Sunday, May 24, 2009

Another FB List: 15 books, 15 minutes

I don't know who John Wilmot is, but I included his note because the books I list also may not necessarily be favorites. I am going to stick with 15 in 15 though. But no tagging...consider yourself tagged if you want to be. Ready, begin...

Copied from Choten: >>>Yay. Another list. Here's the concept:

"Don't take too long to think about it. List 15 books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Tag 15 friends, including me. If you don't want to play, no sweat."

And, copied from John Wilmot: "I just wrote as many books as I could think of in fifteen minutes that were enjoyable, memorable, or influential for me. (And of course, I've thought of several more already that would have been better additions to the list.) They're not all favorites, and they're certainly not all great, but they've stuck with me for some reason. In the unlikely event that you wonder why, we could discuss it over a drink some time."<<<

  1. The Bible (The B - I - B - L - E ....yes that's the book for me. I stand all along on the word of god, the B - I - B - L - E...)
  2. Heidi (duh)
  3. Folk and Fairy Tales (part of a set in our attic when I was a kid, don't remember what that set was called, but there were two or three volumes I read over and over when I was out of other books to read. Another was Myths and Legends, another about famous explorers, etc. and that may not be the exact title, sorry)
  4. Zen Mind Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
  5. Being Peace
    by Thich Nhat Hanh
  6. The Odyssey
  7. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  8. The Golden Compass (the whole Dark Materials series, actually)
  9. The Scarlet Letter
  10. A Midsummer Night's Dream
  11. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  12. Moby Dick
  13. Huckleberry Finn
  14. Zen Roots by Kyogen Carlson
  15. Their Eyes Were Watching God

Friday, May 22, 2009

Yes or No Share (one of those FB things)

yes or no Share

You are NOT ALLOWED to explain ANYTHING unless someone messages or comments you and asks. -- and believe me, the temptation to explain some of these will be overwhelming nothing is exactly as it seems. [I cheated ADDING a yes or no or two that I thought SHOULD be there.]

Now, here's what you're supposed to do. . . Copy and paste this into your notes, delete my answers, type in your answers and tag as many of your friends as you'd like to.

------- ------- ------- ------- ------- -------
Kissed any one of your Facebook friends?--- yes
Been arrested? --- no
Kissed someone you didn't like? --- no
Slept in until 5 PM? --- no
Fallen asleep at work/school? --- yes
Been awake longer than 24 hrs? --- yes
Held a snake? --- yes
Ran a red light? --- yes
Been suspended from school? --- no
Experienced love at first sight? --- yes
Totaled your car in an accident? --- no
Been fired from a job? --- yes
Fired somebody? --- no
Sang karaoke? --- no
Pointed a gun at someone? --- no
Had a gun pointed at you? --- yes
Done something you told yourself you wouldn't? --- yes
Laughed until something you were drinking came out your nose? --- no
Caught a snowflake on your tongue? --- yes
Kissed in the rain? --- no
Had a close brush with death (your own)? --- yes
Seen someone die? --- yes
Played spin-the-bottle? --- yes
Sung in the shower? --- yes
Smoked a cigar? --- yes
Sat on a rooftop? --- yes
Smuggled something into another country? --- no
Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes? --- no
Broken a bone? --- no
Skipped school? --- yes
Eaten a bug? --- no
Sleepwalked? --- no
Walked a moonlit beach? --- yes
Rode a motorcycle? --- yes
Dumped someone? --- yes
Forgotten your anniversary? --- yes
Lied to avoid a ticket? --- no
Ridden on a helicopter? ---no
Shaved your head? --- no
Blacked out from drinking? --- yes
Played a prank on someone? --- yes
Hit a home run? -- no
Felt like killing someone? --- no
Cross-dressed? --- no
Been falling-down drunk? --- yes
Made your girlfriend/boyfriend cry? --- yes
Eaten snake? --- no
Marched/Protested? --- yes
Had Mexican jumping beans for pets? --- no
Puked on amusement ride? --- no
Seriously & intentionally boycotted something? --- yes
Been in a band? --- no
Knitted? --- no
Crocheted? --- yes
Been on TV? ---yes
Shot a gun? --- yes
Skinny-dipped? --- yes
Given someone stitches? --- no
Eaten a whole habanero pepper? --- no
Ridden a surfboard? --- no
Drank straight from a liquor bottle? --- yes
Had surgery? --- no
Streaked? --- no
Been naked in front of strangers? --- yes
Taken by ambulance to hospital? --- no
Passed out when drinking? --- no
Peed on a bush? --- no
Peed in the bush? --- yes
Donated Blood? --- yes
Grabbed electric fence? --- no
Eaten alligator meat? --- no
Eaten cheesecake? --- yes
Eaten your kids' Halloween candy? --- no
Been on a meditation retreat? --- yes
Killed an animal when not hunting? --- no
Peed your pants in public? --- no
Snuck into a movie without paying? --- no
Written graffiti? --- yes
Think about the future? --- yes
Been in handcuffs? --- no
Believe in love? --- yes
Jumped off a bridge? --- yes

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Diamond Sutra: Chapters 17-20

The Diamond Sutra: The Perfection of Wisdom The Diamond Sutra
by Red Pine

Chapter 17

Hui-neng says, "If there is no self at all, how can there be others? But in order to liberate people, we establish a provisional self. Thus follows a chapter on ultimate selflessness." (Red Pine p. 286)

