Foreword to the fifth edition.


This yearbook had to be rewritten a couple of times. It is true that trying to grasp any significant part of reality using this extremely narrow format of essay-like text is inevitably not full, not representative in relation to state in long term and not so even in relation to shorter terms either. Nothing is as important as something I am thinking about right now: whether it is zazen, life or something completely irrelevant to both, not even worth mentioning that it is impossible to grasp everything at once.


It is also true that the text like this inevitably ends up being ideological at least to a certain extent: I want to enlist all facts I believe to be important,, I have a certain image about how texts should be written, how I should and should not present myself and so on. It influenced yearbooks. The last year I believed that if I “graduate” Antaiji I should not make even the slightest impression of gaining anything from it. The year before last I thought that it is extremely important to be as critical and pessimistic about the world at least in my writings for the sake representing reality in its fullest. The year before it was… The idea is easy, although explanations back then might sound differently from those I would generate here and now. On one hand I cannot grasp my intentions with 100% precision, on the other – even back then – I would not allow some statements to exist since they would contradict the overall mood of the text, even if I would agree with them atomically on the level of daily life.


But looking for a standpoint, which is not a point, or searching for a way of thinking which is free from limitation of thinking – however engaging this activity is – have almost nothing to do with the problem I think makes it extremely hard to be consistent right now. Shortly speaking, I do not have any person or a group of people I would want to provide with a critical mass of excuses for my behaviour here. When I’ve just arrived to Antaiji I hadn’t shared a yearbook with anyone I knew, but I had to answer to all the people who would remain in their secular lives, why my action of leaving it behind is good and worth it. For the second, I was trying to do the same by talking to Antaiji people – who practiced the Way I believed to be nonsencensical. For the third, I had an experience of returning to the world, not finding any satisfactory role there and coming back to Antaiji – so I had to address people I knew from the world once more – now being rather accusive, dramatic and pessimistic, althoug this difference is not crucial. For the forth and the last yerbook – I wasn’t running away or giving up, but circumstances were forcing me to leave Antaiji and go somewhere else – I did not have to answer anything, but had to adress my whole stay in the temple – and it was done the way it was.


By this point the amount of people I do address and can address in the same sense is zero. In a way it is because I have no one to speak to. In a way it is so because I trust the person I would speak to, so that person would be barely interested in receiving all the excuses I can provide for someone else. But I still want to have something better than the last yearbook for the last position in the sequence, so let it be. By now my values and beliefs are that soft and incostistent that I do not even try to talk to my past or future self either (especially since I hate re-reading these yearbooks anyways). As much for explanation on why to publish it at all.


Where am I?


Answering specifically, in Toshoji training Temple – eleven or so months away from being in Antaiji as a resident. The excuse to leave was simple enough – “Cultural Activities” visa is getting harder to renew after the third year, while training temple is an important and necessary experience/step for any Zen practitioner interested in staying in Soto-shu for any extended amount of time. If I would not have any of these – completely external – requirements, I would not have any courage to leave Antaiji, especially since talking from (what I back then thought to be) Antaiji’s official position leaving the Temple is an ideological crime. In my case, residence status was an excuse strong enough – if I’d try to stay I would have to leave in February and forget about practice. So I left in January to practice elsewhere. It doesn’t mean, though, that I dislike Toshoji or feel that my current circumstances are anyhow forced on me – I’ve never been here and was interested to come in the first place and right now consider it to be a valuable experience and more than just a valuable experience.


My promise upon arival here in the middle of January was that I will stay for at least one year – and judging from my somewhat painful experience of leaving Antaiji and returning to it – on one hand, I want to be as precise as possible about not breaking the promise, while on the other, I don’t want to make any extra promises I am not sure I am able to keep. Implications are transparent. I am here until the middle of January. 17th – to be precise.


