April 5th, 2020 Zazenkai – Our Great Vow as Right View
by tendo zenji
The Buddha said to him, “Subhuti, those who would now set forth on the bodhisattva path should thus give birth to this thought: ‘However many beings there are in whatever realms of being might exist, whether they are born from an egg or born from a womb, born from the water or born from the air, whether they have form or no form, whether they have perception or no perception or neither perception nor no perception, in whatever conceivable realm of being one might conceive of beings, in the realm of complete nirvana I shall liberate them all. And though I thus liberate countless beings, not a single being is liberated.’ “And why not? Subhuti, a bodhisattva who creates the perception of a being cannot be called a ‘bodhisattva.’ And why not? Subhuti, no one can be called a bodhisattva who creates the perception of a self or who creates the perception of a being, a life, or a soul.”
Red Pine, The Diamond Sutra (p. 71)
In the Diamond Sutra we find the Four Bodhisattva Vows that are renewed every day in Zen temples, monasteries and centers around the world. The first vow, which is often shortened to “I vow to liberate all beings” is quoted above in full. When you look at how the Buddha describes “all beings” what we see is that this really is, everything, reality itself. In essence we are vowing to awaken reality.
When we first start sitting we tend to sit for ourselves. We wish to relieve suffering, be more centered, be happy, find peace and endless other reasons. These all come from the self. If we achieve a breakthrough, a glimpse into our true natures from the perspective, or ‘view’ of the self, then it is easy for the self to co-opt our realization. We may have a moment of clarity, of unconditioned being, but it quickly becomes part of the self, our ego identities.
This was the great insight of the Mahayana and thus the View, or orientation was changed. We sit not for ourselves, not for realizing our own desires, but to awaken all things, to embody our true nature. This topic as well as more from Ch’an Master Huangbo was discussed in the talk from the April 5th, Zazenkai, which can be found below the fold.
The reading is from the Recorded Sayings of Ch’an Master Huangbo. This is part of our continuing study of classical Ch’an currently focusing on the Hongzhou school.
A Bird in Flight Leaves No Trace: The Zen Teaching of Huangbo with a Modern Commentary
Commentary by Seon Master Subul,
Translated by Robert Buswell jr. and Seong-uk Kim
Wisdom Publications (April 30, 2019)