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A day of mindfulness

eZine's profile picture
Published in 
 · 31 Mar 2023
at Dharma Well

a Dhamma-talk by Daito Zenei, Sensei
Life Abundance Zen Buddhist Sanctuary

Saturday, February 26, 2538 B.E. (1994)

[This is an introductory Dharma talk given by the Venerable Zen Master Thompson at the commencement of this One-day Retreat.]



I would like to begin our DAY OF MINDFULNESS here at this most beautiful and sacred BodhiMandala retreat site, known as DHARMA WELL, by first bowing with my deepest respect and gratitude to all those friends, students, and disciples, and especially to Senior Dharma Teachers Dhamma-Ratta and Dhamma- Dayavati for exemplifying their utmost adherence to the SIX PARAMITAS, or PERFECTIONS in making the Dharma Well Retreat site a reality for us all.

[Dharma Master Thompson makes deep bow.]

Let me recite these SIX PERFECTIONS for the benefit of all of us here tonight:

  1. The Perfection of selfless Giving.
  2. The Perfection of Keeping the Precepts.
  3. The Perfection of Patience and Humility.
  4. The Perfection of Zeal and Perseverance.
  5. The Perfection of Samadhi.
  6. The Perfection of Wisdom, Compassion and Enlightenment.

What we will be attempting to accomplish here today is to awaken to our true-nature, known as Buddha-Mind.

Many people come to Zen Retreat for many reasons. Usually one comes to Zen Retreat for one of three reasons.

  1. Firstly, for an intellectual understanding or confirmation of Dhamma (Truth).
  2. Secondly, for the purpose of learning the Precepts and how to live a good life.
  3. Thirdly, from ones compassionate heart- seeing the suffering among all sentient beings- one wishes out of heart-felt kindness to deliver oneself and others from defilements and suffering.

It does not matter which of these three reasons you have decided to join with others today. All three reasons will be fulfilled at the end of our retreat.

Let me put into your minds from the very onset that each of you are like a precious gem whose brilliance is hidden by a coating of impurities.

If you are to enjoy the pure brilliance of your gem-being your true Buddha-Mind nature- you must first resort to "polishing", to rid yourself of all impurities which cover up your very Buddha-Mind.

Polishing what? Polishing of your "mirror-like mind". Enlightenment is like polishing your contaminated mirror-like mind.

There are four significances relating to uncovering your true-nature by such "polishing". Let me briefly explain the four.

  1. The first significance to be revealed is when by reason of removing all objects to a distance from a mirror there is no reflection, so when all disturbing mental conditions and all mental spheres in contact with objects through your sense-organs are done away with, there is no disturbance of your Mind's tranquility.
  2. The second significance is one of greatness of its affirmation of trueness. No matter what the phenomena or the conditions may be in the world- they are reflected in the mirror of your Mind's Buddha-Nature with perfect trueness and impartiality. There is nothing that enters, nor that departs, there is nothing that is lost, nor destroyed. For, in the true Buddha-Mind, all conceptions are of the same flavor, that in its suchness abides unchanged and permanent. For true Buddha-Mind yields to no contaminations that can possibly contaminate it, and even its reflected contaminated conceptions have no effect upon it. Its intuitional nature is never disturbing and, on the contrary, is in possession of boundless nonintoxicating virtues that influence all sentient beings to draw them into the unity and purity of Buddha-Mind.
  3. The third significance of Buddha-Mind considered as a mirror, is an affirmation of the greatness of Freedom. Just as a mirror freely reflects all objects brought before it, so Buddha-Mind reflects all concepts freely without being contaminated by them. They go forth freely just as they are, separated from all hindrances and annoyances of knowledge, and all the phenomena of composition and conformity.
  4. The fourth significance is an affirmation of Compassionate helpfulness, for being free from all limitations of selfness, it draws all alike into its all-embracing purity and unity and peacefulness, illumining their minds with equal brightness so that all sentient beings have an equal right to Enlightenment in this very lifetime; an equal opportunity to practice this ultimate principle of Kindness; and equal certainty that ultimately all sentient beings will attain Enlightenment, mature in their root of merits and realize their awakening to Buddha-Mind.

Your daily activities of your mind is an outer activity bringing about changes and increased complexity and confusion in your daily life.

But the inner activity of "polishing your mirror-like mind" through our Zen training here today enables you to calm the mind, which brings about harmony, simplicity, peace, health, truth and unity.

Because of the THREE POISONS: ANGER, GRASPING and DELUSION, your very being is contaminated. Therefore you cannot know true Enlightenment. If there should be no rising of these three poison, your Buddha-Mind would naturally appear upon its own accord and you would manifest Wisdom, Compassion and Enlightenment.

It is like placing perfectly fresh clean clothes into a chest with perfumed herbs. The clothes have no odor of themselves. But after awhile, the clothing becomes contaminated with the scent of the perfumed herbs.

It is the very same with your true Buddha-Mind! Your precious gem-like nature is glazed over by the contaminations of the Three Poison and that of Karma-consciousness and the false sense of the phenomenal world by means of your lower Manas, or six senses.

Your Mind gives rise to three kinds of conceptions which are in close mutuality and are inseparable from all discrimination.

  1. The first is the conception of activity, called KAMMA.
  2. The second is the conception of an "actor", called Ego-self.
  3. The third is the conception of the "world of action", called the phenomenal world around you.

