Sunday, February 20, 2011

Shobogenzo Ch15 Busso (II) - Confidence

A few additional thoughts on confidence, faith, and trust have come up while I've been thinking about the following quote from Busso:

The realization of the Buddhist patriarchs is [our] taking up the Buddhist patriarchs and paying homage to them. This is not of only the past, the present, and the future; and it may be ascendant even to the ascendant [reality] of buddha. It is just to enumerate those who have maintained and relied upon the real features of Buddhist patriarchs, to do prostrations to them, and to meet them. Making the virtue of the Buddhist patriarchs manifest and uphold itself, we have dwelled in and maintained it, and have bowed to and experienced it.

In particular, the phrase "it may be ascendant even to the ascendant [reality] of buddha" seems significant. Why would Dogen say that paying homage to the buddhas is superior even to the reality of buddhas?

Paying homage to the Buddha ancestors is something we do in the present moment. Especially during prostrations raising the palms above the forehead means I am giving myself up to this practice, giving up doubt, giving up resistiveness. Moreover, I am recognizing that practice is more important than any beliefs or doubts I have about any specific Buddhist patriarch in the lineage.

There are Buddhist ancestors and Buddhist patriarchs that lived to the point. We can never know all the details about any one specific individual and whether they were constantly buddhas in perfect perfection. What we can have confidence, faith, and trust in, however, is that the extent to which these individuals were buddhas in perfect perfection reflects the extent to which they were sincere in their practice. In other words, the 'real features' of Buddha ancestors include sincerity in practice.

Practice is right here and now, it's not some attainment or goal in the future we aspire to.
Practice involves maintaining a soft and flexible mind.
Our own practice is something we can have confidence, faith, and trust in.


Ascendant even
To the ascending buddhas —
Honoring buddhas.

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