The Winter Sesshin is
over, but no one has forgotten the excitement, which took hold of everyone when
Master Deshimaru announced that 1982 would be the year for the "Return to
Zero," the year for a new vision. First in the dojo (during kusen), and
then during two meetings at the château, Master Deshimaru announced it clearly:
He came to France (fifteen
years ago already) [thirty now], to bring to the West a wisdom so profound that
it could re-establish balance to a world torn apart by its contradictions.
Clearly the key to this wisdom is zazen, this unique method for knowledge of the
self and control of the ego. This seed has been planted. And now his disciples
are many, and their practice is strong. So because of this, and as the world is
in need, and as this action is the vocation of true religion, that we should,
from this point on, enlarge our practice and turn ourselves towards the world
outside the Sangha.
what Master Deshimaru told us: The conscious and the non-conscious, the
left-brain and the right brain, the hypothalamus and the cortex are in
contradiction. From there flow all the ills from which our civilization
suffers-just as much illness of the body-mind as social and economic conflict.
Governments, philosophies, modern education, religions (ancient and modern) are
mistaken. On the other hand, the most recent conclusions of science (on the
close relationship between mind and matter, and the functioning of the brain) go
in the same direction as true religion. Since in the past socioeconomic power
and science were in league to oppress religion, it is fitting that science and
religion now ally themselves together to correct the errors of the world
leaders. True religion is meditation, and zazen is the highest expression of it.
Zazen is the only method, which allows the practical resolution of all
contradiction, the harmonization of the left-brain and the right brain, man and
cosmos, God and each individual. Zazen is the source of religion, but also the
main principle, the essence, of ecology. Zazen realizes the unity of microcosm
This is why we who have
access to this source, we who know Hishiryo, are the only ones who have the
perspective and the wisdom necessary to see clearly the errors of our time and
formulate the principles which will allow for transformation. "It is
necessary to find a new principle for humanity. Our group can do it, because we
truly have the ability to return to the normal condition."
Disciples have reacted
strongly and in very diverse ways. We were all prepared to take this turn and
were waiting for it more or less impatiently. But when Master Deshimaru
announced to us that the moment had come, that we were going to do it, here and
now, this shocked us as much as would the most masterly "Kwatz!"
One can roughly classify
the reactions of his disciples into three basic attitudes: those who fear and
lack confidence in themselves, those who refuse to leave the fortress of their
zazen, and those who are too enthusiastic and want to dash off in all directions
at once. To harmonize all these positions and determine the correct attitude the
disciples met together at the château with Master Deshimaru.
To those who hesitated,
Master Deshimaru answered with, "No fear!" "Those who want to
fulfill a mission must have confidence in themselves to give, pass on the flame.
If your flame is strong all the world will be influenced by it. Where the hearth
is strong, this will shine. . . You must have confidence and have a strong
conviction. I understand that zazen is difficult to spread. It is necessary to
reflect on this: What is the authentic religion? What is true God? All the world
today is seeking a true philosophy, a true religion. . . Everyone has their
limited personality. And responsibility is linked to personality. So those who
develop this and teach must create a new method (though without resorting to
categorical thinking). You must use your own capacities, in a continuous effort,
and observe your errors to correct them. You must create and at the same time
follow my teaching. If you have confidence in yourself, this will be easy. If
you hesitate, this will be difficult. But if you have a strong and authentic
vocation, everything will be possible for you." So we should have
confidence in ourselves; our strength is in our practice. From the wisdom it
gives to us we must create, without fear.
Other disciples think that
zazen is enough in itself. Zazen erases all contradiction and the mind quiets,
so why do anything else? This attitude is also mistaken, for it only sees a
single side. Of course, true religion is the return to original unity. Through
zazen, we do nothing more than become one with the universal order and all
existence. The energy of the cosmos flows freely in us, and our zazen influences
the entire universe. But Master Deshimaru reminds us that true religion always
has two dimensions. Through the correct practice, man resorts in himself and
accedes to the ocean of universal ki. But balance requires a counterpart, the
descending dimension. The strength and the wisdom, which we draw on in zazen,
does not belong to us. We must redistribute it around us, in helping humanity.
Ku is the zero point to which it is necessary to constantly return, but from
there we must create. "Helping others is an instinct, this is true
religion. We must now, through zazen, create an effective action for the world.
To seek satori for yourself, that's alright, but we are not alone and Mahayana
must help the entire world. We must ask ourselves, how to use Zen? How to help
the world? We must create a world of peace, a world without war. How to stop the
flow of weapons? How to create a new civilization? How to redistribute the
wealth? It is necessary to create a world without borders. This is the
conclusion: A single world, a single family."
In fact, all disciples
were waiting for this hour. Everyone understands that now is the time to enlarge
the horizon of the Sangha and to direct our energies outward. The general
reaction was enthusiastic. But with this as well, it is important not to make
mistakes. Our strength is zazen. We should avoid dispersing ourselves too much
and loosing that source. Our language is that of true religion, we should not
enlist ourselves in league with movements that often have too narrow a vision.
It is not a question of lancing campaigns in all directions and putting
ourselves in the train of the innumerable already existing movements for peace.
As Master Deshimaru often
says, discussions only serve to disperse energy. Rather than intervene in all
the conferences, all the debates, all the meetings, it is necessary to reinforce
our practice and to deepen the teaching. And from there, we will create a
correct and effective movement, which will attract a larger audience. We must
act on the world, but not lose the view of our primary objective: to promote the
consciousness of zazen. "Surely many will want to help us. We must continue
zazen, this is the most important thing. Few do zazen, only holy people, the
true elite. But if we succeed in promoting this movement, surely people will
In the course of
discussions, which have animated these meetings, several important points were
·We must not diffuse
recycled ideas. We need new, fresh ideas. So we must find a language designed
for a larger public beyond the Sangha, and translate the deep concepts of Zen
into a living, striking language, accessible to all.
·The value of example
plays an important role. Everyone should carry themselves as authentic disciples
everywhere they go. It is also in this way that the influence of Zen can carry
over to the family and the rest of society.
·Master Deshimaru asks
his disciples to shine over the world, to send out, throughout society, the
teaching they have received from him. Each disciple should become a missionary.
We must train ourselves to speak in public, give conferences, write. All the
Sangha must participate, all disciples must become educators.
Three weeks have passed
since the Winter Sesshin, and the campaign has already progressed. More than
fifty letters have been received from disciples in the provinces and in other
countries. We have read them and a committee will meet to draw up a reference
text from these. This will be widely distributed and will serve as a basis for
conferences or more specialized articles destined towards particular
socio-professional groups. After this reflection, we will draw up letters
addressed to key leaders in society. We also plan on an media campaign. The
committee has decided to enlarge the conferences and have the largest possible
number of disciples participate. It has also decided on a transformation of the
Zen bulletin so that all subjects that concern us can be better explored.
