A Bubble in a Stream #15 of 21

Monks should be like this child whose 7th consciousness or Manas consciousness doesn’t fully function.  Monks should be interrupting at every moment the instinctual tendency to circulate experience around a solid “I” which in Buddhism, doesn’t exist.  This “I” which is the “Manas consciousness” or the 7th consciousness, twists everything around itself and makes all our perceptions about our “solid selves”.  But this “I” consciousness can be untwisted!  Our consciousness can become straightforward. We can see things equally without projections, “this is as it is.”  We can move into the wisdom of perfect equanimity or equality wisdom.  Our continuous practice can untwist our tendency to form a solid “I” with Buddha’s advise of “not me, not myself, not I am.”

In the text “Going beyond Buddha”, Dogen writes:

“Even though he kills a Buddha, he meets the Buddha;  precisely because he meets a Buddha, he kills the Buddha…. For this reason, when he meets face to face, his face is broken; there is no saindhava at all.  Although he sleeps a lot, he talks a lot in his sleep.  We should know that this principle means that both the entire mountain and the whole earth are friends of this child; the entire body of jewels and stones is shattered into hundreds of pieces.”

Saindhava is a word and concept used in India.  This word refers to 4 things: salt, a container, water and a horse.  According to the story that Dogen often uses, the king and his servant have a synchronized relationship.  When the King asked for saindhava, the servant knows what he needs – some more salt for his food, a glass of water,  a container or the servant goes to get his horse.  This is a saindhava type of person who can read the signs of the moment’s story and know the appropriate response.  This is the best servant and a wise agent of the world.  But this child or monk is NOT like that.  This child’s consciousness is broken and does not relate to the appearances of the world.  His face is broken.  The world and its treasures are shattered into hundreds of pieces.  Because he doesn’t conceptualize, this person doesn’t string all the moments together into an idea, a concept or a story.  The human stories we care so much about have been broken down into their parts, these moments that are not strung together, these perceptions.  But this type of monk or child is no longer of this world and the pain of these stories.  Samsara has been broken apart and nirvana appears as the jewel of the present moment.  If the eye, the eye object and the eye consciousness (etc. for all the sense gates) don’t connect, don’t have contact, then we come forth as this child who does not fully function in consciousness.  We do not have to become attached, reject or live in ignorance about the truth of life.  This person is not making distinctions and selections.  This person is free from the habitual karmic way of getting hooked to our stories and reactions.

We could call this lack of conscious formations; blindness or sleeping, which seems the opposite of awareness and alertness.  However, many of the koans and Dogen, in this fascicle, use “sleeping” to point to this type of Buddha that is beyond the buddha stories and beyond formed existence.  This Buddha is beyond our conscious understanding of buddha.  Even though he kills the buddha, he meets the buddha.  Precisely because he meets the buddha, he kills the buddha.  Completely absorbed in formlessness.

This child or monk sleeps a lot and talks in his dreams.  Now this is the part of Dogen’s teaching I’m most interested in.  Dogen acknowledges and encourages us to know the freedom of not clinging to our 5 skandhas and the stories of our life.  He wants us to experience the child who is not functioning with ordinary consciousness and perceptions.  But Dogen continues beyond that and also acknowledges our human life in such a kind way.   We have to, on one hand, know that we are living in a dream and non-reality, and at the same time, we have to work, talk, know saindhava within the dream.  Katagiri-Roshi called this the “total personality” which includes are karmic life – the dream, and our universal self which is totally “beyond” names, ideas and concepts.  In the dream, the monk is constantly talking.  Talking a lot in his sleep.  This is not bad or to be avoided- this is the reality of being a human.  This is the truth of living in conditioned reality. There is another fasicle called “A dream within a dream” which continues that particular discussion.  How do we practice within our human life and still not see our life as an independent thing? We need to live our human life but not be deluded about it.  Our karmic history needs to be addressed and taken care of but the way we do this, is in the moment, and with the understanding of non-self and interdependence.  As the diamond sutra says, “We should see all conditional things like a dream, a phantom, a bubble in a stream.”   Pop!

We should know that the entire mountain and the whole earth are friends of this child.


The entire body of jewels and stones is shattered into hundreds of pieces.

We need to bring our understanding of the support of the whole universe and its interconnectedness into our daily life. This interconnectedness will influence our decisions and karmic reactions.  We should know that the entire mountain and the whole earth are friends of this child.

At the same time, we can know impermanence and discontinuous reality.  Life is both continuous and discontinuous.  Each thing or moment is a universe unto itself.  The entire body of jewels and stones is shattered into hundreds of pieces.  Pop!  Pop! Pop!  The bubbles pop!  Things appear and disappear on the surface of an everflowing river.  The understanding of impermanence will also influence us and lighten the load of samasaric life.