Honoring Student-Teacher Relationship (Flower Adornment Scripture)
The last sentence of this vow of this person who is often called Zen Master, (Zenji is a way of saying Zen Master in Japanese.) He says, “May we extend this mind”? What mind is that? It’s a mind that has compassion for everything. Extend this mind of compassion over all beings “so that we and the world together may attain maturity in Buddha’s wisdom.” One way to envision this day, this New Year’s greeting day is that it’s a day to worship and pay respects to the face-to-face transmission of the true Dharma. To pay homage, to pay respects, to acknowledge the worth of a relationship, of a relationship where reality is transmitted and realized. This kind of acknowledgment of this face-to-face communication is acknowledging that the realization of the truth comes through a meeting. That the realization of truth is coming through a relationship. I myself don’t just go meditate by myself on the world or meditate on the mind and understand the mind. That’s what I am saying is being acknowledged that I don’t do it alone. That the realization of the Buddha’s teaching happens in relationship, that the realization of truth comes in relationship. Or, as the Pope says, “Truth is relationship.” It’s not something that Zen masters have or popes have or Jesus has or Buddha has. Even Buddha by herself cannot realize the truth. Only Buddha together with another Buddha can fully realizing the truth. So exploring relationships with our spiritual friends is exploring the truth. Exploring truth is to explore relationship. We can explore the truth denying that we’re exploring the truth through relationship. We can think that “I am exploring the truth”. And you can do some exploring that way but for the exploring to be thorough there needs to be understanding that you are doing in in a spiritual communion.(Which reminds me… 2-day event here in March…for purposes of realizing the Truth through relationship. KM is doing some editing of talks that are about spiritual relationship, about spiritual communion..) I have mentioned here before that there are four basic kinds of spiritual communion. The most basic kind of spiritual communion is the way we are currently communing with our spiritual friends that we are unaware of. The most basic way of communion is inconceivable. It’s the way we are communing but it’s not an appearance. The basic communion is NOT an appearance. This non-appearing communion is the most basic. It’s the inconceivable form. It’s the most thorough. There are other kinds of communion too. Another kind is, we feel that we are asking for communion, that we are requesting communion with a spiritual friend but we don’t see a spiritual friend. That’s part of what was referred to today, that you may aspire to have a beneficial friend but you don’t see one. You can feel that you aspire to it. You may have heard how important it is so you think, “Jeez, I would like to have a relationship with a beneficial friend but I can’t quite see one yet.” The other possibility is you see a beneficial friend but you don’t want a relationship with them. You are not requesting it. You don’t want it and therefore you are not requesting it. You don’t see that you are requesting it, in other words. You see, “There is a potential beneficial friend there but I don’t want it.” Can you imagine that? You actually think the person is a beneficial friend but you don’t want it for some reason, like for example, “What would that entail? What would that require of me? Would I have to brush my teeth or what? Would I have to agree with everything she says and do whatever she tells me?” I’m not saying that you do have to but.. Matter of fact, Toreizenji was a disciple of Hakuinzenji and he did not do what Hakuin told him sometimes. Sometimes he did and he became his most mature student because he did follow the teacher’s instructions but then the teacher said to him, “Would you please come and take over the temple from me so I can retire?” And Toreizenji said, “I don’t want to. I got get some more retreats myself before I take responsibility like that.” The great Zen Master Hakuin begged him and begged him for years and he wouldn’t do it. So sometimes the student doesn’t do what the teacher asks even if it’s a great student. Sometimes they are lousy students and don’t do what the teacher asks. Sometimes they are lousy students and they do do what the teacher asks so they are not so lousy. Anyway, there is a spiritual communion where the teacher is there offering herself to you and you are not up for it. “I have other things to do.” My wife told me about her father teaching her to ride a bicycle… plus story about teaching his daughter how to ride a bicycle….The teacher was offering himself but the student didn’t want the teaching, didn’t want to get the beneficial assistance. You know, if you’re a little girl trying to ride a bicycle, I would be a beneficial friend… she would be perfectly safe…excellent learning situation I