Fayan's Hair's Breadth
No Abode 5/17/13 PM
( On Looking for Results in the Visible World. 30 Min)
This morning I offered some theoreticlal remarks about consciousness. These remarks are actually the reporting of some discoveries that have been made by diligent researchers of consciousness.
We have this story that in India a long time ago that there were a lot of diligent researchers of consciousness two thousand five hundred years ago. One of them discovered an understanding of consciousness. He discovered that consciousness had an other-dependent character. It had a character of dependent co-arising. This was a discovery which was a result of diligent research in a very calm state. He was in a calm state because he was able to practice compassion towards the appearances of consciousness. The way consciousness appeared to him was often very challenging. He saw great suffering beings. He saw great personal hardship. He also saw the delights of living in a palace. He saw all these things and was able to research them and understand how they are consciousness and realize how they dependently co-arose. So he saw the Truth, in that context and he realized Buddha in that context. His successors continued to listen to the reports of his discoveries. They also made an attempt to continue to study consciousness to see if they could re-discover what he had already discovered.. or verify that consciousness had this dependently co-arisen nature and a selfless nature and that we also understand that it has a deceptive nature which is the way it appears to sentient beings. This morning I reported the results of the research which is that the appearance of worlds is consciousness. Consciousness is the appearance of worlds. In worlds there are for example, humans, and humans appear to have bodies. Enlightened people I think would say that yes, humans do have bodies but the appearance of their bodies is not their bodies. That is a conscious construction. Sentient beings, humans among them, can see the appearance of their body. They can see the conscious construction of their body, based on their body, representing their body. This research discovery report is in the Buddhist tradition and now, fortunately, mind-science researchers are making very similar discoveries. So now we can talk about Buddhism, Buddha-dharma in a way that if we just don’t mention Buddha, we can talk about consciousness in a way that researchers who are not Buddhists can understand us and say, “Yeah, I can accept that. I can research that. Matter of fact, we are coming to the same discoveries. How nice.” And we did not say we are better than you (scientists) because we knew if before. So part of the theory is sentient beings are dealing with a world-appearance. They are dealing with appearance of worlds, appearances of bodies. Again, the theory says, when bodies appear and there is a sense of ownership of the body (which many people are familiar with) For example, you can own a body which you say is yours and you can also own a body which you say is somebody else’s. Like you can think you own your baby’s body or the babies can think they own the parent’s bodies. When there is an appearance of a body, and other things, (but we will just start with a body.) When there is an appearance of a body and there’s a sense of ownership. “The bodies of MY students”. When I think I own the bodies of MY students, that is the birth of a self-hood and that is suffering. This me that goes with my body; this me that goes with mine, we study that me. Before we can study it in a profound way, we must to compassionate to this me that possesses appearances. We have to be very compassionate to me and to the misery and stress around the me that owns body, one or more bodies. Some people think they own many people’s bodies. Can you believe that? It’s a big deal. They actually buy and sell other people’s bodies which they think they own. Have you heard about that? Can you imagine how horrible that would be?
How can we be compassionate in such a situation where we think we don’t just own one body but many bodies. How can we bring compassion there so that we can see? “Oh! This is how the self.. when this is produced you have this. When there’s possession of an appearance you have the arising of a self. If we can study that, we can become free of it but we have to be kind to this really stressful situation in order to really understand this theory. I gave one story this morning about how Fayan, which means Dharma Eye, the Zen Master Dharma Eye, how he worked with the superintendent of his monatery. To look at how the superintendent was working with the appearances. For example, the appearance of his own enlightenment. How he possessed his enlightenment which appeared to him. And how Fayan helped him see that he thought he owned that enlightenment. Or as Kim was saying, helped him see that he wasn’t very humble about his enlightenment. He was somewhat humble maybe about his body. He was kind of wondering what his body was. He may have thought he possessed it but he was humble about inquiring. But after he was enlightened, he seemed to stop inquiring so Fayan helped him start inquiring again. The second time around he was able maybe to have the same kind of awakening he had the first time but without turning that into another possession, without making a self out of his enlightenment. So here is another story about Fayan. This time Fayan was working with his Dharma brother and co-disciple of the Dharma teacher Detsang which in Japanese is Jizo (Earthstore). So he was a zen teacher who was named after a great bodhisattva. I am not sure but probably because his temple was