Beyond Doctrine….

Rohini Maps and Principles, Reflections, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

When I was studying dance, we always talked about being technically proficient. We all spoke about getting technically flawless, magnificently proficient, in order to let go of technique and finally dance. That was an actual verbalization every single day in the studio: become so technically proficient that you can go beyond technique. We knew that if we wanted to actually dance, we had to master technique. We understood that if we were not technically proficient and we let go, we might dance, but we probably were not going to be onstage. Nobody would want to watch us. If we became technically proficient and studied and put in that rigor, and only afterward let go, we could become true dancers.

And what’s technique? It’s doctrine.

I studied several doctrines as a dancer, and always worked to express each doctrine purely, not tainting it with any other. I made myself a perfect instrument in each language. And then I let go. That’s the whole thing: whether you’re writing, street sweeping, banking, bagging groceries, it doesn’t matter. It’s the same. The technique is the doctrine. If all you’re going to practice is, “Oh, I stand in first position in the middle of the studio, I raise my arms and open them to second position, I bend, I jump, I land, I glide across the floor,” you’re never going to get past the doctrine. “Oh, here is the toothpaste. I open the cap. I have the toothbrush. I squeeze the toothpaste onto the brush. I close the cap. I brush my teeth.” If this is how you operate, you’re never going to be free while dancing or brushing your teeth; you’re only going to be doctrinal. There’s no joy, there’s no life, there’s no anything. You’re at the first level forever. We should be about being conscious and letting go at every moment.

The Sutra of Vimalakirti says, “Real teaching involves no preaching, no giving orders; listening to the teaching involves no hearing and no grasping.”
(Hui-neng, translated by Thomas Cleary)

At the point Hui-neng mentions in that passage, is there a difference between the teacher and the student? No. When we are in the Heart—at that place, and at that moment—we are equal in Love. And I’ll ask a question: who doesn’t want that? Apparently, a lot of people. “I’m not going to do what you tell me to do. I’m an individual in my own right.” Well, good for you. You lose. You don’t get the grand prize.

So what are we doing here? We are working to still all our vibrations so that Love can arise unobscured. That is all we do here. Everything else that happens is meant to bring us each to the point where we choose to still.

You realize that myriad things are empty, and all names and words are temporary setups; constructed with an inherent emptiness, all the verbal expositions explain that all realities are signless and unfabricated, thus guiding deluded people in such a way as to get them to see their original nature and cultivate and realize unsurpassed enlightenment.
(Hui-neng, translated by Thomas Cleary)

Understand that ultimately there is no doctrine. There comes a point where you let go of all the letters and go beyond doctrine, as dancers go beyond technique. Doctrine is the wedge to get rid of the wedge.



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