of having burdened you with a short temper. What an extremely unfilial son you are!
Each person receives the Buddha-mind from his parents when he’s born. His illusion is something he produces all alone, by being partial to himself. It’s foolish to think that it’s inherent. When you don’t produce your temper, where is it?
All illusions are the same; as long as you don’t produce them, they cease to exist. That’s what everyone fails to realize. There they are, creating from their own selfish desires and deluded mental habits something that isn’t inherent but thinking it is. On account of this, they’re unable to avoid being deluded in whatever they do.
You certainly must cherish your illusions dearly for you to change the Buddha-mind into them just so you can be deluded. If you only knew the great value of the Buddhamind, there’s no way you could ever be deluded again, not even if you wanted to be. Fix this clearly in your head: When you are not deluded, you are a Buddha, and that means you are enlightened… Once you’ve realized this and you stop creating that temper of yours, you’ll find that you won’t have any other illusions either, not even if you want to, for you’ll be living constantly in the unborn Buddha-mind. There is nothing else.
This is the famous passage wherein Bankei declares to the monk who is troubled with his anger, “Where is this anger? Show it to me and I will cure it for you.” Bankei’s methods would not fare very well with present day psychiatrists or psychologists. Today’s rules of the game stem from rigid dependence upon the DSM (Diagnostic/Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) manual, wherein all mental disorders (and the unfortunate recipients thereof) are pigeon-holed into strict and unbending classifications and diagnoses. And then the appropriate medications are prescribed as the patient becomes dependent upon them for the rest of their lives. I was diagnosed with an “anxiety-disorder” way back in 1986 and have been dependent upon psychiatric meds ever since. It’s true that these disorders can stem from certain chemical imbalances; I know for myself when I arise in the morning, if I don’t take the meds that chemically something is happening inside my head that causes anxiety via an endless array of thoughts and emotions that can prevent proper focus of mind. I come from a family that is riddled with anxiety on the paternal-side ; indeed, I’ve been exposed to it since I was a baby and it still invades the scene quite frequently. Yet, I have to wonder if the chemical solutions offer any lasting benefits; it seems to be that it all leads to a greater dependency upon the medication that was meant to break the cycle of co-dependence in the first place. I’m sure that in Bankei’s time certain strands of DNA were afflicted with some form of chemical disorder, but the approach to solving the dilemma was quite different.
Bankei is dead-on when he says that just trying to lay the blame on one’s parents for certain maladies like anger is a real cop-out. Today’s solution is to do precisely that; I remember being in therapy years ago and the shrink saying emphatically, “Ah –haaa, we’ve found the culprit here!” meaning, of course, members of my family. Are families really to blame for what particular strands of DNA they’ve inherited? I think not. Sure, a problem exists, but the real way they can be solved is if one learns how not to “react” to a given set of circumstances. All this stuff is learned behavior, behavior that after time becomes somehow coded into those ol’ DNA strands. But the way to break the code is to rise above it—in a very real sense to develop an inner-mechanism that renders it null and void. Bankei says to nip-it-all in the bud before it gets out of hand. The way to rise above it is to be Prior-to-it, and that is through faithful and incessant abidance in the Unborn. I wish I had encountered Bankei before being exposed to that chemical-route all those years ago, but I’m working on it. In fact, this series has been particularly beneficial for me. Bankei says that rather than chastise one’s parents, one should be eternally grateful to them; indeed, it was through their seed that you became born as a human being; and a human being has a greater chance on the sentient-spectrum of rising above and avoiding future re-birth in Samsara. So, be grateful to them for having had this opportunity. Also, one doesn’t have to remain stuck in that other cycle of dependent psychological baggage that accompanies all families in some form or other; don’t keep incessantly placing the blame on someone else for what you may or may have not inherited genetically, just take RESPONSIBILITY-NOW and, as Bankei says, don’t keep cherishing all those chemical delusions inside your heads, just know and have faith in that greater value of the Unborn Buddha Mind, and do what you need to do (or undo) accordingly. Remember this above all: there is NO-TEMPER or any form of ANGER in the Unborn; all-things are unfolding temperately and in proper order and will continue to do so, provided you don’t get in the way and “create” all those disorders in the first place. Indeed, “Show me your anger!” It’s not really there unless you first “react” to an impulse and thus create it yourself.
