‘So, what is this zazen practice that we do? It’s not doing zazen. If you believe it’s doing zazen, then practice is just a task, and that task becomes a really big burden for you. That is not a true understanding of practice. Buddhist practice is to constantly create beauty. Beauty is the functioning of wisdom. That’s why Dogen Zenji says that you have to abandon the usual understanding of the form of zazen and touch the heart of zazen. Otherwise you cannot maintain this kind of practice. That’s why I have to explain it and why you have to understand very deeply what practice means. Then, if you understand even slightly, you should keep going. That makes your life mature’ (Each Moment is the Universe)
I believe this is an echo of what Kodo Sawaki was saying yesterday.
‘A diver jumping off the cliff, a mountain climber, an artist, a poet, or a musician creates a beautiful form that manifests the maturity of his or her life. But spiritual life doesn’t have that same sense of performance. So creativity in religion cannot manifest in the same way. Of course you do manifest maturity because, as Dogen says, ‘you cannot avoid detachment from the zazen posture’. But then, next you must be free from that manifestation. In Japanese we say gedatsu, meaning emancipation, or freedom. Moment after moment you must be free from the beautiful form you created, because the moment in which the form existed has already gone, and the next moment is coming up. Life becomes mature, constantly. You cannot stop it, not even for a moment, so you have to keep going. You must keep practicing to create this beauty again and again. This is spiritual creativity.’ (Each Moment is the Universe)
‘When you fully devote yourself to your activity, the moment and you come together, creating a kind of momentum or energy. You and your activity become one, and this refined activity very naturally leads you to forget yourself. In a moment you go beyond the phenomenal world of time and space to the source of time, where your life is calm and stable and your activity is clear and pure. When there is no self-consciousness it is bodhi, enlightenment. Bodhi-mind is freedom. It is the function of mind that is beyond dualistic consciousness. But to arouse bodhi-mind we have to use our discriminating, human mind. In other words, Buddha’s mind is beyond human consciousness, but the only way to find out what it is is through conscious activity. That is why we practice.’ (Each Moment is the Universe)
This is a wonderful and detailed description of a state I hope you know; meditation is a great way to access this, but there are many other such gates as well.
‘Buddha’s abode is not a room in a structure; it is the room of human existence, the great energy of life. When you see the depths of human existence and touch the original life of all beings, very naturally you open your heart to all beings. Buddha’s robe is the symbol of patience. If you want to teach, you have to be right in the middle of human life. To wear the robe is to be in peace, to practice conciliation and tolerance, and to continue under all circumstances. The seat of Buddha is not some fancy platform; it is emptiness, the original nature of being. There is nothing particular you can cling to, you can think, or you can imagine. You just have to be there. Then you can teach.’ (The Light That Shines Through Infinity)
‘If I say, “When you do zazen you become buddha,” that is beautiful, but it is still words, still doctrine, still the moon in the water. Put it aside and just do zazen.’ (Returning to Silence)
Let’s face it, whatever the phrase is, put it aside, and just do zazen. You’ll get into less trouble that way.
‘The Avatamsaka Sutra explains that truth does not exist by itself, separate from phenomena, and phenomena do not exist separate from the truth. Truth and phenomena work together as one. If so, we have to think carefully and look deeply at the reality we live in. As a practical matter, we have to deal with a reality where space and time, unity and multiplicity, equality and discrimination, are interwoven. How can you deal with it? Where can you deal with it? We have to learn this.’ (The Light That Shines Through Infinity)
Note that he does not tell you how to deal with it – you have to learn it for yourself. When I was typing this out, the ‘if so’ in the middle made me chuckle; he doesn’t want to be definitive about this point. How can you deal with that?
‘You can change the structure of time and space. How? You have to manifest time and space that you don’t know within time and space that you do know. This is not only Zen practice – this is practice for everyone. Whatever you do, your body and mind must be flexible. Usually we attach to our own territory of five skandhas, six senses, customs, habits and memories. We trust the moment we see through our six senses, and we don’t trust the unknown sixty-five moments within one moment. But are you sure of your existence, stably and steadfastly? I don’t think so. Your own territory is very shaky. To be sure of your existence with confidence, you have to see yourself doing something in the universe with all myriad beings, not in your individual territory. That is difficult, but you have to do it. You have to realize that point in a practical way.’ (Each Moment is the Universe)
What does that practical way look like to you at this moment?
‘What we call the conscious world is nothing but a provisional picture of the world produced by our dualistic minds. Is there anything wrong with our provisional pictures? I don’t think so. If we think the world is just something imaginary or provisional, it appears to have no value and we become pessimistic. But remember, the conscious world is also time; our provisional pictures are beings in Buddha’s world. So why don’t you try to accept them that way and deal with them as Buddha? Try to see the provisional world reflected in the big mirror of reality, not your egoistic telescope.’ (Each Moment is the Universe)
I suspected that I might have published this paragraph before, and it is indeed the case.
‘Build your house on the foundation of nothing to be gained.’ (The Light That Shines Through Infinity)
‘When you touch your real self, you experience deep communication between you and the object of your practice, whatever it is. Then you can accept something totally and deal with it straightforwardly without creating any gap. So keep your mouth shut, calm your mind, and just be present in the continuous stream of life energy.
The Buddhist understanding of the self or the whole world seems to be abstract, but it is not abstract. You can really see and touch the self. You can learn that the whole world in the ten directions is the light of the self. How? Action! Try to remember this. In the dynamic activity of your practice, something happens that you have never expected. You can learn something great. That is called wisdom.’ (The Light That Shines Through Infinity)
This is Katagiri telling it like it is, no messing around.