The opposites of Huineng

An article from White Lotus Judith Ragir

I often mention the 8 worldly winds and these 4 pairs of opposites.

  1. Pleasure and pain
  2. Gain and loss
  3. Success and failure
  4. Praise and criticism

Much of my practice when seeing the discriminating world, in so-called ordinary life, is to cultivate the equanimity that can receive either side of the 8 worldly winds with total acceptance of the karmic arising of the moment. This arising, whether on the positive side or what we ordinarily classify as the negative side, is the vitality of this moment. Is Buddha itself. Where does each functioning of the moment come from? It comes from our essential nature. What is it that thus comes? I have often used the phrase: May I accept failure. Or May I be at peace with the ups and downs of life, to help me reorient my mind of “picking and choosing.”

I ran across more categories of opposites in rereading the Sutra of Huineng in the Cleary translation (on page 71).

Huineng said, “If you know how to apply these 36 pairs, this is the Way, pervading all the teachings of the scriptures. Exiting and entering, merging and detaching, on both sides, inherent nature actively functions.”

“When you talk with people, outwardly be unattached to appearances while in the midst of appearances; inwardly be unattached to emptiness while in the midst of emptiness. If you totally fixate on appearances, then you increase false views; if you totally cling to emptiness, then you increase ignorance.”

The 36 opposites from Huineng:

In the external world of relative objects:

  1. Sky and earth
  2. Sun and moon
  3. Light and dark
  4. Yin and yang
  5. Water and fire

In characteristics of phenomena and language, there are 12 pairs of opposites:

  1. Words and things
  2. Being and nonbeing
  3. Physical and nonphysical
  4. Perceptible and imperceptible
  5. Contaminated and uncontaminated
  6. Matter and emptiness
  7. Motion and stillness
  8. Purity and pollution
  9. Ordinary and holy
  10. Clergy and lay
  11. Old and young
  12. Great and small

Our essential nature produces functions in nineteen pairs of opposites:

  1. Strengths and weaknesses
  2. Perversion and rectitude
  3. Ignorance and insight,
  4. Folly and wisdom
  5. Disorder and stability
  6. Kindness and viciousness
  7. Morality and wrongdoing
  8. Honesty and crookedness
  9. Truth and falsehood
  10. Bias and fairness
  11. Affliction and malevolence
  12. Permanence and impermanence
  13. Compassion and malevolence
  14. Delight and anger
  15. Generosity and stinginess
  16. Progress and regression
  17. Origination and destruction
  18. Reality body and the physical body
  19. Projection body and the reward body

Can we possible have the fluidity of a pearl in a bowl?  The pearl moves without resistance along the sides of the bowl following the movement of the bowl. Can I radically accept the moment as it is? All the while, my reaction to the moment tries to plant wholesome seeds for the future. Even the smallest mustard seed of patience will do.

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Otomo

Non-aligned Zen Teacher currently living in Las Vegas, Nevada USA Youtube Channel Website

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