Shodo Harada

‘Original Nature can be realized if you can just let go of everything. To conceptualize around this is meaningless. While still in our world you must hold onto nothing – not a single thing – but let go of your attachment to every possession, every pain, every plan, every material thing, all of your self-centered opinions, separating yourself from all decoration. When you can truly become that state of mind, this is in itself an astonishing experience, full of great wonder. There is a great joy in this, and it will fill you with gratitude when you realize it for the first time.
This is something that cannot be explained in words. It is like the air around us. Who remembers to be thankful for the air we breathe? We all take it for granted. No one notices the air or thinks to say thank-you to it, but whether we notice it or not, it is always there. Those who do notice know the joy of always being supported by it; they know gratitude and joy with each breath. When one approaches the experience of enlightenment only intellectually, trying to grasp some idea of it with the mind, every day will be filled with dissatisfaction and suffering, because one cannot experience this joy merely by thinking about it.’ (The Path to Bodhidharma)

When reading the first paragraph, you might feel daunted by the prescription: who wants to give up all those things? Although I have not met Harada Roshi, by all accounts he does manifest full and concentrated aliveness, which means I trust what he is talking about, just as I trust those teachers I have met who have gone through the same process. My own intimations of the ‘great wonder’ mean that I will continue on this path, as what seems like a sacrifice is actually a relinquishing of an unnecessary burden.

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