Teisho on Living and Dying -Barry Ku San
This is the revised and edited Teisho that was given on the last day of a five-day sesshin on the 6th May 2018. It was compiled very early in the morning, while meditating alone in the Zendo, before any students arrived. I can’t remember the exact sequence that it was given. Some of it is only from my memory. I felt a deep gratitude to the Buddhas, the Chinese and Japanese Patriarchs and my teachers of Zen on that morning.
Today we finish this sesshin on “Living and Dying”. I am giving this talk directly to the Buddha and the Chinese and Japanese Zen Patriarchs who have shown me the way for many years. I am also thinking of my teachers, Rosaline Stone and Subhana Roshi. This is my modest and humble statement of gratitude to the Zen Patriarchs and Zen teachers for being with us now.
They are so close to you that it is as though your eyebrows are entwined with their eyebrows. You are so intimate with them and you share the same dharma.
You have seen the fire that comes and burns away all the undergrowth and grasses on your path. You have spent time with your vexations and annoyances and they have been like fuel to the fire. You can see this fire burning inside you. And how did you react at such times when the fire was burning? Did you just wait and see how this is just happening?
Did you notice, it just runs on its own steam. You didn’t want to stop, and you stayed still, and you knew you had to be with it. The stillness lets us be with it. You saw your own suffering for yourself and you touched your suffering from the past and you just became one with it. And you cried for it and became intimate with it.
You let it be and you didn’t build on it or project onto anyone. And you saw all the people in this sesshin room and all people everywhere in the same way, just like you, and you knew they had suffered as well. You saw their suffering and you felt great compassion for yourself and for all your friends and all the world and all the creatures in the universe. And you cried for the great universe and for everyone.
I am reminded of Chao-Chou’s Three Turning Words. Buddha made of wood won’t pass through fire, for it surely will be burnt. And it was as if you saw the fire that was consuming your vexations and these false buddhas. You saw yourself burning to ashes on the floor and the burning away of your vexations and annoyances in your life. I am reminded of the Buddha made of clay and you saw yourself drowning from your vexations and turning into water.
Then as the koan states the Buddha made of metal is unable to pass through a furnace and you saw yourself melting on the floor and your vexations and annoyances melting away. These vexations and annoyances are yours and they don’t belong to anyone else: they are yours to understand and not to project on to anyone else.
This koan then takes us to the true Buddha sitting in the House. You sit in Zazen and Buddha Nature pervades the whole universe, but everything is beyond concepts. You saw your own Buddha nature. You burnt away your suffering and saw the way out of your suffering and you saw your Buddhahood, of wisdom and compassion. In your own compassion you forgave yourself and you forgave all the world.
Even the merchant banker who robs ordinary people of their life savings, their greed and complicity are obvious. They have put up their borders and hardened to the world. He or she does not allow any feelings of suffering. You see the arms dealer who sells for profit and you see their suffering. And yet we know their suffering as our own, many thousands of innocent people will die. And you know the great suffering of these innocent people as it was our own. We feel compassion for the whole universe. It is though Shakyamuni and Maitreya have come to show us how to be compassionate.
When we look at the face of others we see our own face and we begin to love each other and we see the whole universe walk through our own hearts and we feel sudden love for all beings. Can you feel this room packed with all the Zen Patriarchs and all the Zen teachers? They are here with us “elbow to elbow”. They have come to share their love, compassion and wisdom with us.
All you need to do is to encounter each moment as it appears before you. Just this moment now, in its completeness. This is how you confront your vexations and disappointments. Just now in each moment.
This present moment is all we have in life. Now, this moment. There is no past and no future to ponder and worry about. Even just now has only a fleeting feel. There is only just this moment and this moment and just this moment. Everything becomes mu and you become mu. (Slap legs). …… “Muuuuuuuu”, just this!!!
Teisho at Forest Way Zen
Barry Ku San
6th May 2018
Teisho talk by Zen Master or Roshi
Roshi-Senior Zen master or teacher
Rosaline Stone -Roshi in the Sanbo=Zen lineage
Subhana Roshi -Senior Roshi In Sydney Zen Group.
Chao-chou (778-897) One of the most important Zen/Chan Masters
Maitreya Buddha- Still to be Born
“Mu” the first Koan in the Gateless Barrier By Robert Aitken Roshi
Aitken Roshi-The first patriarch in the Diamond Sangha