11
Oct

The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma – Outline of Practice


[Intro music, Chinese traditional style] Hello. Thanks for joining. This is the New
Order of Shaolin Ch’an, and today we’ll be reading from The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma, as translated by Red Pine. The copy I will be reading is copyright 1987
by Red Pine, originally published by Empty Bowl in Port Townsend, Washington, and the copy I have specifically was published by North Point Press in
Berkeley California. I’ll be skipping over the introduction and going straight
to the first chapter, which is “Outline of Practice.” Many roads lead to the path, but basically, there are only two: reason and practice. To enter by reason means to
realize the essence through instruction and to believe that all living things
share the same true nature, which isn’t apparent because it’s shrouded by
sensation and delusion. Those who turn from delusion back to reality, who
meditate on walls, the absence of self and other, the oneness of mortal and sage, and who remain unmoved even by scriptures are in complete and unspoken
agreement with reason. Without moving, without effort, they enter, we say, by
reason. To enter by practice refers to four all-inclusive practices: suffering
injustice, adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and practicing the
Dharma. First, suffering injustice. When those who search for the path encounter
adversity, they should think to themselves “In countless ages gone by,
I’ve turned from the essential to the trivial and wandered through all manner
of existence. Often angry without cause and guilty of numberless transgressions.
Now, though I do no wrong, I’m punished by my past. Neither gods nor men can
foresee when an evil deed will bear its fruit. I accept it with an open heart and
without complaint of injustice.” The sutras say “When you meet with adversity,
don’t be upset, because it makes sense.” With such understanding, you’re in
harmony with reason. And by suffering injustice, you enter the path. Second,
adapting to conditions. As mortals, we are ruled by conditions, not
by our selves. All the suffering and joy we experience depend on conditions. If we should be blessed by some great reward such as fame or fortune, it’s the fruit
of a seed planted by us in the past. When conditions change, it ends.
Why delight in its existence? But while success and failure depend on conditions, the mind neither waxes nor wanes. Those who remain unmoved by the wind of joy
silently follow the path. Third, seeking nothing. People of this world are deluded.
They’re always longing for something. Always, in a word, seeking. But the wise
wake up. They choose reason over custom. They fix their minds on the sublime
and let their bodies change with the seasons. All phenomena are empty. They
contain nothing worth desiring. Calamity forever alternates with prosperity. To
dwell in the three realms is to dwell in a burning house. To have a body is to
suffer. Does anyone with a body know peace? Those who understand this detach themselves from all that exists and stop imagining or seeking anything. The sutras
say “To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss.” When you seek nothing, you’re on
the path. Fourth, practicing the Dharma. The Dharma is the truth that all natures
are pure. By this truth, all appearances are empty. Defilement and attachment,
subject and object don’t exist. The sutras say “The Dharma includes no being
because it’s free from the impurity of being, and the Dharma includes no self
because it’s free from the impurity of self.” Those wise enough to believe and
understand this truth are bound to practice according to the Dharma. And
since that which is real includes nothing worth begrudging, they give their
body, life, and property in charity. Without regret, without the vanity of
giver, gift, or recipient, and without bias or attachment, and to eliminate impurity,
they teach others. But without becoming attached to form. Thus, through their own
practice they’re able to help others and glorify the Way of Enlightenment.
And as with charity, they also practice the other virtues. But while practicing
the six virtues is to eliminate delusion, they practice nothing at all. This is
what’s meant by practicing the Dharma. Thanks for joining! I hope that this
reading of The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma, as translated by Red Pine has
been helpful to you. In our next video, we’ll read the next chapter, which is
“Bloodstream Sermon.” I hope you’ll join us. Thanks again. Have a wonderful day. [Sounds of a field at night]

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