We create "Kamma", born of our "thoughts, speech and actions". So, it becomes vitally important for us to constantly be mindful of our "thoughts, speech and actions". We must learn to recognize the fact that "cause and effect" are one, not two separate things.

When your realization of "cause and effect" is felt not only intellectually, but with your whole being, you become liberated to the fact that there is no way to avoid taking responsibility for your life- and for the life of others.

You can no longer make excuses like, "she made me angry!", and the like,because you know that in reality, there is no "anger", to become angry with. And armed with this new reality induced by Zen awakening, you empower yourself to do something about not only "anger", but all aspects of your life!

This newly found empowerment- and responsibility- encompasses the whole universe, because it is based on the realization that we are not separate from the universe. What happens to the Ten Thousand Things- likewise happens to you. What is happening in Somalia, the Mid-east, downtown L.A., the Ozone layer, etc., is also related to this "cause and effect" of your very own being.

This one aspect of Zen awakening- experienced with your very being- is what Buddhism is all about. It's what the Precepts are all about.

Dogen Zenji, the founder of our Soto Zen tradition says it this way:

"To study the way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to remove barriers between self and others. To remove barriers between self and other is to become Enlightened."

When you "get-it", you become "one with all of it". Suffering, Enlightenment, defilements, purity. No inside. No outside. No dualism whatsoever. This is what our Zen training can accomplish for you.

Thusly we come to understand that defiling thoughts and our personal sufferings DO NOT exist in their own right, but arise only from the non-enlightened mind induced by these three kinds of conceptions.

All Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Zen Masters from their very beginning have developed their HIGHER MANAS in order to rise above such defilements and personal sufferings. They have developed their hearts of Compassion and Wisdom- upholding the Six Perfections and the Bodhisattva Vow, not to gain for themselves this special Enlightenment, until all sentient beings have been emancipated from the bondage of the outer activity of mind.

By our practicing advanced true Samadhi- Zazen- we acquire in this present lifetime the TEN GREAT ADVANTAGES, which are:

  1. First, you will at all times be under the protection and support of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who constitute the Eternal Sangha.
  2. Second, you will never fear evil.
  3. Third, you will attain clear insight and intuitive understanding, and will cease to be confused or disturbed by false teaching and false teachers.
  4. Fourth, you will no longer doubt the profound Dharma teaching, their predispositions and karma hindrances will gradually disappear.
  5. Fifth, the rising of instinctive desires, suspicious and malicious feelings will cease.
  6. Sixth, your faith in the purposive good-will of the Tathagatas and of the wisdom and compassion of Buddhahood will increase naturally.
  7. Seventh, you will become courageous and serene in the face of issues of life and death, escaping grief, and all feelings of contrition and despondency.
  8. Eighth, you will unfold a great heart of compassion, your spirit will become gentle and mild, discarding all pride of egoism and untroubled by others acts.
  9. Ninth, you will cease to find pleasure in worldly things, and though you may not have attained Enlightenment, you will remain tranquil under ordinary conditions.
  10. Tenth, after having attained Enlightenment, you will never again be in bondage to sense-originating of the lower manas.

Finally, I'd like to say something about the power of the Bodhisattva Kuan Yin. Many of you have seen statues of Kuan Yin, or may have one yourself. Another name for Kuan Yin is Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva. She is the hearer of the Cries of the World. And one of the characteristics is that she manifests herself in accord with each circumstance. So, she is always presents herself in a form that is appropriate to what is happening.

Every time there is a stranded vehicle on the side of the road and a motorist stops to help- Kuan Yin Bodhisattva has manifested herself. With selfless Compassion and Wisdom for all sentient beings. Each of us has the potential of being Kuan Yin within our very being. It' s simply a matter of awakening to it. You awaken to it by realizing that there is no separation between self and others- as Dogen Zenji puts it.

The next time you rush to the aid of someone needing help- Kuan Yin is working through your very being. In THAT moment- for a split instant- there is no separation between you, the person needing help and the phenomenal world in which the giving of your help is given.

It is my great desire that each of you will come away from our Zen retreat with the selfless compassion and wisdom of that of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva.

And finally, in conclusion, let us recite the BODHISATTVA VOWS together.

Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to save them all. Desires are inexhaustible; I vow to put an end to them. The Dhamma is boundless; I vow to master them all. The Buddha Way is unattainable; I vow to attain it.

To me, the impossibility of these Bodhisattva Vows is the very essence of our Zen practice. We are not to be concerned with the goal- it's the process which is most important for us. Practice and enlightenment are not two separate things. It's not the goal of saving all sentient beings. It's the practice of saving all sentient beings. Of putting an end to our desires, defilements, delusions, of mastering Dhamma itself, and attaining Enlightenment. With the final attainment of such Wisdom, we are reminded of the very first of the Great Six Perfections: DANA:- giving, the first of the Six Great Perfections.

The Dhamma Master gives to the disciple. The disciple gives back to the Dhamma Master. It works both ways. Giving ourselves to the Dhamma (teaching); and to whom ever needs our help.


[Venerable Dhamma Master Thompson bows.]

Venerable Zen Master Daito Zenei Thompson
Lynwood Seattle Redmond Gig Harbor

For Monthly Retreat Schedule and Free Brochure:
c/o 1124 Market Street #2 Kirkland, WA 98033 USA
tel/fax (206) 827-9544.

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