Thursday, June 25, 2009

Our inertial lives

Sawaki Roshi: A strange creature, the human being; groping in the dark with an intelligent look.
Human beings strive only to avoid boredom.

A lot of things in this world attract you. But once you do, or get them, they're worthless.
There are people who never find their own way in life.

Uchiyama Roshi: If I broach the subject of the essence of your life, you might feel as if some old, moldy clothes were being given to you. But when we reflect deeply on thge essence of our own lives, we will realize that this is not an old, moldy subject, but our lives as we live them are. Why? Because we get up sheerly through inertia, eat breakfast through inertia, encounter our aquaintences through inertia, watch televison through inertia, read magazines through inertia, and go to work through inertia. We spend most of our time this way.

How do we find our lives worth living at all? We are always running after one thing or another so that we don't have to consider this question. When we play mah-jong, we find the significance of life in winning a game. When we go to a department store, we find the significance of life in shopping. If we can't afford to buy things, we find the significance of life in imaginig that we could. When we watch baseball or sumo wrestling, we find the significance of life in hoping our favorite athletes will win. These activites are merely diversions. No matter how clamourous the times in which we live, we should sincerely reflect on the meaning of life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Calculating The Difference

Sawaki Roshi: During World War Two, I visited a colliery and went into a coal mine in Kyushu.
Like the colliers, I put on a hat with a lamp and went down in an elevator. For some time, I thought the elevator went down steadily. Then I started to fell as if it were going up. I shined my light in the coal shaft and realized, "Oh! It's still going down." When the elevator starts going down, you actually feel that it's going down, but once the speed becomes fixed, it's possible to feel as if it were going up. That's the other side of the balance. In the ups and downs of life we are deceived by the difference in balance.
Saying, "I've got Satori!" is only feeling the difference in the balance. Saying, "I'm deluded!" is only feeling another difference in the balance. To say it's delicious or it tastes terrible, to be rich, to be poor, all are just feeling about the differences in the balance.
In most cases, common sense only shows a difference in the balance.
A human being puts his "I" into everything without knowing it. "Oh, that was good!" he sometimes says. What is good? It's just good for him, that's all.
The reason that we human beings are often exhausted is that we do things with personal profit in mind.

Uchiyama Roshi: Usually, we are terribly concerned about luck. Are there really such things as good luck and bad luck? There aren't. There are only calculating measures. Only when expect to make things profitable for ourselves, is it possible to feel that we didn't make it. Only when we compete with others, is it possible to feel the difference in the balance as loss.
True religion takes no notice of the human desire to make things profitable for ourselves or our calculating measurement. If we throw away our ordinary expectations and take an attitude of settling down on whichever side of the balance we fall, it is right there that a truly peaceful life unfolds. Doing zazen is to stop being an ordinary person.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Collecting Food and Hatching Eggs

Sawaki Roshi: Everyone steeps himself in his own life or lives, blindly believing that there must be something to his daily activity. But in reality, a human being's life does not differ from a swallow's, the males collecting food and the females hatching eggs.

Uchiyama Roshi: This is the season swallows are flying about. People working in the shadow of tall buildings in the city probably miss seeing swallows hatching in the spring. It's a lovely site to see them during spring and summer, isn't it? Some people just get by in life, live from day to day, and never see their lives as a whole. Kobo-Daishi(774-835, the founder of the Shingon Sect) called them Ishoteiyoshin, a flock of stray sheep.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Zen Master Patrick

Here is a funny parody on Zen.

Go to minute 3:30. In this instance, Stanley Squarepants is representative of what actually happens in zazen.

Enjoy :)


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

One's Own Opinion

Sawaki Roshi: Human beings are not the same. Our consciousness is our own individual possession.
Everyone just sees the world from their own hole. They drag their opinion and thoughts along with them; that's why there is so much trouble in this world.

Uchiyama Roshi: Usually we consider ourselves to be very important. We take it for granted that our own thoughts are the best measure of things and judge others' activities and the conditions around us as to whether they are good or bad. When things do not go well according to our judgement, we become angry , get into trouble, and carry around bad feelings afterwards. At times like these, if you can see that this world does not exist only for you, and that your evaluation of things is not absolute, you will be able to breathe more freely and need not cause trouble for others.

Prince Shotoku(574-622 A.D.) expressed it skillfully in the Constitution of Seventeen Articles. He said: "If you are right, then others are wrong; if others are right, then you are wrong. You are not right all the time; others are not right all the time. We are all nothing but ordinary people." This means not only others but you are also just an ordinary person.