I won’t give too much details about what staying here is like, what schedule is and why people are coming here, since it will take forever and is also of no help to anyone who might have any intention of coming. It is less demanding than Antaiji physically and psychologically, although requires way more socializing and cooperating. It will provide one with way less skills Antaiji would. Yet, the practice here is significantly more stable, consistent and inclusive in relation to the form and pace. Meaninglessness of ceremonies looking from outside of those ceremonies themselves provides one with enough opportunities to be puzzled and ask himself why is he here, similar way hard work in Antaiji would. The standards are different. The challenges are different. The results are also significantly different. In Antaiji there are no ceremonies, while samu (work) is all important. In Toshoji ceremonies are important, while because of being too busy with them one can survive without a single opportunity to participate in samu for days and weeks.


Nevertheless, if one traumatizes himself during work, the pain is the same, whether you have 3 hours of it, 6 or 9. If one fails to properly to ceremony, then he and people around are aware enough of it – whether it consists of 2, 5 or 25 steps – and with no regards to how long it is. Work is still work. Rituals are still rituals. Attention is not anyhow different. What are you doing using it – practicing zazen, cutting wood or performing funerals is somewhat secondary. Explanations about “why” and “how” are mainly secondary as well: speaking of Antaiji, practitioners can be happy of providing themselves with food; speaking of Toshoji, they can be satisfied with providing people in need of funeral ritual or memorial service with what they need. Either side would neglect the importance of the opposite one, but being as neutral as possible – both are equally right and equally wrong: Antaiji people are mainly liberated from ritual by working hard, Toshoji people are mostly liberated from hard manual labor because they live in environment where rituals are being converted into food and some surplus. In both environments one can feel entraped or liberated, in both one is provided with everything to survive.


All the other details are irrelevant for people who will not follow Soto-shu path and will be known inevitably by those who will, so they are omitted. Personally, I feel that while Toshoji seems to be a waste of time from system of values one would develop in Antaiji, it also provided me with a number of lessons and experiences I would not expect to get anywhere else. My minimal training temple stay period is finished and I feel mostly grateful to Toshoji itself, its community and the way things are done here. I could not agree with the most of things when I’ve just arrived, while now they make some sense or at least are gone to the periphery of my attention. This is as much as I can say for summarizing one year’s experience. No opinion: any place – whether a monastery or not – is only functional to an extent one is ready to give himself into the place. Mind of the Way. Mind of the Way.


Where it all goes?


Here is the point when writing becomes difficult since the ammount of information to present is beyond my capacity to present it, not to say a word about analyzing and predicting.


With all the optimism expressed above, for a long time I was agonizing thinking about the way to return to Antaiji – although, when I was staying there I was not a big fun of every single thing either and for the most of the time would agonize similarly about going somewhere else. And even by the moment when I began to feel that Toshoji is not that bad either, the biggest contributor to that calmness was the fact that if I’d return to Antaiji and try to renew visa from there, the chances would be that I wouldn’t get anything; while the second major factor was that I was unsure that Antaiji people really would anyhow benefit from having me or – to put it more egocentrically – that anyone there was ready to tolerate my presence. I wrote that I am bad in the most of the things which are important to Antaiji one year ago – now conditions are like this: I am still bad in all of those (maybe even worse since work is not prioritized in Toshoji comparing to ceremonies), with some extra – which is being able to perform funeral ceremonies to an extend. Circumstances, though, outcontrasted the dichotomy of Antaiji and Toshoji by the time of the yearbook compilation. Nor A, nor not-A.


The need to perform ceremonies or work hard physically are both usually considered to be a waste of time for a “decent” human being in the modern world – so there is no need to look for balance between them, normally. But if I try to go with more “realistic” approach to life then I am out of equation for that life. No education. No work experience in community where surviving requires more than just being present. No social or any other life experience in the real world. And anxiety for even thinking about living in a world where I can be compared and – thus – worse than someone else.


