* THE JEWEL MIRROR SAMADHI



Translation & commentary ~ D. Brazier


The following is a translation and commentary upon a famous Chinese Buddhist text. I am not a language scholar, so my translation is not perfect and, in any case, such texts are open to a variety of interpretations. However, the purpose here is to examine the text both from the point of view of Dharma practice and from that of psychotherapy and counselling.

There is, therefore, a commentary upon each line that has two parts. “Dharma Commentary” contains notes relevant to the meaning of the text and its significance in Buddhism. “Therapy Commentary” takes the line in question as a maxim for psychotherapy and suggests its application.

The text is about the “mirror mind” and is about the relationship between master and disciple or, equally, therapist and client. Here we are teasing out the nature of this relationship at different levels. For simplicity, the therapist is referred to as “she” and the client as “he”, but the principles apply the same whatever the gender of client and therapist may be.

There are also, for reference, three appendices at the end relating to Dong Shan's principle of the “Five Ranks” or “Five Positions”.

Author:
Master Dong Shan Liang Jie 洞山良价 (Tozan Ryokai, 807-869) and his leading disciple Caoshan Benji 曹山本寂 (840-901) are regarded as the founding figures of the Caodong School in China which became Soto in Japan. Master Dong Shan is especially noted for this text and for his associated doctrine of Five Ranks (五位). It seems likely that the present text was one of the inspirations for Dogen Zenji's seminal text Genjo Koan upon which I have also done some work for presentation in another publication.






The Jewel Mirror Samadhi Song

Thus, by Buddhas and ancestors, the Dharma is secretly transmitted.
Now that you have it, guard well.
Snow upon a silver plate, a white egret hiding in moonlight,
Similarity is not identity. Similars, when together, can be distinguished.
You'll not see it in what people say, you'll see it in their spontaneous responses and reactions.
Acting and achieving in the old familiar way you miss the slip – look again, wait, look to the longer context.
Too far away and too close are both wrong, as in relation to a great fire.
Fancy words that are merely rupa are themselves klesha.
True radiance comes in darkest night; the dawn brings no dew.
This rule benefits beings; use it to uproot all kinds of dukkha.
Although uncontrived, it is not wordless.
Thus facing the jewel mirror, rupa images regard one another.
You are not it, but it is definitely you.
It's like a baby, complete in five ways
Neither going nor coming, neither arising nor staying.
Ma-ma, wa-wa; speech without speech,
In the final analysis, the object is not attained because the speech is not yet right.
In the double li hexagram, the one who stands upright and the one who bows depend upon one another
You make your threefold division, but to get the result you rework it into five.
Like the chih grass taste, like the vajra.
In their encounter, disciple and master embrace and display the central mystery.
To know the ancient way is to know the way ahead; take it to heart and it will take you along.
If reverent, then happy. Nothing can go wrong.
The truth that Heaven bestows is nonetheless mysterious; not even to be classed with delusion and enlightenment.
All in due season, with the ripening of causes and conditions, its glory quietly emerges.
Fine, it penetrates hell; great, no cell can hold it.
A tiny mistake and you lose the tune
Now we have sudden and gradual and sectarian meanings take their stands
The sects separate, setting up rules and standards
Yet, if one plumb them to the very depths, it will be found that true nature flows quite naturally.
Outwardly calm yet agitated within, one is like a tethered colt or a trapped mouse.
From pity, as dana paramita, the former sages performed the Dharma
by such paradoxical means as black silk performing pure whiteness.
When muddled thought is extinguished, the willing heart comes into its own [i.e. is liberated].
To walk hand in hand with those of old, one must inquire of the ancient ways.
Along the Buddha Way: ten kalpas contemplating the bodhi tree.
Thus the tiger's tattered ears; thus the horse's old grey leg.
Therefore, for the downcast, a jewelled footrest, a noble chariot.
Therefore, astonishingly, there are dutiful cats and pure cattle.
Emperor Yi could hit a target at a hundred yards by dint of skill and strength.
But how will you make to meet two arrows in mid-air straight on?
How make the wooden man sing, the stone damsel dance?
This cannot arrive by vijñana cravings, much less include discriminative thought.
The minister serves the king, the child respects the father.
Without service there is no loyalty, without respect, no support.
Make use of this secret practice, be the foolish being completely.
Only in each making the other successful can the master within the master be inherited.



COMMENTARY



TITLE

The Jewel Mirror Samadhi Song

寶鏡三昧歌

Commentary: The Jewel 寶 generally refers to the “mani”, or “wish fulfilling jewel”, that represents the seemingly magical effect of Dharma. The Mirror signifies the mind of one who has let self fall away. Samadhi means concentration, but has a wider implication than the English word, signifying a state transcending ordinary consciousness in which the spontaneous activity of the mind automatically reflects the Dharma.

A jewel has many facets and so reflects in many directions at the same time. Everything reflects everything, but, in particular, there is an important reflection effect between master and disciple and, similarly, also between individual and Buddha. Beyond the relationship between master and disciple is the relationship that they together have to the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The jewel mirror thus also refers to the “Three Jewels”. It is the influence of the threefold jewel coming through that actually heals. It is this deeper connection that makes the reflection between master and disciples or between therapist and client deeply meaningful. The master-disciple relationship itself reveals the jewel mirror and only exists because of the jewel mirror.

The therapist who employs a Buddhist psychology approach has a sense of the Buddha as present in the relationship and as being the jewel mirror. The truth that emerges through the therapy process is Dharma. It is the deep meaning of human heartedness and of “the depths of the soul”. We, therefore, must approach this work in a spirit of great humility. What we discover by working with a client is no small thing. It is not a fault in a psychological mechanism that needs fixing, it is something much more important. The client embodies the Dharma and the client's “problem” or “koan” that is ripening in their life is like a chink of light reflected from the jewel mirror.

Thus, it is not simply that “the relationship heals”, it is that the relationship gives access to the meaning of life exemplified in a particular instance. This is portentious. It moves us. We feel it. We are touched and moved. These “touchings” and “movings” are not always easy to put into words, but the therapist must learn to allow herself to be touched and moved and to find in that deep involuntary effect something of great worth, something to respect infinitely. In this infinite respect the Dharma is made manifest.


LINES

Line 1

Thus, by Buddhas and ancestors, the Dharma is secretly transmitted.

如是之法佛祖密付

Dharma Commentary

Secret transmission
The Dharma is passed down directly, heart to heart. The point here is that we should not think that the Dharma is something merely intellectual, nor that it is a matter that can be figured out if one is just sufficiently clever. The Dharma is more connaisance than savoir, “caught” rather than “taught”, experiential rather than didactic. The didactic elements are signposts. All over France there are signposts to Paris, but no study of the signposts, however exhaustive, will ever substitute for a visit to the city. The Dharma is found in the spontaneous, nonpossessive love that exists between a true master and a true disciple. It is a mirroring of mutual esteem, supported by shared esteem for the Dharma.

Thus
Buddhist scriptures generally begin, “Thus have I heard...” The term tatha in Sanskrit can be translated as “thus” or “such”, hence tathata as “thusness” and Tathagata as an epithet of Buddha.  The whole idea of “thusness” has a particular cachet in Buddhism, referring both to the transmitted Dharma and to the idea that Dharma is simply things as they are  - “thus”. It would, therefore, also be possible to translate this first line as “By Buddhas and ancestors, the Dharma of thusness is secretly transmitted.”

By Buddhas and Ancestors
The Buddhas and ancestors are eternally transmitting this Dharma. This is the religious sense of Buddhism. We are not merely talking about a theory, but a living presence. Things emerge in the Dharma relationship that are not traceable to the individuals and their personal karma. Something more is at work.


Therapy Commentary  

The “Dharma of thusness” refers to a certain kind of spontaneity or naturalness. An aim of therapy is to help the client to arrive at such a state of freedom from inner conflict, such that the mind can be trusted and anxiety then can subside. In therapy a special kind of relationship space is created within which certain qualities can be transmitted. It is also a space within which a person feels able to be more spontaneous and to follow the hidden thread of their deeper thoughts and feelings. There is a heart to heart connection between therapist and client which creates a freedom, where the client feels trusted and immune to destructive criticism. In therapy, different things happen at different levels. Superficially the client may obtain reassurance and may learn some things from the therapist. This process of learning and reassurance, however, can be the medium within which a deeper meeting occurs in which there is a real opening, heart to heart, by means of which a deep healing takes place. This all happens secretly. It is not necessarily conscious to either therapist or client. It is the fact that there is no contrivance or manipulation that makes it possible.


Line 2

Now that you have it, guard well.

汝今得之宜 善保護


Dharma Commentary

We can take several implications from this line:
(a) that this text is written for Tung Shan's disciples to whom he has transmitted the Dharma, yet.
(b) that in some sense, everybody who might read this already has the Dharma, and
(c) the whole Dharma is included in line one.
There is some truth in all three points.


Therapy Commentary

Guard well what you already have. The therapist is well advised not to think that the client is lacking or damaged. He already has everything that he needs and everything that is needed for therapy will spontaneously appear as and when needed if only client and therapist can recognise it. Together, therapist and client may explore these resources and challenges. Even the things that at first may seem like obstacles play some important part in the unfolding life of the client and reveal some aspect or facet of the koan. Everything that appears in the client's presentation of himself in therapy is meaningful, not just incidental or accidental. It is as though the unconscious mind of the client is, in a subtle way, telling the therapist a story. That subtle story may be different from the conscious story that the client is attached to, but every little element means something.


Line 3

Snow upon a silver plate, a white egret hiding in moonlight,

銀盌盛雪明月藏鷺


Dharma Commentary

The Ephemeral & the Enduring
The silver dish and the moon are both symbolic of what endures, of the Dharma, nirvana. The bird and the snow represent things that come and go, ephemera, like ourselves, samskaras. The master sees the disciple in all his uniqueness, but also sees him as an instance of the Dharma. Every life is special in itself and is also, at the same time, an experiment on behalf of the whole of humankind.

Obscuring the Mirror
The silver plate and the moon are both mirrors. They reflect the light of the sun. The sun represents the Dharmakaya, too bright to look at directly. We can say, therefore, that the sun is Dharmakaya, the moon sambhogakaya and the silver plate, here, is nirmanakaya. Wisdom is to see that the light of the snow and the plate is an instance of the light of the sun. However, things that have a superficial resemblance can actually obscure the light. This is an important principal. The person who practises Buddhism by posing as an enlightened person will be less likely to become really enlightened than the person who is aware of his own failings.


Therapy Commentary

The snow and the egret are like the story that the client tells; the silver plate and the moon are the deeper, more enduring truth. In therapy one needs to try to see beyond the presenting story. One also needs to see the longer term trajectory that is plotted by the small incidents that are reported. On the one hand, one needs to be sufficiently in the here and now not to miss any detail, yet, at the same time, one needs a broader perspective that sees the things that the client reports in the context of his whole life. Listening to the client one is trying to sense, why do these things matter so much to this person at this time? Why is he telling me? telling me this? telling it to me now? and what does that tell us about the past and the future? and about what is truly meaningful in this person's life? To answer these question one has to listen carefully to the client and observe and feel (by empathic imagination) his state, but also one needs experience of life. One needs to observe every detail, but also to see it in context. It is generally not a matter of trying to answer each of these questions one by one and more a matter of getting an intuitive, integrated sense of the life and energy of the person, its quality and direction.


