Essay Instructions: Meditation Paper:
Meditate on the scripture passages of Romans 5:12-21 and Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12. Write a personal reflection on these passages, particularly focusing on how our lives and ministries have been (or need to be) challenged by the truths reflected upon.
For this meditation paper please use NIV translation.
Excerpt From Essay:
Essay Instructions: Here is an instruction about this meditation paper
Please write 10 pages paper on meditation about how to apply Buddhist meditation to other religious group. How to use meditation for counseling other faith group other than Buddhist. for example if the person is Catholic, other than Buddhist. What is the best way to aply Buddhist meditaion to the patient without making the Catholic patient feeling uncomfortable.
Please use book from Stuart Matlins " How to be a perfect stranger" and Howard Clinebell " Patoral care and counseling: resources for healing", article by Mark Power " Embracing ambiguity: the pracitce Buddhist chaplaincy"
Excerpt From Essay:
Essay Instructions: This is an expository essay. The thesis statement was previously developed and approved. Please maintain statement for paper. Must stay within parameters of statement. Can be edit but subject matter must be maintained.
The nonreligious practice of transcendental and mindfulness meditation will improve your health by reducing stress and enhancing the body's immune system.
Must include these two resources from the internet somewhere in the paper.
Meditation. Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 24, 2008, from Reference.com website: http://www.reference.com/browse/columbia/meditatn
Meditation. Transcendental Meditation (TM) Technique. Retrieved April 25, 2008, from Maharishi University of Management website: http://www.mum.edu/tm
Paper must have:
o A title page
o An introduction and a thesis statement
o A body with supporting evidence and in-text citations
o A conclusion
o A reference list with at least two online sources (supplied above)
Credit sources directly quoted or paraphrased in the paper by providing in-text citations as well as a references page at the end of your paper.
Sources cited in the body of your paper must appear at the end of the paper on a separate page titled References, with the title centered on the top of the page.
Use 1-inch margins on all sides of each page.
Requirement for citations:
When you paraphrase another person’s materials or information, you must always cite your source. Using more than two words from the original without quotation
marks is plagiarism, as is paraphrasing too closely to the original wording.
Excerpt From Essay:
Essay Instructions: Please read 3 articles below and reflect on how this meditation practice is guided by central Buddhist teachings, and also sheds light on what those teachings mean in practice.
READING NO. 1.
Excerpts from Dhiravamsa, A New Approach to Buddhism
[Dhiravamsa is a former Buddhist monk from Thailand, who now travels in the US and UK teaching Buddhist meditation.]
Whenever there is contact, physically or through the mind, there is feeling and sensation immediately, after which perception arises, giving ideas and building up attitudes towards what is perceived. A whole series of mental formations come to be because of feelings and perceptions... Feeling comes and goes, like a bubble. If you watch the waves in the sea you will see bubbles appearing and disappearing. Feelings and sensations are like that...
The usual mental reaction is based on ideas and attitudes. You can notice this when sitting down to meditate; if a noise occurs you may react with irritation because you had the idea of quietness, the idea of being free from noise, the attitude that things should be so, or not so. But if you have no preconceived ideas you will not mind what happens; you just note it and leave it there, remaining free to continue being aware. In this way, everything that occurs is experienced as part of you, not separate, not disruptive. If I wish to pay it attention I do so; if not, I do not. I am free to choose which I shall do. This freedom arises through non-reaction, which can only come about in the absence of preconceived ideas. (P. 18-19)
We have the means for freedom, which are simple although not easy to practice constantly. I am speaking of awareness... When we talk of the way of awareness we do not mean that awareness is one thing and the way is another, or that there is a technique for applying awareness to life. Awareness itself is the doing, the practice, the action ?C there is no technique for being aware...
Very often we rely upon convictions about what we are going to do before we can do it, but this is a result of fear of the unknown... Fear is the greatest obstacle to freedom. We cannot dissolve fear immediately, so we must suspend it while we explore our situation...
Throughout life there is fear: fear of loss, of being deprived, of not having support, of not obtaining what is needed or wanted, of meeting people who may do harm, either real or imaginary. In general, here is fear of living, because life can give and take at any moment, irrespective of the defenses we build around ourselves...
When we observe the many forms of fear arising in us, can we see what conditions give rise to them? Fear is not possible unless the mind is holding onto something which gives it security, but which can be threatened because its nature is not permanent or free.
