The meaning is not in the words,
yet it responds to the inquiring impulse.
Song of the Precious Jewel Mirror Samadhi
What on earth does this mean?
It means that action is what overrides the meaning of the words. Simple. Clear. But often overlooked. Action, not formulas or words, illuminates the teachings and cannot be duplicated or mimicked.
This means that a Master illuminates meaning in the moment with the student. Let me clarify.
To merely quote a teaching is not much in terms of illumination. Words help, but frozen formulaic words are not much help. Since no moment is the same a Master responds to the inquiring impulse in the moment with an act – without the inquiring impulse the student risks being overly excited, mentally confused, and limits realization by relying on words. Words alone are not enough. Action in response to inquiry is necessary.
The mirror in which we must look to see ourselves is like a mass of fire. Hot, blazing fire that removes our attachments to the false self. It requires determination to stay the course.
To study the false self is where we begin. To see the relative every-day-ness as it is, impermanent – that nothing is permanent in the relative world even though we may wish it to be otherwise. In this recognition of the relative in the absolute is the place where we are OK as long as things go well – but we lose our footing when the ever-changing seas change.
Seeing this inability to remain stable is a realization. It is a time to inquire and to inquire and to inquire into the mind and harness what is already there – tranquility – and restraint of the sense doors.
To study the false self takes time, a willingness to look into this blaze of light and a determination to tame the sense doors in order to purify the mind.
The essence of karma is the tell – a tell is any change in behavior during a poker game that indicates what kind of hand the player has. In Zen Buddhism, the tell is any act which indicates what kind of attachment there is to the false self.
The revelations that follow the tell either lead to over excitement which is deadly or a strong hesitation to keep practicing. Both extreme may lead to giving up – which is wrong-headed. The telling acts are guidelines showing us where we are and what work we need to do. It is NOT a time to give up – it is a time to face the blaze again and again in the continuous work of purifying the mind.
The mouth, the nose, the ears, the flesh, and the eyes all need to be tamed by the mind not the will. The will is to help steady the mind to keep facing the blaze and keep going no matter how much we stumble.
Get UP! That’s where the will is useful. Get UP! Face what is there – and keep going. Ask yourself – what do you do when you see the false self and all the barnacles of attachment you continuously, habitually cling to?
The blaze of light shows us, moment by moment by our actions, where we are – and we are either turning to the world for all its false comforts or taking the backward step towards shama – tranquility and calmness where we learn to restrain the sense doors from popping open.
This practice is moment by moment – in response to what we meet moment by moment the light shines and illuminates the false identities until we let them go.
Author: FaShi Lao Yue
Image credits: Fly, 2019
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