Synopses & Reviews
Chapter One Bodhidharma(D. CA. 533)
For more than a thousand years, students of Ch'an and Zen have looked to Bodhidharma as the founder of their strand of Buddhist tradition, the person who singlehandedly carried the ineffable essence of Buddhism from India to China. This understanding, we now know, belongs to the sphere of mythology rather than to the realm of historical fact. That Bodhidharma U., Bodaidaruma or simply Daruma) lived seems reasonably certain, but if scholarly standards of evidence are maintained, everything else about him is subject to question, including his role, if any, in the establishment of Ch'an.
Shreds of documentary evidence indicate that a South Indian meditation teacher going by the name of Dharma or Bodhidharma arrived in China by the year 479. Over the next half century, he (or another monk of like name) pops up here and there in the carefully kept, voluminous annals of Chinese history, but his biography lacks even a single firm detail. Though numerous writings attached themselves to this phantom, the only text that now can be credibly attributed to him is a brief treatise titled "The Two Entrances and Four Practices." Ascribed to Bodhidharma in manuscripts dated as early as the mid-seventh century, it describes two approaches to gaining the Way, the first of which bears a tantalizing resemblance to Ch'an.
The most distinctive feature of this first approach, known as "entering through the Principle," is its recommendation of pikuan, which translates literally as "wall gaze" or "wall contemplation." This unusual phrase has long been identified with Bodhidharma and with the practice of tso-ch'an, seated meditation (J., zazen). It has been interpretedin two ways, either or both of which may have intended: to face a wall physically or to meditate like a wall -- to cultivate a mind that is firm, ungraspable, free of all concepts and concerns, Over the centuries, both interpretations have found their way into Ch'an and Zen meditation instruction, and in many temples today, it remains standard practice to do zazen facing a partition of some sort, if not actually a wall. 88
THE TWO ENTRANCES AND FOUR PRACTICES
(There are man), avenues for entering the Way, but essentially they all are of two kinds: entering through the Principle' and entering through practice.
Entering through the Principle" is awakening to the essential by means of the teachings. It requires a profound trust that all living beings, both enlighten (I and ordinary, share the same true nature, which is obscured and unseen due only to mistaken perception. If you torn from the false to the true, dwelling steadily in wan contemplation, there is no self or other, and ordinary people and sages one and the same. You abide unmoving and unwavering, never again confused by written teachings. Complete, ineffable accord with the Principle is withoutdiscrimination, still, effortless. This is called entering through the Principle.
"Entering through practice" refers to four all-encompassing practices: the practice of requiting animosity, the practice of accepting one's circumstances, the practice of craving nothing, and the practice of accord with the Dharma.
What is the practice of requiting animosity? When experiencing suffering, a practitioner of the Way should reflect: "For innumerable eons, I have preferred the superficial to the fundamental, drifting through variousstates of existence, creating much animosity and hatred, bringing endless harm and discord. Though I have done nothing wrong in this life, I am reaping the natural consequences of past offenses, my evil karma. It is not meted out by some heavenly agency. I accept it patiently and with contentment, utterly without animosity or complaint." A sutra says, "When you encounter suffering, do not be distressed. Why? Because your consciousness opens up to the fundamental." Cultivating this attitude, you are in accord with the Principle, advancing on the path through the experience of animosity. Thus it is called the practice of requiting animosity.
Second is the practice of accepting circumstances. Living beings, having no fixed self, are entirely shaped by the impact of circumstances. Both suffering and pleasure are produced by circumstances. If you experience such positive rewards as wealth and fame, this results from past causes. You receive the benefits now, but as soon as these circumstances are played out, it will be over. Why should you celebrate? Success and failure depend upon circumstances, while the Mind does not gain or lose. Not being moved even by the winds of good fortune is ineffable accord with the Way. Thus it is called the practice of accepting one's circumstances.
Third is the practice of craving nothing. The various sorts of longing and attachment that people experience in their unending ignorance are regarded as craving. The wise awaken to the truth, going with the Principle rather than with conventional ideas. Peaceful at heart, with nothing to do 2 they change in accord with the seasons. All existence lacking substance, they desire nothing. They know that thegoddesses of good and bad fortune always travel as a pair and that the Triple World, where you have lived so long, is like a burning house. Suffering inevitably comes with having a body -- who can find peace? If you understand this fully, you quit all thoughts of other states of being, no longer crave them, A sutra says, "To crave is to suffer; to crave nothing is bliss." Thus we understand clearly that craving nothing is the true practice of the Way.
The Roaring, Stream: A New Zen Reader
is a groundbreaking, immensely readable anthology drawn From the vast corpus of Ch'an and Zen Buddhist literature. It offers readers a tour through more than a millennium of writing, presenting one masterpiece after another in chronological progression. "You can dip into the waters of this stream, again and again, at any point Finding refreshment and perspective, " notes Robert Aitken in his introduction. "A year From now you can dip in again and find treasures that were not at all evident the First time." From lectures to letters, brief poems to extended disquisitions, this collection is an ideal point of entry For newcomers to the Zen tradition, and an essential sourcebook For those who are already " on the way."
"Now the masterpieces of Zen Buddhist writing are availa6le in a single volume," applauds Library Journal. "[This] will be the standard introduction to Zen Buddhism For years to come."
"Because of its scope and beauty, this collection should become the standard against which all other collections of Zen Buddhist writings are measured".--PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review). Named one of the best books of 1996, THE ROARING STREAM is both an ideal point of entry for people exploring Zen for the first time and an indispensable resource for those with a long-established interest.