I am kinda used to questions “Why would young and healthy man decide to stay in a monastery in modern age?” or “What are you going to do later?” coming – directly or implicitly – from many lay people I would encounter. They have their own positions – which are necessarily implicitly hostile towards so-called practice (otherwise they would practice by themselves), but I do not have any good answer, except for the one I had documented a couple of years ago and consisted of a sequence of accusations to people I knew back then. I am afraid of returning to my country where someone can occasionally kill me or my family member because of having a walk in a wrong place in a wrong time, or sky can fall any other way due to general economical instability, but I am also existentially feared of staying in the monastery system until my very death, if it means that my only contribution to the world I’ve happened to be born into would be performing ceremonies of no merit or keeping material cultural heritage of Zen of even less practical use. There should be better ways to contribute to humanity or at least to people around. But whenever I would think about these better ways, I would either think that if I want to do – let’s say – science I want to produce something useful rather than use my time and energy to increase the entropy of the system only, or even hit my head of the wall of people being happier and more functional when I am out of equation, which leaves the question of making euthanasia legal and death perceived positively in more social contexts than it is now being the only openned ones. Fortunately, usually I was too busy to think any deeper, so I just hoped that I’ll be back to Antaiji someday without thinking about all the “Why’s”. Maybe find my place in teaching others how to live a life I’ve never had. Or – at least – to be satisfied with staying there since pracicing in self-sufficient community is more ideologically consistent with not liking the world than performing rituals for people of that world. Not really compassionate way to see everything.


Plus, as soon as picture was static everything’s good and the only problem was accepting everything the way it is. But when even the smallest hint of my life having some outcome and change appears, it just does not work. Additionally, if I see the picture where I am alone it is completely fine, but as soon as other people appear it is not so anymore – the whole content of this section appears to be a burden not for me only, but for them – worse if they care – becoming a very real thing. If I would know how my life would look from outside at 27 when I was 17, I would vote for an immediate elimination of what I’ve happened to become due to social parasitism and lack of contribution (whether real or expected), but currently I feel fine and sometimes happy, although “objectively” speaking I have to repent for my whole life for being born a wrong person and being formed by a wrong experiences. The only question I have left, though, is: at relatively rare evenings when I tend to go through this sequence of thoughts repeatatively, do I see the truth or do I have it completely lost? I do not answer. I do not answer.


And no way to close this section without neutralizing all the words above. All things written are not anyhow original, yet counterproductive. When I was coming to Antaiji, I was sure (maybe more than necessary) that I am doing the right thing. Yet somewhat anxious since had no experience of staying in either Japanese-speaking community or English-speaking one not to mention all the labor, but believed that it will work out somehow. And, although I have mostly regrets about my own behaviour during the stay, somehow it did work out. And there is no reason to take a posture anyhow different from believing the same right now: it will work out somehow if I do my best for it to happen. No need to answer. Hopefully.


What happened recently?


Until the middle of August I stayed in Toshoji with the biggest problem being trying to understand what is stronger – my desire to avoid rituals or my desire to avoid hard labor in Antaiji. The question was closed when Eko-san wrote that staying in Toshoji is safer and better in general terms. But you can never know, whether it is true or just a way to keep me away from Antaiji. Additionally, the notion I’ve encountered several years before in one of Sawaki Kodo’s writings played its role – namely, that one should be extremely careful to not to end his life performing ceremonies and ceremonies only. Additionally, the notion I’ve encountered in Muho-san’s writings played its role also – namely, that doing hossenshiki under a master different from the master one was ordained by is not how things should be done. So, I’ve decided to at least take some time to stay in Antaiji – to clarify some things and take a break from then irritatingly slow pace of the temple I am staying.


Up to that point the biggest event in my Toshoji life was being told that not knowing what is your practice, while being unsatisfied with it, is not a sign of any kind of spiritual develompent, but just the opposite. That – maybe – it is better to try some rather Theravada style meditation instead of wasting one’s time enjoying badly rendered nothingness of underdeveloped zazen without understanding what is it good for. So, with the exception of entropy growing, nothing was happening for the most of my stay here looking from personal storyline. Maybe this is how life in a monastery should develop, and I should have been rather happy with it. Nevertheless, on the first occasion to take a vacation during the least busy season, I’ve taken it.


