The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Silence of My Perfect Teacher

My teacher and I have been studying together for 5 years.
Or rather, he has patiently and generously acted as my guide time and time again, pointing me in the right direction, while I've generally stumbled along in a haze, and unfortunately, not a funky Purple Haze (thanks Jimi).

I can't imagine it has been easy to be my teacher, because like the proverbial dog who only looks at the finger that points out the food, I've frequently missed the food.

No matter.

Whether through the efforts of his dharma talks, koans, classes and/or dokusan, I've found myself just a little less closed up.
Once I found a teaching in how he put his hat on, how he covered his head, how his eyes smiled.
And there are times I've watched closely, and what I've seen has been nothing more than what I've seen... and yet....

Sometimes, my teacher's silence is more profound than his words, and I find myself shaken to the core.
I think of the flower Shakyamuni Buddha twirled between his fingers on Vulture Peak, where only Kashyapa smiled in awareness.

I know there are many times when that same flower has been presented to me, and I've looked at it like
"what the *^#@*!" and then muddled on in my delusion.

But my teacher just keeps searching for more opportunities to present the truth, practices skillful means to get the message across, and I can't express my gratitude enough for his upaya.

I think of Bodhidharma's fierce countenance and single pointed focus, and thank him for his practice.

A special transmission outside the the scriptures,
Not founded upon words and letters;
By pointing directly to (one's) mind
It lets one see into (one's own true) nature and (thus) attain Buddhahood.

I rely heavily on words. I love the process of writing and discovering and offering, though I am deeply aware of how anemic the word process can be, and I search for other ways of expressing the light through the door that has opened just a crack.
Perhaps the deepest expression sometimes is how we place a hat on our head, how we smile with our eyes.
Sometimes only through silence.

My teacher and I have been through a lot together; he's seen me at my "ugliest" and he's seen me at my "best", though he does not make distinctions of this nature.
In his silence, he has inquired into my state of mind, and in my silence, I've answered.
And then we've both laughed...ah, understood.
This moment is OK, nothing more, nothing less, regardless of what I "think" it is.

Thank you Sensei, for pointing out the obvious. There are moments when I've seen it.
Namu Amida Butsu!

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