Traditionally, we have entered into the Year of the Black Water Snake. Looked at from an astrological perspective, the snake falls under the Element of Water; although combined with the snake’s fiery energy can yield conflict. There have been numerous disasters occurring during this sign, like the attack of the World Trade Center in 2001 and the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Although contemplated from the mystical vantage point the full import shifts considerably. In the older annals of Indian Buddhism, the Naga was the symbol of Wisdom, much like the Dragon.The Nagas were the ancient protectors of the Dharma. In the Lankavatara Sutra, we find the Palace of the Sea Serpents (nagas) figuring as the opening scenario from which the Tathagata emerges and begins to expound the Buddhadharma. Earlier on, when Śākyamuni attained awakening at Bodhgayā, the Naga King became the first sentient being to receive the Buddhadharma. In this sense, the Naga is considered as a sign of the renewal of life, helping to perpetuate and protect the living teachings of the Tathagata. Śākyamuni was also sheltered from a violent wind and rainstorm—created during his struggle with Mara—by the protective coils of the Naga King. The following passages from the International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture (Hye-young Tcho: The Dragon in the Buddhist Korean Temples) further elaborates on the full import of the Nagas:
“From the tree of enlightenment, the Buddha moves to a succession of three trees, still meditating. The last tree belongs to the Naga King Mucilinda. A violent storm blows up. The Naga King glides down his tree and sheltered the Buddha from the rain, the cold and insects with his protective coils; he spreads his crown of hoods. While the Buddha stayed down the tree during seven days and seven nights with folded legs, the rain was pouring. As it ebbs, the Naga King Micilinda asked him also to stay in his palace and he too was given the Three Jewels and the Five Precepts, and became a pious follower (T.3.800a).
According to another tradition, when the Buddha used to teach the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajñaparamita) on the Vulture’s Peak, the books were entrusted upon the naga. This is perhaps the reason why important Buddhist scriptures were originally stored in the Naga King’s palace, and then were handed down to the famous monks invited by them. This procedure is used doubtless to justify the authenticity of the Buddha teachings and their sacred nature. The legend says that one of the most important Buddhist authors, Nagarjuna (2nd-3rd century), whose name includes the word naga and who was venerated in Asia as the founder of Madhyamika, the largest school of Mahayana Buddhism, noticed that two of his disciples vanished into the ground after his sermons. These two young men were actually nagas, who invited him to their palace and gave him seven volumes of the Prajñaparamitasutra. When he came back to earth, he revealed them to humankind and commented on its essence.* When Buddhism reached China in the 1st century and brought along its writings, the naga were replaced with the Dragons in the Chinese Translation. ”
*This tradition continues in Korea: it is in the palace of Dragon King where famous monks initiated themselves the secret Law and were receiving writings they passed on to men. The greatest Korean bonze of the 7th century, Wŏnhyo, was invited to the palace of the Dragon King, who presented him with his book. “According to the order given by the Sea Dragon, he received Buddha Dhyana Samadhisagara Sutra, of which he made the commentary” (Antiquities of the Three Kingdoms, Book IV, The interpretation of Meaning, Wŏnhyo, the Unbridled Monk). “The bonze Myŏngnang visited the palace of the Dragon King, where he learnt the Esoteric Law” (Antiquities of the Three Kingdoms, Book II, Wonder 2, King Munho Pŏpmin). Hye-young Tcho: The Dragon in the Buddhist Korean Temples.
As we can see, rather than being a harbinger of doom and gloom, the royal sign of the Naga (snake) bears a wonderful protective banner for the Buddhadharma. It can be reasoned that this Year of the Water Naga can truly be an auspicious one, provided one carefully and not recklessly handle the great treasures and mystical guidance hidden in the Sacred Bodhi-Cove they so diligently and faithfully protect. For Lankavatarians, the Lanka Buddha (Sacred Yidam, or protective guardian) is depicted as follows: