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There is nothing real to seek 'out there'...
Harada Roshi

Teisho on Hakuin Zenji´s Song of Zazen #2

In Buddhism the four posture of the day are being taught. Walking, standing, sitting, lying and sleeping. Humans are used to move their body, yet it cannot be aimless motion. This is what we need to clarify for ourselves. We do need to rest to refresh ourselves. In our daily life we do not feel satisfied if we only work. Yet we also need to find moments in our daily life when our mind can settle. For settling our mind, the best posture is to be seated. We then sit and face within, looking deeply at the question: What am I? If we sit to truly realize who we are, we can experience the truth in the words of the Buddha who said that each person has this treasury of wisdom within. This is what we ourselves can learn from the experience of the Buddha. There are different ways of sitting yet the way of a Buddha to be seated is in zazen.


Buddhism starts with the sitting practice of zazen. Zen practitioners for certain read the “Instructions on zazen” which were given by Hyakujo Zenji, born in the year 724 who died in 814. He lived a long life of 90 years and gave these instructions of zazen.


Until that time the practice was about following the precepts and rules. Yet these practitioners started to search for a path where they can actually awaken themselves. Two monks at that time, Baso from Kozei and Sekito from Konan these two well ripened zen monks filled this deficiency. From that time on the very particular flavor of zen and a zen monastery came about. The need arose for a structure of a zen monastery.
It was Hykujo Zenji who set these structures of a zen monastery. He decided that the zen monks would be living in the zendo while the place for daily sutras would be a separated place called hondo.


The zen monasteries have a clear structure:
samu is of the greatest importance and after that comes zazen. Working zen and sitting zen were taught as a practice where the monks could become one with the very moment. All monks in oneness would work on samadhi, may it be during samu or during zazen.
Hyakujo Zenji gave these famous words: One day without work is one day without food. He would live according to this teaching until the high age of 90, working and sitting together with the monks.


Why do we sit zazen? To see clearly who is it ho laughs, talks, cries, speaks. To review oneself. We are rather complicated being, filled with desires, emotions, subjectivity, idea, concepts – these are all called Mumyo. Unawareness, they are like fog, like a cloud, they appear yet have no actual form of their own. They are not the never changing truth.
When we sit zazen and become quiet in mind, the fog lifts and we can see our true being. This true self is what we want to awaken to and live accordingly. That is called zen.
The 6Th patriarch said: Mind is the name of zen. Sitting is the body of zen. And how can we best awaken to this? Sitting is the best for realizing this truth.
When we sit and do not let our mind divide, that is the most direct path. Simply by sitting and letting our mind gather more and more in oneness, eventually we do not think anymore about anything. The ancients taught us that the truth of the Buddha is not to think about anything.
This is zazen. Sitting for ourselves and not being depended on knowledge. From the limitless past to the limitless future, we are in oneness with this huge space filling heaven and earth.


Sitting right in the midst of the noise and desires of society, that is where we can find our wisdom. This is our zazen. Just like the lotus flower, the roots deeply stuck in mud, yet not the slightest bit of dirt can stay on the leaves and flower of the lotus.


It continues in the zazengi: People who take the practice of zazen as important do not live a life for their own happiness but are making these efforts for all of society. Wishing for the happiness of all, that is our deep vow in the practice of zazen. For this we can pray:
While being on the path of awakened mind, while we are purifying our own mind, we actualize the wisdom of the Buddha for all unawakened beings.


It says in the zazengi how we should practice zazen. If you want to practice zazen, let first of all let go of all connections to the outside. We do many things all day long, but if we sit, we cannot be involved in other matters at the same time. Zazen is about sitting, and when it ripens, no matter whether we work it is the same as sitting zazen. Yet at the beginning this essence is not easy to experience.


Daitokokushi the great zazen master said:
Sitting in meditation
One sees people
Crossing and re crossing the bridge
Just as they are.


Not a single thought appears in the mind, people walk back and forth, yet sitting with the feeling as if we are alone in a forest, each person being just like a tree in the forest. This deep awareness can only be experienced if we have a settled state of mind. A beginner will follow along with what he sees, with what he hears, and the mind will be moving from here to there. Thus the meaning of zazen is getting lost. That is the place where we cannot compromise and do it in a half-baked way.
The Buddhism of the Buddha is only about awakening, there is nothing but this realization of the true self. Not a self we have been thinking about, not a self which we believe exists. Rather it is this place where nothing is left behind which we possibly think about. Nothing we need to hold onto. The self is not being experienced anymore, but only an open state of mind remains, huge and wide, that is realizing the true self.


The Buddha threw away his family, threw away his happiness and his country just for this experience. All what the Buddha was involved in is what he let go off before he entered Dantoku Mountain.
Bodhidharuma went from India to China at the high age of 120 just for the very same experience. Each person needs to awaken to the true self, only then can all in society be liberated. Sutras had already been brought to China and translated into Chinese, yet still Bodhidharuma himself went to China for this very teaching. This cannot be written about in the sutras, it can only be the experience of each person.

Zazen is about taking this step and throwing everything away, or else it will remain to be our obstruction from where we cannot continue further. Human´s minds are not simple, we may sit yet our head may be so busy and the awareness remains unclear. Always sometime in our mind, we can feel it when we encounter others, in our work, in our studies.
All dualism, all good bad, like dislike, old young all needs to be let go of. That is why Bodhidharuma said. Letting go of all things in the outside and inside, when your mind is as firm as a wall, then you are on the way.


From the outside whatever comes to wards us, we cut it away. All thoughts and emotions within, no matter what it may be, not being moved around by the wind, we cut deep down into our true mind. As if we are like a tall wall, this is how we need to practice zazen, Bodhidharuma is teaching us.




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