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.

2 thoughts on “Shohaku Okumura

  1. Suzuki Roshi said this about thinking, in his 8/23/67 lecture on the Genjo-Koan:

    “…we have to know that everything we see or think is under some limitation. This point should be remembered completely.

    “So don’t be disturbed by the ideas you have in your mind. This does not mean that you can ignore your thinking. Thinking should be systematic and should be right. But even though it is right, that is not complete. And what you think is right is not always actually right. Most people attach to the truth which they understand. The confusion arises from this hasty understanding. This is a very, very important point.”


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