I’ve managed to come to Antaiji, but no clarification: if all the storyline of staying in training temple for several more years was a challenge, then trying to get some extra information from the side which produced that storyline was not the solution to start with. At least, I’ve enjoyed samu and managed to run away from hot Okayama to cool Antaiji mountains. Something else has happened. With some minimal reputational price I had to pay for extending my stay, I’ve managed to meet a person I gave up on meeting. And have fallen in love in personified sense of this word. I cannot just omit it, since it is the main thing happening to me right now, while it is also going well, but – especially considering the content of the previous chapter and its implications for my life – there is also no good way to write about it using my usual yearbook approach – it’s to alive to disect. Nevertheless, it is defining for previous chapters and for my future actions – let it take at least several text lines it needs to provide reader with information.


What am I going to do?


Except for this, I’m stuck not knowing what to do about my practice in its monastic dimension. I’ve promised to stay in Toshoji for 1 year when I’ve arrived, which means that in the middle of January I can leave without creating any discomfort for my future self by not keeping my word (and hopefully not creating too much of discomfort for Toshoji people as well).


Long-term follows. As it was stated in one of the yearbooks before, practice for me was and is useful because I have a certain neurodevelopmental deficits – or character traits, depending on how we look at it – which were making functioning in society hardly tolerable for myself back then. No details. By present moment, I feel better and – given the kindness and low demands of practice in Toshoji – recently I would not think about these traits negatively at all. For the most people I know, as soon as they are able to function in society in a healthy way and have a rather flat profile of abilities, practice in any temple is excessive and useless. Recently, I feel the same for myself – since too much time has passed since someone would rub my face in my clumsity, inability to communicate properly or other issues. After all, I feel a strange combination of feelings towards so-called practice: on one hand, I am grateful for both monasteries to help me a lot on many different areas; on the other hand, I feel a bit sad since even in the “modern world” problems which were possible to solve by parenting and educational system had to be solved by religious institutions.


Middle-term. Initial idea was to notify Toshoji about my intention to return to Antaiji, ASK for either 1 year visa or 3 months visa and use it to spend another year in Antaiji (1 year) or to wait until March, when I can at least try to apply for extension from Antaiji (3 months). Initially, I had here a couple more paragraphs: how my initial reason of coming to Japan was intention to get to Antaiji by getting some inspiration from Kodo Sawaki’s writings. And about how it is being phylosophically more consistent to stay in mainly self-sufficient community rather than accepting money from parishioners, who – at least by their presence in their society – maintain something which forces me to perform lifelong cosplay if I want to avoid death by hunger.


But honestly speaking, lifelong cosplay in Buddhist monastery seems to be way more pleasant activity than those people in usual world in Japan and outside of it are forced to perform, while Antaiji practice is also not completely self-sufficient and is mostly made strict by regulation which are artificial to a significant extent (not to mention that believing that someone is ‘forced’ to do something is entirely in eyes of the beholder). Additionally, back then – four to five years ago – I had remembered Kodo Sawaki’s writings and found information about Antaiji, during period in my life when I didn’t know what to do, which means that there was no significant sacrifice either! If I try I can find arguments for returning to Antaiji, staying in Toshoji, finding a job in Japan or in Kyrgyzstan, starting preaching or not doing anything at all – both looking from individual point of view of getting something for myself and from a broader one of having this action being good for the whole world, but choosing from these options means mostly deciding which sentiment is the strongest in me. Which is not the way argumentation should work – especially since all of these sentiments are outcontrasted by the one from the section above.


For reasons of not choosing among the obvious options, I’ve started sitting zazen and went to Japan. For reasons similar to these I’ve chosen my monk’s name. In the initial reading 意碇 “Itei” consists of two characters – first for “thought” or “mind” and second for “anchor” – it had nothing to do with being loyal to anything originally and: a. refers to mind being completely rooted and anchored into the physical world with EVERY action and thought being completely pre-determined by the input of five senses (not necessary of the present moment only, since body lives in the past inevitably); b. imlicitly asks person encountering it, where her or his mind is and what is the source of its motivation; c. sounds similar to logical “NOT” operator in Japanese being a reminder of not going with things which are expedient only, and also was an answer to all the Dogen lore I felt being actively imposed on me then. To start with, I am going to say “No” to creating a memory in which I’ve decided what to do with a year of my life on the basis of visa or hossenshiki availability (creating such a memory is unhealthy) – and going to leave in January, 17 – exactly one year after I’ve arrived. Thus not going against what I’ve stated when arrived to Toshoji. Thus also being forced to pay a certain price of presumably not being able to stay in Japan after the middle of February, when my current residence status is gone and no new is available.