I like that, "provisional self." That self only exists when we stop to ponder it. Always in motion, all the pieces of this 'self' are unfocused until brought to bear. Right now, this self-bundle remembers, thinks, types. But you, the reader, relate only to a past self-bundle that related these words. It is like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

Tao-yuan says, "What follows discusses how we should begin our journey on the road of practice--practice that depends on our understanding of what has gone before and that does not begin until we have achieved such understanding. The words here are the same, but the meaning is different." (Red Pine p. 287)

Conze dismisses these chapters as repetitions. Red Pine takes them more in the manner of Tao-yuan. As a practitioner, I ask, "What does it matter?" At my temple, for years as part of our meal verse we recited, "In the beginning the mallet strikes the Buddha on the foot. At the end it strikes the Buddha on the head." (or something like that) When the Soto-shu English translations became available, we learned these were liner notes...instructions on how to chant the meal verse, and where to strike wood on wood, and we weren't actually supposed to recite them. Yet over the years, some people had found profound meaning in those instructions. Ironic or a cosmic joke? Or Dharma?

Sheng-yi says, "When controlling our thoughts is discussed in the first half of the sutra, it means controlling thoughts that involve attachment to a self. When this is discussed in the second half, it means controlling thoughts that involve attachment to a teaching. If a bodhisattva falls in love with a teaching, this a bodhisattva's worst folly."

Huang-po says, "Buddhas and beings share the same identical mind. It's like space: it doesn't contain anything and isn't affected by anything. ...Here, the buddha says to save all beings in order to get rid of the delusion of liberation so that we can see our true nature." (Red Pine p. 288)

In the beginning we seek to be like the Buddha. We get somewhere with that, we gain understanding in the provisional nature of the self. At some point we have to give up the notion of the buddha looking a certain way, or that the buddha is anything other than a human being. The multiplicity becomes apparent, as does the not-two-ness of our 'identical mind.'

But what, after all, is liberated? As the Sanskrit makes clear here, bodhisattvas must be free of yavat pudgala-sanjna (even the perception of a soul), even the perception of an entity subject to liberation from rebirth. (Red Pine p. 289)

Perceptions are still perceptions, even if of liberation and buddhahood.

Hui-neng says, "By the 'reality' of all dharmas, the Buddha is referring to the ability to discriminate with skill among the six sensations of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and thought while remaining unperturbed, unaffected, unattached, unchanged, immovable as space, perfectly clear, and existing for kalpas. This is the meaning of the 'reality' of all dharmas." (Red Pine p. 298)

Clarity and calm, understanding while remaining unperturbed.

Thich Nhat Hanh says, "If those who teach Buddhism in the West keep in mind that all dharmas are Buddhadharma, they will not feel like a drop of oil in a glass of water. If you practice in exactly the same way we practice in Vietnam, Tibet, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Japan, or Korea, the oil drops will always remain separate from the water." (Red Pine p. 300)

Could be that has something to do with this.

And there is no such dharma as a bodhi-sattva (enlightened being), because there is no such dharma as a sattva (being). And there is no being because no being or any other dharma comes into existence. This is how bodhisattvas control their thoughts. (Red Pine p. 303)

What we think of as coming into existence is the wrapping of identity around karma.

Hui-neng says, "If bodhisattvas say, 'I can create a world,' they're not bodhisattvas. Although they create worlds, if they think about a subject or object, they are not bodhisattvas. On the other hand, even if they zealously create worlds, as long as they don't give birth to thoughts of a subject or object, they're called bodhisattvas." (Red Pine p. 305)

There is no plan to the plan. It is just meeting each moment with what is needed, this is to create worlds without giving birth to thoughts of subject or object.

Chapter 18

Seeing that all dharmas are empty and without any self-nature is not enough. The only way bodhisattvas can liberate other beings is by making use of the very selfless dharmas to which beings are attached. Thus, the Buddha introduces us to the dharma eye and the buddha eye. (Red Pine p. 309)

from notes, Red Pine and from class:
physical eye --> sensory world; sees outside, not inside; world of dukkha; 1st watch under the Bodhi tree
divine (deva) eye --> internal world; therapists' eye; sees how past lives affect the current, how karmic knots entangle and unentangle; 2nd watch under the Bodhi tree
prajna eye --> world of emptiness; end of suffering; nirvana/cessation; 3rd watch under the Bodhi tree
dharma eye --> myriad possibilities; upaya/skillful means/appropriate response eye; 4th watch under the Bodhi tree
buddha eye --> prajna and dharma eye merge; integrated eye; not attached to a particular view, not concerned with being a teacher, liberator, or emptiness; no attachment, flow without opposition

Closely related to the 5 ranks.

Chapter 19

Chi-fo says, "This is the sixth time the Buddha has mentioned an offering of the seven jewels.... And in this chapter, he says making an offering of the seven jewels does not compare with detachment from form, for attachment to form creates a karmic seed that can never produce a non-karmic fruit." (Red Pine p. 323)

The Buddha uses the conditional sacet abhavishyat (if their were) to stress the non-existence of the body of merit in order to accentuate the fearlessness of the bodhisattva's use of the dharma eye. Whereas the prajna eye sees only non-existence, the dharma eye sees connections, in this case a non-existing body of merit's connections with liberation. The Buddha speaks of what doesn't exist because what doesn't exist obstructs our path to enlightenment. (Red Pine pp. 325-6)

Let go, let go let go let go, let go. Why be obstructed by something that doesn't exist? ha!

