12. To you who is wondering if your zazen has been good for something
What's zazen good for? Absolutely nothing! This “good for nothing” has got to sink into your flesh and bones until you're truly practicing what's good for nothing. Until then, your zazen is really good for nothing.
You say you want to become a better person by doing zazen. Zazen isn't about learning how to be a person. Zazen is to stop being a person.
Zazen is unsatisfying. Unsatisfying for whom? For the ordinary person. People are never satisfied.
Isn't it self-evident? How could that which is eternal and infinite ever satisfy human desires?
Unsatisfying: simply practicing zazen.
Unsatisfying: realizing zazen with this body.
Unsatisfying: absorbing zazen into your flesh and blood.
Being watched by zazen, cursed by zazen, blocked by zazen, dragged around by zazen, every day crying tears of blood – isn't that the happiest form of life you can imagine?
You say “When I do zazen, I get disturbing thoughts!” Foolish! The fact is that it's only in zazen that you're aware of your disturbing thoughts at all. When you dance around with your disturbing thoughts, you don't notice them at all. When a mosquito bites you during zazen, you notice it right away. But when you're dancing and a flea bites your balls, you don't notice it at all.
Don't whine. Don't stare into space. Just sit!
13. To you who says that you have attained a better state of mind through zazen
As long as you say zazen is a good thing, something isn't quite right. Unstained zazen is absolutely nothing special. It isn't even necessary to be grateful for it.
Wouldn't it be strange if a baby said to its mother, “Please have understanding for the fact that I'm always shitting in my diapers.”
Without knowledge, without consciousness, everything is as it should be.
Don't stain your zazen by saying that you've progressed, feel better or have become more confident through zazen.
We only say, “Things are going well!” when they're going our way.
We should simply leave the water of our original nature as it is. But instead we are constantly mucking about with our hands to find out how cold or warm it is. That's why it gets cloudy.
There's nothing more unpleasant than staining zazen. “Staining” means making a face like a department head, corporate boss or chairperson. Washing away the stains is what's meant by “simplicity” [ shikan ].
There are bodhisattvas “without magical abilities”. These are bodhisattvas who have even entirely forgotten words like “practice” or “satori”, bodhisattvas without wonderful powers, bodhisattvas who are immeasurable, bodhisattvas who are not interested in their name and fame.
Zazen isn't like a thermometer where the temperature slowly rises: “Just a little more … yeah … that's it! Now, I've got satori!” Zazen never becomes anything special, no matter how long you practice. If it becomes something special, you must have a screw lose somewhere.
If we don't watch out, we'll start believing that the buddha-dharma is like climbing up a staircase. But it isn't like this at all. This very step right now is the one practice which includes all practices, and it is all practices, contained in this one practice.
If you do something good, you can't forget you've done something good. If you've had satori, you get stuck in the awareness of having satori. That's why it's better to keep your hands off good deeds and satori. You've got to be perfectly open and free. Don't rest on your laurels!
Even if I say all of this about the buddha way, ordinary people will still use the buddha-dharma to try and enhance their value as humans.
14. To you who do everything you can to get satori
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 realize itself.
You say you're seeking the way, but what does it mean if you're seeking the way just to satisfy yourself?
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?
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.