Tuesday, January 3, 2012

all things are empty






To you who can’t stop worrying about how others see you


You can’t even trade a single fart with the next guy. Each and every one of us has to live out his own life. Don’t waste time thinking about who’s most talented.

The eyes don’t say, “Sure we’re lower, but we see more.”
The eyebrows don’t reply, “Sure we don’t see anything, but we are higher up.”
Living out the buddha-dharma means fulfilling your function completely without knowing that you’re doing it. A mountain doesn’t know it’s tall. The sea doesn’t know it’s wide and deep. Each and every thing in the universe is active without knowing it.
The bird’s singing and the flower’s laughter appear naturally,
completely independent from the person sitting in zazen at the foot of the cliff.
The bird doesn’t sing in honor of the person in zazen. The flower doesn’t blossom to amaze the person with her beauty. In exactly the same way, the person doesn’t sit in zazen in order to get satori. Every single being simply realizes the self, through the self, for the self.

Religion means living your own life, completely fresh and new, without being taken in by anyone.

Hey! What are you looking at? Don’t you see that it’s about you?

The asshole doesn’t need to be ashamed of being the asshole. The feet don’t have any reason to go on strike just because they’re only feet. The head isn’t the most important of all, and the navel doesn’t need to imagine he’s the father of all things. 
It’s strange though that people look at the prime minister as an especially important person. The nose can’t replace the eyes, and the mouth can’t replace the ears.
Everything has its own identity, which is unsurpassable in the whole universe.

Some children have caught a mouse and now it’s writhing in the trap. They’re having fun watching how it scrapes its nose till it bleeds and how it rips up its tail . . . In the end they’ll throw it to the cat for food.
If I was sitting in the mouse’s place, I’d say to myself, “You damn humans won’t have any fun with me!” And I’d simply sit zazen..



To you who wish you could lead a happier life

“Rest awhile and everything will be fine.”
We simply need to take a short break. Being buddha means taking a short break from being a human. Being buddha doesn’t mean working your way up as a human.

What makes Ryōkan so refreshing is that he doesn’t fondle things.

In everything, people follow their feelings of joy, anger, sadness and comfort. But that’s something different from everyday mind. Everyday mind means cease-fire. Without preferences, without animosity, without winner and loser, without good and evil, without joy and pain – that’s everyday mind.

“What sort of person stands on the ground where there’s neither coming nor going?”
Kyūhō answered, “The stone sheep versus the stone tiger: sooner or later they’ll get tired of staring each other in the eyes.” The stone sheep won’t flinch. The stone tiger won’t jump out of hunger. That’s the point – encountering things beyond thinking.

What do we have when we truly have a grip on things as they are? Beyond-thinking [hishiryō]. Beyond-thinking doesn’t allow itself to be thought. No matter if you think so or not: things are simply as they are.

“All things are empty” means there’s nothing we can run into, because nothing is really happening. We only think something’s happening because we are intoxicated by something.

Nothing is ever happening, no matter what seems to be going on – that’s the natural condition. Illusion means losing this natural condition. Normally we don’t recognize this natural condition. Normally we cover it with something else, so it’s not natural anymore.

The buddha-dharma means the normal condition. Yet in the world everything is unnatural. Domineering, succumbing and discussing everything to death are unnatural.

Each place fills heaven and earth, every instant is eternal.

To practice the way of Buddha means to completely live out this present moment – which is our whole life – here and now.

Don’t squeeze the way of Buddha into any frame.




~ Kodo Sawaki
excerpts from To you
Translated from Japanese by Jesse Haasch and Muhô 




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