The Yoga of the Bow And Arrow

 

There was a silence that came when the archer appeared. He was tall and straight and wore the robes of a Master archer. Many came to see him, to see if he could hit the mark that seemed an impossible distance away.

The wise among them knew the yoga of the bow and arrow – knew the Great Teaching of hitting the mark. Others came to see the skill of the archer; to see the arrow rise in a skyward arch towards the impractical target. Some laughed with satisfaction that this was an act of a fool.

 

 

Nevertheless, it was a large crowd – of seekers and sycophants; of bystanders and spectators. Young and old and able-bodied and disabled waited to see. Some cynical and skeptical, others hoping for the best; not knowing what the best would be.

 

 

The air was cool under a blue, brought sky. The ground damp from the morning dew. The grass smelled with growth and hope as the Zen Master moved to the furthest point from the target. A small murmur from those who watched him followed.

 

With anticipation building the crowd became antsy; some considered leaving; others did leave. When an unexpected, strong wind blew through the crowd there came a matching unexpected silence. Everyone turned to see this man outfitted in the regalia of a Master archer.

He walked slow, confident with a strong presence of sincerity.

No one spoke.

He strapped an ancient leather covering along his bow arm then pulled on a hand strap on his other.

The crowd turned to see him slip the arrow from the quiver and rest it on the bow.

All the movements were steady and even.

With bow in hand he pulled the bow string with arrow as far as his strength would taken it – the crowd moved closer.

There was more murmuring but a shush, shush quieted the soft voices.

Heads turned this way and that looking for the target. Some stood on tiptoes to see the target.

The bull’s eye stood still at the farthest point down field – everyone became quiet with wonder.

How could this Master hit the mark from such an impossible distance?

The Master set the bow and arrow, lifted in the direction of the target.

Drawing back the well-placed arrow, everyone saw the power and  strength.

Still and steady; he held it.

Then suddenly… he turned the bow towards the sky and let it fly.

 

_____

 

There were very few that understood. Disappointment filled the minds of the bystanders and spectators. The cynics and skeptics were secretly sad but left in a huff, saying “I knew it was too good to be true.” The young shrugged and just didn’t care. There’d be another day to play somewhere else. There were critics who deemed the Master a failure. What do you understand?

 

 

Humming Bird

*I was once dubious about working with a teacher,

but after a lifetime of practice, and working with Ming Zhen

I see the need and recommend you find a teacher you can work with face to face.

Afterall,

a teacher wants to help you on your spiritual path.

 

Author: FaShi Lao Yue

Image credits: Fly, 2020

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at: yao.xiang.editor@gmail.com

Golden bow and arrow isolated on white background 3d rendering
Creator: koya79
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Truths

 

The Four Noble Truths

I am pretty sure most of you have heard of the Buddha’s four noble truths since Buddhism has been well-advertised in the West. But I wonder if you are able to recite them, in your own way of course, the way you took them in. Along with that wonder are these personal questions, do you live by them – that is, did they take root – and did they grow into a strength within you?

Just in case you’ve forgotten them – oh, don’t be embarrassed – I’ll stick them in right here just as a reminder. 

 

The Four Noble Truths

  1. The Truth of suffering
  2. The Truth of the cause of suffering
  3. The Truth of the end of suffering
  4. The Truth of the path to the end of suffering

 

I do hope they sound familiar. For those of you who have never, ever heard them or heard them once or twice and blew them off stay tuned. I am going to give a refresher.

 

THE REFRESHER

 

I remember many years ago waking up in the morning and sitting on the edge of my bed thinking, “Life is so disappointing.” I hope you can have a good laugh – I certainly can. There I was first thing in the morning in a lovely house, in the middle of my career, with a wonderful partner, two dogs, a car, money enough to travel if I like, nominal health and I woke up declaring:

 

Life is so disappointing!

 

As I sat there I heard myself declare such a ridiculous pronouncement I fell back onto the bed and laughed and laughed and laughed. Once I stopped laughing I sat up, shook my head and declared:

 

Life is neither so disappointing nor so satisfying!

