The way, the highest way, is not difficult, but you must not make choices.
It is the effort to reach the realm of thought without discrimination, consciousness beyond all categories,
embracing and transcending every conceivable expression in language.
Intuition and action must spring forth at the same time. In the practice of Budo there can be no conscious
thought. There is no time for thinking, not even an instant. When a person acts, intention and action must be simultaneous.
If you hesitate at all, only the forebrain is working; whereas forebrain and thalamus (the primitive, central brain)
and action must all coincide, in the same instant, identical -- just as the moon's reflection on the surface of the stream
is never still, while the moon itself shines and does not move. This is hishiryo consciousness.
Tranquility in movement... This is the guiding spirit in every martial art, whatever the tactical and technical
differences among them.
Learn both the arts of war and the arts of civilian life.
Each of us has to create his own method. If you imitate, you'll be wrong. You have to create for yourself.
You and I are not the same. If you cannot find the solution for your own life, you will be paralyzed, unable to move.
In touch with the fundamental energy in your body, you can observe what is happening and store up energy to deal with it.
If you open your hand, you can take hold of anything; if you close your hand, nothing can enter it. In the martial arts the point
is to penetrate elements and phenomena, not skim alongside them; so the martial arts are essentially virile, because man
penetrates woman. But in our day and age, everybody wants to save energy and is only half alive. Always halfway, never complete.
People are half alive, like a lukewarm bath.
You must learn to penetrate life.
In a contest our mind cannot be influenced by any move of the opponent, or by any action of his body or mind. One's own mind
must move about freely, without any desire to attack the adversary, yet without ever removing one's attention from him.
We must be completely attentive to him, always at every instant.
We must create our lives, free ourselves, become detached, simply attentive to here and now; everything lies in that.
"The moon's reflection on the surface of the water moves incessently. Yet the moon shines and goes nowhere; it stays but it moves."
The stream never flows backward. The water slips past, past, past... but the moon doesn't move. In a contest the mind must be
like the moon, while body and time slip past, past, past like water in the stream.
Now never returns. In zazen every breath out is that one, the one now, and it never comes back again.
Yesterday's zazen is not the same as today's.
You must not rest during zazen, nor while you are training in a martial art. Doing it halfway is not good; you have to do it
all the way, give yourself wholly to it. We must not have any energy left in reserve.
Concentrating means "all out", totally release of energy; and it should be the same in every act of our life.
In the present-day world what we see is the opposite: young people half living, half dead. Their sexuality is half way, too,
yet they think about sex at work or during zazen, and the other way around as well, and so it goes with everything they do.
But if you have exhausted all your energy, you can take in fresh energy, flowing like the water in the stream.
If you try to spare your energy in a fight, you cannot win. That's one secret of the martial arts. We cannot count on wasa,
on technique alone. We have to create.
The martial arts are not theater or entertainment. That is not the true Budo. Kodo Sawaki used to say the the secret of the
martial arts is that there is no victory and no defeat. You can neither win nor be beaten. It is not the same as in sports.
In sports, time exists. In the martial arts there is only the present. Time passes and there is time, if only a fraction
of a second, to think about something, while waiting. In the martial arts there is no time to wait. Victory or nonvictory,
life or not-life, are decided in no time. You have to live now, it is now that life and death are determined, wholly.
Shin -- spirit -- is what matters first; technique and body come afterward. In the West, physical strength is the most
important factor, but this is not so in the martial arts. In judo the body must be well formed, but that is
less important thatn technique and the mind-intuition needed to use it correctly. In a fight between a strong technique
and a strong body, technique will prevail. In a fight between a strong mind and a strong technique, mind will prevail,
because it will find the weak point.
In reality, physical strength and strength of technique and mind are all more or less equal, but it is always shin,
the spirit, that decides the fate of the battle.
It all happens in a flash. And in that flash the mind decides, technique and body follow. In all modern sports there is a pause,
but in the martial arts there is no pause. If you wait, ever so little, you're lost; your opponent gets the advantage. The mind
must be constantly concentrated on the whole situation, ready to act or react; that's why it is most important.
There is no choosing. It happens unconsciously, automatically, naturally. There can be no thought, because if there is a thought
there is a time of thought and that means a flaw.
For the right movement to occur there must be permanent, totally alert awareness, of the entire situation; that awareness
chooses the right stroke, technique and body to execute it, and it's all over.
Intuition triggers body and technique. Body and consciousness unite, you think with the whole body, your whole self is
invested in the reaction. Mind, technique, body -- they have to be united, not separate. It is the perfect union of the three
that creates the right action; not their separation. Complete unity. You must seize upon suki, opportunity.
Opportunity is most important, and thinking cannot create it. Only consciousness can seize upon the opportunity
for action, the empty space in which one must act.
The understanding of the weakness. Through intuition, and that's the most important point, one must take advantage of the
instant when the opponent, breathing in, shows his weak point.
