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    Uchiyama Roshi: Right now, right here, I live simply

    On another thread, we have been discussing being both too loose and negligent ... and too obsessive and driven by some desire ... in Zen Practice. Uchiyama Roshi tells one of the most amazing stories I have come across about being desirous in one's Zazen. Too much Zazen misses the mark as much as no Zazen. Desiring enlightenment drives right past what one searches for.

    (Perhaps this is also one of the clearest descriptions of what Dogen expressed as "Body-Mind Dropped Off" too.)

    It is from Uchiyama Roshi's portion of the book "Dogen's Genjo Koan - Three Commentaries". It mentions a "Zenpan", a special wooden support to hold the chin up so that one may sleep in the Lotus Posture (I have done that too, although it is discouraged these days most times).

    "Zenpan" description here:

    It also mentions a "kyosaku/keisaku", a stick used (not in our Sangha or among most of Nishijima Roshi's students however) to strike a dozer on the shoulder for a "wake up".


    Too many people believe that this world exists to satisfy desires,
    which are based on their self-centered thoughts. In reality, this world
    does not exist to fulfill our desires. In fact, things do not proceed in
    accordance with our expectations. And yet, somehow, we don't accept
    this. Consequently, we often complain that things do not go well, and
    we struggle and make a great fuss.

    When we reflect on ourselves, we understand that this way of living
    In samsara is caused by our own incompIeteness. So then, we want to
    practice to go beyond ourselves and attain enlightenment. I think many
    people who practice zazen originally had this thought.

    And yet, there is a problem here. In the desire to go beyond our-
    selves and attain enlightenment, we want to make ourselves into the
    people we want to be. What will actually happen when we seriously
    practice the Buddha Way with such a desire? This is not [just]someone
    else's problem; I also began to practice the Buddha Way with exactly
    this attitude.

    I wanted to throw myself into the Buddha Way and practice zazen.
    I was ordained by Sawaki Roshi in 1941. Following Sawaki Roshi's
    instruction, I started to walk the path of real zazen practice at Daichuji
    Temple in Tochigi Prefeture. At the time, we had two five-day Sesshins
    each month. One sesshin was led by Sawaki Roshi,and we had [chanting] services,
    lectures, and so on. But in the other sesshin we simply repeated fifty
    minutes of zazen and ten minutes of kinhin (walkng meditation) from
    two in the morning until midnight. We had three meals a day, and right
    after each meal we had thirty minutes of kinhin. We sat twenty-two
    hours a day. Even the two hours from midnight to two, we sIept in sit-
    ting posture, putting our chin on a support called a zenpan. We were in
    the sitting posture for almost twenty-four hours a day. Except for the
    two hours of sleep, someone walked around with the kyosaku (Wake-up

    We had this type of sesshin once a month. In December, we also had
    a seven-day session with the same schedule. During such a sesshin, espe-
    cially at its end, I could not keep awake. No matter how hard we were
    hit when we fell asleep, we could not wake up. Sometimes my shoulder
    would be swollen.

    Even though I practiced Zazen undergoing such extreme difficult
    sesshins, during that time l settled down into the life of the Buddha
    Way and practiced wholeheartedy expecting that l would improve
    myself and have a good result sometime in the future. …
    When I practiced at Daichuji, I thought that if l kept
    Practicing zazen in that way somehow I would become a better person。
    After several years of practice, the only clear thing l found was that no
    matter how many years l kept practicing zazen, I would not produce
    any desirable results.

    Consequently, I began to wonder why l would spend my life doing
    such a thing. … Once l wrote a detailed letter to Sawaki Roshi about my
    question. In response, Sawaki Roshi sent a letter with Dogen Zenji’s
    poem included in Eiheikoroku [Extensive Record of Eihei Dogen, Man-
    zan‐bon vol.10,#65]:

    Forgetting all dichotomies
    My mind is peaceful.
    Within Buddha dharma
    All things appear at the same time in front of me.
    From now on, my mind is settled,
    I leave everything to causes and condtions.

    Although Sawaki Roshi sent the poem, since my struggles were
    exacty because I wanted to attain that state of mind, it didn't help me
    at all. …

    For about five years, I was in the midst of a very deep and serious distress.
    While l was at Teishoji Temple in Saku,Shinshu (Nagano Prefec-
    ture) from 1948 to 1949, I was really in the dark as to my zazen practice.
    I could not do anything about it. I had to throw everything away: my
    doubts and thinking. One evening l sat alone in the zendo and l felt a
    release. After this experience, I wrote something like a waka poem:

    Under the blazing sun,
    Hearing a command, “Cease fire!''
    I ceased fire.
    Cool refreshing breeze.

    Since young people today have little experience of military drills [like in school in Japan before the war],
    they probably don't understand this poem. When we had mock war-
    fare, during the daytime in mid-summer, we had to wear heavy equip-
    ment, carry guns, and run over a vast field. We were covered with
    sweat. In such a situation, when the drill instructor gave a command
    for cease fire, I felt relieved from the hard exercise, and suddenly felt
    a cool breeze. I experienced this during my school years. While I was
    sitting alone in the zendo, I again experienced this exact feeling. At the
    time, I didn't understand why l felt such a release. But, I thought, zazen
    is probably like this.

    In the Fall of1949, after l moved to Antaiji in Kyoto, Sawaki Roshi
    Said in his teisho [Dharma Talk] “Buddha Dharma is immeasurable and boundless; it
    cannot be something which fulfills your desire for satisfaction.” Upon
    hearing this, I felt heaven and earth turn upside down. Until then, I had
    been fussing and struggling with a desire to improve myself and attain
    enlightenment . …
    … [S]everal years ago, after I moved to Kohata, I wrote
    a poem for my New Years greeting card titled “A Letter.” I found l had
    settled down a bit.


    I struggled in many ways
    ln my youth.
    Moving here and there
    Like a leaf blown in the wind.
    Finally I drifted to a sunny spot
    By the [statue of] Jizo Bodhisattva in Kohata,
    Being satisfied with dissatisfaction.
    Right now, right here
    I live simply.
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-12-2013 at 02:03 PM.

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