Wednesday, February 15, 2006

the Diamond Sutra and meditation

When I began Seon-style seated meditation (Jpn. zazen; Kor. jua-seon or ch'am-seon, the latter term being more explicitly Seon/Zen in valence) at a Korean temple in Germantown, Maryland, Master Shin told us to approach meditation thus: "The mind has no address." Later on you come to realize that that maxim applies to more than just when your ass is on the cushion, but I've found Master Shin's formulation to be the perfect way to get me right into meditating.

When your mind has no address, you don't "make" or "own" any mental phenomena. When a thought arises, it simply arises. Eventually, it falls away. Let your mind be like a cork bobbing on the ocean: when a wave lifts the cork up, the cork simply goes up, then comes back down again. There should be no hand there, forcing the cork to remain at the same level. When you don't "make" or "own" any mental phenomena, your mind is like a mirror, which keeps none of the images it reflects. Red appears in the mirror; it disappears. Nothing kept. Light is reflected off the mirror's surface; it doesn't take up residence there. The mirror's surface, like your meditative mind, is not an "address" for light.

Sperwer, who will also be listening to Hyeon-gak sunim's dharma talk this coming Sunday, told me he was brushing up on the Diamond Sutra, which is one of Hyeon-gak's favorite subjects (it's the topic this Sunday). Early on in that sutra, we read this:

[The Buddha said] Subhuti, what do you think? Does a holy one say within himself: I have obtained Perfective Enlightenment?

Subhuti said: No, World-honored One. Wherefore? Because there is no such condition as that called "Perfective Enlightenment." World-honored one, if a holy one of Perfective Enlightenment said to himself "such am I," he would necessarily partake of the idea of an ego-entity, a personality, a being, or a separated individuality. World-honored One, when the Buddha declares that I excel amongst holy men in the Yoga of perfect quiescence, in dwelling in seclusion, and in freedom from passions, I do not say within myself: I am a holy one of Perfective Enlightenment, free from passions. World-honored One, if I said within myself: Such am I; you would not declare: Subhuti finds happiness abiding in peace, in seclusion in the midst of the forest. This is because Subhuti abides nowhere: therefore he is called, "Subhuti, Joyful-Abider-in-Peace, Dweller-in-Seclusion-in-the-Forest."
(emphasis added)

Subhuti has no address. Fundamentally speaking, there is no Subhuti.


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