You yourself must breathe out when you attack. In karate a blow received while breathing in can be dangerous; not while
breathing out. So you must seize the opporunity while the adversary is breathing in, because then he reveals his weak point,
his empty space. To attack while the adversary is catching his breath, showing his weak point, the flaw in his defense,
his attitude: that is the key.
Breathing in is one great suki or opportunity, and too much tension, or too little, is another.
You must not show your weak points, either in the martial arts or in everyday life. Life is a fight! You must remain
concentrated and not reveal your defects; through continuous training in self-control, gradually you discard them.
Never show your weak points, so that other people will not be able to take advantage of them. Attentiveness, determination,
concentration. When your adversary's eyes move, or are unclear, hesitate, doubt, waver, there is the suki, opportunity,
the flaw. In teh critical moments of our lives we must not show our weak points; because if we do we will make mistakes,
we will stumble and fall and be defeated. This form of vigilance cannot come from constant bodily tension, for the body would
soon wear out; it must come from the attentiveness of the mind. Whence the great importance of shin, spirit. The body
indicates the weak points, and the mind can rectify, channel, direct.
Strength of body and technical skill are nothing without vigilance of mind! Right consciousness is essential to right
It is your mind, your consciousness, that must not panic or calculate -- just adjust completely to whatever is happening.
Concentrate all the time on your breathing, your breathing out, which should be slow and long and reach as far
down as possible into your abdomen, your hara. And never take your eyes off your opponent's eyes; that way you can
follow his inner movements.
What counts is the force of your concentration. Bodily tension and technical skill must be channeled through the attentiveness
and intuition of the mind. Facing life or death, the consciousness must remain calm. The great Master Miyamoto Musashi decided
to quite fighting one day in order to solve the problem of how to die. And what he did was sit zazen.
I have nothing against sports; they train the body and develop stamina and endurance. But the spirit of competition and power
that presides over them is not good, it reflects a distorted vision of life. The root of the martial arts is not there.
The teachers are partly responsible for this state of affairs; they train the body and reach technique, but do nothing for
What good to them is their technique in everday life?
The martial arts should strive to recapture their original dimensions. In the spirit of Zen and Budo everyday life becomes
the contest. There must be awareness at every moment -- getting up in the morning, working, eating, going to bed. That is the
place for mastery of the self.
When posture (shi sei, form and force) is perfect, the movement that follows is perfect as well. It's particularly easy
to see in archery, which teaches the correct way to behave and be: a beautiful posture, an inner solitude, a free mind, energy (ki)
balanced between cosmos, being, and strength of body, right breathing concentrated in the hara, and the consciousness attentive, clear.
zanshin mind: the mind that stays put without attaching itself to anything, and remains vigilant, attentive to the present moment
and then to the moment that comes after it. Movement is guided by intuition.
In practicing both zen and the martial arts, it is essential to concentrate on breathing out. This draws energy down toward the lower part
of the body and spinal column, removing tension elsewhere and giving fresh strength.
Concentrate on your posture and breathing totally; if you do that, zazen remains completely fresh and new and never grows stale.
If your practice truly, zazen ultimately becomes more difficult thatn the martial arts. If you practice day after day, your practice
becomes dokan, essence-in-repetition. We practice over and over, and each time for life or death.
Practicing do, the way, involves the "how" of living, the education of the ego, the way that leads to an understanding of the depths
of one's own mind, our true, original nature. It also means acting in harmony with earth and sky, so that the inner mind or spirit
may be completely free.
An action cannot be right unless a meditation has gone before it, and coexists with it. Only then can there be true freedom.
In the martial arts, work on technique is indispensible, usually for ten or twenty years. But ultimately, state of mind or consciousness
takes precedence; and this can be seen most clearly in archery.
The link between mind and body, spirit and posture, mind and wasa, is breathing. Breathing becomes ki (energy, the spring), like the
ki in aikido. In Budo, three essential things are technique (wasa), activity (ki), and mind/spirit (shin). In zazen it is possible, through
the posture, to bring mind and breathing into balance, whereas in a contest it is difficult to balance the breathing because there is so
much physical activity. With zazen, posture influences consciousness from the very start.
The true way of Budo is not through competition or conflict; it is beyond life and death, beyond victory and defeat.
The secret of the sword is never to unsheathe the sword: you must not take our your sword because if you try to kill someone,
you must die for it yourself.
What you must do instead is kill yourself, kill your own mind; then other people are afraid and run away. You are the strongest
and the others keep their distance. It is no longer necessary to win victories over them.
In zazen, concentrating on breathing out is what creates the liaison that balances consciousness and posture. That act
triggers the balancing of muscles, nerves, hypothalamus, and thalamus. If you practice zazen regularly it can happen unconsciously,
naturally and automatically.
fudo chi chinmyo roku. "Mysterious note on motionless wisdom." The motionless Budo posture is muso posture, that is,
not-posture. It means not only that nothing moves in the body, but also that nothing moves in the mind as well; that motionless spirit
has been achieved.
Look at the top, when it's spinning slowly, it wobbles, it moves; then, when it has gathered momentum, it becomes stable and no longer moves.
