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Lions Roar : July 2019
As practitioners, we might see ourselves as depending upon the buddhadharma, upon zazen, upon the sangha, upon the conditions necessary for practice. Let’s consider dependency from the point of view of the two truths. There is the rela- tive realm, the world that we see and can talk about and meet every day. And there is the realm of the absolute, in which there is no time and place, no circumstance and characteristic. Within the relative world, we depend upon oxygen and food, water and warmth, sunshine and rain. We depend upon each other, upon a suf- ficient amount of trust and mutual respect to share this life together and make it work. We depend upon awareness, upon a relative degree of physical, mental, and emotional health. Ho-shang Mi of Ching-chao sent a mon- astic to ask Yangshan: “Right in this very moment, are you dependent on enlight- enment?” Yangshan said, “There is no absence of enlightenment. Why fall into the secondary?” —The Book of Serenity, Case 62; translated by Thomas Cleary HO-SHANG MI was a peer of Master Yangshan, a very important Chinese master in the Zen lineage. Here he asks, In this moment, are you dependent upon enlightenment? Enlightenment is to see into the real nature of things—the nature of the conditioned self, our uncon- ditioned nature, time and circum- stances, the whole universe—and to realize that all things have one essence, which we speak of as “emptiness.” In this original state, all of creation is present, which we speak of as “form.” Form is emp- tiness, and emptiness is form; these are one undivided reality. We typically think of the path of enlightenment as a movement from dwell- ing within a realm of delusion, pain, and suffering to a realm that is free. We may think of enlightenment as something we don’t yet have but will obtain with realiza- tion. When the monastic sent by Ho-shang Mi asks, “Right in this very moment, are you dependent upon enlightenment?” he is asking, Is enlightenment something apart from you? Is it outside? What is it? INSIDE BUDDHADHARMA Mutually Dependent? It Depends In the world of form, opposites like enlightenment and delusion depend on each other to exist. But in ultimate reality, says Zen teacher GEOFFREY SHUGEN ARNOLD, they are not even two. This selection is from the Summer issue of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, published by Lion’s Roar. For more in-depth teachings, commentary, and reviews from Buddhadharma and to subscribe, go to lionsroar.com/buddhadharma. In our practice, we depend upon loving-kindness and compassion, upon the faith that wisdom resides within each of us. The relative is the realm in which we practice and move through our day, relying upon these things. But how, in the realm of the absolute, do we rely upon some- thing that has no form? How do we rely upon something that is timeless? How can we rely upon anything when there’s not a single thing that has permanence, that is solid and fixed? If we realize the emptiness of past, present, or future, how then do we also understand the evolution of realization within our lives as practitioners? All things arise from and as the abso- lute at the same instant. There is mutual dependency. The moment light appears, there’s darkness; the moment there’s up, there’s down. In order for there to be a sub- ject there must be an object, for there to be male there must be female; enlightenment and delusion need one another. All dualities are mutually dependent, which is, in fact, not dependent at all because they’re not fundamentally two. They arise together, simultaneously. To speak of “interdepen- dence” or “mutual dependence” is just another way of saying “not dependent.” So, when Yangshan says, “There is no absence of enlightenment,” we can see that, at every moment, there is no absence of formless- ness, of impermanence, of timelessness. ♦ GEOFFREY SHUGEN ARNOLD, ROSHI is the head of the Mountains and Rivers Order. ANNACABRERAANDANGELALBARRÁN LION’S ROAR | JULY 2019 25 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE