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Lions Roar : January 2003
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2003 41 ful flower because it is beyond human speculation, con- cepts or ideas. All we have to do is pay careful attention to the reality of that beautiful flower as it really is. That is emptiness. Emptiness is exactly the same as interdepend- ent co-origination. This interdependence is not an idea of relationship. It is a chance, a great opportunity, a place where everything becomes alive in a refreshing way. Within emptiness there is spiritual security. Spiritual security cannot be given to you by somebody else—you have to find it yourself, and it can only be found within the emptiness that makes your life alive. We can apply this to the zazen meditation we do. Buddhism is not a philosophical teaching, it’s a teaching of human activity. We are always looking at zazen from our consciousness, with our preconceptions, but true zazen must be completely empty. If you think: I want to be buddha through the practice of zazen, then you and zazen are seen from your idea of buddha and zazen doesn’t work. That’s why there’s the story of Huai-jang, the Zen master of Nan-yueh Mountain, who polished a tile. When Huai-jang asked the monk Ma-tsu what he hoped to attain by practicing meditation, the monk said he wanted to be a buddha. So Huai-jang picked up a tile and began polishing it to make a mirror. Ma-tsu asked, “How can you make a tile into a mirror?” And Huai-jang said, “How can you become a buddha by practicing zazen?” If you have, even slightly, the idea, “I want to be a bud- dha by practicing zazen,” you have already created a con- ceptual world of three things: buddha, zazen and prac- ticer. You go around in a circle with these ideas: what is buddha, what is zazen, what is practicer. But all you have to do is see buddha from emptiness, see zazen from emptiness and see practicer from emptiness. Just like the diver, you can handle yourself before you are distracted by thinking. You can see zazen prior to the germination of your intellectual sense. So handle zazen like this. Handle yourself like this. Then zazen really works, and practicer really works within zazen because the practicer is blooming in the universe. That is called shikantaza. There is a philosophical understanding behind the word shikantaza, but zazen itself is not the object of philo- sophical discussion. Zazen is just actual practice, like div- ing into the pool. Many things come up and distract us when we prac- tice zazen: our preconceptions, ideas, karma, heredity, personality and many other things. So we have to take care of them continually, not with hatred, but by patting them on the head without being too interested in them. Just pat them on the head. But if I pat my head and say “good boy,” that is not the real practice of patting the head that I am talking about. When I think, “good boy,” that idea of good boy is coming from an idea of “bad boy” I had in the past. If you see things this way, you are creating ideas, discriminating between the previous moment, present moment and next moment. We usual- ly think that time moves from the past, through the pres- ent, to the future. But time cannot be seen as just time. Time must be seen as time and also simultaneously as space. You cannot separate them. In space, time has no before as a previous moment, or after as a following moment—there is only right now, right here, blooming and extending into the whole universe. You must be in time; you must be at the moment where you cannot think about a previous moment or a following moment. That moment is a great opportunity. That is the moment you are you as you really are, prior to the germination of thinking. If you become a dancer, how can you do this? How can you pat the head of your karma, your heredity, your customs and habits, or your personality? To pat their head means to just practice continually, just become empty and flexible, and just dance. Then this emptiness makes your life alive in the universe. You are ready to dive into the pool. Practice is simultaneously blooming your flower right now, right here. That’s why practice is not merely practice apart from enlightenment—practice is enlightenment itself. DAININ KATAGIRI ROSHI came fromJapan tothe United States in 1963. He practiced and taught at the Zenshuji Soto Zen Mission in Los Angeles, later moving to Sokoji Soto Zen mission and then to San Francisco Zen Center, where he assisted Suzuki Roshi. In 1982 he became the first abbot of the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in Minneapolis. Katagiri Roshi died in 1990. © 1979 Minnesota Zen Meditation Center If the diver has, even slightly, a common sense idea of the pool, his mind is dis- turbed and he is afraid. But when all have become empty, the pool is just like a beautiful flower blooming.” “