The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

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

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Sense of Place

A Japanese term, which literally translated, means "cloud, water", originated from a Chinese poem which reads, "To drift like a cloud and flow like water."

Zen folk picked this metaphor early on to describe a way of being in the world, free of attachments and a fixed home, the universe itself offering just enough for Satori.

Unsui also refers specifically to one who is awaiting acceptance for Zen training, a novice practitioner.
And too, Unsui describes the Zen practitioner who has achieved awakening under the direction of one master, and leaves to seek out other teachers, those who will test and further teach them.

I've often considered how I might feel if I had been savagely displaced from my geography, from my home land and all those physical places that seem to run through my heart. Since the beginning of human history, it seems that displacement is one of the deepest aggressions one group can force upon another.

All animals subject their enemies to displacement, and it often gets down to the most primal urge, that of perceived survival. Please don't think that we are any different from the wolf or the vulture.

For humans, it means stripping away the most basic sources of shelter, food and water, spiritual sustenance and rejuvenation, all the building blocks of culture and shared history, of mythos.
Without these shared and nurtured aspects of a group's culture, what remains?
The enemy has often known, not much.

But if we search for the self, where do we locate it?
Is it in my language? The clothes I wear and the objects with which I surround myself? Is it in the land where my ancestors lie, in graves I still long to visit? Or in the smell of the air and the sounds of wildlife, the taste of certain foods, or the way my skin responds to certain places, to the light and shadow and darkness?
Perhaps, self is here and everywhere else, floating unhindered like a cloud and flowing like water.

I know there are geographical places that simply resonate with me, but I also understand the practice of Unsui, of releasing the boundaries of containment. After all, these boundaries are a human construct, and the Zen practice acts as a fulcrum point for detachment from delusion, greed and anger.

The fulcrum point often appears as love, a true mark of our existence.
We rise from the cushion and bow, and then release the very act of zazen and gassho.

Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha!


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