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.
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What makes Ryōkan so refreshing is that he doesn’t fondle things.
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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.
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“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.
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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.
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“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.
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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.
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The buddha-dharma means the normal condition. Yet in the world everything is unnatural. Domineering, succumbing and discussing everything to death are unnatural.
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What’s important is not to win and not to lose: in triumph not to lose the way, and in defeat not to lose the way. Yet people these days lose their heads when they win – and lose the way. And when they lose, they lose it anyway. If they have money, they lose the way, and without money they lose it as well.
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“If you do it like this, you’ll get this result.” That’s how it works in the world, but not in the buddha-dharma.
“Taking care of people isn’t only for the other. I myself have children at home. If I take care of them now, they can take care of me later.” That’s the logic of the world.
“Simply doing what’s good for nothing” isn’t so easy. Practicing that means dropping off body and mind, body and mind dropped off.
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“Climbing the volcano, throwing yourself into the fire.” That means decisively throwing away the deceptions of your own consciousness.
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Crude things like getting in fights and picking up girls are obviously among the passions. However, the real problem isn’t these, but much finer passions. We have to concentrate on the details.
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“The mind is one with things as they are.” Don’t get stuck on anything, be open. Where no single thing has ever existed, no single thing should ever exist.
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We can have as much of ‘that which has never existed’ as we like.
Everything is contained in the place where no single thing exists.
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Yes, many teachings exist. But that doesn’t only mean what you think it means. Everything really exists.
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“Emptiness” means “each and every thing”.
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Every potato, no matter how small, has something to do with you. Every teacup concerns you.
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True emptiness is the emptiness that cannot even be called “emptiness”.
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When you talk about heaven, you squeeze heaven into a frame.
True god is the god who has forgotten god, who has even stopped being god.
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God has no name. He is at work in our life in the present moment.
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Offering that which fills the whole universe to every thing in every instant – that’s samadhi.
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In Buddhist teaching, there isn’t any “one” that’s only “one”, any existence that’s only “existence”, or any nothingness that’s only “nothingness”.
In Buddhist teaching one is everything and everything is one. Being is nothingness and nothingness is being.
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Someone asked a mathematician once if the number one really existed. The answer was that as a matter of fact, mathematics only operates on the assumption that the number one exists.
In Buddhism we don’t even assume the existence of “one”. It’s said, “Two exists because of one, but don’t hold onto this one either.” One is everything, everything is one.
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“As it is” means that there isn’t the least confusion to be found anywhere in the entire universe.
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Each place fills heaven and earth, every instant is eternal.
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To practice the way of Buddha means to completely live out this present moment – which is our whole life – here and now.
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Practice isn’t something that you can pile up. Don’t make it into a tool for anything either. Every aspect of daily life has got to be the practice of buddha.
It isn’t good to wolf down your meal in order to practice zazen afterwards. We don’t eat in order to work either. Just eat naturally. During your meal, just eat. Eating is practice.
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Don’t say strange things like, “the salvation of suffering beings”, or “religious practice”. Everything is all right as long as everything you do with your hands and feet is done with a solid comportment.
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Menzan says that “peace and happiness” means joy, pleasure and ease. Peace and happiness means following through to the end.
Doing things directly is peace and happiness. This is what is meant by ease.
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As long as you’re holding your checkbook in your hand, you’re not in Buddha’s teaching. You’ve got to go home with empty hands. When your hands aren’t empty, you’re holding on to your habits. The essence of Buddhist teaching is setting off on the way without any sort of checkbook.
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Recognizing impermanence means not snatching up anything for yourself.
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You speak loudly of “reality”, but reality is nothing fixed. Everything is impermanent.
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“Past mind cannot be grasped, present mind cannot be grasped, future mind cannot be grasped.” [Diamond Sutra] That means, “Where is the past? Where is the present? Where is the future?”
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“Past mind cannot be grasped” means that the past is already past and doesn’t exist anymore.
“Present mind cannot be grasped” means that the present never stands still.
“Future mind cannot be grasped” means that the future hasn’t arrived yet.
In short, it all means impermanence.
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What is the basis of formlessness?
There’s nothing which isn’t based on formlessness. But when we try to hold formlessness still, it becomes form. Formlessness means not running after and not running away.
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Everybody is faltering around in foolishness: People weep, laugh, are upset or happy, congratulate themselves or pout. When we stop faltering, none of this remains.
To do this, we’ve got to massage our heads. We’ve got to be relaxed to be able to see things without faltering.
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If your head has skin as thick as a grapefruit’s, nothing can penetrate. If your head is as simple as a soldier’s, you lack flexibility. Your head has got to encompass everything, the entire universe. That’s the supreme way.
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Even if we say that just practicing zazen is enough, we still have to eat when we’re hungry. And when our money runs out, we’ve got to go begging. But if we’re not careful, we’ll make a routine out of that.
However good what we do is, as soon as it becomes routine, it isn’t any good any more. We mustn’t hold on to anything. It’s a matter of freedom and independence.
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Don’t squeeze the way of Buddha into any frame.
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A person who doesn’t recognize differences is an idiot. A person who is constantly bothered by differences is an ordinary person.
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A talent of mine is that I can always go back to being Saikichi, the errand boy I was when I was little. When I am about to leave on a trip and one more person comes with a pile of paper for me to fill with calligraphy, I can sometimes get a bit angry. But then I throw myself into it like in the days of Saikichi, the errand boy. In those days when I came home from a long day without any money and without any orders, I shook in fear of my hysterical stepmother waiting at home.
As Saikichi I was glad for every order, even when I had nothing in my belly.

