Responsible Zen

A chance combination two Facebook posts and a late night email:
Scott McLendon commented on Cindy Sheehan's status:

""What is to give light must endure burning."

"The experiences of camp life show that a man does have a choice of action. There were enough examples, often of a heroic nature, which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed. Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress. We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way. The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity—even in the most difficult circumstances—to add a deeper meaning to life."
"Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible."
"Just as a small fire is extinguished by the storm whereas a large fire is enhanced by it-likewise a weak faith is weakened by predicament and catastrophes whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them. "
"For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment. "
"Our generation is realistic for we have come to know man as he really is.
"After all, man is that being who has invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who has entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord's Prayer or Shema Yisrael on his lips. "
"Only to the extent that someone is living out this self transcendence of human existence, is he truly human or does he become his true self. He becomes so, not by concerning himself with his self's actualization, but by forgetting himself and giving himself, overlooking himself and focusing outward."
" "So, let us be alert-alert in a twofold sense:
Since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of.
And since Hiroshima we know what is at stake."
–Viktor Frankl


Freedom for what ?

Bodhi Sarango sent a message to the members of Celebrating The New Man – Zorba the Buddha.
(one of my favorite metaphors: edit.)


– Freedom has two sides and if you have only one side of it, a single side, you will feel freedom mixed with sadness. So you have to understand the whole psychology of freedom.

The first side is freedom from: from nationality, from a certain church, from a certain race, from a certain political ideology. This is the first part of freedom, the foundation of freedom. It is always from something. Once you have attained this freedom, you will feel very light and very good and very happy. And for the first time you will start rejoicing in your own individuality, because your individuality was covered with all those things that you have become free of.

But this is only one half and then there will come sadness, because the other half is missing. Freedom from is fulfilled, but freedom for what? Freedom in itself has no meaning, unless it is freedom for something, something creative — freedom to sculpt, freedom to dance, freedom to create music, poetry, painting. Unless your freedom turns into a creative realization, you will feel sad. Because you will see that you are free: your chains are broken, you no longer have any handcuffs, you no longer have any chains, you don't have any prison, you are standing under the starry night, completely free, but where to go?

Then comes a sudden sadness. What path to choose? Up to now there was no question of going anywhere — you were imprisoned. Your whole consciousness was concentrated on how to get free, your only anxiety was how to get free. Now that you are free, a new kind of problem has to be encountered. What to do now that you are free?

Just freedom in itself does not mean anything, unless you choose a creative path. Either you go deeper into meditation for self-realization — that's what I was talking about: unless you become like Premda, pregnant — or if you have a certain kind of talent that has not been allowed to develop because of your fetters — you could not compose music because your hands were in chains, you could not dance because your feet were in chains … If you have a talent to be a dancer, then be a dancer. Then your freedom is complete, then the circle is complete.

Freedom from and freedom for — this is not something new that you are facing. It is being faced by every person who struggles first for freedom and then suddenly finds, "Now that I am free, what am I going to do?" Up to now, he was so occupied, so engaged, so very busy. Even in his dreams he was thinking only of freedom. And he has never thought about what he is going to do when he will get freedom.

Prem Islamo, what has happened is beautiful. But something more is needed. You have to become a creator. You have to find some creativity that fulfills your freedom, otherwise the freedom is empty. You need either to create something or to discover something. Either bring your potential to actuality or go inwards to find yourself, but do something with your freedom.

Freedom is only an opportunity for you. It is not in itself the goal. It simply gives you the whole opportunity to do whatever you want to do. Now you are free and you are feeling sad, because you have not used this opportunity yet. Meditation will do, music will do, sculpture will do, dancing will do, love will do. But do something with your freedom. Just don't sit with your freedom, otherwise you will become sad.

Freedom has to be a creative force in your life, not just a negative kind of freedom. The first part is negative: it is simply getting rid of the prison, it is getting rid of the chains. That you have done: now you are standing underneath the sky, completely lost.

Perhaps you have never realized that the imprisoned person has a certain reason for remaining imprisoned. That's why millions of people in the world remain prisoners of religion, of caste, creed, nation, color. All kinds of prisons they go on tolerating — not without reason. Their reason is that when they are imprisoned they don't have any responsibility, they don't have to be creators, they don't have to find some positivity in their freedom. It is enough for them to remain imprisoned, because then others will go on taking care.

Why are people Christians, why are people Hindus, why are people Mohammedans? Because Jesus will take care. You need not be worried. All that you have to be is just a slave of the Christian church. And the Christian church will take care of all your sins and of all that is needed. One feels absolutely unburdened with responsibility — no responsibility.

