Notice What You Have (Platform Sutra, Section 12, Part I)

Scripture

I have come here today because I have a connection of many lifetimes with you officials, clerics, and laypeople. This teaching has been passed down by the ancients. It isn’t something I discovered by myself. But if you wish to hear this teaching of the ancients, you must listen with pure minds. And if you wish to get rid of your delusions, you should understand it as past generations have.

Reflection

Recently, I was in California with a friend. We were talking practice. He is not a practitioner, but he was interested in what it means to practice. I gave him some practical advice. When you feel compelled to say no to something, use that body response to open up to saying yes instead. The more you slow down and become aware of your body (through meditation and other activities), the better you can become at noticing these body responses as they arise. And through this awareness, real change can occur – putting ourselves in the direction of the 3 Jewels rather than the 3 Poisons.

This was not my teaching. This is something I learned from Haju Sunim, one of my teachers with the Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom, and her insistence to be more aware of our bodies through practice. As I heard those words come out of my mouth to my friend, gratitude arose in me for my teachers and their teachers and their teachers’ teachers and so on. These teachings are not about anyone of us in particular. It is an ancient knowledge – as fresh and alive and old and mysterious as our very body-mind.

And with this gratitude, I have had a shifting sense of what this blog should be about. For the most part, I will structure the posts this way: one part scripture, one part reflection. The more scripture I read, the more I have faith that the path of practice has already been laid out for us. We just need to practice it with our utmost heart. And so I offer reflections as an expression of gratitude for the ten thousand teachings that our teachers across the many lineages and traditions have offered us.

In the tradition in which I practice, we have something called the 6 Right Livelihood Guidelines – a practical interpretation of Right Livelihood. The third guideline is Practice Gratitude: Notice What You Have; Be Equally Grateful For Opportunities And Challenges; Share Joy, Not Negativity. This teaching of right livelihood has been given to us through numerous lineages of teachers and sincere practitioners. As Huineng says, it is not something we discovered by ourselves. I am fortunate enough to have encountered the teachings because of these numberless beings. So today I practice gratitude by reflecting on this ancient gift and offering this post to you.

(Note: The passage from Huineng is in section 12 of the Tunhuang version of the Platform Sutra, translated by Red Pine.)

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