Konda Mason

‘The more I practice, the more I see that my liberation is right here, within myself. My lack of liberation is right here. There are a lot of things that can help in society, but my being trapped is inside myself. What mindfulness has done is show me where I’m tripping myself up. It shows me where I am telling myself all these stories and how I’m living a life that is sabotaging my own liberation.

As I go deeper into the dharma, I see that path, I see that light, and I touch it. For me, it is a practical methodology and psychology that can liberate our heart and our mind. After that, it’s about co-liberation. It’s not just my liberation. It’s about our liberation. What I can see in myself, I can see in you. It’s a relational practice.’ (from Lion’s Roar)

Issho Fujita

‘Buddhism teaches that we human beings cannot be fully satisfied after all, however hard we strive for it. I think that is the true meaning of the word dukkha in Sanskrit which is the first truth of Four Noble Truths. This word is often translated as “suffering” but it should be understood as a description of the fundamental fact in life that it is impossible for us to get ultimate satisfaction in this transient world.

When this feeling of unsatisfactoriness is driving us, we are never able to be settled and rest in peace and relaxation at the bottom of our heart. We need to let go of our deep-rooted tendency to look for exciting experiences to fill up the empty feelings of unsatisfactoriness or to try to distract ourselves from confronting unsatisfactoriness by indulging in all kinds of diversions. And we also need to settle down to unsatisfactoriness itself without trying to change it. To do zazen, we should clearly and deeply admit that there is no other way to authentic peace and just sit down with unsatisfactoriness.’ (from the Soto Zen Journal)

But of course we find that too unsatisfying!

Suzuki Roshi

‘Buddha’s practice goes first. Our practice goes.
We say, “our practice,” but it is actually Buddha’s practice. We should know this point. This is the key point of our practice.
I don’t know how many people want to practice zazen, but as long as their practice [is] involving personal practice, it is not true practice. If we practice selfish personal practice, it means that we are accumulating our karma more and more instead of releasing our previous karma.
Because of many bad choice–things you accumulated in previous life–you are right here and practicing under [Sotan Ryosen] Tatsugami Roshi. In spite of his difficult situation, Tatsugami Roshi is here.
Again, when Buddha’s practice goes first, real practice will be ours.
The more you know what is practice, the greater your practice will become.
We must be very, very grateful to join this practice–day by day, moment after moment.
Sorry to disturb your practice.’ (from the Suzuki Roshi archives)

Menzan Zuiho

‘The one-mind which manifests either as thought (unen) or no-thought (munen) must be something which is beyond these conditions. It must be the light which illuminates everywhere and is never clouded. As soon as you become clearly aware of this light, you will be released from the limitation of delusory thoughts, and the buddha’s wisdom will be realized. This is called the wondrous mind of nirvana. This is nothing other than Self-Enjoyment Samadhi. Shakyamuni’s six years of sitting, Bodhidharma’s nine years of facing the wall, Chan Master Tiantong Rujing’s “just sitting” (shikantaza) are all examples of the practice-enlightenment of this samadhi.’ (Jijuyu Zammai)

Another text from my archive, which also illuminates Dogen’s line.

Shohaku Okumura

‘When we are sitting, we do not follow our thoughts, nor do we stop them.  We just let them come and go freely.  We cannot call it thinking because the thoughts are not grasped.  If we simply peruse our thoughts, it is just thinking; it is not zazen.  We cannot call zazen not-thinking either, because thoughts are coming and going like clouds floating in the sky. When we are sitting, our brain does not stop functioning, just as our stomach is always digesting.  Sometimes our minds are busy; sometimes our minds are calm.  Just sitting, without being concerned with the conditions of our mind, is the most important point in zazen.  When we sit in this way, we are one with Reality, which is beyond thinking.  To say it another way, Reality manifests itself through our body and mind.’ (notes on Fukanzazengi)

Perhaps the best explanation of Dogen’s brain-bending lines, “Think of not thinking. How do you think of not thinking? Non-thinking.” Hopefully we will not be thinking too hard in the last of the Bendowa classes tonight.

Tara Brach

‘There is something wonderfully bold and liberating about saying yes to our entire imperfect and messy life. With even a glimmer of that possibility, joy rushes in.’ (Radical Acceptance)

This feels like one of those statements that someone might scratch their head and wonder how it could possibly happen, and an experience practitioner will nod their head and know that it does.

Koun Ejo

‘To inhale or to exhale, to listen or to touch, being without thoughts and discrimination is nothing other than the tranquil illumination of the Light in which body and mind are one.  Therefore, when someone calls, you answer.  This is the Light in which ordinary people and sages, the deluded and the enlightened, are one’ (Komyozo-Zanmai)

Kodo Sawaki

‘This here and now cannot be imitated. So create the present from your true self, the one which pours out unceasingly, free and unhindered, without thoughts, without mind – hishiryo.
However, through illusion and discrimination, some people imitate last year, and the years before, and run their life with old calendars.’

I do like this quote, though I don’t think anyone living through the current time would confuse it with last year…

Sekkei Harada

‘All human problems, as well as the problems of the universe, come from ways of thinking based on the assumption of the existence of a person or a self. Not understanding something, as well as wondering what will happen in the future, are also ways of thinking predicated upon the existence of a person or the positing of a self. There is no way that these ways of thinking can lead to a solution. Essentially, no self exists, and to think that it does is a mistake. Every thought that takes its stand atop a mistake is defective.’ (Unfathomable Depths)

Dovetailing nicely with yesterday’s post.