was offering but she didn’t want it… then the day came…) So one type is that there actually is somebody offering teaching to you who actually might be really good at this thing that they are teaching and you don’t want it and you don’t think you asked for it. But really you did. If you are a girl from the time you are born you are actually asking your dad to teach you how to ride a bicycle. You don’t know it yet, you think you don't want it, but he wants to give it to you and you don’t know he wants to give it to you. He doesn’t even know he wants to give it to you, but he does. Some daughters actually want their father to teach them and their father says, “I don’t want to. I’m too busy.” So there’s the thing about we’re asking for the teaching and it’s being given but it’s inconceivable the way that is happening. The other side is that we have the conception, we have an idea, “I am asking for the teaching but I don’t see the teacher.” The other one is “I see the teacher but I don’t want it.” The other one is “I want the teaching, I want a beneficial friend and there is a beneficial friend and it’s great. And also now that I’ve got it and she’s got me, I’ve got problems.” It’s hard to find. It’s hard to find in yourself that you want it sometimes. It’s hard to find the person who is going to meet us. And when you meet them, it’s hard too but it’s a different kind of hard than the other ones. These are the four basic types of relationship that we use to realize reality, to enter reality. So this book (Avatamsaka Sutra) is about 55 stories of people working together in these amazing ways to realize reality. Does it come to an end? And, do we learn enough? I think when that came up, I thought of Dogenzenji. When he was about to die, he said to one of his closest disciples, “Concerning the Buddha dharma, there are ten million things”. Someone quoted me recently, quoted me quoting that as saying 10,000. I said “No, 10,000,000”. “Ten million things about Buddha dharma I have not yet comprehended. But I have the joy of correct faith.” Correct faith is believing that Buddhas are available and, (as you know, a relationship with Buddha is where it’s at.) Dogen had that faith. That Buddhas are here with us and that developing that relationship is the way to go. However, as we see from these stories, as you develop the relationship, you develop the relationship and then the relationship says, “Ok, now go someplace else. Don’t attach to me. In case you are attached to me, go away.” And so on. So that’s what we are having an opportunity for. Each of us has a consciousness where this issue is now appearing in your consciousness and each of our consciousnesses offer some opportunity to relate to this relationship. To dance with it. To struggle with. To wonder about it. Where is this beneficial friend? What is this beneficial friend? Is there a beneficial friend? Do I want a beneficial friend? I just heard that there is a beneficial friend and I am asking the beneficial friend to relate to me and work with me to realize the dharma but it’s inconceivable. But there is an inconceivable level of it, which someday I may understand. And I will understand it through the three other kinds. One that has one half perceivable and the other not. The other that has the other side perceivable and this one not. And then one that has both sides perceivable. Where we actually feel like “Oh, I’m working with a beneficial friend. “ “Oh, I’m working with a student.” That’s the four types, three of which we can work on in consciousness with this mind of compassion. Compassion towards ourselves in this relationship. Compassion towards the teacher. Respect towards ourselves. Respect for the teacher. And again, respect means “look again.” When you see the teacher, look again. Remember that there is a teacher that is appearing and there is also an inconceivable person. There’s you that is appearing and also an inconceivable you that doesn’t appear or disappear. Somebody who doesn’t appear or disappear is inconceivable to most people. But there is an inconceivable me and an inconceivable you that doesn’t appear or disappear. It’s an ultimate me and an ultimate you.. The empty me and the empty you. And we will learn that one by taking care of the form me and the feeling me, the perceptible me and the form you, the feeling you and the perceptible you, the emotional me, the emotional you. By caring for all these we will be ready to meet the relationship that is always going on without beginning or end, which completes the picture. It’s not just the inconceivable communion. It’s just that that is the most basic and uninterrupted. There is also this coming and going communion. And we won’t realize one without realizing the other. So I think we were talking about the laywoman Asha. (Referring to Avatamsaka Sutra), So Sudhana, as always as he is approaching the next teacher, he is being uplifted by the virtues of the teacher who is sending him. And so here, Sudhana uplifted by the virtues of