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Don't Know...Not Clear

In Zen we explore non-duality through a dualistic personna called Samsara. And, speak of a deeper (higher) experience called Sammathi that seemly contradicts Samssara. This effort pushes our mind outside its comfort zone of being absolutely certain of something. The teachings offered by Shakyamuni Buddha suggests grasping (attachment/addiction) to/of anything over time creates Dukkha (being out of round or wobbly) as change occurs throughout our life. In effect we as Zen practitioners, awaken to clarity of the oneness of seemingly two. We say it is less than two. This has the same meaning as the phrase-- the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Further my writing is an attempt for readers/practitioners to explore my means of communicating these teachings. This process is Upaya or skillful means.

The (is) most important concept (Upaya) in "skill in means" is the use, guided by wisdom and compassion, of a specific teaching (means) geared to the particular audience taught. Edward Conze, in A Short History Of Buddhism, says "'Skill in means' is the ability to bring out the spiritual potentialities of different people by statements or actions which are adjusted to their needs and adapted to their capacity for comprehension."

There are three phrases I'll explore that aid us in the use of and experience of Upaya: "Just Don't Know, Is That So, and Not Clear." My teacher Taiun Elliston-roshi has honed this ability, his Upaya, in over fifty years of sharing the Dharma. I hope to channel some of his teachings; mixed with my "Semi-Upaya," for you to explore how you awaken to the moment.

I (just) Don't Know is a liberating phrase when heartfelt. It suggests the meaning has yet to coealess-it is slippery, slick, and rolly. It is not the same as making up one's mind , rather it is gaining awareness through experiencing it fully. When the phrase is used it also suggests an openness/allowing awareness to unfold. By adding the word "just or inmon" I offer the moment as in one saying..."as its stands now I don't get its meaning." Used thusly it opens us to conversation through compassionate sharing of the Dharma with others--sangha.

Is That So, is a 90 degree shift from the, "I don't know," that enables an exploration of other possibilities. Imagine a person scratching their head! this image is suggesting all of the change effects have not been covered-unintended consequences if you like. It is a cause for pause and undergirds the teaching of impermanence and penetrating the moment.

Not Clear, is used when questioning the conclusion as such, the means of conveying the meaning requires a different approach, for me to gain a foothold of meaning. It's the old feedback loop in conversation when one might ask..."was that helpful, or do you get what I mean?" I encourage this interjection when I speak in a Dharma Talk, or am asked a question in Dokusan or Dharma Discussion.

Using these tools of Upaya enhances meaningful conversation as a kind of sorting out of clarity we undertake in communicating with each other. Some years ago I taught public speaking and communication for a very successful firm working with senior leaders in major corporations. Honest clarity was our goal. This meant being truthful in speaking, open when listening, and always working for the clearest understanding possible. In this regard we were expanding the Right Thought, Right Speech and Right Action as features of teaching and learning...sharing the Dharma. We were exploring Zen but just didn't know...




Please join us at 6:15/ET each morning on ZOOm for 45 minutes of zazen and Dhar Dialog. Email me to get the url and password.

August 11, 2020: "Ask Sensei and Bring a Friend to Zen," Prepare your questions and bring a friend or ten to Zen.

August 15, 2020: "A Silent Zazenkai," three back to back to back 50 minute zazen-sits, short knihins, and Dharma discussion afterward with tea. 9:00AM/ET to 12:30PM/ET

August 18, 2020: "A Zen Flick," join us in a short video and Dharma discussion

August 25, 2020: A Dharma Talk: "The Trapezoid is Gone," by Ku Wasan Ann Glasman, Priest and Dharma Teacher, in the Silent Thunder Order. Ku Wasan is one of two Mentors in our Discipleship Training Program at Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha working with Mokuo and Enjitsu-sans

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