White Wind Zen Community

A Community practising and teaching Dogen’s Zen since 1985

Every Breath You Take 22: Taking Refuge in the Harmonious Community

Dharma Talk presented by Ven. Shikai Zuiko osho

Dainen-ji, May 8th, 2008

EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE 

...is the breath of all beings.

The verse, 

Taking refuge in the Harmonious Community,
"May all beings

Harmonize the multitudes,

So that all become free from obstruction." 

This verse is about the third precept of the Three Jewels,
"Taking refuge in the Harmonious Community". 

You've all come across or will come across this expressed as,
in the Pali, "Buddham saranam gacchami",
in Japanese, "Namu kie So",
in English, "This is Sangha",
and, as we chant it in the Three Jewels every morning, every evening,
"This is the Seamless Expanse of all that is". 

"May all beings

Harmonize the multitudes,

So that all become free from obstruction." 

Now let's look at a typical human-centric misunderstanding that could,
if unexamined,
get in the way of your understanding. 

Hearing "harmonize the multitudes"
we may have thought of "the multitudes"
as those hordes of people
with all the restlessness and turmoil going on for others,
and for yourselves,
so that right now,
if we don't clarify it,
you may hear only impossibility or an idealistic,
yet probably, realistically, doomed, dream. 

Once again, and it can't be said too often,
as with all the teachings,
this verse is pointing to how you are,
right now.
Anzan roshi says about the third precept of the Three Jewels that, 

This is sangha

is the proclamation of the willingness to recognize the inherent harmony of each moment.
Not just to try and bring about harmony amongst fellow practitioners,
or amongst all people,
or even amongst all beings, all trees, all grasses, all fields, all skies, all clouds;
but to uncover the inherent harmony within all of our thoughts,
all of our feelings,
in all of the sounds that arise within us,
moment after moment.

To uncover complete harmony. 

After all, the open space of Awake Awareness,
has, self-evidently,
room for everything.
Everything is already present.
Any chopping up into this and that is a fiction.
The Dharma uncovers that fiction and shows you how to uncover it further. 

Having recognized the first precept of "Awareness is the Only Condition"
and that this is Buddha or waking up,
and having recognized that "All that is arises as the display of Awareness"
and that this is Dharma, the Teachings of Reality,
we can look at "This is the seamless expanse of all that is"
and see that this is Sangha, the Harmonious Community. 

The Dharma,
"All that is arises as the display of Awareness"
points to how we can uncover that fact of the Harmonious Community,
of Sangha,
moment after moment. 

"Sangha" basically means community.
As the word traveled through time and across distance
meeting different cultures and understandings
what the word describes changes and can be different in different contexts. 

Originally, the word referred only to male, ordained, monks.
Over time, in the Mahayana tradition,
this expanded to include nuns and then eventually lay men and women.
In Ch'an, "Chinese Zen", there was a recognition of,
and, an inclusion of, mountains and rivers.

Dogen zenji recognized that everything arose within Awareness and that nothing was excluded,

This the seamless expanse of all that is

because

All that is arises as the display of Awareness.

This is Dharma.
This is reality.
This is Sangha. 

In "Cutting the Cat Into One" the Roshi says, 

...so that we can actually apply it to our situation, then "Sangha" or the community of harmony, means the community of beings that compose this moment of experiencing: the colours and forms and sights and sounds and thoughts; the five skandhas of form, feeling, perception, formation and consciousness that arise and describe and create our world. "This is the seamless expanse of all that is." The colours are the way they are, blue is blue and red is red, and when you stand up you're a bit taller than when you are sitting down. These are just the basic facts which we can always find and there's a natural sense of sanity to them. Reality itself makes a certain sense which we can begin to contact more and more; and when we contact this basic and common sense, we find that there is more sanity in how we live and how we do what we do. Our sense of what our situation is becomes based upon the situation itself, rather than our views of it. 

The more that we drop our views of what is going on,
the more that we begin to see clearly.
The more that we allow the possibility of "not knowing" anything at all...
the more comprehensive our knowing tends to be,
simply because it doesn't become locked within patterns.
We're not living from the past.
We're not living from our image of who and what we are.
As we experience more and more who and what we really are,
as we experience this Sangha,
once more this leads back to "This is Buddha"
and to deepening our appreciation of and our ability to actualize being Buddha. 

The verse: 

Taking refuge in the Harmonious Community,
"May all beings

Harmonize the multitudes,

So that all become free from obstruction."

The Three Jewels, 

Awareness is the only condition.

All that is arises as the display of Awareness.
This is the seamless expanse of all that is.

Thank you for listening.