All Pervasive Dharma

Elihu Genmyo Smith

Zen Master Linji says, “Followers of the way, mind Dharma is without form and pervades the ten directions. In the eye, it is called seeing; in the ear, called hearing; in the nose, it smells odors. In the mouth, it holds conversation. In the hands, it grasps and seizes. In the feet, it runs and carries. Fundamentally, it is one pure radiance that unfolds as the six spheres of being world. Since this mind Dharma is not of the order of existence, there is not a single place that is not liberated. All dharmas (phenomena) are Buddha Dharma. What is my purpose in speaking this way? I do so only because you followers of the way cannot stop your mind from running around everywhere seeking, and because you go clambering after the worthless contrivances of the men of old.”

What is this all-pervading mind Dharma? Notice that Linji does not say, in the eye it is called seeing what we want, what we like or not seeing what we do not like.

Linji’s teacher, Master Huangbo (In Sino-Japanese Huangbo is Obaku, Linjiis Rinzai) says, “Fundamental mind neither belongs to seeing, hearing, and perceiving, nor is it separate from them. Just do not bring forth opinions on the basis of seeing, hearing, perceiving. Do not apply thought, thinking, conceptualizing, on the basis of seeing, hearing, perceiving. But do not look for mind apart from seeing, hearing, perceiving. Do not reject seeing, hearing, perceiving in order to grasp the Dharma; neither identical nor separate, neither abiding nor attaching. One mind is in all ways self-manifesting and there is nowhere that is not the place of the Way of the Truth.”
What speaks so? What manifests so?

As if to make it clearer to us, Linji says, “There is none among you who is not the utmost profundity, none who isn’t liberated.”

None! None is you. Of course, none is everyone you encounter. None is every circumstance we encounter, whether it is so-called internal or external, our own or that of others. Do we fail to see this? Do we miss this because we recognize only seeing, hearing, and perceiving in terms of agreeing or disagreeing, pleasing or displeasing, me or them?

Be as is. Each moment is “as is.” The whole universe in all directions is our life. Your functioning right now, your task right now, is manifesting this endless dimension universal life. The most important practice is being this right now.

Unfortunately, since mind becomes “covered” by “my” assumptions and beliefs about seeing, hearing, and perceiving, we don’t testify and witness to life - and all sorts of troubles and stress occur. All we have to do is be as we are –and respond skillfully and appropriately. This fundamental basis we are appears of itself, appears naturally – so please manifest this wisdom compassionately.

It is only where attach, believe conceptualizing or think about “seeing, and perceiving” which results in missing this. What do we miss? We miss this moment that we are and cause difficulties.
Some children are playing; Joseph is king, Miriam is queen, Michaela servant and Betty a maid. Queen Miriam orders this, so maid Betty brings this, and servant Michael brings that. During intermission, Michael and Miriam argue, almost fight. Miriam says, “I’m queen! You have to follow my orders now!” And Michael says, “What do you mean?” She says, “You have to follow my orders now! I’m going to hit you if you don’t follow my orders!” What are those kids doing, why fight and hit? After all it is a play! But they believe the play even during intermission. They believe the characteristics assigned to them, who can order whom. They believe the story and their resulting reactions to their positions, who is superior and inferior. What they do or believe is what creates trouble. This story is simple, we might say simplistic, not at all what we do – or is it?
In sitting, we discover whether and when we create or live plays, simple or complex. The practice of sitting supports and nurtures our ability and capacity to see what is so, experiencing what is so. Sitting practice, ongoing life practice, if engaged in regularly, will allow us to discover and clarify these “plays” we believe. Sitting-experiencing - we may discover how and where we take this life, this vast universe mind Dharma, and turn it into the play with all sorts of rules, characteristics and evaluations; and on the basis of those, get angry, hurt, upset, and then beat up people, get beat up -all because we believe the play, even while not in the play. Discovering this enables us to cling or let be, let go and “dive into the present”- being appropriate and skillful.

