With One Heart, Bowing to the City of 10,000 Buddhas
July 20, 1978
Shih Fu, we have arrived in Monterey. Back in the city after three months of isolation among the rocks and waves of Big Sur. What a surprise! The differences I experience exist only in my mind. The Dharma-realm is one whole peaceful body. When my mind moves the wholeness is lost to view, self and others come into belong, and Big Sur, Monterey, and the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas become names on a map, separated by miles of grueling steps and bows. When the mind is still and discrimination stops, then no matter where we are, we bow before the great Gwan Yin image in the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
The Sutra says:
What then is the world? What is not the world? World and non-world are merely different names. The dharmas of the past, present, and future and the five shandkas, when named, bring the world into being. When they are extinguished, the world is gone. In this way, they are only false names.
"Praises in the Suyama Heaven Palace"
Words and names are creatures of the mind. They are the tools of thought and just as false as can be. Why has the Venerable Abbot given us all the constant instruction "Don't do any false thinking! Come up with a way to stop the flow of your false thoughts right there where they turn"? It's because our thoughts create the world we in habit. They make the karma and the retribution we endure. As the Venerable Abbot says, "The Ten Dharma-realms are not apart from a single thought." From the hells to Buddhahood, we harvest the fruit of seeds we plant in our own minds. When we unite with the Way we do it right in the same mind.
The third Patriarch, the Venerable Seng Ts'an spoke of words, thoughts, and the Way. He said:
The more you talk and think, the further you are from it.
If you can halt all speech and thought, you will find it everywhere.
-Hsin Hsin Ming
"The person of the Way without thought is equal to the Buddha," said a recent Ch'an session verse of the Master's.
Disciple: '"Shih Fu, I've been trying hard to get rid of all my common thoughts and have only Buddha-thoughts."
Master: "Okay, let's see, what's a Buddha-thought? Come on, what's your answer?"
Disciple: "Uh, er, um, well, I know it's not false thoughts and I have lots of those..."
Master: "It's because you have false thoughts that you don't know. What cannot be described, what is inexpressible, that is the Buddha. Anything that can be put into words is still superficial.
The mind wants to climb on conditions but there's nothing left to climb on.
The path of words: and language is cut off.
The place of the mind's working is extinguished.
As long as you still have thoughts, then 'that's when you have not realized Buddhahood."
Disciple: Oh, so no thought are Buddha-thoughts!
Walking, standing, sitting, reclining,
Do not separate from this.
Once you separate from this,
Before your eyes you've gone amiss.
"He vows that all beings attain the body that is without fatigue and is just like vajra."
Cultivation subdues the body and mind. We regulate the body so that it can continue to work even when it's tired. We regulate the mind" so that it doesn't create false thoughts.
The Venerable Abbot is teaching me as much about my body as about my mind. On this bowing journey I am learning to recite a body-dharma sutra, trading in my old yin, stooped, stiff skin-bag for a straight, flexible, energized yang body. The bowing, meditation, and moderate are making changes in my whole world. Concentration comes from stillness.
Disciple Kuo Chen (Heng Sure) bows in respect