One of the reasons I believe in jazz is that the oneness of man can come through the rhythm of your heart. It’s the same any place in the world, that heartbeat. It’s the first thing you hear when you’re born — or before you’re born — and it’s the last thing you hear. — Dave Brubeck

Showing posts with label Case 29 Blue Cliff Record. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Case 29 Blue Cliff Record. Show all posts

Friday, September 1, 2023

The End of The World as We Know It

And The End Period

Dasui Fazhen, "Shenzhao "

Case 29 Blue Cliff Record

Case 24 of The True Dharma Eye

Dasui and the Kalpa Fire

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say ice.

If koans have consequences, I would label this case a supremely consequential koan. Can I approach the end right now? Traditionally it is ascribed to a monk who lived in a hollowed out tree and gave away tea at a roadside stand, and who, at least judging from the teachings that have come down to us as they are held in several competing schools, was almost obsessed with finishing up. He came from the area that is now Sichuan and lived just before what we now consider the Golden Age of Chinese Zen so he was a bit too early and a thousand miles too far north to make it to Chan sainthood. But for Mr. Dasui Fazhen time and space were a secondary consideration.

The koan called “The Kalpa Fire” shows up at least three times in the collections, every time with a slight variation showing that the end of Everything will be total and complete even in the way we hold the question. The teaching goes deep, and follows different streams.

In the Blue Cliff Record, a monk almost seems to be musing about the final conflagration of the universe and wonders if anything will be left. Will this too perish? “This perishes,” said Dasui. “If so,” persisted the monk, “does it follow the other?” “It follows the other,” said Dasui. Like night follows day, it will be entirely gone. Even night will no longer follow day. This could be the theoretical physicist’s answer.

In the version found in Andy Ferguson’s Zen's Chinese Heritage, the questioner monk refuses to hear the answer and goes off to consult another teacher who is able to turn his head around. The teacher tells Reverend Thick Head No End to rush back and apologize to Dasui. But by the time he arrives at Dasui’s hollowed out tree, he had perished. The monk rushes back to Touzi Datong who had set him straight but, alas by the time he arrives, Touzi had also perished. Perhaps he’s hinting that even the source of the teaching perishes along with everything else if I allow myself a metaphysical interpretation of the story line. The theoretical is starting to take an existential twist with perhaps a caution to listen to your teachers carefully.

Perhaps two hundred years later when the story reaches Japan, Dogen does not let the questioner off the hook at all. In his version, Case 24 of The True Dharma Eye, the monk questioner asks Dasui: “Can you tell me if this very place will also be destroyed?”  

Dasui said, “It will.” 

The monastic said, “If so, will I be part of it?” 

Dasui said, “Yes, you will.”

From an abstract, objective acceptance of the harsh reality that the reverse Big Bang will end up in oblivion, through the gratitude we owe to the teachers who had the courage to insist on the truth of the teaching, and the fact that they too are subject to the same law, it gets really personal: yes, you will also perish. Gone are the questions of time and space, past and future and very distant future, so far out it is an abstraction I don’t really have to worry about, or certainly hope I don’t. In each moment when the moment ends, how does it end and how much carries over? Can I allow the moment to disappear in the fire of the kalpas and be free, and allow just what arises to come forth and support the next moment until it too no longer does. 

Has Dasui served me a cup of Freedom Tea for free at his little stand?

Do I know enough to acknowledge a great man? Will I even know him? Someone asked Dasui “What is the sign of a great man?” Dasui answered, "He doesn't have a placard on his stomach." Having thrown another wrinkle into the conversation, I will leave it at that.

The End of The World as We Know It

And The End Period Dasui Fazhen, "Shenzhao " Case 29 Blue Cliff Record Case 24 of The True Dharma Eye Dasui and the Kalpa Fire Som...