Monday, July 03, 2006

Minding the Gap

What is spontaneity?

There are two kinds, and Master Dogen cautions us to mind the gap that is prone to open between them.

The first kind is the spontaneity of energy spontaneously spreading out -- as in the flow of water, the growing of grass, and the floating of clouds.

The second kind is the spontaneity of “dropping off body and mind” which we Zen Buddhists are prone to pursue directly, greedily.

The first kind cannot be grasped; but it can be allowed. In the process of allowing, it is truly realized.

The second kind can be pursued, for example, by pulling in the chin and pushing up the spine, but it can never be realized, because it is only a concept.

When Master Dogen wrote, “If there is the slightest gap, heaven and earth are far apart,” he is warning us against greedy end-gaining.

Master Nishijima’s interprets that Master Dogen is warning against a small intellectual worry that is prone to become bigger and bigger. I do not agree. The separation between heaven and earth that Master Dogen describes is not relative; it is absolute.

One cannot do an undoing. This is a fundamental rule of Zazen, an absolute.

Undoing is a spontaneous process, which involves energy being released. One cannot do it by direct means. What causes us to try to do it by direct means is not intellectual worry. What causes us to try to do it by direct means is greedy end-gaining, that is, an emotional desire to grasp something.


Post a Comment

<< Home