27 January, 2009

Ice, Water

For Kyoshin, an excerpt on the subject of ice and water.

What does it mean to say that illusion and satori are the same?

What I always say is that satori becomes illusion,
and illusion becomes satori.
During zazen, illusions arise, go by, evaporate.

Westerners always make a distinction between illusion and satori.
They are always creating categories:
good on one side, bad on the other.
It's not so simple. Good can become bad and vice versa.

What is easy does not lead to happiness.

Losing one's illusions can lead to a great satori.
One of the sutras says that illusions become the water of satori;
the relationship is like that between ice and water.
Illusion becomes satori.
As it melts, a big piece of ice produces a lot of water,
and all the illusions melting away produce satori.

But it would be a mistake to believe that because one has
a lot of illusions one is going to have a lot of satori,
or any satori at all!

This is taken from "Questions to a Zen Master", a book of quotations from Taisen Deshimaru-roshi, who is to European (Soto) Zen what Suzuki-roshi is to American Zen. It a book absent the scholarly musings of other some authors, for example, D.T. Suzuki, and is all the better for it.

Deshimaru-roshi is a rebellious Zen spirit, whom I suspect when asked the question, "This must not be called a pitcher of water. What would you call it?", would kick the pitcher over.


It took me some time to come around to being ready for this book, for all its naturalness, directness, and simplicity.


Anonymous said...

Thanks very much Hobbes!

Now if I could only find out which sutra Deshimaru, Shinran etc. are referring to. Any ideas anyone?

Hobbes said...

I spent a little time looking without success, so look forward to the answer myself. :)



Circle Community Acupuncture said...

I have always enjoyed reading his book on Zen and the martial arts. Coming from a Rinzai background myself, I've always recognized a bit of the Rinzai tenacity in him. Very easy to picture him kicking over the kettle for his answer.

Best of all are the photos of him. Like looking at Daruma himself.

Hobbes said...

So true, he looks like a friendly bear. :)

Jamus said...

Turns out the 90's American post-punk/punk-rock (now mainstream punk-pop-rock) scene had it's own Zen master as well. Several years ago I had heard a whimsical quote from Billy Joe Armstrong that goes as follows:

"A guy walks up to me and asks `What`s Punk?`. So I kick over a garbage can and say `That`s punk!`. So he kicks over a garbage can and says `That`s Punk?`, and I say `No that`s trendy!"

Very different in delivery, but always stressing the point that these teachings are always best when one can interpret them for oneself. A very good reason as to why one might read such a thing at any given point in their life and not be able to digest it. Yet, years later it goes down smooth...kind of like a well-aged pu-erh. ^__^

Thanks for sharing! Hope all is well,

Hobbes said...

Great story - similar ones to be had from the world of jazz, too.

"The only Zen you find up a mountain is the Zen you take up there." (Pirsig)