I Have Long Heard of Dragon Pond 

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I Have Long Heard of Dragon Pond
Tenshin Reb Anderson
No Abode April 13, 2013 PM

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Transcribed by KM

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The story about the monk called Dushan, Virtue Mountain.. We came up to the place where he came to visit Dragon Pond, right? And he said, “I have long heard of Dragon Pond but now that I have arrived I don’t see the dragon or the pond.” And then Dragon Pond steps out and says, “Thus you have really arrived at Dragon Pond.” I just might say, when you come to Dragon Pond and you don’t see the dragon or the pond, that’s really meeting Dragon Pond. So, at that point where he said that and Dragon Pond said, “You have really arrived at Dragon Pond” Du-shan bowed and withdrew from the presence of the teacher. And that night he went back and stood in attendance with Dragon Pond. And at some point, Dragon Pond said, “It’s getting late. Perhaps you should go.” So then he raised the curtains in the room and stepped outside and it was really dark so he came back in and he said, “It’s dark out there!” And Dragon Pond lit a paper lantern and gave it to him. And as Du-shan was receiving the paper lantern, Dragon Pond blew it out and Du-shan was awakened. One might say he was awakened to the nature of mind and he became an adept at the school of heretics, sometimes called Zen School. And then again he bowed to Dragon Pond and Dragon Pond said, “What have you seen that you bow now?” And Du-shan said, “From now on I will never again doubt what is on the tongues of the Venerable Teachers of the world.” The next day, Dragon Pond went up to the teaching hall and said to the monks, “There is one among you whose teeth are like a forest of swords and whose mouth is like a bowl of blood. Even if you hit him with a staff, he wouldn’t turn back. Another day, he will ascend the summit of a solitary peak and establish my path there.” Du-shan then took all his commentaries out in front of the teaching hall and raised a torch over them, declaring, “Even to plumb the obstruse locutions is like a single hair in the Great Void. To exhaust the essential workings of the world is like a drop of water cast into the vast valley”. Then he burned his commentaries and departed. Later he heard about, Guishan, that his teaching was flourishing in China, so he decided to go and visit him. But now he was visiting, as I said, as and adept of the school in which Guishan taught. So he comes to see Guishan, and without even taking off his traveling pack, he went into the hall where Guishan was and he walked back and forth from east to west, west to east. Teaching halls are usually, in Zen, oriented towards the south. So he came in and he walked east to west, west to east with his backpack on. He looked around and then he said, “Nothing. No one”. And then he went out. The commentator says, “Tell me, what was his meaning? Was he crazy?”. One of the Ancestors of this lineage is name Eihei Dogen. He is called the founder of this lineage in Japan. And he said, “In this lifetime, it would be good if you made a copy of the Lotus Sutra and also if you carved a statue of a Buddha. So I would like today to celebrate that one of our practicioners has completed copying the Lotus Sutra and its up on the altar there next to the Perfection of Wisdom. The ancient practice of copying the Lotus Sutra is still alive in this world. I am very happy. You are all invited to make a copy of the Lotus Sutra. And I wonder, what do you think of the teaching that to the extent that “perfect wisdom” is a word, to that extent, is it Perfect Wisdom. And to the extent that Perfect Wisdom is Perfect Wisdom, it is to that extent, a word. Another way to say it is, when Perfect Wisdom is a word, it is Perfect Wisdom. When Perfect Wisdom is Perfect Wisdom, it is a word. So that way the Sutra says it is “to the extent’. Yeah, Perfect Wisdom isn’t quite yet; it isn’t really to the extent of being completely Perfect Wisdom. But when it is completely Perfect Wisdom, when Perfect Wisdom is completely Perfect Wisdom, it is completely a word. And when Perfect Wisdom is completely a word, and nothing more, it is completely Perfect Wisdom. But it is hard for us to get to that extent. I think it would be easy for us to understand that it might be hard to get our wisdom, our Perfect Wisdom, to be really completely Perfect Wisdom. But another way is, can you see how hard it is for us to let Perfect Wisdom be just a word? To go all the way there? It’s kind of hard. Couldn’t it be just a little bit different from just a word? Well, yes it can be. But then it’s a little bit different from Perfect