We find ourselves at a
turning point in the history of humanity. "Throughout the tradition of Zen
Masters, the key point, the common point, is the practice of zazen and the
abandon of the ego. But the world changes, and the conditions of life are
different today. It is necessary to reestablish the unique conception of the
world that Zen offers."
The great strength of Zen
is its vitality, its living spirit. This was transported from India to China and
from China to Japan. Now it is in Europe. It is up to us to make it flourish.
New actions for a new era. The Sangha exists and functions, but the larger
organization that will allow us to spread our wisdom does not yet exist. It is
up to us, all the disciples, to create and promote it.
Zen is not a science; Zen
is not a relative truth-it is absolute truth. It deals only with the whole, and
makes no separation between time, space and matter in the mind.
It is not a means of external knowledge, but is turned within. It turns our gaze in towards ourselves, allowing unlimited wisdom to emerge. This kind of wisdom is infinite, completely free. Total wisdom and total freedom.
Academic learning and philosophy are in the realm of limited wisdom. Zen wisdom is prajña: limitless, transcendental wisdom, the wisdom of Buddhahood. Everyone can achieve it through the practice of zazen. That is why the practice of zazen is important and necessary.
In the Shobogenzo, Master Dogen wrote,
Beyond the visible universe, the absolute mind of all Buddhas and masters is only zazen. Zazen is the gateway to Buddhism.
Some people have asked me, "Why do you practice zazen? What is the object of zazen?" And I answer: Zazen has no object, it is purposeless, it brings us back to ourselves.
Everything has an object. Anyone who acts, eats, drinks, listens to music or performs any action has an object of which he or she is the subject. But zazen has no object and no subject, it is only union with the absolute self.
What matters is practicing zazen, not thinking about zazen. If you make the gestures and assume the expressions of an angry man you will become angry. If you assume the posture of wisdom you will become wise. If you make the gestures of reverence, the heart follows.
You must not just listen, you must put into practice. Philosophy should arise out of experience. The same is true of judo and the sword, aikido and archery.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of posture, as established by Master Dogen, for true Zen.
When a radio or television set is not perfectly tuned the images and sounds are blurred and inaudible. But when the set is properly tuned they are clear and perfectly perceptible.
Zazen is the fine-tuning of our age. It harmonizes us with the infinite, it returns us to the order of the universe.
Theological and spiritual
speeches and theories (which exist as much in Buddhism as in Christianity)
express nothing more than a total loss of wisdom.
There are no fewer than
15,000 existing sutras. Certain masters boast about the number of sutras they've
read or even reread. These people are crazy. Reading just a third of all these
sutras is largely sufficient. Even that's difficult.
Hearing them count their
sutras, you'd think you were in a bank or in a company during their
profitability review. If a bank employee counts thousands of francs every day,
he is not going to get a raise at the end of the month as a consequence.
Accumulating large quantities of sutras is no more effective. When it comes to
true Buddhism, if you have deep understanding of the Hannya Shingyo, that's
Nowadays, government and
educational leaders base everything on intellect and rationalism. Intuition,
being in harmony with the cosmic order and the meaning of real values have been
lost. Either robotic, heartless logic governs the world, or there is too much
piety, too much leniency, and too much indulgence. We have completely lost the
sense of the right path, the right practice.
In Zen, there's the
expression furyumonji. Fu: negation; ryu: hold on to; mon: words; ji: writings.
"Don't depend on words and writings." Don't rely on anything, don't
depend on anything. Here and now, you are Buddha or God.
The insane don't know
they're insane. In the same way, you don't know that you're God or Buddha. You
can only understand this from within yourself, not from outside. You are aware
of the fundamental cosmic power. You make yourself aware of yourself. You
unconsciously understand your own inner nature. Dogen criticized teachers who
sought awareness and satori outside themselves. This can only lead to idolatry
and other similar heresies.
Statues are important for
ceremonies and rituals. However, you must not consider a statue of Buddha as the
real Buddha. There's no objective Buddha or outside God on the other side. There
is a subjective Buddha or God inside of ourselves.
We are not born, nor do we
die. If we never felt doubt, it wouldn't be necessary to have satori. Complete
understanding with the entire body is objective satori. The essence of Buddha's
teaching explains that you don't have to think about where you were born or
where you go when you die. The past and the future are not important. The true
Buddha is there, inside yourself, close by.
Everyone thinks about
their life in the future and what it will be like. They cut themselves off from
the reality of their present life. What is real in our lives? Existence is here
and now. The past and future do not exist now, but the present moment includes
the past and future.
Our lives are not just
material. They have no form. They don't exist in a set place. They freely evolve
everywhere. They are not attached to a place or a period of time. They are an
existence which goes beyond time and space.
Real life exists, but
sometimes it doesn't exist. It goes beyond our common sense and thought. Neither
material, science, intellect, nor economics can grasp it.
Your zazen doesn't permit
any language, only silence. It doesn't allow assumptions, only (surprisingly
If we practice zazen, the
true ego penetrates into every part of the cosmos and the individual ego can
relate to cosmic truth. It can follow the cosmic order, unconsciously,
naturally, automatically, without any effort of the personal will.
Then everything becomes a
source of pleasure and accords with our will. And though we follow, there is
never any obstacle. Things go forward as they should, happily.
Fear, anxiety, worry and
From the bottom of our
minds, great confidence arises, the conviction and the faith that we are part of
God or Buddha.
Then, our deep unthinking
thought draws near to God or Buddha, grows deeper and ever deeper. The shadow of
the pine is dark according as the moon is bright.
Reverence for God or
Buddha is born and we become modest, humble. The mind becomes gentle,
compassionate, honest. We learn humility. The vocation begins to work in us
without any act of will.
Life, then, can become
full of value and dignity.
The vocation that is born
is the highest. It moves us to harmonize, unconsciously, naturally,
automatically, with all existences.
We can begin to create
greater and greater respect for the symphony of the world and
more and more infinite
Shido (the true Way, the
essence of the Way) is not difficult. Yuiken: but you must not love, hate,
select, choose, or reject. Ken: selection; jaku: choose; nan: difficult.
Do (the Way) and Zen are
not so difficult. But we should not seek, desire, select, or hate.
Master Sosan was Eka's
disciple. When he received the shiho (transmission), Sosan received the essence
of Bodhidharma's Zen. This essence cannot be explained or grasped through books.
Zen studies the true mind,
the essence of the mind (shin jin means faith in mind), the essence of the mind
of Christ, Buddha or God. In the depths of consciousness, in true silence exists
Atman (in the Upanishads), or in Buddhism, ku (existence without noumena;
nirvana, satori). And this deep consciousness in the end becomes cosmic
So shin jin means faith in
cosmic consciousness, in the cosmic system, the return to God or Buddha, and (in
fact) faith in zazen.
