by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi
Dainen-ji, July 12th, 2008
As the sky darkened into night over the pipal tree, Siddhartha Gautama sat up straight on his pile of kusha grass and began to wake up from his dreams of who he was.
He had been his mother’s little boy. He had been his father’s shining prince. He had been his wife’s tender lover. He had been the various concentration states that he had learned to practise from various teachers. He had been an ascetic punishing the body. He had woken up from those dreams; he had understood that, rather than punishing the body in order to find the Way, he needed to practise the body.
And so after a meal of congee made with milk, he sat beneath the tree, and the sky darkened. All of the dreams of who he had been rose and fell. All of the stories, all of the identities: the stories that people had told him about himself, the stories that he had told himself about himself and about other people.
As the watches of the night came and went, he opened up past all of the stories that littered his attention to the movements of attention that they gave rise to and reinforced. And then he saw that it was the movements of attention that gave rise to the stories in order to hide behind the stories.
Attention continuously leapt and clutched, but then fell open. The stories became more and more abstract. He saw more and more clearly that all of the qualities that he had defined himself by were the same as all of the qualities that all beings of all worlds define themselves by, but that each and every one of them was simply a movement of attention and an avoidance of the inherent openness of Experience.
As the sky brightened, he saw the star of the morning, the planet Venus, shining. And he saw that each and every thing, each and every moment, is a shining of that vast openness of Experiencing. He saw that that was the only thing that he could be, that anyone could be, that anything is.
And so Siddhartha Gautama woke up. We have stories about this man; we call him “Sakyamuni Buddha”. But he, and you, and I are beyond all stories, beyond all names, beyond all identities. Tonight, as the rain falls, as sweat drips, as the night slowly lightens into day, please, this evening, sit up straight.
And please, enjoy yourselves.