I am not hostile towards Soto-shu and definetely not-so towards Antaiji – but am still going to risk and go with not creating a memory where I am back to Antaiji as soon as possible and trying to build a career there rather than in usual boring Soto-shu. I really like the practice in Antaiji, want it to be alive even if I am outside of it and originally had “returning to Antaiji ASAP”-line here despite the outweighting factor from the chapter above present, but I cannot have my mind unified towards Antaiji now. Speaking more directly, discounting both myself and the other person is beyond my ability. When I encounter a distraction which cannot be ignored, there is nothing to do but to focus on that distraction wholeheartedly. Wait until it is gone. Or… Maybe it was not a distraction to start with. Maybe everything else was.


The sections below are significant, but they are more of a commentary. The present state description ends here.


Why am I here? Side A.


The usual trick in Zen I know is to answer this question after interpreting it as a question about determination rather than the one about the nature-of-reality or causes-and-conditions. Besides the fact that there is no satisfying answer, for the most of occasions I’ve been asked, there was a way to answer by restating it into something like “What is your motivation?” or “What you would like to have as your contribution to the world?” During this year I had to encounter this question being asked explicitly and before getting to the next section I will include a fragment from a significantly longer version of this yearbook, which is not published because of being too verbose in giving unnecessary details, too naïve and also out of date:





It was not stated directly before, but Toshoji is not only the place where funeral services being conducted and dedications being read, but also an international Zen center. After it became obvious that returning to Antaiji immediately is an option, but not the healthiest or the safest one, at the middle of July, I had an encounter, which somewhat compensated this inability to get back immediately. And a chance to reflect a little bit on what and how I am doing during zazen. I had a chance to have a couple of talks with American Zen teacher Fusan Ryushin, who were staying in Toshoji for ten days or so.


One talk was in the end of morning tea-meeting the day he has arrived. Ryushin-san asked everyone to introduce themselves and say what they are considering to be a challenge right now for them on their way to living a fully boddhisatva life, happy life or whatever they consider to be an ideal state of being. In a sangha of around 30 people I hadn’t even tried to outline the main themes or remember answers. I personally answered something like “Although answering a question like this is emotionally exciting, the challenge for me is the fact that before you can define a challenge you should know what the ideal state of being is. I do not know.” Although, this answer might win a prize on not saying a word about what I’m really struggling with, that’s how I really felt: the problem was that even if I’d have an opportunity to request everything I want – the best conditions for practicing, the best attitude for it or anything else – I wouldn’t know what to request. There was no feedback for my answer – the format and the ammount of people wouldn’t allow. As a footnote: reality’s feedback was slightly more interesting – but it is covered before.


His own answer felt like it has a Zen quality in it – at least due to a general difference in perspective. To make it short it was: “I like to do zazen. But I also love people. The chalenge is to find the balance.” Indeed. By defining one’s main challenge one is also defining himself. There is no need to be overtly humble in doing so and no need in trying to present your condition as being more of a crisis than it really is. The answer itself sounded as a bravado for me in the beginning: whoever is the speaker, he should have at least a couple more painful issues than trying to find a balance between zazen and love, but – upon a consideration – the point is clear enough: “If I’d only known that in the question of “How do you define your main challenge?” the act of defining is a deliberate act I have a certain control over, I would try to give a better answer.” – I thought; and then remembered that the main question people in Antaiji would ponder on constantly – “Why are you here?” – is resolved similarly – by transition from external causes to intention, from needs to determination. Moreover, the answer I gave to it after asking it myself during my first interview with Muho-san was not any different from what I’ve done here: I answered “I don’t know” expecting to get a good feedback, besides other things. It’s not the knowledge I was lacking there. It’s not the knowledge it was all about to start with. Zazen is not a science. Zazen is not an epistemological school.



