Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Having a heart

The Ship of Compassion
               by Miaoshi, from Zen Women

Night rain washes the mountain cliffs, the dawn greens soaked through.
Sitting I meditate on emptiness, as fresh breezes fill the temple.
Words are inherently empty—and yet still I am fond of brush and ink.
My mind like ashes after the fire—and yet still I am tied to the world.
Window bamboo—empty mind; courtyard pine—innate purity.
The trunk of this lofty green tree, neither inherently form nor no-form.
Between bell and fish-drum, I have yet to grasp the essence of Dharma:
Yet I get a whiff of its fragrance—as if I were aboard
      the Ship of Compassion.

I can't find the source for the painting above, saved in my files.  If you know who the artist is, please let me know.

I also found a lovely painting with calligraphy describing compassion at this site, the newsletter of the Dharma Rain Center, though I was not able to copy it here.  The description explaining the calligraphy (below in italics) fascinated me.  I believe compassion is in the heart, and equanimity in the mind.  The word "indifference" is used as a synonym for "equanimity," and probably refers to being indifferent to the outcome.  A buddha gives from the heart, knowing she cannot control the outcome, and so has no ego investment in that outcome.  A good example might be giving money to a panhandler who might say she needs food for her children, but looks like she might use it to buy alcohol or drugs.  The important thing is simply the giving.

"Persimmon," painting and calligraphy by Koso Itabashi Zenji, abbot of Dai Honzan Sojiji. Caption: "compassionate equanimity." "Omoiyari" (compassion) is a Japanese word, and "mukanshin" (indifference, equanimity) is Chinese, making a phrase with contrast. The Japanese is soft, wet and intimate, where as Chinese words sounds more abstract, dry, and formal.

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