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deci belle

Dongshan's Question

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Dongshan and the Teaching of Suchness

Taigen Dan Leighton


The story of his first meeting with his teacher Yunyan involves Dongshan's questioning as to whether non-sentient beings could expound the Dharma. The story, as presented in Dongshan's Recorded Sayings, is extensive and rather elaborate, and is distinctive and even eccentric in how it emphasizes the issues of the nature of Dharma, or reality, and the strategies for conveying it.


The story can be summarized as follows. Dongshan first inquired about this question with the great teacher Guishan Lingyou (771-853), who was to be considered founder of one of the other five houses of Chan. Dongshan repeated to Guishan a story he had heard about a lengthy exchange with a student by National Teacher Nanyang Huizhong (d. 776), who maintained that non-sentient beings did indeed expound the Dharma, constantly, radiantly, and unceasingly.


Huizhong states, perhaps ironically, that fortunately he himself cannot hear the non-sentient beings expounding, because otherwise the student could not hear his teaching. The National Teacher provides a scriptural source for the expounding by non-sentient beings from the Avataµsaka Sûtra (Flower Ornament; Chinese: Huayan), citing the passage, "The earth expounds Dharma, living beings expound it, throughout the three times, everything expounds it."


After narrating this story, Dongshan asked Guishan to comment, and Guishan raised his fly-whisk. When Dongshan failed to understand and asked for further explanation, Guishan averred that, "It can never be explained to you by means of one born of mother and father." Dongshan would later refer to such non-explanation with appreciation. Guishan finally suggested that Dongshan visit Yunyan for further illumination on this question.


When Dongshan finally arrived at Yunyan after leaving Guishan he asked who was able to hear the Dharma expounded by non-sentient beings. Yunyan said that "Non-sentient begins are able to hear it." When asked if Yunyan could hear it, he told Dongshan that if he could, then Dongshan could not hear him. Then Dongshan asked why he could not hear it. Yunyan raised his fly-whisk, and then asked if Dongshan heard it yet. When Dongshan replied that he could not, Yunyan said, "You can't even hear when I expound the Dharma; how do you expect to hear when a non-sentient being expounds the Dharma?"


Dongshan then composed this verse:


How marvelous! How marvelous!

The Dharma expounded by non-sentient begins is inconceivable.
Listening with your ears, no sound.
Hearing with your eyes, you directly understand.


"It is not reached by feelings or consciousness, how could it involve deliberation?" —from Dongshan's The Jewel Mirror Samadhi.




ed note: add last quote of Dongshan's and made title possesive

Edited by deci belle

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For what can be the way has been already found;

The moss always finds the dampness of the rocks.


Let us believe that it is so and in the surety of this facility.


For what will be there is yielding dirt that forms mound;

The earth always finds both a low and high spot.


Let us accept that the earth is not always serendipity.


For what should be there is already waiting ground;

The springs always tend river water for the flocks.


Let us agree that this is just and subsist in humility.


In what the earth does there is surety and order.

If only man knew, that to an insect he is smaller.

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Thanks youz for posting, you guys❤❤



Nestentrie brought up agreement and humility. By the way, that is a wonderful bit of writing on examples of (mostly) insentience expounding the Dharma.


There is another kind of insentience that is the function within the relative by impersonal means which, while agreeing with the characteristics of phenomena (as moss and earth do by way of the humility of emptiness of self as described in the poem), therein is something to discover by abiding in terms of the real (as illustrated by moss finding the moisture, earth naturally accruing high and low, and space being essentially the knowing readiness for potential.


All this is relative insentience expounding the selfless Dharma. This is not beyond one's essential nature.


What is missed by the vast majority is that this essential nature is what makes it possible to enter fully into the way of selfless potential no different than moss and earth and space do naturally, impersonally and unknowingly.


This is what the ancients knew and this is the knowledge that the enlightening classics impart if one forgets the needs of the intellectual apparatus by assuming the virtue of insentient awareness as a matter of course in everyday ordinary situations.


When I say a humility of emptiness of self, it is not a moralistic reference in the parabolic sense at all.


It is the effect of not having a sense of self-consciousness, nor instilling co-responsitivity of self-conscious otherness in terms of situations, that is the working context of the term, emptiness of self.


