Fundamental delusion (ignorance of the Reality) is called emotion-thought. It is the source of the rounds of life and death from the beginningless beginning. It is our discriminating mind which obstinately clings to body, mind, and all things, as being the way we have perceived and recognized them until now.
Emotion-thought is the root of delusion; that is, a stubborn attachment to a one-sided point of view formed by our own conditioned perception.
Originally, all things are free from emotion-thought and beyond evaluation or differentiation. You must realize this clearly and without doubt.
Now, because people are blinded with illusory thoughts, they cannot clearly and thoroughly see the Reality of the whole body of all beings. Consequently, they view things as good or evil, being or non-being, life or death, sentient beings or buddha. If their eyes were open, however, they could not help but realize that the knowledge or perspective acquired through their personal experience is not the whole of Reality.
Therefore, no one can be free of delusion until emotion-thought has dropped off. No matter how diligently one continues to do good deeds, if these deeds are based on a blinded mind, the result will be only a limited happiness in the world of human or heavenly beings, for such good deeds still belong to the defiled causation in the six worlds of samsara.
In the Maha-prajna Paramita Sutra, it is said that even though you may practice the five paramitas (giving, observing the precepts, patience, diligence and dhyana), all of your practices remain within the realm of defiled causation of human or heavenly beings unless you practice prajna-paramita. Such practices are not that of anuttara-samyak-sambodhi (ultimate awareness, enlightenment).
To practice prajna-paramita means that the light of the wisdom of jijuyu-zanmai illuminates and dispels the darkness of the ignorance of emotion-thought. If the Light of the Self is clear, even a small good deed is the practice of incomparable enlightenment, since the deed was performed prior to discriminating mind. Therefore, you should not concern yourself with anything but leaving behind emotion-thought, cutting the root of delusion, and emitting the light of jijuyu-zanmai, opening the eye of prajna (wisdom). This is buddha’s wisdom and it is also the true path of practicing the Buddha-Way.
In the Lotus Sutra, it is said,
Everything buddhas do is to teach bodhisattvas.
All that they do is for just one purpose, that is,
to show sentient beings buddha’s wisdom.
Buddha’s wisdom means that buddhas see and know all things free from emotion-thought. Therefore, buddhas enable sentient beings to leave behind emotion-thought (limited views) and to gain a wisdom equal to that of buddhas. This is the core of the teachings of all buddhas past, present and future, and is also the essence of the teachings of all patriarchs in each and every generation.
The distinction of the ten worlds (hell dweller, hungry-ghost, animal, asura, human being, heavenly being, sravaka, pratyeka-buddha, bodhisattva and buddha), and judging them as either good or evil, arises from emotion thought. This is because we are bound by the thought and discrimination of emotion-thought, and fabricate the boundaries between realms, defining one as superior to another, or one as good and another evil.
The Tathagata peacefully abides in the realm of buddha which is beyond thinking and discriminating, radiates the great light of virtue, and illuminates all sentient beings in the ten worlds who are bound by thinking and discriminating. Therefore, these sentient beings can be released from the limitation of each world and be caused to realize the enlightenment of buddha. It is like the frozen snow on the high mountains which melts when the spring sun shines upon it. Therefore, in the Lotus Sutra, it is said that only a buddha together with a buddha can fathom the Reality of the whole dharma. This means that this dharma cannot be grasped by thinking and discriminating.
Since this samadhi cannot be grasped by thought or discrimination, those commentators on sutras and sastras (commentaries) who try only to interpret the meaning of the words, cannot fathom it, not matter how intelligent they are. Only when we sit zazen in the present are our eyes opened to the realm which is beyond thought and discrimination. We simply illuminate our thoughts which, moment by moment, arise and pass away, and refrain from creating attraction or repulsion and hatred or love. For one who is a Tathagata, what one does in zazen is expressed as radiating the great light, illuminating all the worlds in the ten directions, and releasing all sentient beings from suffering.
Furthermore, our practice-enlightenment of this samadhi is the cause, while the Tathagata’s dwelling in this samadhi is the result. Within cause, we actualize the result, and within result, the Tathagata completes the cause. Therefore, cause and result are not two. They are beyond the argument of whether they are the same or different. They are outside of logic and reason. They are called the cause of Buddha and the result of Buddha. This is also the meaning of the expression ‘head is right, tail is right’. Therefore, the zazen which we are presently practicing is the Tathagata’s samadhi. The samadhi of the Tathagata is our zazen. There is no difference between them at all. There is not the slightest distinction of superior or inferior.