Nor is the experience of zazen some special or mysterious experience, or a particular condition of body and mind. It is the return to the normal
human condition. We tend to think that a religion has to be accompanied by mysteries and miracles, and be somehow the opposite of science. Similarly,
in zazen, many people think that the object is to attain some kind of "illumination", some special state of mind.
The practice of meditation, concentration in the posture of the Buddha, has nothing to do with any of that.
Religious ceremonies also arouse emotion, feelings, ecstasy, whereas zazen does not mean ecstasy or the arousal of emotion or any particular condition
of body and mind. It means returning, completely, to the pure, normal human condition. That condition is not something reserved for great masters
and saints, there is nothing mysterious about it, it is within everyone's reach.
Zazen means becoming intimate with oneself, finding the exact taste of inner unity, and harmonizing with universal life.
What is the essence of zazen? Just posture, breathing, and attitude of mind.
In time, every gesture of life becomes Zen; but the source, the origin, is simply sitting.
Our life is not just in our body, it is a perpetual exchange with the life of the universe.
Understanding this interdependence comes with the perception of ku or nothingness, vacuity, and with the actual living of ku,
which is the highest truth and also universal love. The manifestation of ku is infinite, limitless energy, which is accessible to us when
we are in harmony with universal life; we are invested by it unconsciously, naturally, without any resistance.
We are governed by two main nervous systems: the cerebrospinal or central nervous system, which is associated with the cortex and cerebration;
and the neurovegetative system, connected with the viscera and inner centers of the brain. The second is also called the autonomous or
involuntary nervous system because we cannot act upon it consciously, and it controls and activates our biological functions, those that regulate
affectivity, temperature, metabolism, endocrine gland secretion, digestion, sleep.
Zazen regularizes the autonomic system, the equilibrium of which determines the health of body and mind. Its parts act together to regulate
the working of our organs independently of the outside world, and ot coordinate and harmonize their functions. Its two divisions, sympathetic
and parasympathetic, condition the equilibrium of our body; it is the balance and regulation of these that govern health.
We have grown away from the natural self-regulations of the body, its automatic wisdom, and we subject these regulating centers to all kinds of
violence that disrupt their natural rhythm. That is the chief cause of all the diseases we see today, the neuroses and cancers, etc. By calming
the cortex, zazen enables that rhythm tobe restored.
Equilibrium can be achieved through zazen first, and then recreated afterward in the four basic postures of ordinary life -- standing, walking,
sitting, and lying down.
If our minds are upset, the natural functions of our bodies also tend to be disturbed. When the mind is calm, the body can act spontaneously and
the action that results is free and easy, whereas the body's functions are impeded when the mind is working all the time. We should not think all
the time. We should not think only with our conscious minds -- but it is not easy matter to alter our mental processes.
In zazen we must think and live with the entire body.
When our body and mind are acted upon by the ego they can only function in a closed circuit. In zazen, they can open up to the life of the unconscious
and the universal.
What life is, in reality, is an interdependent consciousness (consciousness of the universe) plus a dependent consciousness (or consciousness of the ego).
Those who have too strong an ego cannot experience the universal consciousness. To obtain satori, one must let go of the ego. To receive everything, one must
open one's hands and give.
Universal consciousness is the source of intuition. Intuition does not come only from consciousness or from the voluntary nervous system; its source
is even more in the vegetative system and in the totality of the cells in the body's nerves which are connected to the old, inner brain -- the brain that is active
Like sleep, silence is extremely important.
Nowadays people are too expansive; when they talk they talk only with a view to the effects of their own words -- superficially, out of diplomacy, interest,
rivalry -- and human relations have become complicated by anxiety and pride.
Through the practice of zazen we learn to experience direct, natural relationships that are not affected by our egos; and we also learn the virtues of silence.
Breathing in is taking in supplies; breathing out, slowly and deeply, spread them through the body.
It is important to concentrate on breathing out, on spreading and distributing, because breathing in, stocking up energy,
happens unconsciously and automatically.
The Japanese martial arts use this way of breathing, and any attack must take place while breathing out (yang), if possible while the adversary
is breathing in (yin), because he is then at his most vulnerable.
Push the sounds out, long and deep, pressing down on the intestines.
Through the practice of zazen we learn to use this kind of breathing unconsciously in our everyday lives, and so we can store up a good supply
of energy from the universe.
The cerebrospinal system and our five senses enable us to live, while the neurovegetative system and sexual organs enable us to be lived,
through the life of the universe.
If this conception reaches the spiritual level and becomes embodied in faith, it can acquire great power and force, expressing the harmony of
knowledge and perception, mind and matter, object and subject, substance and essence, one and many, mortal and immortal, beyond all relative
categories and contradictions.
Let your posture be full of energy; otherwise it is like flat beer in a bottle opened the night before.
You must be like a general on horseback in front of his army.
If your posture is right, it influences the nerves in the autonomic system and the old, central part of your brain. Your
forebrain becomes quiet and peaceful. Your intuition grows strong.
The master's mind is never still. It never dwells on any one thing or person. It lets all go by...
