To speak of hours of practice is not as good as 10 minutes engaged in practice. So, too, an hour speech on practice pales with even a moment of silence. But to be silent and also not practice is to turn your back on the path and blind yourself with your stick.
A reflection on Case 77 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye) Koans
How far must you wander to taste the pure essence, hear the pure note, see deeply into beauty, smell the first flower of spring, touch another heart. Will you grow tired from standing still in total silence contemplating this?
A reflection on Case 65 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (Trud Dharma Eye)
Bring me your mind but leave the body behind, this is what you must do to attain enlightenment. You may sit where you are in total silence, or you may come over here and sit quietly at my feet. Both paths lead deeply into the way.
A reflection on Case 64 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)
Stepping into the hotel, it was like being dropped into a truly alien world. Nothing shiny, no excess of glass and marble. A simple dark wooden reception desk, a clerk in black with a white vest. A bow upon approaching. Your room is simple, no internet, a single light on a small desk. A tatami mat in the corner. A hard wired phone. And you know, in the distance, the Daibutsu awaits you in the morning. Here there is no CNN International, nothing that isn’t Japanese. Your computer is essentially useless, a fax machine in the office for emergencies. And the nearest business center, sorry closed, is in the city. The Internet is coming soon, they promise . But on your morning run, as you catch your breath on the step outside the Todai-ji Daibutsu-den, a deer comes up to you and licks your face and you know this morning Daibutsu is smiling.
It never rained when I visited Senso-ji and Todai-ji Temples. I attributed this to good fortune, the Buddha clearing the skies for my visit. The young monk said the Buddha cares nothing for weather, so I should thank the Japan Meteorological Agency although they never seem to give him the weather he truly wants.
If you must follow the Way, you may read the Dharma for hours on end or you may brew a pot of tea for your teacher, or bring your student a towel and basin. Which two steps along the way will you take?
A reflection on Case 61 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)
At the left click of the mouse my granddaughter appears barely a week old and with a right-click she is frozen into the hard drive. I remember sitting outside the Buddha Hall of Todai-Ji Temple in the mid-morning August sun the smiling at a baby waiting in her stroller for her mother to bow to the giant golden Buddha. I recall the soft touch of the young monk on my shoulder, his gentle smile, and in halting English, his saying “all babies have the face of the old man Buddha.” In the photos, the smile of my son is the smile on the face of Thay, the suppressed giggle that always lies below the surface of the face of Tenzin Gyatso. There is much I want to ask her, my little Leila, there is much she could offer, but I know that like all Buddhas she will respond with a smiling silence and set me back on my path.
If you go in search of Buddha should you see him, do not stop or speak but run away. If you do not see the Buddha run away from that place. If you stop, to take water from the edge of a still pond look carefully, for the Buddha is there just above the water’s surface.
A reflection on case 80 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)