During zazen, our mind is
fully, actually, and truly at peace and serene. This mind is the continuation of
the cosmos containing all existences, God, Buddha, Christ, the sages and saints.
The Way and satori are not
difficult to realize-if we don't select, reject or detest anything.
The kanji shi (which means
the largest, the deepest, the highest) indicates to us that the true Way (shido)
is beyond time and space.
Master Ju Hun wrote,
"From ancient times until now, the great Way has not changed. On top, the
head. Below on both sides, the legs."
Dogen himself wrote: Eyes
horizontal, nose vertical.
Being in the normal
condition, this is the real Way. Contemporary civilization is decoration and
imitation. We love to choose, select, prefer. But truth is without decoration,
To practice zazen,
necklaces and earrings are not necessary. You only need a good zafu to have good
posture. There is neither imitation nor decoration.
Sutras, Sanskrit books,
the Bible, philosophy, psychology complicate our brain and separate us from the
real Way. We should go beyond history, civilization, the social realm and
This is not a negative
position. But if we want to understand the true Way, we should go beyond. We
should abandon everything.
Shin Jin Mei speaks of
faith. In Zen, faith means to look within yourself, to find your real ego, to
discover the cosmic force, the cosmic energy which is within us. The nature and
spirit of Buddha exists in us.
Master Sosan, the third
patriarch after Bodhidharma, suffered from leprosy. He could not heal. And
during his meeting with Eka, the second patriarch, he [Eka] asked him the deep
reason for his sickness.
"Why am I a leper?
Maybe my karma is bad? I wish to confess."
Master Eka answered,
"Please, bring me your crimes! Show them to me, and just then will I be
able to purify you."
What is crime? What is
God? Good, bad? After this encounter Sosan received ordination and became Eka's
disciple. He practiced zazen day and night, recovered from leprosy and wrote the
Shin Jin Mei.
Having the Way revealed
within us means having satori. Attaining this Way is not difficult. Obtaining
satori is not difficult. But you must not choose, select, hate, or prefer.
Abandoning the mind of selection, we can attain satori quickly. Through the
absolute abandonment of all things we can become ku.
This marvelous Way is not
difficult or easy, interior or exterior. What do we need to select or reject?
We must not choose with
our personal consciousness. In zazen, you must let the thoughts pass
unconsciously and not attach to any of them. This attitude is important, and
good for daily life. Of course it is necessary to make choices. But ultimately
you must be beyond choice.
The poem is about the
problem of conscious choice. Satori is found beyond. So you must clean your
mind. Otherwise this mind is never happy nor content, and tends towards madness.
Our life becomes complicated and hard: "I have no luck. I am unhappy. I
must become rich, beautiful. I want very nice clothes. I would like a baby
Unending choices make our
lives difficult and complicated. Zazen is the model of non-difficulty.
The study of Zen and
Buddhism through zazen is an easy, simple thing. This same study through books
becomes complicated and difficult.
True Zen means to follow
the absolute cosmic system with the practice of the body.
1. Be afraid! for cosmic
2. Wake up! to cosmic
consciousness, satori-highest truth
3. Be happy! Love every
4. Believe! No doubt.
5. Get up early! with sun.
6. Sit down calmly! in
7. Stand up and walk! on
the great Earth
8. Eat right! fresh and
9. Work! with samu spirit.
10. Sleep early and
deeply! with sun.
Gyoji, dokan are very
difficult to practice. You must get up early in the morning. The alarm clock
will always ring; machines are very exact. Our mind is not so exact. Our body
changes every day. This is mujo. When you go to bed at two or three o'clock in
the morning, it is very difficult to wake up the next day.
Definitely, on the great
Way of Buddha and the patriarchs, the highest practice consists in not breaking
dokan: to practice exactly like an unending ring, and to do so right up to the
coffin-not only for one, two or three years, not only for seven years.
Between beginner's mind,
decision, practice, satori, certification and nirvana, there is not the
slightest gap nor the slightest lapse of time.
It is very difficult to
come every morning. When we come every morning, we are not moved by our own
will, nor by our own action, nor by the strength of others, but by the action of
mushotoku, unconsciously, naturally, automatically.
Coming to zazen is not a
requirement or order. But if you don't come to zazen, you will not be satisfied.
You must not do zazen, gyoji, as if it were your obligation or as if somebody
ordered you to do so. I don't order anyone to do zazen. Do as you like. If you
don't come, no one will punish you. If you do zazen because of orders, someone
else's action, it is imperfect.
Kant said, "We should
not perform good deeds because of external constraint." The Pope said the
same thing and added, "In religion, you must act by yourself." The
order must come from the self.
But in true Buddhism and
true Zen, we should not even be moved by our will, because sometimes we don't
want to do zazen. So what do we do? Because at the same time, we want to follow
Sensei. Contradictions, conflicts (katto) appear. Doing zazen under these
conditions is not authentic, not mushotoku.
True mushotoku is without
conflict, without contradiction, without katto-nothing. Unconsciously,
naturally, automatically, you get out of bed. This is true mushotoku. This is
gyoji, dokan, true purity: without stain, without bonno, mushotoku, muga
(without ego). This is not about "free will", so it is different from
the philosophy of Kant and Christianity.
In the Shobogenzo, Dogen
wrote, "Do not practice the bad." In the same chapter, he also wrote,
"In the beginning we should try to not commit bad actions. But ultimately,
this effort prolongs the conflict." Last Sunday, in mondo, a woman said to
me, "I want to put an end to my bonnos, but it's very difficult." That
approach is useless, the mind carries along its own contradiction.
In the end, even if you
want to act badly, unconsciously, naturally, automatically, you cannot. At this
moment, genjo, power appears in the practice. If you practice every day, it is
no longer necessary to think about practice or to want to practice. Repetition
is very important. Dokan, gyoji are very important. In the beginning, conscious
will and effort are necessary. But if you repeat this action of practicing
everyday for two or three years, it becomes dokan, gyoji. You can practice good
things, unconsciously, naturally, automatically.
Even if you want to plunge
into the bad currant, mingle with bad people, even if you submit to bad
situations and a harmful environment; through the power of gyoji and dokan, you
cannot commit bad actions. This is a very important point. Unconsciously,
naturally, automatically, in spite of bad circumstances, we cannot practice the
Mushotoku, muga: this is
the true Way, the Dharma; this is the authentic truth, saintliness. This is an
essential point in Zen. Mushotoku doesn't exist in any other religion.
Once, a young man loved a
rich young girl. For two years he wrote to her every day, but never received a
response. So he became a monk, and retreated into a mountain hermitage.