Nor does the body dwell.
The essence of his self, of the self, is fudo chi, unmoving wisdom. Intuition, wisdom, physical action, are always one.
That is the secret of zazen, and of the martial arts. Just as the martial arts are not sports, zazen is not some kind of massage or spiritual culture.
"One must respect God and Buddha, but not be dependent upon them." - Miyamoto Musashi
The way that taught how to cut one's enemies in two became the way that taught how to cut one's own mind. A way of decision, resolution, determination.
Strength and victory flow from decisiveness. One moves beyond the level at which most people stop. One transcends the conflict, transforms it into a
spiritual progress. The samurai had a higher vision of life.
True kendo and true zen must be beyond relativity. In other words, one must stop choosing, stop preferring one side or the other side in a relative
scheme of things. Instead, make one decision.
Discard the animal instinct that clings to the human spirit.
It's the same in learning to play a musical instrument. In the end you can play without consciousness,
there is no more attachment, no more reference to the principles. You play naturally, automatically. This is a kind of wisdom,
and out of it something fresh can be created.
Great works of art are created beyond technique. In the world of technology and science as well, great discoveries transcend
principles and techniques. To be attached to one idea, one category, one system of values, is a mistaken view, it is contrary
to the laws of life and the way. In idea and action one must become truly free.
We must achieve direct, immediate unity with the truth of the cosmos. Our thinking must think beyond our personal consciousness,
with our body and not just our brain. Think with the whole body.
Before and after,
In front, behind;
At the middle point.
mushotoku, without any goal or desire for profit, just as there is no need to wonder where the arrow is going to land.
If we are thinking about the results, the product, with our personal consciousness, we can neither concentrate nor release the whole of our energy.
But if we just make the effort, the results are there immediately, unconsciously and naturally.
Unconscious practice is better than conscious practice.
... they have too strong an ego and aren't trying hard enough. They are going in some other direction.
In zazen, our energy and mind harmonize with the energy of the cosmos, and that infinite energy governs and directs our own energy. Then, we can govern,
regulate all things in one. We can be free, by virtue of the energy of the cosmos, the invisible truth. And it is the same in the practice of the martial arts.
The way to develop the power of the hara, three fingers beneath the navel, to assemble all your energy there, is by right breathing.
The long exhalation, as deep as you can.
kikai, the ocean of energy. ki, energy, and ai, union.
The voice must go to the utter limits of breath. One cry, one instant containing all space-time, the whole cosmos.
People shout or chant to express their own personalities, they make vocal decoration, there is nothing authentic or really fierce about them.
No strength. They're just singing or making noise. There is no ki in their kiai, no energy.
Breathing does not come until posture is right. To teach you properly, I should have to take my clothes off, but you must understand through your own body.
There is a short, natural inhalation at the level of the solar plexus, then a long exhalation, pushing down on the intestines beneath the navel. For one
inhalation, the exhalation can last one, two, three, four, even five minutes.
First you have to understand in your mind, then practice. It is also a very effective means of living a long time; most of the people in the Orient who
live to be very old breathe that way.
You are much stronger when breathing out; your feet grip the earth, you are like a tiger.
zanshin is the mind that remains still without being attached to anything, watchful, alert, but unattached. Little by little, this form of alertness
is applied to every act of our lives. In zen, and in traditional budo as well, the emphasis is on total behavior.
Kata: the "form" of Budo. Every martial art -- judo, kendo, aikido, etc. -- has its own forms, actions, procedure. Beginners must learn the kata and
assimilate and use them. Later, they begin to create out of them, in the way specific to each art.
The essence of kata is not in the gestures themselves but in the attitude adopted toward them, that is what makes them right or not. You must not think,
"This kata has to be performed like this or like that." Instead, you must trani the body-mind to create, each time, one total gesture mobilizing the whole ki,
in the instant.
Live the spirit of the gesture; through training, the kata must merge with the spirit. The stronger the spirit, the stronger the kata.
Kata means "how one behaves."
I am not bowing to a piece of wood, I am bowing to everyone there with me in the dojo, and to the whole cosmos as well. All these gestures are extremely
important because they help us to acquire correct behavior. They develop dignity and respect, and they help to create a normal condition in us.
Nobody today is normal. Everybody is a little bit crazy or unbalanced, people's minds are running all the time. Their perceptions of the world are partial,
incomplete. They are eaten alive by their egos. They think they see, but they are mistaken; all they do is project their madness, their world, upon the world.
There is no clarity, no wisdom in that!
It is very important to observe one's behavior. Behavior influences consciousness. Right behavior means right consciousness. Our attitude here and now influences
the entire environment: our words, actions, ways of holding and moving ourselves, they all influence what happens around us and inside us. The actions of every
instant, every day, must be right. Our behavior in the dojo will help to condition our everyday life.
Every gesture is important. How we eat, how we put on our clothes, how we wash ourselves, how we go to the toilet, how we put our things away, how we act with
other people, family, wife, how we work -- how we are: totally, in every single gesture.
