Monthly Archives: February 2019

Muho’s talk on Dogen’s Gyoji chapter, February 28th 2019

English talk starts after 54:00 mark.

Gudo Nishijima’s translation can be found here (scroll down to “[231] Great Master Gensha…” ): thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Dogen_Teachings/Shobogenzo_2_NC.pdf

Japanese original: shomonji.or.jp/soroku/genzou16b/index.html

Edward’s talk on Sawaki Kodo’s “To you…”, February 23rd 2019

26. To you who like hearing something inspirational about Buddhism

Many say, “No matter how much Sawaki talks, his lectures don’t inspire me in the least!”
Obviously. Because I myself am not “inspirational”.
The buddha-dharma leads you to the place where nothing is special.
**
They say, “When I hear Sawaki talk, my faith cools down.” Now I’m going to really put their faith on ice: This sort of faith is nothing but superstition.
They say, “Sawaki’s talks don’t awaken any faith in me.” They don’t awaken any superstition, that’s all.
**
There’s nothing more funny than old women looking for “inspiration”. Everything for them is “inspirational” even if it’s only worth as much as pigeon shit. Anyway, this idea of inspiration is mistaken: isn’t it just personal inspiration they’re talking about? They’re only taking refuge in Buddha because they hope to get something out of it.
**
Whatever sutra you read, it’s always about devoting your body and life to the Way. Why is it that the whole world believes religion means praying to Buddha for good health and good business?
**
However much good they do, everything that humans do is bad. If you give, all day long you think, “I gave!” If you do religious practice, you think “I practiced, I practiced!” If you do something good, you never forget, “I did good, I did good!”
Does this mean that we should do something bad instead? No, even when we do good, it’s bad. When we do something bad, it’s even worse.
**
“Beware of doing good!”
A person who does good thinks they’ve done good. That’s why they’re worse than someone who has done something bad. Believe me, it’s easier for those who do bad because they’re humbled by […]

Eko’s talk on Sawaki Kodo’s “To you…”, February 22nd 2019

22. To you who wish you could lead a happier life

“Rest awhile and everything will be fine.”
We simply need to take a short break. Being buddha means taking a short break from being a human. Being buddha doesn’t mean working your way up as a human.
**
What makes Ryōkan so refreshing is that he doesn’t fondle things.
**
In everything, people follow their feelings of joy, anger, sadness and comfort. But that’s something different from everyday mind. Everyday mind means cease-fire. Without preferences, without animosity, without winner and loser, without good and evil, without joy and pain – that’s everyday mind.
**
“What sort of person stands on the ground where there’s neither coming nor going?”
Kyūhō answered, “The stone sheep versus the stone tiger: sooner or later they’ll get tired of staring each other in the eyes.” The stone sheep won’t flinch. The stone tiger won’t jump out of hunger. That’s the point – encountering things beyond thinking.
**
What do we have when we truly have a grip on things as they are? Beyond-thinking. Beyond-thinking doesn’t allow itself to be thought. No matter if you think so or not: things are simply as they are.
**
“All things are empty” means there’s nothing we can run into, because nothing is really happening. We only think something’s happening because we are intoxicated by something.
**
Nothing is ever happening, no matter what seems to be going on – that’s the natural condition. Illusion means losing this natural condition.
Normally we don’t recognize this natural condition. Normally we cover it with something else, so it’s not natural anymore.
**
The buddha-dharma means the normal condition. Yet in the world everything is unnatural. Domineering, succumbing and discussing everything to death are unnatural.
**
What’s […]

Edward’s talk on Sawaki Kodo’s “To you…”, February 14th 2019

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. […]

