From a Flattop Mountain retreat:
Our original teacher, Shakamuni Buddha said: "Sometimes we must pretend the yellow leaves are gold to keep the children from crying." I feel this applies to verbal teaching, where the yellow leaves are words and ideas.
We may love to hear a teacher speak, but in the spiritual realm, words and ideas can be misleading. The essence of Zen cannot be expressed with words. Zen is more experiential than intellectual. Words can lead to an intellectual understanding which is really just more yellow leaves. The problem is when we stop here, and donít look deeper.
One might ask: So much for words, for the yellow leaves, how do we find the gold? The way shown by Shakamuni was the practice of sitting meditation, zazen.
In this talk, far more important than who is speaking right now, is who is listening. Zazen is a kind of listening, not with just our ears, but with our whole mind and body.
In the Zazen about to start, letís give ourselves completely to the sounds that occur. The singing birds, the subtle sound of our breathing. In the back of our minds, letís hold as a kind of koan, "How is Buddha hearing this? Where are Buddhaís ears?"
So, letís experience sound now, and "how is Buddha hearing this?"
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