Line 4

Similarity is not identity. Similars, when together, can be distinguished.

類之弗齊混則知處


Dharma Commentary

All the objects are white symbolising purity, but they do not all perform the same function. The plate and the moon are closer to the ultimate, universal; the snow and the egret signify particulars and transient conditions. One's life is an instance of the Dharma, yet the Dharma is more than just one's own life and one's life is more than just one event or one problem.


Therapy Commentary

The work of therapy is often that of separating things that have become confused and putting each in its proper place or context. For instance, when the therapist makes an empathic reflection of what the client has said, it is not uncommon for the client to immediately deny that that is correct, even when it has been an exact reflection. This is because when the client hears or sees his own representation of things reflected back, he compares it in his mind with the reality that he is only aware of intuitively and sees that there is a difference. His words were like the snow. The reality is not quite the same. Also, the snow hides the plate. As the client senses that his words were not quite right he, as it were, begins to see the silver plate – the mirror that is his true mind. The rationalisations that we make to ourselves and others often hide the reality and, paradoxically, the cloer to reality they are the more they conceal. Usually this is not deliberate misrepresentation, it is more habit, or acceptance of common ideas that have never been thought through, or a result of an unacknowledged internal conflict. For these reasons it is important that the therapist be precise and, in a certain way, naïve. The therapist comes with experience of life, but also with a willingness to look at everything completely afresh.


Line 5

You'll not see it in what people say, you'll see it in their spontaneous responses and reactions.

意不在言來機亦赴


Dharma Commentary

A mirror does not describe what appears before it, it responds automatically. Words are like the bird or the snow – they come and go. The automatic response of the mirror is always reliable. The moon and the silver plate are both mirrors.

The truth lies in the automatic response mechanism. If we think of a person as being like a computer, then it arrives with programmes all set to “factory settings”. Over time these get changed to suit the working practices of the user. Once in a while, however, it can be valuable to go back to the factory settings. This is one of the reasons that Buddha recommends solitude. When one is alone one goes back to one's automatic mode and the rationalisations that one has built up over time fall away.


Therapy Commentary

In therapy, it is not what the client says that gives the game away, it is how they react spntaneously. Equally, it is not in the clever interpretations of the therapist that the client trusts, but in what they pick up from the therapist's involuntary reactions. One can see what is important from body language, from hesitations, from emotional reactions, from changes of subject, from the associations of ideas rather than the ideas themselves. What comes spontaneously is more revealing than what is told deliberately.

Similarly, the most effective therapy comes from the therapist's spontaneous reactions rather than from her clever ideas. The look in the eye of the therapist is far more powerful than any words she may utter. It is thus important that the therapist has the correct deep attitude toward the client, genuinely concerned for the client's wellbeing, not merely trying to fit the client into a set of cherished theories. The real wisdom lies somewhere beyond the client's immediate presentation, not in the cleverness of the therapist. From what happens spontaneously between them, client and therapist are both going to learn new things.

The most important skill that a therapist learns is that of reading the spontaneous, unconscious elements in the client's presentation. This is what tells the true story.


Line 6

Acting and achieving in the old familiar way you miss the slip – look again, wait, look to the longer context.

動成窠臼差落顧佇
                       

Dharma Commentary

The Buddhas are always trying to help us. The Dharma is always available. However, we miss it. We are too busy following out habitual ways of doing things to notice. The truth appears in the gaps. If we are more cautious, if we pause, look at the whole picture, the whole context, past, present and future, we may see something beyond our usual view. We may admit help that we did not realise was at hand. When a disciple meets a master, the disciple has expectations. These expectations blind the disciple to the important things that show in the life of the Master.


Therapy Commentary

As therapist, trying to get something started or trying to reach a particular conclusion one just falls into manipulating the client. Adopting a fixed attitude or approach or just doing things the way one always does them, one fails to respond to the person as they are – one becomes a bad mirror. There is a “slip” to watch out for – the dropping of body and mind – the spontaneous reflex. In therapy we need to look for these give-away moments and if we are locked into out samjna routine we shall miss them. Again it is a matter of relating fine detail to larger context. The client is telling a story. There is a slight hesitation and small change of direction in the story. What was happening at that point? Something momentarily surfaced in the client's mind. Something flickered upon the great mirror. What was it? In that slip there was a gateway to something important hovering in the background. Perhaps the client momentarily thought of something he wants to avoid. Perhaps he changed direction because of what other people think and so let go of what is true in his own case. There could be many reasons, but if the therapist does not notice then that information will be lost and the therapy process will take much longer.

Noticing such slips is vital to therapy. If the therapist is simply going through a routine she will miss all the important cues. Commonly such slips are accompanied by sudden, brief, emotion and this may capsize or paralyse the inexperienced therapist. There is an art of stillness, of waiting and watching. There is also an art of capturing the moment and not letting it slip away.

 
Line 7

Too far away and too close are both wrong, as in relation to a great fire.

背觸俱非如大火聚


Dharma Commentary

The great fire is, ultimately, the Dharma itself. The Dharma is the unconditioned and we are conditioned beings. We can revere it from a distance. Go too far away and one falls into worldliness. Go too close and one is swept up into a kind of false religiosity, losing one's humanity (Position three in the five ranks). Buddhism is a middle way: it is to live in relation to the Buddha and the Dharma without presumption. Only as a foolish being can one approach and fully appreciate the wise one. Only by recognising the wise one does one fully appreciate one's foolishness. Humility is necessary. Humilty should not lead to apathy, but to engagement.


Therapy Commentary

Optimum Distance
The issue or complex within the client emits energy. It is a kind of fire burning within. That is what gives him no peace. In order to deal with this fire one has to work at an optimum distance. The complex gives rise to images. These images (rupa) have power over the life of the client. This is the drama of his life. If he goes too close he will be overwhelmed by his feelings and lose the ability to do anything sueful. If he is too far away he will not feel the power or importance of the issue – it will be buried. There is an art to getting the right distance. At the right distance, some cathersis can occur. The fire can pour out and be seen in a completely new way. This is equally true when the image that represents the problem is external. Finding the optimum distance to powerful objects is a key to touching the corresponding feelings in a maneageable way.

Finding the Fire
The therapist knows from experience that the fire is there even before it has been located or identified and so proceeds with caution, by small steps, feeling the heat. Therapist and client gradually locate the fire, but should not plunge in too quickly. Therapy is not to be measured by the number of tears or the volume of lament. Little by little one finds the right place and the right distance and when one does so the right things happen automatically. At the same time, the therapist knows that it is from the fire that treasure is to be derived. The client may be frightened, but the therapist is not.


Line 8

Fancy words that are merely rupa are themselves klesha.

但形文彩即屬染污


Dharma Commentary

Kennet Roshi translates this “If you express by fancy words, it is all stained”. On the one hand, the Dharma does give eloquence. On the other hand, it is very easy to be carried away by high sounding phrases and lose touch with reality. The Dharma is found in ordinary life.


Therapy Commentary

Each therapeutic system has its theories and ideas. The trainee learns these theories and is keen to see them in practice. This is good, but it carries with it the danger that the client is not seen in himself, he is only seen through the lens of the theory. Instead of being “John Smith”, he becomes “a case of post traumatic stress disorder” or “a hysteric”, or whatever. No theory can be more than a general guide. The individual case always reveals something new and unexpected. There can be a temptation for the therapist to put on an appearance of wisdom, but this is a dangerous pose that can soon collapse. The client will connect with the real character of the therapist and it is best if this is not arrogant.


Line 9

True radiance comes in darkest night; the dawn brings no dew.

夜半正明天曉不露


Dharma Commentary

Night
Night refers to delusion. It is when we acknowledge our own deluded state that we may see the light. When deluded people rely upon their own light, they are dazzled by it and cannot see the Dharma.

Dew
Dew refers to the person (fragile, ephemeral, weak) who reflects the Dharma. The image of the dewdrop reflecting the moon in the middle of the night is a symbol for the Buddhist practitioner. The dewdrop is a kind of mirror, but it only works as such in the dark. This imagery is taken up by Dogen in Genjokoan. The dew drop is tiny, but in it is reflected the whole moon and the whole heaven. Yet the dewdrop only functions in this way in the dark. When the dewdrop is dark it becomes such a mirror. It is the same for us. When we become dark – when ego drop away – we become mirrors of the Dharma. We do not even necessarily know that it is happening, but it is so.


Therapy Commentary

Therapy is a search in the dark. One starts from a position of not knowing.  If the therapist is too concerned with her own appearance of competance and wisdom – her own light – there will be no good results. A good result is that the client is in a condition to reflect the new insight when it comes. It is the client who, like the dewdrop in the night, reflects the truth.


Line 10

This rule benefits beings; use it to uproot all kinds of dukkha.

為物作則用拔諸苦


Dharma Commentary

Returning to the place of darkness is the way to overcome bitterness. This is like a return to the womb. A mirror is dark. To see deeply one must look into that darkness. The ego is our little light. The ego, however, gets in the way of learning. To learn, we must receive a bigger light, even if, like the moon, it is further away.

This is like receiving feedback. In order to improve we have to know what we are doing wrong. However, if out ego (our little light) is feeding on the item that we receive feedback upon, we may not be able to hear the feedback. It is too painful for us to receive the criticism. But if we are really only interested in making progress, then correction is a benefit.



Therapy Commentary

This line virtually defines therapy. In psychotherapy we seek to enter into the darkest places in order to uproot suffering. Broadly speaking, the kind of suffering that psychotherapy deals with is the kind that is self-perpetuating and misunderstood by the person who experiences it. Its causes and conditions are hidden in darkness. Psychotherapy aims to penetrate that darkness in order to discover the truth. In therapy, therefore, we create a safe space in which the person can dare to go to the part of their life that they usually try to ignore or simply do not know about.

However, there is another sense in which this principle operates. The hidden causes of our misery are embedded in the functioning of our ego. The person with a big ego has a “thin skin”. The least slight or insult to their worth is experienced as extremely painful. They may sulk, have a bad temper, or simply become frozen and miserable as a result of things that a more confident, less ego-centric person would brush off or might not even notice. Now the ego can be considered to be the person's little light. They do not see the big light in the world because of holding their own little light so close. The ego-centric person is blinded by his own light. Only when his own light goes dark is he able to see the greater light that may awaken and liberate. The ego exists in a cycle with the sense of threat. Just as the ego-centred person reacts strongly to perceived threat, so the perception of threat keeps the ego complex in being. In therapy, therefore, we strive to reduce the sense of threat in a wide variety of ways, so that the ego of the client can settle, heal and go to sleep.

The art of therapy, therefore, is the art of creating the conditions that allow the ego of the client to loosen its grip.


Line 11

Although uncontrived, it is not wordless.