 

Huh. I thought to myself. Life happens without any of my declarations. Life, that is, existence of all life, goes on without me saying one way or the other what life is or not. Life rolls along, much like the waves on the ocean or the wind through the trees, or fire burning wood, or water running in a stream. Life happens. 

 

Ok. I hope you get this – because it has to do with the first two Truths. The Truth of suffering and the Truth of the cause of suffering. Let’s take a look.

 

There I was – saying to myself life is so disappointing. I was making a declaration of the Truth of suffering. Imagine living out the day of existence experiencing the day as sooooooooo disappointing. Pretty miserable. Smack dab in suffering. 

 

Now I was a newbie to the world of Zen Buddhism so I fell into the suffering of disappointment, but I had a fortune pocketed in my mind. I knew the Way to end suffering (this Way is the third and fourth Truths; the end of suffering and the path). Whew! 

 

Let me explain some of the pitfalls that many of us fall into when we think about these four Truths. The main pitfill is highlighted by my declaration which is a mistake that comes with consequences. If I had continued to live the day with the mind and body on the rudder of disappointment, suffering indeed would continue. Convincing me life is disappointing. The continuation would be long-lived because I would have seen the “world” the external “world” as the cause of my misery. That is not what Shakyamuni meant in the second noble Truth. The Truth is the cause of suffering is desire.

Wanting. Wanting. Wanting.

Let’s retrace that morning. “Life is disappointing” is the expression of an inner desire that if followed and believed would lead to more suffering. The inner desire, and more deeply than that, the seed of that desire was the cause of the suffering, not the world. As I said, “life, existence is neither disappointing nor satisfying. Life is. PERIOD. 

We, you and me, put our desire on life which sometimes gives us what we want, which strengthens the seed of suffering and sometimes cracks us over the head with not getting what we want which weakens our ability to be fearless, generous and wise. We tend to whine, sniffle, and fall into a vat of despair when we don’t get what we want. Afterall, we remain babies until we grow up in the Truth.

This scenario, one of many, shows us that we need a Way – a path on which to travel in order to end suffering. 

Now it’s true there are many paths out there – exclaiming this is the Way. It is at times like a barker at a carnival. Nonetheless, over time we, if we are lucky, we pick a path and begin the spiritual journey out of suffering. As we go along, the Path tends to incline and we tend to breathe in the heights of awareness and awakening. Let me illustrate.

The explanation above shows us a level of knowing how to end suffering. Let me repeat here before I go further. To know the world is NOT the cause of suffering is a big deal – not many see this Truth. But this cause is Truth at a particular level – where you are amongst those who see the world as existence – but there’s more to do. 

 

Some of you may be asking – “OK. If the world is not the cause of suffering, what is?” I think that question needs to be contemplated. Take for example the political conditions worldwide. There are those FOR and there are those AGAINST just about everything in the world making for more and more conflict. Now apply the Truth to this situation. “The world is NOT the cause of your suffering.” At this point you may ask, then if that is TRUE, what is the cause of suffering.”

Glad you asked.

 

The cause of suffering is in YOU….and to be honest and sincere…in ME. This is good news. Very good news. Even though you may want to continue to blame the world…the Truth is the cause of suffering is you and me. 

The basis of this cause is desire. You and I want things to go according to our desire. This suffering is our human condition and will continue on until you work on your inner attachment to wanting things to go according to your desire. 

 

So far, are you with me? Attachment to your desire is the clenching factor in suffering.

I can attest to this Truth. But that’s not much help. You need to experience it yourself.

 

It requires an honest, rather a stripping away type of honesty, to fess up to your wanting things your way. Some of us will lose this opportunity this time around and die in the suffering of wanting things our way. And…thankfully, some of us will do the work of taking a deep look into the self ferreting out the seeds of desire. 

This ferreting activity is just the beginning. There is another step which is more of a clear out like a power vac of the ego – where the ego is sucked up altogether. But that is for another day. We have to start the work with a sincere heart and examine the self until we see that the cause of suffering is in us – in you, in me. 

This is the Truth. 

