from Living and Dying in Zazen

"Because I entered Dogen's school, I was able to practice correctly. Being a man of immoderate ways, if I hadn't followed Dogen, my natural cunning would probably have caused me to be quite unscupulous in business or in whatever work I pursued. Being easily angered, I might have killed somebody. However, I gave up that kind of behavior completely, acted with circumspection, and remained inconspicuous and was able to find sanctuary in a zazen that hasn't a shred of reward. This was all thanks to Dogen."

"Everyone is originally pure, not in the slightest way different from the buddha. Zazen is the purity of one's own nature through the body. So the self of zazen is different from the self of ordinary life. With the ordinary self you are always using your mind to figure things out: how to get through this world in a better fashion, how to make money, how to move up in the world, how to make life easier, how to make it more pleasurable... Zazen puts all that aside. In other words, it takes a break from the human world. What is the human world? The five desires and the six dusts. In zazen, you let go of all relationships, take a pause from everything. Don't think in terms of good or bad, or judge right from wrong. Stop the movement of consciousness. Refrain from the calculation of ideas. Don't seek to be a Buddha because that too is a desire."

"If you sit with faith in zazen, you will be buddha."

"We stop the one who can't cease from seeking things outside, and practice with our bodies with a posture that seeks absolutely nothing. This is zazen."

"All the sutras are theses on zazen... That's what I meant by the expression, "become intimate with the self." Forget your individual self and secretly practice. Become one with the true self. The true self is the same as the whole universe. It is a continuation of the buddha. You don't need "enlightenment"... Just get into this position, sit, and see. All the sutras are doctoral theses. They are nothing but theses on zazen for which you only have to sit. That is the "transmission outside the teaching." Zazen is not a part of thought. It is not something written. Zazen is practicing the buddha way. It is practicing the buddha dharma. It is the "transmission outside the scriptures and beyond words."

" 'It is like the vast sea, a world without limits; it shines like the moon, spreading its limitless light.' This is Dogen famously extolling zazen. When I'm asked what is the purpose of zazen, I have to say no purpose. As I've often said: sit, body upright, backbone stretched, breathing through your nose, mouth closed, eyes open, sitting resolutely... Zazen is basically becoming intimate with the self - the dharma of becoming you. All the sutras are literally extensions of zazen."

"The sun just shines, not for any reason... It just shines. It's "just shining" is the greatness of the sun. This is the meaning of practice. Practice means "one direction taking in everything." With "one direction taking in everything," it just shines. You just sit. In Soto zen we have the expression shikantaza. There is deep meaning in this "just sitting." In just sitting, satori is there even though you don't say it. Satori is a part of just sitting. This is "one direction taking in everything." Dogen expressed it as "In non-thinking it manifests." When you are just sitting, there are no thoughts like, 'enlightenment will come little by little.' That's where buddha dharma manifests. As long as you just sit, that is where the Way is. This does not only apply to sitting. When you are helping someone, you just help. You don't say, "If I help her I will gain merit" and you don't take care of someone because it's beneficial. Without thinking such things, you just help whether it brings you benefit or not."