White Wind Zen Community

A Community practising and teaching Dogen’s Zen since 1985

Every Breath You Take 138: Child of the Awakened Ones

Dharma Talk Presented by Ven. Shikai Zuiko O-sensei

Dainen-ji, July 28th, 2012

"Child of the Awakened Ones,
if wakeful ones use their intelligence in this way,
they will unfold all supreme and wonderful qualities,
which cannot be shaken away
by any shining beings, demons, monks, aristocrats, celestial musicians, violent shining beings, and so on,
nor by any who have only a hearsay knowledge of the Teachings
or those who self-fabricate enlightened states." 

This is the summation of the "Every Breath You Take" series.

This is number 138.

The "Every Breath You Take" series
is from the Avatamsaka sutra, Chapter 11,
verses written some 1600 years ago all about practice, 
all about YOU! 

Now when we hear "Child of the Awakened Ones"

our tendency is to think:

"Oh yes, someone else, this has nothing to do with me..." 

But there you are sucking on the tit of the Ancestors,
sitting in front of that wall,

I mean

face it: 

you are provided with the nutrition to grow your practice,
that's what you're doing,

Child of the Awakened Ones. 

And in the summation there is a naming of beings:
"shining beings,



celestial musicians,

violent shining beings,

and so on,
and again our tendency is to put this outside of ourself
these become beings,

things who will attack us,

things that we have to be wary of." 

Well, the "be wary of" part is correct,
because often in many of the Teachings, 
there are described

"shining beings, demons, monks, aristocrats, celestial musicians,
violent shining beings, and so on,"

and there is talk of the
Ten Realms of Existence,

the six mundane:



hungry ghosts,



and hell. 

And another way of looking at that is:


moments in time

when there is a contraction in the bodymind, 
your bodymind,

that has a belief about how it is
and how the world is,

and our behaviour fits into, exhibits,

shows these different realms. 

The human realms,

the animal realm

where the concern is basically eating, pooping, reproducing. 

The hungry ghost realm,

and those hungry ghosts:

skinny, pale, long fingers, big eyes, tiny mouths:

a visualization,

a representation of poverty mind, that which says:
"Please Sir, give me more!" 

and we reach out with those little graspers
to get something that we believe,

that self-image believes
will fill 
that basic unsatisfactoriness. 

So when we hear these references,

when we take them to be talking about

right here
right now,

we can recognize that no matter what we call it,
when there is a contraction

into a sense of a self,

with a belief about how it is

missing something, 


having everything better than everybody else,
a better human being, 
a better representation of a monk,
whatever the belief might be,

it is self-image dancing around. 

The moment you see it: practise! 

Practise what? 

Well, practise the only thing that's going on, which is 
this moment, 

and when you notice something

in this moment,

there is a moment of clear seeing,

there is a moment of waking up to Reality. 

Feel the breath,

feel the whole bodymind,

that is what you are practising. 

Now the statement also says that

"the supreme and wonderful qualities" that have been unfolded,
which are the qualities of a real human being,

the ability to recognize what is going on

in this moment,

which is the only thing that's going on



There are those, and they are things that we do and have experienced ourselves,
the fabricating of "enlightened states",

the fabricating and the believing in

"hearsay knowledge of the Teachings" 

is something that's been going on
at least for 1600 years
because it's talked about here. 

In a footnote to the text,
the Roshi notes that what is being talked about is "shomon", in Japanese,
or "sravaka" in Sanskrit,

"engaku" or "pratyekabuddhas" in Sanskrit. 

The "shomon" were "voice hearers"
and they refer to the immediate disciples of the historical Buddha
who had the opportunity to hear the Buddha first hand.
The Mahayana, into which this practice falls,
also uses this term for those individuals who studied the Buddha's Teachings
and contemplate them in an attempt to attain enlightenment for themselves,
in contrast to "bosatsu" or, in Sanskrit, "bodhisattvas",
who strive to aid others as well as themselves. 

And there are the "pratyekabuddhas", "engaku"
who try to read enough to practise forms,
to practise ways of being enough to observe the world
and the changes of nature,

and through this realize the impermanent nature of everything,

and see how things arise as a product of cause and conditions. 

That's the heart of the "pratyekabuddha",

these are practitioners who gain many insights and realizations from observing the world. 

Now, "sravakas" or "pratyekabuddhas" can develop purity of conduct
and a high degree of wisdom,
however, they are not able to attain the full degree of awakening of a Buddha. 

Why not? 

Because they're falling for the words about it,
they are falling for the experiences

rather than the clear seeing of dharma,

or moments of experiencing 

practising in that moment. 

Now, we do know that we LOVE to be able to fit ourselves into categories.
If we read a category about anything,
we will try and fit ourselves into it.
What we want to see is that pattern

that is self-image 
trying to create a place, to establish a place
for itself. 

Well, if there's only this moment,
all you can ever be
is in and of this moment. 

There is no "place",
there's just this. 

In today's eMirror, (Volume 16 No. 30 for those who are not present today and who may hear this in the future,)

the beginning of teisho 4, "What a Buddha Knows"
from Anzan Hoshin roshi's commentaries on Dogen zenji's
"Yuibutsu Yobutsu, Seeing Eye to Eye", he says: 

There is nothing to entangle you, nothing to be attached to. No matter how crazy and confused and contracted you were a moment ago or even right now, you don't have to be stuck with it. 

To quote Dogen zenji:

"The total universe is the gate of liberation." 

You need no other gate.
And you can enter it anywhere at any time.
To truly understand this, you must know that you cannot enter it,
you cannot pass through this gate of liberation as if it were a doorway.

Because it's open on both sides of the door.
There is no door.
The gate of liberation is Mumonkan, a gateless gate. 

All there is is this moment right here
right now. 

How startling is that, really
when you live it
when you feel the breath
when you feel the whole bodymind? 

This is it. 

Now, this is the last of the Every Breath You Take series.

This was started in November 2007.
That was about two years after I was given the diagnosis of congestive heart failure
because of an enlarged heart. 

Now, quite frankly,
I did not think at the time that I would reach this point of finishing the whole thing.
[O-sensei laughs]
So I delayed a bit in starting it, I thought: 

"What's the point? Why start something you can't finish?" 

And then I realized that was just stupid.
So I thought, well, I'll start it, I'll do my best, we'll see what happens. 

Well, here I am, for better or worse.

Here I am.

Here you are.

All sorts of things have changed for all of us, including, you know, 
my heart went back to a normal size. 

The doctor says: "Well, really we don't know,
we go for the norm when we're talking about stuff."
[O-sensei laughs] 

But here we are!

This moment,

the only thing that's going on ever. 

This is your life. Welcome to it. 

When you see it clearly,
feel the breath,

feel the whole bodymind and you too, 


Child of the Awakened Ones, 

"... if wakeful ones use their intelligence in this way," 

and of course, the "this way" is a reference to the 137 verses that have preceded,
which of course we all know by heart... 

"they will unfold all supreme and wonderful qualities,
which cannot be shaken away
by any shining beings, demons, monks, aristocrats, celestial musicians, violent shining beings,
and so on,
nor by any who have only a hearsay knowledge of the Teachings
or those who self-fabricate enlightened states." 

Thank you for listening.