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 the law of causality, ignorance suddenly rears its ugly head.
**
Blindness means that we don’t understand the way things are. If we don’t understand things, the best thing would be to stay calm. But no, instead of this we stomp around like a bull in a china shop. That’s what makes everything complicated.
**
“I was just thinking that things were going better for me, when I fell into a depression again. Oh, my mind is really sick!”
The question is only: what can you do now with this mind of yours?
**
Life is one big contradiction: “Have you seen what he’s done?” When all the while you would have loved to have done it yourself!
**
Life isn’t so easy. Sometimes there’s war and the sky is on fire, sometimes you take an afternoon nap by the stove. Sometimes you work the whole night through, sometimes you get drunk with friends.
In the buddha-dharma it is a question of how you can give direction to this life according to the buddha’s teaching.
**
You’re in love with each other? But not for your whole life. There was a couple who loved each other so much that they attempted suicide together in order to be united in death. One of the two survived and shortly afterwards fell in love all over again.
Humans are truly pitiful.
**
Beauty is no guaranty for a happy life. One woman is so adored by men that she’s already had three children who don’t know who their fathers are.
**
Everybody talks about marrying for love, but isn’t it really just marrying for sex? In the end isn’t it really only about a penis and a vagina? Why doesn’t anybody simply say that he’s fallen in love with a vagina?
**
Take a look sometime at the face of a dog who’s just had sex. He just stares into space with strangely empty eyes. It’s exactly the same with people – in the beginning they work themselves up into a frenzy, and in the end there’s nothing at all.
**
A man who understands nothing marries a woman who understands nothing, and everyone says, “Congratulations!”
Now that’s something I cannot understand.
**
Family is the place where parents and children, husband and wife simultaneously all get on each other’s nerves.
**
When a child is defiant, the parents curse, “You don’t understand anything!” But what are the parents like? Isn’t it also true that they don’t understand anything either? Everyone is lost in ignorance.
**
Everyone is talking about education, but what are we being educated to be? Ordinary citizens, that’s all.
**
The bull is proud of his nose-ring. And with the pack saddle of desire strapped to his back, he lets himself be led around by the nose and moos too.
What’s strange is that people are happy to put up with the same thing. People who can’t stay still in the face of pleasure, anger, sorrow and satisfaction are like mutts who can’t keep from yapping.
When the waves of pleasure, anger, sorrow and satisfaction have quieted down, there’s nothing really left to do.
**
Wherever you look, you see how all living beings haggle over the same goods.
**
Even funnier than watching the monkeys at the zoo is observing these humans on the loose.

4. To you who have just begun brooding over life

What a shame to have been born a human being and to spend your whole life worrying. You should reach the point where you can be happy to have been born a human.
**
Birth, old age, sickness and death – we can’t fool around with these ultimate facts.
**
Reality: getting a handle on this must be our goal. Don’t get stuck in categories.
**
It’s strange that not a single person seriously considers his own life. For ages, we’ve been carrying around something uncooked. And we comfort ourselves with the fact that it’s the same for the others too. That’s what I call group stupidity: thinking that we just have to be like the others.
Satori means creating your own life. It means waking up from group stupidity.
**
In a part of Manchuria, the carts are pulled by huge dogs.
The driver hangs a piece of meat in front of the dog’s nose, and the dog runs like crazy to try to get at it. But of course he can’t. He’s only thrown his meat after the cart has finally reached its destination. Then in a single gulp, he swallows it down.
It’s exactly the same with people and their pay checks. Until the end of the month they run after the salary hanging in front of their noses. Once the salary is paid, they gulp it down, and they’re already off: running after the next payday.
**
Nobody can see further than the end of their nose. Everyone believes that their life somehow has meaning, but they’re really no different from swallows: the males gather food, the females sit on the eggs.
**
Most people aren’t following any clear approach to life. They get by with makeshift methods, like rubbing lotion on a cramped shoulder. [Footnote: i.e. treating the symptoms and not going to the root of the problem.] **
The question is: why are you straining your forehead so much?
**
If you aren’t careful, you’ll spend your whole life doing nothing besides waiting for your ordinary-person hopes to someday be fulfilled.
**
In the world, people are always saying, “I want to do this, I want to do that.”
But then when they actually do it, there isn’t anything to it at all.
**
You read the advice column in the newspaper: just be careful that you don’t end up there with your little problem too!
**
No matter how you look at it, everything in the world revolves around food and sex.
**
Imagine some chicks have found an earthworm and are now fighting over it. That’s exactly how human society looks.
