Among Zen sayings there is this one: ” Sit in the meditation hall of Moon in the Water, and do the practice and do the sky-flower practice”. The saying describes the practice and its fulfilment: it has a power profound and noble. I believe that these two phrases can bring about an ideal human life.
First as to the Moon in the Water. The moon is reflected in the water and enters the water as a reflection but there is no scar on the water from its entering. In terms of the meditation there is no trace of attachment. But we with our heart, eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body – our five senses come to be mislead by beautiful human forms, by wine, by reputation, and by life itself.
The heart comes to be reflected in the water so to say and it has to be reflected right now though it is reflected like the connection between the moon and the water, it leaves no trace. When the moon is reflected there is reflection but there is no attachment and this is the image for the practice. It is so. And to sit in this practice of realising the moon in the water is the first one.
Then the next practice is that all actions are sky-flowers: to realize that. Sky-flowers means dreams as they appear in the world and they all, absolutely all, are dreams. The practice is to realize that beautiful and handsome people are dreams, money is a dream, fame and rank and one’s livelihood are all dreams. That has to be realized.
When we speak of this detachment, namely sitting in the practice of the moon in the water and seeing absolutely everything as dreams, the people of the world carelessly misunderstand and say that without attachment people will not do anything. Surely, they say, it is where there is attachment that you get life, don’t you? What they really mean is that we should get away from the Zen insistence on being without attachment and on the contrary we ought to have plenty of attachment and get things moving. But that is a big mistake. In Zen we are urged to separate ourselves from attachment.
Then there are others who say we’re going to die so lets live first; and thus caught up in misunderstanding it ends in disaster. The clear-sighted master can deal expertly with life and he lives skillfully. And to live expertly is the practice of Moon in the Water meditation leading to every action being realisation of sky flowers. When the time comes to die, to die calmly, to die with a smile, to die happily, to die laughing. To have the resources and strength to do this is necessary. If when we see death we are frightened of it or dread dying means that we have not yet attained. But it is no good not just being able to die calmly, we have to be able to live calmly -when confronted with a fire or facing a burglar, say.
© Trevor Leggett