Good morning. I'm glad each of you could make it this wintry morning. We have a few people here who haven't been here before, so what we do is we have a 30 minute sitting and we talk for a bit and then have lunch. It's a big topic today and we'll probably have to break it up and talk about it over several weeks. What I'd like to discuss today is the Heart Sutra.
Talk by Will Holcomb on May 19, 2012
Pali is the language of the earliest written record of the Buddha’s teaching. Dukkha is a Pali word that is difficult to translate into English, and it sits dead center in the middle of the Buddha’s project to liberate all beings. You can tell dukkha is difficult to translate because various scholars have used so many different English words for it: suffering, stress, pain, or unsatisfactoriness, to name a few. None of these quite take in the full scope of dukkha, so often the word is left untranslated. The Buddha says, “Birth is dukkha; aging is dukkha; death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair are dukkha. Association with the unbeloved is dukkha. Separation from the loved is dukkha; not getting what is wanted is dukkha. In short, the five clinging aggregates [everything we hold on to] are dukkha.” So dukkha is not just a concept; it is something we all experience every day, some days a little bit, other days a lot, but it always involves, at its core, dissatisfaction with the way things are.
During Saturday meetings we have been studying the four noble truths: the existence of dukkha, the cause of dukkha, the possibility for the cessation of dukkha, and the path to the cessation of dukkha.
One effect of practice is greater awareness of your mental and emotional states…and greater awareness of dukkha. Just as you become more aware of posture and breathing, you become more aware of dissatisfaction when it is present, coming and going, sometimes great, sometimes small. You become more sensitive to the various forms of dukkha, sometimes hot, like anger, or cold, like despair, or tepid, like boredom. The Buddha taught that the root cause for all of these is craving or clinging, the desire for things to be other than they are.
Knowing that the nourishing root of dukkha is craving can be useful. You can ask yourself, what is the root of this dissatisfaction I feel? What do I desire? Is this a desire I want to cultivate or is it something I want to free myself from?
Sometimes just becoming more aware, exposing the root, kills the dukkha-weed…or it may take more time and more practice. Perhaps, the root of the dissatisfaction is not clear. That’s OK. Just practice by noticing the bodily sensations you are experiencing, perhaps a tightness in the chest or in the gut, tension around the eyes or in the upper back, or a vague sense of fear. Notice that…and notice how it changes as you continue to observe. Then notice how it tends to dissipate and go away, sometimes quickly, other times slowly.
Working with dukkha and the cessation of dukkha is not a selfish activity. It’s a public service. The dukkha we carry around is impossible to keep inside our skins. It tends to spill out everywhere, in unskillful speech and actions and in harm to self and others. The dukkha that dissipates and ceases doesn’t leave a void. The space naturally fills in with kindness and compassion. These tend to spill out too.
IDENTITY ACTION: it is impossible to cut the sky in two with a knife.
Good morning. So we've been discussing Dogen's work "The Four Methods of Guidance." sometimes translated as "The Four Embracing Dharmas." And the first one was giving, the second was kind speech, last week we talked about beneficial action, and the fourth is called identity action.