Chapter 20

Hui-neng says, "If you only care about the Tathagata's thirty-two attributes and don't cultivate the thirty-two pure practices within yourself, it is not the perfectly developed physical body. Whereas, if you don't care about the Tathagata's body but are able to observe the pure practices, this is called realizing the perfectly developed physical body." (Red Pine pp. 329-30)

Tao-ch'uan says, "Officially, there's not enough room for a needle, Privately, carts and horses are able to pass through. My song goes: 'Please look up and see the sky/ far and wide and without tracks/ turn your body around a bit/ everything is right before you.'" (Red Pine pp. 335-6)

So simple and so close. And yet so difficult to find because we keep trying to look.

Great Expectations: Chapters 24-30

I am caught up with my reading schedule, just not my notes blogging. I've been having a little trouble with my back...can't sit too long at the computer. Are you reading with me, Mary?

Chapters 24-27

As he happened to go out now, and as Wemmick was brisk and talkative, I said to Wemmick that I hardly knew what to make of Mr. Jaggers's manner.

"Tell him that, and he'll take it as a compliment," answered Wemmick; "he don't mean that you should know what to make of it.—Oh!" for I looked surprised, "it's not personal; it's professional: only professional."

Easier for Mr. J to read into others. ...said Wemmick, "as if he had set a man-trap and was watching it.

Mr. Wemmick's "portable property," is this why he lets Pip into his private world? Does he cultivate the possibility of future portable properties? Or is there something about Pip that lets him know that he could belong in his private sanctuary?

Chapter 25

I soon contracted expensive habits, and began to spend an amount of money that within a few short months I should have thought almost fabulous; but through good and evil I stuck to my books. There was no other merit in this, than my having sense enough to feel my deficiencies.

From not-having to having, I wonder if Pip could avoid this. He hasn't had the education of restraint that comes with having some money. Only of the poor, that if you have a little something, you spend it.

I'm loving Mr. Wemmick and his freehold with the Aged Parent.

Chapter 26

Pip's guardian uses scented soap like armor. Why isn't Pip one he arms himself from, I wonder? Wemmick was right, now Mr. Jaggers invites Pip to dinner, with friends. He is fascinated by Drummle, the brute. Is this why he's a good lawyer? He's drawn to the ones skating the edge of civilized conduct?

Pip on Mr. J's housekeeper: I cannot say whether any diseased affection of the heart caused her lips to be parted as if she were panting, and her face to bear a curious expression of suddenness and flutter; but I know that I had been to see Macbeth at the theatre, a night or two before, and that her face looked to me as if it were all disturbed by fiery air, like the faces I had seen rise out of the Witches' caldron.

Mr. J presenting his housekeeper: "If you talk of strength," said Mr. Jaggers, "I'll show you a wrist. Molly, let them see your wrist." ... He took his hand from hers, and turned that wrist up on the table. She brought her other hand from behind her, and held the two out side by side. The last wrist was much disfigured,—deeply scarred and scarred across and across. When she held her hands out she took her eyes from Mr. Jaggers, and turned them watchfully on every one of the rest of us in succession. " There's power here," said Mr. Jaggers, coolly tracing out the sinews with his forefinger.

What's that all about? Mr. J zooms in on power. Has Pip no power, thus no armor needed? Or is Pip untainted, thus no washing needed? Pip goes back to find Mr. J washing with his scented soap. Did Pip just chance upon that, or was he curious about whether Mr. J would be washing after his guests.

Mr. J. on Drummle: "No, no," my guardian assented; "don't have too much to do with him. Keep as clear of him as you can. But I like the fellow, Pip; he is one of the true sort. Why, if I was a fortune-teller—"

What's that mean to Mr. J, "one of the true sort?" Is that something like the natural state of being human as found in "Gulliver's Travels"?

Chapter 27

Joe comes to town. Pip's debt is growing, and has a servant that he feels more of a servant to.

Joe's news: "Had a drop, Joe?" "Why yes," said Joe, lowering his voice, "[Wopsle]'s left the Church and went into the playacting. Which the playacting have likeways brought him to London along with me.
Could it be the loss of the influence of Pip's sister?

Joe calls Pip 'sir'.

Joe's other news: "Miss A., or otherways Havisham. Her expression air then as follering: 'Mr. Gargery. You air in correspondence with Mr. Pip?' Having had a letter from you, I were able to say 'I am.' (When I married your sister, sir, I said 'I will;' and when I answered your friend, Pip, I said 'I am.') 'Would you tell him, then,' said she, 'that which Estella has come home and would be glad to see him.'"

There is now a gulf between Pip and Joe: It ain't that I am proud, but that I want to be right, as you shall never see me no more in these clothes. I'm wrong in these clothes. I'm wrong out of the forge, the kitchen, or off th' meshes. You won't find half so much fault in me if you think of me in my forge dress, with my hammer in my hand, or even my pipe.

Chapters 28-30

As soon as I read Pip would travel with two convicts, I knew there would be one from his past.
There stood the man whom I had seen on the settle at the Three Jolly Bargemen on a Saturday night, and who had brought me down with his invisible gun!

Pip avoids Biddy and/or Joe by staying at the Blue Boar. Pip overhears the one convict tell the other about having been given the task of giving two one-pound notes to a boy, who happened to be Pip.

Still, the coincidence of our being together on the coach, was sufficiently strange to fill me with a dread that some other coincidence might at any moment connect me, in his hearing, with my name. For this reason, I resolved to alight as soon as we touched the town, and put myself out of his hearing.

