Shohaku Okumura

‘Our practice is not a means to get rid of delusive thoughts. Being mindful of true reality is not a method to eliminate delusions. In fact, when we sit in zazen, we sit squarely within the reality before the separation of delusion and enlightenment. We usually think of ourselves as deluded human beings and of buddhas as enlightened beings. We imagine that our practice is a method to transform a deluded being into an enlightened one by removing delusion. This idea is itself dualistic and contrary to the reality before separation.

So should we give up practice and pursue our delusions? No, what we must do is sit in zazen and let go of all dualistic ideas. In doing so, true reality manifests itself. Delusion and enlightenment are both here.

Neither is negated or affirmed; neither is grasped. We sit on the ground of letting go. This is the meaning of Dogen Zenji’s expression “Practice and enlightenment are one.” There is no state to be attained other than our practice of letting go. We practice within delusions and manifest enlightenment through sitting practice and day-to-day activities based on zazen. These practices enable us to settle our whole existence on that ground.’ (Living By Vow)

It takes a long time, in my experience to accept this, but doing so is the key to practice.

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