Question: What does “body and mind unified” mean?
There is no mind without a body, no body without a mind. They are two aspects of a single reality. When body and mind are unified, we can remain present to ultimate reality, like Buddha Shakyamuni says so well: “The sound that is heard and the one who hears it are instantly forgotten”
That is what we get into the habit of doing in zazen. In other words, regardless of the situation, we are totally open to it, totally available. When we let go of everything that appears on our consciousness, without running away from or rejecting anything, nothing separates us from reality. Body and mind in unity, we become one with all existences in the universe. Being in unity with all existences, we can respond to them with wisdom and compassion.
Question: Is zazen the means to an end, the end being experiencing the nature of the self?
Zazen is not at the service of anything. Zazen is simply the manifestation of ultimate reality, which has no end per se. Bringing this ultimate dimension within us has the power to change our life… We realise then that our points of view, our conceptions, our interpretations are relative, and that in no case should they be confused with ultimate reality.
Question: Ignorance, waywardness,”the true nature of life”, “the true nature of all things”, “reality as it is”… Can you explain?
A wrong vision of reality leads us to believe that all things in life are permanent, solid; that they have their own existence, independent from the rest. But the opposite is true.
In reality, all things in life are impermanent: they exist in interdependence with all other things, and have no separate existence.
Question: Could you explain what the three poisons are?
Buddha teaches that we are the cause of our suffering, which comes from our ignorance, greed and aversion. However, he also asserts that we can put an end to our suffering, if we free ourselves from those three defilements, the three poisons.
Not seeing the true nature of life, the true nature of all things, that is to say, Buddha nature. Ignorance stops us from leading our life the right way, harmoniously, because we do not see reality as it is.
Neglecting our true nature and that of all things, we do not have access to the satisfying feeling of peace and plenitude. Consequently, we are in a state of frustration and lack, which leads us to look for happiness in material possessions, social status, fame, recognition, etc.
Aversion (anger, violence, hatred…):
Oblivious to the state of awakening, we accuse others; we feel aversion for everything that bothers us; we feel anger and hatred towards the outside world.
It is because we follow the three poisons – often unknowingly – that we entertain relationships with the world which are not right, which prevents our fulfillment and that of others
Question: Could you tell me about compassion and the relationship to dana - giving?
To practice the Buddha way is to show wisdom and compassion. This can be realised when we become free of the three poisons — ignorance, greed and aversion — and of all the resulting toxic flows. Then, we are no longer locked up in our selfish thoughts, and consequently, no longer separate from other beings. We see the others as they are, with their joys and their sorrows. We feel the desire to help them with their sufferings. Being compassionate is being in unity with the others. The river of giving then flows naturally and freely between all existences. When we are free of the three poisons, the virtue of giving arises naturally. It’s a characteristic of Buddha’s functioning.