Gudo: If you understand some points about ‘Satori’ that often have been misinterpreted in Buddhist philosophy, you will find that such experiences can manifest in life hundreds, thousands … any number of times in our lives. In Buddhism, the meaning of ‘Satori’ is nothing more, nothing less than the state of the body, the state of the mind when we are doing Zazen. Accordingly, anybody, any person, just by the fact that they are sitting Zazen, can immediately and directly enter and attain the state of ‘Satori.’ This is why Master Dogen stated, ‘[A] beginner’s pursuit of the truth is just the whole body of the original state of experience.’ A person who is sitting Zazen, no matter who that person is, should think of himself or herself as already thus attained of the state of Buddha.
Gudo: Yes. When we engage in Zazen ….. from the first moment that we begin to do so ….., we are placed into a state of body and mind wherein we will know personally the great value inherent in Buddhism ….. Master Dogen said of this: “A beginner's pursuit of the Truth is just the whole body of the original state of experience.” The meaning here is that, when the beginner first tries Zazen, that itself is nothing other than the full and complete, authentic experience of all that is … contained just there, just then, in microcosm.
Sekishin: But, I think that Zazen is not usually thought of in that way by most people. I think the usual conception of Zazen is as a practice pursued over years and years by monks locked in monasteries, so that one day they will undergo some great Satori experience or transformation ……
Gudo: It is a fact that, in common perspective, Zazen is viewed much as you describe. However, Master Dogen did not understand Zazen in that way. In Master Dogen’s view, Zazen is not something which serves for purposes of an outside goal or reason other than Zazen itself ….. Zazen is the objective of Zazen. It is written in the Fukan-zazengi, ‘This sitting in Zazen is not learning Zen concentration …… It is practice-and-experience which perfectly realizes the state of Bodhi.’ This means that Zazen is not undertaken in pursuit of the goal of reaching or achieving a state. Instead, Zazen is, itself, nothing other than the practice, and the experience, which in and of itself embodies, perfectly masters and encompasses Reality. It is all right here in the Zazen, just by itself.
Sekishin: So, I suppose that the one and only thing that is really necessary in studying Buddhism is Zazen, and that nothing else is needed.
Gudo: Yes. Precisely so. Master Dogen used the term ‘Shikantaza’ … ‘Just Sitting’ … with the meaning that it is fully and completely enough just to do Zazen.
[A Return to Original Self.]
Sekishin: I understand that Master Dogen told us: ‘Just Sit.’ But what utility is there in that, really? It sounds rather pointless …..
Gudo: Kodo Sawaki Roshi, when he was instructing me in Zazen many years ago, used to say that every time he was asked by some student, ‘What benefit will come to me from doing Zazen,’ he would answer in a booming voice ….. ‘Nothing comes from it at all!’ Sawaki Roshi would admonish all of us against the attitude of viewing Zazen as a means to a goal other than Zazen itself. He wished to strongly emphasize the sacredness inherent just in Zazen ….. that it should be done simply to be done, without objective or purpose at all.