Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What About My Personality?

In this blog, there has been the Buddhist idea of Sunyata. Often, it is interpreted as an idea. Something like "no independent self." As mentioned many times, enlightenment is not what you think. (Though your thinking will change as you practice :-))

This idea has been misinterpreted as losing one's identity or personality. Happily, this is far from the truth. It is simple to see. Page through any book of stories about the Patriarchs of the past. Patriarchs were Zen masters from times gone by who helped people wake up, not through explanation, but by continuing to point to the truth. For them, explanation was a grievous error.

Consider this koan:
Arriving at a temple, the Sixth Chán Ancestor came upon two monks who were arguing over a flag that was flapping in the wind. One said the flag was moving; the other claimed that the wind was moving. The Sixth Chán Ancestor said, “It is not the wind and it is not the flag. It is your minds that are moving.” The monks were completely stuck and could not answer.
  1. Is the flag or the wind moving?
  2. One monk was attached to the wind, another to the flag and the Sixth Chán Ancestor was attached to mind. How do you avoid these attachments?
The Sixth Ancestor was a man named Hui Neng. He would be considered a patriarch. In this case, when Hui Neng said: “It is not the wind and it is not the flag. It is your minds that are moving.” He made a big mistake. He was trying to be compassionate, to help these monks, and instead fell into a trap. Do you see it?

Back to the point. The Patriarchs were loaded with personality. Zen Master Seung Sahn was loaded with personality. Zen Master Wonji is loaded with personality. Not making self and other is simply cutting through the illusion that we are separate from everything.

To that end here are a few questions
  • When did you decide to be born?
  • How did you decide who you were attracted to?
  • All of your attitudes and opinions - where did they come from?
  • When did you decide your favorite color?
  • How did you pick your parents?
  • Is the flag or the wind moving?