Zen is really just a reminder to stay alive and be awake. We tend to daydream all the time, speculating and dwelling on the past. Zen practice is about appreciating your life in this moment. If you are truly aware five minutes a day, you’re doing pretty well. We are beset by both the future and the past, but there is no reality apart from the here and the now. So this is a very concise teaching about zazen, just a reminder to stay alive and be awake. Notice how much you tend to dwell in the past and speculate about the future; it will help you to practice more in this realm of appreciating your life in this moment.
Related: An Introduction to Zen
Suzuki Roshi said that when we practice zazen, we limit our activity to the smallest extent. Just keeping the right posture and being concentrated on sitting is how we express the universal nature. Then we become Buddha, and we express buddhanature.
Instead of having some object of worship, we just concentrate on the activity, which we do in each moment. Suzuki Roshi emphasized seeing Buddha in everyone. It’s said that on his awakening, the first thing the Buddha said was, “Ah, I now see that all beings, without exception, have the wisdom and compassion of the awakened ones, but because of their delusions and self-clinging, they don’t realize it.” So Roshi emphasized the seeing of Buddha in everyone as an important aspect of our practice. And you know, we have a custom here in the temple of bowing to one another as we pass, saying good morning with a bow. Buddha bowing to Buddha. But it’s helping us to remember to see Buddha in everyone and, of course, to see Buddha in ourselves. Sometimes we get caught up in our delusions and our irritations or our unhappiness in some way, and we forget that Buddha is right here. So let us remember to bow to one another. Let us remember to see Buddha in each other. Let us remember to express our buddhanature in our actions of body, speech, and mind.
Related: Small Mind, Big Mind
From Seeds of a Boundless Life by Zenkei Blanche Hartman, © 2015 by Zenkei Blanche Hartman. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boston, MA. www.shambhala.com
[This story was first published in 2016]
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.