About the German monk who ended up becoming our abbot.
Antaiji is a Zen monastery that commits itself to the practice of zazen and the study of the Buddha’s teaching, while cultivating the fields around the temple, cutting grass and trees and doing construction work to keep the community self-sufficient. We practice Zen without additions or modifications. Zazen is practiced solely for the purpose of zazen. What is that good for? The answer is easy: Nothing!
12. To you who is wondering if your zazen has been good for something
What’s zazen good for?
Absolutely nothing! This “good for nothing” has got to sink into your flesh and bones until you’re truly practicing what’s good for nothing. Until then, your zazen is really good for nothing.
Throwing yourself completely into doing what’s good for absolutely nothing – why not give it a try?
So you say you’d like to try doing zazen in order to become a better person. Become a better person by doing zazen? How ridiculous! How could a person ever become something better?
You say you want to become a better person by doing zazen.
Zazen isn’t about learning how to be a person. Zazen is to stop being a person.
Some say, “Zen means having an empty mind, right?”
You won’t have an empty mind until you’re dead.
They think that with zazen everything gets better.
Foolish! Zazen means forgetting “better” and “worse”.
You are not going to earn tips doing zazen.
The day is as long as a child’s day.
The mountain is as quiet as the eternal past.
Zazen is unsatisfying. Unsatisfying for whom? For the ordinary person. People are never satisfied.
In our Sōtō school, zazen isn’t so exciting. Ordinary people are always looking for excitement – sports, gambling on horse races and things like that. What makes them so popular? It’s the excitement of winning and losing.
Isn’t it self-evident? How could that which is eternal and infinite ever satisfy human desires?
How could that which fills the whole universe ever fit into an ordinary person’s idea of satisfaction?
Unsatisfying: simply practicing zazen.
Unsatisfying: realizing zazen with this body.
Unsatisfying: absorbing zazen into your flesh and blood. […]