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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Fukan-Zazen-Gi (2) The original text of Rufu-Bon


In general, when we pursue the truth, the fundamental truth purvades throughout the universe, and so it seems to be perfectly unnecessary for us to rely upon the practice or the experience (of Zazen). Furthermore, the methods of arriving at the fundamental principles naturally exist, and so how is it necessary for us to exhaust our efforts (for getting the truth)?

Especially in our case, we, Buddhists, have already perfectly left the value of secular societies like garbage and dust. How is it necessary for anyone to believe in the necessity of methods to brush or wipe away those secular values?

Generally speaking we usually have not lost the adequate situations, and so how is it possible for us to necessarily utilize a bit of the tip of the edges of the feet (of Zazen) at all?

However, even if there was just a bit of the smallest gap, then the gap would become bigger and bigger as if it were like the distance between heaven and earth; and if the smallest difference slightly occured between right and wrong, we would have to lose our mind perfectly in serious confusion.

Even if we were so proud of our sharp intellectual understanding, and were full of intuitive decisions, getting sharp intuitive enlightenment in a perfectly independent area, getting the ultimate truth, clarifying the human mind, and even though we were elegantly strolling through situations, having the strong confidence that our intellectual thinking ability has surely entered into the real world, having the strong and sharp mind of piercing heaven, (but actually looking at the situations), it seemed to be perfectly impossible for us to avoid the faculty of intellectual consideration to get the vigorous state of real acts in the area of reality.

Furthermore, we can trace even the clear footprints by the genius (Gautama Buddha) of Jetavana Anathapindikarama, who made his efforts to practice Zazen for 6 years, and we can still hear even today the famous Master's information in Shorin-temple (Bodhi Dharma), who practiced Zazen facing the wall for 9 years. Even the ancient great Masters have shown their excellent example like those. How, then, is it possible for us to pass a bit of time of a day without practicing Zazen?

Therefore, we should stop the intellectual efforts of researching words and pursuing speeches at once, and should begin to learn the study of stepping back by illuminating ourselves. (Then the consciousness of) body and mind will drop off from us naturally at once, and our original face and eyes will manifest themselves suddenly. If we would like to get such a situation as this at once, we should do it at once, without any hesitation at all.

In general, when we practice Zazen, a quiet room is preferable. Eating and drinking should be moderate. Miscellaneous circumstances should be thrown away perfectly, stopping all kinds of jobs, don't think about good and bad, and don't have any concern between right and wrong. Stopping motion of mind, will, and consciousness, stopping consideration by image, thoughts, and intuition, and never intend to become Buddha! Such a state of practicing Zazen does never relate with sitting and lying down in our daily life.

At the place, where we sit, we usually spread a thick matting, and we use a round cushion. Sometimes we use the full-lotus posture, and sometimes we use the half-lotus posture. In the case of the full-lotus posture, first we place the right foot on the left thigh, and then we place the left foot on the right thigh. In the case of the half-lotus posture, we push the right thigh with the left foot. Covering over (the feet and the thighs) with wearing clothes, and it is necessary for us to make them orderly and neat. Then, place the right hand over the left foot, and place the left hand on the right hand, having the two tips of thumbs touching together against each other. Just then keep your posture in the regulated sitting exactly. Don't lean to the left, don't incline to right, don't slouch forward, and don't lean backward. It is necessary for us to keep the ears and the shoulders contrasted in parallel (parallel to eachother), and the nose and the navel should be contrasted (in line with eachother). Hold the tongue against the palate, keep the lips and teeth closed, and the eyes should always be kept open . Breathe softly through the nose, and after already regulating the posture, take a deep breath once, and swing the trunk right and left. Then sit stably without motion, similar to a mountain, and think the state without thinking. How can we think the state without thinking. It is different from thinking. This is just the summarized method of Zazen.

What is called Zazen can never be the so-called learning of Zen, but it is just the peaceful and pleasant entrance into Dharma. It is just the fusion of practice and experience to realize the truth perfectly. The rule of the universe has been relized already, and there is no possibility for net and cage to enter, which can capture the practioner. If we have grasped this meaning already, (our situations) might be the same as a dragon, which has got water, or a tiger, which stands up in front of a mountain guarding itself with the mountain. We should know the facts that the true universal rules manifest themselves first, and the states of both melancholy and gaiety fall down on the ground at once.