I'm with you on that one, Pip.

Chapter 29

I could go there to-morrow,—thinking about my patroness, and painting brilliant pictures of her plans for me. She had adopted Estella, she had as good as adopted me, and it could not fail to be her intention to bring us together. She reserved it for me to restore the desolate house, admit the sunshine into the dark rooms, set the clocks a-going and the cold hearths a-blazing, tear down the cobwebs, destroy the vermin,—in short, do all the shining deeds of the young Knight of romance, and marry the Princess.

I'm not with you on that one, Pip. Estella's so beautiful, he doesn't recognize her at first.

Orlick! I still suspect he's working for someone. Who?

Pip on Estella:
Truly it was impossible to dissociate her presence from all those wretched hankerings after money and gentility that had disturbed my boyhood.... In a word, it was impossible for me to separate her, in the past or in the present, from the innermost life of my life.

..."Not remember that you made me cry?" said I. "No," said she, and shook her head and looked about her. I verily believe that her not remembering and not minding in the least, made me cry again, inwardly,—and that is the sharpest crying of all.

Estella warning Pip:
"I am serious," said Estella, not so much with a frown (for her brow was smooth) as with a darkening of her face; "if we are to be thrown much together, you had better believe it at once. No!" imperiously stopping me as I opened my lips. "I have not bestowed my tenderness anywhere. I have never had any such thing."

I have to wonder, why does she warn him if there is not some kind of feeling there? If she doesn't have feeling, she wouldn't care enough to warn him, right?

This is an eerie echo of Pip's perambulations with Miss Havisham. Now he escorts Estella:
Come! You shall not shed tears for my cruelty to-day; you shall be my Page, and give me your shoulder." Her handsome dress had trailed upon the ground. She held it in one hand now, and with the other lightly touched my shoulder as we walked. We walked round the ruined garden twice or thrice more, and it was all in bloom for me.

Mr. J shows up, and never ever looks at Estella, except when ...
In the interval, Miss Havisham, in a fantastic way, had put some of the most beautiful jewels from her dressing-table into Estella's hair, and about her bosom and arms; and I saw even my guardian look at her from under his thick eyebrows, and raise them a little, when her loveliness was before him, with those rich flushes of glitter and color in it.

I wonder if Mr. J has a bit of Sydney Carton in his character.

Far into the night, Miss Havisham's words, "Love her, love her, love her!" sounded in my ears. I adapted them for my own repetition, and said to my pillow, "I love her, I love her, I love her!" hundreds of times. Then, a burst of gratitude came upon me, that she should be destined for me, once the blacksmith's boy.

Oh Pip. It's a set-up, Pip!

Chapter 30

The coach, with Mr. Jaggers inside, came up in due time, and I took my box-seat again, and arrived in London safe,—but not sound, for my heart was gone. As soon as I arrived, I sent a penitential codfish and barrel of oysters to Joe (as reparation for not having gone myself), and then went on to Barnard's Inn.

Herbert to Pip on his obvious love:
"Told me! You have never told me when you have got your hair cut, but I have had senses to perceive it. You have always adored her, ever since I have known you. You brought your adoration and your portmanteau here together. Told me! Why, you have always told me all day long. When you told me your own story, you told me plainly that you began adoring her the first time you saw her, when you were very young indeed."

Herbert on Pip's inheritance (listen, Pip!)
"I have been thinking since we have been talking with our feet on this fender, that Estella surely cannot be a condition of your inheritance, if she was never referred to by your guardian...."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Diamond Sutra: Chapters 12-16

The Diamond Sutra: The Perfection of Wisdom The Diamond Sutra
by Red Pine

(I am caught up with the reading, just not with blogging my thoughts and notes.)

Chapter 12

When this sutra is understood, that time and place should be memorialized. At least, make a note of it. They say this is the ending of the first part.

Chapter 13

Red Pine explains there are two ways to translate paramita, chooses one and explains why. My teacher Kyogen thinks the usage is meant to be ambiguous. That is, it means both "get to the other shore" and "perfection," as the sutra goes on to talk about the 32 marks of the Buddha, and the many grains of sand of the river Ganges.

Red Pine:
Prajna = logic of emptiness --> emptiness = absence or negation
Prajna Paramita = absence or negation of what is false, not of what is real

Sheng-yi says, "Every world is the result of karma. Without karma there is no world. The world is the result of the myriad delusions of beings in the past, and our delusions are like specks of dust. Due to the dust of our delusions, we undertake myriad actions and create the karma of our present world. ...But from the point of view of prajna wisdom, the dust of our delusions arrives from nowhere and departs for nowhere. Its nature is empty. Thus, it is not the dust of delusions." (Red Pine p. 212)

That is the logic of self/no-self.

Chapter 14

Subhuti was moved to tears.
He gets it.

Those beings shall be most remarkable blessed, Subhuti, who are not
alarmed, not frightened, and not distressed by what
is said in this sutra. And how so? Subhuti, what the
Tathagata proclaims as the best of perfections is,
in truth, no perfection.

Finally, the fearlessness is addressed.
Heart Sutra: "Because there are no obstructions, there is no fear."

Why are ordinary beings afraid?
Yin-shun says, "Because beings are confused by their everyday concocted views, when they hear about ultimate emptiness, they can't help feel alarmed and frightened. Disciples of other religions are afraid it will upset their supreme deity. Philosophers are afraid it will destroy their materialistic or nonmaterialistic conceptions. And students of Buddhism are afraid that if the wheel of rebirth stops they will have no place to stand." (Red Pine p. 233)

Sometimes I am that Buddhist.

