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Kusen

62. Original Face

Whoever says that the Tathāgata goes or comes, stands, sits or lies down, he does not understand the meaning of my teaching. And why?

‘Tathāgata’ is called one who has not gone anywhere, nor come from anywhere.

Diamond Sutra, verse 29

The Buddhist state is instantaneous, immediate, and cuts off past and future.

Tathāgata’ means ‘thus come’ or ‘thus gone. The name itself is a description of reality; not ‘existence’ [because that would entail dualism], not ‘no existence’ [because that would entail nihilism] but something luminous, hovering in the background, behind our conceptualisations.

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Kusen

42. The Five Skandhas

We practice from the perspective of the Buddha, not the Self.

At the start of the Heart Sutra, there is an exchange between Śāriputra, one of the buddha’s historical disciples, renowned for his wisdom, and Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Significantly, it is Avalokiteśvara rather than Śāriputra who, whilst sitting in zazen, realises that the five Skandhas are empty, and hence all suffering is relieved. You could say all suffering is relieved because Avalokitesvara, the five Skandhas and Emptiness are all synonymous.

Were Śāriputra, from the position of the self, to perceive the emptiness of the five Skandhas, suffering would not be relieved. The whole world would become suffering.

So, the suggestion is not that in zazen we see Emptiness, but rather that the five Skandhas see the Emptiness of the five Skandhas. And suffering falls away.

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Kusen

18. Compassion

The Heart Sutra begins:

The Bodhisattva of Compassion, practicing the highest wisdom, realises the five skandas are empty, and thereby relieves all suffering.

In other words: 

The Bodhisattva of Compassion, practicing zazen, makes real the emptiness of all experience, and so relieves all suffering

The passage is a mythical way of talking about practice. When we practice, we are practicing not from the position of self, but from the position of Buddha, Kanzeon. We are not cultivating compassionate awareness, we are compassionate awareness. Practice is the palace of Enlightenment, not the door.

Emptiness is the release of all things into their infinite, ungraspable nature.

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Kusen

7. The Buddhist State

Whosoever says that the Tathāgata goes or comes, stands, sits or lies down, he does not understand the meaning of my teaching. And why? ‘Tathāgata’ is called one who has not gone anywhere, nor came from anywhere.

Diamond Sutra, verse 29

The Buddhist state is instantaneous, immediate and cuts off past and future.

Tathāgata means ‘thus come’ or ‘thus gone.’

The name itself is a description of reality: not ‘existence’ (because that would entail dualism), not ‘no existence’ (because that would entail nihilism), but something luminous hovering in the background, behind our conceptualisations.