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Thread: Keizan's Zazen of the Middle Way, Beyond Hope to Attain

  1. #1

    Keizan's Zazen of the Middle Way, Beyond Hope to Attain

    Our great Soto Ancestor, Master Keizan, offers a wonderful teaching on Sitting and Practice of the Middle Way, yet fully "beyond hope" for something to gain from Zazen. From his Denkoroku (Case 21, based on SZTP translation), practice a way of moderation, free of desire to attain:

    I do not worship the Buddha, but neither do I disparage him. I do not sit for long periods, but neither am I indolent. I do not have just one meal [a day, as the Vinaya rules prescribe for monks], but neither do I eat randomly. I do not know satisfaction [from all desires], but neither am I greedy [with excess desire]. When the mind has nothing that it hopes for, this is called the Way. (quoting Ancestor Jayata) ...

    Sit Zazen and Practice free of all desire to attain Buddhahood, to attain purity or reach the Way:

    ... You think that there is a need to attain buddhahood, and a need to gain the Way. And for the sake of this “gaining the Way,” you think you should try to maintain dietary restraints and the practice of purity, sit [Zazen] long without lying down, worship the Buddha and revolve sūtras, and thereby pile up every kind of merit. But all of this causes flowers to rain down in a sky that has no flowers [mirages and false distractions to appear before your eyes.] ... Even if you practiced like that through kalpa ages as numerous as motes of dust, you still would have no share of liberation. Truly, when your mind has nothing that it hopes for, either here or there, this is called the “Way.”

    We must Sit moderately, Practice moderately, while free of any hopes or aspirations for gain in Zazen and all our Practice. The way to be satisfied is not to seek satisfaction, but rather, to sit in Zazen free of all seeking, all goal, and beyond measures of time, long or short, as scales of achievement:

    Therefore, wanting to “know satisfaction” is the root of desire. Surely, even if you enjoy sitting for long periods, this entails the error of being obsessed with your body. ... If sitting for long periods is to be taken as the Way, then at the time of birth everyone has been sitting for ten months [in the womb], so that must be the Way: why seek it a second time? ... Disciples of the Buddha did, in this way, establish various rules of purity and make known the proper conduct of buddhas and ancestors. Nevertheless, if your clinging to them is one-sided, then they are sure to become, on the contrary, mental afflictions. ... [Y]ou think that by adhering rigidly to various practices of this sort, that in itself is seeking the Way. This is an entirely mistaken understanding.

    Sit with the conviction that there is nothing to attain but sitting itself for sitting's sake. Do not seek to discard delusion and become awakened and, when one discards this thought of discard, and sits beyond all thought of division and something to attain, then (as counter-intuitive as seems on first blush) delusion is discarded and Wisdom attained:

    Furthermore, what buddhahood do you see that could be attained? What living beings do you see that could be deluded? Thus, there is not a single person who is a deluded person, and not a single dharma that one could awaken to. For this reason, sayings to the effect that delusion is turned around and made into awakening, or that the ordinary is turned around and made into the sagely, are entirely the words of unawakened people ...

    You must find this unfindable, attain this unobtainable, by yourself. Do not be distracted by teachers and teachings which point to awakening to attain. Says Keizan, they are like demons which twist one's thinking. Instead, attain this nothing in need of attaining for oneself:

    ... [Y]our own self, if your understanding is not at this true level, may be confused by the words of other people.. ... So, even if you have heard what is explained in this way and understood that there is nothing to attain, still there may be a "good friend" [some teacher you hear] who explains that there is a need to gain some dharma, or perhaps a buddha-demon will come and say that there is some dharma that should be further cultivated. If that happens, the result will be that your mind and perceptions waver and, on the contrary, you will end up with inverted views. Now you should accept the true instructions of the buddhas, thoroughly investigate in detail, and by your own self arrive at the level of ease and joy.

    Sit in the complete satisfaction of Just Sitting, in ease and joy, fulfilled by the simple act of sitting, desiring nothing beyond this simple act of sitting. When fulfilled by this simple act of sitting, there is no room for further wants:

    The sort of person who once arrives at this place of ease and joy is just like a person who has eaten his fill. Even if someone says there are kingly delicacies, he is unlikely to desire them. Thus, it is said that “gourmet food will not be eaten by a person who is full.” An ancient said, “Once troubled, now serene.” When you come to see things in detail, the mind that is the original disposition of one’s own self does not see buddha and does not see living beings; how, then, could it possibly despise delusion or seek awakening? In order to enable that person to see directly, ever since the ancestral teacher came from the west, regardless of whether one is intelligent or stupid, an old student or a new student, we have been made to do a single bit of sitting erect [in Zazen], and made to abide peacefully in ourselves. This is the dharma gate of great ease and joy.

    Trust in the bones that this is complete, that we are complete, nothing lacking:

    ... Although it may be said that, from vast kalpa ages past, you have carried it coming, carried it going, and never been separated from it for even for a moment, if you do not know that your own self possesses everything, it is just like searching to the east and to the west for something that you are holding in your hand. For how long have you been making that mistake? This is simply a matter of your forgetting your own self; that is all. Today, if you come to see it fully, then the wondrous way of all buddhas, as well as the individual transmission of the ancestral teachers, all consist simply of this one matter. You should not presume to doubt this. ... [Y]ou must know that, from birth until reaching old age, it is only “this.” In general, there is not a single mote of dust that need be discarded, and not a single dharma that need be obtained. Furthermore, do not try to arouse any “uncontaminated wisdom” other than this.

    Gassho, J

    Last edited by Jundo; 10-28-2022 at 12:44 AM.

  2. #2
    Thank you, Jundo


    "Put on the okesa and do zazen - That's all!"

  3. #3

    理道弘志 | Ridō Koushi

    Please take this novice priest-in-training's words with a grain of salt.

  4. #4
    Thank you Jundo and Kaizan.

    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  5. #5
    Thank you, Jundo. It's great to read more of Master Keizan's teachings.
    怠努 (Tai Do) - Lazy Effort
    (also known as Mateus )

    禅戒一如 (Zen Kai Ichi Nyo) - Zazen and the Precepts are One!

  6. #6

    Gassho, Tomás

  7. #7
    What an amazing challenge from Master Keizan- freedom from the whiplash of hope!

    with gratitude,

  8. #8
    Thank you, Jundo.
    Kotei sat/lah today.

    義道 冴庭 / Gidō Kotei.
    Being a novice priest doesn't mean that my writing about the Dharma is more substantial than yours. Actually, it might well be the other way round.

  9. #9
    Thank you Jundo.

  10. #10
    Some great teachings to return to after a few weeks away.




  11. #11
    Just sit.

    Kind Ubasoku, calm, to support; not hasty, not to push. 台 诗.

  12. #12
    But all of this causes flowers to rain down in a sky that has no flowers
    Wow. Going to hold onto that for awhile.



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