This is not something
2 Kusen de Roland Yuno Rech | Sesshin de Saint Laurent du Verdon, March 2017
I don't know
During a sesshin, we withdraw ourselves from the daily hustle and bustle and concentrate on the practice of zazen. We also concentrate on all the other activities, in unity with zazen, so that it becomes the continuous practice we call "gyoji", the practice that encompasses everything and never stops.
Concentrating in this way allows us to become aware of all that animates us. Instead of acting according to our thoughts, we look at them. Zazen becomes like a vast mirror in which all mental contents are reflected, all the more so as the discriminating mind (which judges, represses, rejects what it does not like, what it considers bad, while attaching itself to what it likes, what it finds good), this mind is suspended. This mode of mental functioning is “put in brackets”, so the usual chain of our thoughts is interrupted. As we don't act on them, they no longer condition us; as we look at them, we can see their true nature.
These thoughts, these sensations, these emotions are mine, it is not someone else who is thinking in my head, as mental patients sometimes believe, but although all these mental productions, all these thoughts come from me, I am not these thoughts. The vast mind encompasses them, reflects them, but does not identify with them. This allows you to become truly intimate with yourself, while realizing that you are never the same, always changing. Of course, we have our habits, our character, our personality - what is sometimes called the Self - but it is not something substantial. Understanding this is already an important awakening: I am not something.
A writer once wrote: "Hell is other people", it's other people when they lock us up in their judgements, in their opinions, which is often what happens in groups … then people are catalogued, and when we see them coming, we don't see the person, but the image we have of them. Fortunately, this image is false: we are not an image, we are not “something”, nothing fixed, nothing limited, nothing that can be defined. Zazen makes us discover the infinite nature of our existence, which sometimes makes it a mystery.
When the emperor asked Bodhidharma: " Who are you, there, in front of me?". Bodhidharma replied, "Fu shiki", I don't know”.
People who claim to know themselves are deluding themselves. Of course, we can identify a certain number of our characteristics, we can see the sequence of our karma, but this is not enough to define us, because we are indefinable, a kind of energy that goes and transforms itself constantly in contact with our environment, with others, with encounters, with life. Zazen makes us aware of this and above all helps us to harmonize with it, that is to say to achieve a mind that doesn't stagnate on anything, that is always new and therefore can become creative again, can stop repeating the same scenarios over and over again, like machines.
Doing a sesshin is to stop living mechanically, as society tends to want us to function, (it's so much simpler!): people are catalogued, put in positions and expected to react and function in the same way. But life is always new, simply because it is totally interdependent with all the other existences in the universe and because in the universe, everything is movement, especially in the living beings. Therefore, in ourselves, everything is movement and it allows us to evolve, to transform ourselves, and not to stagnate in our delusions.
If our ego was something fixed, permanent, we could never awaken, free ourselves, but fortunately, it is not so. Zazen makes us discover it, it helps us find a creative life which does not create anything, anyhow, but which expresses the awakening to our true nature. Because if we are not something, we are the nature of Buddha, a life in unity with all beings.
The way to actualize this is to feel our solidarity with living beings, sentient beings, and to make it the basis of all the values that animate our lives. To awaken is wisdom, to express awakening with compassion, and this is what a sesshin allows us to realize, to actualize.
This is why Dogen said: "Buddha's Dharma is to learn to know oneself, but to know oneself is to forget oneself and be awakened by all beings, to live in our true unity with all beings”.
The nature of Buddha is not an object
During zazen, continue to concentrate well on your posture and to be attentive to your breathing. Don't let your mind stagnate on your thoughts, let them pass. In zazen, we sit facing the wall and our attention is turned inwards, towards ourselves. A sesshin is to become completely intimate with one's true mind, one's true nature, which is called Buddha’s nature. Literally it means “nature of enlightenment”.
In the Sutra of Nirvana, it is said that: "All beings have the nature of Buddha", which means that all beings have the capacity to awaken. But - from this sentence – people started to speculate on the nature of Buddha (as it is often the case). One wanted to make Buddha’s nature into something, like a sort of seed that each person would possess deep within himself, and as a result, a duality is created between oneself and this Buddha’s nature. And it would be a sort of “object contained within ourselves” that we would have to grasp. If we think in this way, we completely miss the true meaning of Buddha’s nature (and therefore of our true nature), because it is not “something”.
This is why Master Dogen transformed this sentence by saying: "All beings are Buddha nature". It is not a question of possessing something, but of being what we really are, deep down.
When Nangaku came to see the Sixth Patriarch, the latter asked him: "What comes this way?”
Here and now ask ourselves: "What makes zazen on this zafu? »
After several years of practice, Nangaku finally answers: "It's not something". He had truly realized the nature of Buddha, nothing that could be grasped.
This is the meaning of the first great Zen koan: "Does the dog have Buddha nature? ". Joshu answers, "Mu! Nothing!” This seems to contradict the fact that all beings have Buddha nature, and Buddha nature is nothing, nothing substantial, nothing graspable. It is not an object and if we cannot grasp this Buddha nature, it is because it is unlimited.
"Nothing" is not a nothingness, but nothing that can be grasped because it is too vast, infinite, unlimited. This is exactly the true nature of our existence, vast, infinite, unlimited; like the divine nature impossible to enclose in a concept, so all words are vain to express it. But the important thing is to realize it.
This is why Master Eno asked Nangaku: "But is there practice and realization?" and Nangaku answered: "There is practice and realization, but it must not be defiled. »
The Sixth Patriarch rejoiced, saying: "This non-defilement is what the Buddhas and Patriarchs have transmitted and protected", and this was Master Deshimaru's last teaching, the teaching of "fuzenna, non-defilement”.
The mind without defilement is the mind which does not create division, separation; it is beyond the ordinary mind which wants to grasp, define, have. It is the hishiryo consciousness in zazen which grasps nothing, which does not stagnate on anything, but which harmonizes naturally and unconsciously with the ultimate reality or nature of Buddha. Hishiryo is the functioning of our mind when it ceases to discriminate, to oppose. To oppose, to separate - for example - the practice from the realization of Enlightenment.
For most people, one begins to feel bodaishin, the desire of Awakening, then one starts to practice and thanks to the practice, finally, one will obtain the Awakening, at the end of a long journey, a long effort. But, if we practice with this thought, we remain in duality, in separation, we want to use the practice here and now to obtain something later. This mental attitude is exactly what opposes the realization of the Awakening, it is to remain greedy by wanting to possess.
True zazen is what makes us let go of this mentality. By putting all our energy in the body posture and all our attention to the breathing, the functioning of the ordinary mind stops, we stop pursuing anything or opposing anything. We start to function naturally in harmony with Buddha's nature, by realizing a vast mind which encompasses everything without grasping anything. It is precisely because it grasps nothing that it is vast, that it can harmonize with everything.
Tags: Roland Yuno Rech