Posted inHenry's Messages

Message from Henry: Original Face

December 11, 2014

Happiness and sorrow, hope and despondency, joy and misery, satisfaction and frustration – the original face is at ease with all of them.

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Couple of thoughts….

Happiness is all very well but it’s no substitute for the original face. Nor should it be mistaken for it…

Happiness and sorrow, hope and despondency, joy and misery, satisfaction and frustration – the original face is at ease with all of them.

In the recent sesshin I said something along the lines of: anything that we want will not satisfy us. In other words, if we are to be truly satisfied, the source of that satisfaction cannot be absent right now – it must always already be right here.

This is the nature of the “original face” of Zen: always here, in perpetual abundance, in everlasting inexhaustibility. “I have used it all my life,” as master Gutei said of his master’s ‘one-finger’ Zen, “but I have still not exhausted it.”

       But this raises the question: what about wanting the Dharma?

Perhaps the Dharma is the exception that proves the rule: even though we may want to find it, it will indeed satisfy us. But when and if we want the Dharma, we don’t actually know what it is we are seeking. We can’t. The Dharma is inconceivable, unimaginable, unknowable.

Truly we don’t know that we are seeking and wanting the Dharma even when we are in fact doing so. All we know is that we have some kind of problem, or conundrum, or quest, or unease, disquiet, angst, or whatever, and that it is driving our practice. We don’t know and can’t know that that problem is in fact like the inverse shape, the negative space, of its own solution. The problem itself is all we need. Once we invert the process, and let our problem “win,” surrendering ourselves to it, it has a chance to show its true face – as the Dharma.

Master Bukko said it can even take up to thirty years of practice for a person’s true “life-problem” to crystallize. When it does, it is auspicious, for the true nature of our self and its problem is then in focus, and is about to be revealed.

Image: Dahlia, by Hexenkueche CC0 Public Domain, from pixabay.com

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