There was a time, still within memory’s ever more tenuous grasp that I imagined myself, at this age, as a monk in a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, that I had assumed a silence imposed by lack of language, not faith.
I am certain that the Japanese are pleased that I let that dream pass unfulfilled, that I confine my practice to that American form of Zen, softened and gently bleached from its shogun watered roots.
I recall my visits to Senso-ji, Todaii-ji and countless other small temples where I would often find a zafu and sit, but only the youngest monks I met could understand that it was there, among them, that I felt spiritually at home.
Wherever you stand still you can see the rainbow but walk to find its end this one or that one and it will be gone on your arrival. Sit in the fine mist and look at the earth – how many colors do you see?
A reflection on case 42 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
If you truly want to walk in the footsteps of the Buddha stand perfectly still and unmoving. If you truly want to comprehend the whole of the Dharma put down all of your books and scrolls, roll up your sleeves and plant the barren fields, clearing away rocks and stones. If you want to taste enlightenment dip your hands into a free running stream and drink of its waters. If you feel you must move along the Way, simply sit and allow the Way to move beneath you.
A reflection on Case 12 of The Book of Equanimity (SHôYôROKU)
If you sit patiently enough, and sit long enough, just perhaps the teacher will acknowledge you. If he holds out his arms and offers you the heart of the Dharma, will you grasp it and hold it closely? If you try and grasp it it will slip through your fingers, disappear from sight, lost forever. If you nod in appreciation, hands in gassho and simply bow, then turn and leave the room, you will carry it with you and no one will be able to take it from you although you are free to give it away.
A reflection on case 92 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)