We chanted The Heart Sutra again in December. This time it was for joy. The teacher was wearing her rakusu, the one her teacher before her gave her in 1978. She said she doesn’t wear it much because it’s old and she wants to preserve it. But she used to wear it all the time when she taught her writing classes. She talked about sewing the rakusu, Buddha’s robe, and referenced when she wrote about it in one of her books. She talked about the symbols, the rice fields and insects and all of life.
All of Life.
She told us about the Square Papers, the bloodline. And that she never knew what her papers said because she was afraid to open them and unravel the intricate folding. But then a friend of hers who knew the way of creases and folds, opened the papers on the mesa in Taos and told her what was written. It was a few years to the day her teacher died. It wasn’t planned. It just happened that way. Some larger unfolding.
She said her name means One Who Embraces One’s Life and Others with Magnanimous Mind.
She talked about being ordained at Clouds in Water Zen Center in Minnesota. And then she said this was the first time she had signed anyone’s rakusu in a Jukai Ceremony. Jukai is a Lay Ordination, a ceremony of giving and receiving. She said she didn’t feel right about signing for anyone – until after her great failure. Then she knew it was okay.
That night she asked her student to talk to us about The Heart Sutra. The student spoke on the history of the sutra and about Hakuin and the sound of one hand clapping. She referenced him as one of few who accepted women of the cloth. She told us The Heart Sutra was The Great Mantra and that it had been distilled down from the tens of thousands of verses that preceded it. Then she had us each draw a verse from a bowl and do a 7 minute writing practice on the words we had drawn.
Here is the verse I chose from the bowl. It was written on a neon pink Post-it:
Here is the 7 minute writing practice:
In Emptiness – No Taste, No Touch, No Dharma – December 6th, 2006
Emptiness – a glass bowl on an empty table. Nothing but sparkle snow. That’s what Harlequin said – sparkle snow. No taste. No touch. No teaching. No teachers. There is nothing left but me. Small on the cushion. Long in Spirit. High in mind. Walking to the white cross along the Morada. Carried on the backs of those that came before me. They walked for me. And now I am free. In emptiness, no taste, no touch, no dharma. If my Soul cries, I can relieve it. A single flake on the toe of my boot. An ant crawling along a purple sky – the rhythm is haiku 5-7-5-5-7-5.
5 Say No Taste No Touch
7 In Emptiness a Night Jar
5 Cries Itself to Sleep
5 I Heard The Silence
7 And I Thought It Was The Sun
5 It Was Only Rain
After we wrote a practice on each verse, a few students read what they had written. Then we chanted an old version of The Heart Sutra while our teacher kneeled on the floor and signed the student’s rakusu. They each stood and hugged. And the cloth was passed around, hand to hand. If memory serves me, it read, Kanpo Kazan Taos. Kazan is Mountain.
Before we left the zendo that night, our teacher told us to meditate on the meaning of the last verse before falling asleep. In writing as practice, we are making space to receive.
GATE GATE PARAGATE
Gone, gone, gone beyond
Gone completely beyond
Praise to awakening
THE GREAT PRAJNA PARAMITA HEART SUTRA
LIVING IN DEEP PRAJNA PARAMITA
CLEARLY SAW ALL FIVE SKANDHAS EMPTY
CROSSED BEYOND ALL SUFFERING AND MISERY
LISTEN SHARIPUTRA, LISTEN
FORM IS EMPTINESS
EMPTINESS IS FORM
FORM IS EXACTLY EMPTINESS
EMPTINESS EXACTLY FORM
THE SAME IS TRUE OF FEELING AND PERCEPTION
THE SAME IS TRUE OF INTELLECT AND CONSCIOUSNESS
LISTEN SHARIPUTRA, LISTEN
ALL DHARMAS ARE MARKED BY EMPTINESS
NOT BORN, NOT DESTROYED
NOT STAINED, NOT PURE
WITHOUT LOSS, WITHOUT GAIN
IN EMPTINESS NO FORM NO FEELING
NO PERCEPTION NO INTELLECT NO CONSCIOUSNESS
NO EYE NO EAR NO NOSE
NO TONGUE NO BODY NO MIND
NO COLOR NO SOUND NO SMELL
NO TASTE NO TOUCH NO DHARMA
NO SEEING AND SO ON TO NO THINKING
NO IGNORANCE, NO END OF IGNORANCE
NO OLD AGE AND NO DEATH
NO ENDING OF OLD AGE AND DEATH
NO SUFFERING, CAUSE OR END TO SUFFERING
NO PATH, NO WISDOM AND NO GAIN
SINCE THERE IS NOTHING TO GAIN
THE BODHISATTVA LIVES AS PRAJNA PARAMITA
SINCE THERE IS NO HINDRANCE IN THE MIND
THERE IS NO FEAR
FAR BEYOND ALL DELUSION
NIRVANA IS ALREADY HERE
ALL PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE BUDDHAS
THROUGH THE BLESSING OF PRAJNA PARAMITA
AWAKEN TO PERFECT ENLIGHTENMENT
THEREFORE KNOW THAT PRAJNA PARAMITA
THE SACRED AND BRIGHT MANTRA
THE SUPREME AND UNSURPASSED MANTRA
BY WHICH ALL SUFFERING IS CALMED
IS TRUTH, NOT DECEPTION
GATE GATE PARAGATE
Monday, December 18th, 2006
-related to post, WRITING TOPIC – TAOS