You must not dream your life. You must be, completely, in whatever you do. This is training in kata.
One should live the world with one's body, here and now. And concentrate, completely, on every action.
Only strong teaching can educate a strong ki.
There's no reason to be afraid of anything. People who are afraid think only of themselves, they're too egoistic.
Fear comes from going against.
Even in a fight one's consciousness must be with that of one's adversary, one must always go with, not against.
One has to become the situation, not separate oneself from it.
It's not necessary to want to win; only then can one win.
Abandoning the ego is the secret of right living. In life as in the practice of the martial arts it is important to strengthen
the will and develop strength and skill. But the main thing is to strengthen the spirit and find freedom.
The energy that creates energy, the movement of movement. Ki is always movement, motion, the intangible flow of life. Energy is one for of it,
animated by it.
What makes the blood flow in our veins, what makes the sensation in a nerve ending, what makes our intestines expand and contract? It is ki,
ever-shifting, ever-flowing ki, that creates the movement of life.
A musician who plays very well is played by his ki in the end, rather than playing it, and he uses the techniques he has learned
Some people have a very strong ki, others a weak one. What differs is their way of transforming the vital energy. And you must learn
how to revive it.
The best way to build it up is through breathing, the right kind of breathing, concentrating on breathing out.
Students leap about and waste their ki.
What matters most is how we use our ki.
Another contributing factor to the loss of ki, especially in today's civilization, is disperson, mental agitation, anxiety,
and disorder in our thoughts. We overuse our forebrains nowadays, whereas we should be developing the unconscious activity of the hypothalamus
in order to strengthen the deep brain, the intuition, instinct.
You must believe absolutely in the importance of the breathing out; try ot shout while you're breathing in. Breathing out is the key of Budo;
that and concentration in the expression of ki.
The rule is to concentrate fully on every situation. Here and now I am drinking water, and drinking water is all I am doing.
On the contrary, think with the body and instinct. With the help of your intuition, you can sense absolutely everything.
Concentration is acquired through training, through concentrating on every gesture, which is the same as returning to a normal condition of body
and mind. In the end, the will, the intention, is no longer active and the result comes automatically, naturally, and unconsciously.
And without tiring you.
... by training your body, meditating in zazen, but without becoming too intellectual; that uses up too much ki. Also, each person has his own path,
his own cosmos.
I often say when you sit zazen it is though you were getting into your own coffin, because in the end, you abandon everything. The two can
be completmentary; but today the martial arts are more like a form of gymnastic and have lost their original profundity.
When death draws near we must abandon life and know how to die. That is wisdom.
If one really wants to live, one has to know the death in oneself.
Life is a succession of here and now, hear and now, unceasing concentration in the hear and now. People who worry about the future or the past don't
understand that they are worrying about an illusion.
What we must do is solve, dissolve, the contradiction within ourselves, the contradiction that is built into the two hemispheres of our
own brains, that affects everything in our lives, in our families, our social activities, our inner life.
The only way to solve it is with the aid of hannya. Wisdom.
Do not be narrowminded, always looking for rules and recipes. Every situation requires its own reaction.
How to concentrate, that is the real question. By reflecting upon oneself; then one can see the imperfections in one's karma and gain
control over one's bonnos one's desires and passions.
If we do not have some practice like zazen to balance all our pushes and pulls, then we develop only part of ourselves, we become too
spiritual or too material.
That is the mistake of the whole of modern civilization, and the cause of the crisis in which we now are.
To know how to control and regulate the self is the secret.
Control body and mind, which are one. Control life and death.
bodai shin - the state of mind that has observed mujo -- impermanence, the unending alteration of all things -- and observed it
to the full.
"This day is ending and with it must end your life. Observe the innocent delight of the fish swimming in a puddle of water, precarious thought
that delight be."
You must concentrate upon and concentrate yourself wholly to each day, as though a fire were raging in your hair.
He who seeks the true spiritual way of Buddhism must begin by planting mujo [impermanence] in his heart as solidly as an oak tree.
soon your death will come; never forget that, from one moment of consciousness to the next, from breating in to breathing out. If you do not live so,
you are not truly one that seeks the way.
In zazan there is no special mystery, no particular motivation. But through zazen your life will assuredly prosper and flourish and become more
perfect. Therefore you must let go of every intention and give up the idea of achieving any goal whatsoever, through or during zazen.
You must understand by engaging in profound introspection.
If you think there is something special about your ego, I pray you, show it to me. If you cannot find it, then, I pray you, keep it for yourself
and protect it faithfully; and forget the one you ordinarily exhibit to the world.
Every living action of the body, every gesture, must harmonize with the sense of true Zen. Your conduct and all your behavior must follow the cosmic
order naturally, automatically, unconsciously.
If they fail to create teh conditions of true concentration they are no better than puppets fallen into a reeking septic tank, from which emanates
a long tradition of compromise.
Almost all beginners find themselves, and often, in the state of kontin (drowsiness) or of sanran (agitation), and the reason for this
is that in zazen their consciousness and their zazen are two separate states. They are in opposition to their zazen.
