mind is the Way." Definitely, ordinary mind is a koan in itself.
Many teachers have talked about this ordinary mind. Master Rinzai
said: "Just be yourself, with nothing further to do." Then he
added, "To make work on the outside is being a blockhead." Master
Dogen wrote, "The mind of the Buddhas and Ancestors is drinking
tea and eating rice. This drinking tea and eating rice has been
transmitted down to the present day, and therefore the Buddhas
activity is alive and well." Master Gensha in the 9th century
said, "Shakyamuni Buddha and I practiced together." A monk asked,
"Then, who did you two study with?" Gensha said, "I studied with
the third son of Zay on a fishing boat," which, of course, was
is the ordinary mind. "Shakyamuni Buddha and I practiced together."
You have to see what this Shakyamuni Buddha is. Keizan Zenji said,
"Shakyamuni Buddha is not this I, and yet Shakyamuni Buddha is
in this I. Not only is he in this I, but the mountains, rivers,
and great earth are also in this I." This is the life of Shakyamuni
Buddha, this is what you realize. The sound of the wind penetrates
thoroughly through this Zendo.
saying of Dogen Zenji is, "In the Buddhadharma we do not consider
deep or shallow. What is most important is your sincere practice."
This sincere practice becomes more and more important to me as
I go along and practice. It is not a matter of seeing something
or having something called ordinary mind. But rather, how do we
use this ordinary mind? How do we fully appreciate it? How do
we fully live? I remember as a kid playing soccer that sometimes
six or eight hours would pass, and it would be just like the blink
of an eye. I am sure you have all experienced that. But what is
this practice that we talk about? It is not about seeing something,
standing apart from the way, but it is to live it fully.
would like to read something from the Bendowa, Dogens Wholehearted
Endeavor in the Way. "All Buddha Tathagatas who directly transmit
inconceivable dharma, and actualize supreme, perfect enlightenment
have a wondrous way, unsurpassed and unconditioned. Only Buddhas
transmitted to Buddhas without veering off. Self-fulfilling samadhi
is its standard.Sitting upright, practicing zazen is the authentic
gate to the unconfined realm of this samadhi. Although this inconceivable
dharma is abundant in each person, it is not actualized without
practice, and it is not experienced without realization. When
you release it, it fills your hand. How could it be limited to
one, or many? When you speak it, it fills your mouth. It is not
bound by length or width. All Buddhas continuously abide in it,
but do not leave traces of consciousness in their illumination.
Sentient beings continuously move about in it, but illumination
is not manifested in their consciousness. The concentrated endeavor
of the way I am speaking of allows all things to come forth in
enlightenment and practice, all-inclusiveness without detachment."
is Shakyamuni Buddhas eye. The mountains, rivers and earth
are our body. Allow that to come up. It is not about my way, it
is not about my self-concern.
through the barrier and dropping off limitations, how could you
be hindered by nodes in bamboo, or knots in wood?" Dogen aks how
could this Way be hindered by our thoughts, ideas, and notions?
It cant be. Thoughts, ideas and notions do not stop the
sun from rising or the wind from blowing. But we allow ourselves
to be deluded by thinking it is otherwise. If we want this great
way which we already have, whats the problem? It is right
beneath our feet.
is the turning point on that? What will help us appreciate life
to its fullest? We may get confused since we hear two conflicting
messages in practice. The first one is that you should really
make an effort and put everything into it. Die on the cushion.
Then you hear statements like, "All you have to do is just really
be yourself." How do you reconcile those two things? You have
to do what Master Eka did: If effort is there, then you exhaust
it, you use it. Then through applying effort you learn a few things.
You learn where to put effort. For many years I gritted my teeth
and aimed for this thing called enlightenment. I was always disappointed,
extremely disappointed. Id be in tears. I remember Genpo
Roshi sending me some pizza one day. I felt so bad this enlightenment
wouldnt happen, I wouldn't come out of my room. I was mortified.
After a while, that changed somewhat. I finally began to let Maezumi
Roshis words in, like: "Appreciate your life. Appreciate
the dharma. Your life is the Buddha treasure." But then I would
tend to do nothing. I would sit there and do nothing, and just
wait for something to happen. Thats not it, either.
the end of his life Shakyamuni Buddha changed his Eightfold Path
into the Eight Awarenesses of the Enlightened Person. Instead
of "Have right thought," he said, "Remember right thought," or
"Remember who you are." We know who we are. We know deep down
inside and Im not talking about knowing intellectually.
Its a gut level feeling. We know that we are Buddha nature.
Even if it is really obscure, thats why we practice. Remember
that fact, bring that up to the surface.
Shakyamuni Buddha said of right effort, "Exert meticulous effort."
Apply your efforts on a momentary basis, surrender to this place.
Our tendency is to create some other place, some other way of
being, even on an energetic level. We think this cant be
it. This cant be what life is. Theres got to be "enlightenment."