雖非有為不是無語

Dharma Commentary

We are talking here about an automatic effect. The mirror effect is not something contrived. It happens automatically. Thus the mark of a person who is advanced in Dharma is that they live a good life without undue effort – it comes naturally to them. It is not that they are in a straitjacket of moral rules. They really are generous, enthusiastic, joyful and kind. Consequently, many of their good acts are ones that they do not think about. The truly generous person does not think, “Now I should do something generous,” she just does it naturally. So in one sense, such virtue is without words. However, if attention is brought to it, it is possible to describe the Dharma and to become elequent in propagating it. Good words are one of the things that a Dharma teacher is generous with. Therefore, while there is some truth in the idea that “The truth is beyond words,” we should not take this idea too far. Shakyamuni Buddha spent much of his time speaking the Dharma and the living word is powerful.


Therapy Commentary
 
In therapy, the “mirror” is inside the client. The client's story is like the image appearing in the mirror. It reflects a reality that is “beyond” the client, but to which only the client has access. The therapist has to try to “read” this image as it appears. Sometimes a therapist may become too passive. The fear of saying the wrong thing leads to doing nothing at all. This is a kind of perfectionism. No mistakes – no progress. Thos is the problem of the ego of the therapist getting in the way. Therapy may be one mistake after another, but each mistake serves to sharpen the accuracy of understanding. The aim is to “act without acting”, not to not act at all. To act without acting mans that one is not putting on an unreal performance, not pretending. The work is for real, but it still requires us to perform our role to the full.


Line 12

Thus facing the jewel mirror, rupa images regard one another.

如臨寶鏡形影相睹


Dharma Commentary
 
Here is the story of Dong Shan's awakening. It is said that before they parted company on one occasion, Dong Shan had the following exchange with his master Yun Yen.
Dong Shan: If I am later asked, what is your master like? What should I tell them?
Yun Yen: Guilty as charged! (Literally, “Just this person” - the traditional way of admitting guilt in court.)
Dongshan thought about it.
Yun Yen: After pleading guilty (lit. “assuming the burden”) in the Great Matter, one had better be very careful.
Dongshan was still confused.
Later, crossing a river, he saw his own reflection, and the meaning of his master's words went home.

The gateway to liberation is contrition. It involves fully taking on responsibility for one's life. The awakened person is not rendered innocent thereby, quite the reverse. One sees the infinite extent of one's evil. It is flight from this terrible prospect that keeps us deluded. When we are mirror-like we see how rupa-like we are. The image in the mirror is only an image. It is rupa. Seeing this image we see how our whole idea of ourselves is merely an image.


Therapy Commentary
 
Rupa is false yet fascinating appearance. The client reveals his particular brand of fascination. A person is fascinated by his own ego image. This image is embedded in the image of his whole world and the way that he sees the world is a projection his efforts to protect this image. The therapist is allowed to see into the client's mirror, to see his ego-rupa.

However, to be a therapist, one must “take defeat upon oneself”. One is always the guilty party. Dong Shan and Yun Yen, master and disciple, therapist and client, pairs of guilty parties together. The client thinks he will arrive at a freedom from the human condition, but actually comes to appreciate it. It is the nonchalance with which Yun Yen accepts his “guilt” that unsettles Dong Shan's ego.


Line 13

You are not it, but it is definitely you.

汝不是渠渠正是汝


Dharma Commentary
 
Remember Buddha's early teaching: This is not me, this is not mine, this is not myself. When we project ourself onto the world we are deluded, but when we find ourselves in the world we are awakened. The world is other than the self, but it is the reflection that confronts us in that world of otherness that confirms who and what we are. The same is true in the encounter with a teacher. The teacher is other, yet shows one oneself.

In the encounter between Dong Shan and Yun Yen, Dong Shan is hoping to become as free from guilt as Yun Yen. However Yun Yen says “I am the guilty one” - he is always the guilty one. This causes Dong Shan's delusion to collapse.

My teacher used to say, “If there is something going wrong in the monastery, the first place I look is to my own training.”


Therapy Commentary
 
Empathy is like this, to experience as if one were the other. The therapist empathises without identifying. The therapist is a mirror for the client and the client contains the mirror in which both client and therapist can see the truth reflected. Also, the world around us is the mirror in which we find ourselves, yet that world is not oneself. Therapy is a matter of seeing oneself in the mirror that is the therapist, yet knowing that it is not oneself. In other words, fully confessing yet gaining some objectivity. In the recognition, “Yes, that's me, that's my karma,” one is setting oneself apart from it. The paradox is that in fully accepting responsibility for our life, we liberate ourselves from it.

Here also we see the basis of object related work. It is through investigating the significant others in our life that we discover the truth about ourselves. They are not oneself, but in them one finds the whole of oneself reflected.


Line 14

It's like a baby, complete in five ways

如世嬰兒五相完具


Dharma Commentary
 
The exact interpretation of this passage depends upon what we take the five to refer to: five skandhas, five senses (six minus the mind sense), five modes of conduct (comes, goes, arises, stays, speaks), or some relationship to the “five ranks”, etc. Given the two lines that follow, it seems correct to take it as the five modes of conduct. The point is that a baby behaves instinctively and innocently, just as a mirror is a mechanism that functions automatically.


Therapy Commentary
 
In therapy it is the uncontrived, automatic responses that are often most revealing. The innocent, instinctive dimension of the person is mentally healthy. However deluded a person may have become, insofar as they can contact that innocent part they make contact with sanity. In any case, the instinctive responses provide much information to the therapist.


Line 15

Neither going nor coming, neither arising nor staying.

不去不來不起不住


Dharma Commentary
 
The baby is perfect only in that it has not yet done anything. As soon as it does something it will be guilty. However, the baby is dependent. It does not take responsibility for its life. Similarly, the mirror does not take responsibility – it simply displays the truth. It operates in a completely dependent way, yet that is how it is reliable.


Therapy Commentary
 
In therapy it is not the therapist's agenda that matters. The mirror is not going anywhere, does not hold onto anything. It is innocent. Therapy is thus an innocent process. If there is a moral, social or coercive agenda, it is not really therapy. It may be education or socialisation, but not therapy. Therapy is clean. The good therapist does not take responsibility for the client. She is deeply engaged with the client and responds to every little change or development, but she is not manipulating him. This principle of non-manipulation is very important. The therapist is, in a way, innocent as a baby. She facilitates the process, not the content. It is for this reason that the client can trust what is revealed.

We know that sometimes little children say things that make us laugh because they are copying adult speech and when it is said by a child it sounds absurd. It makes us laugh at ourselves and shows us our artificiality. The therapist, similarly, can say the things that reflect what the client expresses, and, hearing them said back in an innocent way, the client may re-evaluate them. Also, the therapist can, in this way, also say the things that would not be said in polite company.


Line 16

Ma-ma, wa-wa; speech without speech,

婆婆和和有句無句


Dharma Commentary
 
Ch'an master Ju Ching wrote a poem:

Whole body, like a mouth hanging in space
Not asking if the wind is east, west, south or north,
For all equally it chatters prajña
Bing-bong-bang, Ting-a-ling, Ting-a-ling.

Because the windbell is empty, 空, and hanging in space, 空, it responds naturally to all the different winds that blow. It emits its sound indiscriminately, pleasing anyone who cares to hear. It does its job, unselfconsciously, unhesitatingly and without prejudice. It does its duty, yet with a happy and healthy indifference. It is like the mirror that does not discriminate between the images that form. The teacher is a bit like this. In the teacher's boundless compassion, there is a kind of ruthlessness. This is not a cruelty in the service of self-interest, it is a realism that cuts through the fond illusions of the disciple. This is similar to the passage in the Taoist classic that says

天 地 不 仁 , 以 萬 物 為 芻 狗 ﹔
聖 人 不 仁 , 以 百 姓 為 芻 狗 。

Heaven and Earth are not 'benevolent'.
They treat the myriad things as performing as straw dogs
The sage is not 'benevolent'.
He treats the people as performing as straw dogs
[my translation]

This passage may startle, since we think that the Buddha, Heaven or God should be benevolent and, therefore, the sage should be so too. However, in Taoism and Buddhism we are required to become spiritually mature, not regress to being spiritual children. The sage's love is shown in ways that help to bring the person to maturity, that facilitate their realism. This is not achieved by bending the rules of the universe in order to indulge a favourite. This is a love that transcends favouritism.

The baby makes sounds in direct response to its instincts. It is not devious. As it grows up it will become more circumspect and calculating. This adds sophistication but it also introduces deception. The sage is a person who is adult and mature but has the same guilelessness as the child.


Therapy Commentary
 
The therapist has a special kind of neutrality, like the mirror. She does not mind what gets reflected. Everything is interesting. She has faith that somewhere deep down there is truth and beauty, but there is no reason why that should be what at first appears. The therapist's first job is to keep the therapy space safe and to keep the client working within it. To this end, the therapist often only makes continuity noises – “uh huh”, “so...”, “ahh”, “and...,” There is a comparison here with the innocence and lack of sophistication of the baby. The therapist may ask the naïve question. When we see and mother and baby, they both talk baby language. The mother's “la-la” language comforts the child because there is a bond between them, like the object and its reflection. The “ma-ma” of the baby and the “la-la” of the mother harmonise. In therapy we have a similar connection. Although there may be sophisticated language, there is also this basic, musical connection, and it is at this subliminal level that the most important things are transmitted.


Line 17

In the final analysis, the object is not attained because the speech is not yet right.

終不得物語未正故


Dharma Commentary
 
At a simple level this is saying that baby speech is not yet capable of saying things properly. However, it is also saying that baby speech is not contained within conventional categories. It points at the paradox of language. The more developed it becomes the more fine distinctions it can make, but at the same time, as it becomes more sophisticated, it tends to impose a restriction of expression upon the speaker.

Words are “fingers pointing at the moon”. We cannot actually grasp the moon, and it is not held within the words, but words can point it out and we can regard it and reflect its light. The baby does not have real words, but it expresses itself. The mother and child show their love for one another effectively even though the language is not formed. This baby talk is more honest and direct. To speak the Dharma is to use real words with the same direct honesty as the child.


Therapy Commentary

It is important for the therapist to avoid being attached to conventional thinking and not be hooked upon conventional word associations only. She has to be aware of all that, but to hold it very lightly and also see other possibilities. The conventional ideas 物語 are obstacles. The client will expect to be able to pull the therapist into cliché, since this is normal in ordinary conversation, but the therapist needs to take things in a more basic way. Often a client gives away a deeper meaning by choosing words that seem somehow odd in the context or that have distinctive associations. The therapist needs to listen to the client's words carefully, yet, at the same time, one must know that the very fact that something is being discussed means that there has to be some doubt about it. Something is not quite right.

Words are embedded in a matrix of associations. Words conjure images. The therapist needs a sense of poetry and imagery to fully understand why the client expresses himself the way he does.

Words convey information and are expressive, but at the same time, they hide things and distract us from them. The therapist is alert to tiny hints that reveal something beyond the words. This is not just a matter of arriving at cathartic expression of feelings, though that may sometimes be appropriate. It is more a matter of getting to what feels more real.


Line 18

In the double li hexagram, the one who stands upright and the one who bows depend upon one another

重離六爻偏正回互


Dharma Commentary

The li hexagram represents fire. In Dong Shan's system it represents the fifth position. These positions are explained in subsequent lines below and in the poems given as an appendix. Traditionally, fire represents clinging. Clinging is the arch-enemy of awakening in Buddhism, yet here Dong Shan presents fire as the highest position. Fire burns away to ash. In Dong Shan's commentary upon the fire hexagram he says:

And what's more, to arrive at the centre
don't fall into having or not having, who dares [real] peace?
people want to escape from the ceaseless round;
snap out of that, go back, go back and sit in the coals.

