The Blue Cliff Records
Koan 14

A monk asked Ummon, "What is the teaching of the Buddha's lifetime?"
Ummon said, "Preaching facing oneness."

A Zen master delivers a sermon facing an image of the Buddha. Facing the image of the Buddha, a monk is reminded of the nature of the Buddha's accomplishment; therefore this koan is, on its surface, a reminder of the nature of enlightenment.

Enlightenment is perfect understanding, without judgement or ego. As Christmas Humphreys put it, "to expand the heart to Oneness and beyond; such is the meaning of Enlightenment, for the Buddha-Mind is one with the universe..."

One of the taints (asavas) the Buddha discovered during his awakening beneath the Bodhi tree is the addiction to views -- in fact, the holding of any views at all. In overcoming this addiction, the Buddha illustrated the fault's source: the illusion of the ego. In the elimination of the self, the world becomes a unity, as the idea of the perpetual subject and object fades away.

The Buddha also spoke of a mysterious, endless source of energy, of which the material world was an outpouring; deathless, present in all beings, conscious but unable to know itself. In facing oneness, the Buddha began to identify himself by his connection to this source, in which he sought to rest.

Taken another way, the koan is an example of the Mahayana doctrine of the Bodhisattva Ideal. It is not simply saying that one must acknowledge the Buddha's accomplishments and teachings ("facing oneness"), but that he has taught us to preach these lessons.

A Bodhisattva, a figure unique to the Mahayana school of Buddhism, is one who has achieved enlightenment and has the ability to free himself from samsara but who rejects this release in favor of helping others.

In this way, it is a reminder of the value of compassion; the Bodhisattva is reborn not through the pull of bad karma but out of love for all beings and an empathy that draws him back to the world.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.