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Buddhadharma : Spring 2009
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly SPRING 2 0 09 28 of these monasteries has been discontinued. Ironically, Myoshin-ji and Daitoku-ji, which are now among the biggest Rinzai temples in Kyoto, are not among the “Five Mountains.” They were neither protected nor supported by the government, and because of that they had no choice but to continue their practice. Thanks to their diligence, they survived to the present day. The legacy of Rinzai Zen was carried on by these unsupported Zen masters. Hakuin Ekaku Zenji is a descendent of this lineage as well. The key point that I would like to convey today is for us to march on. This is the most essential aspect of our practice, whether it is easy for us or not. History has proven that the only way to let true dharma continue is to just continue our practice. Earlier I mentioned Hakuin Zenji. I’d like to share a story with you. When Hakuin was a young monk, he read many books on the history of Zen Buddhism in China. He learned of a Chinese Zen patriarch known as Ganto who had spent many years practicing zazen and was known to have some clear insight. One day a thief came into Ganto’s monastery and cut off his head with an axe. According to the story, Ganto emitted a scream that could be heard several miles away. Upon reading that story, Hakuin was deeply disappointed that such an enlightened Zen master could be subject to misfortune. Even more disturb- ing to Hakuin was Ganto’s loud scream of pain. He began to doubt that zazen was the best way to become free from suffering and attachments and decided to take a break from his practice for a while. One day, Hakuin happened to fall upon a book called Zenkan Sakushin, in which a monk called Jimyo did zazen for hours every night with a gimlet in his hand. When he became sleepy, he used the gimlet to pierce his own thighs, which enabled him to stay awake. Reading this, Hakuin felt ashamed of his own halfhearted efforts and for becoming so easily discouraged. Inspired with renewed dedication, he resumed his practice. Later, investigating the story of Ganto from a dif- ferent point of view, he eventually under- stood Ganto’s scream and remarked, laughing out loud, “Ganto is truly alive and in good health!” Similarly, in our own lives, we all experi- ence ups and downs, joy and sorrow. Yet all we have to do is continue our practice—no matter what—marching on straight ahead. Regarding zazen, I have heard some people say that one must sit down, erect the spine, regulate the breath, and clarify the mind. Then zazen can begin. However, I feel that the moment one sits down, erects the spine, regulates the breath, and clarifies the mind, this is zazen itself. When you listen to my talk, do not expect me to analyze the text sentence by sentence. As I often say, Zen koans go to the essence first, and what you hear is a mere manifestation of this essence. You can stay with branches and leaves (the details and particulars), or you can see through the words and hear nothing but your own koan: “What is my true face before my parents were born?” or “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” or “Mu” or “What is this?” or “Who am I?” All of these seemingly enigmatic questions are like what is said in the Diamond Sutra: The world is not really a world; it is just called a “world.” Mu is not really Mu, but we just call it “Mu” for the time being. So don’t be deceived by enigmatic word- ings. Whatever koan we are working on is just a given name or label. If you can see through the words, then my talk should not present any problem for you—it should help you to clarify your true nature. At Dai Bosatsu Zendo, we have been studying The Recorded Sayings of Master Joshu (Joshu Roku). As you may know, Mas- ter Joshu is most famous for his koan “Mu.” This section of the Joshu Roku deals with the Master’s early days as a disciple of his teacher, Nansen Fugan Zenji. Eido Shimano RoShi is head of the Zen Studies Society and abbot of dai Bosatsu Zendo in the Catskills mountains and new York Zendo Shobo-Ji in new York City. JoeGaffneY