We constantly move away from this present moment. We never thoroughly
penetrate it because we are afraid of really standing alone, having
nothing. But having nothing is not a problem. You still have the
sun, the moon, and the stars, everything you ever had. As Dogen
Zenji says, "When you release it, it fills your hand." But, we
want it so bad that we cant let go of it.
Roshi talks about opening the hand of thought: Let it go and experience
your life unreservedly. You dont need to conjure it up in
your mind. You dont need to conjure up this enlightenment.
Life goes on. When you let go of the crutch, you may find that
you can walk, wonderful. "Ordinary mind is the way."
ordinary mind that we have, or that we are, and that is always
apparent, is different to different people. Dogen Zenji in his
Mountains and Waters Sutra says, "To a dragon water
is like a palace. To a fish, water is like a home. To a hungry
ghost water is like fire." Thats how our life is. We may
see this ordinary life that we have now as hell. For many people
this is definitely hell. For others it is home, it is a wonderful
thing The world is always like this, but there are probably five
billion ordinary minds. It depends on what you hold onto, what
is your criteria of viewing the world. It is up to each one of
us to really make that clear, to really see this eye of Shakyamuni
how should I direct myself toward it? In the Bendowa it says,
"Only Buddhas transmitted to Buddhas without veering off. Self-
fulfilling samadhi is its standard." What does that really mean?
Self-fulfilling samadhi basically means no separation. Be this
whole universe. There is nothing outside of this. Kuryo Roshi
would say about mu, make the whole universe mu and put it right
in your hara. There is nothing to be gained on the outside, just
be it, thoroughly. It is the same with shikantaza, self-fulfilling
samadhi is its criteria. That shikan is just nothing
outside of this universe, nothing out of sight of this just sitting.
of the things that Ive been looking at with shikantaza when
Im really honest about it, is this sense of boredom that
Ive had ever since I first started practice. The tremendous
boredom of sitting there. But the more I practice, the more I
appreciate boredom. I always used to try and escape it. I would
create all kinds of fantasies and of course, life would never
match up to those fantasies. But boredom is also a hidden treasure.
If you really sit down and be bored, what happens? You see the
tremendous stillness of life, its tremendous groundedness. The
thing that stops us from experiencing boredom is our expectations,
our desire to move the mind, to look for something else. But if
you open-heartedly enter into boredom, let go of your preconceptions
of how it is, tremendous stillness is there moment by moment.
Just this. No need to move anywhere else. Be really bored, let
it penetrate to every single part of you.
Rinzai had a phrase that I use over and over, "The six rays of
divine light never cease to shine. If you see it this way, you
are no different than Shakya." Seeing, hearing, tasting, touching,
smelling, thinking, these never cease to shine. How often do we
really look and appreciate this life that is our ordinary mind?
How is seeing deluded? Its not. We see directly. We hear
directly. Smell directly. There is no defilement there whatsoever.
Its divine in that we can not grasp it, and its a
tremendous gift. This is ordinary mind. What is there to direct
toward? It possesses us and embraces us. Sight embraces all things.
Each one of these six senses is a gate in itself, is this ordinary
mind. Isnt it crazy that we look for something else? Its
is not a matter of method. Dont set up a criteria that if
you do something, something will happen. It is not about directing
yourself towards anything, it is allowing the "Six rays of divine
light" to shine. Illumining that fact. Chinul, the great Korean
master, said, "Trace back the radiance." Thats right effort.
See whats here, experience it, absorb yourself in that.
says, "The way is at hand, but people look for it far away. Farmers
use it every day, without being aware of it. We cannot be separated
from the way, even for an instant. What we can be separated from
is not the way." Similarly Dogen Zenji says, "Be blocked by the
way." Everywhere you look, this is the way, you cannot escape
it. There is no place that it doesnt reach. But we impose
all kinds of conditions, "I cant be practicing right, because
Ive run out of money." The Way is difficult, the Way is
beautiful, the Way is ugly.
down we want to know, want to be. We want to have something. We
want to hold onto it. We want to be somebody. We want to have
something that will comfort us, any time, every day. We do all
kinds of things that will make ourselves feel that we have something.
asked, "How can I know it is the way if I dont turn toward
it?". Nansen replied, "The Way does not belong to knowing or not
knowing." Thats what it means to stand alone. You dont
need something called enlightenment. In some stage you have to
throw away everything extra, any boundary that you have set up.
What is important is living your life always in this moment. Not
on your terms, but wholeheartedly absorbed in this Way, this great
Way of the Buddha and the ancestors. It is not a matter of not
knowing either. It is not a matter of trying to blank things out.
Things arise, you think you know something, but you dont.
Throw it away. Really stand on your own two feet. Experience life
unreservedly. Feel this true knowing in your bones, blood and
marrow. Thats the knowledge that you will gain, the wisdom
of this momentary experience. You will know it beyond all doubt.
And then, as Mumon says in his verse, "The spring flowers, the
moon in water. The cool breezes of summer, the winters snow.
If idle concerns do not concern the mind, this is mans happiest