Expressing this same idea, the Shodoka says:
The dharma-body of the Tathagata enters into my own nature;
my nature becomes one with the Tathagata.
One level completely contains all levels. It is
neither material, mind, nor activity. In an instant
eighty-thousand dharma-gates are completed;
in a twinkling the three kalpas pass away.
Just as our zazen is the same as that of the great master Bodhidharma, so it is the same as the sitting of all the patriarchs, and likewise their zazen is no different from the Tathagata’s King of Samadhis. Wanshi Zenji expressed this in his Zazen-shin (The Acupuncture Needle of Zazen) as ‘(Zazen is) the be-all of the buddhas and the end-all of the patriarchs.
Dogen Zenji expressed this in the Shobogenzo Zanmai as follows:
That which directly goes beyond the whole world is kekkafuza (sitting in full lotus). It is what is most venerable in the house of the buddhas and patriarchs. Only this practice transcends the pinnacle of buddhas and patriarchs.
We must understand that this is the ultimate, unsurpassable samadhi which continually goes beyond everything. For this reason, all buddhas in all worlds in the ten directions, in the past, present and future, always dwell in zazen. We must know that there is no other teaching or practice superior to this zazen. This is the essential meaning of the practice-enlightenment of Zanmai-ozanmai (the King of Samadhis), shobogenzo-nehanmyoshin (the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, Wondrous Mind of Nirvana) beyond emotion-thought, which has been properly transmitted by buddhas and patriarchs.
Selections from The Dharma-words of Homeless Kodo
Sawaki Kodo Roshi’s Sayings,
recorded by Uchiyama Kosho Roshi
To do zazen is to be intimate with the Self.
Sit immovably beyond the standard of superiority or inferiority of human beings.
Our zazen is seeing the world completely anew after a long winter’s sleep.
The zazen in which you do nothing is best. When we do something, it is usually a matter of being forced to do it by some demon.
People today always try to create groups and to get by as members of them. Every one of them are afflicted with nothing but group-stupidity. Making sub-groups and sects is even more representative of such group-stupidity. Stopping this kind of group-stupidity and becoming the Self which is yourself alone is zazen.
What is the true Self? Rather than a blank sheet of paper, I would say it is like the clear blue sky. The true Self is undivided and one with all.
Religion is living the life of the ever-new Self, never deceived by anything.
To do zazen is to return to mother’s womb - so, zazen is not a task.
True religion is not a philosophy. It is something to be practiced.
The practice of religion is something real; it is not like a list of the beneficial effects of a medicine.
We do not practice for the sake of gaining satori. Rather, we practice being pulled around by satori.
Being glared at by zazen, being scolded by zazen, being obstructed by zazen, being pulled around by zazen - weeping our whole life away; this has got to be the happiest way of life.
The more sober we become, the more clearly we see that we are no good.
What is the use of doing zazen? Zazen is good for nothing. Unless you hear more than enough of that, and you just do what is good for nothing wholeheartedly, your practice is really good for nothing.
Although each one of us has different karma, it is important to be lead by the Buddha in the same way. ‘Dropping off body and mind’ is to give up ego-centricity, to believe in the Buddha, and to be led by the Buddha.
To practice the Buddha-Way is not to look aside. Be one with what you encounter right now. This is called samadhi or shikan (just doing something wholeheartedly).
In the buddha-dharma, the most important thing is to avoid defilement. Defilement is when a company president acts proud of his position. When defilement is cleansed away, that is shikan.
One cannot maintain oneself by oneself. When the self gives up the self, the self becomes the self which is one with the whole universe.
Sky and earth make offerings. Air, water, plants, animals, human beings; all make offerings. Every being makes offerings to each other. We only live within this relationship of making offerings.
Offer the attitude of not being greedy to the whole universe. Nothing can be greater than this offering.
Satori is not going to a lot of trouble to reach some special place. It is just being natural.
Satori is like a thief entering an empty house. There is nothing to steal. There is no need to escape, no one coming running to catch you. So, there is no inducement.