Hui-neng says, "Only those bodhisattvas with deep roots can hear this truth and gladly accept it without being distressed." (Red Pine p. 234)
deep roots somewhat means well established practice

Yin-shun says, "The forbearance of birthlessness is the practice of prajna wisdom." (Red Pine p. 236)
Not explained, but I would say this is how there is no fear--nothing is created to defend that needs defending.

Only by resolving to liberate all beings can bodhisattvas truly free themselves of the perception of being. (Red Pine p. 240)
No longer all about me then.

The perfection of wisdom means an end to truth and falsehood. Every truth is dependent on conditions and in time becomes false, but not this teachings, which is the mother of those who are free of attachment to dharma and no dharmas, perceptions and no perceptions, truth and falsehood. (Red Pine p. 245)

Beware the analytical mind when looking at this, because then you might think well of course it's saying a whole lot of nothing about nothing because it's starting with a premise of nothing. This was a mistake, and this is why Nietzsche thought he was saying something new about the truth of perception because with his early translations about Buddhism he thought it was nihilism. No, with 'deep roots' this is experiential.

Huang-po says, "A bodhisattva's mind is like space. A bodhisattva gives away everything, outside and inside. Such great renunciation is like walking with a candle before you. You can't get lost. Lesser renunciation is like walking with a candle to one side or behind you. You're bound to fall into a ditch."

Note to self: save this for Zen and Money. Question for folks: what would it mean to give away everything as a lay person?

Chapter 15

body of merit -> sanbhoga-kaya
robe of buddhahood -> nirmana-kaya
body of truth -> dharma-kaya

Hui-neng says, "If people can hear this sutra and realize its truth, both self and other suddenly vanish, and they at once become buddhas. Renouncing the body has limited merit and cannot compare with the unlimited wisdom of upholding this sutra." (Red Pine p. 257)

Chapter 16

...for karma only exists as long as we distinguish cause and effect, pleasure and pain, good and evil. And in the light of wisdom, all distinctions appear for what they are: delusions empty of any self-nature. Thus, while shravakas seek to bring karma to an end by bringing anger and desire to an end, bodhisattvas do so by bringing delusion to an end. (Red Pine p. 270)

Hui-neng says, "In the space of one thought, one realizes the truth of birthlessness, puts an end to expectations, gets free of the upside-down views of other beings, reaches the other shore of the paramitas, leaves forever the Three Evil Paths, and realizes complete and final nirvana." (Red Pind p. 277)

Tao-ch'uan says, "Merit is not a wasted offering. My song goes: 'Boundless is the merit from worshipping a billion buddhas/ but it can't equal reading ancient teachings/ black words written on a sheet of plain white paper/ open your eyes and see what lies before you/ the wind is still but the waves are moving/ who is that person sitting in the boat?'" (Red Pine p. 278)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Great Expectations: Chapters 13-23

Chapters 13-18

Ch. 13
It was quite in vain for me to endeavor to make him sensible that he ought to speak to Miss Havisham. The more I made faces and gestures to him to do it, the more confidential, argumentative, and polite, he persisted in being to Me.

Poor Joe. Not his place, Miss Havisham's. Miss H pays Pip's indenture, though Joe never expected one. Pumblechook takes the credit.

Finally, I remember that when I got into my little bedroom, I was truly wretched, and had a strong conviction on me that I should never like Joe's trade. I had liked it once, but once was not now.

Why Pip? Because you've been exposed to Miss H and Estella?

Ch. 14
Home had never been a very pleasant place to me, because of my sister's temper. But, Joe had sanctified it, and I had believed in it. ...I had believed in the forge as the glowing road to manhood and independence. Within a single year all this was changed. Now it was all coarse and common, and I would not have had Miss Havisham and Estella see it on any account.

Oh, Pip. How sad their lives are though. They have no Joe.

Ch. 15
Education: Pip outgrew Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt, Biddy, and Mr. Wopsle

Whatever I acquired, I tried to impart to Joe.
What a difference a year makes. At the beginning, it was simply for Joe's sake, for learning's sake. Now it is for shame's sake, the specter of Estella.

...and I must remark of my sister, what is equally true of all the violent women I have ever seen, that passion was no excuse for her, because it is undeniable that instead of lapsing into passion, she consciously and deliberately took extraordinary pains to force herself into it, and became blindly furious by regular stages...

Let's see if I can follow the karma: Miss H was jilted -> she set up Pip for an obsession -> Pip's longing was born -> Pip asks for 1/2 day off to see Miss H, longing to see Estella -> so then Old Orlick wants a 1/2 day too -> Mrs. Joe gets mad over the 1/2 day off.

So what does Pip get? "Malignant enjoyment" from Miss H, over Estella being out of Pip's reach. On the way back: Orlick sometimes growled, "Beat it out, beat it out,—Old Clem! With a clink for the stout,—Old Clem!" I thought he had been drinking, but he was not drunk.

This is so different than the surreal ethereal singing of the song by Miss H, Estella, and Pip. I thought that was creepy. Not about Pip, but the old woman and the girl-woman. They tainted it from Joe's pure intention. Could the song signify something? It's the blacksmith song, so of course Orlick would sing it, but is there something more to this? Is this another kind of tainting of the song? They come home to a wounded Mrs. Joe. Could it have been Old Orlick?