One day, several years
later, she came to his hermitage. Kneeling before him, she said, "I was
wrong. Now I understand your love. Here I am, I'm yours!"
But he answered,
"It's too late. Now I am a monk, I have cut my love for you. Leave!"
A few days later, he went
down into the valley to beg for food in the village. All they talked about was
the latest news: someone had found a very beautiful young woman, with a noble
face and rich clothes, dead in the river. "It must be a love story that
ended badly." The villagers buried her far away at that place they now
call, the Tomb of Love.
The monk understood. He
went to the tomb and sang this poem:
you came to the door of my hermitage,
the dead leaves of autumn
rested, red, on the ground.
After you left, the autumn wind
scattered them all.
Everything is impermanent.
My poor hermitage is worth more than a palace.
Why couldn't our two destinies come together?
Before I suffered,
and you were peaceful.
Now I have entered the way of serenity,
and you suffer.
All these years have passed like a dream.
When we die,
no one follows us into the coffin.
Nothing will remain of our illusions:
So suffering is useless
as is mourning that now you are dead.
So like me, just listen:
The wind murmurs in the branches of the pine.
One day, my master Kodo
Sawaki confided in me,
"Why did zen impress
me so much? It wasn't reading the Shobogenzo, or the words of the masters or any
other book, that impressed my beginners mind.
"When I entered
Eiheiji, I was very young. I worked in the kitchen and was an errand-boy. I
couldn't wear the monk's robe. I cleaned the dojo and sometimes I went out to
buy vegetables, tofu, burdock. Everyday was like this.
But when I had the time,
in the afternoon, before sleeping, I did zazen. I imitated the young monks in
My room was in the
kitchen, very dirty and very small, next to the vegetables. It always smelled of
turnips and cucumbers, tamari and miso. That's where I did zazen.
One day the tenzo, the
head of the kitchen, a very important person in Eihei-ji Temple-the second or
third after the head of the temple-opened the door of the room.
He saw me in the posture
and looked very impressed. He didn't do sampai, but he might as well have. He
took a couple of steps back, joined his hands in gassho, rubbing them one
against the other, and he said, "This is the true posture of the Buddha in
zazen: the true living Buddha!
He was dumbstruck. The
tenzo beat me very often and not a day passed without him getting angry at me.
But that day, when he saw me sitting in the posture, he was completely
respectful. He said in a loud voice, "True living Buddha!"
So I thought, "Only
the posture of zazen is the true living Buddha. It is the only posture which
inspires true respect in everyone. Through it, I will be able to face
We are hungry, and even
before a royal table
we do not eat.
We are sick, and even if we meet the king of doctors,
we do not follow his advice.
How can we be healed?
The king's dinner doesn't
satisfy us if we don't eat it. When we're sick, even if the king of doctors
cares for us, how can we heal if we don't follow his advice?
It is necessary to
It is essential to
practice zazen. If we try to understand religion or teaching only through books
or through the brain, we cannot penetrate it deeply. Some understand Zen
intellectually but don't practice. They think zazen is very difficult or only
possible in a monastery. To the day they die, they never stop changing opinions,
and become incapable of finding the final, essential truth of existence.
The king's table: they
admire it before them, but they do not touch it.
Others begin the practice
of zazen, and after a little while, think they understand everything. Then they
stop. Westerners do not know very well how to persevere.
Master Dogen wrote in the
beginning of the Shobogenzo, "Everyone possesses 'this', Buddha-nature. But
if we do not practice, we cannot have satori, as the practice itself is
satori." The meaning of Yoka's poem is the same. No one can taste the
experience of satori in your place.
Zazen is to seize one's
real self, to find true inner freedom. If we only face outwards, how can we find
this true self and this inner freedom? To face outwards is like fooling around
in the playground.
Some think, "Zazen is
good. I understand it. So I don't need to practice anymore." So they prefer
to dedicate themselves to their work, to their family and use them as excuses.
Others say, "Zazen is painful, zazen is expensive, I don't like Sensei, the
discipline is too severe." They always finds many reasons to prefer
knowledge to practice, to study the outer rather than study the self.
Some think they don't need
any help. Big mistake. You must practice to know yourself, to return to the
normal condition. We are offered a good meal, but we are incapable of eating it.
We stay hungry. Another meets a great doctor, but doesn't understand the remedy
given and cannot heal.
Zazen means to become
intimate with oneself. Zazen is a good meal, an excellent remedy.
It must be practiced.
Starting today, I begin
the translation and commentary of "Shukke Kudoku" by Master Dogen.
Shukke literally means
someone who has left his home, his family and renounced the world. Kudoku means
merit. In the Shobogenzo, you also find "Kesa Kudoku" which is about
the merits which appear when you wear the kesa.
is a chapter about the merits of shukke. It is a little long, but rather simple,
without much commentary. Dogen first cites Nargarjuna who comments on the
shastra of the Maka Hannya Haramita, then he gives his opinion.
I have always said that
the most important thing is to shave the head and become a monk. Some let their
hair grow in the winter and shave it in summer. These are seasonal monks, like
vegetables. Apples fall in autumn and grow in summer-this is the opposite. But
it is difficult to shave the head if we have work that requires us to harmonize
with society and makes it impossible to retreat into the mountain. Besides, if
you take refuge in the mountain you end up sick. Most of those who flee society
do so because they are incapable of harmonizing with it. They go to Nepal and
when they return to Paris, it is even more difficult. In the end they become
crazy and must go to an asylum
How do we resolve this
problem? That is the subject of this chapter of the Shobogenzo.
What is the difference
between the bodhisattva ordination and the monk's? What difficulties are met by
one who seeks the Way from within his family? Mahayana allows it, but it is very
difficult. Even more so than receiving the monk's ordination.
Nowadays, those who
receive the monk's ordination are not true shukke. Ordination day they do sampai
towards their family, make the vow to separate from them, and right after the
ceremony, they kiss-C'est la vie. I said yesterday that in Japan most monks live
with their family in the temple which becomes their home. The monks who go to
the dojo go home after zazen, like businessmen. Only I, after the death of Kodo
Sawaki, really left my family. I came to Paris, to France, to Europe fourteen
years ago. I am exactly a shukke.
Dogen described the merits
of zazen in "Bendowa", the first volume of the Shobogenzo. Next, he
described the merits of shukke then those of the kesa.
The merits of zazen are
infinite. Zazen itself is satori. Jacques Brosse wrote a very good introduction
to his book for the Japanese, Satori, He said, "Zazen itself is satori, it
is a holy posture, the highest posture. Zazen can save us from the crisis of
modern civilization. Infinite merits result from it, mushotoku."
Kodo Sawaki always said,
"The greatest happiness consists of shaving the head, receiving the monk's
ordination, wearing the kesa and practicing zazen. This is the greatest reason
for our life on earth, the ultimate stage."