But remember one thing, fundamental to the whole question of freedom: responsibility and freedom are together. If you don't want to have responsibility, you can't have freedom either. They both come together or they both go together. If you leave responsibility, you have to accept slavery in some way or other.

read full note here:


Two versions of the responsibility for freedom, how green…

right then this one hit me from a fellow GPUS Platform Committee member

Hi, Monte,
 Thought you might appreciate this. I've had this reference in my library for years, I was going to send this text and reference to you last summer, but, time and tides wait for no spam.

Sutra Spoken By The Sixth Patriarch On The High Seat Of The Treasure Of The Law
(Aka: The Platform Sutra)

 Thus, to the knowledge of no one, the dharma was transmitted to me at midnight, and consequently I became the inheritor of the teaching of the Sudden school as well as of the robe and the begging bowl.
 "You are now the sixth patriarch," said he «Hung-jen, the fifth patriarch –c.o.», "Take good care of yourself, and deliver as many sentient beings as possible. Spread and preserve the teaching, and don't let it come to an end. Take note of my stanza:

   Sentient beings who sow seeds of enlightenment
   In the field of causation will reap the fruit of buddhahood.
   Inanimate objects void of buddha-nature
   Sow not and reap not.

 He further said, "When the patriarch Bodhidharma first came to China, most Chinese had no confidence in him, and so this robe was handed down as a testimony from one patriarch to another. As to the dharma, this is transmitted from heart to heart, and the recipient must realize it by his own efforts. From time immemorial it has been the practice for one buddha to pass to his successor the quintessence of the dharma, and for one patriarch to transmit to another the esoteric teaching from heart to heart. As the robe may give cause for dispute, you are the last one to inherit it. Should you hand it down to your successor, your life would be in imminent danger. Now leave this place as quickly as you can, lest some one should do you harm."
 After saying good-bye, I left him and walked toward the south. In about two months' time, I reached Ta-Yü Mountain. There I noticed that several hundred men were in pursuit of me with the intention of robbing me of my robe and begging bowl.
 Among them there was a monk named Hui-ming, whose lay surname was Ch'en. He was a general of the fourth-rank in lay life. His manner was rough and his temper hot. Of all the pursuers, he was the most vigilant in search of me. When he was about to overtake me, I threw the robe and the begging bowl on a rock, saying, "This robe is nothing but a symbol. What is the use of taking it away by force?" [I then hid myself.]
 When he got to the rock, he tried to pick them up, but found he could not. Then he shouted out, "Lay brother, lay brother [for the patriarch had not yet formally joined the Order], I come for the dharma, not for the robe."
 Whereupon I came out from my hiding place and squatted on the rock. He made obeisance and said, "Lay brother, preach to me please."
 "Since the object of your coming is the dharma," said I, "refrain from thinking of anything and keep your mind blank. I will then teach you." When he had done this for a considerable time. I said, "When you are thinking of neither good nor evil, what is at that particular moment, venerable sir, your real nature [literally, original face]?"
 As soon as he heard this he at once became enlightened. But he further asked, "Apart from those esoteric sayings and esoteric ideas handed down by the patriarchs from generation to generation, are there any other esoteric sayings?"
 "What I can tell you is not esoteric," I replied. "If you turn your light inwardly, you will find what is esoteric within you."
 "In spite of my staying in Huang-mei," said he, "I did not realize my self-nature. Now thanks to your guidance, I know it as a water drinker knows how hot or cold the water is. Lay brother, you are now my teacher."
 I replied " if that is so, then you and I are fellow disciples of the fifth patriarch. Take good care of yourself."
From: _The Diamond Sutra & The Sutra Of Hui-Neng_, tr. A. F. Price & Wong Mou-lam, 1990, Shambhala Press.  Excerpt from The Platform Sutra of Hui-Neng.

i hear the 7th Master had known for some time that the uninspiring acolyte coveted his robebut thought he was concealing it

Out of the desperation born of lack of talent the acolyte began to plot,

One night he made up his mind

On the way, in the rain, knowing they are alone they meet

Looking in the eye he disrobes dropping the robe in the puddle, he walks away

The 8th kneels and weeps, the office is passed

I may have the enumeration wrong, these things all run together in my mind…

want to know why i like the one hand clapping koan?

Human Responsibility, Zen, mental liberty, you, myself, Allness Being, Life, death

and then bring it back 'round again, that refrain's so sweeet

also @


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