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If the messenger is attached to the ego, then all the information gets dark and confusing...
Harada Roshi

Teisho November Sesshin Day 7

Master Dai E is responding to a letter from Ro Sumitzu.  Sumitzu works in politics, hearing all the different complaints and conflicts and, hearing them, reports them to the Emperor who then resolves them with his great wisdom. Then, without mistake, he reports the Emperor's solutions carefully to the people who are involved in the various conflicts.
In the historical records of the Sung Dynasty, Sumitzu is recognized as the 139th ranking official.  While doing training with Dai E Zenji he was of central importance in the government, as well.
Ro Sumitzu suddenly writes to DaiE, expressing that he has no time at all to rest.  He has to analyze and write every single minute for his work.  And so he writes to Master Dai E. Previously he had met with Dai E and had talked intimately with him.  Later he returned to his work.  Of course he was not alone in the doing of his work, but he had to oversee it all. 
And even though he is so busy every day, Dai E asks him, are you truly able to keep the inner work alive in the midst of all of this business and all of the work demands.  In this you have been training for a long, long time, but is the essence being kept alive?  All of the mountains of work piled up on your desk, each needing such careful analysis.  Can you see each situation clearly and tell the emperor about it accurately?  I assume you are doing it all very well.  How is it actually going?  Various previous conflicts also have to be studied well.  Are you keeping up with that, too?  To be so busy, are you not starving for some quiet time?  Even if you align yourself, are you not too busy to take care within?  He checks on every single detail of Sumitzu's life, guiding him to be aware.  In this way he encourages him with great empathy.
From here Master DaiE brings in the Buddha's words from the Diamond Sutra.  Without being concerned with the mind of the past, without being concerned with the mind of the future, without being concerned with the mind of the present, this world of the present moment:  to see it clearly and objectively.  We still easily get pulled around by thoughts of the past: “I should have done it this way; I should have done it that way,” Mourning how we went about it or feeling good about ourselves  for how we did it.  We reflect on our present efforts in light of these ideas, and our past moves around our present and we become unsettled.  
But we cannot turn back time.  Even though we know this it is hard not to be influenced by things that have happened in the past.  Dyed in our colors of our past memories where we know it is then over and still think that we shouldn't but do get caught in the flow of the past that is no longer flowing in real [time] anymore.  
As for the old, it does teach us.  We can see that we don’t want to make those mistakes repeatedly.  To make a firm commitment is how they taught us from ancient times. To see these mistakes and with those, to make a firm commitment on how to do it from now, including both bad and good things.  
Put them all away in an album.  To not forget our gratitude for things that have happened to us in the past.  That’s not the point.  Nor is it [wise] to stop reviewing our behavior for things we’ve done and could have done differently in the past. So, to put them in an album.  This is important.  But we can’t get the past and present confused and mixed up.  The past does not return.  So to make our firm determination strong and no matter what a challenging thing has happened to us, a difficult thing,  to make use of it from now.  No matter what a great thing, a good thing, we had in the past, to not get stopped by that. 
And for doing things in the future in life, we need plans, but if we get caught on those plans and stopped in our tracks of the present by them—for what do we have such plans?  That mind of the future that has not come yet.  We do need a future plan but have to keep our focus on this very moment.  Where are our hands and our feet right now?  
Even criminals have plans.  They need a car for that plan, and then they steal to get the money to buy the car.  But instead, to see one’s footsteps and way of doing things carefully with integrity, our hands’ activities carefully, and instead of stealing a car to hurriedly make our plans comes true, to work with patience to make that money.  With patience and endurance.  But murdering someone, for example, people get beyond themselves, unable to not do what they do and get it done this very moment.
So, then what about the present?  What is this ‘now’?  We are all vague about this.  We think we know, but everyone sees it so vaguely.  We are alive only in this one breath.  If we exhale  and don’t inhale….This actuality is only alive in the now of this breath and to stray from the concentration of this instant, there is no ability in that to fulfill our plans.  And to be able to do this, we do zazen.  To be alive in this very present moment; it is not only a practical practice of a technique of breathing that we do here, or even our emotions won’t become aligned.  To see what this now really is, always transforming and cannot be conceptualized.  Are we really touching our deepest essence?