This is the essence of the
Shobogenzo. Dogen concentrated on zazen, shukke and kesa. The transmission
received from Kodo Sawaki concerns these three elements. These are the very
essence of the Buddhism transmitted from patriarch to patriarch. It is difficult
to become a true monk and to leave your family. But it is easier than seeking
the Way as a shukke while living with your family. Both are possible.
Still, those who receive
ordination, then let their hair grow and get married fall into difficulties. But
still later, the merits of ordination reappear. Nargarjuna certified that it is
preferable to be a seasonal monk than a layman. It is still better to be a
authentic shukke without family.
Do not criticize the
shaved monk, do not mock him. This would be the worst of things, leading to your
fall into hell. On the other hand, those who respect shaved and ordained monks
can obtain the true Way. It is the same for those who respect the kesa. Dogen is
very simple: just shave the head, wear the kesa and do zazen.
But shaving is difficult,
this means leaving your family. Your family will definitely be unhappy. Some
married monks shave their head, and the wife does too. It is as if they entered
their coffin together. If the wife dies, the husband should die also. Merits
result from it. This is the case with R. and P. But it would be better to live
alone, more merits follow.
Why is it easier to obtain
the Way while being shukke? If you practice the Way (that's to say if you
practice zazen) in a family, the mind gets complicated, many bonnos appear.
Doing zazen in a dojo, bonnos do not appear, you become pure. When people do
zazen in this dojo, they are pure. In Japan, I wanted to do zazen in my
apartment, but my wife would be sleeping, so it was very difficult. In Paris,
even if I am asleep, the inkin comes to find me, I hear the gong, my disciples
are waiting for me. P. comes with the inkin and A.-M. brings me the kesa. Under
these circumstances, it is very easy to do zazen, automatically I can do zazen.
If the home is in a
busy place, it harbors a lot of activity. The root of bonnos, it is at the
center of many sins.
Family becomes the source,
the root of bonnos. You must make money. It requires desires and vital energy.
A. C. wanted to become monk. His wife did zazen too, but when they lived
together, their life became complicated. His wife was unhappy. Now he is going
through hell. But soon, they surely will understand both, and he will come back.
He came to visit me, I told him, "Concentrate on your family, on your work,
c'est la vie. Later surely M.-J. will understand. You have both received the
monk's ordination, merits will definitely result from it later. "
Kodo Sawaki told me,
"Do not stay with me, live close to your family." He refused to give
me the monk's ordination.
And if you leave your home
for an empty field or a deserted place, concentrating your mind you can obtain
What does this passage
mean? It does not mean that you must retreat to a deserted place, but that the
holy dojo itself is an empty field, a deserted place. People always
misunderstand. They want to go to Nepal, to India. Alchemy is a spiritual
discipline, but some do nothing but look for gold. This dojo is truly holy, it
is the highest holy place in the world. If you practice in the dojo, you can
brush aside exterior objects. This is what this poem by Nargarjuna explains:
For a man sitting alone
in the forest,
Bonnos disappear peacefully
It is possible for him to obtain unified mind.
The forest means the dojo.
Those who seek honors,
profit, beautiful clothes, a warm bed do not have true peace. Their desires
cannot be satisfied. But for the poor monk, wearing the kesa, begging from the
faithful, daily life is simple so his mind stays always simple. With his eye of
wisdom, he can observe and truly understand all phenomena.
It is difficult to be
patient alone. But in a holy dojo, it is easy. The atmosphere is strong. Others
Zen is not asceticism, it
is not necessary to run from illusions, from bonnos. How can we sublimate our
energy, our desires? This is very important.
In the end I say,
"Don't lend money to a man who doesn't do zazen and who doesn't wake up
with a hard-on." This is a Japanese proverb.
How do we understand
this?. How can one know if he gets a hard-on or not? With women how can you
Get a hard-on or not?
Difficult question. Women become a volcano.
In our life, conviction,
love, sex are very important. In Buddhism, they say, "Don't try to run away
or follow desires." If you do zazen, you can control everything. No need to
try to run from sex.
The subconscious is very
important. If you always think, "poor me, a worthless person," the
mind becomes like that. If you think, "I am happy, in the future I want to
be like this", exactly that will happen. Repetition is very important.
characteristics of each person are pure, holy, but karma influences them.
If you do zazen,
unconsciously, naturally, automatically, you can find the truly pure spirit and
become a saint, Buddha. But, if you have something in the subconscious, you
If you have the
conviction, you can do anything. It is not necessary to fall into fatalism. If
you repeat the Hannya Shingyo, you can obtain perfect wisdom. Realize it,
When you repeat the Hannya
Shingyo each morning, this sows seeds in the subconscious. This is conviction.
This is true faith. True conviction gives vitality, activity, the power to act.
This is like a rejuvenating elixir. Conviction is the point of departure for the
realization of our true ideal. Conviction is not intellectual, you cannot obtain
it by science or reason. Conviction is infinite wisdom, hannya haramita.
If you repeat, this is
produced, and you will be able to become strong. Conviction allows the nature of
something to change from limited to unlimited. Conviction is original power, the
source to create infinite wisdom, without limits.
For people who do zazen,
conviction appears unconsciously, naturally, automatically. Mushotoku is not
passive but active. This is an infinite desire, not trying to obtain.
If you do not limit
desire, it becomes infinite. If you have a small goal, you cannot be limitless.
If you use the subconscious in a good direction, good karma, it becomes very
useful in life.
If you use it in bad
karma, your character will break you. Some say, "I don't want to work"
This is crazy. Work is a holy labor.
Yesterday a journalist
from Le Monde asked me, "Why does the Japanese economy progress?"
After the war, the Japanese changed, but traditionally, they liked to work, Buddhism,
Zen had influenced them. In India, the people do not work so much. It is hot,
beggars are increasing. They cannot practice Mahayana Buddhism.
Work, this is in the
subconscious. To relax, to be lazy, is not good. The subconscious wants to work
but sometimes the conscious mind intervenes.
If you are always
thinking, "I want to relax, to take a vacation," life becomes like
this. If you think of sex, it's the same thing. If you love sensations,
emotions, these same emotions become a strong force. And they pull in other
emotions, like a magnet. This is a seed in the bottom of the subconscious,
planted in rich soil, in a field or a garden, a plant comes out of it, grows and
a flower opens, which becomes a fruit, which in time creates new seeds. So our
mind changes. Wish for a strong subconscious, this is conviction.
If you think, "I am
not good," it is necessary to observe yourself. "I'm an idiot, I must
become intelligent, happy. I must become a Buddha, a saint." This
conviction realizes itself.
Shiki soku ze ku.
Shiki, phenomena, become
satori. Desires, bonnos, become the Way, holiness.
Our desires can be
sublimated. This is very important.
