You want to become a buddha? There’s no need to become a buddha! Now is simply now. You are simply you. And tell me, since you want to leave the place where you are, where is it exactly you want to go?
We don’t practice in order to get satori. It’s satori that pulls our practice. We practice, being dragged all over by satori.
You don’t seek the way. The way seeks you.
You study, you do sports, and you’re fixated on satori and illusion. So that even zazen becomes a marathon for you, with satori as the finish line. Yet because you’re trying to grab it, you’re missing it completely. Only when you stop meddling like this does your original, cosmic nature realizes itself.
You say you’re seeking the way, but what does it mean if you’re seeking the way just to satisfy yourself?
Zazen means just sitting without even thinking of becoming buddha.
We don’t achieve satori through practice: practice is satori. Each and every step is the goal.
– Kodo Sawaki, To You
If you want to obtain perfect calmness in your zazen [meditation], you should not be bothered by the various images you find in your mind. Let them come, and let them go. Then they will be under control. But this policy is not so easy. It sounds easy, but it requires some special effort. How to make this kind of effort is the secret of practice. Suppose you are sitting under some extraordinary circumstances. If you try to calm your mind you will be unable to sit, and if you try not to be disturbed, your effort will not be the right effort. The only effort that will help you is to count your breathing or to concentrate on your inhaling and exhaling. We say concentration, but to concentrate your mind on something is not the true purpose of Zen. The true purpose is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes. This is to put everything under control in its widest sense. Zen practice is to open up our small mind. So concentrating is just an aid to help you realize “big mind,” or the mind that is everything.
– Shunryu Suzuki
from the book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”
Sitting for hours on end is not necessary. Some people think that the longer you can sit, the wiser you must be. I have seen chickens sit on their nests for days on end! Wisdom comes from being mindful in all postures. Your practice should begin as you awaken in the morning. It should continue until you fall asleep. Don’t be concerned about how long you can sit. What is important is only that you keep watchful whether you are working or sitting or going to the bathroom.
To sit through sesshin ( a period of intensive meditation) is to be in the middle of a refining fire. Eido Roshi said once, “This zendo is not a peaceful haven, but a furnace room for the combustion of our egoistic delusions.” A zendo is not a place for bliss and relaxation, but a furnace room for the combustion of our egoistic delusions. What tools do we need to use? Only one. We’ve all heard of it, yet we use it very seldom. It’s called attention.
Attention is the cutting, burning sword, and our practice is to use that sword as much as we can. None of us is very willing to use it; but when we do—even for a few minutes—some cutting and burning takes place. All practice aims to increase our ability to be attentive, not just in zazen but in every moment of our life. As we sit we grasp that our conceptual thought process is a fantasy; and the more we grasp this the more our ability to pay attention to reality increases. One of the great Chinese masters, Huang Po, said: “If you can only rid yourselves of conceptual thought, you will have accomplished everything. But if you students of the Way do not rid yourselves of conceptual thought in a flash, even though you strive for eon after eon, you will never accomplish “it”.” We rid ourselves of conceptual thought” when, by persistent observation, we recognize the unreality of our self-centered thoughts. Then we can remain dispassionate and fundamentally unaffected by them. That does not mean to be a cold person. Rather, it means not to be caught and dragged around by circumstances.
Beck, Charlotte J.. Everyday Zen
Shikantaza is to practice or actualize emptiness. Although you can have a tentative understanding of it through your thinking, you should understand emptiness through your experience. You have an idea of emptiness and an idea of being, and you think that being and emptiness are opposites. But in Buddhism, both of these are ideas of being. The emptiness we mean is not like the idea you may have. You cannot reach a full understanding of emptiness with your thinking mind or with your feeling. That is why we practice zazen.
– Shunryu Suzuki
from the book “Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen”
As ice by nature is water.
Apart from water there is no ice;
Apart from beings, no Buddha.
How sad that people ignore the near
And search for truth afar:
Like someone in the midst of water
Crying out in thirst,
Like a child of a wealthy home
Wandering among the poor.
Lost on dark paths of ignorance,
We wander through the Six Worlds,
From dark path to dark path–
When shall we be freed from birth and death?
Oh, the zazen of the Mahayana!
To this the highest praise!
Devotion, repentance, training,
The many paramitas–
All have their source in zazen.
Those who try zazen even once
Wipe away beginning-less crimes.
Where are all the dark paths then?
The Pure Land itself is near.
Those who hear this truth even once
And listen with a grateful heart,
Treasuring it, revering it,
Gain blessings without end.
Much more, those who turn about
And bear witness to self-nature,
Self-nature that is no-nature,
Go far beyond mere doctrine.
Here effect and cause are the same,
The Way is neither two nor three.
With form that is no-form,
Going and coming, we are never astray,
With thought that is no-thought,
Singing and dancing are the voice of the Law.
Boundless and free is the sky of Samádhi!
Bright the full moon of wisdom!
Truly, is anything missing now?
Nirvana is right here, before our eyes,
This very place is the Lotus Land,
This very body, the Buddha.– Hakuin
– Shunryu Suzuki
from the book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”
The only way is to enjoy your life. Even though you are practicing zazen, counting your breath like a snail, you can enjoy your life, maybe much better than making a trip to the moon. That is why we practice zazen. The kind of life you have is not so important. The most important thing is to be able to enjoy your life without being fooled by things.– Shunryu Suzuki
“Think of nonthinking. How is this done? By thinking beyond thinking and non-thinking. This is the very basis of zazen.”
Dogen-zenji (1200-53) (from Fukan zazen-gi)
In this talk, as well as covering the basic step-by-step method of how to sit zazen, we place this practice as a central ritual of the zen school, a symbolic enactment of the Buddha’s own awakening under the Bodhi Tree.
Zen master Dogen asked his monks if they sat zazen to become enlightened? If so, then why is the Buddha, who is already enlightened, pictured sitting in zazen?
Many people live in a constant state of anxiety, wishing the world to change in some way, to fit personal expectations and desires. Rather than feeling gratitude for how things are, modern life encourages us to always seek something different or “better.”
Peace arises naturally when this “wanting mind” is released. Letting go of likes, dislikes and desires shifts our consciousness, transforming how we perceive the present moment.
Zen meditation, yoga, tai chi and other spiritual practices help us to calm the mind and experience ever deepening states of inner peace, mindfulness and balance.
These tranquil states of mind are called dhyāna or jhāna in Buddhism. They correspond to a shift in awareness, a release of goal-seeking, fears and judgements, along with a greater appreciation for life as it is…
Tao & Zen
Zazen means putting into practice that which cannot be thought with thinking. It is the dharma-switch that ‘turns on’ the whole universe.
Just doing it means practicing that which fills the entire universe, throwing yourself into it completely, in every single instant, in every single activity. Simply doing something means doing it now, on the spot. It means not wasting the little time you have in life.
~ Kodo Sawaki