Time, Place and Position

It seems sort of strange that within practice some things are holy and some aren't. There's a saying about "when you're cold burn the Buddha." Yet when you go to the bathroom you hang your rakusu up with total respect. How do we decide what is the right attitude?

First of all, keep in mind what Master Dogen said about this: "Those who regard the mundane as a hindrance to practice only understand that in the mundane nothing is sacred; they have not yet understood that in sacredness nothing is mundane." Once you understand sacredness, you understand that it reaches everywhere. But, also keep in mind that teachers, in teaching, respond to specific situations; to particular time, place, and position. A monk asked Zhaozhou, "Does a dog have Buddha nature?" Zhaozhou said, "No." Another monk came and asked Zhaozhou the same question. Zhaozhou said, "Yes." Zhaozhou expressed the truth in both situations. The teacher who burned the wooden buddha statue and was warming his butt next to the fire was responding to people who had become attached to liturgy and iconography. They thought that the form was the reality. In this country, at this time, everybody is ready to burn buddhas. We need to learn to bow to the buddha. We need to learn to respect the inanimate. We need to see that the teachings are everywhere. It's a very different lesson. When we reach a point when liturgy and form are second nature to us, and we are tightly wrapped up in them, then we'll start burning buddhas, rakasus, and robes.

- John Daido Loori in Bringing the Sacred to Life

Filed in on December 9, 2011. 2 comments. Edit.


Anonymous said...

This is great Lee. You have a real knack for finding tremendous quotes that make me feel, well, jazzy inside. Thanks for posting.

Lee Nutter said...

Thanks Luke :) Glad to offer something in return for all you've shared!

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