Your Zazen Is The Zazen Of The
Buddhasby Taizan Maezumi Roshi
this time of the passing of the temple seal, we pay tribute to our
founding abbot Maezumi Roshi by offering this teisho. On the occasion of
this teisho, Maezumi Roshi was ill and was persuaded by his students to
spend much of this sesshin in bed, taking care of himself. On the last
day of sesshin, January 27, 1989, he came to the zendo, ill and
coughing, and delivered these closing remarks.
In our practice, sitting is the key. Zazen is the center activity.
How can we sit best? There are different schemes involved in
sitting. For example, some of you just sit and some of you work on
koans. The key question is how can each of you sit most
I remember when Yasutani Roshi (and Harada Sogaku Roshi) talked about
shikantaza (just sitting). He would say that when you do shikantaza,
you should have faith. When you work on koans, you should have
faith. This faith has a particular connotation -- faith in the sense
that you can do shikantaza. Or working on koans, faith in the
fact that you can take care of the koan.
When you do shikantaza, have faith in the fact that your zazen is the
same zazen as the zazen of the Buddhas and Patriarchs. Have this kind of
faith. Then, just sit. Since your zazen is the same zazen as that of the
Buddhas, you don't need to worry about anything: just sit. Appreciate
that your zazen is the zazen of the Buddha. The zazen of Shakyamuni
Buddha is okay; the zazen of the Buddhas and Patriarchs is okay. In
other words, you are not sitting; Buddha is sitting.
In Zen terms we say honsho myoshu. Honsho means
intrinsic enlightenment; myoshu, subtle practice. We say practice
and enlightenment, or realization, are one. How is it one thing?
When you sit, your zazen is the zazen of the Buddhas. Your zazen is
sitting Buddha, or Buddha's zazen. So your practice is realization
itself, enlightenment itself. Your zazen becomes anuttara samyak
sambodhi itself. Have this kind of faith.
Usually when you do zazen, zazen becomes a cause to create some kind
of effect, such as enlightenment, frustration, anger, or whatever
arises. That is the wrong way to do zazen. Your practice is not
something by which you attain some place else or something else. Your
practice itself is a fulfillment of honsho myoshu, the
originally enlightened life.
" . . . have faith in the fact that your zazen
is the same zazen as the zazen of the Buddhas and Patriarchs."
It's not a matter of not expecting anything, or not striving to
attain something else, but rather you don't need to. It's already
here. That's what your life is. It's very, very true. Dogen Zenji
says, "the Way is intrinsically, perfectly manifesting right here."
Where? Always here! Realization or attaining enlightenment is
nothing but to become aware of this fact, do you see? Our life as
is. Everything is here.
How do we make our practice really effective? When you do shikantaza,
just really do shikantaza. Let that shikantaza be the zazen of the
Buddha. Then sit. Don't let yourself and Buddha be separate. Don't
discriminate between Buddha and yourself. Just sit. Don't think about
it, don't interpret your sitting. Try sitting in this way. That is the
best practice. Just do it, and see how it goes.
When you work on koan, really work on koan. Koan is the absolute
fact, truth, or evidence of life. What is that life? That life cannot be
any other than this life that we are living. What is it? Some say
it's Buddha, or Buddha mind, or Buddha nature, or empty, or Best Way, or
the Supreme Way. Different words for the same thing.
What is it? I like that koan in which a monk asked Master
Gensha, "What is the Buddha mind?" Gensha answered, "Shujo shin,
sentient-beings mind." All-beings mind. The monk asks further, "What is
all-beings mind?" (Roshi laughs) Gensha responds, "Buddha mind."
In our heads we create the difference between Buddha mind and
all-beings mind. Of course, a very important function of the mind is to
discriminate, or to be discursive, but we shouldn't make a problem of
this functioning. This is a very important part of koan practice. So a
koan can be very effective to cut through the discriminating mind.
" . . . Don't let yourself and the Buddha be separate . . .
just sit in this way, and see how it goes . . . "
When you sit shikantaza, you don't know what to do with this
discriminating or discursive mind. It goes on and on and on, endlessly
(laughing). How do you stop it? You can't stop it! Stopping this
discursive mind is not the solution. So even shikantaza, just sitting
itself becomes a koan.
Remember, when you sit, this very basic principle that practice and
realization are one. Don't make practice and realization separate.
How can you do this? Allow your zazen to be the manifestation of
the intrinsically enlightened life itself. When thoughts come up, it's
okay. Just let thoughts come up and let them go. Then, just sit. Try it.
When you sit in this way, then sitting, standing, walking, lying down
all together becomes sitting. You will see a very new vision, new
perspectives of life opens up for you. I appreciate your zazen as the
most precious Dharma itself. In fact, your zazen is the most precious
Dharma. That's what I most appreciate.
So, honsho myoshu, the subtle practice of intrinsic
enlightenment, is a basic Soto tenet. Or, appreciating the intrinsic
realization in our subtle practice. Let's not chase after something, but
let's appreciate this very life, all the activities of life, as the
manifestation of the intrinsic realization itself.
Let's just steadily keep on going.
Copyright 1999, Zen Center of Los Angeles