Ch. 16
More mysterious karma: it was the irons filed by that convict of long ago. Joe determined the filing was done long ago. And Pip: I suffered unspeakable trouble while I considered and reconsidered whether I should at last dissolve that spell of my childhood and tell Joe all the story. For months afterwards, I every day settled the question finally in the negative, and reopened and reargued it next morning.

If it was Orlick, is he somehow connected to Pip's convict? Or to the other convict?
It may have been about a month after my sister's reappearance in the kitchen, when Biddy came to us with a small speckled box containing the whole of her worldly effects, and became a blessing to the household.
She takes care of brain-damaged Mrs. Joe, as well as the rest. She just knows what to do.

They interpret Mrs. Joe's cryptic T to mean she wants Orlick, and her appeasement that she wants him near, wants to make up for her temper. But I wonder, was he the one who attempted her murder? Could she be protecting herself or others?

Ch. 17
Pip visits Miss H on his birthday every year.
So unchanging was the dull old house, the yellow light in the darkened room, the faded spectre in the chair by the dressing-table glass, that I felt as if the stopping of the clocks had stopped Time in that mysterious place, and, while I and everything else outside it grew older, it stood still. Daylight never entered the house as to my thoughts and remembrances of it, any more than as to the actual fact. It bewildered me, and under its influence I continued at heart to hate my trade and to be ashamed of home.
Again like a fairy hill. Beware all who fall into the fairy's lair. You'll fall under their spell, time stops, and you can never leave.

Pips wakes up to Biddy's merits. And even while he does, he must be cutting her to the quick, so blind to how she might feel about his prattling on about a rich girl.
"Instead of that," said I, plucking up more grass and chewing a blade or two, "see how I am going on. Dissatisfied, and uncomfortable, and—what would it signify to me, being coarse and common, if nobody had told me so!

"Biddy turned her face suddenly towards mine, and looked far more attentively at me than she had looked at the sailing ships.

"It was neither a very true nor a very polite thing to say," she remarked, directing her eyes to the ships again. "Who said it?"
Biddy is wise and rational, but it's too late for Pip. There is no reasoning with the spell he's under. He gets so close, gets comfortable in his place, appreciates Joe and Biddy... "when all in a moment some confounding remembrance of the Havisham days would fall upon me like a destructive missile, and scatter my wits again."

Ch. 18
Pip wins the lottery! Or rather comes into money, given mysteriously by the lawyer he met at Miss Havisham's. Pip assumes his benefactor is Miss H, but I wonder. The last time a stranger looked for him at the pub, he was connected to Pip's convict. The lawyer suggests Matthew Pocket, also connected to Miss H, as Pip's tutor.

Pip can't tell Biddy, has Joe do it.
Biddy dropped her work, and looked at me. Joe held his knees and looked at me. I looked at both of them. After a pause, they both heartily congratulated me; but there was a certain touch of sadness in their congratulations that I rather resented.
Such a poignant moment, and Pip misses it entirely. His purity is lost. Wicked wicked Miss Havisham.
Looking towards the open window, I saw light wreaths from Joe's pipe floating there, and I fancied it was like a blessing from Joe,—not obtruded on me or paraded before me, but pervading the air we shared together.
Hang on to that, Pip.

Chapters 19-23

Ch. 19

I promised myself that I would do something for them one of these days, and formed a plan in outline for bestowing a dinner of roast-beef and plum-pudding, a pint of ale, and a gallon of condescension, upon everybody in the village.
So now generosity must include elevation above others? Oh Pip. You weren't like this before.

Biddy jealous? Ha, not of money.
The last I saw of them was, when I presently heard a scuffle behind me, and looking back, saw Joe throwing an old shoe after me and Biddy throwing another old shoe.
sweet Joe, sweet Biddy.
Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried than before,—more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle. If I had cried before, I should have had Joe with me then.
Breaking the spell, some.

Ch. 20
To the lawyer's office....
Mr. Jaggers's own high-backed chair was of deadly black horsehair, with rows of brass nails round it, like a coffin; and I fancied I could see how he leaned back in it, and bit his forefinger at the clients.
Hmmm, sounds like with fortune comes a certain amount of discomfort, like deadly black horsehair.

While waiting Pip pops in and out of the office, checking out the scenes of London. I am reminded of my first visit to New York City. I checked in to my hotel, and had no plan the first evening but to walk, wander, and be enveloped by it.

Ch. 21
Pip's first lodging:
A frowzy mourning of soot and smoke attired this forlorn creation of Barnard, and it had strewn ashes on its head, and was undergoing penance and humiliation as a mere dust-hole. Thus far my sense of sight; while dry rot and wet rot and all the silent rots that rot in neglected roof and cellar,—rot of rat and mouse and bug and coaching-stables near at hand besides—addressed themselves faintly to my sense of smell, and moaned, "Try Barnard's Mixture."
oooh. Didn't know what he had til he lost it. Got something worse than Miss H's decrepit house.

Pocket Jr. -> independent, making his own way -> The pale young gentleman!

Ch. 22
The pale young gentleman, Herbert Pocket, has the inside scoop on the bespelled mansion and its inhabitants.

"Pooh!" said he, "I didn't care much for it. She's a Tartar."

"Miss Havisham?"

"I don't say no to that, but I meant Estella. That girl's hard and haughty and capricious to the last degree, and has been brought up by Miss Havisham to wreak revenge on all the male sex."

