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Buddhadharma : Winter 2006
buddhadharma| 39 |winter 2006 The True MasTer’s ZaZen A teaching by Harada Roshi Right now many feel that this country is being moved around in a way that we cannot influence. in each person’s mind there is insecurity and instability; our minds become heavier and heavier. People today have no leader they can trust to lead them into peace. People who do zazen and are influenced by the Buddha’s teaching must not fall into this insecurity. As Rinzai said, “in this five-foot lump of red flesh there is a true person of no rank always coming in and going out; if you have not seen it yet, see it now!” everyone has this red, bleeding body, in which we live from morning until night. that person of no rank is in the very “middle” of the body, without being it or clutching onto it. not caught up with the usual social values of fame, wealth, and knowledge, there are those who go beyond the physical body and ordinary ideas of being healthy or not healthy, of being rich or poor. this physical body is given life by that very root of our awareness, and this root is not dependent on our physical body. that awareness which can use the body abundantly and come and go in and out of it is the true master. everyone is so tossed and turned by the things in this world that we set the true master aside. there are many who have not even encountered it yet, but everyone can know it and realize it. it is always coming and going in and out of our body. When it goes out, if we see a flower, we become a flower; when we hear a beautiful bird’s song, we become a singing bird. When we go within, we are hungry, sleepy, hot, and cold. there is a true master like that within each of us. We see the river and we are flowing without pause. We see the sky full of stars and we become it all. We dive into the suffering of all people, into society’s miseries. Within this is a true person of no rank. to know this, we have to experience it directly. We do zazen and work on this inventively—isn’t this our truth? this mind is no different from that of the Bud- dha and daruma. Rinzai is urging us along and giving us energy. during the tang dynasty, the country of china was in terrible crisis; there were many civil wars. At that time, master Zuigan was practicing and doing zazen. He addressed himself: “true master?” “Yes!” “Are you awake?” “Yes!” “don’t be deceived by people!” “Yes, yes!” He gave himself this koan over and over again, and answered it himself. From the outside, he might have appeared foolish, but from the inside, when we are not fooled by ourselves, we can learn much from master Zuigan. “true master!” As long as we don’t know where that true master is, we are the slave. the question “Are you awake?” has to be answered with a yes. We all have to do that kind of zazen. the eye of the whole universe must be wide open. only when we see and hear with the eye and ear of the universe can we possibly know the truth. if we are pushed and pulled around by circumstances, we will be constantly confused. if we only see phenomena and get caught on ideas of good and bad, then we fool ourselves about reality. “Are you awake?” “don’t be deceived by people!” Please, those of you who are doing zazen today, do not be moved around by events in the world. We should not be confused and tossed around, but instead be able to see and hear clearly and touch reality directly. Actively work in this world, seeing clearly what should be done, and with bravery and courage make diligent efforts and go forward. each person has this truth from birth. We have to realize this and give it life every day in our zazen and diligent activity. cultivate this faith with vast energy and potential and bring deep peace to people all around you. do this kind of zazen. to focus only on construction and let the practice go dormant. I feel very grateful for the steady schedule of daily practice and biannual retreats at Tahoma, thanks to the warm support of the local sangha and the efforts of the Sogenji trainees there. Twenty years of monastic training at Sogenji has made it possible to build Tahoma and to send people to establish dojos in India and Europe. I feel deeply encouraged by this. Near Tahoma Monastery, you have opened a hospice called Enso House. How did this come about, and what kind of work is Enso House doing? Before work on Tahoma began, we used to hold our sesshins at a retreat center in the middle of a beautiful forest. One year we arrived to find that the giant trees surrounding this property had been cut down. All that was left was a wasteland of stumps and scarred soil. The scene sent shivers up my spine. When I asked what had happened, the owner replied that the trees had been sold to Japan. I was shocked to see with my own eyes how quickly an ancient forest could be destroyed for the sake of a little money. It made me wonder who will care for America’s land, who will guide the young? Dis- cussions of these questions inspired the sangha to establish a monastery of our own. Spiritual growth is not an easy process, how- ever. People start out full of enthusiasm, but as their initial zeal wears off, they often lose sight of the training’s true goals. Many become dissatisfied and turn to other pursuits. At Sogenji, the retired abbot, Kansei-san, lived out the final part of his existence cared for by the people in training. Zen training is not about personal development or gain. Ultimately, what motivates us in spiritual practice is the realization that as living beings we cannot escape death. Yet as time goes by, even this deep intuition of our own mortality tends to fade amidst the cares and distractions of everyday existence. Our natural tendency is to put death out of our minds. It is critically important, therefore, that prac- titioners have a concrete sense of their own mor- tality and of the reality of other people’s deaths. Investigating death, one’s training naturally inten- sifies and one gains a sense of true direction. Hos- pice work can be a very genuine form of training. This certainly was my own experience in caring for Kansei-san. The reality of death must not remain conceptual; it has to become part of our practice. We were looking for a way to provide an opportunity for such practice, so Enso House was established next to Tahoma, with room for about six patients. As a working hospice, Enso House calls on the expertise of trained profes- RolAndScHmid