It may be an idea, or a hope concerning something it seeks, or a belief in its own meaning or worth. From this state of possession, it wants to possess more and more. To go into reverse and possess less, wish for less, requires a movement in the opposite direction from the automatic one. This may seem difficult at first, because it is different from the usual tendency towards attachment. We are attached to what we have whether to friends, to objects, to children, to husband or wife, to the body, and above all to the mind itself and any move to disengage ourselves from these things will cause fear.
Another factor that makes detachment difficult is that the attachment to things brings with it a type of pleasure, and becomes what we believe to be essential for our happiness. Also attachment goes very deep; it is a form of conditioning which penetrates to a profound level in many subtle disguises.
It cannot just be discarded or rejected, however. When I say that attachment is the cause of fear, this does not mean that attachment is 'wrong' in every way. It cannot be uprooted suddenly, or resisted. This creates a negative attitude towards attachment, and we become attached to this attitude. If possible we should not give a concept to attachment, or let any concept of it impress us, and the same applies to desire.
When fear arises because of attachment, what should we do? Do nothing, nothing at all, except see it clearly. When we see it with the eye of wisdom, directly, without any doubt, then that seeing itself will lead to freedom. That is why I say do not do anything otherwise you invite trouble! Seeing is action, understanding is action. Yet we still feel we must act, we must act. This is our trouble. We cannot be passive in the right way, when action takes place of its own accord. Our own activeness becomes the obstacle to liberation. This does not mean that we should sit back passively doing nothing in every sphere of life.
Passivity is relevant to our release from attachment, but when dealing with material things we cannot be entirely passive. We need to be active, but not over active. So there must be a balance between activeness and passiveness in life, knowing when to be active and when to be passive. How can we know? There is no formula to give, but awareness of the situation will always show us the right way, and through insight we an approach life in a balanced state of mind.
With a clear and alert mind, the body is sensitive and receptive, without dullness or heaviness, and this in turn lightens the mind, relieving it of thought, so that it is free to think, or not to think. Sometimes you may think that you are free to think, but not free not to think. We have to understand why this is.
If we try to get rid of fear through effort, we shall distract our energy into an activity which is based on avoidance, or rejection. This only strengthens fear. You may say we can therefore do nothing about this situation, but we can do something. Earlier I said we should do nothing, and now I seem to contradict myself by saying that we can do something. But what we can do has the nature of non-action:
That is, we can be aware of fear -- how it arises, how it operates, and how it ends. This is passive activity: watching, looking, not only on the surface but into deeper levels of fear, so that you can see the underlying conditions. If you practice awareness everything will be revealed, and this is the true meaning of revelation. We uncover the covered; and in most people the greatest part of their mind is usually covered, unconscious, so that they cannot understand it. Enlightenment simply means hat we uncover the covered, and put away the lids. Then everything remains clear. (p. 28-31)
READING NO. 2
Traditional Texts related to Vipassana Meditation
[In the early 20th century, some monks and nuns in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand began to adapt traditional Buddhist meditation practices to the lives of lay Buddhists living outside monasteries. (The former Thai monk Dhiravamsa belongs to this movement.) In doing so, they chose the least complex and most direct of the many meditation techniques traditional in Buddhist monasteries and convents. They call this technique Vipassana, usually translated in English "Mindfulness Meditation" or "Insight Meditation." In include here, first, an excerpt from the section of the Pali Canon that Vipassana meditation is based on, then an excerpt from an early 20th century book written by one of the early proponents of this method in modern times, a German born Buddhist monk who went to Sri Lanka and took the Sinhalese name Nyanaponika Thera.]
1-From the Pali Canon, excerpted from the Maha-Satipatthana Sutta (Digha Nikaya 22).
A monk abides contemplating body as body..
he abides contemplating feelings as feelings...
contemplating mind as mind
he abides contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects,
ardent, clearly aware and mindful,
having put aside hankering and fretting for the world.
How does a monk abide contemplating the body as body?
He... sits down cross-legged, holding his body erect,
having established mindfulness before him.
Mindfully he breathes in, mindfully he breathes out.
Breathing in a long breath,
he knows that he breathes in a long breath,
and breathing out a long breath,
he knows that he breathes out a long breath.
Breathing in a short breath,
he knows that he breathes in a short breath,
and breathing out a short breath,
he knows that he breathes out a short breath.
