08 October 2010

"Outside us no Buddhas"

The first lines of Master Hakuin's Zazen Wasan are always arresting to me:
From the very beginning all beings are Buddha.
Like water and ice,
without water no ice,
outside us no Buddhas.
They stop me in my tracks, because they remind me that the Buddhadharma isn't something to discuss, read about, promulgate or advertise; it is this very life in every last one of its movements and moments.  There is no "other life," "better life," or "future life" -- only this very life.  Buddha(hood) isn't some faraway personage or state; it's this very body, as Hakuin says at the end of the chant.  The Dharma isn't anything to "believe in" any more than my pulse is.  It doesn't register on a Pew Research Center survey, that's for sure!

Outside me no Buddha.  It's no one else's job to "be Buddha" so I can kick back and relax.  If not me, then no one else, either.  The essence of the Bodhisattva vow.

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