Wisdom. Can I make a little bargain with that? Well, yes you can. So what do you think of that teaching? (Q. I think that what the meaning we impute or put on top of that word, or associate with that word, is subjective. So then it’s not Perfect Wisdom.) Right. But when Perfect Wisdom is just the imputation that you put on, to that extent, it is Perfect Wisdom. So we get to use words to understand Perfect Wisdom. But again, there’s a limit to the way we use words. And again, what’s the limit to the way we use words? What’s the limitation on them. (Q. The extent to which we substantiate them.) Yeah. And how do you substantiate them? We think they are not a word.) Right. We think they are not a word. Or we think that they have a referent and the referent proves that they are substantial. So we can use language, but if we use language this other way, of connecting the word, drawing the thread out from the word to the object, that’s not the way that will help us understand Perfect Wisdom. But there is a way we can use words to understand it. And that’s the way when we use the word and stop there and look at ‘how does this word function?’, rather than ‘what does it get connected to to be real?’, over and above the reality of how it functions. It functions in a certain way. That’s the conventional reality. What do you think of that teaching? I ask again. (jokes about time. How much time is left?(Q. When he said, “nothing, nobody”..) Yeah, he said that in the presence of the great teacher. (Q. Yes, Sanity.) Sanity? Yeah. This is sanity. (Q, Which is pretty rare right?) Yeah, it’s rare. Rare and wonderful. Also, I just wanted to tell you that this guy named Du-shan became famous for a saying, something like, “If you speak, you deserve 30 blows. If you don’t speak, you deserve 30 blows.” And I recently was introduced to the idea of what 30 blows means, which means you deserve the gift of the truth. You deserve the great kindness of all the Buddhas. If you speak, you deserve it. If you don’t speak, you deserve it. And the way Du-shan put it was “30 blows”. If you speak, you deserve my whole life effort to help you realize the truth. And if you don’t speak, before you speak you don’t speak, and then you deserve the same thing. So Du-shan says, all of you deserve the real truth and nothing but the truth. No matter what you do. How about you? What do you have to say? There’s twelve minutes now.
Yes, ladies first. (Q. I think about a word and I’m hearing some teaching about inquiry around the use of the word and as I inquire I find a couple of directions of meanings. One has sort of a lateral feeling to it where the usefulness becomes how it’s subject and making elaborations and so forth and the other is more vertical and points to what is the intention underneath the usefulness of the word and in that intention is apossiblity of a vow that gives rise to a word and that makes me think about how usefulness is also about ceremony and it’s a ceremony of words. Not every thought action and spoken word is a ceremony of some sort and it is worthy of inquiry as to the intention underneath that ceremony) Yes, and also you can investigate the intention of the teachings. Part of the way you might investigate the intention of the teaching is by investigating the way the words are used in the teaching. Because the intention is not the way the words are expressed. But by studying the way the words are expressed, you get to the intention and the intention is inexpressible. Although the intention is inexpressible, the inexpressible can talk and then we study how the inexpressible is talking as a way to realize the inexpressible. And that’s the only way to realize it. You can’t realize the inexpressibly by the inexpressible. We must use the conventional to realize the ultimate. When we rely on the conventional, we can realize the teaching of the ultimate and the teaching of the ultimate is what liberates beings. (Q. My spiritual seeking, I really enjoy the idea of the world and all physical things coming into existence through spoken word. And it seems like your teachings today are exploring what the power of the word is and how it comes close or fails to reveal Perfect Wisdom. Some spiritual teachers have put out the idea that the goal of humanity is to reach a point where our use of words can reveal and express our highest creativity and bring things into being, into life, through the way we speak our words) Yeah, Buddhas, enlightened beings, speak and it brings their enlightenment into existence. Even though their enlightenment is not in existence, their speech can bring the enlightenment into existence in the form of instructions to other people of how to be enlightened. (Q. Last time we were here, you were talking