He trains himself, thinking:
"I will breathe in, conscious of the whole body."
He trains himself, thinking:
"I will breathe out, conscious of the whole body."
He trains himself, thinking:
"I will breathe in, calming the whole bodily process."
He trains himself, thinking:
"I will breathe out, calming the whole bodily process."
So he abides contemplating body as body internally,
contemplating body as body externally...
He abides contemplating arising phenomena in the body,
he abides contemplating vanishing phenomena in the body.
Or else, mindfulness that "there is body" is present to him
just to the extent necessary for knowledge and awareness.
And he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world.
And that is how a monk abides contemplating body as body.
Again, a monk, when walking, knows that he is walking,
when standing, knows that he is standing,
when sitting, knows that he is sitting,
when lying down, knows that he is lying down.
In whatever way his body is disposed,
he knows that that is how it is.
A monk, when going forward or back,
is clearly aware of what he is doing,
in looking forward or back
he is clearly aware of what he is doing,
in bending and stretching
he is clearly aware of what he is doing...
in eating, drinking, chewing and savoring
he is clearly aware of what he is doing...
in walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep and waking up,
in speaking or in staying silent,
he is clearly aware of what he is doing.
So he abides contemplating body as body internally and externally...
and he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world.
And that is how a monk abides contemplating body as body.
And how does a monk abide contemplating feelings as feelings?
A monk feeling a pleasant feeling
knows that he feels a pleasant feeling;
feeling a painful feeling
he knows that he feels a painful feeling;
feeling a pleasant sensual feeling
he knows that he feels a pleasant sensual feeling;
feeling a pleasant non-sensual feeling
he knows that he feels a pleasant non-sensual feeling;
feeling a painful sensual feeling
he knows that he feels a painful sensual feeling
feeling a painful non-sensual feeling,
he knows that he is feeling a painful non-sensual feeling.
So he abides contemplating feelings as feelings...
He abides contemplating arising phenomena in the feelings,
vanishing phenomena, and both arising and vanishing phenomena in the feelings.
Or else, mindfulness that "there is feeling"
is present to him just to the extent necessary
for knowledge and awareness.
And he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world.
That is how a monk abides contemplating feelings as feelings...
So he abides contemplating mind as mind
He abides contemplating arising phenomena in the mind...
2. From The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, by Nyanaponika Thera, p. 94-99
[Nyanaponika Thera was born in Germany, but became a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka. He describes here a modern interpretation of the above text which he says was developed early in the 20th century by the Burmese monk U Narada and refined by other Buddhist teachers since.]
Sit down on the meditation seat, turn[ing your] attention to the regular rising and falling movement of the abdomen, resulting from the process of breathing. The attention is directed to the slight sensation of pressure caused by that movement, and not so visually observing it. This forms the primary object of mindfulness...
It should be well understood that one must not think about the movement of the abdomen, but keep to the bare noticing of that physical process, being aware of its regular rise and fall, in all its phases. One should try to retain that awareness without break, or without unnoticed break, for as long a period as possible without strain... In the practice described here the object of mindfulness is not the breath but just the rise and fall of the abdomen as felt by the slight pressure...
Whenever the awareness of the abdominal movement ceases or remains unclear, one should not strain to ??catch?? it, but should turn one??s attention to ??touching?? and ??sitting??. This should be done in the following way. From the many points of contact, or better, perceptions of touch, that are present in the apparently uniform act of sitting??e.g. at the knees, thighs, shoulders, etc??six or seven may be chosen. The attention should turn to them successively, travelling, as it were, on that prescribed route, ending with the awareness of the sitting posture, and starting again with the same series: touching??touching??touching??sitting; touching?? touching??touching??sitting. One should dwell on the single perception just for the length of these two-syllable words (spoken internally, and later to be abandoned when one has got into the time rhythm). It should be noted that the object of mindfulness is here the respective sensation, and not the places of contact in themselves, nor the words ??touching-sitting??. One may change, from time to time, the selection of ??touches??.
This awareness of ??touching-sitting?? is, as it were, a ??stand-by?? of the awareness of the abdominal movement, and is one of the secondary objects of the main practice. It has, however, a definite value of its own for achieving results in the domain of Insight.
When, while attending to ??touching-sitting??, one notices that the abdominal movement has become clearly perceptible again, one should return to it, and continue with that primary object as long as possible.