People would do better to practice calmly and naturally, with no regard for what they are, for their own consciousness, or for what they hear or feel.
Then there would never be the slightest hint of kontin or of sanran.
Sometimes when you meditate in zazen, many, many demons fly up in your mind and disrupt your zazen. But the moment you cease practicing the way
consciously, they disappear.
With long experience, and thanks to the infinite qualities of zazen, you will understand all this unconsciously; as, on a voyage, a long and
dangerous road tests the horse and reveals his strength and courage.
Moreover, it is not overnight that we see and feel the goodness of the persons we live with. On the Buddha's way you must preserve hope always and
never let it go for weariness, whether your way take you through happiness or through misfortune.
Then you will become one of those of whom it is said that they are truly responsible for the way.
And this is the most important point of all: the root, the origin of life and death, is in ourselves.
The whole of the tangible cosmos is metamorphosed into microscopic particles within our being. And our being itself -- where is it?
There is nothing mysterious or esoteric here. If the mind becomes peaceful in zazen, in the perfect concentration of the body, then the world
of phenomena becomes pure as crystal and everything we encounter is clear and bright. Our consciousness is still and calm as snow new-fallen
upon an ancient landscape.
But we must not attach ourselves either to the crystalline earth or to the empty sky, or to the white snow, or to emptiness or to phenomenon...
We must let go of all attachments and simply be there, concentrated, in zazen.
Here and now.
interpreted from the Fukanzazengi of Master Dogen
Forget about any kind of practice or ritual that is founded on intellectual knowledge, that runs after words and follows only the letter of things.
Instead, learn to make the half-turn that throws your light within and shows you your true nature. Body and mind will drop away of themselves,
and your real face will appear.
If you want ot get to that-which-is, then practice that-which-is right away.
The zazen posture is satori. It is like the lion in repose, the dragon's roar. It is deserving of the highest respect.
Seated, standing, or lying down, you should look like the king of lions, always free and strong, brave and fearless forever; if people
happen to see your posture, it should radiate so much dignity that they cannot come too close.
As the infinitely great merit of zazen is realized, we can put the whole cosmos inside one poppy seed or pour the ocean through one pore of the
skin and change the earth of hell into an earth of paradise, unconsciously, naturally, automatically.
Our lives are as vain and ephemeral as the dewdrop on the morning grass and that our destiny is an impermanent as a dream or illusion, a bubble
or a shadow.
Real zen is not running to catch the way, it is being caught by the way. Real zen is waking up, metamorphosis; it is not a personal satori.
The Nirvana Sutra contains these words, spoke by the Buddha when he experienced satori under the bodhi tree: I and all living beings
have realized the way together.
Do not practice the BUddha Dharma, do not practice zazen, for your own benefit or for utilitarian purposes or for honors or for merits or to
seek advantages or miracles, but only for the Buddha Dharma. shikantaza is the highest, the greatest, the purest dimension of the human
body and mind. A return to the normal condition of the human spirit.
The practice of zazen brings inner peace. In addition, your zazen influences all humanity, the entire cosmos.
Zazen is a game, the greatest game of all. Only those who have understood this continue to practice.
No one can understand the religious joy within those who become truly intimate with themselves.
It's a form of concentration that not only doesn't create disorder in the mind but actually organizes it, that creates order within us.
In the world of zazen, in the world of ku, there are no more eyes, nose, tongue, ears, touch, or consciousness. Everything exists
unconsciously, naturally, automatically, but there is no personal thought about that existence, nothing conscious. Everything naturally
follows the cosmic order. Whatever relates to the conscious mind has nothing to do with satori. The true satori comes and cannot be felt.
But a master can tell if it is there.
Mouth closed, body not moving, posture strong and full of energy, breathing deep, thumbs horizontal. Push the sky with the top of the head, push
the earth with the knees.
Zazen means practicing, doing what cannot be thought by our personal consciousness. True religion is not thought, it is done. Practice
eternity here and now.
Every day the wind rises in our human minds, creating waves. If we let go of all the illusions of our personal consciousness, we can begin
to see a new life. Zazen means letting go of the education and training instilled in us from birth. Shin jin datsu raku, Dogen said.
Body and mind dropped away, metamorphosed. It isn't hard. Shin jin datsu raku simply means letting go of egoism. When attachment to the
ego is abandoned, shin jin datsu raku occurs.
Only zazen is true. Everything else is the effect of karma, the power of karma.
I don't need people's opinions. Some people say, "Please listen, listen!" And they talk. I say nothing. It's better. People's opinions
are the product of their karma. "I saw it with my own eyes, it's true. I heard it with my own ears." But those eyes and ears are not a
reliable reflection of absolute truth. They are the eyes and ears of karma. That's the problem.
So we need to come back to the original condition. Zazen. If you continue to practice, your karma can diminish, although some people, even
during zazen, only increase their karma. In any case, the only chance we have to forget and cut off our karma is in zazen, sitting on our zafu.
Then we follow the cosmic order.
