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)

 

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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

The 3 Poisons. New MJ Awakening Blog
May 25, 2019

3 poisons

THE 3 POISONS

“In the Buddhist teachings, the three poisons (of ignorance, attachment, and aversion) are the primary causes that keep sentient beings trapped in samsara.

These three poisons are said to be the root of all of the other kleshas. The three poisons are represented in the hub of the wheel of life as a pig, a bird, and a snake (representing ignorance, attachment, and aversion, respectively).

As shown in the wheel of life (Sanskrit: bhavacakra), the three poisons lead to the creation of karma, which leads to rebirth in the six realms of samsara.”

-Wikipedia

MICHAEL: It’s our ignorance that leads to our attaching and averting. Thus, all 3 poisons work together (illustrated by all 3 animals biting each other by the tail) to maintain our wheel of ignorance.

Question from FACEBOOK

SREDHARAN: “Can elaborate on aversion? Other two makes sense.”

MICHAEL: Due to ignorance, i grab toward some objects and try to avoid or avert others. It’s this continual grasping of the moment or trying to avert it that fuels the samsaric dream. Attachment and aversion go hand in hand. You cannot get involved with one without the other showing up. A clear mind being empty contains no grasping or averting.

The Middle Way… New MJ Awakening Blog
May 22, 2019

illumined buddha

THE MIDDLE WAY

Tonight at the West LA Satsang, I talked about how everything both exists and doesn’t exist. Is real, yet not real. Is there, yet not there.

What do I mean? I mean, for example, that this computer I am writing on is impermanent. It will not last forever. So, you can’t say it’s real in an absolute sense. And yet, you can’t say that the computer doesn’t exist at all since here I am using it to write these words!

Thus, the middle way. As the old zen story goes, the zen master said to his student, “Does the table exist? If you tell me yes, I will hit you 20 times with this stick. But if you tell me no, I will hit you 20 times with this stick. What is your answer!!?”

In a flash the student understood and remained silent.

Michael Jeffreys

 

The 3 components to PERCEIVING ANYTHING. New MJ Awakening Blog
May 22, 2019

bird on branch

“Now in order for any perception to happen or any aspect of consciousness to take place there are three main components that must come together, the object of perception, the presence of the sense faculty and the presence of that particular aspect of consciousness. When these three components are present at the same time the perception can take place, can operate.”

-Topga Rinpoche

MICHAEL: So for example, when we hear the sound of a bird chirping, although we may not be aware of it, in order for the experience to take place there must be a bird, the capacity to hear the bird chirps (a working ear) and the awareness that both holds and “connects” the two, as well as understands what is apparently happening, i.e., a bird chirp is registered and what that means.

Suddenly, a process that we’ve always taken for granted is realized to be much more (profoundly more) complex than we first thought. And these three components of one seamless process applies to all 6 of our senses (5 senses + thinking = 6 gates with which we perceive content.)

 

DEPENDENT OCCURRENCE means that one thing relies upon another thing for its existence. New MJ Awakening Blog
May 20, 2019

moon rice buddha

THE RICE SEEDLING SUTRA

“Maitreya, today while looking at a seedling of rice, the Buddha, the Bhagawan said to the monks, O monks, he who completely understands the process of dependent occurrence, understands what is the dharma. He who understands what is the dharma, understands what is Buddha, the enlightened state. Having spoken thus, the Buddha, the Bhagawan fell silent.”

-Sariputra

MICHAEL: Dependent Occurrence means that one thing relies upon another thing for its existence. For example, a window depends on glass for its existence. Glass depends on sand for its existence, etc.

The Buddha is saying that if this is truly realized, then one’s own empty Buddha nature will also be realized.

And so now you know the answer to the famous riddle: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” The Answer is neither (or both), because you can’t have one without the other. Hence they depend upon each other to exist.

 

 

 

YOUR GHOSTLY THOUGHTS. New MJ Awakening Blog
May 19, 2019

hungry ghost

(Painting of “The Hungry Ghost” from The Buddhist Wheel of Life… always craving, never fulfilled. It represents your mind.)
 
YOUR GHOSTLY THOUGHTS
 
If you look for the Source of your thoughts, but do not find an actual thinker, what then?
 
Yes, thoughts seem to arise, but what is making that happen?
 
If you look, you won’t find anything.
 
Thus, are not all thoughts that of a ghost?
 
Nothing is bringing them about.
 
1. The generator of my thoughts cannot be found.
 
2. Who/what hears/reacts to a thought?
 
Can that one actually be found?
 
Have a look.
 
No thought generator can be found,
 
and no thought receiver can be found…
 
 
Michael Jeffreys
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