And also touching our environment with the meaning of this moment.  This is what the Buddha has taught us already.  Do not conceptualize this.  We read words and things become conceptual.  But to live it sharply, like a freshly sliced, moist radish.  If it is not that, where the aliveness is present in this very moment.  We have to cultivate our sharply seeing focus to not get caught on intoxication with any concepts about this moment.
The cutting edge is zazen.  In each instant, everything passes, and if we don’t see this, then we are stuck in concepts.
Further, Master Dai E brings in these three lines from the Diamond Sutra (chapter 18): "Subhuti, I know the mind of every sentient being in all the host of universes, regardless of any modes of thought, conceptions or tendencies. For all modes, conceptions and tendencies of thought are not mind. And yet they are called 'mind'. Why? It is impossible to retain a past thought, to seize a future thought, and even to hold onto a present thought." Elucidating them, we are each and every one of us carrying a history, carrying a memory, carrying all that was good, that was bad, that was beautiful, that was hateful. But, if we get caught on that and try to not just think about it even, then  further we crush our own eyes.  This is not the point.  Rather, to not add any idea of good or bad onto what we have in our thoughts of the past.  The past is finished and does not return.  But how about those thoughts of the past?  Are they not often filling our mind with our past experiences and from there building great networks of thoughts so complex, and this is common for everyone.   And then we become unclear in our present moment’s awareness, pressed down on by our thoughts of the past and influenced by them.  But of course we cannot just say, ‘don’t think about the past’.  But instead make the focus of our eyes sharper and more clear.  While we are right here, right now, we get caught in thoughts of the past.  To keep that clear focus sharp in the present is the point.  Not to try to press down on past memories or we lose track of our ability to sharply do things in this very moment.  For this we have zazen.  Zazen is not for putting a lid on our awareness but for being sharp in our focus on this very moment, fulfilling our responsibility.  But if we get caught on our past, caught on our images and concepts from the past, we lose our actuality of this present moment.  Being in the past we get moved around by all kinds of regrets and memories and concepts,   our mind is like a struck beehive.  We lose track of our footsteps because of that.  When we do something like this, we lose, further and further, our alignment of our clear state of mind of this present moment.  To look at the past and the future we have to be aligned and well grounded in the present.  Right now, in the present, we focus on what is right in front of us. Our karmic connections are overflowing.  At times it is wonderful like this.  Other times we should not get pulled around, even by what is right smack in front of us.  Losing our sharply seeing sight, pulled around by the world of phenomena right in front of us.  The sharpness of seeing this is zazen.  It cannot be done vaguely.  Zazen is truly what gives us wisdom, not makes us vaguer.  But if we are pulled around by the current phenomena we will also get confused.  This cannot be seen vaguely.  Our eyes’ focusing power is of greatest importance in this world.  To see clearly, to see truly,  and the best for that is to throw ourselves into it with every single one of our 360 smallest bones and 84,000 hair pores.  To throw it all into that Mu and then this way we can see clearly the past, present, and future with every bit of our being and awareness.  And this is not only our physical eyes seeing, but our whole being’s seeing.   But we have become accustomed to being moved around by and chasing around these external circumstances.  Daruma Daishi taught us to let go of all of our connections to things that are external, to let go of all of our concerns within.  When our mind is like a tall, firm wall then we are at one with the path.  This is not about ignoring things.  It is to not get caught on those things.   See sharply with our focused vision, not with our ego.  To let go of all of our connections to things that are external, to not hold on to any concerns within; when our mind is like a tall, firm wall, then we are truly at one with the path.  Becoming that awareness in one straight line with strong ki and intensity. Finally, it is only that sharp awareness without a speck of any ego or conceptualization, or we just get confused or vague, again and again losing our essence.  Every instant has got to be life on the line like that or we will not make best possible use of this precious opportunity. Next, Master Dai E talks about this need to be firmly in the present and how we cannot be vague and fuzzy but have to emphasize our sight of sharply seeing eyes.  Not being pulled around by things external we have to be in the clear, sharp, pure, absolute present with this sharply seeing mind.  To do that is zazen.  Not trying to invent some good world within.  This is our precious sesshin, also preparing us for the important Rohatsu sesshin.  And it has to be done with an actual ki and not laxing in any way. 

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