**
Like an avalanche growing as it falls into the valley, the suffering beings of the six worlds become more and more deeply entangled in their illusions.
Zazen means putting an end to this.
**
People in the world only understand what’s “useful”. And where has that brought us? Nowhere!
**
The fight between the cat and the horse over the definition of happiness has apparently never come to an end. So don’t believe what the fortune tellers say: how you need to live your life isn’t fixed!
**
It’s said that some people are trapped by their money. What is it they do with their money anyway?
**
The satisfaction everyone in the world looks for is followed by dissatisfaction.
The happiness that the world talks about gives way to unhappiness.
**
Illusion means not having any direction in life. And since those lacking direction gather in groups, it’s natural that there are hooligans who beat each other up. And it also isn’t any wonder when wars break out for no reason at all.
**
Humans make an intelligent face while groping around in the dark.
**
When you get used to this strange world of impermanence, it seems completely normal to you. And although actually it’s obvious that survival in this impermanent world is more difficult than zazen, it seems to you to be the other way around: as if zazen were harder than life!
**
We’ve gotten used to this life: only because of this do we find it normal.
**
Your body is like a pimple.
[Footnote: What is meant here is that our body, which we often identify with ourselves, isn’t something substantial, but has grown at random, isn’t of any importance, and won’t be missed when it disappears again.] **
Even a beggar laughs, even a jackpot winner sooner or later cries again. Money isn’t what it’s all about.
**
Everything useful is illusory. No matter how special they seem, useful things are illusory.
Things which are good for nothing [mui], however, aren’t so artificial. Nothing can be gained from them.
Everything is relative. Even the most important thing in the world is only relative. What is beyond all this is the absolute.
**
It’s no small matter to be born into this world as a human being.
So what a shame it would be if you went crazy and ended up in an asylum; or if you constantly complained about having no money; or if you lost your mind because you’d just fallen in love, and then were completely overcome with grief because she left you. And so on and so forth . . .
Now that you’ve been born as a human being, you should lead a life which is truly worth living.
**
Buddhism teaches us that it’s a joy to be born into this world as a human being.
**
Samadhi means asking yourself the question: “How to live?”
**
Everyone believes that satisfaction doesn’t mean anything more than laying on the couch or dozing in a hot spring.
No: satisfaction means being suffused with joy, tranquility and happiness. Only when you’ve fully arrived in the present instant will you experience true joy, tranquility and happiness.
**
Ordinary people are blown around the six worlds by their desires. And for them there is only love or hate, profit or loss, good or bad, victory or loss.
But in the end, we have to realize that none of that is good for anything. And so in the end we come to the practice of zazen: simply practicing what isn’t good for anything.
**
“Ordinary person” is the expression for someone who gropes around in the dark, led astray by confusion. What is this confusion really? In the end it doesn’t have any substance. That’s why being led astray by confusion is like playing tug of war with the clouds.
There’s nothing final about winning or losing. Nevertheless, you cry with joy when you win and cry with pain when you lose – how stupid!
This substancelessness, beyond winning and losing, is the true form of all phenomena.
A buddha is someone who untangles the confused.
**
A person who understands things is a person who doesn’t let himself be misled by his personal fabrications and karma. People who don’t understand things are constantly looking for distraction: sometimes they fall in love, sometimes they get drunk, sometimes they dedicate themselves to reading, sometimes they do their sport. But they do all of this only half-heartedly, in order to somehow deceive themselves.
Spending our daily lives fooling ourselves in this half-hearted way is what’s called “life in the floating world”. That means that our wobbly legs are carrying us off-track.
All the nations of the world are stupefied with boredom, that’s why they say, “Right, left, march in step!” And the children are fighting over their toys again.
People wheeze from exhaustion their whole life long, without even knowing what they’re wearing themselves out for: it only seems to them as if they had a goal. In truth, there’s absolutely nothing there: only our grave awaits us.
We can only be at peace when we understand things as they are. When we understand things, we see the universe with a single glance, and the seam between ourselves and the universe vanishes.
**
We were born within non-thinking [fushiryō].
[footnote: This means not only that we were all born as babies without much thinking, but that the whole process of life-and-death is one of fushiryō.]
**
We were simply born and we will simply die. And you ask about the meaning of life. You ask what zazen is good for. Whereby you’d have no right to complain if you had died already last year. Isn’t it clear from the start that life is good for nothing? It is simply coming and going, that’s all. Your problem is that there’s something in you that just can’t accept that.
**
Scientists observe insects in a terrarium eating their food or each other, mating or chirping away. In the same way, we are – in everything we do – under the eye of reality.