Training in Wholeness

The Clouds in Water Zen Center Monthly Mindfulness:

Honoring my life as an instrument of peacemaking, I take up the way of not thinking ill of the three treasures. (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha)

The 16 Bodhisattva precept ceremony is a central practice in Zen. We acknowledge this practice by our monthly full moon precept recitation and “Jukai” the formal “receiving of the precepts” ceremony which Clouds will celebrate in October. These ceremonies start and end with taking refuge in the three treasures.

That’s how important the refuges are! But what does taking refuge mean? We could say:

  • I take refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
  • I trust in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
  • I have faith in Buddha, Dharma and sangha
  • I become one with Buddha, Dharma and sangha.

Bodhidharma’s version of this precept is:

Self-nature is inconceivable wondrous.
In the one dharma,
Not giving rise to the dualistic view of sentient beings and buddhas
Is called the precept of refraining from reviling the three treasures.

The line: not giving rise to the dualistic view of sentient beings and buddhas, is very important. It means that we do not separate an “ordinary person” from a “Buddha”, and that we are not compartmentalizing that which is sacred from that which is ordinary. We can see the “wholeness” of the absolute and relative. We see “ the whole works” dynamically working together in each moment and in each form. We practice in the training of wholeness. (Krtsnayatanabhavana, training in entering the whole.)

Master Yun-men said: “All sounds are the buddha’s voice; all shapes are the buddha’s form.”

But our human egotistical minds naturally censor the interrelatedness of life. We naturally feel we are separate from Buddha, dharma and sangha. We see ourselves as:

  • Solid and permanent instead of constantly changing and impermanent
  • Unitary instead of part of a larger whole
  • And independent instead of inter-connected.

And we believe the stories of our life as concrete. Sometimes we don’t see what’s happening beyond our stories. When we truly see Buddha, dharma and sangha, we can be liberated from our anxieties about life even while we are in the midst of life’s stories.

Please practice this month with “training in wholeness” and opening to the total dynamic functioning of the three treasures.