Issho Fujita

‘There is no other need to reach a certain state of mind as a goal or to attain a special experience. Therefore we are freed from anxiety and frustration which comes from seeking for a special state of mind and experience which we have not yet attained and are able to peacefully rest in the here-and-now as it is, nothing special. There can be no competition or ranking based on what is achieved because there is no fixed attainment target. All those human struggles are totally suspended in zazen. That is why zazen is called the “dharma gate of joyful ease”.’

Issho lived at Zen Center for a few years while I was there, and was a wonderful presence and inspiring teacher. I was reminded recently about his enthusiastic participation in various skits (which I probably have photographic evidence of) – and to me that sums up his manifestation of the essential ease-of-being of a great teacher. His writings are mostly to be found in the Soto Zen journal; someone passed me a 200-page collection of these articles, which I started reading while I was in England.

The first few pieces set out the difference between zazen and shuzen, which might seem a bit esoteric, but which can be summed up in the paragraph above. He points out that Dogen was at pains to establish this difference, and it is no surprise that there is a quote from the Fukanzazengi to illustrate this, but I also noted the phrase ‘a special state of mind’, which immediately made me think of the opening of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mindand Suzuki Roshi’s adherence to, and exposition of, Dogen’s views.

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