If one feels tired, or, by sitting long, the legs are paining or benumbed, one should be aware of these feelings and sensations. One should keep to that awareness as long as these feelings and sensations are strong enough to force attention upon them and to disturb the meditation. Just by the act of noticing them quietly and continuously, i.e. with Bare Attention, these feelings and sensations may sometimes disappear, enabling one to continue with the primary object. In the awareness of the disturbing sensations one stops short at the bare statement of their presence without ??nursing?? these feelings and thus strengthening them by what one adds to the bare facts, i.e. by one??s mental attitude of self-reference, excessive sensitivity, self-pity, resentment, etc.
If, however, these unpleasant sensations, or tiredness, persist and disturb the practice, one may change the posture (noticing the intention and the act of changing), and resort to mindfully walking up and down.
In doing so, one has to be aware of the single phases of each step...: A. 1. lifting, 2. pushing, 3. placing; B. 1. lifting, 2. placing, of the foot.
This practice of mindful walking is, particularly for certain types of meditators, highly recommendable both as a method of concentration and as a source of Insight. It may therefore be practiced in its own right, and not only as a ??change of posture?? for relieving fatigue...
Stray thoughts, or an unmindful ??skipping?? of steps (in walking), phases or sequences of the abdominal movements, or of parts of any other activities, should be clearly noticed. One should pay attention to the fact whether these breaks in attention have been noticed at once after occurring, or whether, and how long, one was carried away by stray thoughts, etc., before resuming the original object of mindfulness. One should aim at noticing these breaks at once, and then returning immediately to one??s original object. This may be taken as a measure of one??s growing alertness. The frequency of these breaks will naturally decrease when, in the course of the practice, mental quietude and concentration improve...
One should not allow oneself to be irritated, annoyed or discouraged by the occurrence of distracting or undesirable thoughts, but should simply take these disturbing thoughts themselves as (temporary) objects of one??s mindfulness, making them thus a part of the practice (through the Contemplation of the State of Mind). Should feelings of irritation about one??s distracted state of mind arise and persist, one may deal with them in the very same way; that is, take them as an opportunity for the Contemplation of Mind-objects: the Hindrance of aversion, or of restlessness and worry. In this context the Meditation Master said:
"Since a multiplicity of thought-objects is unavoidable in ordinary life, and such defilements as lust, aversion, etc., are sure to arise in all unliberated minds, it is of vital importance to face these variegated thoughts and defilements squarely, and to learn how to deal with them. This is, in its own way, just as important as acquiring an increased measure of concentration. One should, therefore, not regard it as ??lost time?? when one is dealing with these interruptions of the methodical practice."
The same method should be applied to interruptions from outside. If there is, for instance, a disturbing noise, one may take brief notice of it as sound??; if it was immediately followed by annoyance about the disturbance, one should register it, too, as ??mind with anger??. After that, one should return to the interrupted meditation. But if one does not succeed at once in doing so, the same procedure should be repeated. If the noise is loud and persistent and keeps one from attending to the subject of meditation, one may, until the noise ceases, continue to take it as an object of mindfulness... within the frame of the Contemplation of Mind-objects...
In that way, disturbances of the meditative practice can be transformed into useful objects of the practice; and what appeared inimical, can be turned into a friend and teacher.
Nevertheless, when the mind has been quieted or the outer disturbances have disappeared, one should return to the primary subject of meditation, since it is the sustained cultivation of it that will make for quicker progress...
Quiet sustained effort, without too much regard to bodily discomfort, is recommended, particularly during a course of strict practice. Often, when disregarding the first appearance of fatigue, one will discover behind it new resources of energy, a ??second wind??. On the other hand, one should not go to extremes, and should allow oneself rest when effort ceases to be useful. These intervals of rest will also form parts of the practice (with less intense focusing) if one keeps mindful. The more natural and relaxed the flow of one??s mindfulness is, or becomes, in following the continual arising and disappearing of its selected or variegated objects, the less fatigue will be caused by it.
When alertness grows one may also give particular attention to one??s thoughts or moods of satisfaction or dissatisfaction, even if very subtle. They are the seeds of stronger forms of attraction and aversion, and of feelings of pride or inferiority, elation or depression. It is therefore important to get acquainted with them, to notice them and to stop them early. One should also avoid futile thoughts of the past or the future, as Satipatthana is concerned with the present only.
