THE MIND – Zen Master Bankei New MJ Awakening Blog
July 19, 2019

Bankei

Zen Master Bankei (1622-1693)

THE MIND

“The mind, as Bankei describes it, is a dynamic mechanism, reflecting, recording and recalling our impressions of the world, a kind of living mirror that is always in motion, never the same from one instant to the next. Within this mirror mind, thoughts and feelings come and go, appearing, vanishing and reappearing in response to circumstances, neither good nor bad in themselves.

Unlike the man of the Unborn, however, the impulsive person suffers from attachment. He is never natural because he is a slave to his responses, which he fails to realize are only passing reflections. As a result, he is continually “hung up,” entangled in particular thoughts and sensations, obstructing the free flow of the mind. Everything will operate smoothly, Bankei insists, if we only step aside and let it do so.

He illustrates this to the members of his audience by pointing out that, even while engrossed in listening to his talk, they automatically register and identify everything else around them—the calls of crows and sparrows, the various colors and aromas, the different sorts of people in the room. No one is deliberately trying to do this; it simply happens. That, Bankei says, is how the Unborn functions.

For Bankei, the important thing is letting go, breaking the mold of our self-centeredness (mi no hiiki) and bad habits (kiguse). These are familiar Japanese terms that Bankei used to describe the chief components of delusion. Self-centeredness is the basis of the false self. It is “ego” in the pejorative sense, the reflex that leads us to judge everything from a narrowly selfish viewpoint.

What fuels and informs this attitude is bad habits, character flaws that, like self centeredness, are the result of conditioning. We grow up imitating the people around us, Bankei says, and in the process acquire certain failings which finally become so ingrained that we mistake them for our real selves.

Unlike the Unborn Buddha Mind, however, neither bad habits nor self-centeredness is innate; both are assimilated from outside after birth. When we become deluded, we temporarily forfeit the Buddha Mind we started out with, exchanging it for these learned responses.

The only way out of this dilemma, Bankei maintains, is to go back the way we came, to return to the unconditioned, the uncreated, the unborn.”

-Peter Haskel (from the Introduction to BANKEI ZEN)

 

Advertisements

Silent Illumination. New MJ Awakening Blog
July 17, 2019

moss on log

SILENT ILLUMINATION

Quiescence refers to the practice of silencing the mind,
and clarity refers to contemplation, illuminating the mind
with the light of awareness.

Hongzhi himself described the “silent sitting” as
thus: ‘Your body sits silently; your mind is quiescent,
unmoving. This is genuine effort in practice. Body and
mind are at complete rest. The mouth is so still that
moss grows around it. Grass sprouts from the tongue.
Do this without ceasing, cleansing the mind until it
gains the clarity of an autumn pool, bright as the moon
illuminating the evening sky.’

In this state, the mind is without form or feature. Power is
present, but its function is to fill the mind with illumination,
like the sun shining everywhere. Hence, Silent llumination
is the practice in which there is nothing moving, but
the mind is bright and illuminating.”

-Ven. Sheng Yen

A CLEAR MIND is Wisdom & Compassion. New MJ Awakening Blog
July 16, 2019

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A CLEAR MIND IS WISDOM & COMPASSION

“The primary obstacle to attaining wisdom is
attachment to the self. When you face people, things,
and situations, the notion of “I” arises immediately.
When you attach to this “I”, you categorize and judge
everything else accordingly: “This is mine; that is not.
This is good for me; that is not. I like this; I hate that.”
Attachment to the idea of self makes true clarity impossible.

But how might we define non-attachment?
According to Chan, non-attachment means that when
you face circumstances and deal with other people,
there is no “I” in relation to whatever may appear in
front of you. Things are as they are, vivid and clear.
You can respond appropriately and give whatever is
needed.

Clear awareness of things as they are, in this
state of selflessness, is what Chan calls wisdom.
Giving whatever others may need with no thought of
the self is what Chan calls compassion. Wisdom and
compassion describe the awareness and function of the
enlightened mind. In Chan, these two cannot be
separated, and both depend on putting down the
attachment to self.”