Somehow Herbert escaped the spell. I wonder if it's important for the future that Pip can trust him.
Herbert Pocket had a frank and easy way with him that was very taking. I had never seen any one then, and I have never seen any one since, who more strongly expressed to me, in every look and tone, a natural incapacity to do anything secret and mean. There was something wonderfully hopeful about his general air, and something that at the same time whispered to me he would never be very successful or rich.
Ch. 23
Still, Mrs. Pocket was in general the object of a queer sort of respectful pity, because she had not married a title; while Mr. Pocket was the object of a queer sort of forgiving reproach, because he had never got one.
Matthew Pocket's house: flurry of kids and mother bred to do nothing, harangued father, but a light- and kind-hearted house, I think.
I was made very uneasy in my mind by Mrs. Pocket's falling into a discussion with Drummle respecting two baronetcies, while she ate a sliced orange steeped in sugar and wine, and, forgetting all about the baby on her lap, who did most appalling things with the nut-crackers.
Mmmm, must try that orange, sugar and wine sometime. Would that be red, white, blush, or sparkling? And hmmm. What appalling things did the baby do I wonder? Pinch mama in unmentionable places? Try to poke his own eyes/ears out?

Pip begins doing the things young gentlemen do, such as rowing on the river.
I at once engaged to place myself under the tuition of the winner of a prize-wherry who plied at our stairs, and to whom I was introduced by my new allies. This practical authority confused me very much by saying I had the arm of a blacksmith. If he could have known how nearly the compliment lost him his pupil, I doubt if he would have paid it.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Diamond Sutra: Chapters 1-11

The Diamond Sutra: The Perfection of Wisdom The Diamond Sutra
by Red Pine

I am slowly trying to catch up with the class on this. The funny thing is, the shortest reading in the Conze edition is the longest in Red Pine. That's because Conze considered Chapters 14 through 29 as repetitious, stray versions or sayings of the sutra. Perhaps. Red Pine sees it more as a deepening of the story of Subhuti. An explanation in class pointed to this as a reflection of Conze's concentration on Indian commentaries, while Red Pine includes Chinese commentaries. The Chinese were more concerned with narrative, the Indians with analytical. Red Pine gives a convincing argument that while this is considered a later Wisdom Sutra, he thinks it is an earlier because of the form it takes, that Subhuti is learning. (I found a free translation online, linking to that, but it has none of the commentary.)

Chapter 1
Notes from Class: This is what a Buddha does. The division into 32 chapters comes from Emperor Wu. Buddhas are a manifestation of merit.
Bodhisattvas, mahasattvas -> Conze: bodhisattvas, great beings; Red Pine: fearless bodhisattvas; spiritual warriors or great spiritual beings

Chapter 2
"how should they stand, how should they walk,
and how should they control their thoughts (Red Pine p 64)

Subhuti is trying to get the Buddha to tell him how to be like him. If he's looking for a list of instructions, it doesn't work that way.

Chapter 3
Ting Fu-pao says, "The perception of a self refers to the mistaken apprehension of something that focuses within and controls the five skandhas of form, sensation, perception, volition, and cognition. The perception of a being refers to the mistaken apprehension that the combination of the skandhas creates a separate entity. The perception of a life refers to the mistaken belief that the self possesses a lifespan of a definite length. Finally, the perception of a soul refers to the mistaken apprehension of something that is reborn, either as a human or as one of the other forms of existence." (Red Pine p. 82)

If everything we can apprehend or perceive is mistaken, what can we know? Allow for no-self and there is no perception and no mistake. Perfection has no solid form.

Chapter 4
...when bodhisattvas give a gift...they should not be attached to anything at all. (Red Pine)

Bodhidharma says, "Since what is real includes nothing worth begrudging, we give our bodies, our lives, and our property in charity, without regret, without the vanity of giver, gift, or recipient, and without bias or attachment. (Red Pine p. 87)

When dana paramita (charity) comes from no attached self, all is freely given. No attachments, nothing to give, no one to receive. All flows. No duty, no celebration. Isn't it easier that way? What is there to hold back?

In his Song of Enlightenment, Yung-chia says, "Practicing charity while attached to something may result in heavenly blessings. But it's like an arrow show into the sky. Eventually, it falls to the ground."

Rules of gift-giving: the merit of giving a gift wears off. If a gift is given without thought of merit, there's nothing to gain or lose.

Skandha = heap, aggregate, pile. Red Pine: The primary meaning is a "body minus its appendages." The word is derived from 'skand,' meaning "to ejaculate (semen)," and it originally referred to such things as a tree trunk or a human torso. ...They are more like the overlays in a biology textbook, overlays to which we give coherence by our own set of perceptions, delusions though they may be.

Thus the term 'punya-skandha' means "body of merit" and not "heap of merit" or "store of merit." p. 95

OK I see what he's saying about 'body of merit' but I really get it when I think of skandhas as 'heaps.' Of course that root of the term helps give oomph to the force behind this drive to be a self, to have identity. That is what the heap of skandhas is all about.

