Suzuki Roshi

‘I think most of us study Buddhism like something already given to us. We think what we should do is preserve the Buddha’s teaching, like putting food in the refrigerator. We think that to study Buddhism is to take the food out of the refrigerator. Whenever you want it, it is already there. Instead, Zen students should be interested in how to produce food from the field, from the garden, should put the emphasis on the ground. If you look at the empty garden you won’t see anything, but if you take care of the seed it will come up. The joy of Buddhism is the joy of taking care of the garden.’ (Not Always So)

This is a subtle point to grasp, and I certainly did not get it when I started practising. As I was wondering what to say about it, Dogen’s words from the Bendowa came to mind: ‘Although this inconceivable dharma is abundant in each person, it is not actualized without practice.’ It is our own practice that makes the dharma come alive, not whatever we happen to read about it.

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