the spiritual benefactor (what was his name? )… it was Saradvajra. Uplifted by the spiritual virtues of his spiritual benefactor Saradvajra he set forth and finally he came to the place where he was heading and he saw a park surrounded by fences made of all kinds of jewels in the midst of rows of all kinds of jeweled trees, adorned throughout with beautiful, delicate flowers like seats of all kinds of jewels releasing pollen. Adorned with all kinds of jeweled trees strewn with various blossoms of flowers. All kinds of jeweled trees. All kinds of rows of jeweled trees. And it goes on and on describing that. Then it describes other parts of the park with many kinds of mansions. Then it describes the mansions. Then it talks about other parts of the park. It goes on and describes the park, this amazing park, for two pages and then it talks about the innumerable beings all in this different seats of existence in the ten directions. Then finally, he enters the park and looking around of all it till he finally found Asha, the laywoman sitting there. He went up to her to pay his respects and said, .. what did he say again? “Noble one, I set my mind on supreme perfect enlightenment but I do not know how to learn and carry out the practices of bodhisattvas. I hear you give instructions to bodhisattvas, so please, tell me how an enlightening being is to learn and carry out the practice of enlightened beings.” And she said, “I have attained an enlightened liberation called ‘Characterized by Sorrowless Well-being”.” That is the name of her realization. And she says, “It is definitely beneficial to see me, hear me, attend me, live with me and remember me.” The teacher is saying that to Sudhana. “ I am not visible to those who have not developed basis of goodness”. Then after she tells all these stories, Sudhana says, “Noble One, how long ago did you set your mind on Supreme Perfect Enlightenment?” And she says, “I remember in the past when I cultivated religious practice in the company of the Buddha known as the Lion, whom I served and from whom I received the teachings. Before that was a Buddha named Undefiled. I set forth from society in the tutelage of that Buddha.” So she goes through all the Buddhas she studied with. Then Sudhana says, “Noble One, when did you realize Supreme Perfect Enlightenment?” And Asha the laywoman, says, “Enlightening Beings do not aspire to enlightenment with the object of leading to just one sentient beings perfection.” And she goes on to describe any limited way of approaching enlightenment. So bodhisattvas aspire to enlightenment but the enlightenment they aspire to is not of one person. So it isn’t like.. If I were a bodhisattva, I would not be aspiring to enlightenment of just Laurie (for example) or just Elizabeth, or just Bruce. No. Or of course, just me. I would not be aspiring to my enlightenment alone. Bodhisattvas aspire to a perfect enlightenment, which is the enlightenment of all beings. He asked, when did you realize complete perfect enlightenment and she says, bodhisattvas like me do not aspire to enlightenment with the object of enlightenment of just one sentient being. So when did you complete it? Well, guess. I haven’t done it yet. And she goes on and explains all the ways she does not, bodhisattvas do not. aspire to enlightenment so that you can see the way that they do. They do not aspire to enlightenment of one person. We aspire to the enlightenment of quite a few. Basically, unlimited numbers. After all this. Two pages of describing all these ways she had been practicing realizing Buddhahood, she said, “To put briefly, there are ten hundred thousand incalculable numbers of such aspects of the content and practice of bodhisattvas which are to be accomplished by an enlightening being. Furthermore the practices of enlightening beings enter into all things.” And so on. “Because of this vow of mine,” Asha says, “When the purification of the realm of desire is finished, my commitment will be finished. When the purification of the world is finished, my commitment will be finished. When all sentient beings’ propensities to continue afflictive habits have ended, my commitment will be ended. Then Sudhana says, “What’s the name of your liberation again?” And Asha says, “this liberation of mine is called “Characterized by Sorrowless Well-being’. I know this enlightening liberation but how can I know the practice, tell of the virtues, convey the inconceivable enlightening skills or show the infinite variety of enlightening vows of bodhisattvas who have oceanic minds because of seeking the Buddha knowledge, who are…” And so on. This is going to go on. But how could she, even though she’s got this fabulous liberation, how could she. So therefore, what? Go! To the district of Samudhravitalya. Go see Bhishmutaranirgosha. And then after Sudhana hears this final instruction, he meditates on.. As he’s leaving Asha he meditates on how hard it is to work with these beneficial friends, full of joy contemplating how hard it is.