Humming Bird

*I was once dubious about working with a teacher, but after a lifetime of practice, and working with Ming Zhen

I see the need and recommend you find a teacher you can work with face to face.

Author: FaShi Lao Yue

Image credits: Fly, 2020

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at: yao.xiang.editor@gmail.com

Not Giving a Rat’s Ass

Credit: Fa Ming Shakya

In Honor of My Teacher.

OM NAMO GURU DEV NAMO

 

I remember the bowing, lighting candles, unfolding the zagu  

A distant form – empty. Done. Completed. 

Sometimes taken as salvation.

Sometimes giving curses.

Said to be, “Nonsense!”

 

Eventually the bowing mat disappeared.

It gave shimmering promises.

Too far away. Too close up.

The thread never known.

 

Everything comes and goes. The bitter and the sweet.

All being. All this. All that.

 

When we make it out to the current, we stop struggling and 

Sail along watching all of it appear and disappear.

Right now it is best not to speak. Not to talk. Not to go up and down along words.

Nothing to say. IT is beyond compare.

 

Doing things right or wrong is an endless trap – a hamster running on the inside rim of a wheel.

IT is immeasurable. Uncountable.

Only the Bigness of the Unsayable satisfies the bottomless hunger.

But it can’t be made or taken apart.

 

All else are waves on the surface of the eternal ocean of bliss.

Inner desires are the waves.

For or against – wanting satisfaction. 

Getting it or not. Troubled waters come.

 

The smallest desire blocks the Way.

 

No giver. No receiver. No gift.

OM namo guru dev namo. 

GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA. … PARASAMGATE 

 

 

Humming Bird

*I was once dubious about working with a teacher, but after a lifetime of practice, and working with Ming Zhen

I see the need and recommend you find a teacher you can work with face to face.

 

Author: FaShi Lao Yue

Image credits: Fly, 2020

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at: yao.xiang.editor@gmail.com

 

These Bones!

After the test showed that my bones now officially qualify as osteoporotic, (bone density low enough to cause potentially serious hip and vertebral fractures) I sat with a nurse to learn my options. I asked many questions, took notes.

Then I walked home, my mind spinning with so many questions. What should I do? How will I treat this new threat to my well-being as I age? Was there a natural way to increase bone density I could trust? Or should I follow the medical model of treatment using powerful drugs? Drugs promise to increase bone density but at such a high cost with their numerous down-sides. On the other hand are my memories of my grandmother in acute pain from spinal fractures, she who did not have drug treatment options for her crippling osteoporosis thirty years ago.

I stayed up late, reading online to learn more. Sleep, when it came, was not restful.

Gratitude abounds for the morning practice of sitting meditation. Once again, out of the silence and stillness: Wisdom. I recognized that I was picking and choosing, my mind adrift in a sea of potential options I must evaluate, eliminate, advocate. The aversion to past and future pains and sufferings fell away. So did the desire to know the perfect strategy that would protect me from harm.

It all let go into the here and now, such a relief. From HERE, I could rest into the great unfolding. I could trust that the next right step would emerge, one that wasn’t up to this picking and choosing “me.” HERE, there is trust that each step in this new journey of osteoporosis is taken without attachment to the outcome, without clinging to any particular direction, every choice, every move emerging from a unique moment in time and space, no static correct treatment to hold on to.

The only unchanging truth is this: these bones and the body that houses them will ultimately fail completely. No treatment options for that medical truth.

We take care of the bodies as well as we can. Our hearts and minds however are where the real work lies. There, the most effective treatment is spiritual truth. We remind the mind over and over to realize the changing nature of all things, to remember its own impermanence and to submit to the light of impermanence. We remind the mind to submit every experience of change, aging and sickness to the wise scrutiny of no picking, no choosing. No right, no wrong. No wanting, no knowing. Trusting each moment to show us the way.

Humming Bird

Lao Huo Shakya

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at: yao.xiang.editor@gmail.com 

 

Image Credit: Howie Hearn from Flagstaff, AZ.  Sculpture:  “I Told You We Would Win That War.”