Outdated. The mood is: you should not expect to find a knowledge, you should not expect to find a universal truth using zazen, neither there is a way to understand what those are and where they begin or end. I want to be sceptical about the statement above and go with the other one: if you do not know what to do, do the best to gain more data. From outside as well.


Zazen is about knowledge and knowledge only. It does not prove anything, but I want to mentioned Japanese word of Buddhist origin staying for strong intention and determination: 覚悟. Usually it is being said that it consists from two characters representing Satori – thus, being totally enlightened means getting a strong will to do something – this is the explanation I want to avoid. These two characters separately are also standing for something relevant to knowing, learning and understanding, not to the intention-related domain of human’s life. It is not like knowing what to do and having intention to do something are not synonymous in the most of the cases, but they smell differently in relation to agency of the person speaking. And this difference is huge.


Just like seeing only the prescriptive interpretation of べき makes it impossible to read Dogen without seeing him being hysterical about just everything, seeing only being determined in terms of intention as a main point of teaching makes it impossible to read Buddhist texts without feeling that some totalitarian ideology is being pumped into one’s head. Meanwhile, substituting enlightenment for knowledge in its mostly common meaning rather then determination makes slightly more sense. When in Eight Realizations of Great Human Beings “knowing that you have enough” and “small desire” are being mentioned – it is not about forcing oneself to do so, it is about understanding that your mind is already equipped with both of them from the very beginning. First might be better translated in “knowing when you have enough”, which is a feature of every mind with no exception, while the second is about realizing: “Desires are inevitably smaller than people tend to think about them” – since the most of energy desire has, it has from one’s belief in impossibility to overcome it. The same intellectual excercise might be done for other entries of the same text as well, but let’s omit them. Moreover, even if it was not true when that or any other text was written, I would expect that interpreting it like this might provide more to the survival of tradition than continuing to go with the one which is trying to hit a person with a stick even when text is the only available tool. The only thing one needs is more information.


Why am I here? Side B.


Recently, I’ve got a chance to read a good book. Robert Sapolsky’s “Determined” with a subtitle of “Life Without Free Will”. Title and subtitle are intentionally contradicting, but for the contents the subtitle is self-explanatory enough. Now, I have something to add. My monk’s name explanation in the previous section under “a. refers to mind being completely rooted and anchored into the physical world with EVERY action and thought being completely pre-determined by the input of five senses” were caused by the only significant experience inside Zazen I had in Antaiji: every chain of thoughts and assosiations is ending at some external stimulus with no regressive analysis being possible any further. Namely, all the “inner life” is being produced by the simple act of unconscious noticing, which is also beyond my control. And the source of what was noticed is definetely not equal to the person noticing. Maybe with this regressive analysis being done deliberately and deeply enough, it is possible to see your face before you parents were born, but judging from my experience – it is impossible to go any further than a random sound or sensation which triggered a cascade of thoughts and feelings. At a certain moment I’ve noticed that the title of the book is essentially synonymous to my name and that thing I was trying to say with this name is not synonymous, but close to the subtitle (ironically enough, common meaning of the word “Determined” and the way people usually read “Itei” as being resolute towards something are also overlapping). The only real things are external “anchors”. To the next step.