-Ven. Sheng Yen

The “me” is noise and noise will never find… New MJ Awakening Blog
July 12, 2019

candle-and-buddha

The “me” is noise and noise will never find Silence.

-Michael Jeffreys

The story is always old. The Silence is always brand new.

-Jeff Foster

Noticing how THOUGHTS are forever trying to “fix” the Moment. New MJ Awakening Blog
July 9, 2019

autumn-leaves

My thoughts claim (and I believe them) that this moment is not enough.

That it is insufficient simply as it is.

And so I set about trying to “fix” the moment, over and over and over, endlessly, ceaselessly.

And suddenly, 50 years have gone by.

Exhausted, I give up.

And lo and behold, a great discovery is made.

That it’s in the total and unconditional surrendering to the freshness of this spontaneous moment that real magic happens…

And the wind blowing across my face is more than enough.

Michael Jeffreys

2 MENTAL HABITS that are guaranteed to bring us SUFFERING. New MJ Awakening Blog
July 6, 2019

worry and fears

2 MENTAL HABITS THAT ARE GUARANTEED TO BRING US SUFFERING:

FEAR (noun) a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

WORRY (verb): to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret. -dictionarydotcom

“It’s no use to be afraid. So it’s best to choose not to fear. Your fear won’t help at all but only makes things worse. If you are paranoid and nervous all the time, you won’t be able to move a single step; your life will be miserable. It’s no use being afraid. So why should we feel afraid?

Fear is useless. So why should we fear? Worry is useless. So why should we worry? It would be foolish not to give up useless fear.”

-Master Sheng Yen

MICHAEL: A calm mind is always best regardless of circumstances.

Seeing deeply that the “me” is inherently IMPERMANENT, INTERDEPENDENT, and EMPTY. New MJ Awakening Blog
July 3, 2019

3 fireworks

Tonight’s topic at the West LA weekly Satsang was threefold, as all 3 pointers work well together to help loosen our attachment to the “me,” i.e., the feeling of being an actual “separate self,” which when deeply and repeatedly investigated, is revealed to be:

IMPERMANENT-INTERDEPENDENT-EMPTY

1) IMPERMANENCE reminds us that everything, without exception, is temporary, including the “me.” All thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs, ideas, concepts, stories, etc. are like clouds in that they are there until they are not.

2) INTERDEPENDENCE reminds us that nothing exists by itself. Everything depends on something else in order to exist. A plant is not just a plant, but depends on the sun. No sun, no plant. The plant also depends on the soil to grow in, so no soil, no plant. What about water? Same, no water, no plant.

So sun, soil and water are as much plant as the green leaves! And even though we still refer to it as a plant, we now realize that the word means/encapsulates/is shorthand for so much more than we may have once thought. That the plant is the creation of the entire cosmos!

Now bringing it closer to home, what about the “me”? Without a living body, could you have a “me”? No. So the “me” is dependent on a living body. What about air? No air, no body, no “me.” So “me” is dependent on air.

What about thoughts? Can you have a “me” without a thought? No. So the “me” is dependent on thoughts for its existence. Realizing this, we can begin to see that the “me” is not as independently existing as we may have once believed.

Btw, another way to see this is to imagine you were the only person alive on the planet. If that were the case, suddenly the word “me” wouldn’t make any sense, as there would be no “other” to differentiate yourself from.

3) EMPTINESS reminds us that because everything is interdependent, nothing can exist by itself, under its own power, and thus is empty of inherent existence meaning existing totally by itself, independently.

It’s worth spending some time meditating/reflecting on these 3 “deconstruction points,” and feel free to leave any questions or comments in the comment section below.

Happy “Interdependence Day!”

Michael Jeffreys

 

Question from Facebook:

“Hi Michael, I take it that these conditions apply to the small self. How does this all relate to the ultimate Self and what is the ultimate Self?”