Hui-neng says, "When ordinary people practice charity, they only think about how they look and their own happiness. But when their reward ends, they descend into the lower realms of existence. Through his great kindness, the Bhagavan teaches us to practice charity free of appearances and not to think about how we look or our own happiness but to break through our miserly hearts within and to benefit all beings without." (Red Pine p. 98)

Chapter 5
Seng-chao says, "This section explains how to approach enlightenment. The bodily attributes of the Tathagata make up the body that comes with enlightenment. To recognize this dharma body is to realize enlightenment. But to think that its nature is real is to miss the mark. Thus, he points to the dharma body to explain the emptiness of enlightenment." (Red Pine p. 102)

It takes one to know one. nirmana-kaya = physical body of the Buddha; sanbhoga-kaya = spiritual body; dharma-kaya = true body

Hui-neng says, "The dharma body has no form or appearance. ...Only the eye of wisdom can see it. Ordinary people only see the physical body of the Tathagata. They do not see the Tathagata's dharma body. The dharma body is like the sky." (Red Pine p. 105)

Thich Nhat Hanh says, "Before continuing, please read the first five sections of the sutra again. All of the essentials have been presented, and if you reread these sections, you will come to understand the meaning. Once you understand, you may find the Diamond Sutra like a piece of beautiful music. Without straining at all, the meaning will just enter you." (Red Pine p. 110)

That is why I think I like Red Pine more. Conze and the Indian commentators are more analytical. The Chinese commentators are more intuitive, closer to Zen. The way the teachings have worked for me is to find a little thread of understanding. aHA. I get that, I'll say. And follow that thread, and the rest will open up, unravel, or reveal itself, however that works. Certain of these Chinese speak to me, such as Hui-Neng, or Sheng-ni, T'ai-neng. It is so Zen to concentrate on just this. This short passage, read through, repeat. Allow it to unfold. Allow it to enter you. Straining usually creates a barrier.

Tao-yuan says, "The meaning of the entire Diamond Sutra has now been presented: the vow, the practice, and now the realization. The next chapter adds belief." (p. 110)

Chapter 6
Faith, you say? Yes, not a faith in a God, but faith in dharma-kaya for all. And how's that? Through no creation of the perception of a self. Through no clinging to a dharma, or no clinging to no dharma.
Because surely, Subhuti, fearless bodhisattvas do not cling to a dharma, much less to no dharma. (Red Pine p. 126)

Chapter 7
Hai-chueh says, "The same piece of metal can be used to make ten thousand different utensils. It all depends on the knowledge of the craftsman." (Red Pine p. 138)

Chapter 8
Number seven -> predates Buddhism in Hindu cosmology. So what he is saying is, no matter what merit you gain in those illusory worlds it cannot compare to understanding this sutra and helping others to understand it.

Hui-neng says, "Making offerings results in external merit. Reciting sutras results in internal merit. External merit includes food and clothing, while internal merit includes wisdom. ...Money and wealth are treasures of the world. Prajna is the jewel of the mind. Only if people practice both internal and external cultivation will their merit be complete." (Red Pine p. 144)

Without the physical realm, the internal realm has nothing to pass through. If Siddhartha died before he was Awakened, how soon before someone could happen upon that prajna and show it to us?

The gatha was developed in India long before the rise of Buddhism, but it was Buddhism that introduced this poetic form to China, where it encouraged the development of the four-line chueh-chu, which formed the basis of the Japanese haiku. The composition of these four-line poems in China, Korea, and Japan became a favorite method among Zen masters to test their disciples, and "graduation" gathas were used to define each generation's particular style."

So stop treating haiku like a trite joke, people! When you do so, you are displaying cultural insensitivity and ignorance, and demeaning not only a fine art form, but a spiritual art form as well.

Chapter 9

shravakas: "held back by the selfishness of their detachment from the self." (Red Pine p. 157)
While Subhuti is asking how can I do this, he is clinging to the possibility of his own transcendence.

For they, too, are free of attachments to a self, a being, a life, and a soul. But they neither produce nor obtain the infinite body of merit that comes from liberating others. For unless detachment is based on compassion, it may lead to nirvana, but it does not lead to buddhahood. (Red Pine p. 157)

1st Stage: srota-appana=River-finder -> realizes all things are impermanent, all things have no inherent nature of their own; still under the sway of karma
2nd Stage: sakrid-agamin=once-returners -> almost all the way deluded views but may have subtle deluded thoughts

T'ai-neng says, "Delusion is the root of enlightenment. If someone uses this for their practice, it can become the means for transcending the world. The lotus doesn't grow in high places. It only blooms in muddy water. Delusion doesn't injure the enlightened mind. So, too, smoke and clouds obscure the sun and moon without injuring them. If a jewel is dropped into the mud, neither is the jewel injured. Don't concern yourself with the clouds of delusion. Concentrate on the enlightened mind." (Red Pine p. 163)

Nowhere to get. Just here is just right. It is through the mud that spiritual practice can produce a jewel.

Chapter 10
Ch'en Hsiung says, "Mount Sumeru is the king of mountains. To say someone's body is as great as this is beyond the realm of reason. However, the Buddha's true nature is pure and free from form, free from attachments, free from obstructions, and includes the sky and contains the world. Even Sumeru is not as big. ...Bhagavan answered, 'What is no body. That is a great body. It includes all pure teachings of morality, meditation, and wisdom. Thus is it called a great body.' This true body also refers to the true mind. And the true mind can swallow Mount Sumeru." (Red Pine p. 185)

Chapter 11
In China, the gatha was the seal of understanding every Zen student composed upon breaking through the bonds of delusion. Thus, a gatha is much more precious than all the jewels in all the worlds one can possibly imagine. Despite their value to human beings, jewels possess the three characteristics of all other created dharmas: origination, limited duration, and dissolution, while the teachings of this sutra transcends such limitations and is the source of buddhahood." (Red Pine p. 192)


I took a walk in the rain today. I snapped some photos on my way to and from the bakery.

More to come later, but for now, this one just takes my breath away.