The implication of the book is that free will and choice are a mere illusions. The next step is to say that even “illusion”-word is an overstatement. For a long time, I thought that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of a rather complicated process and exists mainly due to uncertainty of life and for the sake of making choices (doesn’t matter whether they are determined by outside completely or somewhat free). But seemingly even this is not the case: the process of constant information collecting and analyzing is indeed present, sometimes there is a need to fight with someone for the sake of being able to decide or for the sake of going with one’s decision, there is a constant thirst for control and fear to lose it, but the decisions themselves are always in either past or future if you try to perceive – or always below the treshold of consciousness if you try to register them with this consciousness. A text quest or a visual novel would have a distinct bifurcation points with a rail-like text-only connections between them. It is expected that those are somehow less than real-life is in terms of freedom, but I would not say so. In my own experience there are tons of interacting with the rails, but never with bifurcation points (except for the thoughts “Ah, this is a bifurcation point” which is exclusively textual). Decision of what to pay attention to right now may be primed, but never made – decision for one’s whole life is not anyhow different. I’ve never seen myself making a decision: inventing motivation when I have to explain it to others – maximum. Sometimes noticing itself is being emphasized in Buddhism, but noticing is not a form of control either. And I suspect that perceiving reality as more of a movie than of a game, and going further – more of a text than of a movie, since there is always only one thing occupying the mind. Those are not new and not uniquely someone’s experiences, while also might be rather easy replicated by anyone who would try to find bifurcation point on top of one-dimentional text-rail here and now and fail to do so.


What this long sequence of obvious, yet doubtful thoughts is about?

First. Back then to explain my decision to go to Antaiji I said to one of my friends that it might be the case that at least for some people the only way to change themselves is to change the environment completely (that was before I announced going to Antaiji, but after “decision” was “made”). Not like it was my primal motivation, but it was a thing I was thinking a lot about back then. By now it is quite obvious that since you can not choose your DNA, environment – not willingless – is the only variable the function of my life depends on. Obviously, people in general are also not that stupid and – with all the institutions functioning properly – this understanding is an important implication for the shaping of the whole world. Want to change something – change where you are, change what you know, change the set of your abilities. Trying to change oneself in the most general sense is an absurd, as well as going with a pure effort. As well as a conception of Enlightenment being provided from inside and inside only, which is somewhat denied (at least – de-emphasized) in Soto Zen, but still persistently appears in Zen talks of every kind for a reason I cannot process. Morning star is not Buddha.


Second. Since input is everything, however I ornament my movements, what I am being motivated by practically are rather simple things. When I was leaving usual society I was thinking that Buddhist idea of liberating human beings from suffering looks interesting, while also thinking that I would probably be more interested in spending my whole life doing zazen rather then doing some low-qualified job or trying to get a better place in a world of science, where I had a bad start by being born and primarily educated in a third-world country. I also had in mind the fact that Russia even back then was quite autocratic country and I generally did not like the lifestyle of people I was dealing with and the whole society. What was the main thing? I did not know what to do if I stay. Therefore there was no conflict – everything did push me towards where I’ve arrived, nothing holded me. Being self-critical I want to say that I was running away, but not every person running away runs away to a monastery in a remote country and stays there. Being arrogant I would continue the thought of the end of the last sentence, but comparing to achievements of people staying in society without proactively destroying themselves, my achievements and results gained via “practice” are inferior. Useless talk, though.


With all the knowledge available to me now the picture is similar in terms of the amount of possible explanations and force vectors and in terms of not knowing what to do if I stay. I am not anyhow special in my abilities or achievements, but I also haven’t arrived to Japan or to Zen to fight for visa or try to build a formal monastic career. I only need to remove presumption that people outside of monasteries are necessarily hostile and life outside of those is untolerable. Nothing holds me, while circumstances are also good enough in relation to seeing the next step and making it. Thus, I do not feel that any effort would change direction of my own actions – and, more importantly, do not feel that there is any need in such a change. Trying to move more safely, on the other hand, would probably damage the whole system by reducing my ability to act consciously at the spot (not really a paradox since the less risk is, the duller senses are) and might not be appropriate for other people this system consists of.

The thing about every plan of 1 step or more is that they almost never go the way people want them to, but I do not feel that I am doing something wrong, so there is nothing but to risk. At least it won’t produce regrets about what is being done. Not different from leaving the world to come to Antaiji. Fall. Fall. Fall. Continue falling.


Richard Feynmann had an encounter with hypnosis. He description of the experience might be summarized:

I felt that if I want I can go against what hypnotist was asking me to do. But I did not want to. Eventually, do not wanting and being unable are indistinguishable from outside – which also means that hypnosis worked on me.


The rail:

This is NOT a disclaimer.


I am… out of control.

And not willing to change it.



Toshoji Temple.

November-December, 2023.