Shohaku Okumura

‘We cannot avoid understanding because we are human beings, and the human brain produces thoughts. This is not our preference, it is our reality. We simply find ourselves living in this world with a thinking brain. Thinking is not a personal choice. It’s as if we are forced or designed to think. And even before I seem to choose a way of thinking, the way I think in general is previously established by my home and educational environment, so the way I think is not really my choice. To think or not to think is therefore not a choice we can make. Even thinking or discriminating is not a product of my discrimination. This ability to discriminate also comes from our life force beyond discrimination; I don’t have the option to not discriminate. But if we are dominated by discrimination, if we think the world created by our discrimination is reality and throw our lives into that world of discrimination, we are in trouble. Yet the ability to discriminate is part of this life beyond discrimination. In reality, for everything we encounter, for all situations and conditions we meet at this moment, “understanding is of no use.” And again, to say this is still an understanding. So our life consists of an infinite number of encounters with “what’s the use of understanding?” ‘ (from the Soto Zen Journal)


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