All Beings Are Sick

"All Beings Are Sick", number 116 of 200 from Robert Aitken's book Miniatures of a Zen Master.

In the Vimalakirti Sutra, Vimalakirti said to Manjusri, "I am sick because all living beings are sick."

Vimalakirti understands that he is not separate. How do we understand it? This notion of a separate self is oh so persistent. The sense of a me flows and ebbs with the tides of daily life.

My craft-work is a mirror of my sense of a separate identity. I'm a woodworker by avocation. I'm learning to carve and as I practice I lose track of time, I feel the knife as an extension of my hand or eye, the sounds of the wood chips peeling off of the knife mesmerize. Where is this persistent separate self then?

Jaye Seiho Morris, over at the Digital Zendo, has posted a three part (so far) article called "Zen Without Jargon". Right of the bat, Jaye goes to the heart of it. What is Zen?
"Frequently I hear Zen translated as "meditation." In my gut whenever people used that expression, It didn't seem right, but I didn't know why. But one day while living at a Monastery, I heard Eido Roshi speaking and he said, "Zen better said or put means Unification. Unify your Heart. Unify Everything.""

Anzan Hoshin, over at White Wind Zen Community, in his newsletter, has gifted us with a piece of his commentary on Eihei Dogen Yuibutsu Yobutsu [Only Buddha and Buddha], which appears in his masterwork Shōbōgenzō [True Dharma Eye Treasury]. In it he addresses this unification in a very graphical way.

"Seeing with the eyes of a Buddha is the unsurpassed wisdom of intimacy and is itself the path of Zen. To practice the path without recognizing the face-and-eye of the Buddhas as our own face is like not knowing whether the nose itches or doesn't."

This is what Vimalakirti points to. "Unify your heart."

This is a myth story that has alway moved me. We have opportunity at every moment, with every action, with every thought, to feed and nurture life. We can choose either a positive, expansive, unifying meal or a negative, constrictive, separating meal. The choice is ours. The results are mirrored back to us in our daily lives.    
One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. 

He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is Evil - It is anger, envy, jealousy, greed, and arrogance. The other is Good - It is peace, love, hope, humility, compassion, and faith.”

The grandson thought about this for a while and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

To which the old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Any error or confusion created by my commentary on
Miniatures of a Zen Master
is solely a reflection of my own delusion and ignorance.
Any merit generated by this activity is solely the result of
Aitken Roshi's clear teaching and is dedicated to
all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas throughout space and time.