Q. I thought the Lord of the Rings was long. This is.. Who is this written for? I mean this is Vol 3 on the spine here. How many people in the history of the world can draw benefit from a scripture of this magnitude and detail? It’s incredible.
A. How many can draw benefit from what has been said here today?
Q. Well, and this is a thank you for helping, but still..
A. Anybody else see any any benefit? One. Two. Three. Ok. The more this is taught, the more beings will benefit. I’m trying to take you into the water and when you get in the water, we will keep counting. We will keep wondering, is this beneficial? I remember Katagiri Roshi said, “This scripture is so complete that no one reads it.” The Prajna Paramita is in here. The Lotus Sutra is in here. There’s a lot of Sutras in here. What I read earlier today about the meditation on linguistic activity, that is Madhamiyka teaching. All the schools are in here. This is not a scripture of a school of Buddhism. All the schools are in here. The early teachings are in here. So therefore, nobody reads it. However, here we are today and somebody is reading it and I am showing you something, which you don’t usually run into in the supermarket. This is not at the checkout stand like Reader’s Digest or People Magazine.
Q. It wasn’t one of the holiday movies either. But your teaching is teaching us how to ride a bicycle.
A. If you wish.
Q. I wish. My father taught me how to ride a bicycle and it was just as you described in my experience and that was wonderful, but when he taught me how to drive a car, that was a nightmare. And by that time I didn’t want the teaching.
A. I’ll ask my daughter what it was like teaching her to drive a car. But for me, it was not a nightmare. It was more like a terror. There was no language. There was no violence. There was no nudity. But it was really scary. We learned on the Green Gulch road. When she turned the corners, she would hold the steering wheel and when she went around the corners she would keep turning with the steering wheel. So her head was nowhere near, you know… You have to let go of the steering wheel to turn, right? You turn and you let go. She would really grip. It was the most scary ride I have ever been on and it wasn’t a nightmare. It was like the Sutra. It was so beautiful to be there with her. And I didn’t get angry with her, I just got scared that we were going to perish.
Q. You just now allowed me to have compassion for my father who must have been terrified when I was doing..
A. He probably was terrified. I definitely was. But I wasn’t angry with her for holding on to the steering wheel as she turned. I just thought, oh you have to let go of the steering wheel and re-grip it. I was a good teacher then too. But I’ll ask her tomorrow, what her experience of it was. For me, it was a great blessing to teach her to do that.
Q. My father was very mad at me because he came into the driving test with me. He convinced the driving instructor that he could be in the car and he yelled at him for not passing me the first time because he had taught me.
A. I don’t know if your father felt this was a great blessing. You have to ask him if you can.
Q. I’ll reach wherever he is.
A My daughter’s father, I can talk with him about this. For me it was a great blessing and one of the sad things for fathers is that after girls learn how to ride bicycles and drive cars, they sometimes become unemployed for a while. Because they are not the person their daughter talks to about some other things.
But it was a great joy to be of some service and that’s the way the Buddha’s feel. They want to be of service and we are asking for their service and they are offering their service and they are responding to our request and this is.. The truth is realized in this generous environment of request and response.
But in order to understand that, we must enact it in our consciousness. There are three ways to enact it. Ask for it but don’t see, or see it but not be ready for it. Or, Ask for it and see that it’s being given and then get into it. When we realize that this is really the mother wanting to help the children and the father wanting to help the children is just an example of reality that we do really want to help each other and we do really want others to help us. We want to be helped and we want to help. We know we need help and we know we can get help. We know that. And we can realize it more and more deeply and realizing it in a mature way is called Buddha’s wisdom. So we worship this face-to-face transmission. “Worship” means to acknowledge the worth of something. So in Soto Zen, we worship this face-to-face transmission. We bow to it. We make offerings to it. These offerings are an offering to face-to-face transmission. How wonderful.
Thank you very much.