A difference between a sage and an ordinary person?

The wisdom of the sages is inherent in each one of you. It is only because of delusion, based on conceptual, dualistic thinking, that you fail to realize it. You should know that the reality of a sage and the reality of an ordinary person are the exact same reality. The only difference is that the sage realizes delusion, while an ordinary person is in delusion about realization.

~From The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing

by Ted Biringer

2 thoughts on “A difference between a sage and an ordinary person?

  1. Hola Yamakoa,

    Thank you for your comments.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your observation on Shobogenzo, Genjokoan! One could probably spend many whole lives with it continuously finding new levels and implications. Some Zen master said, “The whole Shobogenzo amounts to nothing more than footnotes on the Genjokoan.” Ha!

    In The Flatbed Sutra, Louie Wing makes a commentary on Genjokoan. He calls it “A Skeleton Key to the Shobogenzo,” and I think that is a pretty good description (of course I might be somewhat biased when it comes to Louie Wing).

    Yamakoa wrote: “…the question begs to be asked, what is delusion…”

    Great question. In fact, it motivated my next post here, see if any of that makes sense.

    Yamakoa wrote: “…is not delusion simply viewing the universe from only one’s perspective. We take our limited point of view of the world and everything in it (including ourselves) and take this as the “gospel” truth.”

    In my understanding, this is close but might need a little more “qualification.” For instance I don’t think that “one’s perspective” necessarily qualifies as “delusion” unless it is a delusional perspective. Also, a “limited view” is not necessarily a deluded view–think of Dogen’s analogy about how the “ocean only appears to be round” from the perspective of being a long way out in the ocean, while in fact the ocean has “innumerable qualities…” I think that even someone like Dogen has a “limited view.” There is a Zen saying, “Shakyamuni is still practicing and he is only half way there.”

    If by “take this as the ‘gospel truth'” you mean, the “whole” truth, then I would agree that would be equal to delusion…

    Yamakoa wrote: “If we could see this truly through, then maybe picking and choosing our way to hell would cease.”

    Joshu said to the assembly, “The Great Way is not difficult, just avoid picking and choosing. As soon as there are words spoken, ‘this is picking and choosing’, ‘this is clarity.’ This old monk does not dwell in clarity, tell me, do you monks go along with this or not?”

    A monk stepped forward and said, “Since you do not dwell in clarity, what do you treasure”

    Joshu said, “I don’t know either.”

    The monk said, “If you don’t know, how can you say you do not dwell in clarity?”

    Joshu said, “It is enough to ask the question. Make your bows and withdraw.”

    I wonder what Joshu is getting at here…

    Yamakoa wrote: “I wonder if this ego centric point of view, is not what “Christians” refer to as “original sin.” Is this not what lead us out of Eden? This view, this conceptualization, this picking, this choosing, grasping, differences…”

    Sure, that sounds reasonable… But remember, before leaving Eden, Adam and Eve may not have experienced themselves as different (separate from each other, God, nature, etc) they had little more than infantile awareness. Eating the fruit of “the knowledge of good and evil” (self and other than self) was the beginning of find mature awareness of oneness.

    Louie Wing commented on this in the Flatbed Sutra:

    “…Adam and Eve lived in perfect unity with God and nature. They did not even know they were different from each other. This is how infants are; they do not discriminate between themselves and their mothers, etc…

    When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil they suddenly began to discriminate. They knew they were different from each other, and were thus cast out of the garden. This is how it is for people as they mature; they sense a difference between themselves and everything else in the world. From this, grasping and aversion arise…

    …the gods—yes, ‘gods,’ for at this point the biblical God uses the plural ‘we,’ and ‘us’— even God becomes differentiated with the knowledge of good and evil, this and that, male and female… The gods fear that Adam and Eve may eat from another tree in the garden, the tree of life, and become immortal.

    When people first hear about awakening… it is like becoming aware of the second tree in the Garden of Eden. The unnamable void, like the tree of life, is guarded by two cherubs and a flaming sword. The two cherubs, like all dualities, must be transcended. Ceasing conceptualization cuts away the barrier of duality like a flaming sword…

    …what happens when the fruit from the tree of immortal life is consumed? Again, we are back in the garden living in perfect unity with God and nature—but no longer as unconscious infants, but as consciousness itself. Here is the experience of the eye seeing the eye. Awareness is aware of itself.

    This is the meaning of the sages when they say things like, “seeing without seeing,” and “hearing without hearing,” and “speaking without speaking.”” (End of Excerpt from The Flatbed Sutra.)

    Yamakoa (quoting Dogen) wrote: ” “When the Dharma does not fill your mind and body, you think it is enough. When your mind and body are filled with the Dharma, you realize one side is lacking.”

    Yes! Exactly. Even though, from ‘here’ the ocean only appears to be round, the ocean has innumerable qualities… If we are truly ‘enlightened’ in this place and time, we realize that ‘this’ is not ‘all’ of enlightenment (there is a ‘lack’)– in the next moment we now ‘enlighten’ our new place and time, now this, now this, now this, and all traces of enlightenment drop away–making way for this, now this, now this, continuosly.

    Thanks again,
    Check out the new post…

    Gassho,
    Ted

  2. Hola Ted,
    I think one could study the Genjo Koan their whole life, and constantly be amazed at its applicability.

    Since the only difference between buddhas and non buddhas or sages and ordinary people is clearly realizing delusion, the question begs to be asked, what is delusion. Let us not use, wordplay or circular logic or sophistry to arrive at the answer.

    Upon reflection and my limited view, is not delusion simply viewing the universe from only one’s perspective. We take our limited point of view of the world and everything in it (including ourselves) and take this as the “gospel” truth. If we could see this truly through, then maybe picking and choosing our way to hell would cease.

    I wonder if this ego centric point of view, is not what “Christians” refer to as “original sin.” Is this not what lead us out of Eden? This view, this conceptualization, this picking, this choosing, grasping, differences, aversions, patterns, reinforcements, karma, and it goes on and on.

    Of course Ted, this could be all flimflam, but I am OK with it. I am reminded of Dogen “When the Dharma does not fill your mind and body, you think it is enough. When your mind and body are filled with the Dharma, you realize one side is lacking.” Or something like that.

    For now
    “Y”

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