Zazen has no romantic illusions and is not a dreamy fantasy. Intellectual thinking is not essential for Zen meditation and the reality of our lives exists only in the present moment, not in the past and not in the future; both are just the workings of our brain. The past is remembered very often in romantic illusions, which are far from the reality of those moments. Often we are afraid or have some romantic ideas about the future, but of course they are not real. That does not mean that we need no plans for a good life and for our learning process. But it is always necessary to be aware that it is just a plan, an idea and not the reality that will transpire in the future.
Zen practice and actions will be effective if we do not strive for fame, personal advantage and pride in ourselves. It is true ‘acting in the moment’. Zazen is not just an exercise of the body, because it is the unity of body-and-mind. Being aware solely of the body is materialism, only one side of the real world.
The authentic transmission from master to student provides the essential power and importance for this practice and gives life to the body-and-mind. Precisely because Zazen is so important we should not consider questions of superiority or inferiority or compare this practice with other lineages and schools in Buddhism. Discrimination of other lineages, based on the criticism that they are not substantial or are superficial, is useless and misses the target of the Way.
Words and teachings are important but they are not reality itself, they are just pointing, like a finger to the moon. The moon is the symbol of liberation and enlightenment; it can be experienced in the balanced state of body-and-mind.
Sûtras and words may be very poetic and very keen , full of vigor, but they are only an instrument and a tool on the way to liberation. So we should remember from time to time that it is not useful to be lost in words and poetry, because the realization lies beyond that. Dôgen speaks about a very famous poet in
who was very well known and
extremely talented in using words and producing great emotions in human beings.
Finally, one night, this poet acquired a great understanding of the Buddha Dharma when he was sitting in a valley, listening to the voices of the rivers and becoming aware of the mountains, as the body of Gautama Buddha. This was a big step forward for him from the world of poetry and words to true reality and truth. Before he had been lost in abstract thinking and delusions. Zazen practice brings us clarity and balance. We come back to the here and now, the unity of body-and-mind. It will fill the gap between the world and myself. And that is our real place in the Dharma.
Without the practice of the balanced state it is very difficult or impossible to find a clear path in our lives. Especially in modern society where there is so much pressure and lack of time to do our duties, it’s extremely important to find stillness and to calm down, not in a dull state but in clarity. Gautama Buddha has taught us to overcome suffering and the practice of Samâdhi; this is of great importance. In other words: it is difficult or impossible to escape suffering if we do not practice Zen meditation.
But Zen is not a separate sect that is different from early Buddhism; it is the teaching of Gautama Buddha himself. The name Zen doesn’t mean very much and the word “Zazen” was not known in
It was developed in India
when Bodhidharma sat for eight years before the wall in a cave practicing
Zazen. Buddhist people in those times didn’t understand this practice, so they
referred to him as a Brahman priest of the Zen school. China
There are four different activities: walking, standing, lying and sitting, and other activities like working, talking and so on. Why is activity in Zazen so unique? It is true experience: if we practice Zazen, it will give us power and energy for all the actions we have to carry out in our lives. Further theory is not necessary.