Unless you re-examine human beings from a point which is beyond humanity, you cannot see what human beings really are.
by Uchiyama Kosho Roshi
In short, doing zazen is to stop doing anything, to face the wall, and to sit, just being yourself that is only the Self. While doing zazen we should refrain from doing anything, yet, being human, we begin to think; we engage in a dialogue with the thoughts in our mind. ‘I should have sold it that time; no, I should have bought it’, or ‘I should have waited for a while.’ If you are a stockbroker you will think like this.
If you are a young lover, you may find that your girlfriend inevitably appears all the time. If you are a mother-in-law who doesn’t get along with your daughter-in-law, you will think only of your son’s wife. Whatever situation you are involved, thoughts will arise of their own accord while you are doing zazen.
Once you realize that you are thinking when you are supposed to be doing nothing, and return to zazen, the thoughts which appeared as clearly before as if they were pictures on a TV. screen, disappear as suddenly as if you had switched off the TV. Only the wall is left in from of you. For an instant… this is it. This is zazen. Yet again thoughts arise by themselves. Again you return to zazen and they disappear. We simply repeat this; this is called kakusoku (awareness of Reality). The most important point is to repeat this kakusoku billions of times. This is how we should practice zazen.
If we practice in this way we cannot help but realize that our thoughts are really nothing but secretions of the brain. Just as our salivary glands secrete saliva, or as our stomachs secrete gastric juices, so our thoughts are nothing but secretions of the brain.
Usually, however, people do not understand this. When we think, ‘I hate him’, we hate the person, forgetting that the thought is merely a secretion. The hatred occupies our mind, tyrannizing it. By hating the person, we subordinate ourselves to this tyrant. When we love someone we are also swept away by our attachment to this person; we become enslaved by this love. In the end, all of us live as vassals to this lord, thought. This is the source of all our problems.
For example, our stomachs secrete gastric juices in order to digest food. More is not better in this case; if too much is secreted, we may develop an ulcer or even stomach cancer. Our stomachs secrete gastric juices to keep us alive, but an excess is dangerous. Nowadays, people suffer from an excess of brain secretions; and furthermore, they allow themselves to be tyrannized by these secretions. This is the cause of all our mistakes.
In Reality, the various thoughts which arise in our minds are nothing but the scenery of the Life of the Self. This scenery exists upon the ground of our Life. As I said earlier, we should not be blind to, or unconscious of, this scenery. Zazen commands a view of everything as the scenery of the Life of the Self. In ancient Zen texts, this is referred to as the scenery of original ground.
It is not the case that we become universal Life as a result of our practice. Each and every one of us receives and lives this universeful-Life. We are one with the whole universe, yet we do not manifest it as the universe in the real sense.
Since our minds are discriminating, we perceive only the tail of the secretions. When we do zazen, we let go of the thoughts, and then the thoughts drop off. That which arises in our minds disappears. There the universeful-Life manifests itself.
Dogen Zenji called it practice based on enlightenment. This universeful-Life is enlightenment. Based upon that, we practice being the whole universe. This is also called practice and enlightenment are one.
We would all prefer happiness to misery, paradise to hell, survival to immediate death. We are thus ever bifurcating Reality, dividing it into something good and something bad, something we like and something we don’t. Similarly, we discriminate between satori and delusion, and strive to attain satori.
But the reality of the universe is far beyond such an attitude of aversion and attachment. When our attitude is ‘whichever, whatever, whenever’, then we manifest the whole universe.
In the first place, the attitude of trying to gain something is itself unstable. When you strive to gain satori you are definitely deluded because you desire to escape from a state of delusion.
Dogen Zenji taught that our attitude should be one of practice and diligent work in any situation whatsoever. If we fall into hell, we go through hell; this is the most important attitude to have. If we encounter unhappiness, we should work through it sincerely. Just sit in the Reality of Life seeing hell and paradise, misery and joy, life and death, all with the same eye. No matter what the situation, we live the life of the Self. We must sit immovably on that foundation. This is essential; this is what ‘becoming one with the universe’ means.
If we divide this universe into two, striving to attain satori and to escape delusion, we are not the whole universe. Happiness and unhappiness, satori and delusion, life and death; see them with the same eye. In every situation the Self lives the life of the Self - such a self must do itself by itself. This universal Life is the place to which we return.