Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Zen Wisdom

You Have to Say Something by Dainin Katagiri, who has also written Returning to Silence.

Kitagari p. 76

The absence of our own being is the face of Emptiness. Emptiness is not produced nor is it stopped; it does not appear nor does it disappear. In experiencing the absence of our being, we become fully alive, fo we are not dependent on things. This is to be free from suffering.

This is why we must do zazen without expecting any kind of reward. This is most important. If you miss this point, your zazen will be just like everything else you do. It will be the kind of mediation you find in pop psychology. IN zazen you just do it. There is nothing to depend on.

But we always try to get something from zazen. Sometimes we might talk about how wonderful zazen is, how it makes our life better. This is not zazen. It is dissatisfaction, longing, and instability of mind. We are still depending on something. Consciously or unconsciously, we depend on things as if they had substance.

Even though I tell you Buddha is not something divine you still conjure up a sense of divinity. Then you begin to feel you can depend on it. So I explain that Buddha is thoroughgoing change, or Emptiness, but you still don’t believe me. Then I tell you that you are Buddha, so there is nothing for you to depend on. You don’t believe this, etiher. You don’t take to heart what Buddha’s teaching points you to.

Consciously or unconsciously, we put something out there that makes us feel dependent. This is a big problem. It might seem to be good to be infatuated by some wonderful, spiritual experience, but it’s not so good. It interrupts life—your life and the life of the society.

So without asking for anything, expecting anything, or depending on anything, just do zazen. Then your life will become really alive.

p. 79 Sometimes [people] think Buddhism is nihilistic. But Buddhism is not nihilistic. It is not about the destruction of existence. It is about seeing the world before we measure it.

There is nothing to pin down because the reality we are living [80] is constantly changing. Yet, while there’s nothing to pin down, nothing to hold I our hand, still we have the sense of “I am here.” And then we take hold of that idea. This is why everyone is confused.

There are Zen stories about a mountain named Egolessness. On this mountain there is a wonderful tree named Great Enlightenment. When you eat the fruit of this tree, you experience great spiritual excitement. People are very interested in such stories because they want to have some great, spiritual experience. They want to fly and go to paradise where there is no suffering.

Unfortunately, these people have no idea where this tree is. They don’t even know where the mountain is. So they start checking every tree they come to, eating the fruit of each. Sometimes the fruit makes them feel dizzy; sometimes they lose their appetite. Still, they work very hard searching for the fruit of their dreams. In fact, their search is not even that hard for them, because they expect great things. Finally, the stories tell us, one person found what he thought was the enlightenment tree. When he ate its fruit, he experienced wonderful things. But his so-called enlightenment was just plain selfishness.

All of us are interested in looking for the enlightenment tree. Our problem is that we don’t look for it on the mountain of egolessness. What we don’t understand is that self-awakening must coincide with other-awakening. In other words, if we would awaken, we must help others to awaken…To awaken others is to awaken one’s self simultaneously. This is why we emphasize helping others first. This is how we can really help our selves…what is your true heart?

We don’t understand that the real bedrock of existence is pure motion. There is nothing to hold on to, nothing we can claim for ourselves. All we really have to do is just be here, and in that way we will learn what the world is before we measure it. Even though you don’t understand what goes on before you measure it, just be here in peace. Just become peace. This is our practice.


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