Keep IT Well


Now you have it, so keep it well. Jewel Mirror Samadhi


The quote above is a line from a Zen Buddhist Poem, titled, The Song of the Precious Jeweled Mirror Samadhi. It comes at the beginning of the poem right after the resounding affirmation by one of Buddha Shakyamuni’s disciples, Mahakashapa – the fellow who smiled a smile of recognition when Buddha Shakyamuni lifted a flower after giving a teaching. The poem is directed to those who have some understanding of what was/is intimately communicated.

If we follow this line of reasoning, we are to understand the Buddha’s teaching, that which is intimately communicated, is something we need to take care of – as it is the precious jeweled mirror Samadhi of the title of the poem. In common language, it is a glimpse at the Divine, our true nature.

Before we look at some practical and everyday practices we need to remember nothing is actually transmitted except for the acknowledgement of awakening with another being. Nothing is transmitted because the divine is within each one of us – IT – that which you keep well is there whether we realize IT or not.  Once we see IT, we need to look after IT.

One way to think about transmission is the Teacher/Master helps you turn your index finger around (represents the mind, intellect, ego and sense doors) inward like placing the finger upon your chest denoting the direction is inward, not outward. The Work is within.

In my basement I have a series of glass block windows with wide brick window sills. The basement is a quiet place; not much activity but every so often the window sills must be cleaned. No one has gone down there and made a mess but nevertheless, the dirt collects on the sills. Dirt is falling in a continuous stream whether I see it or not – in no time at all, the sills are covered with dust. I clean them and the dirt returns.

This cycle of brushing away the dirt is similar to what we must do – and the practices below will help to keep the precious mirror clean. This practice is considered essential and is the practice of a spiritual adept not yet stable. Stability comes when there is no mirror to clean. It is when we unite with our true nature. Until then, we practice ways in which to clear away the dirt; the results of karma (action) of our lives.

Sudden enlightenment comes as it did for Hui Neng; the lineage of A Single Thread and ZATMA. Hui Neng, a poor, uneducated, awakened man composed this poem:

“There is no mind and there is no mirror.

So where can the dust gather?

One who knows this is enlightened.”

Much of his monastic life was spent in the kitchen washing rice. He never meditated on a cushion, never read spiritual books and never needed instruction from his Master. He was an obedient monk who exemplified liberation. Never seeking the bowl and robe, symbols of a priest, he was given the title of Master. He represents the union with the Divine True Self.

Until we reach such freedom, we practice cleaning off the dust willingly and in the discipline of obedient humility as Hui Neng and others who have awakened have done. So, let us turn to one practice to begin to clear away the vexations of the mind and body.

Before you practice this particular practice, it is important to recognize that the no mind and no mirror is true – but it is not useful to analyze or use the intellect in an attempt to get it. You are already IT, but the dust (grime of karma) conceals IT.

The First Practice of Rich Ability

Shama. To withdraw the mind and the other five senses (close the doors of the senses) in order to let go of the external situation and focus on the internal reflection of the Divine in the precious mirror samadhi.

The first action is to know that shama is already available to you. When you get tired and fatigued, that is the action of shama. You begin to shut down and pull away from the external world to go to rest. Ah! Yes? Perhaps you have seen a new infant shut down in the middle of being cuddled or cooed over. Boom. Asleep.

Withdrawing the mind and sense doors is already part of our being. We need to harness this innate ability. When we practice, we actualize the glimpse of the Divine and keep IT well. We prevent more muck to cover IT.

Where and when do you practice shama? Everywhere, all the time. Withdraw the mind and senses and put your mind’s eye upon the internal reflection of the Divine. Waiting at the doctor’s office. In the turmoil of news. Waiting in line. Waiting in traffic. Washing dishes. Shopping. Making the bed.

Anytime when you are not required to engage the mind, the intellect and the ego, withdraw and close the sense doors then turn within and look at the Divine reflection inside.

Final encouragement: Practice, practice, practice this rich ability.

Good luck.


Humming Bird

Author: FaShi Lao Yue

Image credits: Fly, 2019

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