People in history who
succeed and accomplish great things have infinite energy and infinite desires
used in a good direction. This is very important.
Most people do not have
success before they are forty. Before that, you concentrate too much on sex. But
afterwards, you realize that you must use his energy for good things. Some
understand this earlier, others lose their energy with their gigolo during
Zen is not asceticism. If
you are always thinking, "I want to make love" Foolish! It is
necessary to change the orientation of our spirit towards a good direction. It
is necessary to always exclude fear, anger, jealousy, hatred. if you think of
other things, if you have a strong conviction, you can succeed in everything.
I always say, do zazen and
you obtain a strong conviction unconsciously, naturally, automatically. If you
do not continue, you will not.
Repeat zazen, gyoji, dokan.
If you continue zazen, you can succeed in everything.
Exactly those who
accomplish great undertakings have a strong conviction. Christ, Shakyamuni,
During my trip to the
U.S., I read that once Abraham Lincoln was not at all well-known. But when he
was forty years old, he met a great woman and got satori. She woke him up, made
his abilities reveal themselves.
Women have always
influenced men. If the woman is not good, the man is not going to succeed. And,
if the man is not good, the woman is not happy.
Creating a good
subconscious is very important. This is hishiryo conscience.
When I was young, Kodo
Sawaki gave me a collection of stories which included this one. I remember many
A long time ago, the chief
of the Kamakura prefecture, Jito, was visiting Mount Koyoasai. The Daimyo was
travelling accompanied by his very beautiful daughter. He came across a very
elegant young monk in a sanctuary near Koyoasai.
When the young monk saw
the young woman, he fell in love with her. Not being able to forget her, he
asked Buddha to make her image disappear (like with Tamaki whose problem I
solved.) But this young monk was not aided by anyone, and he became neurotic.
This young woman's face constantly appeared in front of him. He decided to go to
see her. He left for Kamakura.
Eight-hundred years ago,
trips were taken by foot. He had to cross the sea by boat. he waited at the edge
of the shore and fell asleep on the ground. Suddenly the ferryman called out,
"Come, the boat is leaving. Please come."
The young monk got up and
climbed on board. He arrived at Shiba and visited the chief of the province,
Jito. Jito welcomed him.
"I met you near
Koyoasai. Why have you come here?"
"I have been sent by
my temple and since I had some time, I wanted to see you."
"Please stay several
days. The landscape is very beautiful in this province."
The beautiful woman
welcomed him like a servant. He was very happy and thought that this was a
dream. But this was reality. One night, he entered her bedroom, got into her bed
and touched her. He tried to make love for the first time, and the girl welcomed
him. The next day, they started again. So he didn't want to go back to Koyoasai.
One month passed, and at
the end of a month, the woman's stomach got bigger. Jito became angry, "Why
have you broken the kai?" The girl cried and the father authorized the
marriage, "But you must return to the social life."
In this era, after having
shaved, a monk could no longer let his hair grow. My disciples have long hair,
short hair. In the past, this was not possible.
He let his hair grow out,
returned to social life and married the young woman. Jito wanted to get a
successor out of this. A very strong baby was born from their union, then
Thirteen years passed. In
Japan, when a young boy turns thirteen, there is a big ceremony. So the father
left with his family for Koyoaisai. They took a trip. As soon as they took the
boat for Kamakura, the thirteen year old son fell into the sea and sank to the
bottom of the water. The father and the mother called out but were not able to
find him. The father cried very hard, and by his cries, he woke up from his
Thirteen years had passed
in the dream. He was still on the shore, waiting for the boat.
"I experienced many
things in thirteen years, while waiting for the boat."
He had dreamt that he met
a beautiful woman, had sex, had two sons and lost the first-born.
He touched his head with
his hand. He touched his bald head. Am I going to Shiba or to Koyoasai. If I am
find this woman, I will have to get married-masturbation is better"
Kodo Sawaki often said,
"For the last seventy years, I have masturbated after drinking sake."
So we could say that it is
by the power of Kanzeon that the young monk had this experience.
Etienne surely read this
story and had this experience. Mujo, impermanence, life is like a dream.
Our mind is Buddha.
Dogen was influenced by
Master Esai (1141-1215), the founder of Rinzai in Japan, who lived at Kennin-ji
in Kyoto, before going to China.
Ejo recorded this story in
the Shobogenzo Zuimonki.
A very poor man came to
Esai Temple in Kennin-ji. "My family is having problems, I am very poor,
please help me."
The temple was poor and so
was Esai. He only had one black kolomo. It was very cold. There was only one
inexpensive statue of Buddha behind which had a halo. Everything else in this
temple was worthless.
Esai took the copper halo
from the Buddha and gave it to the poor man. That was it. The poor man, happy,
left. Esai's disciples criticized him.
Dogen was very impressed
and told this story to Ejo who wrote it down.
In one sutra, it is said
that Buddha, before his existence in this world, cut off his hands and legs and
gave the pieces to the poor people.
Certainly, it is necessary
to respect the Buddha statue but it is not necessary to fall into idolatry. In
China, Master Tanka (739-824), one day when it was very cold, found himself in a
temple where the priest was too much a formalist and an idolater, Tanka took the
statue of Buddha into the Buddha hall and burned it.
The head of this temple
got angry and said, "Why have you burned this statue?" Tanka
responded, "I wanted to get the sarira of Buddha after it burned."
In Japan and in India,
they burn the body. The sarira are the essence of a human body.
The head of the temple
said, "It is not possible to get sarira from the statue of Buddha."
"This statue of
Buddha is only wood," said Tanka.
Tanka did not have a bad
karma, but the eye lashes of the temple priest fell.
Kodo Sawaki told this one
often. Gonyo was always accompanied by two big tigers and a serpent, he was a
respected monk but strange. He was a disciple of Joshu with whom he had this
"Now I have nothing.
I have brought you nothing. Mu."
"I have brought
nothing, how can I abandon that?"
Joshu then said,
"Gonyo brought his
nothing, existence without anything. So you must leave again, take this nothing
This mondo is very
Some believe "I must
get (obtain) satori. I must not think." It is not necessary to look for
satori. Then you should say, "I am nothing. It is not necessary to be
attached to the subject of mushotoku, to be beyond satori, beyond." Don't
throw away satori, be beyond all things, without dualism.
After Bodhidharma, he was
the 11th successor in the line of Nangaku and Rinzai. he was a disciple of
Tenryu. He always chanted the Kannongyo in the mountains.
One day, a beautiful woman
living there paid him a visit. She wore a straw hat. She was a very beautiful
young woman, a nun.
Gutei was over forty years
old. He thought "When the sun sets, she is surely going to want to stay in
She said, "I would
like to speak with you. If you can respond, I'll take off this hat and enter
your temple, if not, I'm leaving again.
