Friday, July 27, 2012

The End of Becoming

Scott Bradley

Let us admire the moon and cherish the flowers —
Thus should we like to live.
Never try and become Buddhas
And ruin our precious life!
I ended the previous post with this poem and had no room to speak to its context, something I would like to rectify here. Zenkei (Zen Comments on the Mumonkan) quotes it in response to the 9th koan of the Mumonkan which concerns a certain Mr. Daitsu Chisho who meditated for ten kalpas (a very long time) without attaining buddhahood. Why?

The 'answer' is really quite simple: He was already a Buddha. What then was there to "attain"? There was nothing to become.

Never try to become a Buddha. This is an absolutely essential tenet of Zen. I will now steal it and say: Never try to become Dao. Why? Because you are Dao. And if this is the case, every and any attempt to attain it is to negate it. In the end there is no objective Dao. In this sense, there is no Dao.

You are Dao. What is Dao? Whatever you are. There is no other Dao. There is nothing to become. It is already true of you, realized or not. Here, I believe, is the gateless gate. To experientially realize this simple reality in oneself is to pass through. But there is no gate; there is only a single, seamless Reality. Yet there is a gate, because our present manner of being in the world is so thoroughly dependent on dualism that we do not awarefully participate in non-dual Reality. Mumon doesn't really speak of a gateless gate; only he says: "Gateless is the Great Dao". But he does speak of a "barrier" through which we must pass. This barrier is that in us which renders us unable to experience the non-dual.

What is Dao? Whatever you are. Everything you are. Look nowhere else. Imagine nothing else. Imagine no Dao. Forget every preconceived idea of Reality. Eschew every imagined thing that you supposedly are: a Buddha, the True Self, the "I am". Does Reality require that we tell it what it is? Wouldn't that just be more of same objective imagining? How, if we wish to experience unmediated Reality, are we served by telling it what it is before we experience it? Do we require a definition of life to experience it? Cannot Reality speak for itself? When it speaks to us, we can call it what we wish, but to define it for others is to sow thorns on the path.

The Dao we are fills us when we cease trying to become it and realize we are it. There is no gap. Thus are we truly able to admire the moon and cherish the flowers.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.


  1. This post served as a real eye-opener for me. I´m just so confused at the moment. Can I have resistance to both what is and what isnt... stuff like that arise inside med and it ends with me thinking loudly at your beautiful website.
    Grasping for something to hold on to.
    This is so new to me and...
    I meant no harm. Sorry.
    My body tells me I did something wrong and I dont even know what. But this was a clue.
    Sorry guys. And thanks.


  2. This post opened my eyes.
    I´m just so confused right now.
    Grasping for something to hold on to. This resulting in thinking loudly at your beautiful website, for which Im greatful.
    My body just told me I did something wrong, and I think this post was a good pointer to what.
    I didnt men any harm, if I started something negative.
    I have no clue what so ever, about anything.
    Something happened inside me a while ago and Im trying to figure out how to live, though I know there is nothing to figure out.
    From there, the confusion which renders inapproperiate actions.
    Thanks for this and every other post. I have much to learn. Again, didnt mean to create thoughts and feelings and...
    Such a well put article this was.


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