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Buddhadharma : Summer 2012
SUMMER 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 21 space, one experiences oneself as com- pletely open and free of fear. As these experiences arise and one is conscious of them, they support healing that is both physical and emotional. Deeply rooted fears are overcome. In this way, meditation practice nourishes one’s life. Even as the formal practice of abiding in the nature of mind is an activity of “nondoing,” medita- tion itself is not passive. As we abide and rest in openness, we stop draining ourselves, and awareness of openness gives birth to innumerable qualities, as I have described in terms of the five ele- ments. Who is meditating? No one. Yet everything happens in single, nondual awareness. ZENKEI BLANCHE HARTMAN: Dogen Zenji, the thirteenth-century founder of Soto Zen in Japan, speaks of “Body and Mind Study of the Way.” He said, “The buddha way cannot be attained unless you practice, and without study it remains remote.” So both body and mind are practicing together. He also said, “Practicing Zen is zazen.” Zazen means just sitting. It is not sitting and doing nothing; it is sit- ting and doing nothing else. You may have noticed that this is not easy. End- less thoughts, opinions, and daydreams come and go. My teacher, Suzuki Roshi, once said, “You don’t have to invite each thought to sit down and have a cup of tea.” He also said, “Open the front door and open the back door and let them come in and let them go out.” So when we sit, we arrange our body in a balanced posture so that we can remain upright and at ease, take a few deep breaths and then do our best to remain aware of the coming and going of breaths, thoughts, emotions, and sen- sations without being caught and car- ried away by them. As for who or what is meditating, I would like to share an exchange I had with Suzuki Roshi in dokusan (a per- sonal interview with a Zen teacher). Once in a one-day sitting I had been counting my breaths (an early practice to help stay present during zazen) and it seemed to me that I had really mas- tered it for the first time. I went to see Roshi and said excitedly, “Roshi, I can count my breath now without missing any. What do I do now?” I was expect- ing some kind of approval, as he had always been kind and encouraging to me, but he became stern and forceful, and said, “Don’t ever imagine that you can sit zazen! Zazen sits zazen!!” In Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Suzuki Roshi says, “The most impor- tant things in our practice are our physi- cal posture and our way of breathing. We are not so concerned about a deep understanding of Buddhism. As a phi- losophy, Buddhism is a very deep, wide, and firm system of thought, but Zen is not concerned about philosophical understanding. We emphasize practice. We should understand why our physi- cal posture and breathing exercise are so important. Instead of having a deep understanding of the teaching, we need a strong confidence in our teaching, which says that originally we have bud- dhanature. Our practice is based on this faith.” In Fukanzazengi (Universal Recom- mendation for the Practice of Zazen), Dogen says, “You should therefore cease from practice based on intellectual understanding, pursuing words and fol- lowing after speech, and learn the back- ward step that turns your light inwardly to illuminate your self. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will be manifest. If you want to attain suchness, you should practice suchness without delay.” Later in the same essay he says, “The zazen I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the dharma-gate of repose and bliss, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the man- ifestation of ultimate reality.” The great teacher Nagarjuna said, “The mind that fully sees into the uncer- tain world of birth and death is called the thought of enlightenment.” This is bodhicitta, the mind that aspires to wake up in order to benefit beings; the mind that experiences directly its complete interconnectedness with all beings.