Uchiyama Roshi: Right now, right here, I live simply

Collapse
X
 
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39441

    Uchiyama Roshi: Right now, right here, I live simply

    On another thread, we have been discussing being both too loose and negligent ... and too obsessive and driven by some desire ... in Zen Practice. Uchiyama Roshi tells one of the most amazing stories I have come across about being desirous in one's Zazen. Too much Zazen misses the mark as much as no Zazen. Desiring enlightenment drives right past what one searches for.

    (Perhaps this is also one of the clearest descriptions of what Dogen expressed as "Body-Mind Dropped Off" too.)

    It is from Uchiyama Roshi's portion of the book "Dogen's Genjo Koan - Three Commentaries". It mentions a "Zenpan", a special wooden support to hold the chin up so that one may sleep in the Lotus Posture (I have done that too, although it is discouraged these days most times).



    "Zenpan" description here:
    Over 1,700 in-depth entries from A to Z, containing information on the beliefs, practices, and history of Zen Buddhism as well as its most significant movements, organizations, and personalities. Complete with black-and-white photos throughout that illustrate the many aspects of Zen Buddhist culture and religion, including temples, relics, artifacts, and the ceremonial objects used by practitioners. Thoroughly cross-referenced entries guide the reader to related terms and concepts. 8 1?2" x 11" Library-bound 500 pages Copyright 2002 Zen Buddhism is one of the most important and influential world religions. Its unique forms of artistic, philosophical, and spiritual practices, including meditation, haiku, and calligraphy, have spread throughout the world. Written in a clear and accessible style, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Zen Buddhism introduces readers to this vital and influential tradition. Helen J. Baroni, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the department of religion at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She received a bachelor of arts from Grinnell College in 1981, a master's degree in divinity from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1984, and both a master's degree (1990) and a doctorate degree (1993) in philosophy from Columbia University. From 1990 to 1991, Dr. Baroni was a visiting research fellow at the International Research Institute for Zen Buddhism of Hanazozo College in Kyoto, Japan. She was awarded a Japan Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in 1990, a Weatherhead Fellowship in 1992, and a grant from the Harvard Pluralism Project in 1998. Dr. Baroni has published a number of journal articles on Japanese religions. She is also the author of Obaku Zen: The Emergence of the Third Sect of Zen in Tokugawa, Japan, published by the University of Hawaii Press (2000).


    It also mentions a "kyosaku/keisaku", a stick used (not in our Sangha or among most of Nishijima Roshi's students however) to strike a dozer on the shoulder for a "wake up".



    ===========================

    Too many people believe that this world exists to satisfy desires,
    which are based on their self-centered thoughts. In reality, this world
    does not exist to fulfill our desires. In fact, things do not proceed in
    accordance with our expectations. And yet, somehow, we don't accept
    this. Consequently, we often complain that things do not go well, and
    we struggle and make a great fuss.

    When we reflect on ourselves, we understand that this way of living
    In samsara is caused by our own incompIeteness. So then, we want to
    practice to go beyond ourselves and attain enlightenment. I think many
    people who practice zazen originally had this thought.

    And yet, there is a problem here. In the desire to go beyond our-
    selves and attain enlightenment, we want to make ourselves into the
    people we want to be. What will actually happen when we seriously
    practice the Buddha Way with such a desire? This is not [just]someone
    else's problem; I also began to practice the Buddha Way with exactly
    this attitude.

    I wanted to throw myself into the Buddha Way and practice zazen.
    I was ordained by Sawaki Roshi in 1941. Following Sawaki Roshi's
    instruction, I started to walk the path of real zazen practice at Daichuji
    Temple in Tochigi Prefeture. At the time, we had two five-day Sesshins
    each month. One sesshin was led by Sawaki Roshi,and we had [chanting] services,
    lectures, and so on. But in the other sesshin we simply repeated fifty
    minutes of zazen and ten minutes of kinhin (walkng meditation) from
    two in the morning until midnight. We had three meals a day, and right
    after each meal we had thirty minutes of kinhin. We sat twenty-two
    hours a day. Even the two hours from midnight to two, we sIept in sit-
    ting posture, putting our chin on a support called a zenpan. We were in
    the sitting posture for almost twenty-four hours a day. Except for the
    two hours of sleep, someone walked around with the kyosaku (Wake-up
    staff).

    We had this type of sesshin once a month. In December, we also had
    a seven-day session with the same schedule. During such a sesshin, espe-
    cially at its end, I could not keep awake. No matter how hard we were
    hit when we fell asleep, we could not wake up. Sometimes my shoulder
    would be swollen.

