Monday, August 17, 2009

Nature's Course

Zen Master Soeng Hyang (Barbara Rhodes, head Zen Master of the Kwan Um School of Zen) just sent an email to the members of the School, quoting this poem from Ryokan (1758-1831):

The flower invites the butterfly with no-mind;
The butterfly visits the flower with no-mind.
The flower opens, the butterfly comes;
The butterfly comes, the flower opens.
I don't know others,
Others don't know me.
By not-knowing we follow nature's course.

ZM Soeng Hyang wrote, "What is 'nature's course'? Understanding can not help you."

My Buddhist name is Kwan Soeng, meaning Perceive Nature. A friend I've gone camping with gets upset whenever there are voices in the wilderness: "Screw those humanoids... I came here for nature!" But every wave in the ocean is water; isn't everything nature? What is there that's not nature?

9 comments:

Former Berkeley Girl said...

Isn't wonder a form of understanding?

Stuart said...

Former Berkeley Girl said...
Isn't wonder a form of understanding?

Say you bring up a big question, like What am I?

Maybe you think of an answer, some idea about what this "I" is. To hold such an idea is "understanding."

If you don't not hold any answer, there's only "don't know". That's "wondering." In the space of "don't know," just-now experience appears with clarity.

Former Berkeley Girl said...

Hmm, yes, perhaps "amazement" would have been a more apt word than "wonder" - particularly in response to nature. This notion of not holding any consideration of answers is what I find difficult. Would refraining from conclusion be enough to begin?

Stuart said...

Former Berkeley Girl said...
This notion of not holding any consideration of answers is what I find difficult. Would refraining from conclusion be enough to begin?

Bring up the question "What am I?" and don't know. When you're questioning, you're not holding any answer or conclusion.

Any sort of thinking may appear and disappear, like clouds in the sky. The thinking isn't a problem... just don't hold anything.

Former Berkeley Girl said...

"Not holding" something doesn't really seem like not thinking or not understanding. And just to be somewhat challenging, isn't a directive like "just don't hold anything" a reflection of some set "understanding" on your part?

I suppose that if the state of being more open, rather than shutting down due to conclusions, particularly to the present "just now", is the desired state, then "not holding" is a way of being more perceptive - to everything, all of nature. Difficult for me to really buy that this is a state of not understanding.

Stuart said...

When you're thirsty, you drink. Whether you call the drink water or eau or H2O... they're just different names for the same experience of quenching thirst.

All sorts of different names can be used to point to just-now experience. Whether it's "not holding" or "not understanding" or "more open" or "more perceptive"... or some other words, or silence, or an action... it's all pointing to the same thing.

At this moment, what do you perceive, what are you doing? The experience itself is before words and ideas, but words can be used to point to it. That's what the "Nature's Course" poem and the Zen Master's comment is doing. The meaning isn't in the words themselves, but what they point to.

Former Berkeley Girl said...

Thank you for engaging with me for a few moments. :-)

Anonymous said...

Stuart, missed you at our recent poker game. Should I keep you on the list?

Mike

Stuart said...

Hey, Mike, sorry to miss the game. I was recovering from dental work on Monday... hope to see you next time.