The facing inward of the Buddhas


(Torei:) “However clingingly attached we are to this temporary abode, we cannot expect it to last forever. To realise the four noble truths, that all is passing, painful, empty and without a self and to seek the way of Bodhi intelligence is what is called the Dharma.

Then the third point is purely its effort. That you have to make strong efforts. How to search? You have to search. You must make clear and then enlighten the root in you. How is it to be made clear? You must search after your true nature. How to search? In seeing, in hearing sounds, in the distinctions of heat and cold, in the consciousness of right and wrong. This seeing, hearing and knowing are the root of the practice. The ordinary man sees colours and is deluded by colours, hears voices and is deluded by voices, feels heat and cold and is deluded by heat and cold, knows right and wrong and is deluded by them.

This is what is meant by the phrase ‘the ordinary man looks outwards’. The training of the bodhisattva is when looking at some colour, to enquire, what it is that is seeing. When hearing some sound, to enquire what it is that is hearing. When feeling hot and cold, to enquire what it is that is feeling. When knowing right and wrong, to enquire what it is that is knowing. This is called the facing inward of the Buddhas. Practising this is different from facing the direction in which the ordinary man looks”.

Well, you think, you can’t live like that. One example is given: a short-sighted man is looking for his glasses and he can’t find them and he looks everywhere. He can’t find them and then a friend comes in and while the chap’s looking for the glasses, the friend says, “Well, you’re looking at them”. He says, “What? No. They’re not here.” And he says, “What do you mean?” The friend says, “You’re looking at them. You’ve got them on.” “No”. The friend says, “You’re looking at them” and he says, “Shut your eyes and feel”. He feels. He’s got them on. The friend says, “You know, if you weren’t wearing them, you wouldn’t be able to look for them. You wouldn’t be able to see anything would you? By that power, by which you see. Does the eye see the glasses? Don’t look at objects. Feel backwards. The glasses, in the same way, the power by which we see others, hear sounds, feel heat and cold, know right and wrong. Shutting the eyes, so to speak, withdrawing into meditation, we feel the glasses are on, we can feel the power. There is a power by which we see the things, even when looking at the objects, to realise I had my glasses on. That’s how I can see the objects. It’s only through them that I can see. Well, this is only an analogy, but it’s quite a strong one and it’s turning the attention back on the objects.

Another instance is given: when very small children look at the sky and it’s raining, they want to go out and play and they can’t and then they see there’s a little patch of blue against the clouds, right over there and they think that patch of blue is a thing and it seems to get a bit bigger and it seems to be coming nearer. Then it changes shape. Then perhaps it divides into two. Then the clouds cover it. It’s gone! It’s been destroyed. The clouds open again over here. Oh, there’s another one, but when all the clouds are taken away, it’s all blue. Well, in the same way, the teacher says, it’s our individual characteristics and our personal attachments divide up and seem to make individualities, but in actual fact, behind those, it’s the same thing. The Buddha nature is the same in all the beings. Now, he says that when one gets up in the morning, however much business there may be waiting, first affirm this one thought, become aware what it is in us that is seeing, what it is that is thinking. First, affirm this one thought. First turn to this one meditation on seeing and hearing. Afterwards, engage in the activities of the day.

When going to have a meal or a drink, first of all, you must try to bring this one thought to the fore and make a meditation on it. When you go to wash your hands, first you should try to bring this thought forward in your mind and meditate on it. When last thing at night, you’re going to lie down, sit for a little bit on the bed clothes and try to bring this thought to the fore and meditate on it and then lie down and sleep. This is practising the true path of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Whip up your enthusiasm for it, by realising how if you fail to grasp your true nature as one with the nature of Buddha, you will be lost in the wheel of transmigration.

These are programmes for training and we have an idea here that somehow a climax, that the steps up to the thing only have meaning in regards to getting that thing itself and then tragically, that thing is lost. But this is not a right view. It’s like feeling that the cherry blossoms only have meaning when they’re fully out, which is for a very short time, but the true man appreciates the bare boughs and then he appreciates the tiny buds for what they are, not because they’re going to turn into these wonderful cherry blossoms but for what they are and then they have a special word for each stage of the opening. Thirty per cent open and forty per cent open, there are poetic expressions for each stage and each stage is appreciated for itself, not just because it’s going to lead up to the glory of the full blossom. And then when they fall, there are many poems of great beauty on the falling blossoms. They’re not tragic. They are part of the process and then when they are rubbish on the ground, they are swept up, too. There’s a famous Chinese poem on this, on the cherry blossoms when they have fallen, and they’re being swept on the ground.

© Trevor Leggett

Titles in this series are:

Part 1: The Spur is addressed to a samurai who has faith

Part 2: The doctrine that everything is transient

Part 3: The facing inward of the Buddhas

Part 4: Keep up the right line of the meditation

Part 5: You practise with courage and sincerity

Part 6: The Cat and the Krait

Part 7: The Confucian and Bertrand Russell

Part 8: Picture of Bodhidharma


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