Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Ultimate Perspective On Life That Is No Perspective At All

Sun-faced Buddha, Moon-faced Buddha

In the Blue Cliff Record, Case Three is a koan in which the great 8th century monk, Master Ma-tzu, once a man of great physical presence and prowess, has just awakened. He is lying quietly, old, sick and about to die. His attendant enters and asks, "How are you feeling?" Master Ma says, "Sun-faced Buddha, Moon-faced Buddha."

In Buddhist mythology, the Sun-faced Buddha lives for eighteen hundred years in brightness and good health; The Moon-faced Buddha lives only one night, in darkness and ill-health. Master Ma uses his final moments of life to teach his student that whether one is sick or healthy is unimportant. All one does, his answer suggests, regardless of the conditions, regardless of whether sick or healthy, all one does is just practice. Sick or healthy, there is no difference.

To practice this way, to be peaceful in the face of the unwanted and when “perceived injustices” arise, we must train ourselves to see things as they really are. But more than just that, we must be able to see things as we think they are: good or bad, wanted and unwanted, and at the same time to understand that their ultimate nature is undifferentiated. Then everything is one. It is this way of seeing the world that leads us to One Mind, to Buddhahood.

Sun-faced Buddha, Moon-faced Buddha doesn't lead us to being uncaring or indifferent, quite the opposite. It leads us to a very clear and powerful engagement with every moment, with a sense of awe and wonder that arises from within when differentiation and preferences no longer cloud our vision.

As Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi, founder of the San Francisco Zen Center, said in a dharma talk: SUN-FACED BUDDHA, MOON-FACED BUDDHA! "I am here, I am right here."

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