兼中到
不落有無 誰敢和
人人盡欲 出常流
折合還歸 炭裏坐


The point is that the ultimate spiritual place is right here in the midst of the world as it is, and in ourselves as we are, not in an escape to a different kind of domain. This requires a deep humility that goes beyond seeking for personal satisfaction. Personal satisfaction is over-rated. The coal is the fuel for the fire. Dong Shan says go and sit amidst that coal, don't suppress it or run away from it. Know it fully in your own life.

Sometimes one is the person who bows and sometimes one is the person who is bowed to. For the spiritually mature person there is no difference of value between these two positions. This is because even when he is the one standing on the altar, he is bowing in his heart, and when he is the one prostrating before the Buddha, in that very act he is empowered. To sit in the coals is to bow and, as Bodhidharma said: when bowing ceases, Buddhism ceases.


Therapy Commentary

In therapy we are looking for the fuel of the fire. The client tells us of the fire in his life and our task is to sit with him in that fire. To do this we need to give up any idea of escaping from it. For sure, it might go away of its own accord, but, on the other hand, it might get more intense. We should not judge progress by symptom reduction, but by arrival at real truth. An example: For instance, a person may come into therapy feeling flat and apathetic. We discover in therapy that he has suppressed all memory of the death of his son because the child was born by a woman he now hates. He had become like a dead person himself in the (unconscious) effort to keep this knowledge of the child's death out of his mind. In therapy he finds the truth. Now his distress is much greater. He weeps and laments loudly. The symptoms are worse, but the man is closer to sanity. When nature has done her grieving work he will recover and be a stronger, wiser man.

We can also see this sequence in terms of bowing and standing tall. Before therapy he was trying to stand tall by ignoring the undesireable knowledge. In therapy he learns to bow before the truth. He accepts responsibility for creating the terrible situation in which he had a child by a woman he did not love and then abandoned her because he could not stand living with her. He bows before the anguish of knowing that the child, his son, then died. He is brought very low by this “sitting in the coals”, but as a result, the day will come when he can stand up again and be altogether more mature.


Line 19

You make your threefold division, but to get the result you rework it into five.

疊而為三變盡成五


Dharma Commentary

Superficially this line refers to the traditional method of casting yarrow stalks in order to get an I Ching reading. However, “three” also refers to the third position and “five” to going on further, as set out in Dong Shan's “five ranks” or “five positions” 五位- being his explanation of progress in Zen and how Zen (and Mahayana generally) goes beyond ordinary religion.

Thus the mundane can override the holy, the holy can overrule the mundane or the holy and mundane can function together. These are the three. They cover all the normal paths of religion. Yet we can go further. When the holy totally illuminates the mundane, one can be in the world yet not of the world. Finally, when the holy and mundane are both completely transcended one has final liberation. These are the five.

The Five “Ranks” in brief
- First Position: The world of mundane life. There is light but it is overwhelmed by mundane considerations (darkness). The person does not know himself. For this person, finding the Dharma will mean to study the self.
- Second Position: The world of the holy, the sacred overwhelms the darkness. This is the stage at which the person has got into Buddhism and is intent upon being a good practitioner. For this person, going deeper into the Dharma will be a matter of forgetting about oneself. Commitment to the path overwhelms personal desires.
- Third Position: The darkness is completely encased by the light. This is the highest achievement of conventional religion. It implies a path with a goal. The danger here is complacency. The sense of having a formula that works tends to give one a sense of superiority. Living a conventionally good life one gets much approval.
- Fourth Position: Bathing in the radiance of Buddha. When one is simply in awe, there is no path. This is a state of grace and transcendence. It is the full development of the role of sravaka – the one who listens to the Dharma. It is the “dropping away of body and mind”. One is no longer self-preoccupied. This is a wonderful condition, but it is not stable.
- Fifth Position: “The ability to die while sitting and standing.” Ordinary practitioners want to escape into purity, but the bodhisattva returns into the sea of fire. Because he has no vested interest in life or death he is completely liberated and able to be beyond the holy and mundane. He completely abandons his own merit.


Therapy Commentary

The Five Ranks represent different psychological positions. Naturally we move back and forth between them. Overall, however, the moral is that the goal of therapy has more to do with accepting the darkness than to do with covering it up with what seem bright and strong strategies that will actually prove only to be stop-gaps. The more fully a person can accept the whole of their life, not simply the preferred parts, the more psychologically healthy they will be. The aim is not that of arriving at a defensible position that can be maintained in an unchanging pose, but rather to become at ease with the fact that flow and change are a natural part of healthy life.

Thus, therapy is not a matter of simply finding the “right” answer to the client's “problem”. The whole idea of having a problem to solve only plays a small part in therapy, even though it may be the way that the matter is presented initially. We can designat the five positions in therapy terms as follows:
1. First position: client lacks insight into his own behaviour
2. Second position: client is self-preoccupied, worried by his own issues
3. Third position: client is attached to an idea of how his life should be
4. Fourth position: client sees his life in a new light and feels free
5. Fifth position: client deeply appreciates his human nature, its value and limitations


Line 20

Like the chih grass taste, like the vajra.

如荎草味如金剛杵


Dharma Commentary

Chih grass is said to have all five tastes in one plant. The vajra here is presumably one with five points or arms. The meaning is that all five are unified in a single entity. Thus it is not just that the five ranks are sequential but that the accomplished practitioner has all five. Also, the medicinal grass is yin and the vajra yang so here all dimensions are covered.
 

Therapy Commentary

The therapist has to learn to savour all aspects of the person. This is different from approving of some and rejecting others. The job of therapy is not that of removing any part of the person, but of finding the deeper meaning within it, which we could call its full flavour, and finding the optimum route of expression for that energy. The therapist has to develop a taste for all the flavours of the person. The therapy process often seems like one in which the client reclaims parts of himself that have been lost or rejected. This becomes possible because the therapist does not continue the discrimination against them. Although the five ranks do designate a sequence, we do not simply go through the sequence and then stop. A person encompasses all of the positions and it is only by fully knowing his occupation of the first position that a person can be in the fifth one. Even the most mature person does not have complete or perfect insight into his own condition. There is always more to learn.


Line 21

In their encounter, disciple and master embrace and display the central mystery.

正中妙挾敲唱雙舉


Dharma Commentary

The “mystery” takes place in the encounter, in the unusual connection between master and disciple. This is not an ordinary relationship. Here there is great non-possessive love, (Greek: agape). This is a divine quality (brahma vihara). The ordinary person thinks that the disciple goes to the master in order to get something, but this idea is a misunderstanding. The disciple may be transformed by the meeting, but this transformation is due to the demonstration that something more is possible in this life than the disciple imagined could be. Generally speaking, the disciple is intent upon reaching the third rank, but the master sees that there is a great danger there of spiritual stagnation. Many Zen encounters, therefore, are ones in which the master cuts away the ground of the third position.


Therapy Commentary

Similarly, in therapy, when it works, it does so because the client has been “met” at a deeper level than he is used to. This has the effect of, as it were, thawing out parts of his being that have been frozen in a self-protective configuration. Actually what the person has been seeking to protect is an illusion and when it melts away the person is left in a much more liberated condition. However, this condition of liberation is something that people ordinarily fear.

In the therapy relationship the client may experience being in a flow that is free and spontaneous. What they have been looking for, however, has been “a solution” rather than an experience. They implicitly think that the solution must be a formula of some kind. However, the word “solution” itself, literally, means that something has dissolved – has entered into the liquid state. The flow is the dissolution but it cannot be bottled. To stay in the flow of life is not so much a matter of technique, more a matter of faith. The client picks up some of the faith of the therapist. This means, of course, that the therapist herself needs to have great faith in her client, in the greater process of life and in the meaningfulness of it all.


Line 22

To know the ancient way is to know the way ahead; take it to heart and it will take you along.

通宗通塗挾帶挾路


Dharma Commentary

This tells us how the Dharma is received and transmitted from ancestor to ancestor. It spreads over the world (like paint). We should take it to heart – or establish it in the tanden.  The path is not a path in the ordinary sense of a route that is marked out to be followed. This “path” is freedom, freedom from our internalised obsessions.


Therapy Commentary

The therapist needs to be at ease with the basic nature of human beings. People often choose to become therapists because they hold certain ideals about how life should be. However, therapy has more to do with getting back to basics than with anything new or artificial. Paradoxically, an ideal world is not made by following ideals; it comes about naturally by returning to perennial truth.

In English, too, we have an expression “to get something under one's belt,” meaning to know it intimately. Here we are told to know the way of the ancestors intimately – to get it under our belts. This does not mean to follow a set of rules. It means to act with maturity.


Line 23

If reverent, then happy. Nothing can go wrong.

錯然則吉不可犯忤


Dharma Commentary

Translations of this line differ markedly, though it seems fairly straightforward. Good fortune follows from being rspectful to the ancient ways. Those who follow the ancestral path are still ordinary beings prone to errors, yet their lives are auspicious nonetheless. By following the Dharma we participate in something holy.


Therapy Commentary

Generally speaking, it is not by self-assertion that happiness is to be found or a worthwhile life lived. A worthwhile life is one lived in the service of a noble purpose. Selfishness brings only short term benefits. In the modern world there is a widespread value system that advocates that one should only respect oneself. This, however, is not the Buddhist way. Holding the other in high esteem is vitally important. The therapist should hold the client in high esteem. If the therapist has high esteem for the client, even if her skills are poor, the client will still benefit. Similarly, the therapist has a sense that the client is on his spiritual journey and has respect for that. The path itself is an object for reverence.



Line 24

The truth that Heaven bestows is nonetheless mysterious; not even to be classed with delusion and enlightenment.

天真而妙不屬迷悟


Dharma Commentary

Truth is truth. A person is what they are. The world is what it is. Truth is established by heaven and is prior to any human contrivance or achievement, even delusion and enlightenment. Buddhism asks us to even go beyond its own concepts and categories.


Therapy Commentary

A therapist needs to have a profound respect for what is true and real. Clients come to therapy often in order to examine the parts of themselves that are not socially acceptable or have caused trouble to themselves and others. The job of therapy is not to destroy those parts, but to find the truth given by heaven hidden within them. The therapist learns to accpt and understand the paradoxical nature of things. Everything has its balance and compensation. Few things are wholly good, but few are wholly bad either. Everything happens for reasons. These reasons are partly personal and partly universal. The temptation of the inexperienced therapist is to narrow things down in the search for a single cause-effect process. The more experienced therapist realises that things arise creatively on the foundation of a complex of conditions. Within this complex, not every condition points in the same way. Furthermore, whatever results will have a dynamic effect and will, therefore, itself become a condition for further developments later. Not only are there always reasons, there are always consequences too. It is not generally the therapist's job to direct the client toward this or that course, but rather to bring the client into a more intimate connection with the conditions of his life so that what emerges is expressive of the truth of that life itself. The therapist cannot know in advance what this will be.


