‘Once someone asked: “Suppose a student, hearing it taught that he himself is the Buddhadharma and that one must not seek it outside, should acquire great faith in these words, abandon the practice, study under a teacher that had occupied him until then, and spend his life doing both good and bad in accordance with his own inclinations. What would you think of this?”
Dogen instructed: “This view fails to match the words with their meaning. To say, ‘Do not seek the Buddhadharma outside,’ and then to cast aside practice and study, implies that one is seeking by the very act of casting aside. This is not true to the fact that practice and study are both inherently the Buddhadharma. If, without seeking anything, you detach yourself from worldly affairs and evil actions, even though they may attract you; if, even though you may not feel like practice and study , you carry it out anyway; if you practice wholeheartedly with this attitude and still gain the good rewards – then the very fact that you have practiced seeking nothing for yourself accords with the principle of ‘not seeking the Buddhadharma on the outside.’
“When Nan-yueh made his remark about no trying to polish a piece of tile to make a mirror, he was warning his disciple Ma-tsu against striving to become a Buddha by practising zazen. He was not trying to proscribe zazen itself. Zazen is the practice of the Buddha. Zazen is the ultimate practice. This is indeed the True Self. The Buddhadharma is not to be sought outside of this.”‘ (Shobogenzo Zuimonki)
I thought I might follow the example of British television in this week of Christmas, by having a series of repeats. This is partly caused by not having the free time I would like to be able to peruse and select new pieces to offer, but also because I sometimes look back in the archive, and am usually captured afresh by the words I find there. Here is Dogen being quite clear about what practice means.