Katagiri Roshi

‘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)

Katagiri Roshi

‘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.

Katagiri Roshi

‘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?

Katagiri Roshi

‘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?

Katagiri Roshi

‘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.

 

Katagiri Roshi

‘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.

Katagiri Roshi

‘Consciousness exists only within your living activity. So if you want to understand your human consciousness, you have to do something. That is Zen practice. You practice letting your body and mind go deeper and deeper, back down the twelve links of causation, just passing them by one by one, until finally, at the bottom of the third link, you reach alayavijnana and directly experience the flowing energy of universal life, the constant movement of life itself. Then you can understand what human consciousness really is.’ (The Light That Shines Through Infinity)

Following on from the previous post.

Katagiri Roshi

‘The human mind doesn’t have its own particular form; it is a state of being that appears only when you do something. That temporary state of being is based on interdependence with all sentient beings, so it is constantly moving and changing. That’s why any psychological explanation is very complicated.
If you see that movement and change in terms of phenomenal existence, it is provisionally called consciousness, but human consciousness is nothing but the functioning of impermanence and interdependent co-origination. It is just transiency and interconnection, movement and change itself. You cannot pin it down as something fixed, so philosophically speaking, we say it is empty. This is the human mind according to Buddhist psychology.’ (The Light That Shines Through Infinity)