Wednesday, December 20, 2006
This moment cannot be conceived-of therefore our codified systems of morality cannot be applied and acted upon. The problem of moral action doesn’t end there however. If we try to identify a discrete ‘self’ who can act morally, it becomes difficult to do so. Ask yourself this: ‘I say that I am as I am but who is doing this saying?’ There is something that ‘does thinking’ but we can’t identify or know it. Whenever we try to conceive of our selves, we actually create another entity that does not exist in this dimension. It is not us, it is completely and fundamentally different from us. So, not only has the moment for action passed and our systems of morality we might have applied to it found to be worthless but we can’t even find an agent to perform these moral actions. Descartes’ ‘I think therefore I am’ is a contradiction in terms from a Buddhist perspective which might state ‘I think by which I create a stupid ghost to act instead of me.’
The universe has its natural rule, this is actually what we mean when we describe action as ‘moral’ – we mean, ‘in accord with the natural order of the universe.’ So, we must act in accord with the universe but we’re adept at deluding ourselves that we are separate from this universe, that the universal laws of cause and effect don’t affect us, that we are little Gods, universes unto ourselves seething with passions and opinion that are incommunicable to and at odds with our fellow man. We act according to hastily assembled, worm-eaten and crumbling galleons of thought tossed on the rough sea of unpredictable emotional tempests. We erect the illusion of a wall between ourselves and our universe and act according to ourselves not according to the universe. This is the meaning of ‘being bound by karma’, this is samsara, this is the root of actions that are in conflict with the natural order of the universe. ‘Acting’ right means ‘turning’ (acting) the wheel of dharma (in accord with reality.)
Buddhism asserts that we must access ‘Prajna’, a pre-cognitive intuitive wisdom that cannot but commit natural right action. This can also be described as the natural order of the universe. There are many methods of accessing prajna and zazen is one, the ‘authentic gate.’ The state of being revealed is prajna itself. Sitting in accord with the universe is prajna itself. Prajna is like a deep and wide ocean that includes all phenomena and sustains and nourishes this universe beyond the discrimations of human knowledge - no 'thing' is seperate from prajna. Accepting the tool of ourselves in all our complexity we practise zazen not merely to access and utilise this intuitive wisdom but to reveal that that is what we were all along. Practising zazen is practising ‘natural rightness.’ Practising ‘natural rightness’ is what has been almost universally misunderstood by the term in English ‘enlightenment.’ The use however of terminology analogous with light is appropriate in describing the experience of illumination of this present moment in which we are acting at one with the universe.