Further Reading: The progressively formless meditations (jhanas) in the Pali Canon
READING NO. 3
ZEN MIND, BEGINNER'S MIND
by Shunryu Suzuki (NY: Weatherhill. 1970)
[Shunryu Suzuki was born in Japan in 1905, the son of a Zen temple priest. He came to the United States in 1958 as the head of a Zen temple for Japanese Americans in San Francisco. He also soon gathered a following of Caucasian Americans, among whom Zen Buddhism was just becoming popular at this time. The following excerpts are from a book of his talks to this group, transcribed and edited by a pupil, Trudy Dixon. ML.]
"Zen" = Zen Buddhism, one of the many forms of Mahayana Buddhism popular in East Asia. Zen is the Japanese pronunciation of Ch'an, the original name of this same tradition in China. In Korea it is called Son, in Vietnam Thien.
"Zazen"= Zen meditation practice. (Literally "sitting Zen," in Chinese tso-ch'an).
1. Excerpts on Zazen (Meditation Practice)
In Japan we have the phrase shoshin, which means "beginner's mind." The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner's mind... Our "original mind" includes everything within itself. It is always rich and sufficient within itself. You should not lose your self-sufficient state of mind. This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything - it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few...
In the beginner's mind there is no thought, "I have attained something." All self-centered thoughts limit our vast mind. When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something. The beginner's mind is the mind of compassion. When our mind is compassionate, it is boundless. (21)
If you want to obtain perfect calmness in your zazen, you should not be bothered by the various images you find in your mind. Let them come, and let them go. Then they will be under control. But this policy is not so easy. It sounds easy, but it requires some special effort. How you make this kind of effort is the secret of practice.
Suppose you are sitting under some extraordinary circumstances. If you try to calm your mind you will be unable to sit, and if you try not to be disturbed, your effort will not be the right effort. The only effort that will help you is to count your breathing, or to concentrate on your inhaling and exhaling.
We say concentration, but to concentrate your mind on something is not the true purpose of Zen. The true purpose is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes. This is to put everything under control in its widest sense. Zen practice is to open up our small mind. So concentrating is just an aid to help you realize "big mind"... If you want to have to understand the meaning of keeping your mind on discover the true meaning of Zen in your everyday life, you have to understand the meaning of keeping your mind on your breathing and your body in the right posture in zazen. You should follow the rules of practice and your study should become more subtle and careful. Only in this way can you experience the vital freedom of Zen. (32-33)
When we sit we feel very calm and serene, but actually we do not know what kind of activity is going on inside our being. There is complete harmony in the activity of our physical system, so we feel the calmness in it. Even if we do not feel it, the quality is there. So for us there is no need to be bothered by calmness or activity, stillness or movement. When you do something, if you fix your mind on the activity with some confidence, the quality of your state of mind is the activity itself. When you are concentrated on the quality of your being, you are prepared for the activity. Movement is nothing but the quality of our being. When we do zazen, the quality of our calm, steady, serene sitting is the quality of the immense activity of being itself.
When you are practicing zazen, do not try to stop your thinking. Let it stop by itself. If something comes into your mind, let it come in, and let it go out. It will not stay long. When you try to stop your thinking, it means you are bothered by it. Do not be bothered by anything. It appears as if something comes from outside your mind, but actually it is only the waves of your mind, and if you are not bothered by the waves, gradually they will become calmer and calmer...
It will take quite a long time before you find your calm, serene mind in your practice. Many sensations come, by thoughts or images arise, but they are just waves of your own mind. Nothing comes from outside your mind. Usually we think of our mind as receiving impressions and experiences from outside, but that is not a true understanding of our mind. The true understanding is that the mind includes everything; when you think something comes from outside it means only that something appears in your mind.
Nothing outside yourself can cause any trouble. You yourself make the waves in your mind. If you leave your mind as it is, it will become calm. This mind is called big mind. If your mind is related to something outside itself, that mind is a small mind, a limited mind. If your mind is not related to anything else, you understand activity as just waves of your mind. Big mind experiences everything within itself.
Do you understand the difference between the two minds: the mind which includes everything, and the mind which is related to something? Actually they are the same thing, but the understanding is different, and your attitude towards your life will be different according to which understanding you have....
