Looking at your Mind

by Taisen Deshimaru Roshi

During zazen bonnos, monen, appear. Most people think that zazen is to put an end to illusions, to thoughts. This is a mistake. During zazen, sometimes thoughts, bonnos arise, and sometimes they do not arise. When you sleep, thoughts do not arise. When you sleep in zazen, you don't think at all.

This is a problem. The Zen of Dogen, shikantaza, doesn't consist in isn't stopping thoughts nor in chasing bonnos, illusions. During zazen, you can observe your mind exactly. This is the merit of zazen.

When dancing, you don't think, illusions don't manifest themselves. As I always say, if a mosquito approaches, you do not know it, do not realize it, but during zazen you are very sensitive to it.

One of my disciples who received the bodhisattva ordination told me, "During zazen, I always have illusions, bonnos. But during the war, when the American planes flew over us, I did zazen at home, and then I didn't have any bonno."

This is very interesting. Me too, I did zazen on a boat filled with dynamite during the way. When the enemy submarines approached, I didn't have any bonnos, I couldn't think-only zazen.

Kodo Sawaki wrote, "This is a zazen koan." In Rinzai, masters give koans to their disciples: "What is mu?", "What is your original nature before you were born?" During zazen, you think of these questions and there is not more room n the mind for other bonnos, other illusions. So Kodo Sawaki said:

The Shikantaza of Dogen is observing our true aspect. Especially the profile of our bonnos, our bad sides, like the floating bubbles crabs make.

That is the merit of zazen. If you concentrate on one thing, you cannot think of another thing. If you drink sake with a geisha, you don't think of anything. You don't feel the little insect on your testicles. Effects flow to the extent you live from karmic phenomena.

It is also written in the Shodoka:

Do not cut illusions,
Do not seek the truth [satori].

This is very easy to understand. Thinking of becoming Buddha or of obtaining satori during zazen is like saying to yourself on the train, "I must arrive at my destination get there quickly." This thought is totally useless.

So in Zen, the notions of fukatoku, mushotoku are very important.

Fukatoku means, impossible to obtain. Fu: not; ka: possible; toku: to trap.

Mu: no; shotoku: obtain or profit.

The original meaning of mushotoku is: not to obtain; without obtaining.

One day of zazen, one day of satori.

During zazen, we have satori, we are Buddha, God. Without zazen, we have no such thing. So zazen is the holy posture, the highest. During zazen, the noblest holy mind manifests itself. What is holy in the world? Only the posture of zazen.

In other religions, sampai and gassho are the highest religious attitudes. But zazen is the highest posture, the deepest, the most difficult, the most holy.

Many people in the world perform ceremonies. But practicing zazen together in this dojo, the highest place, we influence each other mutually.

The atmosphere of the group is very important. Those who sleep influence the others. It isn't so effective to do zazen next to people who are sleeping or moving. Our neighbors should be stimulated to practice strongly.

If you do zazen after having drunk alcohol, that too influences the others.

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