Mirror of Zen Blog

Make It Conscious

I used to often wonder about those masters like Hakuin and Kyong Ho Sunim, Bong Cheol Sunim who experienced big awakenings, and yet fell back into periods of manifesting dark karma. Especially in our lineage, there is all of this tantric “working with the passions and the delusions to wake up” — We are famously not into making sure things are always correct, correct, correct or moralistic about the lifestyle here. It has never been so in our family way. And yet it is super correct, much more abstemious than people normally feel in such a vibrant city as our Regensburg. Yet we rarely go out — except for coffee. The drink of choice in our lifestyle is definitely not a depressive GAMA-suppressor, except when some special guest might come, quite rarely, thankfully.

So Jung’s view here:

This captures so much of the “reason” why many near-teachers and going back through Korea/Su Dok Sah and then into Japan. Hakuin’s bravery with debilitating karmic purges, and our lineage figures seem so deeply engaged in “Sudden insight, gradual cultivation of better habit-forces.” Karma work. Tantric regeneration of impulses. What Jung is pointing to has already been a navigating principle in my life-practice especially most recently.

But this quote from Bassui is really where I operate from, or hope to remain closer to. It naturally expresses my intuitive movement in all this waking-up work, whether it’s guiding a community or leading broadcasts of our silent retreats, completing admin tasks, the online course, the meditation app.

Bassui Tokushō (抜隊 得勝, 1327–1387) was a Rinzai Zen Master born in modern-day Kanagawa Prefecture who had trained with Sōtō, Rinzai and Ch’an masters of his time. Bassui was unhappy with the state of Zen practice in Japan during his time, so he set out in life with the mission of revitalizing it. The problems he saw were really two sides of the same coin. That is, he saw both too much attachment by some monks and masters to ritual and dogma as well as too much attachment by some monks and masters to freedom and informality.

The words are the GPS of my own bodhisattva vow, such as it is, for whatever it’s worth. I recognized some deep recognition of my Path the very first time I read Bassui’s words. Amazing to see how aligned was his own struggle against the extremes of ceremony and form, and all that freedom-action, and how I am continually digesting to manifest a better balance of the two extremes through daily practice.

Supposedly armed with willingness to have this hell-check cashed, that I will contemplate entering hell to help someone (ANYone?) in their seeing and blooming.

But are the costs worth it? The hells I have entered in this practice have usually been costly, in one way or another. I must be always vigilant and careful. It is wonderful noticing how alcohol is not missed at all or needed. It’s such a truly dumb thing, with only damage following it. It’s amazing how the army barracks I’ve grown noticeably irked by its fogging and its sharp edges. It is the serpent that must not be woken up, except just a glass as rarely as these days. Hardly the lifestyle at all — only some community-building when much work has been expended…

Just make it conscious.

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

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