Shinji Shobogenzo, Book 2, Case 91

In this video John discusses this metaphor from Master Sekito about a familiar trope of Buddhism:

“The wide sky does not hinder the flying white clouds.”

The metaphor of sky and clouds is common in Zen. The original meaning 7th century meaning was fairly specific: just as the sun may be temporarily obscured by clouds yet we know it’s always there,  likewise, although our mind may be in turmoil, we can sit in confident faith in our intrinsic Buddha Nature. This initially simple formulation was gradually woven into a complex of interrelated ideas.

Master Sekito’s apparently simple repetition of the image has a lot packed into it and John explains how Sekito urges us not to discard the life flooding through us for a false ideal of quietism.

Adapted from Kusen given on 25th August 2020