Sunday, October 7, 2012
Sangha--The Experience of Experience
In China, two monks were once traveling to visit a great Zen master. Upon finding a vegetable leaf floating downstream from the Master's hermitage, they decided to return home. such a Master was obviously not a great man; he failed to practice the rule of wasting no living thing. Besides, as such a man would not perform secret deeds either, he certainly was no great Master.
--from Unsui: A Diary of Zen monastic Life, Drawings by Giei Sato & Text by Eshin Nishimura
In Sangha, we discover where our prejudices lie, and where the grip of judgement creates our Karma, for better or worse. We discover just how tightly wound is the spring that animates the mechanics of the Skandhas; like clockwork, we notice the jerry-rigged construct of form, sensation, perception, mental formation and consciousness.
I love the quote above about the two monks, Unsui, traveling to study with the Master, but turning back at the sight of a vegetable leaf floating downstream from the Monastery--though it is not the intention of the quote to point out Karmic conditioning, it does none the less.
What if the vegetable leaf was set upon the stream intentionally by the Master, knowing in her infinite wisdom that the two monks would instantly make a judgement about the leaf's appearance? And what if the intention all along was to test the depth of the two monk's state of wakefulness, and knowing they were not "fully ripened", the Master sent the leaf as a reminder?
The Master has said, "Return from where you came, there is more work to be done elsewhere...come back another time...."
Is it not true that experience of the dharma is far more truthful than one's intellectual concept of the dharma?
Sometimes a vegetable leaf floating downstream from the Monastery is nothing more than a vegetable leaf floating downstream from a Monastery. Sometimes it is much, much more. But how do we know the truth unless we experience it for ourselves? How can we answer this question unless we go and realize it for ourselves?
The realization is in the experiencing.
In Sangha we cut the bullshit in half, into little pieces, with the sword of Manjushri, and yet nothing is divided. Why create duality where there is none?
Sangha brings us back to this question over and over again--Manjushri's sword is forever in the act of falling and remaining aloft, and this is our experience of awakening!