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Buddhadharma : Spring 2016
when we perform a ritual like offering incense or bowing before an altar, it may seem one-sided. But if we’re receptive, says kokyo henkel, we find that our actions are always met with a response. AT THE END OF A BUSY DAY, we sometimes feel tired and disconnected from our true heart and from other people. We might have a conscious wish to sit down on a cushion, relax, and exhale com- pletely, letting go of ourselves and our constricted way of being in the world. It’s difficult to say where this wish actually comes from, but if we follow it, then sometimes a larger awareness begins to dawn, zazen starts to sit zazen, and the heart begins to open. How does such a miraculous thing happen? Dogen Zenji writes, “The aspiration for awakening arises in the mystical communion between buddhas and sentient beings. It is not given by buddhas or bodhisattvas, it is not created by oneself, and it does not simply arise spontaneously.” This altruistic aspiration to free all beings and realize awakening arises in mystical communion, or kanno doko in Japanese. Kan is to perceive or intuit something. O is responsiveness. So kanno is intuitively perceiving a response from buddha, from buddhanature. Buddha is always responding to us. And buddha is not somewhere out there, apart from us. Our own buddhanature—the open, compas- sionate, boundless nature of mind—is right here, but we’re not usually in touch with it. When we, as sentient beings, put forth some intention, aspiration, or receptivity, we meet buddha. Our buddhanature is always responding to our sentient being nature, and sometimes we can appreciate this meeting. We’re Always Meeting Buddha wooDBlock priNtS | tsuzen nakaJima 52 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 1 6