Line 25

All in due season, with the ripening of causes and condition, its glory quietly emerges.

因緣時節寂然昭著


Dharma Commentary

The truth is brought out by causes and conditions (因緣). It happens in an unobtrusive way. Most people fail to notice what is being made manifest right before their eyes. Patience is needed, and respect for the “other power”.


Therapy Commentary

The scenario presented by the client is a set of causes and conditions. It is an occasion upon which some (perhaps, inconvenient) truth is emerging. The therapist is a kind of midwife to this birth. Although the therapist has assisted at such occasions many times before, each is a new miracle. The therapist therefore needs caution and patience. A sense that all will become clear in its own time is needed. Perhaps the client announces some gand new departure in his life. The therapist is thinking to herself, “Well, let's see what actually happens.” Or, a client presents a problem. The inexperienced therapist immediately sets about trying to solve the problem for the client and offers advice. The client, however, usually has many reasons for not following the advice. When client presents a problem the experienced therapist thinks, “Ah, that interesting. I wonder what he is going to do with that.” She does not immediately assume responsibility for the client's problem. She sees it as a sign of his journey. The problem is the form that his encpounter with life is throwing up at the moment. Perhaps the problem is going to tell us something interesting. Also, the therapist appreciates the client for having got so far as to formulate things in this way. “Ah, so you have crystalised the situation into this idea of a problem. That's good. Now tell me some more about it. What else comes to mind when you think about your life in this way?” The therapist has faith that a process is already underway and that if she and the client stay with it important things will emerge.


Line 26

Fine, it penetrates hell; great, no cell can hold it.

細入無間大絕方所


Dharma Commentary

One who finds the Dharma is like a person released from prison, a wanderer lost in the desert who comes to an oasis, a tortured person suddenly released. The heaven sent truth can enter into even the prison of one's heart, even the hell that one has made for onself and it can set one free.


Therapy Commentary

In therapy one may encounter everything that human beings are capable of – torture, rape, envy, cruelty, lies, theft, betrayal, loss, disaster – there is no limit. The therapist undertakes to try to help the good, the bad, the old and young, beautiful and ugly, privileged and deprived. The therapist needs both delicacy and strength. She needs to listen extremely carefully and be able to tease out tiny points. She also needs courage to be reliable and not frightened of the reality of the client's life. A client will watch the therapist carefully to see how the therapist reacts to the information that the client discloses. If the therapist cannot take it, or has a biassed response, the client will avoid the subject and the opportunity for therapy will be lost. If a client talks about wanting to commit suicide or about having committed some evil act, or being involved in something that the therapist disapproves of, the therapist needs to stay steady and continue to go forward with the same careful concern and not panic.


Line 27

A tiny mistake and you lose the tune

毫忽之差不應律呂


Dharma Commentary

Yin and yang flow like music. The deep structure of life and communication is musical. Follow the music of life.


Therapy Commentary

You can tell when a person is “in the flow” or “in role” or “warmed up” to a theme or task. Their behaviour is fluid and fast and they lose awareness of other things. They enter a kind of trance (samjña). The therapist needs skills in recognising when the client is and is not in the flow, noticing and understanding what provokes such transitions, knowing how to bring them about and how to use the information they provide. She also needs to know how to work with the trance to take the client forward – how to help the client deeper in, how to bring them out again, and, during the work, how to keep the client in the flow and keep exploring. These are rather like the skills of a story teller who can hold an audience. This requires care and concentration.  



Line 28

Now we have sudden and gradual and sectarian meanings take their stands

今有頓漸緣立宗趣


Dharma Commentary

This refers to the “schools of south and north” - Zen as practised in the two different parts of China in that time – and to the emphasis that some place upon “sudden enlightenment” and others give to “gradual cultivation”. Dong Shan is implying that this division is superficial and does not go to the root of the matter.


Therapy Commentary

In therapy too, there are different schools of thought and practice, but the skilled practitioner is not dogmatically attached. She can use methods drawn from many sources as appropriate. A good therapist has a big repertoire of methods, but actually uses such technique only sparingly. It is not by having a lot of tricks, so much as by the quality of the work that progress is made. Nor is it a matter of holding the client within a diagnosis. Different therapy systems each have their own classification of pathologies, but these are only of limited use. Sometimes they may indicate a useful direction, but one rarely meets a client who exactly fits the category and, in any case, the objective is to go beyond it.


Line 29

The sects separate, setting up rules and standards

宗趣分矣即是規矩


Dharma Commentary

Once established, sects set up formal ways of doing things and these are taken as the way to attain enlightenment. However, enlightenment is ultimately a liberation from all such formalities. The enlightened person can enact them, but is not bound by them. It is necessary for a religious community to have its conventions and one learns a great deal by conforming to them, even though, ultimately, one must go beyond them and see through their arbitrary nature.


Therapy Commentary

The same is true in therapy. The therapist learns a system, but is not bound by the system. Therapy may use procedures, but it is not a production line. It is an art. Just as an artist has techniques such as particular methods for applying pigment to canvass and so on, it is not for his mastery of such technique that he will be judged, but for the beauty, or depth of meaning of the work that he produces. Similarly in therapy. One works artistically with the material that the client presents. Together, client and therapist arrive at some kind of co-creation.

The therapy profession has rules and standards. These include rules about confidentiality, violence, sexual contact, and so on. These are boundaries. The therapist must endeavour to avoid crossing these boundaries and generally the therapy takes place easily within them. However, there will be times when the work takes place around the boundary itself. Clients may try to overturn the boundary and a therapist may sometimes realise that a client would be better helped by something that is beyond the boundary. These situations generate real problems for the therapist and a purely rigid response may fail therapeutically. These situations need much thought and care. It is not uncommon, at least, for much of the client's real problem to become apparent through such small boundary issues as always arriving late or trying to make the session last longer than was contracted for. These can be ways that a client, in effect, says to the therapist, “Do you really care for me or do you just want my money?” Therapy tests the sincerity of the therapist and challenges her to look deeply into her own motivation.


Line 30

Yet, if one plumb them to the very depths, it will be found that true nature flows quite naturally.

宗通趣極真常流注


Dharma Commentary
 
When we break through such conventions of practice we reach a reality which was and shall be always flowing. This seems a paradox – that the perfection of keeping the rules is to find that no rules are needed. This however, is like any skill. When you are learning, it is all deliberate and contrived, but when you have “got it”, you no longer have to think about it. The master craftsman does not have to do things by numbers. The Buddha did not have to prepare his Dharma teachings because he knew it in his heart.


Therapy Commentary
 
The teacher of life is reality. In therapy we are constantly coming back to what is really true. Things work out. Although we have many ideas and theories, there is always something deeper going on. The therapist has to be prepared to be surprised. Also, she has to be willing to let things take their course and learn from the course that they take. The client's actions always have a meaning, even when that meaning is not apparent either to the client himself or to the therapist. Both client and therapist are learning from reality as they go along. This both reveals a deeper meaning and also helps the client to have confidence in the natural flow.

When one is learning to be a therapist one may feel wooden and artificial because one is deliberately trying to communicate in a new way. One's habitual ways have to be unlearnt and this is not easy or intuitive to begin with. However, in due course, it all starts to flow and the new way comes naturally.

Similarly, for the client, therapy can be a situation in which to try out new ways of relating to the significant others in his life. To begin with this may feel strange, but in due course it is found to flow more easily than the old awkward ways that he used in the past. At certain points there may be breakthrough points at which the new way starts to feel right. It is a bit like a river finding a new channel. The new channel may lead to the sea much more directly, but to begin with the river has to overflow its existing banks in order to enter the new course.


Line 31

Outwardly calm yet agitated within, one is like a tethered colt or a trapped mouse.

外寂中搖係駒伏鼠


Dharma Commentary

We all put on an outward appearance of mastery, but inside may be full of all kinds of emotions. Sometimes meditation is presented as the way to eliminate the inner turmoil, but it is more accurate to say that meditation shows us how we really are. The discipline of not moving is like the cage. The mind is like the mouse desperately trying to get out or the young horse struggling against the tether. Similarly with solitude. When one is alone, what troubles does one have? Yet many people find being alone very difficult. In these situations of being alone or sitting still, we come up against our mouse or horse nature.


Therapy Commentary

A client may come complaining of an inner agitation. He asks the therapist to help him quell this feeling. However, there is some meaning in the feeling too. The therapist wants to get to know the “mouse in the cage”, to know the “young horse” that is kicking. Therapy is not about suppression, but about understanding, having compassion and liberating.

The therapy can also be like meditation or solitude. Because the therapist does not respond in the ways that people generally do, the client finds himself in a space that he is not used to, that does not  soothe his ego nor play his games. This can be uncomfortable. However, the therapist has no investment in making him uncomfortable, nor in comforting, simply in exploring the reality – just like a mirror. If a person manifests something where there is no provoking stimulus, then it has to have its origin in some kind of emotional complex within the person.

We should not think that the aim is to get the mouse to sit still or the horse to settle down. The inner energy is all good energy and it is trying to do something. Ultimately what it is trying to do will be found to be good. It will reveal itself as the true nature that flows quite naturally. However, to arrive at this natural flow it is necessary to penetrate to the depths.   


Line 32

From pity, as dana paramita, the former sages performed the Dharma

先聖悲之為法檀度


Dharma Commentary

Dana means gift or generosity. Paramita literally means “other shore”. Often it is translated as “perfection”. The idea of other shore is based upon the image used by the Buddha to the ffect that the Dharma is like crossing a great river. The current is trying to wash one away down stream, but the practitioner is trying to get to the other side, across the current. Here, the “current” represents the ways of the world. The Dharma practitioner must cut through them to reach a safer refuge on the other bank. Then, if one has reached the other shore, one can look back at the flowing river. It is the same river as one saw from the first side, but now one's view is entirely the other way around. One sees everything in a new perspective. Hence, there are virtues in a normal sense and also “paramitas”. Ordinary generosity means to give a gift of food or money. The dana paramita is the gift of the Dharma. The Dharma is “given” by being performed. The sages perform the Dharma in compassion for the “mouse within the cage”.

Relevant here is the story of the disciple who goes to a monastery in order to learn from a famous teacher. After a year, the disciple says to the master, “Why do you never instruct me in the Dharma?” The master replies, “Was there ever a time when I was not instructing you?”


Therapy Commentary
 
Real therapy is also dana paramita. The therapist feels for the client struggling within his self-made cage. Because he is attached to the cage it is not easy to get him out and he is frightened to leave. The therapist manifests great compassion. The client, perhaps, thinks that the therapist will have some special trick for getting him out of his cage. However, the real “trick” is in the mode of being of the therapist. Perhaps the therapist is empathic. If the client also gets in touch with his own empathy, his mode of relating to his world will change and – surprise! - suddenly he is no longer inside his cage.


Line 33

by such paradoxical means as black silk performing pure whiteness.

隨其顛倒以緇為素


Dharma Commentary

Here the black and white refer to the ways of the world and the way of the Dharma. However, black silk also refers to the robe of the monk and white to the monk's inner being. So whereas the ordinary situation is one in which there is an outward appearance of calm and wisdom yet inside there is turmoil, when the former sages have done their work, the situation is reversed and the outside show is black, but the heart is pure. The teacher puts on the clothes of the world (black) but within has a pure heart. The ordinary person is trying to look good, despite how he is inside, whereas the enlightened person is not trying to look good, yet within she is pure.


