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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.
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Throwing yourself completely into doing what’s good for absolutely nothing – why not give it a try?
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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?
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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.
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Some say, “Zen means having an empty mind, right?”
You won’t have an empty mind until you’re dead.
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They think that with zazen everything gets better.
Foolish! Zazen means forgetting “better” and “worse”.
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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.

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Zazen is unsatisfying. Unsatisfying for whom? For the ordinary person. People are never satisfied.
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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.
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Isn’t it self-evident? How could that which is eternal and infinite ever satisfy human desires?
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How could that which fills the whole universe ever fit into an ordinary person’s idea of satisfaction?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Everyone is dreaming. The problem is simply the differences between the individual dreams.
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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.
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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?
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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?
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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.
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Why is it that we humans are so wiped out?
It is the constant effort to gain a little advantage that wipes us out.
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Illusion means being unstable. Illusion means being controlled by the situation.
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A person with big desires is easily fooled. Even the greatest conman can’t profit from a person with no desires.
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Buddhism means no self, nothing to gain. You must be one with the universe and all living beings.
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Non-self means not turning your back on people.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Whatever you’re thinking, the thoughts that come into your head right now won’t be there in a thousand years.
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The question isn’t who’s right. You’re simply seeing things from different points of view.
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“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.
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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.
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Stop trying to be something special – and just be what you are. Hold fire. Just sit!
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It all begins when we say, “I”. Everything that follows is illusion.
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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.
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Following […]

Muho’s talk on Dogen’s Gyoji chapter, January 31st 2019

Gudo Nishijima’s translation can be found here (scroll down to [225]): thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Dogen_Teachings/Shobogenzo_2_NC.pdf

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

Antaiji on this day in 2011: photos.app.goo.gl/xwsftZ7hbvavF9359

Eko’s talk on Sawaki Kodo’s “To you…”, January 29th 2019

16. To you who are impressed by scientific and cultural progress

We mustn’t forget that today’s science and culture have only developed out of the lowest levels of consciousness.
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Everybody is talking about culture, but what is it besides a refinement of our illusions?
However much we iron out our drives, from a Buddhist standpoint, it’s got nothing to do with progress or civilization.
Everyone is talking these days about progress, but I wonder in which direction we’re actually progressing.
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Everybody is talking about culture, but what kind of culture is it really? Lewd music, erotic dancing, pornographic literature – completely barbaric.
We stir up our own illusions and then complain about today’s youth and ask, “Who’s responsible for education these days?”
Faith means clarity and purity. It means settling down.
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Everyone is talking about art, but what is it really? Men and women glued to each other. What is it besides stimulation for our sexual desires?
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No animal is as dishonest as a human being. Humans eat their party snacks and dance in a circle; they do scientific research and drop hydrogen bombs on each other.
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When you observe insects in a tank, you see how they bite into each other and hold on with all their might. It must be amusing to observe from another corner of the universe how humans stock up on atomic and hydrogen bombs.
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Acting clever while at the same time being the biggest idiots – that’s human fate.
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People love it when things are complicated. Though things are complicated enough – even when we try to keep them as simple as possible – there are still some who make an effort to be especially complicated in everything […]

Tenkyo’s talk on Sawaki Kodo’s “To you…”, January 28th 2019

9. To you who would like to slap your boss with a letter of resignation

As a human being, you can walk freely in any direction you choose.
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As a human being, whatever you do, you should do it in a way that can’t be repeated a second time. What can be repeated is best left to the robots.
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Life doesn’t run on tracks.
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Birds don’t sing in major or minor. Bodhidharma’s teaching doesn’t fit on lined paper.
The buddha-dharma is wide and unlimited. When you try to hold it still, you’ve missed it. It isn’t dried cod, but a live fish. Living fish have no fixed form.
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In the soldier’s handbook it says that in war you must be prepared for a thousand different possibilities. That doesn’t just go for war – there’s no rule book for life either. When you try to live your life according to a manual, you’re sure to fail.
For a court case as well, it goes without saying that you have to be on your guard when everything runs according to the book.
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The wild geese leave no traces,
yet no matter where they fly, they never lose their way.

