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INSPIRATIONS

Quotes, writings and so on that have inspired me in my life.
WARNING: "Religious" content may follow!

ZEN STORIES

Bao-che's UNIVERSAL ACTION

Master Bao-che of Magu Mountain sat fanning himself.

A monk approached and said, "The nature of wind is permanent, and it acts universally... why do you use a fan?"

Bao-che said, "Although you see the permanent nature of the wind, you do not understand its universal action."

The monk asked, "What is this universal action?"

Bao-che just fanned himself.

The monk bowed deeply.


Tung-shan's NO COLD NO HEAT

A monk asked Tung-shan, "When cold and heat come, how can we avoid them?"

Tung-shan said, "Why don't you go to the place where there is no cold and no heat?"

The monk said, "What is the place where there is no cold and no heat?"

Tung-shan replied, "When cold comes, cold completes the monk; when heat comes, heat totals the monk."


Hsueh-feng's SPIRITUAL LIGHT

Hsueh-feng asked a monk, "Where did you come from?"

The monk said, "The Monastery of Spiritual Light."

Hsueh-feng said, "In the daytime we have sunlight, in the nighttime we have lamplight... what is Spiritual Light?"

The monk gave no answer.

Hsueh-feng said, "Sunlight, lamplight."


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THE IDENTITY OF RELATIVE AND ABSOLUTE

This is a Zen Buddhist chant that sums up the Zen Buddhist approach to reality and the experience of reality in a fairly straightforward way. The "Relative" is our own individual identity, where we view ourselves as different from one another and disconnected. The "Absolute" is the inherent, unchanging unity of reality- the "One", which is also our true nature.

The Great Sage of India is the Buddha. The Buddha's teaching was conveyed from West (India) to East (China) by Bodhidharma, the first Zen Buddhist Patriarch (Ancestor). The phrase "Northern" and "Southern" Ancestors refers to the historical philosophical split that occurred in Chinese Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism in the 7th century, dividing Ch'an into two "rival" schools. The author of "The Identity of Relative and Absolute", Shitou Xiqian (Sekito Kisen, Jap.), is saying that although methods may vary, all methods arise from the same source. This is, in essence, the meaning of the entire text: that although we are unique individuals, being born, living unique lives and then dying, it is also true that we are unborn and undying, and never separate from one another, or all reality.

***

The Identity of Relative and Absolute

The mind of the Great Sage of India is intimately conveyed from West to East.
Among human beings are wise ones and fools,
But in the Way there is no northern and southern Ancestor.

The subtle source is clear and bright;
the tributary streams flow through the darkness.
To be attached to things is illusion;
to encounter the absolute is not yet enlightenment.
Each and all the subjective and objective spheres are related,
and at the same time independent.
Related, yet working differently.

Though each keeps its own place,
form makes the character and appearance different.
Sounds distinguish comfort and discomfort.
The dark makes all words one;
brightness distinguishes good and bad phrases.

The four elements return to their natures as a child to its mother.
Fire is hot, wind moves, water is wet, earth hard.
Eyes see, ears hear, nose smells, tongue tastes the salt and sour.
Each is independent of the other.

Cause and effect must return to the great reality.
The words high and low are used relatively.
Within light there is darkness,
but do not try to understand that darkness.
Within darkness there is light,
but do not look for that light.
Light and darkness are a pair,
like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.

Each thing has its own intrinsic value
and is related to everything else in function and position.
Ordinary life fits the absolute as a box and its lid.
The absolute works together with the relative,
like two arrows meeting in mid air.

Reading words you should grasp the great reality.
Do not judge by any standards.

If you do not see the Way, you do not see it even as you walk on it.
When you walk the Way, it is not near, it is not far.
If you are deluded, you are mountains and rivers away from it.

I respectfully say to those who wish to be enlightened:
Do not waste your time by night or day!


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THE HEART SUTRA

The Mahaprajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra, or Heart Sutra, is a concise distillation of what are known as the Buddha's Perfection of Wisdom teachings. It was originally taught by the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Avalokiteshvara (Quan Yin, Ch.; Kannon, Jap.) to Shariputra, one of the Buddha's earliest disciples. It is chanted daily by millions of Buddhists worldwide.

Prajna translates as "Wisdom." (Prajnaparamita means "Perfection of Wisdom"). Skandhas (form, feeling, thought, choice, consciousness) are the composite sensations that delimit our experience, and create the idea of separateness. Dharmas refer to all compound things experienced in the world. "Form" and "Emptiness" are the two sides of reality, the Relative and Absolute.

The final line of the Sutra is in Sanskrit, and is pronounced, roughly:

Guh-tay, guh-tay, pahrah guh-tay, pahrah sahm guh-tay, boh-dee, svah-hah

and translates (roughly) as "Beyond, beyond, further beyond, even further beyond, wisdom, hooray!"


MAHA PRAJNAPARAMITA HRIDAYA SUTRA
- The Heart Sutra -

The Bodhisattva of Compassion, from the depths of Prajna Wisdom,
saw the emptiness of all five skandhas, and sundered the bonds that caused her suffering.

Know then:

Form here is only emptiness, emptiness only form.
Form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form.
Feeling, thought and choice-- consciousness itself-- are the same as this.

Dharmas here are empty-- all are the primal Void.
None are born or die, nor are they stained or pure, nor do they wax or wane.

So, in emptiness, no form; no feeling, thought or choice,
nor is there consciousness.

No eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, mind;
no color, sound, smell, taste, touch, or what the mind takes hold of;
nor even act of sensing.

No ignorance or end of it;
Nor all that comes of ignorance...
No withering, no death
No end of them

Nor is there pain, nor cause of pain,
nor cease of pain,
nor noble path that leads from pain;
Not even wisdom to attain:
Attainment too is emptiness.

So know that the Bodhisattva, holding to nothing whatever, but dwelling in Prajna wisdom, is freed of delusive hindrance, rid of the fear bred by it, and reaches clearest Nirvana.

All Buddhas of past and present, Buddhas of future time, through faith in prajna wisdom come to full enlightenment.

Know then, the great dharani, the supreme, unfailing mantra,
the Prajnaparamita, whose words allay all pain

This is highest wisdom, true beyond all doubt. Know and proclaim its truth:

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi-- Svaha!


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APHORISMS

"God dwells within you, as you."
-Swami Muktananda

"The Self, setting itself out in array, sees itself."
-Dogen Zenji

"The whole universe is one bright pearl."
-Hsüan-sha Shih-pei

"The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
-Jesus

"The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me."
-Meister Eckhardt

"Good people keep going forward no matter what happens."
-The Buddha

"There is a simple way to become a buddha: When you refrain from unwholesome actions, are not attached to birth and death, and are compassionate toward all sentient beings, respectful to seniors and kind to juniors, not excluding or desiring anything, with no designing thoughts or worries, you will be called a buddha. Do not seek anything else."
-Dogen Zenji

"Birth is just like riding in a boat. You raise the sails and row with the oar. Although you row, the boat gives you a ride and without the boat no one could ride. But you ride in the boat and your riding makes the boat what it is. Investigate a moment such as this."
-Dogen Zenji

"Dwell nowhere, and bring forth that mind."
-The Diamond Sutra

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"PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS"

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace...

where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

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THE FOUR BODHISATTVA VOWS

Sentient beings are numberless - I vow to save them.
Desires are inexhaustible - I vow to put an end to them.
The Dharmas are boundless - I vow to master them.
The Buddha Way is unsurpassable - I vow to attain it.

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