Dropping Away Body and Mind

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According to Master Dogen's account of his time in China, one morning his teacher Ju-Ching found a monk dozing during Zazen. Dogen heard his teacher scold the sleeping monk, "The practice of zazen is the dropping away of body and mind. What do you expect to accomplish by dozing? When Dogen heard this, he had a realization and went to Ju-Ching's room, offered incense and bowed.

Dogen said to his teacher, "Body and mind have been dropped, that is why I have come!"

Ju-Ching approved saying, "Body and mind have been dropped; you have dropped body and mind!"

And so ... just what is this "dropping away of body and mind" ?


In China, although scriptures were continuously introduced and spread since the later Han dynasty (first century BCE), still no one could determine which was most essential. After the First Ancestor came from the West, the roots of the entanglements were cut, and the one buddha-dharma pervaded. We cannot help but yearn for this to happen in our country as well. For all ancestors and buddhas who have been dwelling in and maintaining buddha-dharma, practicing upright sitting in jijuyu zanmai [the samadhi, the still abiding taste of the self in self-fulfillment] is the true path for opening up enlightenment. Both in India and in China, those who have attained enlightenment have followed this way. This is because each teacher and each disciple has been intimately and correctly transmitting this subtle method and receiving and maintaining its true spirit. According to the unmistakenly handed-down tradition, the straightforward buddha-dharma that has been simply transmitted is supreme among the supreme. From the time you begin practicing with a teacher, the practices of incense burning, bowing, nembutsu, repentance, and reading sutras are not at all essential; just sit, dropping off body and mind.

From: Talk on the Wholehearted Practice of the Way - Kosho Uchiyama (with Shohaku Okumura, Taigen Daniel Leighton)

(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

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