Koun Yamada

‘Put your questions on the shelf and practice zazen; you’ll get your own answers.’ (Zen: The Authentic Gate)

If I recall correctly from reading this book a few months ago while I was at Tassajara, specifically he is referring to questions that new practitioners have when they enter the temple or monastery. Why do we have to follow the forms? Why do we turn this way and not that way? Why do we bow? Why do we get up so early?
In my early days of practising at Zen Center, I think I had a fair number of these questions; having heard senior teachers saying that ‘why’ questions were not always helpful, I did not articulate many of them, but stuck to carrying out the forms the best I could. In time, as it became less about of doing them right or wrong (always a concern for the beginner), and more about of noticing how they became embodied, I had no questions about them, just a deep appreciation of them. When this is published, I should be in the midst of the Genzo-e, seeing, as I did at Tassajara, how well my body remembers the various intricacies of formal zen practice, and trusting how it does.

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