There are no footprints on the way of the bird. It’s not the same as a steam engine that runs on tracks or an ox’s well-worn path.
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Don’t we live life from moment to moment? How could we possibly take life, analyze it, systematize it and file it away?
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The sad thing about people is that they can’t stray even a single step away from their habits.
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Those who do things according to the book are failures.
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We constantly let ourselves be distracted by details, and […]

John’s talk on Sawaki Kodo’s “To you…”, January 27th 2019

他人の目がすごく気になるあなたへ
1. To you who can’t stop worrying about how others see you

屁ひとつだって、人と貸し借りできんやないか。人人みな「自己」を生きねばならない。お前とわしとどちらが器量がいいか悪いかそんなこと比べてみんかてええ。
You can’t even trade a single fart with the next guy. Each and every one of us has to live out his own life. Don’t waste time thinking about who’s most talented.
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目が、オレはカシコィのだげれど、位が低いとも思わず、眉はオレは役なしだげれど、位が高いと思わぬ。仏法の生活とは、この不知の活動である。
山だからというて高いと思わず、海だとて広いとも深いとも思わず、一切合財、不知の活動じゃ。
野鳥自啼花自笑、不干岩下坐禅人・野鳥は坐禅している人に、ひとついい声を聞かしてやろうと思って鳴くわけでもなく、花も人に美しく思ってもらおうと思って咲くのではない。坐禅人も、悟りをひらくために坐禅しているのではない。
みなただ自分が自分を自分しているのである。
The eyes don’t say, “Sure we’re lower, but we see more.”
The eyebrows don’t reply, “Sure we don’t see anything, but we are higher up.”
Living out the buddha-dharma means fulfilling your function completely without knowing that you’re doing it. A mountain doesn’t know it’s tall. The sea doesn’t know it’s wide and deep. Each and every thing in the universe is active without knowing it.
The bird’s singing and the flower’s laughter appear naturally,
completely independent from the person sitting in zazen at the foot of the cliff.

The bird doesn’t sing in honor of the person in zazen. The flower doesn’t blossom to amaze the person with her beauty. In exactly the same way, the person doesn’t sit in zazen in order to get satori. Every single being simply realizes the self, through the self, for the self.
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宗教とは何ものにもダマサレヌ真新しの自己に生きることである。
Religion means living your own life, completely fresh and new, without being taken in by anyone.
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オイ、どっちゃ向いとるんじゃ。藪にらみみたいな目をして。お前自身のこっちゃ。
Hey! What are you looking at? Don’t you see that it’s about you?
**
ケツの穴だからというて卑下せんでもいい。足だからというてストライキやらんでもいい。頭が一番エライというのでもない。ヘソが元祖だというていばらんでもいい。
総理大臣が一番エライと思うておるからオカシイ。目の代わりを鼻ではできぬ。耳の代わりを口ではできぬ。みな天上天下唯我独尊である。
The asshole doesn’t need to be ashamed of being the asshole. The feet don’t have any reason to go on strike just because they’re only feet. The head isn’t the most important of all, and the navel doesn’t need to imagine he’s the father of all things.
It’s strange though that people look at the prime minister as an especially important person. The nose can’t replace the eyes, and the mouth can’t replace […]

Fabian’s talk on Sawaki Kodo’s “To you…”, January 26th 2019

29. To you who are pleased when someone compliments the depth of your faith

Many confuse faith with a type of intoxication. There’s a type of intoxication similar to awe that’s nothing but delusion. Faith means, however, just the opposite – complete sobriety from any form of intoxication.
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When most people in the world talk about the mind of faith, they don’t think it’s anything more than kissing Buddha’s ass.
“Do what you like with the others, but at least give me a first-class ticket to paradise!” Prayers like that have got nothing to do with the mind of faith.
Faith means clarity and purity. Mind means the single mind that encompasses the three worlds. So having faith means clarifying and purifying the one mind of the three worlds. The mind of faith means truly becoming clear about your own mind.
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Faith means being clear and pure. It means being at ease. But some people get confused about this as well and think faith is about getting worked up, so they try with all their might to do so. Until they realize that it’s not so easy to get truly worked-up. Then they just act as if they were.
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In old times, people were swept up in awe when they heard that Amithaba Buddha would come to them in their last hour to pick them up. That!s the same as being misled by a fox.
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Everyone wants to go to paradise, but have you ever really seen it? If you think you have, you must have been mistaken.
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There are people who want to live as long as possible. Any religion that offers this will do. What they have to believe in doesn’t matter at all. […]

Around the hall, January 16th 2019