Even though waves arise, the essence of your mind is pure; it is just like clear water with a few waves. Actually water always has waves. Waves are the practice of the water. To speak of waves apart from water or water apart from waves is a delusion. Water and waves are one. Big mind and small mind are one. When you understand your mind in this way, you have some security in your feeling. As your mind does not expect anything from outside, it is always filled.
A mind with waves in it is not a disturbed mind, but actually an amplified one. Whatever you experience is an expression of big mind. The activity of big mind is to amplify itself through various experiences.
In one sense our experiences coming one by one are always fresh and new, but in another sense they are nothing but a continuous or repeated unfolding of the one big mind... With big mind we accept each of our experiences as if recognizing the face we see in a mirror as our own. For us there is no fear of losing this mind... Because we enjoy all aspects of life as an unfolding of big mind, we do not care for any excessive joy. So we have imperturbable composure, and it is with this imperturbable composure of big mind that we practice zazen.(34-36)
When you practice zazen you should not try to attain anything. You should just sit in the complete calmness of your mind and not rely on anything. Just keep your body straight without leaning over or against something, To keep your body straight means not to rely on anything, In this way, physically and mentally, you will obtain complete calmness. But to rely on something or to try to do something in zazen is dualistic and not complete calmness.
In our everyday life we are usually trying to do something, trying to change something into something else, or trying to attain something. Just this trying is already in itself an expression of our true nature. The meaning lies in the effort itself. We should find out the meaning of our effort before we attain something. So Dogen said, "We should attain enlightenment before we attain enlightenment." It is not after attaining enlightenment that we find its true meaning. The trying to do something in itself is enlightenment. When we are in difficulty or distress, there we have enlightenment. When we are in defilement, there we should have composure...
By continuing your practice with this sort of understanding, you can improve yourself. But if you try to attain something without this understanding you cannot work on it properly. You lose yourself in the struggle for your goal; you achieve nothing; you just continue to suffer in your difficulties. But with right understanding you can make some progress. Then whatever you do, even though not perfect, will be based on your inmost nature, and little by little something will be achieved. (121-23)
2. Examples of how Zen teaching applies to everyday life
Zen practice is the direct expression of our true nature. Of course, whatever we do is the expression of our true nature, but without this practice it is difficult to realize. It is our human nature to be active and the nature of every existence. As long as we are alive, we are always doing something. But as long as you think, "I am doing this," or "I have to do this," or "I must attain something special," you are actually not doing anything. When you give up, when you no longer want something, or when you do not try to do anything special, then you do something. When there is no gaining idea in what you do, then you do something. In zazen what you are doing is not for the sake of anything. You may feel as if you are doing something special, but actually it is only the expression of your true nature; it is the activity which appeases your inmost desire. But as long as you think you are practicing zazen for the sake of something, that is not true practice. If you continue this simple practice every day you will obtain a wonderful power. Before you attain it, it is something wonderful but after you obtain it, it is nothing special. It is just you yourself, nothing special...
Thus even though you do not do anything, you are actually doing something. You are expressing yourself. You are expressing your true nature. Your eyes will express; your voice will express; your demeanor will express. The most important thing is to express your true nature in the simplest, most adequate way and to appreciate it in the smallest existence. While you are continuing this practice, week after week, year after year, your experience will become deeper and deeper, and your experience will cover everything you do in your everyday life. The most important thing is to forget all gaining ideas, all dualistic ideas. In other words, just practice zazen in a certain posture. Do not think about anything. just remain on your cushion without expecting anything. Then eventually you will resume your own true nature. That is to say, your own true nature resumes itself.
If you want to express yourself, your true nature, there should be some natural and appropriate way of expression. Even swaying right and left as you sit down or get up from zazen is an expression of yourself. It is not preparation for practice, or relaxation after practice; it is part of the practice. So we should not do it as if it were preparing for something else.
This should be true in your everyday life. To cook, or to fix some food, is not preparation..., it is practice. To cook is not just to prepare food for someone or for yourself; it is to express your sincerity. So when you cook you should express yourself in your activity in the kitchen. You should allow yourself plenty of time. You should work on it with nothing in your mind, and without expecting anything. You should just cook! That is also an expression of our sincerity, a part of our practice. It is necessary to sit in zazen, in this way, but sitting is not our only way. Whatever you do, it should be an expression of the same deep activity. We should appreciate what we are doing. There is no preparation for something else.(47-49)
If you leave a trace of your thinking on your activity, you will be attached to the trace. For instance, you may say, "This is what I have done!" But actually it is not so. In your recollection you may say, "I did such and such a thing in some certain way," but actually that is never exactly what happened. When you think in this way you limit the actual experience of what you have done. So if you attach to the idea of what you have done, you are involved in selfish ideas. Often we think what we have done is good, but it may not actually be so.
