HOW TO GROW A LOTUS BLOSSOM: Reflections in a Disciple's Life

by Rev. Koshin Schomberg

Section XXX
Innate Wisdom

Living in the world yet not forming attachments to the dust of the world is the way of a true Zen student. . . .
Live with cause and leave results to the great law of the universe. Pass each day in peaceful contemplation.

Zen Master Zengetsu
--quoted in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, by Nyogen Senzaki and Paul Reps

Wisdom and Knowledge

Wisdom is innate within our wonderful True Nature. This wisdom manifests in our experience whenever greed, hate and delusion are sufficiently out of the way.

This way of understanding the essential nature of wisdom illuminates the deep meaning of the Precepts and meditation. When we train in the Precepts, we refrain from indulging the attitudes that blind us to innate wisdom. When we meditate, we relax into our True Nature in perfect faith, and innate wisdom has a chance to get a word in edgeways. When Preceptual training and contemplative training are harmoniously wed to one another, so that they function as two aspects of one movement of the heart, innate wisdom can manifest unimpeded within the life of the trainee.

Knowledge is acquired; innate wisdom is not. When we get out of the way of innate wisdom, there it is in all its simplicity and profundity. We did not bring it into existence: all we did was stop making clouds in a clear sky.

Knowledge about external things is not wisdom. Wisdom, however, can make use of knowledge about external things. Much of what passes for knowledge is really half-baked opinion or ideology, and wisdom bypasses such unsound ideas.--How? Very simply, they do not "sit right" in spiritual intuition.

The head that does not allow itself to be guided by spiritual intuition can have every appearance of brilliant intelligence and yet in reality be utterly lost with regard to all that truly matters in life. Conversely, the life of a person who knows that he or she knows nothing can be an excellent vehicle for the expression of wisdom.

Unquenchable Optimism

Within innate wisdom there is an unquenchable optimism, an optimism based in the true character of reality rather than in a belief that external circumstances are going to end up in some configuration that accords with our desires. What is this "true character of reality?"--To put it very simply, all conditions, all circumstances, all mental, physical and emotional states are good grist for the mill of meditation. Or, to put it another way, there is such a thing as genuine spiritual conversion. Here is yet another way of saying the same thing: The Eternal always has the last word.

Thus even when we find ourselves in a state that seems remote from the spiritual harmony of which I have written above, the very spiritual disharmony that we are experiencing constitutes the potential for the re-establishment of harmony--perhaps on a deeper level than ever before.

For me, the example of my own master's training, especially during the great kensho described in How to Grow a Lotus Blossom, always comes to mind as the embodiment of the unquenchable optimism that exists within innate wisdom. However great, however painful, the darkness might be, Rev. Master always chose to turn within in meditation and allow the Eternal to help her in her spiritual need. This I saw her do again and again. And this she taught her disciples how to do.

Innate wisdom always homes in on that Good that at one and the same time lies at the heart of all existence and transcends all worldly care. We are born, live and die with‌in that Good, and It constitutes the very core of our being. We can turn to It in pure meditation even in the midst of the greatest spiritual darkness. The capacity to do this is innate, not acquired. The results of doing it speak for themselves.


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