Wednesday, November 29, 2006


When Emperor Wu asked the great monk Bodhidharma "What is the highest meaning of the holy truths?", he answered, "No holiness is clear like space." The dialogue continued with Emperor Wu asking "Who is facing me?" Bodhidarma answered with a resounding "DON'T KNOW." Bodhidharma's don't know has echoed down the ages from generation to generation, teaching us the truth of this very moment. Do you understand Bodhidharma's don't know? This don't know undercuts all our conceptual ideas about life. Everything is turned upside down, and we don't understand anything. This not understanding anything is fundamental to finding our true nature and helping all sentient beings. When we can let go of our habitual world view suddenly the truth of this very moment opens up before us. Our desires, opinions and ideas serve to blind us from seeing the truth of this moment. How often does anger prevent us from seeing a situation clearly? Doesn't desire stop us from honestly dealing with others? We live moment to moment trying to protect this thing we call I and to literally destroy anything that threatens it. Even when I thinks it is being compassionate this is usually just a strategy to get what it wants. Bodhidarma's don't know stops this process in its tracks. Don't know cuts off everything; ideas, opinions, conditions, knowledge and beliefs. Then, we can believe what we see in this moment. Then, our anger doesn't blind us to the needs of others. In this moment there is no I to protect and enhance. There is no I to horde or contract. Without making anything, helping all beings is possible. In this moment how to act and what to do is clear. So Bodhidarma has already mapped the way to liberation. We don't need to understand anything else. We don't need to become anything special or be any particular way. Our practices of bowing, chanting, sitting and kong-ans are designed to point us to this moment. Every day this practice helps us let go of our idea of self and perceive our true nature. Retreats help to intensify this practice and integrate don't know deeply into our life. This great effort is needed because our karma is so strong. For years and years we have built up this I. Great effort is needed to establish this don't know as the foundation of our lives.

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