Of course a play is fine. When doing a play, do the play as best you can. That is what makes the play. But if we believe the play during intermission or after the play then we create all sorts of difficulties. The next day, do you remember the events of the play and say, “I’m so angry at him, he doesn’t follow my rules and orders?” Or vice versa: “She is oppressing me?” What happens when you believe this? What are the consequences? Do you respond to circumstances or react to roles-expectations? What expectations do you cling to in the face of reality?
Please notice what plays and roles you believe now. When the play and role are not appropriate, do these continue in your life? Experiencing, even and especially what is hard or stressful to experience, includes noticing when, how and what we cling to of the play’s characteristic and attributes, “the speculations and conceptualizations” as Huangbo puts it. Our task is to notice being caught in self-centeredness - and use that as a reminder to being this experiencing, open and responding as this moment. Huangbo is encouraging us to be present, to experience this moment.

Linji says, “In the eye, it is called seeing. In the ear, it is called hearing.” This means seeing, hearing, smelling, is nothing but this - this fundamental pure radiance unfolding in all ways. You don’t have to go anywhere else. That is why practice and sesshin are simple - doing ordinary things. And yet, the form of practice and sesshin, being so simple and stripped bare, enables us to see what and when we are adding on. Practice enables us to be this, because when added roles and plays are seen we need not remain entangled. It is not that the activities are problematic, not the residual and added play that is problematic; it is being entangled, attached to characteristics when they are not here-now, when they get in the way of here-now experiencing, responding. And it is only necessary, and at the same time most necessary, to practice with this moment attaching and clinging, this moment believing and reacting. How to practice is what we clarify in sitting, in working with a teacher and in Sangha practice.
Noticing conceptualizing is the opportunity to be the ground of seeing and perceiving, to be the seeing and perceiving that is neither what we think about it nor anything else. Don’t look for it apart from your breathing, sitting, hearing, even thinking, but notice if you are getting caught in opinions “about.”Nowhere is Linji letting us stand, nowhere attaching to, and yet nowhere is he letting us avoid or reject. Or as a caution from the Torah (Hebrew Bible) states, “do not pursue emotional attachments, pursue things seen and desired, which your reactive habits lust for.”

This non-pursuing is sitting, our practice life. There is nothing that is not this dharma, this mind. But this mind is no-mind, if I use such a word. Therefore don’t make no-mind into some sort of idea. Let us not stick to no-place. If we don’t cling to them, speculations and conceptualizations just arise and pass. And why is it? Huangbo says, “This mind is fundamentally pure.” And this is so equally for buddhas and ordinary people. Not only buddhas and people, but also wriggling insects and all life. All are this one basis without difference. Did you think there was difference regarding this matter? Of course we notice differences. Differences are this fundamentally pure arising-passing. But if we feed differences with our conceptualizing, attach to them, then we know what happens. “It is only through deluded thoughts and false discriminations that beings create all sorts of karmic fruition.” Karmic fruition means simply consequences that result in ongoing reactive habits, the believing and attaching to discriminating judgments of events, resulting in stress and suffering.

This mind, this heart-mind, is fundamentally unfolding in all the various spheres. There is not a single place, a single being, who is excluded - nothing but this that we live, moment by moment. Whether we call it this or not doesn’t make a difference. And yet, if we can see it, manifest it, we can be all the more who we are. Of course, I shouldn’t say “all the more” since this is not more or less. But I say it anyway – since our stress, suffering and harm grows out of not seeing this.
Truly, says Huang Po, this is without-anything to be attained. This is the truth of who and what you are at this very moment - and also the truth of everything and everyone that you encounter, not dependent on adding anything or taking away anything. Attaching to characteristics creates trouble - whether we are attached and do so-called harm, or attached and do so-called good –

Dharma is our encounters from morning to night - all manifesting from morning to night. No dharma outside of mind-heart. I don’t like to use the word mind or mind-heart, but I don’t think there are better ones to translate the Chinese word xin. “Mind is dharma, and outside of dharma, there is no mind. Mind is no-mind, yet there is no no-mind,” Huangbo says. “If you take mind (as something), there is no mind.” If we make mind into a thing that exists hat leads to conceptualizing and believing attributed characteristics and roles; then even Huangbo’s words become dead words - and a basis likes or dislikes.

I have enlisted Huangbo and Linji to help and encourage us. This mind is ours - but not something special or magical. This mind is exactly hearing, seeing, tasting, or as Hakuin says “the innate nature of mind that operates in all our daily activities.” Practicing together is the opportunity to be as is, to manifest who and what we are. Manifesting this, we support others and our self in this wonderful life of humans and wriggling insects, this Buddha of many forms.

© 2014 Elihu Genmyo Smith