about the Buddha Mind Seal and studying the mind and now we are talking about studying the way words work. It seems to me that’s another way to say the same thing.) Uh-huh. Yeah. The Buddha Mind Seal is to study the mind. The Buddha Mind Seal, what’s being transmitted is pointing to the mind. You study the mind and then you see it’s nature. Studying words, you are studying the mind. Study mind, you study words. You might want to study the mind that wasn’t words. It’s just that to study the mind that isn’t words, is by studying the mind that is words. (Q. This afternoon in your words, it seems we’re talking about freedom. Neither this nor that… It came up for me when you said Perfection of Wisdom..”) It’s not that Perfection of Wisdom is the word It’s that Perfection of Wisdom is a word. It’s just another word. It’s different from the perfection of stupidity. That’s another word. But when you say “perfection of stupidity” you might say that refers to something. That’s not the way to use that term. You shouldn’t use the word “perfection of stupidity” thinking that it refers to some object. That way of using the “perfection of stupidity’ word, will not take you to the Perfection of Wisdom word. But if you deal with the perfection of stupidity, understanding that it doesn’t have referent, then you might be able to shift over and do the same with the Perfection of Wisdom. And this teaching is for people who are looking, who are listening, to the suffering of the world. We should listen to that. We should listen to the word ‘suffering’. Listen to the word ‘pain’. We should practice with the word ‘suffering’. We should hear all those cries. Then this teaching will be appropriate to those who are listening and caring for this. Who hear the cries and wish beings to be free and realize that in order to do that, they have to realize that there’s no beings beyond the word ‘being’. No beings exist apart from giving them the word ‘beings’. We have to do that if we want to help them. And we do want to help them. We have to keep in touch with ‘we do want to help’. And that’s a big job. Cause we sometimes think we have other things to do and that beings are asking us to do something. “Don’t do that; do this. Don’t just be concerned for my welfare. Do this. I don’t want you to do that.” It’s hard not to be caught by the words. As we say, even the highly evolved person is still turned around in the flow of words, in the river, in the stream. They do turn us. We have to learn how to stay with the word, and not loose track that this has no referent while the word is spinning us around. (Q. What came to mind when you said that just now is one you told. The punch line is “ah so des ka” where the monk was not turned by praise or blame. Is that similar?) Well he was turned. The story is the monk was blamed, was criticized for something which, in some sense, the word say, he was falsly criticized. He was falsely accused. Those were the words. And then he was correctly praised. Those are the words. But I think he was turne by the words. But while he was turned he was saying, “ah so des ko” means “is that so”. He was turned by the words but he kept wondering. He kept watching the words and I don’t think he was disoriented while he was turning. I don’t think he was into, “They are saying this and that is false. And that’s the way it makes sense to me. There’s saying this. I didn’t do that. That’s false. They hate me… and so on” He was in there being turned but I don’t think that he thought that situation was referring to something other than what he was going through. So when it happened they other way and they were praising him and now it makes sense that they were praising him because now they found out that they were mislead and so on. He was being turned around that, but he also didn’t think that referred to something. So he can say the same thing in both cases. “Is that so?” “Is this so?” “Is this so?” “Is this so?” All day long, no matter how much we get spun around, we don’t think that the spinning, which only exists because we give a word to the spinning, refers to something other than the way the words work. And he learned that. And when I saw the demonstration I thought I would like to learn that. And I still would. At the beginning of the days, I had a thought. “What a wonderful group of people.” And then I had another thought and I didn’t want to say it until later. And now I think you’re ready for it. What a wonderful group of people! What a wonderful group of people! We can say it three times, right. As no wonderful group of people does the Tatagatha teach. Therefore we say, “What a wonderful group of people!”. Thank you very much. That’s the Diamond Sutra. And this is a clock and as no-clock is taught….