called Detsang Temple. But maybe not. Maybe just because his teacher gave him the name of a bodhisattva as his name. So, disciple Fayan, Master Fayan, is talking to Master Shu-shan (like shoeshine but it’s not. It’s Shu Mountain). So he says to his Dharma brother, “A hair’s breadth deviation is like the distance between heaven and earth. How do you understand it?” And his Dharma brother says, “A hair’s breadth deviation is like the distance between heaven and earth”. And then Fayan says, “How can you get it that way?” And Shu-shan says, “I am just thus. How about you, brother?” And Fayan says, “A hair’s breadth difference is like the distance between heaven and earth.” In this case, Shu-shan bowed. He was more mature. This wasn’t a big enlightenment for him. This was more like, “Thanks for the conversation. I like practicing perfect wisdom with you.” The slightest difference is like the distance between heaven and earth. Sometimes we think heaven and earth are way far apart. Sometimes we think they are just the height of a person apart. A hair’s breadth difference is the distance between heaven and earth, so the distance between heaven and earth could be the hair’s breadth difference. It could be just a very thin difference between heaven and earth. Just a hair’s breadth. But it could also be a long distance. But let’s look at that little difference. Let’s look at where heaven and earth meet. Where they meet, if there’s a difference then that is the distance between heaven and earth. If there’s no difference, there is no distance. A hair’s breadth difference between heaven and earth is like the distance between heaven and earth. A hair’s breadth difference in anything is like the distance between heaven and earth. How do you understand that? A hair’s breadth difference between heaven and earth is like the distance between heaven and earth. How can you get it like that? “I am thus. How about you? A hair’s breadth difference is like the distance between heaven and earth? Thank you very much.” Can we be kind enough so that we can live at the place where heaven and earth meet?. If there is a difference, there’s a distance. If there is no difference, there’s no distance. It looks like, in order to find out “no difference, no distance”, it looks like these Zen people talk. They talk. They talk from earth. Earth to heaven. But they talk from earth to heaven without there being any difference between talk and heaven. And also without there being any separation. In order to be right there at where heaven and earth meet.. (where they meet there is not distance and no meeting even) they are totally the same and they are both just words. In order to be there and live there we have to be really enthusiastic about being there at the place where emptiness meets form, where form is not different from emptiness and emptiness is not different from form. In oder to be enthusiastic about living there, we have to be enthusiastic about the words “heaven” and “earth” and about any sense of separation, enthusiastic about being compassionate about any sense of separation between heaven and earth, nirvana and samsara, form and emptiness. Here we have these Dharma sisters talking to each other about it. Practicing. “A hair’s breadth difference is as the distance between heaven and earth”. They are practicing being on earth so completely that they meet heaven. They are being talkers so thoroughly that that is all they are doing is talking. Therir talking is not about anything. It is about talk. And they are not distracted so they keep talking until the bow. So, we do talk, but do we talk all the way to the tip of our talk, because the tip of our talk is the tip of the world, is the tip of the earth where the earth meets the sky, where form meets emptiness and there is no gap.Yes?
Q. (Anna) To say I am just “us”, there’s a gap, right? To say this is like already the paradox right. And he says this because there is an intimacy.
A. You say there is a gap? Can you say that thoroughly enough so there is no gap?
A. Can you overcome the gap by the way you say there is a gap?
Q. To say something is to make a meaning, to make a difference.
A. To say something could be to make a meaning. Not everything we say is meaningful. It depends on how you say it. Right now this is pretty meaningful to me. How about you?
A. Are you all the way on that?
A. Yeah. Right. So shall we continue.
Q. Yeah. You’re welcome.
A. We cannot enter the wordless sky of ultimate truth without relying on the wordy earth. And to rely on it exhaustively. We listen to the teachings which say, “say that word so thoroughly that you reach the ned of it.” Because at the end of the word, it’s exactly the same as the end of speech. The limit of samsara is the limit of nirvana. The limit of the earth is the limit of the heavens, of the sky. The sky is all over the place, unlimited. Have you noticed? It’s like “Hey man, there’s no end to this sky”. No matter how far the bird swims there is no end to the sky. No matter how far the fish flies, there is no end to the sky. Have you notice? No end. But there is an end to the sky. Where is the end to the sky? Where is it? Tell me.
A. IT’s not where it meets the earth. It’s the earth. The earth is the end of the sky. Our words are the end of ultimate Truth. Ultimate truth ends here. Did you hear that? Here. It’s right there at the tip of the word. That’s the end of ultimate truth. There is no gap unless you hold back on (saying) “here” and “self” and “pain” and “illness” and “death”. At the end of the word, death… at the limit of the word death is the limit of the word nirvana.
But we have other things to do besides be right there.
