Monday, March 16, 2009

How can we change Humankind ?

Below is my own translation from French of an extract of “Zen and daily life” (Zen et vie quotidienne) by Master Taisen Deshimaru. I do not know that this book exists in English.

It provides an explanation of Karma, a concept I have been struggling with for quite a while... Karma as the flame that burns the wood. The wood burns and turns into ashes, but the Wood does not see the ashes, or knows nothing about them, and the ashes know nothing about the wood. What stays its the fire...

This is also an obvious reference to Genjokoan of Master Dogen.

One of the most simple explanation I heard of Yin and Yang is the analogy to a burning candle : the wax is Yin, the flame is Yang. Without wax, there can be no flame; without a flame, the wax is useless.

When the whole wax is burnt, the flame dies, but it might have set another candle in fire. Is this the same flame, or another flame ?

To believe in reincarnation and wish it, or not to believe in it and fear it, these are two erroneous attitudes. In Buddihsm, the 2 aspects are correlated. On one hand, the Buddha repelled all idea of transmigration, and on the other hand, certain texts affirm its reality. In fact, if we want to go beyond the world of transmigration, and beyond ethics, we need to understand the reason for this transmigration. During Zazen, we can understand the cause that provokes transmigration, reach the state of satori and realize this through our whole body and our spirit.

If one cuts all attachment, the substance of transmigration all of a sudden vanishes. And if there is no numen, there is nothing left to cut ! No more fear of death, no attachment to life, no attachment to the ego, no desire to keep on living: the subject is not attached to the ego anymore and the thought of transmigration is not necessary anymore. The burnt wood turns into ashes : it is a progressive transformation of the wood, while the fire keeps going. Karma is perpetuated through the prolongation of our thoughts, our words, our acts.

It is the flame of karma, while the ego is transformed like the wood is burnt. Wood turns into ashes, but wood cannot see the ashes, and the ashes neither can see the wood. There is no numen. By the practice of Zazen and Hishiryo consciousness, you can understand this difficult philosophy. But it is useless to try to get an intellectual understanding of it.

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