Every individual has a karma, habits, customs. That is why each person understands something different from my teaching, because they each
see it through their own karma. Instead, we should hear it through hishiryo consciousness, without ego, without a personal consciousness.
You must cut away your private categories, have empty hands and an empty head.
The power of karma is strong in everyone, stupid or clever. When that force is broken, it becomes possible to understand Zen. Most people are led,
governed by their karma. They run after what they love, what attracts and impresses them.
Don't be deceived by karma. We must go ahead of time, ahead of eternity; find the world without karma.
While you practice, your karma diminishes; you just sit on your zafu. That is the world without karma.
Our world is a floating world. People walk in zigzags, like drunkards, and play on the path of life and death.
Practicing zazen means making a 180-degree turn, moving from our ordinary existence to the highest holy life.
To persevere in the practice of zazen, you must feel mujo bodai shin very strongly.
Bodai shin equals the highest spirit: spirit of awakening, mind of the way.
Mujo is impermanence.
Without that spirit of awakening, zazen becomes a competition with oneself or others, or a lifeless ritual, and one cannot persevere.
Religion means finding harmony with the cosmic system.
Zen is zazen: meditation, the essence of religion, beyond religions and philosophies, but through the experience of the body. Concentration
here and now.
During zazen you must not try to know the truth or banish your illusions. You do not think deliberately, but you are receptive to the deep unconscious,
the Alaya consciousness, the reservoir of all the seeds deposited by our karma and previous actions.
Wanting to be different is not the best attitude. Follow the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow of the patriarchs: that is the essence of Zen.
Gyoji -- practice every day -- has nothing to do with personal effort. There is no end to gyoji. Repetition, for no special purpose
and without end, is the way to follow the cosmic order, like the sun that gives light to the planet every day without asking anyone to pay.
Genjo, power, comes through practice. If you practice every day, after a while you no longer think about practicing or decide
or want to practice. So repetition is very important.
In the end, even one drop of rain, falling day after day, can wear a hole in a stone.
As long as you are trying to reach something there can be no high dimension.
Do not congeal. Do not become a bigot or a fanatic. To congeal makes the mind brittle and small.
We need to learn about the gyoji (constant practice) of the patriarchs of old and imitate their spirit. Life then was not the same as it is now,
and every person is different too, but the spirit is always the same. We must understand and repeat, over and over.
Practice must not be beyond consciousness, and consciousness must not be beyond practice. Practice and consciousness must always be identical. Practice
must follow consciousness, and consciousness must follow practice. The body's practice and the awareness in the consciousness must be one.
True wisdom cannot be shut up inside categories. It is a creation that takes place here and now, infinite and eternal. The great wise man lives in the street,
the small one goes off to the mountain.
In the streets of Paris or New York it is possible to be wise.
What matters is how we behave, how we live.
The precepts are the sword of non-fearing that draws the venom from the poison of our wrongdoing. The precepts are the last companion,
the ultimate friend who helps us over the hidden ruts and snares in the way. The precepts are the gateway to the exquisite nectar where the wise play
freely together. To protect the precepts means not to glorify oneself, it means to embrace what is refined, to shun what is base. If you do not
imprison the just precept, by calling it this or that, no error will be created.
Gyoji (constant practice) and setsu (sermons, teachings, understanding, intellect) relate to each other like water and waves.
Do not hate the thoughts that arise, and do not love them either; above all, do not entertain them. Just practice the great sitting, here and now.
If you do not continue a thought, it will not come back of its own accord.
When you have illusions or doubts, you cannot ask the right question, and when you have satori, you cannot express it.
Our mind must be the storehouse, the granary of that divine light. We must have faith in this illumination, which has no special substance situated
in any particular place in the cosmos.
A sense of conviction comes, but without any act of will, and you harmonize with all existences, creating more and more infinite beauty.
It has nothing to do with what you show other people. It is secret. True religion is like that.
The relationship among consciousness, wisdom, and the cosmos is the same as that among mirror, reflection, and form.
We must create, make new, out of the heart of tradition.
Our life is the voyage of solitude.
A strong, true person, brave and great,
Does not need help from others,
Has no wish for it.
We must become our true nature,
We must find our way into that true nature,
Walking firmly on the path.
There is only my one self,
There is no second self beneath myself.
If we achieve satori and the satori shows, like a bit of dog shit stuck on the tip of our nose, that is not so good.
If we are kind and nice to everybody, and our niceness sticks out on the tip of our nose, it will not be real niceness.
Restrictions are illusions. They mean: we restrict ourselves.
We must never stop progressing. Always take one more step. If we do that, then the whole cosmos becomes our body.
Letting go of the ego again and again, you can become free. There is no cul-de-sac.
Sitting in zazen is like fishing the moonlight and plowing the clouds. The mind opens wide, everything grows calm, you can become close to yourself.
The way up is the way to satori, the way down is the way of salvation, the way of compassion, but they are inseperable; beyond their duality they are one.
Our attitude must be exact, fearless, firm. It must be like a blow, a spark.