When we stand up from the sitting, we move the body slowly and gradually, then we should stand up peacefully and happily. Never should (our getting up) be hasty or violent. We have studied since the ancient time that the transcending ordinary poeple, or the overcoming saints, and the dying in Zazen and losing life standing still, have come from relying upon the power of balance, which has been got from Zazen.

Furthermore, the seriously important changing moment like the pointing finger of Master Gutei, the bringing poles down by Master Ananda, the using a needle by Master Nagarjuna for teaching Kanadeva, and the clapping block utilized by Master Manjusri, or the experienced states, which are indicated by a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout, can never be understood at all by mental consideration or intellectual distinction. How is it possible for them to be understood by mystical ability, or by the separation between practice and experience? They might be the dignified form out of voice or color. How is it not possible for them to be different from criteria before knowledge or view? Therefore, we should never discuss whether we are superior cleverness, or inferior stupidity. We should never prefer between a clever person or a foolish person. If we make our efforts wholeheartedly, it might be just pursuing the truth. The practice and the experience do never taint with each other, and the attitudes to go forward are much further balanced and constant. Inside ourselves and outside the external world, or the western,(India), and the eastern lands, we have kept the characteristics of Buddhas equally, and manifest the behaviors of fundamentally traditional habits solely, that is just to sit in Zazen, being restricted by the state of no motion. Even though there might exist tens of thousands of differences, or thousands of differences (in methods of Zazen,) just do Zazen and make our efforts for pursuing the Truth. How is it possible for us to forget our own sitting places by going to and coming back from others' dusty countries? If we have made a mistake in the smallest step, we have to make a stumbling, or mistakes just at the moment. We have fortunately got the important situations of human body already, therefore how is it possible for us to spend a bit of time without doing anything uselessly at all?

Fortunately we have maintained the human body and mind, which are the very important substance for pursuing Buddhist Truth, and so how is it possible for whom to enjoy the slightest instant joy like a spark of a flint at a moment, in vain at all?

Furthermore, the physical substance is as transient as a dew on a plant's leaf, and the situation of human life seems to be so similar to a flash of lightning. It has suddenly become vacant, and it has been lost at once.

Therefore, I would like to ask for those higher poeple, who are practicing and pursuing the Truth, that being accustomed to the miscellaneous images of imitative dragons, do not fear to meet the real dragon actually! Please make your efforts in the practice of Zazen, which indicates the Truth directly, revere a personality, who has transcended learning and having any kind of intention, become perfectly indentified with the Truth of the Buddhas, and receive the balanced state of the Patriarchs authentically. If you practice what is the ineffable, (which is Zazen,) it is impossible for you to avoid becoming the ineffable. The grand warehouse of jewels will become open naturally, and you have got the perfect freedom to get jewels and utilize them without any hindrance.

The End of Fukan-Zazen-Gi

Monday, June 12, 2006

Fukan-Zazen-Gi (1) Commentary


Master Dogen became a Buddhist monk in the year 1212, at Enryaku-ji in Kyoto. He practiced the life of a Buddhist monk there for about 3 years. Noticing, however, that the training in Enryaku-ji at that time was too concentrated upon intellectual consideration, he went to visit Master Eisai at Kennin-ji in Kyoto, and eventually he moved to Kennin-ji.

Because Kennin-ji belongs to the Rinzai Sect, we can suppose that Master Dogen also received a Koan from the Master, and that he also considered the meaning of the Koan during Zazen as a method to get Enlightenment. Such a method is different from the practice of Zazen itself. But Master Dogen was a very sharp-minded person, so much so that it was likely impossible for him to have the misunderstanding that he had attained the so-called Enlightenment, when the fact was he had not attained anything. Therefore we can suppose that he might have worried about the fact that he hadn't experienced so-called Enlightenment at all.

Perhaps then Master Dogen had doubts about whether Zazen, as it was practiced in Japan at that time, was true or not. So he might have begun to want to go to China, in order to research the true Buddhist practice of Zazen, which was done in China at that time.

But at that time Master Butsuju Myozen, who had become the second Master of Kennin-ji succeeding Master Eisai, might have had the same idea as Master Dogen. Butsuju Myozen also had the hope to visit China to experience the real situation of Chinese Buddhism and Zazen directly. So Master Myozen and Master Dogen decided to visit China together in order to get Enlightenment there.


Unfortunately, Master Myozen fell ill about two years after they arrived in China. He died in Tendozan Keitoku-ji on 27th May, 1225.