MICHAEL: Good question! Yes, all “awakening pointers” are for “small self.” The psychological aspect to us which is trying to make sense of it all. It’s view is inaccurate about how things actually are, and so these are the Buddha’s observations on how to correct our “wrong view.” 

There is nothing to say about the Ultimate Self as any mind made concepts are not it. Just know that you are already THAT, which is why you are not the “me” the mind focuses on/thinks about obsessively.

 

 

Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form. New MJ Awakening Blog
July 1, 2019

1770773-Buddha-Quote-Form-is-emptiness-emptiness-is-form

“When we talk about ‘Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form’, it doesn’t say the form doesn’t exist. Emptiness is the nature of the form.
Emptiness is not a state of non-existence here. Emptiness is the state of Existence, it’s the nature of Existence. So the idea isn’t that nothing exists. No.
Everything exists, it just doesn’t exist in the way that it appears to. There are more dimensions to Existence, and the essence of its existence is different from the way you view it.”

-Ivan’s Shady Existence

 

You cannot Attend Your own Funeral. NEW MJ AWAKENING BLOG
June 29, 2019

death

YOU CANNOT ATTEND YOUR OWN FUNERAL

“The experience of emptiness can be a fatal blow to the ego. The only recourse the ego has is to sew the experience of egolessness into the fabric of its personality. The Lord of Mind seeks to accomplish this in two very cunning ways.

First, The Lord of Mind turns it into an experience with a definite beginning, middle, and end. It does this by pretending that thought is exempt from the truth of emptiness. It ignores the fact that emptiness is beyond analysis and conceptualization, because in the realization of emptiness the medium of analysis and conceptualization—thought—is itself revealed to be empty. This is the subtlest form of ignorance. It preserves the basic division between mind and body and therefore the foundation of ego—the dualistic point of observation between our ears.

Second, The Lord of Mind begins to think about the experience. Thinking about selflessness re-inserts the subtle sense of self behind the experience. Suddenly it starts to feel like “I” had the experience. This transmutes the living experience of emptiness into a memory that can be possessed. Now the realization of egolessness belongs to the ego. It has exclusive rights to the truth of selflessness, which enables it to play the memory of awakening over and over again. This inflates the ego to god-like proportions.

The closer we get to enlightenment the more dangerous the path becomes. If we fail to see through the ego’s claim to awakening, we will fall into the trap of full-blown egohood. This is the most dangerous of all possible forms of deception. It leads to the belief that we are gods. All claims to enlightenment must be seen as nothing more than a thought emerging out of and returning to the ocean of awareness.

There is no claim to enlightenment. Enlightenment is the death of ego, and as Chogyam Trungpa said, “You cannot attend your own funeral.” In enlightenment there is no one left to make the claim.”

-Benjamin Riggs

 

What is KARMA? New MJ Awakening Blog
June 24, 2019

boomerang

What is KARMA?

Simply put, Karma is the physical manifestation of the well known saying, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” Karma reflects back to you what you reflect out to the World. Karma is like a seed in that whatever you plant you will get more of. So if you plant an apple seed, you will not get corn. You will get exactly what you planted, apples. Likewise when we are mean, cruel, malicious, judgmental, lie, cheat or steal from another, we are unknowingly planting “boomerang” seeds that will sooner or later come back to us. (Note that this is true even if nobody knows of our thought or action, as the seed has still been planted.)

The good news is that the reverse is also true. If your thoughts/actions/intentions are to be of service, kind, helpful, compassionate, honest, respectful to all, etc., then that’s what you’ll reap. Note that the results of our thoughts/actions/intentions may not bare fruit right away, just like when you plant an apple seed, the fruit doesn’t come right away. But come it will.

Realizing this, the wise practitioner begins to pay close attention (starting right now!) to the kind of energy they are putting out into the world, whether it’s by thought, word or action. As they now understand that all actions produce Karma. And that like does indeed attract like, i.e., whatever I put out into the Universe, sooner or later, comes back to me, just like a boomerang.

Michael Jeffreys

%d bloggers like this: