Mushotoku Mind: The Heart of the Heart Sutra Paperback – Nov 1 2012
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About the Author
Taisen Deshimaru.Founder of the Association Zen Internationale, one of the largest influences on Zen in the West. Raised by his grandfather, a former samurai, and educated in Christianity & Western philosophy, he became a successful businessman. He studied Rinzai Zen before finding his master, Kodo Sawaki & the practice of Dogen's Zen. Before his death, Sawaki asked Deshimaru to spread Zen. Deshimaru arrived in Paris in 1967. La Gendronniere, the practice center he founded in France, was established in 1979 & continues to be an important Zen center. He died in 1982, leaving a number of influential disciples.
Richard Collins. A Zen teacher in the lineage of Taisen Deshimaru and Dean of Arts & Humanities at California State University, Bakersfield. He has held several research fellowships, including a Fulbright-Hays grant and a Fulbright Senior Lectureship. Collins has taught at the American University in Bulgaria, Louisiana State University, & Xavier University, where he was editor of the Xavier Review. He received monastic ordination from Robert Livingston Roshi. He founded the Zen Fellowship of Alexandria (Louisiana) and the Zen Fellowship of Bakersfield.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
God or Buddha, fundamental cosmic power or ku. These are all names that we interpret according to our ways of thinking. In Christianity the concept of God is the central theological pillar, but, as with any concept, people conceive of it in their own ways. Imagination plays an important role. It is completely the opposite in Buddhism, where the faculties of conceptualization and imagination are considered bonno or illusion. Furthermore, God is replaced by the central concept of ku, an extremely fluid idea, which by its very nature cannot become the object of any conceptualization.
A Japanese story from the annals of Soto Zen shows the great qualities of Master Ryokan's teaching, as well as the profound wisdom he showed in his relations with suffering beings and their blind and all-consuming desires. One day an old man came to master Ryokan and said to him: "I would like to ask you to perform a kito [blessing ceremony] on my behalf. Many of my friends and relatives have died, and I myself have not long to live. So, I beg of you, do a kito to enable me to live a long time.
"How old are you?" asked Ryokan.
"But you are still young! A Japanese proverb says that one is a baby until the age of 40 or 50, and that 60 to 80 is the age for loving. How long do you want to live?
"Until 100 would be enough.
"Only 100?! That's not very long!
The old man asked to live until 150. "Look, said Ryokan, "you're 80 years old now, so you've already lived half your lifespan. Climbing up a mountain requires a lot of time and energy, but climbing down is fast. This means your years will pass like a dream.
"Wait, wait! Give me 300 years!
"Did you know that cranes live up to 1000 years, and tortoises up to 10,000? continued Ryokan. "You, a human being, only want to live 300 years!
"All this is confusing me, said the old man.
"I see that really you don't want to die. You should at least know that this is an extremely egotistical attitude.
"I know! the old man replied.
"So, the best thing would be to do a kito so you won't die.
"Is that possible?
"Oh yes, but it's very expensive and takes a very long time.
"That doesn't matter. I want that kito.
Ryokan replied: "Today we'll begin by simply chanting the Hannya Shingyo. Then you must come and do zazen every day in the temple, and I will give you teachings.
In this way Ryokan led the old man to true and exact faith.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Zen practitioners in many traditions recite the Heart Sutra regularly, often as part of practice every single day, as I have done for years in both English and (uncomprehended) Japanese and Korean. But why is it so important? On the surface, the Heart Sutra seems to be a clear and simple distillation of Zen non-attachment: not this, not that, not the mind, not the body, and so forth. What Deshimaru Roshi shows us is that there is much more depth and beauty, that the sutra is not just a distillation but a perfect expression of the heart of Zen. It can illuminate our practice and day to day life.
The book starts with an overall picture of the sutra, its importance in practice, and core theme of non-attachment (presented with interesting and for me novel wording that I won't give away -- read it!). It then goes through the sutra section by section, illustrating it from both intellectual and experiential points of view. The voice throughout is clear and wise.
If you want to learn more about a key practice in Zen, I recommend it highly. Thank you to the editors and translators who made it available to English readers!
In Richard Collins lucidly rendered translation of his teacher's commentaries on the Heart Sutra, entitled "Mushotoku Mind' (The non-gaining mind in English) the sutra, which is a distillation of all Wisdom Sutras, reminds me of the B.C. comic strip. The title Mr. Collins chose is perfect, because the sutra can rightly `boil down' to the Non-Gaining Mind, or as the commentaries indicate, to zazen.
There are a number of interpretations of the Heart Sutra--the Dalai Lama's and Thich Nhat Hanh's--to name two, each quite unique in its own right. We can't have too many interpretations of a teaching so subtle and so grand and so easily misunderstood. "Mushotoku Mind" also gives us a very clear and simple distillation of all the major principles of Mahayana Buddhism. My hat is off to Mr. Collins.
I will start by giving a quote by Taisen Deshimaru from his book ''Mushotoku Mind. Copyright 2012 Hohm Press: [page 113]
"Sometimes, when Japanese people are asked, "what is Buddha?" They answer, "Death". [Upper case 'D']. In the minds of many people Buddha simply means "death".[Lower case 'd'] They have forgotten the true meaning of the word. These lines -"All the buddhas of past, present, and future attain understanding of this Great Wisdom that delivers all beings from suffering and enables them to find Nirvana" - express the true meaning of the word Buddha.
in the Katha Upanisad Death speaks to Naciketas:
"Delighted at him, then, Death said to him again: well- pleased, the large- hearted one said to him: Here I grant you another wish today... [p 233 Upanisads, Patrick Olivelle translation, Oxford World Classics 1996]
here Death is called "large hearted". It should be remembered that the Supreme Patriarch of Soto, Eihei Dogen studied the esoteric teachings of Southern India. (according to Keizan in Transmission of the lamp, Denkoroku). In the West we usually have a poor opinion of all matters relating to Death, but perhaps it is impossible to find more profound aspects of life without the influences of Death.
"True death, death of oneself" [p109 Deshimaru] is surely a blessing and not to be feared.
With Death's help one finds oneself in a place where all vijnanas have ceased and even consciousness and Self have been slain. One now sees nothing at all and yet there is the illusion of seeing. in Thibetan Buddhism Death is called Yama and is a dharma protector. i would say that Death is also a dharma enabler.
THAT and "This" cease to be Me. consciousness gone. consciousness itself is a higher form of 'self' (Brahman). The No Self has gone beyond the Self (Atman) of Brahman. Not even suchness is seen now and yet I see in a manner of seeing (which is not seeing and has no 'I').
Buddha said that in a past life he rememebered been cut up into pieces by a wicked king (Kalinga?). And yet since he had no concept nor experience of self he was not bitter towards his murderer. To have realised no self and no mind may not be the end of the road. how many lives to go, who knows? is Death actually a door to life? When I say Death I mean the personification or person called Death, not death of the body.
in Mushutoku Mind deshimaru argues the importance of nothing at all to attain or want. elimination of self or ego, means the relinquishment of attainment, since there is no one to whom attainment of any kind could attain. ego/self has entirely gone. As a Christian i have asked God to provide me with a form of self, that is actually not a self. this is going beyond attainment to gift, or grace. the kindness of God in providing a state of being beyond extinction... that has emerged from extinction.
if one considers the universe; it is infinite, that is both in micro and macro levels and multiverses at this level of magnitude. multiverses within a higgs boson. every singularity is a collection and every collection is a singularity. this closed feedback loop or this continuum, however one wants to see it, is the work of God. soo immense, sooo minute, the mind boggles.
hope this is helpful,
best wishes, Tom.