Thursday, December 01, 2005

tao teh ching 47

Without going outside, you may know the whole world.
Without looking through the window, you may see the ways of heaven.
The farther you go, the less you know.

Thus the sage knows without travelling:
He sees without looking;
He works without doing[1].

[1] Lau has:

... knows without having to stir,
Identifies without having to see,
Accomplishes without having to act.

Wu wei is a difficult term to translate. I actually think Richard Lynn's 'act/work without conscious effort' is pretty close.

The Ma wang tui text reads the first two lines in the style of 'No need to do this in order to do that', which certainly changes the flavour. As does Wang Pi, it reads the last two lines as:

... Names without seeing,
And completes without doing a thing.

Henricks points out that, though technically the same as the later, standard texts, the Ma wang tui texts are grammatically more precise.

Wang Pi, who reads the first two lines as admonition: Know all under Heaven without even leaving your gates; see the Tao of Heaven without even peering out of your window, comments:

Affairs have a progenitor, and things have a master. Though roads differ, they all bring one back to the same place, and, though there may be hundreds of ways to deliberate, there is ultimate congruence of thought(*). The Tao has its great constancy and principle has its great perfection, so 'hold onto the Tao of old to preside over what exists now' (cf. ch. 14). Although living in the present, it is possible to know how things were in the very roots of time...

(*) The Commentary on the Appended Phrases in the I Ching reads in part: What does the world have to think about? Since everything ultimately comes to the same end though the roads to it are different, so, too, there is ultimate convergence in thought though there may be hundreds of ways to deliberate on it. So what does the world have to think or deliberate about?

(One who goes out) does not reside in the One but seeks to find things out from the many. As for the Tao, he looks for it but does not see it; he listens for it but cannot hear it, tries to touch it but cannot find it. If he knew it, there would be no reason to leave his gate, but, not knowing, the further he goes, the more confused he becomes.
Because the sage perfectly grasps the principle of things, though he makes no move he can know what is happening just by inference. Because he recognises the progenitor of things, though he does not watch what is happening he can name the principles of right and wrong involved.
Understanding the nature of things, he does nothing but remain in accord with it...

Cheng says (in part): Without leaving one's door one can take what is to hand as a model for understanding the world. Without glancing out of the window one can let reason unfold until the Tao is naturally visible.

This chapter emphasises several important points: Firstly that meditation upon the real doesn't require anything you don't already have. Two techniques that spring to mind are the famous one of watching the breath, and a somewhat less well–known one from the Shuramgama Samadhi Sutra, which — like the touching together of hands mentioned yesterday — leads almost immediately into the non–dual state. The second point is that all 'effortful doing' is too much.
Coming back to the first, and to the first of the techniques mentioned, I'm sure you all know of and possibly have even used the technique of counting the breaths as a means of entering meditation. One counts the in breaths, say from one to ten and then starts again at one, continuing with this until the mind has calmed a little. Another, technique, slightly more difficult but possibly more interesting, is to watch the breath and know for yourself this is a deep breath, this is a less deep one, this air I'm breathing in is cooler than this air here that I'm now breathing out — not reciting this to yourself, but simply being aware of it, and being (or becoming) aware, also, that the finer your breathing, the quieter your thoughts — that breath and thought are in intimate relation.
The Shuramgama Samadhi technique — the technique of 'the profound meditative concentration of the advancing hero', to give it a translation — is no less simple. Around you there are always sounds — even no sound is heard as a far more palpable absence than, for example, the non–apprehension of either warmth or coolness — you immediately hear no sound; you are generally unaware of the other unless especially looking for it.
So one first briefly meditates on the sound and then, in ever more profound acceptance, on the one who is listening... Let me quote the sutra itself:

At first, by directing the organ of hearing into the stream of meditation, this organ became detached from its object, and, by wiping out concepts of either sound or stream–entry, both disturbance and stillness became clearly non–existent. Thus advancing step by step, both hearing and its object ceased completely, but I did not stop where they ended.
When the awareness of this state and the state itself were realised as non–existent, both subject and object merged into the void, the awareness of which then became all–embracing. With further elimination of the void and its object, both creation and annihilation vanished, giving way to the state of nirvana which them manifested.
Suddenly I leaped over both the mundane and the supramundane, thereby realising an all–embracing lucidity pervading all of space in the ten directions and acquiring two unsurpassed merits. The first of these was an accord with the fundamental and profound enlightened mind of all buddhas on high throughout the ten directions and possessing the same merciful power as all those who advance in true thusness, while the second was a sympathy with all sentient beings in the six realms of existence in the ten directions here below, sharing with them the same plea for compassion.