Therapy Commentary

There is often a paradoxical aspect in therapy. The therapist may have to go with the client's delusion a certain distance before its true nature becomes apparent. The therapist neither resists nor colludes, but is willing to enter into the scenario in order to explore how it works.  

The therapist is in the position of not knowing, yet does know that everything psychological has two sides. For every yin there is a yang and vice versa. When a new client comes, one knows nothing except what one sees in front of one. Perhaps the client seems angry yet describes himself as always doing things for others. The therapist thinks, “That's interesting,” and, perhaps, says, “So you are working hard to benefit all these ungrateful people? I wonder why you are being so good to them.” Of course, the therapist has no idea whether the client really is good or not, but by pushing a little way into the situation, it will soon become more clear. Or, perhaps, another client comes and talks in a very submissive manner. The therapist wonders if this person really wants to be dominant or aggressive. In fact, almost whatever the client takes the trouble to assert, there is probably another side. A person does not trouble to tell you that he is not an alcoholic if he really has no interest in alcohol. He only says he is not alcoholic if this matter is in some doubt. The therapist, therefore, on the one hand, accepts everything at face value, yet, at the same time, knows that there is another face hidden.


Line 34

When muddled thought is extinguished, the willing heart comes into its own [i.e. is liberated].

顛倒想滅肯心自許


Dharma Commentary

顛倒 refers to having one's ideas upside down. This is a bit like the idea of crossing to the other shore. Ordinarily, in samsara, all our notions are upsoide down. Thus, in the Kanzeon Ten Clause Sutra, the phrase 常樂我淨 (Japanese: jo raku ga jo) = “permanence, ease, self and purity” – represents the opposites of the four forms of delusion, 1) looking for the permanent in the impermanent, 2) looking for ease in suffering, 3) looking for the self in what is not self, 4) looking for the lovely in the repulsive. When we let go of these upsidedown ideas, the 肯心 willing heart is liberated.


Therapy Commentary

Although the client is attached to upsidedown ideas, he is not likely to be liberated from them by persuasion, even if the therapist can see clearly how these ideas are mistaken. There is nothing to be gained by therapist and client getting into an argument. The therapist has to go deeper and find out how it is that the upsidedown ideas are so attractive. Of course, most therapists also have some upsidedown ideas themselves, and the client and therapist may often be mirroring each other. There is a potential liberation for both of them in this meeting.

However, this line tells us that such liberation does not come from more and more detailed examination of delusion, but from letting it go. Nonetheless, in order to have something shrink, sometimes you first have to stretch it. To get somebody to put down a heavy load, you may have to add a little to make it heavier. We let go of things when we truly experience the disadvantage in them. Simply having the disadvantage pointed out is often insufficient. We have to experience it for ourselves.



Line 35

To walk hand in hand with those of old, one must inquire of the ancient ways.

要合古轍請觀前古


Dharma Commentary

Buddhism centres upon the example given by Buddha. What would Buddha do? What would Buddha say? Buddhism is full of the stories of the ancient masters. We can learn from their experience. This requires humility. The ancient ways are the natural ways, but we are attached to all kinds of artificial ideas.

This line introduces the examples that follow in tha later part of the text.


Therapy Commentary

There are old tracks within ourselves. In order to be free we have to go over the old ground and then go beyond it. Thus we learn from our own experience and also the experience of others. However, the ancient track also refers to something timeless, to the 道 Tao, the natural way. Therapy commonly involves a return to a more natural way of being.


Line 36

Along the Buddha Way: ten kalpas contemplating the bodhi tree.

佛道垂成十劫觀樹


Dharma Commentary

This is a reference to a bodhisattva in the Avatamsaka Sutra who spent ten kalpas contemplating the bodhi tree. There is also allusion here to Bodhidharma spending ten years facing a wall and also to how those who live in the Pure Land of Sukhavati are always in sight of the great bodhi tree in the centre.  Ten can be read as a number or as indicating 100%. The implication is that the true practitioner always has the bodhi tree in sight in some sense or other. The bodhi tree means the place of enlightenment. Thus, for the practitioner, wherever he is, this can be the place of enlightenment.

Ten kalpas 十劫 is vast time. This is great spaceousness. It is also the long term. Errors are all short term. To live the Dharma is to live in 十劫. In other words, to live unconditionally.


Therapy Commentary

Every element revealed by the client is important – is a leaf of the bodhi tree. Each little detail tells a story and reveals some of the truth of the client's life, and, therefore, of all life. The therapist needs gentleness and patience and should not regard anything as irrelevant. The therapist has a great power of concentration and attention because everything is precious. In one sense, the client is sitting under his bodhi tree. In another sense, the client is a bodhi tree for the therapist and the therapist is a bodhi tree for the client.

The art of therapy is to create spaciousness, to see things in a big perspective. The therapist pays attention to detail, yet sees that detail in the context of the trajectory of the client's life as a whole, and sees that life as an instance of what it is to be a human being. In this “big mind”, every little thing is a disturbance, yet also a gateway to a deeper truth, just as a small ripple on a smooth pond betrays the movement of a big fish hidden below. The therapist is patient and watches from a place of stillness.


Line 37

Thus the tiger's tattered ears; thus the horse's old grey leg.

如虎之缺如馬之馵


Dharma Commentary

The “lack” on the part of the tiger is generally taken to be “tattered ears”. An old tiger is likely to have tattered ears, an old horse has whitened legs. These are marks of experience – of the struggles and battles of life. The sage is like this, with vast life experience. There are differences of opinion among scholars about whether this indicates something good or bad. I am taking it in a positive way. The wise old person has experienced some knocks. This is like the story of “The Most Beatiful Heart (http://alltimeshortstories.com/love-the-most-beautiful-heart/).


Therapy Commentary

A therapist is like a wise aunt or uncle. Having much life experience she is not confused or frightened when hearing the client's story. She has heard such stories before. She has lived. She has known people to survive worse things. Grey hair and the scars of experience tell of a person who has had a full life. The therapist takes it all in her stride. When Buddha met Angulimala, he did not say, “You are a monster,” he said, “I have stopped; now it is your time to stop.” In other words, he had no difficulty identifying with the position of the murderer. Thus, Buddha was able to be a good therapist. The tattered ear and the grey leg each tell a story – perhaps, many stories. These stories are precious. They may include elements that are shameful or terrifying, horrible or sad, but they tell the story of humankind and they are the ground of compassion. As a therapist one will encounter stories of many kinds. One will meet many beautiful hearts and one's own heart will become more beautiful and more tattered.


Line 38

Therefore, for the downcast, a jewelled footrest, a noble chariot.

以有下劣寶几珍御


Dharma Commentary

This is a reference to the parable of the prodigal son in the Lotus Sutra, and also to the noble cart or chariot given by the father to the children rescued from the burning house. It is precisely for those who are low that the Buddhas bestow their high benefits. Amitabha blesses the foolish being.


Therapy Commentary

The therapist finds hidden treasure in the client who is feeling defeated and inferior. It is very important for the therapist to treat the client with great respect. This is sacred work and it should be regarded so.

Therapy is a jewelled footrest and a noble chariot. It is a footrest in that it enables the client to pause and have a time to reflect. It is a chariot in that it carries him forward in a new easier fashion. It is jewelled in that every detail has a thousand shining aspects and it is noble in that it leads to a more responsible and truthworthy life.

Like the two fathers in the Lotus Sutra, the therapist has to find skilful means appropriate to each case. A therapist, therefore, needs to be creative and resourceful. Often therapy is a matter of dramatising the material presented by the client in order that it show itself more clearly. It can also be a matter of looking at the same material from a new perspective, reversing roles or changing the frame of reference. All this requires imagination and lateral thinking.


Line 39

Therefore, astonishingly, there are dutiful cats and pure cattle.

以有驚異貍奴白牯


Dharma Commentary

Cats and cattle (like tigers and horses) represent the yin and yang aspects respectively. Cats are intelligent and crafty. Cattle are strong and simple. Cats are not usually dutiful and cattle are not usually pure (clean). Similarly, ourselves. However, it happens. Nan-ch’uan is recorded as saying, ‘It is frequently said, “Patriarchs and Buddhas do not know reality. Wildcats and white oxen do.”’ What does this mean? The cat and the ox have to cope with the realities of life in a basic, unsophisticated way. The practitioner may have the ambition of becoming a Buddha, but he will not do so until he is fully in touch with his cat and cattle nature. This is also reflected in the “Ox Herding Pictures”.


Therapy Commentary

Similarly in therapy. The client is often overly sophisticated and confused with clever psychological ideas. The therapist has to somehow cut through this to get to the more basic truth of the client's actual life. The client may say, “I know that I have to be more in touch with my feelings,” and the therapist thinks, “I wonder who told you that, or which book you read it in.” What the client says may be true, but it is not genuine. It is simply something that he has adopted or bought into as an idea. If the therapist buys into it as well and they spend hours trying to get the client “in touch with his feelings” they will probably not make much progress or will arrive at something posed and artificial. However, if the therapist listens and observes, she will soon notice things that the client does have feelings about and will see those feelings manifest on his face. The “cat” in the person is alive and well.

When a person tries to reject the cat or the cattle aspect of themselves it does not go away. Rather, they build a superstructure over it. This superstructure is made up of received ideas, some of which may be true enough in the abstract but are not really part of the life of the client himself. Therefore, it is important for the therapist to be able to recognise instinctively what is genuine.


Line 40

Emperor Yi could hit a target at a hundred yards by dint of skill and strength.

羿以巧力射中百步


Dharma Commentary

There are some extraordinary people who can do amazing things, but the Dharma is not illustrated by such exceptionalism. This image represents self-power. Dharma is to go beyond self-power. If one has faith and acts correctly, one will naturally receive help.


Therapy Commentary

The art of therapy is not essentially a matter of being exceptionally clever. When one sees a skilled therapist at work one thinks, “How did she know so much about the client?” or “How did she make that happen?” and one thinks that it must be due to some remarkable intelligence. However, the intelligence of the therapist is more that of creating the conditions within which the right thing can happen naturally. The therapist did not plan the outcome, the outcome came of its own accord. The therapist simply removed barriers by creating trust and paying careful attention to the unfolding process. All this requires one to have faith in the process.

 
Line 41

but how will you make to meet two arrows in mid-air straight on?

箭鋒相直巧力何預


Dharma Commentary

The image of two arrows meeting head on comes from a book, the Lieh-Tzu, in which there is the story of Fei Wei, a famous archer, and his disciple Chi Ch'ang. Chi Ch'ang learns well and becomes a great archer. Then he realises that if he kills his master he will be the greatest archer in the world. This is the phase of self-power and ambition. He waits in ambush for Fei Wei. However, when he shoots his arrow Fei Wei is so skilled that he fires back and the two arrows meet in mid air and fall to the ground. This is Fei Wei exhibiting compassion. After that the relationship between master and disciple is much closer. Chi Ch'ang now loves his master and no longer wants to kill him.

