When seeking the way, it
is originally perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent on practice
and enlightenment? The Dharma-vehicle is free and untrammeled. What need is
there for concentrated effort? Indeed, the whole body is far beyond the world's
dust. Who could believe in a means to brush it clean?
It is never apart from this very place. What the use of traveling around to practice? And yet, if there is a hairsbreadth deviation, it is like the gap between heaven and earth. If the least like or dislike arises, the mind is lost in confusion.
Suppose you gain pride of understanding and inhale your own enlightenment, gaining the wisdom that knows at a glance, attaining the Way, clarifying the mind, arousing an aspiration to reach for the heavens. You are playing in the entranceway, but you are still short of the vital path of emancipation.
Consider the Buddha who was possessed of inborn knowledge. The traces of his six years of upright sitting can still be seen. Or Bodhidharma's transmission of the mind-seal, his nine years of facing a wall is celebrated still. If the ancient sages were like this, how can we today dispense with wholehearted practice?
Therefore, put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest. If you want to realize suchness, get to work on suchness right now.
For practicing Zen, a quiet room is suitable. Eat and drink moderately. Put aside all involvements and suspend all affairs. Do not think good or bad. Do not judge true or false. Give up the operation of mind; sensation, discrimination, cognition. Stop measuring with Nensokan; consciousness, thoughts and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha. How could that be limited to sitting or lying down?
At your sitting place, spread out a thick mat and put a cushion on it. Sit either in the full-lotus or half-lotus position. In the full-lotus position, first place your right foot on your left thigh, then your left foot on your right thigh. In the half-lotus, simply place your left foot on your right thigh. Put your robe loosely and arrange them neatly. Then place your right hand, palm up, on your left leg and your left palm on your right palm, thumb-tips lightly touching. Straighten your body and sit upright, leaning neither left nor right, neither forward nor backward. Align your ears with your shoulders and your nose with your navel. Rest the tip of your tongue against the front of the roof of your mouth, with teeth together and lips shut. Always keep your eyes open, and breath softly through your nose. Once you have adjusted your posture, take a breath and exhale fully, rock your body right and left, and settle into steady, immovable sitting. Think of not thinking. Not thinking, how do you think of not thinking? Non-thinking. This is the essential art of Zazen.
The zazen I speak of is not learning Zen. It is simply the dharma-gate of repose and bliss, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the manifestation of ultimate reality. Traps and snares can never reach it. Once its heart is grasped, you are like a dragon gaining water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true Dharma is manifesting itself, so that from the first dullness and distraction are struck aside.
When you arise from sitting, move slowly and quietly, calmly and deliberately. Do not rise suddenly or abruptly. In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred and dying while either sitting or standing have all depended entirely on the power of zazen. In addition, triggering awakening with finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can it be known through the practice of supernatural power.
It must be deportment beyond hearing and seeing－is it not a principle prior to knowledge or perception? This being the case, intelligence or lack of it is not an issue; make no distinction between the dull and the sharp-witted. If you concentrate your effort single-mindedly, that in itself is wholeheartedly engaging the way. Practice-realization is naturally undefiled. Going forward in practice is, after all, the matter of everydayness.
In general, in our world and others, in both India and China, all equally hold the buddha-seal and each lineage expresses its own style. They are all simply devoted to siting, totally engaged in resolute stability. Although they say that there are ten thousand distinctions and a thousand variations, they just wholeheartedly engage the way in Zazen.
Why leave behind the seat in your own home to wander in vain through the dusty realm of other land? If you make one misstep, you stumble past what is directly in front of you. You have gained the pivotal opportunity of human form and function. Do not pass your days and nights in vain. You are maintaining the essential working of the Buddha way. Who would take wasteful delight in the spark from a flintstone? Besides, form and substance are like the dew on the grass, destiny like the dart of lightning-emptied in an instant, vanished in a flash.
Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not doubt the true dragon. Devote your energies to the way of direct indication of the absolute. Revere the one who has gone beyond learning and is free from effort. Accord with the enlightenment of all the buddhas; succeed to the samadhi of all the ancestors. Continue to live being such, and you will be suchness.The treasure store will open of itself, and you may enjoy it freely.
(13C. Japanese Zen
Master;Dogen, Fukan Zazengi)