    Even though I practiced Zazen undergoing such extreme difficult
    sesshins, during that time l settled down into the life of the Buddha
    Way and practiced wholeheartedy expecting that l would improve
    myself and have a good result sometime in the future. …
    When I practiced at Daichuji, I thought that if l kept
    Practicing zazen in that way somehow I would become a better person。
    After several years of practice, the only clear thing l found was that no
    matter how many years l kept practicing zazen, I would not produce
    any desirable results.

    Consequently, I began to wonder why l would spend my life doing
    such a thing. … Once l wrote a detailed letter to Sawaki Roshi about my
    question. In response, Sawaki Roshi sent a letter with Dogen Zenji’s
    poem included in Eiheikoroku [Extensive Record of Eihei Dogen, Man-
    zan‐bon vol.10,#65]:

    Forgetting all dichotomies
    My mind is peaceful.
    Within Buddha dharma
    All things appear at the same time in front of me.
    From now on, my mind is settled,
    I leave everything to causes and condtions.


    Although Sawaki Roshi sent the poem, since my struggles were
    exacty because I wanted to attain that state of mind, it didn't help me
    at all. …

    For about five years, I was in the midst of a very deep and serious distress.
    While l was at Teishoji Temple in Saku,Shinshu (Nagano Prefec-
    ture) from 1948 to 1949, I was really in the dark as to my zazen practice.
    I could not do anything about it. I had to throw everything away: my
    doubts and thinking. One evening l sat alone in the zendo and l felt a
    release. After this experience, I wrote something like a waka poem:

    Under the blazing sun,
    Hearing a command, “Cease fire!''
    I ceased fire.
    Cool refreshing breeze.


    Since young people today have little experience of military drills [like in school in Japan before the war],
    they probably don't understand this poem. When we had mock war-
    fare, during the daytime in mid-summer, we had to wear heavy equip-
    ment, carry guns, and run over a vast field. We were covered with
    sweat. In such a situation, when the drill instructor gave a command
    for cease fire, I felt relieved from the hard exercise, and suddenly felt
    a cool breeze. I experienced this during my school years. While I was
    sitting alone in the zendo, I again experienced this exact feeling. At the
    time, I didn't understand why l felt such a release. But, I thought, zazen
    is probably like this.

    In the Fall of1949, after l moved to Antaiji in Kyoto, Sawaki Roshi
    Said in his teisho [Dharma Talk] “Buddha Dharma is immeasurable and boundless; it
    cannot be something which fulfills your desire for satisfaction.” Upon
    hearing this, I felt heaven and earth turn upside down. Until then, I had
    been fussing and struggling with a desire to improve myself and attain
    enlightenment . …
    … [S]everal years ago, after I moved to Kohata, I wrote
    a poem for my New Years greeting card titled “A Letter.” I found l had
    settled down a bit.


    A LETTER

    I struggled in many ways
    ln my youth.
    Moving here and there
    Like a leaf blown in the wind.
    Finally I drifted to a sunny spot
    By the [statue of] Jizo Bodhisattva in Kohata,
    Being satisfied with dissatisfaction.
    Right now, right here
    I live simply.
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-12-2013, 02:03 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • alan.r
    Member
    • Jan 2012
    • 546

    #2
    Truly great read. How old (young) was Uchiyama Roshi when he describes his "dark" years? It seems like something many of us go through and one of the things that has always drawn me to this zen stuff is that there have always been moments when some release was experienced: either in a race, in study, in a relationship, just some giving up was what was needed. I think when we're young we tend to want to control and fight everything, even if it means fighting to get enlightenment, fighting to become better, and at some point there is that moment when the fight is given up.

    Hope these words don't needlessly muddle up clear ones.

    gassho
    Shōmon

    Comment

    • Jundo
      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
      • Apr 2006
      • 39441

      #3
      Given the events described were during and right after WWII, he was in his early to mid 30's.

      Gassho, J
      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

      Comment

      • Oheso
        Member
        • Jan 2013
        • 294

        #4
        it seems a most delicate line to discern and follow. so hard to have the right direction pointed out and believed in, without wanting it.

        not looking for Christian parallels, but raised in the tradition, it puts me squarely back into the cloud of unknowing as the only possible ground of awareness.

        or as Taigu Sensei put it, the Dharma is utterly useless, even as an aspiration. hard to fathom purposefulness independent of and even impeded by desire.

        gassho,

        Robert
        Last edited by Oheso; 04-12-2013, 07:38 PM.
        and neither are they otherwise.