He was totally surprised.
"The sun is setting.
You must stay here."
"No thank you, since
you cannot teach me anything, I'm leaving."
This woman later appeared
to him in dreams and he wasn't able to sleep. She was a beautiful nun. He
thought, "I'm dumb. Why did she go away? Then Tenryu, a traveling monk,
Tenryu put up his thumb in
front of his face. The thumb of his left hand.
Gutei had satori at that
moment and received the shiho.
In this temple there was a
small monk twelve or thirteen years old. When people came, he always pointed his
thumb. The people asked him, "Where are the toilets? the Buddha?" He
put up his thumb.
He was only imitating his
master. This was formalism. Gutei wanted to educate him.
So, Gutei hid a saber,
like a kotsu, a long knife, and asked him, "What is Buddha?" The
little monk raised his thumb and Gutei cut the thumb off.
"Do you understand
the true essence of Buddha?" Very quickly, he understood.
He was hurt and ran away.
Then, from behind, Gutei called him and said, "Do you understand?" At
that moment, Gutei raised his thumb. The little monk had satori.
This story is very famous.
The thumb that Gutei always wielded. In the past, Zen teachers were very severe.
Why did his disciple imitate him, and why did he cut off the disciple's thumb?
The little monk was
following his teaching, but he cut off his thumb.
This mondo has a very
Before his death, Gutei
said, "I have obtained the finger of Master Tenryu, and have only used this
Why did he cut off the
thumb of his young disciple? This is a koan.
Friday, a journalist from
Le Monde came to see me and asked me, "many people practice zazen.
"Because they want
to," I responded.
As for their goal, each
person is different. But in the end, zazen is mushotoku. "What is zazen
good for?" "Nothing." It is infinite. This is mu. I cannot
But I explained to him
that after fifty years of practicing zazen, one can control desires, regain
energy-in particular, sexual energy-regain and sublimate. Intuition, creativity,
will-power become strong. This is the best way.
So zazen has a very great
effect which you will never find anywhere else, not in another religion, not at
People who follow me,
those who come to this dojo, they become strong. Also, conviction becomes
strong. The will becomes a great tenacious force, binds like glue.
Patience, do not stop,
continue again and again. It isn't a question of sex, from evening until
morning, no. Repetition of sex, no. You can transform desires into creative
Yesterday, I wanted to see
what the dictionary had to say on the subject of bonnos. In Hinayana Buddhism,
you must stop desires. In Mahayana, sublimate desires, appetites. Good sex is
Shu sho ichi nyo
Shu: practice; sho:
In the Zen of Master
Dogen, as opposed to other religions, practice and satori are simultaneous. This
point is very important.
For example: When you eat,
during the action through of eating, hunger is satisfied. It's not necessary to
think of satisfying your appetite. Unconsciously, naturally, automatically, the
stomach is satisfied. In the same way, during zazen, it is not necessary to
think of attaining satori. And it's wrong to believe that eating once means that
it is no longer necessary to eat in the future. In the same way, it's necessary
to continue the practice of zazen.
Zazen is not an instinct,
so it's more difficult. Kodo Sawaki wrote:
Eternal satori is
contained and rests only within the practice of the moment. Zazen means to
practice that which cannot be explained.
Zazen is to practice that
which cannot be thought by our own consciousness. True religion is not thought,
but only practiced. So true Zen means to practice here and now, to practice
eternity here and now.
Buddha does not only mean
Shakyamuni Buddha. The true Buddha is he who practices the Way of Shakyamuni
Buddha. Zazen means recovering the unity between the state of Buddha and the
ego, and not only during zazen but through all the postures of daily life. If
those postures are correct, satori is realized unconsciously, naturally,
Muso fuku den e
What is infinity? Hishiryo
(hi: non): thinking without thinking, thinking beyond thinking.
It is not a question of
quantity. Personal consciousness is not limited. Don't make categories. This
way, creativity and wisdom develop. This is very important.
Kodo Sawaki called certain
faces muso. Muso is infinite beauty, deep. Some people always smile, others not
at all. This is Both are stupid. The appearance of the face is a reflection of
the spirit. It is easier to read a face than words. Personal characteristics
manifest themselves in the face and in the natural comportment. But few know it
and many always try to decorate, to put make-up over their own characteristics.
Through zazen, intuition
becomes strong. So you can more easily penetrate the real mind of others, like
looking in a mirror.
During zazen bonnos,
monen, appear. Most people think that zazen is to put an end to illusions, to
thoughts. This is a mistake. During zazen, sometimes thoughts, bonnos arise, and
sometimes they do not arise. When you sleep, thoughts do not arise. When you
sleep in zazen, you don't think at all.
This is a problem. The Zen
of Dogen, shikantaza, doesn't consist in isn't stopping thoughts nor in chasing
bonnos, illusions. During zazen, you can observe your mind exactly. This is the
merit of zazen.
When dancing, you don't
think, illusions don't manifest themselves. As I always say, if a mosquito
approaches, you do not know it, do not realize it, but during zazen you are very
sensitive to it.
One of my disciples who
received the bodhisattva ordination told me, "During zazen, I always have
illusions, bonnos. But during the war, when the American planes flew over us, I
did zazen at home, and then I didn't have any bonno."
This is very interesting.
Me too, I did zazen on a boat filled with dynamite during the way. When the
enemy submarines approached, I didn't have any bonnos, I couldn't think-only
Kodo Sawaki wrote,
"This is a zazen koan." In Rinzai, masters give koans to their
disciples: "What is mu?", "What is your original nature before
you were born?" During zazen, you think of these questions and there is not
more room n the mind for other bonnos, other illusions. So Kodo Sawaki said:
The Shikantaza of Dogen is
observing our true aspect. Especially the profile of our bonnos, our bad sides,
like the floating bubbles crabs make.
That is the merit of
zazen. If you concentrate on one thing, you cannot think of another thing. If
you drink sake with a geisha, you don't think of anything. You don't feel the
little insect on your testicles. Effects flow to the extent you live from karmic
It is also written in the
Do not cut illusions,
Do not seek the truth [satori].
This is very easy to
understand. Thinking of becoming Buddha or of obtaining satori during zazen is
like saying to yourself on the train, "I must arrive at my destination get
there quickly." This thought is totally useless.
So in Zen, the notions of
fukatoku, mushotoku are very important.
Fukatoku means, impossible
to obtain. Fu: not; ka: possible; toku: to trap.
Mu: no; shotoku: obtain or
The original meaning of
mushotoku is: not to obtain; without obtaining.
One day of zazen, one day
During zazen, we have
satori, we are Buddha, God. Without zazen, we have no such thing. So zazen is
the holy posture, the highest. During zazen, the noblest holy mind manifests
itself. What is holy in the world? Only the posture of zazen.
