This week at the sitting with the Toronto Zen Community, the teisho was the “Master Ma is ill”. Hekiganroku Case 3, Sun-faced Buddha, Moon-faced Buddha. I was almost moved to tears. A little about what is going on for me. I have occasional bouts of depression that are very physical. I ache all over and it seems that sad facts stick to me like tissue paper does to polyester when the air is too dry. This trek to “the dark mountain” has been accompanied by various concerns and the coldest winter on record. I have succumbed to this state where I plod through my day as the winds of too much thinking and too much pain swirl around accompanied by Winston Churchill’s Black Dogs barking and Hannibal Hector’s favourite play list.
Now when I say “almost moved to tears” I need to say, we sit in Zazen during the teisho, neither looking left or right, eyes partially open and not focused on anything in particular. The posture of Zazen is not severe, it is pliant and strong and ultimately the best way to be present and avoid sinking into the mutterings of rumination. Tears are not usual but not a problem while sitting. You just let them fall without concern. They often are followed by a a clarity that is very, very good, and if nothing else, I can blow my nose and clear my sinus!
So, What is “Sun Faced Buddha”? What, or who is “Moon Faced Buddha”? Things get very simple when you are in pain. There is no separation between the day and night. One Buddha might live a long, long time, another, only a very short time. But Buddha arises, from where we sit on this ball speeding through the cosmos?
Free from suffering, each sits up as Buddha.
It is not about not feeling, not thinking. You don’t “Zen out”. It allows me to realize a context larger than that which can perpetually obsess one. For this I do Zazen. Not to escape or mellow out, but to be open, to be unafraid, to be helped up with Sun Faced Buddha, Moon Faced Buddha, as I am pitched two and fro in this little boat on this vast ocean that is life.