It is just an arbitrary grasping and twisting by the intellectual apparatus upon hearing such transcendental terminology that destroys any potential for those so inflicted with the disease of literalism, and perpetuates the hackneyed (subconscious and unconscious) responses that kill the potential for enlightening self-refinement in the ignorant.


Humility and agreement do not refer to the person (though it is fine if the writer of the poem meant it that way). Humility and agreement is the way to describe the functional unity of selfless creation.


Moss and earth have no-mind, and people have this no-mind too. There is only one mind, not two. No-mind is the true mind, no different in buddhas and ignoramuses.


Those that learn to function readily by virtue of no-mind in difficulty and ease become buddhas.


The effect of self AND other aren't so much removed by nonpsychological awareness in the midst of ordinary affairs, as much as it is awareness itself which is not moving, so conditions (which exist by karmic momentum) are neutralized, sublimated within nondifferentiation in the subtle operation of enlightening activity as it is called reversal of the light or turning the light around.


Awareness never having moved is no-mind. This is not the same as the mindlessness of moss and earth, yet it is not different. Why? Awareness is the essence of unity, impersonally aware.


Life has never had its beginning; awareness only knows no-mind. Who can revert to this?


No one has ever stopped awareness. Awareness itself has never moved. There is nothing to it, as well as nothing inside or outside the totality of reality. Where could unity itself move? This is the uncreate. I keep saying it is your own mind right now… because it is. Seeing essence is seeing just this. Right now, it is not some other reality. Just this much is reality as is before your own eyes right now.


What is it?





ed note: add everything below the heavy hearts; change "of" to "by" in 8th paragraph's 1st line; typo in penultimate sentence

Edited by deci belle
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haha are you trying to get them to understand unity gain as applied to the focus of awareness :D




Question: What is Unity Gain?
A reader writes: "I keep hearing about the idea of "unity gain" when talking about microphone preamps and my recording mixer. What is unity gain, and how does it help?"

Answer: When we talk about "gain", we're talking about one device's ability to take the lower level of one signal and bring it to a higher voltage level. A great example of this is a microphone preamp; a preamp applies gain to amplify the signal coming from a microphone.

In the idea of unity gain, the input and the output between two devices are the same level. That's to say, when a microphone is outputting 0db, a mixer will also be outputting 0db worth of signal. Unity gain is established by calibrating two pieces of equipment to talk at the same level.

Frequently, the best way to set unity gain is to adjust a microphone or line signal gain to 0db, measured both at the preamp and output stage, and then match that 0db level simultaneously on the input of the second piece of equipment -- whether an amplifier, recording software, or mixer.

Unity gain is useful for several reasons. First, it gives significantly cleaner and non-distorted signal. Microphones will sound much fuller and with much better dynamic range. There will also be a much easier time applying outboard effects, as most effects units are set to accept a unity signal.

If you're mixing sound live, getting proper gain staging is important. You'll also nearly eliminate major feedback problems, as a proper unity gain allows optimal gain-before-feedback. Keep in mind, the more gain you can get cleanly and without distortion, the better your mixes will sound!



with proper gain staging, each signal stage is at its proper balance of wu wei, acting to its correct extent, yielding the clearest reproduction of the vibrations, with an optimal signal to noise ratio :D


perfect balance of agreement and humility :)


in order to produce a good recording, each instrument needs this balance of agreement and humility, at each stage of the signal chain - and also at the EQualization end too, notching this instrument here, bumping it there, a mix of which keeps them from sonically stepping on each other's toes...


arrangement, tonifying desired signal. humility, not overusing any particular point in the chain of processing - everything has its duration and extent - use a particular ingredient too much and it invariably sounds crappy in some fashion :lol:


all applies to cultivation :)

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unity gain implies impedance matching ;)


Yes but...


Gain can be manipulated independent of interface impedances if a component is treated as a black-box. Unity gain doesn't necessarily imply lossless signalling.

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Black boxes are all well and good in terms of subtle operation, but concerning the matter of frequency filtering~ virtue is a decade box!!


I left my heart in San Magnetisco… well, somewhere in Marin❤


After narrating this story, Dongshan asked Guishan to comment, and Guishan raised his fly-whisk.



Yunyan raised his fly-whisk, and then asked if Dongshan heard it yet.


I like it when Brian Setzer swings his Gretch past his blonde's 212 to spike a li'l feedback for the hell-of-it!!




ed note: add responses of both Guishan and Yunyan to Donshan's question.

Edited by deci belle
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