Saturday, May 24, 2008

Instant Enlightenment

"Change that looks too good to be true most likely is. Just as there is no free lunch, there is no free transformation. I favor incremental change. My model for this is Dr. Suzuki, who developed a method for teaching children to play classical music. He discovered that if steps are small enough anyone could move forward into mastery. People rarely try to take giant steps, and if they do they often fall down. The trick is finding the step size that propels people forward but allows them to succeed with each move."

I received an email recently with the title "Experience instant enlightenment". I've come across this offer many times over the years. I have to say, it never appeals to me. I prefer to take a leisurely stroll toward enlightenment...or wherever it is I'm heading. It's been an amazing journey so far.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Nothing in the universe is hidden

I came across this phrase will watching the excellent documentary featuring Zen priest Edward Espe Brown, "How to Cook Your Life".
I've been letting it roll around in my mind for weeks now. I'm also immersed in the study of Ayurveda. According to the Ayurvedic view of things, there is no "sixth sense" but simply a deeper understanding, a more subtle awareness, that can be developed in the five senses that might seem to be extra senory if the capacity for attention is not cultivated.

I've always been a curious person. This suggestion that nothing in the universe is hidden feels so exciting to me. By mentioning a sixth sense, I don't mean to suggest that I'm trying to develop some special powers of observation. It's exactly the opposite, really. Nothing special, just enjoying the daily practice of being more present with my life, just as it is.

Here's an expansion of the idea behind the phrase from Tenryu Paul Rosenblum Roshi. I came across it by googling "Nothing in the Universe is Hidden". (Gotta love the internet.)

"When Dogen was a young monk, he traveled to China and, upon his arrival, met the head cook from Mount Ayuwang Monastery. At that time, Dogen thought that to practice meant to concentrate on zazen and to study the words of the ancients. He was stunned when this old monk told him, “You who have traveled from a far land do not know the meaning of Buddhist practice.” When Dogen met the same cook later at Tiantong Monastery, he asked, “What is
wholehearted practice.” The cook replied, “Nothing in the entire universe is hidden.”

What we are searching for, who we truly are, can be found in connectedness everywhere. No one thing can be depended upon, yet everything is available. With graceful, willing, and open mind, we may begin to notice that each thing, the chair we sit on, our home and garden, our village, the surrounding countryside and the
vast night sky may support us knowing ourselves, others and things in this way. Each arising, each meeting can provide precisely what is needed. We may become aware, as Dogen did, that “… everything excluding nothing is the confirmation of our practice and all space without exception is the field of our awakening.”

If you're interested you can read his entire article here.

The Ed Brown documentary puts the phrase in play this way...a zen master says to his students...

See with your eyes, smell with your nose, taste with your tongue.  Nothing in the universe is hidden.  What more do you want me to say?