When we become old, we are often very proud of what we have done. When others listen to someone proudly telling something which he has done, they will feel funny, because they know his recollection is one-sided. They know that what he has told them is not exactly what he did. Moreover, if he is proud of what he did, that pride will create some problem for him...until he becomes quite a disagreeable, stubborn fellow.
This is an example of leaving a trace of one's thinking. We should not forget what we did, but it should be without an extra trace. To leave a trace is not the same as to remember something. It is necessary to remember what we have done, but we should not become attached to what we have done in some special sense. What we call "attachment" is just these traces of our thought and activity.
In order not to leave any traces, when you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind; you should be concentrated on what you do. You should do it completely, like a good bonfire. You should not be a smoky fire. You should burn yourself completely. If you do not burn yourself completely, a trace of yourself will be left in what you do. You will have something remaining which is not completely burned out. Zen activity is activity which is completely burned out, with nothing remaining but ashes. This is the goal of our practice... (60)
The basic teaching of Buddhism is the teaching of transiency, or change. That everything changes is the basic truth for each existence. No one can deny this truth, and all the teaching of Buddhism is condensed within it. This is the teaching for all of us. Wherever we go this teaching is true. This teaching is also understood as the teaching of selflessness. Because each existence is in constant change, there is no abiding self. In fact, the self-nature of each existence is nothing but change itself, the self-nature of all existence. There is no special separate self-nature for each existence. This is called the teaching of Nirvana. When we realize the everlasting truth of "everything changes" and find our composure in it, we find ourselves in Nirvana.
Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transiency, we suffer. So the cause of suffering is our non-acceptance of this truth. The teaching of the cause of suffering and the teaching that everything changes are thus two sides of one coin. But subjectively, transiency is the cause of our suffering. Objectively this teaching is simply the basic truth that everything changes.(102-03)
It is quite usual for us to gather pieces of information from various sources, thinking in this way to increase our knowledge. Actually, following this way we end up not knowing anything at all. Our understanding of Buddhism should not be just gathering many pieces of information, seeking to gain knowledge. Instead of gathering knowledge, you should clear your mind. If your mind is clear, true knowledge is already yours. When you listen to our teaching with a pure, clear mind, you can accept it as if you were hearing something which you already knew. This is called emptiness, or omnipotent self, or knowing everything. When you know everything, you are like a dark sky. Sometimes a flashing will come through the dark sky. After it passes, you forget all about it, and there is nothing left but the dark sky. The sky is never surprised when all of a sudden a thunderbolt breaks through. And when the lightning does flash, a wonderful sight may be seen. When we have emptiness we are always prepared for watching the flashing.
In China, Rozan is famous for its misty scenery. I have not been to China yet, but there must be beautiful mountains there. And to see the white clouds or mist come and go through the mountains must be a very wonderful sight. AI though it is wonderful, a Chinese poem says, "Rozan is famous for its misty, rainy days, and the great river Sekko for its tide, coming and going. That is all." That is all, but it is splendid. This is how we appreciate things. So you should accept knowledge as if you were hearing something you already knew. But this does not mean to receive various pieces of information merely as an echo of your own opinions. It means that you should not be surprised at whatever you see or hear. If you receive things just as an echo of yourself, you do not really see them, you do not fully accept them as they are. So when we say, "Rozan is famous for its misty, rainy days," it does not mean to appreciate this sight by recollecting some scenery we have seen before: "It is not so wonderful. I have seen that sight before." Or "I have painted much more beautiful paintings! Rozan is nothing!" This is not our way. If you are ready to accept things as they are, you will receive them as old friends, even though you appreciate them with new feeling. And we should not hoard knowledge; we should be free from our knowledge. If you collect various pieces of knowledge, as a collection it may be very good, but this is not our way. We should not try to surprise people by our wonderful treasures. We should not be interested in something special. If you want to appreciate something fully, you should forget yourself. You should accept it like lightning flashing in the utter darkness of the sky. Sometimes we think it is impossible for us to understand something unfamiliar, but actually there is nothing that is unfamiliar to us... (84-86)
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