Katagiri Roshi’s Peaceful Life is a very sweet poem that we occasionally chanted at Zen Center for services; its simplicity almost disguises his deep understanding of how practice can transform our limited mind, and bring out our full heart in the way of compassion.
Being told that is impossible
One believes, in despair, “Is that so?”
Being told it is possible,
One believes, in excitement, “That’s right.”
But, whichever is chosen,
It does not fit one’s heart neatly.
Being asked, What is unfitting?”
I don’t know what it is.
But my heart knows somehow.
I feel an irresistible desire to know.
What a mystery “human” is.
As to this mystery:
Knowing how to live,
Knowing how to walk with people,
Demonstrating and teaching,
This is the Buddha.
From my human eyes,
I feel it’s really impossible to become a Buddha.
But this “I,” regarding what the Buddha does,
Vows to practice,
To be resolute,
And tells myself, “Yes I will.”
Just practice right here now,
And achieve continuity,
This is living in vow.
Herein is one’s peaceful life found.