32. To you who say that your body, just as it is, is already Buddha

Ishigawa Goemon said, “Even once I have disappeared and all sand has washed into the sea, the seeds of thievery in the world will never be exhausted.” [Footnote: This was said just before he was excecuted in a vat of boiling water, see chp 6] This is how he sings the praises of that “thief-nature” that penetrates heaven and earth. And yet, as long as we don’t act like Goemon we won’t become thieves.
It’s also said that all things have buddha-nature, and that it completely penetrates heaven and earth. But as long as we don’t act like a buddha, we don’t become buddhas.
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When you, inseparable from Buddha, put Buddha’s activity into practice – only then are you a buddha. And when you act like a fool, then you’re a fool.
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It’s only in your approach to life that Buddha appears.
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Some say, “This mind is Buddha – that means that when I think that I’m Buddha, then I’m Buddha.”
Have you ever heard such nonsense? Theories like this are called the “naturalistic heresy”.
You can say that a match contains fire, but if I don’t know that I have to strike the match, and if I don’t actually do so, I won’t have any fire. You can’t say that the match itself is fire.
“If it is not put into practice, it doesn’t appear. If it is not certified, you cannot receive it.” [Shōbōgenzō Bendōwa].
Practice is realisation.
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Even if I had a gas stove here, as long as I didn’t light it with a match it wouldn’t warm up. Even if we say that everyone already has buddha-nature, this “has” by itself doesn’t help us at all. We have to light the fire of buddha-nature.
It is also said, “The nature of wind is eternal and omnipresent, there is no place where it doesn’t penetrate.” [Dōgen Zenji, Shōbōgenzō Genjōkōan] Even if the nature of wind penetrates heaven and earth, as long as we don’t use a fan, the air won’t move at all.
“At all times, cause and effect lie silent and clear before us.” [Hōkyōzanmai] A long time ago a believer approached the monk Gakushin and asked him, “At the moment I don’t feel like calling Buddha’s name. Wouldn’t it be better if I waited until I felt the urge to do so?”
Gakushin’s answer was, “When a good-for-nothing like you holds off calling Buddha’s name until he feels like it, he could wait his whole life. Whether you feel like it or not, just call out Buddha’s name!”
And he added a poem to this:
Only when you pull on the cord in the deep autumn fog with all of your heart
does the bell sound in the rice paddy on the mountain.

The Buddha Way means practice.
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Only because we practice zazen is there no difference between mind, buddhas and all beings.
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Buddha statues and paintings aren’t buddhas. When we present buddha statues and paintings as buddhas, we promote idolatry.
In Buddhism, the formless posture of each individual thing is buddha. My formless posture, my zazen and my kesa are buddha. Just eating meals, just working, just cooking, all that is buddha.
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The expression, “constant effort without profit” means throwing your entire body and mind into the Buddha’s teaching.
Not yearning for anything, not running away from anything: that’s constant effort without profit.
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A person who puts a buddha’s actions into practice is called a buddha.
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“Movement is Zen, sitting is Zen. In speaking, silence, work and rest, the body finds peace.” [Shōdōka] Because a buddha says it, it’s the truth. But when an ordinary person says it about himself, it leads to disastrous misunderstandings.
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”Illusion is awakening, ordinary people are buddhas.”
You might think this means “with my body as it is”, but it isn’t like that. An ordinary person, with his body as it is, in the end is nothing more than an ordinary person.
Correct would be: the body in which an ordinary person forgets the ordinary person, is – as it is – buddha.
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When the three worlds are taught as the form of the truth, there is no fault in the three worlds. When the three worlds are taught as a house on fire, then there is nothing but fault in the three worlds. (Footnote)
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Only when you look at the world from the point of view of the Buddha Way will it appear as the Buddha Way.
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Practicing the Buddha Way doesn’t mean stirring up your karmic feelings. It means being accepted by the buddhas as an equal.
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We’ve got to understand what time and space is for a buddha. It isn’t how an ordinary person sees and hears things. It doesn’t fit into an ordinary person’s scheme of things.
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If you don’t ever take a fresh look at the human side of things from this completely different point of view, you can’t possibly understand.
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Even if you could actually see Shakyamuni Buddha, it would be meaningless if you only saw him with the eyes of an ordinary person.
“Only a buddha together with a buddha” [Lotus Sutra, see p?]. You’ve got to see Buddha with the eyes of a buddha.
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Any buddha that humans have thought up isn’t a buddha.
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When we say Buddha is unlimited it means that he’s beyond any fixed form. It isn’t a measurement of his size.
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Buddha is sharp-witted, cheerful and free of attachment. Nevertheless, lots of people these days think that Buddha is dreary and unlucky.
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Samadhi means the pure clarity of your own nature. It is that which transparently binds ordinary people with Buddha.
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In “beyond-thinking” there are neither ordinary people nor buddhas.
Beyond-thinking is true practice and true activity. Zazen is beyond-thinking put into practice.
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Any remaining doubts we might have are secretly swallowed by beyond-thinking, by the buddha-dharma. Yet for ordinary people the buddha-dharma is still unsatisfying. It doesn’t satisfy ordinary people’s needs.
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Because it is an ordinary person who’s practicing the Buddha Way and doing zazen, naturally it isn’t pure.
Nonetheless, it’s like “the heron who does not change the taste of the water it drinks, and like the bees who do not harm the smell of the flowers they visit” [Eiheikōroku]. In the same way the merits of zazen are perfected without an ordinary person being able to harm zazen in the least.
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Some think following the buddha-dharma is to start out as ordinary people, and then follow some moral plan to improve themselves. How foolish!
The first principle of the buddha-dharma says that we are all buddhas. But if someone has never aroused the mind of awakening, how could we say that his “mind is, as it is, Buddha”? [Flower Ornament Sutra]