This story illustrates something important about the master disciple relationship. The master is like a father and the disciple is the son. At some point the son wants to kill the father. He wants to stand in the father's place. In Western psychology this is called the Oedipus complex and is related to sexuality. In the Chinese story it is related more to power. These stories exist all over the world. In India there is the story of Bimbisara and Ajatashattru. However, if the master is a good teacher, the arrows meet in mid air. This is the meeting of minds, or heart-to-heart. At this point the disciple takes a step forward because his ego takes a step back.


Therapy Commentary

This represents the phenomenon that, in therapy, we call transference. The client transfers into the therapy relationship the same pattern of conflict or dilemma that he experiences in other areas of life. If the client, in the first session, says, “One of my problems is that none of my relationships ever last.” The therapist says, “So you are only going to have a couple of sessions, right?” “Why?” “Well, what makes you think that you will make this relationship last any longer than any of the others?” Here the client has already shot one arrow and the therapist has caught it in mid air. How was the therapist able to do this? The therapist could do it because she did not arrogantly think that she would succeed where everybody else failed. In order to help the client step down from his ego, the therapist must already relinquish her own. then the two arrows can meet.


Line 42

How make the wooden man sing, the stone damsel dance?

木人方歌石女起舞


Dharma Commentary

Men are sometimes wooden (clumsy) and women can respond by being stony (frigid). When the wooden man sings, the stony woman may get up and dance, and vice versa. People of wood and stone can also refer to those who “meditate” in a mechanical way. The wooden person is not living the Dharma, they are posing as a Dharma person, which is not the same at all. The pose is rupa. The reality is Dharma.

In the wooden man, the wooden part is not living wood, it is dead wood. Such wood is inflamable. The wooden man is firewood and the world is on fire. However, when the wood has burnt to ashes, there is no more fire. The ashes are fertile.


Therapy Commentary

People who are “wooden” or “made of stone” are not in touch with their emotions. This line describes the aim of therapy which is to bring people to life. The person is wooden or stony because energy is tied up in internal and external conflict. Thus, therapy has an outer and an inner aspect. When the person is more engaged with his “object world” he comes to life, but this coming to life is hindered by internal preoccupations that also need to be resolved. However, the internal and the external are connected because the person plays out the internal conflicts in his relations with others. Thus one sees the person's inner world reflected in the outer one and vice versa. In therapy, we cherish the parts of the person that are wooden or stony and bring them back to life.

Also, we said earlier that when one is learning a new skill or a new way of being, there is a phase that one must go through during which one feels wooden. In fact, if one does not sometimes feel wooden or clumsy, one is probably not learning much. This is a problem in learning. We are often resistent to receiving the feedback that can help us. Our pride gets in the way. We feel sensitive to and hurt by criticism.


Line 43

This cannot arrive by vijñana cravings, much less include discriminative thought.

非情識到寧容思慮
 

Dharma Commentary

Vijñana is the fifth skandha. It is the programmed mentality that results from the operation of the skandha cycle. It contains all the formulas we live by. However, to live the Dharma is to go beyond formulas. The formulaic life is the existence of the wooden man or the stone damsel. Discriminative thought in the service of vijnana cravings is the operation that we call ego. Such a person is always calculating their own advantage. Life is organised around “What do I want?” rather than “What is best?”


Therapy Commentary

The trainee therapist may be looking for the right formula. She thinks that if she can find the right procedure then she can do it and get results while staying safe. However, that is not real therapy. That still keeps the client at arms length. If we treat the client as an inanimate object to be manipulated they will stay wooden or stony. They might learn some good tricks, but they do not come to life in a full way.

Similarly, the inexperienced therapist may be passing moral judgement on the client. The therapist thinks that her job is to get the client to do the right thing and she is critical of him doing the wrong thing. However, therapy goes beyond such simplistic judgements. It is not a matter of making disciminations of that kind. It is about finding a deeper understanding and coming to know how and why the client is as he is. When we know that, we find that there is a different kind of wisdom at work.


Line 44

The minister serves the king, the child respects the father.

臣奉於君子順於父


Dharma Commentary

This is the opposite of the disciple who wants to kill the master, or the son who wants to overthrow the father. Now they have arrived at a proper respect. In family relations it is good if there can be love, but even when love is impossible there can be respect. When things happen in their natural order there will be loyalty and peace. An enlightened being is a servant of all. Living in esteem for the Buddhas and ancestors, praying that they shall remain in the world turning the Dharma Wheel, the bodhisattva finds a perfect refuge unlimited in time or space.


Therapy Commentary

The client respects the therapist. If this is not the case it will be difficult for any therapy to take place. However, this respect by the client comes about because the therapist has a deep respect for the client. At the beginning of therapy, the client may be wary and there may be little respect. There may be the kind of encounter of the two arrows. However, as the relationship develops, the mutual respect grows and this then generalises to other aspects of the client's life as well. He starts to respect his spouse and his children, his parents and relatives, his workmates and associates. As he feels greater esteem for his world, his own wellbeing increases and the tensions within relax. Respect and esteem are key variables in the therapy process.

In the modern world there is a good deal of rhetoric about equality and rights. However, therapy is not a political process. It is a personal one. Things develop naturally and a space is created in which there is no need to defend oneself nor to claim territory. Thus the old defenses melt away and new discoveries are made.


Line 45

Without service there is no loyalty, without respect, no support.

不順非孝不奉非輔


Dharma Commentary

A person is at peace when they know to what they are loyal and what they support. Buddhists take refuge in the Three Jewels. The Light of Amitabha shines over their life. This gives a sense of purpose and meaning. When we are full of gratitude to the Buddhas we have their unfailing support.


Therapy Commentary

Freedom is like money in that it is meaningless until you spend it. When we commit ourselves to something it gives meaning to our life. In therapy, the client may become very attached to and respectful of the therapist. However, the therapist is really more like a midwife than a true parent. In due course the good qualities that the client has given birth to in therapy will grow up and go out into the world. The therapist is not possessive of the client. Thus the true love and respect are not coerced or demanded. They are the natural flowering of a good working relationship.


Line 46

Make use of this secret practice, be the foolish being completely.

潛行密用如愚若魯


Dharma Commentary

The beginning of Dharma practice is to see one's own limitations. We are dependent beings. We are vulnerable, mortal, prone to folly and beset with erring passions. From this position of humility, we can recognise our need to take refuge, which is the first step. We might think that through Dharma practice we are going to eliminate all these faults and become perfect. However, what actually happens is that we become closer to our humanity, more accepting of what it is to be a human being, and this becomes the foundation of love, compassion, sympathy and equanimity. Gradually we realise that it is more important to “be the foolish being completely” than to be engaged in a self-perfection project. Then we become like the loyal minister, rather than trying to kill the father and take his place.


Therapy Commentary

The therapist should take a humble stance. Rather than thinking, “How am I going to help this person?” she thinks, “What am I going to learn?” “Why has the universe brought this special person to me today?” The therapist proceeds from a position of not knowing. Her attitude to the client is, “Tell me about yourself? What is important to you? What brings you alive? What do you love?” Because the therapist is respectful of the client, the client is infected with this attitude as well. The client comes to respect the therapist in a similar way. However, even more important than their esteem of one another, they together respect the truth that gradually emerges through their cooperative investigation. There is a higher purpose, a deeper meaning.

This is a secret practice in the sense that the important things that happen in therapy are mostly subliminal. What is conveyed from therapist to client is faith, humility, aliveness and other qualities that are implicit rather than explicit in the work. The therapist does not say to the client, “You need to be more humble,” or “You need to have more faith.” If these things are real for the therapist they convey themselves automatically. The client picks them up without even knowing it is happening. This means that the manner of the therapist is even more important then her skill, and for that manner to be genuine, it has to be established in her heart.


Line 47

Only in each making the other successful can the master within the master be inherited.

但能相續名主中主


Dharma Commentary

We can translate 主中主 as “master within the master”, but there is also here an allusion to the master and disciple archers, since 中 fundamentally signifies to hit a target. Only thus can the master archer meet his match. Again, the master within the master is the Buddha whose merit makes the master's work possible. It is only by being a loyal minister to the Buddha that he is able to be a master for the disciple and it is only by the disciple being a good disciple that the master becomes a master. In this way the Dharma is passed on and inherited from generation to generation. In this meeting it does not matter whether one is the one who bows or the one who is bowed to. Both parts are equally vital and all idea of status or advantage has melted away.


Therapy Commentary

Therapy is a kind of contagion. The client “catches” something from the therapist. This “something” is that which governs the therapist, which we can call her humility. True humility is the master within the master. When I see a client, I do not know if the client can be helped, but I know that something has brought this person to me and something is going to happen. In the process we shall both learn important things. Most important of all, however, we shall have practice in listening to the secret thread of truth that runs through life which is the real sutra.

Therapy happens in moments. It is those times when something opens, some barrier is abandoned, some recognition occurs. Then, what had seemed impossible is already achieved.



APPENDIX I:  DONG SHAN'S VERSES ON THE FIVE RANKS

1. Pride before a fall
In the third watch, at the beginning of night, when the moon's brightness is still ahead,
it is not surprising if one meets but does not recognise
the old taint hidden so deep in the heart.

正中偏
三更初夜 月明前
莫怪相逢 不相識
隱隱猶懷 舊日嫌

Interpretation:
Night refers to samsara, the time of darkness. The moon refers to the Dharma appearing in the world. Before one has found the Dharma it is not remarkable that one fails to understand. In particular, one fails to see one's own fault and responsibility. One feels sure of oneself in a limited way. One meets evidence of one's hidden nature but does not recognise it. At this stage we believe that reality will bow to us. There is nothing we cannot have or accomplish and if we do not get it then it is somebody else's fault.


2. Bowing before righteousness.
The wrinkled old woman finds an ancient mirror.
There, shining, is her face, different from the unreal (i.e. from what she imagined).
She is stopped in her tracks, startled, yet she recognises the image.

偏中正
失曉老婆 逢古鏡
分明覿面 別無真
休更迷頭 猶認影

Interpretation:
The wrinkled old woman represents the experienced person who has lost some of the arrogance of youth. Finding a mirror means to find the Dharma or, in other words, to see oneself reflected. This is a shock. To face up to how we really are, more experienced but less beautiful then we thought,  stops us in our tracks. At this stage the person bows to reality. This is the position of stream entry.


3. To arrive all proper and correct
Away from the centre there is a road free from dust,
simply avoid and don't look at whatever is currently taboo,
cut off your sharp tongue and advance to victory.

正中來
無中有路 隔塵埃
但能不觸 當今諱
也勝前朝 斷舌才

Interpretation:
Chastened by the experience of seeing into oneself, one seeks a path. Soon one finds a formula for self-reform. This is the position of conventional religion. The dark part is suppressed and the person conforms to what is deemed correct. This is a matter of knowing right from wrong and obeying the principles. It is moralistic. Adhering to rectitude one believes that one has arrived. From the Mahayana perspective, this is the position of the arhat. However, this is uncentred. In the centre, at this stage, is everything one has repressed.


4. Furthermore, to arrive
To have the two points meet, one must not turn aside.
The expert, as of old, is as the lotus within [a sea of] fire,
self-possessed, steeped in the will of Heaven.