What I mean to point out here is that, as are all the other elements of our particular universes, breath and sound are always with us, always at hand to lead us back to the source.
This extremely important because we do get lost in the apparent multiplicity of things, but, in fact, they are all pointing back at their unicity, and, beyond even that, to their emptiness... One is never 'lost' because no matter where or when one is, it's always only ever 'here' and 'now'... Here and now have no ultimate existence and yet that is always what is...
It's quite extraordinary.
On my website is yet another text by Lama Mi–p'am, this one — as he says — 'vomited out' after years of meditation...

Molten Gold: Pith–Instruction on Looking Into the Mind.
A Guide to the Mind entitled
Liquid Gold Vomited from the Stomach of a Dog

To Mañjujñanasattva — Mañjushri the Wisdom–being — essence of my own mind inseparable from the Lama, I bow down.

The root of both samsara and nirvana is the mind.
Apart from what is born of the mind, nothing else whatsoever exists.
The manifold dance of illusory form
Is overcome when its creator, mind the magician, is brought under control.

Not understanding this is the delusory mind of the six realms,
And if you do understand, that is primordial awareness.
That primordial awareness is, in itself, Buddhahood,
And, as the quintessential buddha–nature (sugatagarbha), resides in the heart.



Look this way. Look into your own mind.
Wide the eyes that look out at everything,
But, like a beloved child one has long known,
What is it really like, this thing we call ‘my mind’?

Today the time has come to look at it:
Turning ones eyes from the manifold phenomena (dharma) of the external world,
To look within is the one profound and supreme Dharma .

Though you may enter into the primordial wisdom
Where all things are wordlessly known to be illusory
And of one taste with pure awareness,
Simply by looking into this mind, in a single instant and one fell swoop
You can burst open the cavern of object–craving mind
And see directly into the quintessence of primordial awakenedness.
This is why it is known as the short–cut path.

There is no need to unite the skilful means and insight of the realm of reality and its intrinsic awareness;
The fact that reality and awareness cannot be added to or subtracted from each other
Is now nakedly set forth, O fortunate one.


The objective realm is the creative play of mind:
Without mind, who would there be to know these objects?
What is known and mind itself are inseparable:
This coming into being of nothing as such is a magical self–manifestation.


There is nothing whereby one could lay hold of the reality of mind:
If there were, you could meditate on the presence of such a ‘something’.
Similarly, if there were a (tangible) absence, you could meditate on the ‘absence’:
Do not split it into such opposites.


That which is not two dispels the idea of duality;
That which cannot be definitely established as one, appears as a duality.
This — which cannot be conceived of even as ‘this’ —
Is the self–presencing of the King, Mind As Such.


Even if you don't know what to meditate on,
Simply seeing it as something unattainable,
(Although not as if you'd thrown something away),
Is to see into the foundations of the mind.

When you allow this, too, to remain in the realm of the unattainable,
Although there is no longer the smallest atom of concrete reality,
You possess the creativity of all–illumining knowledge,
The non–duality of reality and its intrinsic awareness inseparable.

Nothing as such, yet it has no essence of nothingness.
Examined, there is nothing. Left to itself, it is clear and bright,
Though — like the moon's reflection in water — not to be caught at by grasping for it.

Void of all essence of cause, effect, stillness or movement,
The intrinsic nature of this Voidness being a self–existent radiance
Whose compassionate response is never–ending,
What arguments of being and non–being could comprehend it?

When investigating, mind is an analogy for primordial awakenedness;
In understanding, it is pure awareness — the self–arising of primordial awareness —
What a miracle, this radiance of Mind–as–such!

What benefit is there in its openness and its appearing?
Who is this in which there is no duality? What is it that is to be meditated upon?
Leave it as it is in its self–settledness.

According to their various capacities,
Individuals perceive this self–established primordial awakenedness beyond ordinary mentality
Either gradually or instantaneously.

In it, yogic practitioners
Burn the seeds of the six realms
In the fires of the vajras of indestructible Body, Speech and Mind
That are the innate creativity of the primordial awakenedness in the heart.

From them, the sun of support and strength blazes forth,
And, holding wisdom in their hands and putting it into practice,
In a single lifetime they realise primordial Buddhahood.

SAMAYA — Commitment.

On the perfect occasion of the 15th. day of the 11th. month of the Iron Horse, while doing a meditation–retreat upon Pälchen Heruka, I was feeling like an old dog with one or two teeth chewing on a bone, when suddenly this prayer was vomited out.

A swaggering youth, glancing about,
Is looking everywhere for a beautiful girl dressed in her finery,
But, when he finds her — the one he has chosen as his heart's desire —
Suddenly the words pour forth freely and without contrivance. — HA!

I beg your indulgence for any pompousness (and any error!) in the translation.

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