Dienstag, 22. April 2014

Body and Mind are Originally One Reality, A Talk about Pursuing the Truth (Bendowa, Part 4)

Even nowadays you find Buddhist groups in which the leader claims that he does not have to practice any more because he is enlightened already. This is completely wrong, because experience and practice are the same, they must not be separated or deluded. Everybody who experiences the Buddhist path does so by practicing. If anybody pretends to be enlightened as a result of his wonderful practice in the past and because he is already free and liberated, this is not genuine. Practice-and-experience cannot be separated and therefore everybody has to practice, whether he is a beginner, advanced or a master.

Zazen is pure action without the ambition of becoming enlightened, and means acting in the correct posture. It is freedom itself and Zazen is sufficient in itself. Nothing can be added and nothing is lacking. So every master continues to practice Samâdhi because there is no end to it in our lives.
Before the time of Buddha there existed in the religion of India the idea of an eternal and never changing thing called Atman. People believed that this Atman went into the body when human beings were born and left the body when they died. After that it looked for another reincarnation and went into another body for the next cycle of life. Gautama Buddha categorically rejected this belief.

But Dôgen was aware that there were some Buddhist lineages with beliefs very similar to that of this old Indian religion. Maybe they used Buddhist words, for example an eternal mind. But Dôgen rejected such ideas, as did Nishijima Roshi, because they are part of the philosophy of idealism and not Buddhist realism. It is not true that knowledge of such an unchangeable eternal soul, Atman, alone, will free us from our suffering and insecurities. The words “Mind is Buddha here and now” always mean the unity of body and mind, at this precise moment and in this place. That is the Buddhist reality.
Knowing the truth just by consideration is not enough and cannot improve our lives really:

So, remember, in the Buddha-Dharma, because the body and mind are originally one reality, the saying that essence and form are not two has been understood equally in the Western Heavens (India) and the Eastern Lands, and we should never dare to go against it.”

Dôgen says very clearly that everybody can practice Zazen, even if they are not able to keep to the precepts and pure conduct. Of course, this is” the standard of the Zen lineages and the normal practice of Buddhist patriarchs. But every layman, not only monks and nuns living “pure” lives, should practice Samâdhi. It is extremely wrong if people discriminate between men and women practicing Zazen, because Gautama Buddha taught us that all human beings are equal and there is no difference in their status or position, not even in the castes in old India.

There are famous examples of human beings like ministers and high officials in China, who practice Zazen even when they are very busy and have important responsibilities. So the idea that only nuns and monks can practice Zazen in a monastery is completely wrong. This is important for the modern age because many people complain that they are too busy to meditate because of lack of time.. This may be the case but the conclusion  is wrong, the contrary is right. Due to stress and hard work, it is of great importance to find the balanced state, to get rid of stress and to regenerate body and mind with Zazen. For laymen it is important to be determined and to proceed clearly along the Buddhist path, practicing every day as Nishijima Roshi tells advises.

In old times there were some theories that Buddhism would lose more and more quality and Significance,in future centuries, would decline and that it would therefore not be possible to practice true Samâdhi in such a bad time as that which we have now in history. Dôgen clearly rejected such an opinion because Zazen is right and necessary at every time in history and in every country.

Buddhist truth cannot simply be seized just by thinking minds and cannot be taught by teachers who have no experience of their own of Zazen and the balanced state. There is a big gap between theoretical knowledge and speech on the one hand and the whole experience of activity in the unity of mind, body, universe and self on the other. The teaching and practice of Buddhism face to face constitutes very important progress in our civilization: starting in India, going to parts of East Asia like China, Korea, and Japan and now coming to the western world.

If somebody has practiced for long periods over many years, then suddenly great enlightenment may come. There are many true stories of great masters reported by Dôgen. One old master became enlightened, for example, by the blossoms of peach trees in a beautiful valley or by the sound of a pebble hitting bamboo. Furthermore there is a Buddhist story about a prostitute who put on the Buddhist kashaya and in this way experienced the great Truth. Zazen is open to bright and dull persons in the same way, it is directly connected with the practice on the Way, the pursuit of truth or enlightenment.

At the end of this important first chapter Dôgen explains his decision to publish his practical and theoretical experience in China. He was concerned about those honest students who were looking for the true Dharma and could not find a genuine master to teach it. This is why he wrote down what he experienced himself, so that everybody could study and read it. He started to do this work immediately after coming back from China. The first document was Fukan zazengi, in which he describes very precisely all the important aspects of Zen meditation.

We appreciate this decision of Master Dôgen in the 13th century very much because now we have authentic and reliable teachings of the Zen-Buddhism of the golden area in China in our hands. This is especially true of the Shôbôgenzô, “The Right-Dharma-Eye Treasure”.

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