兼中至
兩刃交鋒 不須避
好手猶如 火裏蓮
宛然自有 沖天志

Interpretation:
There is, however, a further step, symbolised by the skill needed to make two points meet. The more truly spiritual person is steeped in the will of Heaven. This means that he or she is like a warrior going into the world. Where the third position is one of keeping apart from the world in order to maintain one's own purity, now it is a matter of going forth into the world, like a lotus in a sea of fire. This is the position of the bodhisattva.


5. And what's more, to really arrive
don't fall into having or not having, who dares [real] peace?
People want to escape from the ceaseless round;
snap out of that, go back, go back and sit in the coals.

兼中到
不落有無 誰敢和
人人盡欲 出常流
折合還歸 炭裏坐

Interpretation:
Yet there is more. Even in the position of the bodhisattva there is a certain inherent arrogance. Who is this one who aspires to save all sentient beings? One must go beyond even the intention to be a spiritual hero. One must sit in the coals of one's own foolish nature.


APPENDIX II: DONG SHAN'S SONG OF THE MERIT OF THE FIVE RANKS

功勳五位頌

 
1. 向 Approach

In the beginning the great Dharma Lord Yao
governed by means of propriety and held to the dragon's waist,
passing over the hurly burly of the market place
everywhere was civilised and rejoiced in his virtuous rule.

聖主由來法帝堯。
御人以禮曲龍腰。
有時鬧市頭邊過。
到處文明賀聖朝

This verse celebrates a time in the mythical past when things were simple and the legendary Emperor Yao ruled simply by means of his inherent virtue and inner cultivation. The corruption of the market place did not figure and civilisation spread naturally under such benevolent rule. The reference to holding the dragon's waist refers to Taoist inner yoga. Were we to live in such a benign land, there would be no need for spiritual cultivation. Everything would happen rightly of its own accord.


2. 奉 Offering

Take off your make up, who is it for?
A child voice calls you back.
Flowers fall, yet the voice is ceaseless.
Go on through the chaos, the deep place is calling.
 
淨洗濃粧為阿誰。
子規聲裏勸人歸。
百花落盡啼無盡。
更向亂峰深處啼

The person embarking upon a spiritual journey, no longer putting on airs and keeping up appearances, nor pretending to be something artificial, follows a more innocent calling. Even though this means losing all the glitter – the hundred blossoms – and going through the chaos of one's fractured life, still there is this voice always distantly calling, urging one onward. (Some texts refer to the voice as that of a cuckoo. If that is correct, then it is an image of the same old call over and over).


3. 功 Achievement

A dead wood flower unlocks a timeless spring beyond.
Riding the jade elephant backwards, hunting the qilin.
Now high and secluded beyond the thousand peaks.
The moon shines, the breeze is gentle, what a perfect day!

枯木花開劫外春。
倒騎玉象趁麒麟。
而今高隱千峰外。
月皎風清好日辰

The flowering of dead wood can be taken as reflecting the idea in the Jewel Mirror Samadhi or making the wooden man sing and the stone damsel dance, but it can also be taken as ironic and I think the latter is correct. This, then, is a facetious depiction of the state of the person who has “gone beyond it all”. Dead wood does not flower. Spring is not timeless. The image of that kind of perfection is deceptive. There is here a certain kind of achievement, but the message of Mahayana is that such purity is, at best, only a step on the way. The qilin is a mythical beast that attends a sage. When you have caught the beast, then everybody will know that you are a sage. This is all posing and not the real thing. Riding the jade elephant backwards means that one is using the Dharma the wrong way round. This is like the Buddha's parable of getting hold of the wrong end of the snake. It is also like the parable of the apparitional city in the Lotus Sutra.


4. 共功 Shared Achievement

There is no interpenetration of people and Buddhas.
Mountains rise high. Water lies low.
In all its myriad different forms, humble work shines.
The partridge calls from its dwelling place amidst the fresh flowers.

眾生諸佛不相侵。
山自高兮水自深。
萬別千差明底事。
鷓鴣啼處百花新

Interpretation:
The partridge is notable for nesting on the ground. This is a sign of humility. This verse is about keeping to one's place. Teacher and disciple make each other successful by each performing their correct roles. One is not Buddha. One calls out to Buddha. When one adopts a lower position in a humble way, one shines This is the position of faith and awe. When we worship Buddha we help Buddha to be Buddha and assist the salvation of all sentient beings. When we try to be Buddha ourselves, we only create conflict and posing. The way to become a Buddha is to let all thought of becoming a Buddha fall away and completely fulfil one's role as the humble partridge calling out from the ground. then we shall be surrounded by fragrant flowers.
 

5. 功功 ~ Merit of all Merit

When devils' horns appear, you were already unworthy.
How shameful, the mind set on demanding Buddhahood!
Realise the no man's land of the distant empty kalpa.
Be willing to go south and consult the fifty three.

頭角纔生已不堪。
擬心求佛好羞慚。
迢迢空劫無人識。
肯向南詢五十三

Interpretation:
The horns on the head refers to one's tainted nature. In English too we say “I can see your horns,” meaning that one's devil nature is showing. However, by the time it shows it has already been long established. The empty kalpa is the time before the creation of heaven and earth. To realise it is to become independent of relations to other people. A Buddha, while practising to help all sentient beings, is not himself trying to please, nor relying upon what others think. He is in a kind of no man's land. It is from this position of independnce that he is able to cut through the common delusions of the world and so help people in the best possible way. The best therapist is not manipulable by the client because she is independent and not proud. However, to arrive at such a place one must become humble. To consult the fifty three is a reference to Sudhana in the Avatamsaka Sutra journeying to visit 53 sages. In his fifty-first encounter he arrives at the tower of Maitreya which is vast as space and contains innumerable other towers all also similarly vast. The point is to be willing to learn rather than to arrogantly demand that one be granted high spiritual status. The attainment one seeks is beyond all recognition or status and would be just as meritorious in the empty kalpa when there was nobody to impress. Yet the purpose of any such attainment is the practice of compassion for all beings.

Thus, in the grounding of Dong Shan's Ch'an teaching lies the Gandavyuha chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra and the model in the background is the pilgrimage of Sudhana.


APPENDIX III: THE FIFTY THREE TEACHERS OF SUDHANA

[Source: http://www.himalayanart.org/search/set.cfm?setID=3458]

1. Meghashri, Male, monk,
2. Sagaramegha, Male, monk, Sagaramukha
3. Supratishthita, Male, monk, Lanka
4. Megha, Male, grammarian, Vajrapura,
5. Muktaka, Male, meditation community, Vanavasin
6. Saradhvaja, Male, monk,
7. Asha, Female, lay devotee, Samudravetali,
8. Bhishmottaranirghosha, Male, seer, Nalayur
9. Jayoshmayatana, Male, brahmin, Jayoshmayatana
10. Maitrayani, Female, girl, Simhavijurmbhita

11. Sudarshana, Male, mendicant, Trinayan
12. Indriyeshvara, Male, boy, Sumukha
13. Prabhuta, Female, laywoman, Samudrapratishthana
14. Vidvan, Male, householder, Mahasambhava
15. Ratnachuda, Male, householder, Simhapota
16. Samantanetra, Male, perfumer, Vetramulaka
17. Anala, Male, King, Taladhvaja
18. Mahaprabha, Male, King, Suprabha,
19. Achala, Female, Sthira
20. Sarvagamin, Male, mendicant, Tosala

21. Utpalabhuti, Male, perfumer, Prthurashtra
22. Vaira, Male, mariner, Kutagara
23. Jayottama, Male, city elder, Nandihara,
24. Sinhavijurmbhita, Female, Nun, Kalingavana
25. Vasumitra, Female, lay woman, Durga Land,
26. Veshthila, Male, householder, Shubhaparmgama
27. Avalokiteshvara, Male, bodhisattva
28. Ananyagamin, Male, universal traveller
29. Mahadeva, Male, deva
30. Sthavara, Female, Earth Goddess

31. Vasanti, Female, Night Goddess, Kapilavastu
32. Samantagambhira Shrivimalaprabha, Female, Night Goddess,
33. Pramuditanayana Jagadvirocana, Female, Night Goddess,
34. Samantasattvatranojahshri, Female, Night Goddess,
35. Prashantarutasagaravati, Female, Night Goddess,
36. Sarvanagararakshasambhavatejahshri, Female, Night Goddess,
37. Sarvavrikshapraphullanasukhasamvasa, Female, Night Goddess,
38. Sarvajagadrakshapranidhanaviryaprabha, Female, Night Goddess,
39. Sutejomandalaratishri, Female, Night Goddess, Lumbini

40. Gopa, Female, girl, Kapilavastu,
41. Maya, Female, mother of the Buddha,
42. Surendrabha, Female, Goddess, Thirty-three Heaven,
43. Vishvamitra, Male, Kapilavastu, teacher
44. Shilpabhijna, Male, Kapilavastu, (Letters)
45. Bhadrottama, Female, lay woman,
46. Muktasara, Male, goldsmith, Bharukaccha
47. Suchandra, Male, householder, Bharukaccha,
48. Ajitasena, Male, householder, Roruka
49. Shivaragra, Male, Brahmin, Dharma village
50. Shrisambhava & Shrimati, Male & Female, boy and girl, Sumanamukha,

51. Maitreya, Male, bodhisattva
52. Manjushri, Male, bodhisattva
53. Samantabhadra, Male, bodhisattva


Events

ITZI Conference 2017

Blog Posts

Korean Version of Workshops

Posted by JAESUNG KIM on August 6, 2017 at 6:58 0 Comments

2017 여름 불교심리치료 및 상담 워크숍 3회 내용

THREE PSYCHOTHERAPY & COUNSELLING WORKSHOPS

 

WORKSHOP 1: SNOW UPON A SILVER PLATE [ 銀盌盛雪]: PRINCIPLES OF BUDDHIST PSYCHOLOGY & THEIR PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC APPLICATION

In this workshop we shall introduce and review important aspects of Buddhist psychology including the conditioned and unconditioned mind, object relatedness, skandha process, the unity of path and goal, bodhichitta,…

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Great Intentions.

Posted by Adam Dunsby on August 3, 2017 at 22:42 0 Comments

  • The power of intentions is a topic that comes up regularly for me and always provides me with food for thought. In a recent service I was struck by the gravity of the Bodhisattva vows that we sing as part of our liturgy. ”Innumerable…

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Study Group.

Posted by Adam Dunsby on July 18, 2017 at 22:41 1 Comment

We just had a study group meeting at Amida Mandala Temple. Only three of us but a very rich hour. Predictably we came round to the issue of ‘is one Nembutsu enough?’ My understanding: In a sense it is, because when we call Amida we become one with his vow and the Pure Land and thus we are saved. In another sense we have to keep calling him so that he can keep saving us. As if we’re all lost in a thick fog and Amida is a few steps ahead of us illuminating the way, we have to keep him in sight…

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SIMPOSIUM AT OASIS

Posted by David Brazier on July 11, 2017 at 15:30 0 Comments

On 8th July we had a meeting of six teachers at Oasis together with many visitors.

Pictures: Here

Each of the teachers gave a presentation on what they considered most significant in their practice. Then there was an extended lunch period for socialising and, finally a sessions of questions and answers.…

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