Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What did Buddha mean?

There is a story about the Buddha being asked where a temple should be built. He pointed toward the ground, and a blade of grass sprouted up, marking the spot.

Another story is that he was asked what a robe should look like, and he pointed toward a rice field and said, "like that."

A common interpretation of these actions is that everywhere is sacred. This misinterpretation shows how our Western minds generalize. I think he meant that this place "here" is sacred, as is this moment. Let's not go anywhere else. Be here and now... for that's all that exists, and, as my teacher reminded me the other day, even the here and now only exists in our minds.

Dogen is said to have said that there is no place to spit (because everything is sacred). I tried to find this quote in his writing but could not. I wonder if he just meant that you should not spit here, for this spot is sacred.

What is it about us that wants to form opinions? Why is it not enough to stay with what we have in front of us. One problem with generalizing is that we've left the planet and have gone into our minds. Which is probably what my Western mind is doing now.

3 comments:

Todd B. said...

"What is it about us that wants to form opinions?"
That's like asking what is it about us that wants to eat?

Kim Mosley said...

M shared this from the SF Zen Center: I think the writer was saying something similar.

More from Branching Streams Flow In The Darkness: "So you may ask, 'What is the real teaching of Buddha?' If you don't understand it you will keep asking, 'What is it? What is it? What does it mean?' You are just seeking for something you can understand. We don't exist in that way. Dogen Zenji says, 'There is no bird who flies knowing the limit of the sky. There is no fish who swims knowing the end of the ocean'. We exist in the limitless universe. Sentient beings are numberless, and our desires are limitless, but we still have to continue making our effort just as a fish swims and a bird flies. So Dogen Zenji says, 'A bird flies like a bird; a fish swims like a fish'. That is the bodhisattva's way, and that is how we observe our practice".

Anonymous said...

That drop of spit may have given sustenance to that single blade of grass. H.