Master Dogen continued traveling to several Chinese Buddhist temples, one by one. He hoped to meet a true Buddhist Master, by whom he (Master Dogen) could be satisfied. On the 1st of May in 1225, Master Dogen met Master Tendo Nyojo, who had become the Master of Tendozan Keitoku-ji. After that, Master Dogen studied Buddhism under Master Tendo Nyojo until his return to Japan in 1227.

The value of the historical fact that Master Dogen met with Master Tendo Nyojo is very great. Before meeting with Master Tendo Nyojo, Master Dogen practiced Zazen on the basis of the idea that by practicing Zazen practioners could get Enlightenment, which is different from the actual practice of Zazen itself. It was due to Master Dogen's great concern about the fact that he couldn't get the so-called enlightenment, that he visited China.

But Master Tendo Nyojo's Buddhist teachings were completely different from what Master Dogen expected. As Master Dogen described in the Shobogenzo chapter entitled 'Gyoji' (Chapter 30), Master Tendo Nyojo proclaimed that, "To practice Zazen is just to get rid of body and mind. It is not necessary for us to burn incense, recite Buddha's names, confess our sins, or read Sutras, at all. But if we just sit, everything has been got already since the beginning." These words suggest that "To practice Zazen is just to make the autonomic nervous system balanced and get rid of the consciousness of body and mind. If we practice Zazen solely, the getting rid of the consciousness of our body and mind has already been realized since the beginning."

This way of thinking is one of the most important principles of Buddhist philosophy. Zazen is never any idea that the method is to practice Zazen, and the aim is to get Enlightenment. The practice of Zazen is not to be viewed as some instrumental means to a separate end called Enlightenment. Zazen is just the act of sitting at the present moment. So it is absolutely necessary for us to think that in Zazen the aim and the method are perfectly combined into one by the act of sitting itself. Therefore it is very important for us to practice Zazen as the first enlightenment, and it is not necessary for us to worry about if, or when, the second enlightenment will come. The first enlightenment is just the practice of Zazen itself at the present moment. The second enlightenment is just the perfect understanding of the Buddhist philosophical system based on the Buddhist practitioner's sincere daily life on the basis of practicing Zazen.


Master Dogen returned to Japan in 1227. He was 27 years old. Upon return, someone asked him, "What have you brought back from China?" At that time he answered "Nothing." And then he added, "If it is necessary for me to say something, it might be (what I have brought is) The Flexible and Soft Mind." And we can interpret his words to indicate our body and mind, as they are, in the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system.


Master Dogen, who had come back from China, stayed in Kyushu for a while, then he entered Kennin-ji in Kyoto once again. At that time we can think that he might have had a very strong feeling of duty to spread the true Buddhism in Japan, the Buddhism he had studied and learned under Master Tendo Nyojo in China. He wrote about this situation in the Shobogenzo chapter entitled 'Bendo' (Chapter 1.), saying it was as if he was carrying a very heavy burden on his shoulders. Therefore we can think of "Fukan-Zazen-Gi" as Master Dogen's proclamation for opening his teachings.

There are two different editions of Fukan-Zazen-Gi. One is called "Shinpitsu-Bon", and the other is called "Rufu-Bon." The "Shinpitsu-Bon" means the edition that was written in his own calligraphy, and "Rufu-Bon" suggests the edition that has been spread widely to the public.

"Shinpitsu-Bon" was written with a style of Chinese characters that was new at the time, and so it was designated as a National Treasure. It has been preserved in the Eihei-ji Treasury, where it remains at present.

After reading it again and again, I suppose that "Rufu-Bon" has been revised and polished a great many times by Master Dogen himself. So I think that "Rufu-Bon" might be the fully accomplished version and the best version to be used as the standard edition of Fukan-Zazen-Gi.

Monday, June 5, 2006

Zazen (4) Daily Life and Zazen


It is meaningless if we do not practice Zazen everyday. Though we can get the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system on a certain day when we have practiced Zazen, if it is impossible to practice Zazen on another day, we sink into a situation in which we cannot keep the balance of the autonomic nervous system on that day. If we have to practice Zazen in such an irregular manner, we will have some days when our autonomic nervous system is balanced, and other days when it is impossible for us to keep our autonomic nervous system balanced. In such a case it is inevitable that we will have a balanced autonomic nervous system one day, but impossible to maintain it the next. In such an unstable condition we will experience a very unpleasant condition in which some days we are very comfortable, and some days we are very uncomfortable. Therefore if we want to be balanced and happy everyday, it is necessary for us to practice Zazen each day without fail.


