The Two Principles

In the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha imparts his wisdom to Ananda regarding the two fundamental principles. These principles align with what we, in the UnbornMind Zen tradition, refer to as the two core principles. The first principle is the moving principle, which involves becoming attached and dependent on all perceptual movements within the realm of phenomena. It encompasses the ever-changing nature of our experiences and the constant flux of the world around us.

On the other hand, the second principle is known as The Unmoving Principle. It represents the pure, nirvanic element of truth that transcends the limitations of space and time. This principle remains untouched by the concrete manifestations of the physical world, yet it possesses an inherent dynamism. It is within this principle that we move, breathe, and sleep, but we must remember that we are not identified with it. It is the force that empowers us to awaken from our slumber each morning, yet it remains motionless in its essence.

Meister Eckhart, the renowned mystic from the Rhineland, beautifully expressed this concept when he wrote, “The eyes with which I see God are the same eyes that God sees me.” This statement highlights the interconnectedness between the individual and the divine. It suggests that the very faculties through which we perceive the divine are also the means through which the divine perceives us. It emphasizes the unity and mutual recognition between the observer and the observed, blurring the boundaries between the self and the divine.

The Buddha’s two fundamental principles remain as relevant today as they were when they were first introduced, if not more so. However, many Zennists and mainstream Buddhists today are closely associated with the moving principle of being “mindful in the moment.” They view the moment as an objective phenomenon that magically produces stillness of mind. In reality, being mindful creates a moving obstruction that impedes true mindfulness. This is what we refer to in UnbornMind Zen as pluralized stenosis. An accumulation of mindful moments can lead to endless states of paralyzing mindlessness.

In UnbornMind Zen, we do not focus on our breath and mindlessly count its phenomenal intake and outtake patterns. Instead, we focus on the noumenal bodhipower, which is undivided awareness that precedes the beastly body-consciousness with its entire animated skullduggery. Our focus is on the motionless principle that animates, rather than the moving animations. We do not linger on the merry-go-round of the composed, but rather step off the diurnal wheel by zeroing in on the unmoving, unborn hub that enables the spinning.

Therefore, in light of the Buddha’s two fundamentals, we are faced with a blessing and a curse. We can either put a full stop to the meandering monkey mind or mindlessly ride with it on the wild, perpetual spin of samsara. It is up to us to choose which path we take. By focusing on the motionless principle that animates, we can achieve true mindfulness and break free from the endless cycle of mindlessness.

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