        Comment

        • Myozan Kodo
          Friend of Treeleaf
          • May 2010
          • 1901

          #5
          Thanks for that, Jundo.
          From memory, Uchiyama's student Okumura also speaks out against too much Zazen in his Living By Vow. He seems to feel that there was too much Zazen at Antaiji, where their sittings are 45 to 50 mins each ... and in three five hour blocks on five-day Sesshins. I think he indicates that this amount of Zazen is simply not needed to have a full practice.

          That said, intensive practice on Sesshin does deepen practice no end, in my experience ... even if there is no "improving", and no good or bad practice.

          Gassho
          Myozan

          Comment

          • Juki
            Member
            • Dec 2012
            • 771

            #6
            Thank you. In a way, this reminds me of something I read in an article about Kobun Chino Otagawa. Apparently, he often cautioned students against the practice of over sitting, which he called "sitting hard." He knew the importance of Zazen, obviously, but urged students to take their practice into the world, a practice they began to refer to as "Guerrilla Zen."

            Gassho, William
            "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

            Comment

            • Shohei
              Member
              • Oct 2007
              • 2854

              #7
              Hi , thank you for this!
              Only you know truly if you are too loose or too tight (though sometimes it helps to have a second opinion!). I have gone too tight and too loose often and each leads to the other. I found it took practice and awareness of it happening to settle it some and it still happens (its a very fine line and I often look at just "who" is saying im too tight or too loose - ego tends to be a slippery devil!)

              Gassho
              Shohei

              Comment

              • Genshin
                Member
                • Jan 2013
                • 467

                #8
                Thanks for sharing this.

                Uchiyama Roshi's Opening The Hand Of Thought is one of my favorite books. I've just started reading it again.

                Gassho
                Matt

                Comment

                • Mp

                  #9
                  Thank you Jundo ...

                  I really like this:

                  ...
                  Being satisfied with dissatisfaction.
                  Right now, right here
                  I live simply.
                  Gassho
                  Shingen

                  Comment

                  • Kyonin
                    Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
                    • Oct 2010
                    • 6742

                    #10
                    I have been thinking about how we complain about everything, most of the time, all the time.

                    We want the universe to work exactly as we see it in our imagination. When things don't come out as they should, we suffer.

                    Zazen is no different. I've met people who will complain about the zafu, the teacher, the zendo, the weather, but they forget about the simplicity of life. Which is beautiful and very satisfying when you realize it.

                    So they sit for hours and hours a day, expecting something magical to happen.

                    But then again, there's Nothing Special about sitting.

                    It's just life.

                    Thank you for this teaching.

                    Gassho,

                    Kyonin
                    Hondō Kyōnin
                    奔道 協忍

                    Comment

                    • Heisoku
                      Member
                      • Jun 2010
                      • 1338

                      #11
                      So many threads converging here to this one leaving a wonderful feel to Friday night. Gassho everyone!
                      Heisoku 平 息
                      Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. (Basho)

                      Comment

                      • Jundo
                        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                        • Apr 2006
                        • 39441

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Kyonin

                        Zazen is no different. I've met people who will complain about the zafu, the teacher, the zendo, the weather, but they forget about the simplicity of life.
                        Yes, that is true. But the complaints about the teachers are usually justified!

                        Gassho, J
                        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                        Comment

                        • Risho
                          Member
                          • May 2010
                          • 3179

                          #13
                          That was really awesome.

                          Gassho

                          Risho
                          Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

                          Comment

                          • flybat3

                            #14
                            awesome

                            Comment

                            • Brian Roessler
                              Member
                              • May 2012
                              • 25

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Myozan Kodo
                              Thanks for that, Jundo.
                              From memory, Uchiyama's student Okumura also speaks out against too much Zazen in his Living By Vow. He seems to feel that there was too much Zazen at Antaiji, where their sittings are 45 to 50 mins each ... and in three five hour blocks on five-day Sesshins. I think he indicates that this amount of Zazen is simply not needed to have a full practice.

                              That said, intensive practice on Sesshin does deepen practice no end, in my experience ... even if there is no "improving", and no good or bad practice.

                              Gassho
                              Myozan

                              I can't speak for Okumura roshi re: what might be too much zazen, but I think you may have misinterpreted what you read in Living By Vow. We follow the same sesshin schedule (14 50 minute periods/day) in our practice with him at Sanshinji that existed (exists) at Antaiji. Of course it's not necessary to practice in that way, but in our lineage we do.

                              Best,
                              Doan Brian

                              Comment

                              Working...