Q. (Homa) I want to be there more often. Seriously.
A. I know you do. But I heard you about a week ago say that you wanted to be free of that. I heard that. She wants… this place..this is where we want to be. This is where the Buddhas are born. We want to be where the Buddhas are born, right? But she realized about a week ago that she has to give that up. If you want to be where the Buddhas are born, you have to give up wanting to be where the Buddhas are born you have to give it up. If you give it up, you will be there. Now you are back to earth again which is great. Exert that fully and you’ll again realize you want to let go of what you most want. Because what you most want happens to be something really good. If what you want is something really bad, hold onto it and you will be successful. It’s auspiscious to misery to hold on to things. It’s auspiscious to peace and happiness to not (hold on). But you don’t get to not holding on by holding back on what you are up to You have to be really compassionate to fully be a sentient being at this point and to apply these teachings and to speak language, because that is how you exercise conventional truth is with language. But we have to learn how to do it together the way these people did. They are using conventional truth, having a meaningful discussion with conventional truth and they don’t think they are talking about something other than what they are talking about. They don’t think there some hairsbreadth difference out there besides the word “hairsbreadth difference”.
I am honoring them as enlightened bodhisattvas. I could be wrong but if I am I vow to be totally wrong. And I am betting that if when I am wrong I am totally wrong, at the limit of my totallyp-wrong is nirvana. Samsara is totally wrong and if you completely reach the end of it, that’s exactly the same as the end of nirvana. The verse is kinda nice. There’s a verse celebrating this. It’s kinda nice.
Q. I don’t know exactly what you are talking about?
A. But do you completely know that you don’t know exactly?
A. Would you like to? Would you like to completely, thoroughly not know what I’m talking about. You don’t have to say it twice. You just said, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Do you want to do that all the way?
Q. I do not know what you are talking about. Exactly.
A. Good! That was close! Was there a hairs breadth difference there?
Q. I think it was pretty full.
A. Yeah it looked pretty good. Let’s see if you can do it again.
A. Yeah. How was that?
Q. Ok. There’s something I ..
A. Wait a second. You started to look like there’s something other than your talk. You had that look like there’s something out there besides this conversation.
Q. That’s true. That’s true. That’s very true.
A> I am watching you to see if you are talking to me or to see if you are talking about something other than this conversation. I think you may be ready.
Q. I did honestly think I was talking about something other than this.
A. That’s good! He just confessed that. That’s good. That’s not the way to talk to me if you want to realize ultimate truth. Do you wish to realize ultimate truth or do you wish to spin around in conventional speech some more?
Q. I wish to realize.
A. Ok. I’m here for you and I’ll be watching to see if either one of us think we’re talking about something other than what we are talking.
Q. Not talking about anything other than what we are talking.
A. Me to. I believe that.
Q. I believe right now that I am not talking about anything other than what I am talking about.
A. Very good. And we can go on like this. Possibly. Helping each other. Checking each other to see if right now I am talking about anything other than the way language works between you and me. I am watching.
Q. I can even feel slight little differences.
A. Yeah. That’s very good. Thanks for playing that with me.
Here’s the verse, which might be apropos. “When a fly sits on the balance, it tilts.” That’s kind of what you and me were talking about just now. There’s a balance and there’s a little bit of weight on one side, it tilts. If there’s a little bit of “what are we talking about other than this”, the balance scale of myriad ages shows up unevenness. The balance scale of myriad eons from ancient Buddhas, it shows up any unevenness. Pounds ounces, drams and grams. You see them clearly. But after all it finally reverts and gives up to the zero point.” This is very optimistic. The balance scale of the Buddhas shows up any unevenness like “I kind of prefer samsara over nirvana or vice versa” “I think ultimate truth is a little better than conventional truth” For example it cant be distorted. Isn’t that good? So some people say it is superior. I’ve heard people say that. I have herd them. And I try to hear them all the way to the end of my eardrum. Some people say conventional truth is superior. Anyway, any unevenness shows up in the Buddha’s scale. Pounds, ounces, drams and grams is a translation of Chinese weight systems which I am not going to mention and don’t know. But after all it reverts and gives up to the zero point. After all we are going to come back to the Middle Way, where we are not different, where nirvana and samsara are not different. We’re going to come back to that there. In the meantime, we’re going to wiggle grams or pounds or maybe tons. This scale might tip and tilt, tip and tilt, tip and tilt. We practice compassion with this tipping-tilting and we come more and more balanced, but there’s still slight little bit of difference between something and something. We’re going to keep trying to find the subtle balance place. So this is the optimism of the Lotus Sutra. You are going to become Buddha. We are going to become Buddha. We have five whole minutes left. I want to say I welcome people who came for the first time today and I welcome people who came again.