In other religions, sampai
and gassho are the highest religious attitudes. But zazen is the highest
posture, the deepest, the most difficult, the most holy.
Many people in the world
perform ceremonies. But practicing zazen together in this dojo, the highest
place, we influence each other mutually.
The atmosphere of the
group is very important. Those who sleep influence the others. It isn't so
effective to do zazen next to people who are sleeping or moving. Our neighbors
should be stimulated to practice strongly.
If you do zazen after
having drunk alcohol, that too influences the others.
Kodo Sawaki's notes are
What is real happiness?
The horse and the cat who try to figure out what true happiness is can't agree
because their food and their sex are different.
Each person is different,
but they have one thing in common: most of them, to the day they die, won't know
what true happiness is.
A Japanese proverb says,
"A gold coin is worthless to a cat."
Most of the things is our
social life lead to an dead end. You think you have time. What direction do you
turn, which way is not a dead end? Zazen.
"Sorrow, bad luck . .
Kiti, is luck; kyo, bad
Ka, is sadness, bad; fuku,
Ze, is the good, what is
true; hi, as is the hi in hishiryo.
Aku, this is about good
and bad, but further this also means true and false.
You must be beyond good
and bad, luck and misfortune, happiness and sadness, true and false. Since these
are formless, they are ungraspable.
Everyone wants to obtain
the merits of religion and tries to run after satori, even during zazen. They
only want to have satori. So satori without zazen appeared, satori without Zen,
speaking without zazen, writing without zazen. Many books are made like this,
without the experience of zazen."
Kodo Sawaki wrote in a
very simple way.
Everyone loves to get
money without working, so people love to gamble. If they don't win, it is a dead
end. Many people have experienced this (speculating on sugar for example.)
This is why in modern
life, in modern civilization, new religions, new sects appear that seek only
People love movement.
Kodo Sawaki's observations
are quite interesting.
At the cinema, at the
theatre, everything is in movement: faces move, the actors, actresses. But zazen
means not to move.
Our floating life: it is
only a floating world, it is only a name, a word. In our life we pass the time
with words. Everyone was naked at birth. But our parents gave us a name and
dressed us. Next we nursed. This is how life begins. Then education gets
complicated. We change, change more and more, become complicated. Everyone is
very cute when they're born, later on they're not so cute at all. There is no
Everyone wants to be
famous, strong, intelligent. "I want to be strong, intelligent, I want to
be rich, make a name for myself. . ." Nothing but the word, right up to the
coffin. But at the end, we are naked again, and we go into the coffin. The word
has no value.
I was very impressed
hearing this during a conference by Kodo Sawaki. I had read many books, but what
he said was deeper and totally impressed me. To this day I have kept his notes.
They have published books
that record the very short phrases of Kodo Sawaki. And when I have time, I read
the Shobogenzo, the commentaries, books of philosophy, all the books of
commentary on the sutras. But in the end, I come back to these notes from Kodo
Sawaki. All the rest are totally complicated. The book of my master is very
short, very deep. It is real.
To the question:
"What is happiness? What is sadness?" man gives a mistaken answer.
"This," he says, "is happiness." But it is not true
happiness. "This is sadness." But it is true happiness.
Man makes mistakes because
he has no roots. He's like a child who cries for chocolate and smiles when he
gets it. Most people are like this.
People are very simple,
not complicated. Some only think of money, others only of health, others only of
honors, others only occupy themselves with their beauty.
This is very deep and
true. If you do zazen, you become conscious that you too are like this.
He also wrote:
Some throughout all
their lives, only think of money, others only think of eating.
Some are "busy,"
others not at all. They only sit at the café from morning to night, without
working. Others never stop being busy, busy, busy. They are like chickens or
canaries busy eating, dawn to dusk.
I always look at the
chicken at the Gendronnière. Aside from "cluck cluck cluck", they
only eat and lay eggs. Then at the end, they're eaten.
These short phrases are
koans, new koans. Kodo Sawaki always said that Zen is a koan but as the times
and eras change, we must create authentic koans here and now and not content
ourselves with historical koans.
Living without money
isn't practical, but money isn't everything.
In the same way. Life
isn't good without sexual desires, but we should understand that sex isn't
everything, that it is necessary to sublimate. Sublimation is the most
important. Those who don't have sexual desires are like the dead, like cadavers.
Even a beggar sometimes smiles. Even a rich man cries.
develops respect for the purity in everything, and gives health to your body and
can become clear and alive, discovering the value in all things.
that is still hesitant, unclear, indecisive will disappear and your
concentration will become strong.
can find the value in that which is different from you, all the things which are
exterior, so you will no longer have nothing to reject.
will flow from you without hindrance and you will be able to change poison into
medicine. Even if you are criticized with harmful words, you will have no need
to get angry. Even if you find difficulties on your way, you can surmount them
with creativity, spirit and humor. You will be able to confront everything which
is disagreeable with courage and decision.
will be able to be fast, lively at the same time your mind will stay calm. You
will be able to seize each opportunity for favorable change and harmonize
yourself with each situation.
will be able to be strong and gentle at the same time, adapting yourself to each
situation. You will be able to harmonize with others, while maintaining your
strong and unshakeable conviction.
will able to be honest and authentic without speaking or acting in excess. You
will have no need to try to make appearances.
Tetsu was taught by Master
Dogen. He was young, intelligent, good zazen, good samu. Later he became the
third Patriarch of Eihei-ji. Tetsu was "perfect" and very capable:
sutra, posture, zazen, comportment, everything was very good.
But he had one week point:
he didn't yet have robai-shin ("grandmother-mind"), the mind of
grandmotherly compassion, and so he could not truly follow the cosmic order.
Dogen, just a little while
before his death, told him this:
You understand all of
Buddhism, but you cannot go beyond your abilities and your intelligence. You
must have robai-shin, the mind of great compassion. This compassion must help
all of humanity. You should not think only of yourself.
We have in us this mind,
neither rare nor special, of Buddha. We should believe in it, unconsciously,
naturally, automatically. This is true faith. Ourselves and Buddha are not
It is necessary to go
beyond the power of Buddha or God. This is to lose ones ego and have the mind of
compassion. But this doesn't come from intelligence, ability or knowledge.
A master was walking in
the mountains. When he came back, one of his disciples asked him:
"Master, where do you
go to walk?
mountain" Answered the master.
The disciple insisted,
"But what path did you take? What did you see?"
The master answered,
"I followed the smell of flowers, and I wandered with the young
We must let ourselves be
guided by the dharma of the Buddha and have confidence in the grass and the
flowers that grow, without goal or ego, naturally and unconsciously. The
master's answer flows from the spring of wisdom.
True wisdom is created
beyond knowledge and memory.
Taisen Deshimaru Roshi