Because the practice of Zazen should be done for keeping the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system every day, the more frequently we practice Zazen, the better we can keep constant the balanced state of the autonomic nervous system. Master Dogen recommended us to practice Zazen 4 times a day in his book entitled "Bendo-Ho," or "the method of pursuing the Truth," which belongs to "Eihei Shigi," or the "Pure Rules of Eihei Temple." The Zazen practice periods in Eiheiji Temple are Zazen in the early morning, which is called the Zazen of "Doya," or "the early morning", and Zazen after breakfast, which is called the Zazen of "Soshin," or "in the morning," and Zazen after lunch, which is called "Hoji," or "after lunch," and the Zazen in the evening, which is called the Zazen of "Okon," or "the evening." Therefore it can be said that we should also follow the criteria, that is, we should follow "Bendo Ho," which Master Dogen has established.

But when we think about the real situations, there is a very important fact to consider, that is, the difference between the 13th Century, when Master Dogen lived, and the 21st Century, when we are now living. In the 13th Century many countries were feudalistic societies that were supported by agricultural production. But in the 21st Century many countries are democratic and capitalistic societies. Therefore, in the age when Master Dogen lived, people could maintain their economical life relying upon cultivating fields. But nowadays we are living in democratic and capitalistic societies, and so we have to get some kind of monetary income in our daily life in order to maintain our economical needs. For managing such a situation it is usually necessary for us to work at some kind of job almost everyday. Therefore, even if we want to practice Zazen four times a day, it is almost impossible for us to do so. And so it is unavoidable for us to be satisfied by practicing Zazen only 2 times each day generally. Of course periodically we can have a chance to have a Sesshin, or a short term of concentrated practice. So even though we may need twice the number of years to get the second enlightenment like that of many excellent ancient Chinese Buddhist Masters, if we practice Zazen everyday, we can get the first enlightenment everyday. I think that the first enlightenment is just the practice of zazen itself at the present moment. The second enlightenment is just the perfect understanding of the Buddhist philosophical system based on the Buddhist practitioner's sincere daily life on the basis of practicing zazen. If we continue the practice of Zazen everyday, we can enter into the state of enlightenment constantly, and we can enjoy our everyday life.

How long should one sitting of Zazen be? We can decide, for example, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 miutes, and so forth. But generally speaking, it might be better for us first to decide an adequate length for beginners, and better for us increase the time following our progress.


As for the place where we practice Zazen, Fukan-Zazen-Gi expressed that "a quiet place is better," and so it is preferable for us to select a quiet place. But it is not necessary for us to be too sensitive to that problem. It is not necessary for us to find a profound place, for example, the deepest place in a mountain. Common, ordinary places are sufficient for us to practice Zazen.

And as for the width of the sitting place, it is written in Fukan-Zazen-Gi that "we should guard and maintain a place where it is possible for the place to be wide enough to maintain ourself." So it is sufficient for us to make a place where we can sit easily.


As for the clothes, it is not necessary for us to attach any problem to them. But as for the Kashaya, which has been used since the Gautama Buddha's time, it is desirable for us to attach significance to it because it has been traditional since ancient India and symbolically relates us to Gautama Buddha. Actually, when we use a Kashaya by ourselves, the feeling is much more dignified and holy, and so we can strongly enjoy a rather happy feeling. I think that there is no problem for anyone to wear a Kashaya. So it is permissible for anyone, even a person who has not yet experienced a precepts receiving ceremony, to utilize the Kashaya without hesitation. When we order it from a Kashaya shop, much to our surprise we might find it to be very expensive. So it is better for us to select one made of some artificial material such as nylon rather than the traditional, and very expensive, silk. Kashayas sewn by machine are also acceptable. I do not hold to any idea that a Kashaya must be sewn by hand. A Japanese publication house called "Daihorin-Kaku" has published a Japanese book called "Kesa no Kenkyu," or "Research of Kashaya," which includes the precise method of sewing a Kashaya. If it were translated into English, this book might be very convenient for people abroad to learn how to sew Kashayas by themselves. In Dogen Sangha there are several people who are skillful at sewing Kashayas by hand, and they have a monthly meeting to make their Kashayas by themselves. I think that they have not yet begun to sew Kashayas with machines.