Eko’s talk on Sawaki Kodo’s “To you…”, February 13th 2019

20. To you who like to hear ghost stories

People often ask me if ghosts really exist. Somebody who racks their brains over something like that is what I call a ghost.
**
It’s said that the dead appear as ghosts, but that’s only true as long as you have the living. When the living are dead, they won’t see any more ghosts. In Yogacara philosophy, ghosts are the tools of the living.
**
One person says he saw a ghost, someone else learned of somebody’s death in a dream. What’s all this besides individual scenes in the theatre of transmigration.
**
Isn’t everything a hallucination? It’s only because we don’t recognize this hallucination as a hallucination that we wander around in life and death.
**
Everyone is dreaming. The problem is simply the differences between the individual dreams.
**
When you are dreaming, it isn’t clear to you that you’re dreaming. If somebody hits you in the face, it hurts. But this pain is also only in the dream.
One dream keeps another company, that’s why even a dream doesn’t recognize the other as a dream.
**
Some underpants are hanging to dry on a branch. Somebody sees them and thinks they’ve seen a ghost. Maybe you’re thinking that something like that hardly ever happens in reality, but when we think, “I need money”, “I want to become minister”, “I want to get ahead” – aren’t we all taking a pair of underpants for a ghost?
**
Everyone is talking about “reality”, but this is only a dream. It’s nothing more than the reality inside a dream. Good!
When people are talking about revolution and war, we think that something really special is going on, but what is it besides struggling inside a dream? […]

Tenkyo’s talk on Sawaki Kodo’s “To you…”, February 12th 2019

8. To you who are sobbing because somebody’s put one over on you

At some point you’ve got to slap yourself in the face and seriously ask yourself: is your personal gain or loss really worth this overwhelming joy and suffering?
**
Sooner or later everyone starts thinking of nothing besides themselves.
You say, “That was good!” But what was good? It was only good for you personally, that’s all.
**
Why is it that we humans are so wiped out?
It is the constant effort to gain a little advantage that wipes us out.
**
Illusion means being unstable. Illusion means being controlled by the situation.
**
A person with big desires is easily fooled. Even the greatest conman can’t profit from a person with no desires.
**
Buddhism means no self, nothing to gain. You must be one with the universe and all living beings.
**
Non-self means not turning your back on people.
**
All beings are mistaken: we see as happiness that which leads to unhappiness, and weep over an unhappiness which isn’t unhappiness at all.
We all know the child whose tears suddenly turn into laughter when you give him a cookie. What we living beings call happiness isn’t much more than that.
**
We often say, “I saw it with my own eyes, heard it with my own ears!” We act as if this was the firmest foundation there is, but these eyes and ears are not to be trusted at all. Everyone is deceived by their eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind.
Everyone talks about happiness and unhappiness, yet what you hold to be happiness and unhappiness is only a thought, in reality there is actually nothing at all.
**
Don’t let […]

Edward’s talk on Sawaki Kodo’s “To you…”, February 7th 2019

3. To you who are totally exhausted from fighting with your spouse

When you’re fighting with your husband or wife, you don’t realize that the argument is about an illusion. But in zazen, you recognize illusion as illusion. This is why it is important to look at life with the eyes of zazen.
**
Equal rights are only an issue when a couple fights. When men and women are getting on well with one another, no one talks about equal rights.
**
Whatever you’re thinking, the thoughts that come into your head right now won’t be there in a thousand years.
**
The question isn’t who’s right. You’re simply seeing things from different points of view.
**
“No one built this wheel of suffering for you, but you’re the one who spins it and you’re the one who rides it.” [Footnote: traditional saying] You don’t realize this because you’re caught in the framework of your own personal ideas.
**
The actions of one and the same person can save a life and can provoke anger. It’s the same sun that sets on New Year’s Eve and that rises on New Year’s Day.
When you open your eyes and recognize the Dharma body,
you see that no single thing really exists. [Shōdōka]

Even a good-for-nothing recognizes that all things are one when he wakes up to his good-for-nothing nature.
**
Stop trying to be something special – and just be what you are. Hold fire. Just sit!
**
It all begins when we say, “I”. Everything that follows is illusion.
**
Everyone imagines that their ego is something unchangeable, some immovable center-point which everything revolves around. There once was a man who said, “Look, everyone is dying except me!” He’s been dead for a long time now.
**
Following […]