In part it is resolution, a strong posture, and in part it is delicate, elegant, like the scent of sandalwood or incense.
In the end, you must not try to reach any goal; only then do you reach it truly, onyl then does it become unconsciously real.
Ultimately, the highest wisdom is objectless, without consciousness. It is mushotoku. It does not arise in the forebrain but in the thalamus,
the central brain, and it is born out of the whole body. That is perfect wisdom.
All existences are ku, impermanent, changing, lacking any permanent substance; the only thing that exists in the world of phenomena is perpetual
change. The ego has no substance of its own, is not an entity, and has no autonomy; it is simply the momentary actualization of a set of interdependent
causes that, together, possessing potentiality, can form the fabric of phenomena. There is no real substance in body or mind; their substance is possibility,
the virtuality of existence, the potential of manifestation, and it is this very quality, this potentiality, that is the fundamental cosmic power itself.
It is a rare virtue to be able to distinguish truth from lies; a smile, a kind word and we automatically respond, but without really being able to tell the
difference between true kindness and hypocrisy. How can we go beyond the words to the heart of a thought that does not say its name? How can we see the real
face that wears a smile for a mask?
Shiki corresponds to the provisional, temporary, momentary, ephemeral aspects of structures. Shiki is the constantly moving structure of manifested cosmic power. Ku is the non-manifested cosmic potential, infinite and eternal because it is present in the infinity of things and immutable in its nature. It is both transcendent and immanent.
Each thing is created, composed, assembled by a chain of causes and interdependences. Every material phenomenon is shiki and has no substance, does not exist in isolation.
In the beginning, all is ku, all existences are ku. All existences are manifestations of the law of interdependence.
Ku is empty, but that is not all it means. Sometimes it should be translated 'the totality of the cosmos.' The ideogram can mean either the void or the sky. It is also the circle that includes everything.
The true nature of ku is neither existence nor nonexistence, but both at once, depending on one's viewpoint.
All things are change. Out of ku, emptiness, phenomena are born; and in the end everything returns to ku, zero. All things start from zero and come back to zero, including the cells of our body.
The Hannya Shingyo Sutra says that in the realm of ku, of vacuity, nothing grows and nothing decreases. In ku, everything equals zero. It is mu shin, no mind, no consciousness.
During zazen your mind moves from thought to thought or from non-thought to thought, or from thought to non-thought or from non-thought to non-thought. In any case, the point of intersection is zero. Whenever your state of consciousness moves, changes, you pass through zero.
Ku is the Japanese word for the Sanskrit term sunyata, the void, relativity. This is not a negation of existence per se, but an affirmation of the relativity of existence, which is dependent upon causality and the interdependence of all other existences.
The factors of causality are changing all the time, there cannot be such a thing as a static existence. So sunyata denies the possibility of any form of static phenomenal existence; all phenomena are relative and depend upon other phenomena.
Everything, even the law or Dharma, is sunyata, relative, and hence dependent. Thus, sunyata must not be confused with the negation of the existence of phenomena in any form. Sunyata is the cosmos, existence without substance, the principle of ku.
All existences, all illusions, are ultimately ku. And in reality there is neither illusion nor disillusion, neither true nor false, neither darkness nor light. Total light is all darkness and all darkness becomes light.
Light is the world of differentiation; in darkness identity reigns. Light becomes dark, dark becomes light. Buddha-nature becomes human existence, and so human existences are Buddha nature, original nature.
Ku soku ze shiki, shiki soku ze ku. We must go beyond, transcend both shiki and ku.
We have to be beyond difference and sameness. We have to be beyond shiki and ku, beyond thought and non-thought. Then we reach hishiryo consciousness.
The law governing the manifestation of the fundamental cosmic power is interaction; in other words, when the cosmic potential manifests itself, it disperses and gives material form to cosmic energy, which divides and organizes itself according to the law of interdependence. It is this law alone that gives matter its appearance as phenomena.
If you look at ku, see also shiki.
Ku soku ze shiki.
If you see shiki, look also at ku.
Shiki soku ze ku.
Ku is transformed into shiki, shiki into ku.
The whole of the Hannya Shingyo Sutra, the Sutra of Great Wisdom, revolves around this formula.
If you understand this relationship, everything becomes easy. You do not have to think about it with your brain but realize it fully through your body. Start from the phenomenon - shiki - of our everyday life and return to ku - zazen. And from ku return to shiki, to help all sentient beings and harmonize with them.
If you concentrate on zazen for an hour or two every day, then you can plunge into phenomena, merge with the cosmic ego, and spread wisdom in your everyday life. Then zazen becomes the helm, the steering wheel of every moment of your life.
True concentration is not thinking or non-thinking, it is beyond thought: it is absolute thought. It is a return to the original ku, arising out of concentration.
Potentially, concentration in ku contains expansion into shiki. Potentially, expansion into phenomena, shiki, contains the return to concentration in ku.
We find in ku the infinite and eternal; so ku is a synonym for nirvana, and in fact it is nothing other than the middle way.